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CAPSULE REPORT: BIANET annual report records rise in threats against free expression in 2008

(BIANET/IFEX) - The following is a 16 March 2009 BIANET press release:

Bia Media Monitoring Report 2008 Summary
435 "Thought Crimes" in Turkey in 2008

In 2008, the political landscape in Turkey became more polarised and the Kurdish question remained unresolved. Both government and army displayed intolerance toward criticism of their performance and questioning of rights violations. Freedom of expression and of the press both took a considerable step backwards.

In the last year, 82 people were tried under the controversial Article 301, concerned with the "denigration" of the state and state organs; five people were convicted.

"Insult" cases on the rise

Twenty-three people stood accused of "inciting hatred and hostility among people". Seventy-four -among them, four caricaturists and 47 journalists- were tried for "insulting" others. In total, the compensation claims in these insult cases amount to 1,885,500 TL (approx. 855,711 euro).

One of the claimants is Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdogan, who has targeted the Dogan Media Group, publicly saying, "Do not buy these newspapers." Claims by him and his family have resulted in the convictions of Perihan Magden ("Radikal" newspaper), Cemal Subasi ("Tempo" magazine) and Mehmet Cagcag ("Leman" satirical magazine). He is also claiming compensation from Melih Kaskar ("Milas Onder" newspaper).

It is thus not surprising that Turkey is ranked 102nd out of 173 countries, according to Reporters Without Borders' (RSF) Freedom of the Press Index.

BİA Media Monitoring Report

The BIA annual media monitoring report provides information on 506 court cases, in which a total of 854 people from 305 newspapers were affected. This number shows that social tensions are rising. A total of 435 journalists, writers, publishers, human rights activists, politicians and children were taken to court in 2008 because of their opinions. In 2007, this number
stood at 254.

The 113-page annual BIA Media Monitoring Report recorded freedom of expression violations in chronological order under the following headings: "Attacks and threats", "Detentions and arrests", "Press freedom and the freedom of expression in court", "Adjustments and seeking justice", "European Court of Human Rights", "Reactions to censorship" and "RTÜK practices".

For the full text of the report summary, see: http://www.bianet.org/english/kategori/english/113147/435-though-crimes-in-turkey-in-2008

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