Turkey’s Article 301 Fails Test Of Free Speech

Turkey has been attempting to meet demands from the European Union that its constitution respects the right of free speech. A particular source of friction between the EU and the Turish government revolves around the infamous Aricle 301 of the Turkish constitution which makes it a crime to insult “Turkishness.” The government is proposing to change the word from “Turkishness” to the “Turkish nation” as though that change would satisfy the European Union. Under the proposed change the maximum punishment would be two years and prosecution for violation would rest solely in the hands of the President of Turkey. Critics point out saying the “Turkish nation” only adds to confusion unless it is specified as to exactly what is meant by the “Turkish nation.” Erdal Dogan, lawyer for the Turkish-Armenian journalist, Hrant Dink, who was prosecuted for violating Aritcle 301, said the proposed change was cosmetic and meaningless.

Turkey is a mature democratic nation which is governed by intelligent people. They do not need to be protected against free speech, they are quite capable of handling such situations in the court of public opinion. The only solution is getting rid of this Article and not replacing it with anything.

  • journeyer58

    But one must remember that Turkey is truly not a modern and 21st Century democracy. Hrant Dink was persecuted for saying that the Turkish government needs to make reparations and apologize for the Armenian genocide of the early 20th Century. Until and only then, will the Turkish government be a full member of the EU. In America we have nothing to boast about when it comes to apologizing for the past mistakes of governmental policy, but for the Turkish people not to recognize the abominable and horrific practices that their government perpetrated upon innocent Armenians only because of their religion, this is more of an outrage than the prosecuting of a journalist for the mere mention of the Armenian genocide. Turkey will not gain admission to the world’s governing bodies until it can own up to the facts of their former governments actions. As citizens of the world, we must demand that Turkey acknowledge the genocide perpetrated by their former government and step into the 21st Century by apologizing for this part of their history.

  • http://www.theimpudentobserver.com Fred Stopsky

    I believe the issue today is getting rid of Aricle 301 from their constitution. I am more interested in Turkish schools teaching about the Armenian genocide than in apologies. Ending discrimination today is the issue. If all nations had to apologize for past mistakes as a precondition for being members of organizations, there would be no members of organizations. I have yet to hear the Japanese government apologize to Koreans and Chinese for WWII atrocities.