Orhan Pamuk to be tried by Turkey

From PEN:

“PEN American Center expressed shock today that world-famous Turkish writer Orhan Pamuk will be brought before an Istanbul court on December 16 and that he faces up to three years in prison for a comment published in a Swiss newspaper earlier this year.

The charges stem from an interview given by Orhan Pamuk to the Swiss newspaper Tages Anzeiger on February 6, 2005, in which he is quoted as saying that ‘thirty thousand Kurds and a million Armenians were killed in these lands and nobody but me dares to talk about it.’

Pamuk was referring to the killings by Ottoman Empire forces of thousands of Armenians in 1915-1917. Turkey does not contest the deaths, but denies that it could be called ‘genocide.’ The ‘30,000’ Kurdish deaths refers to those killed since 1984 in the conflict between Turkish forces and Kurdish separatists. Debate on these issues has been stifled by stringent laws, which often result in lengthy lawsuits, fines, and prison terms.

Orhan Pamuk will be tried under Article 301/1 of the Turkish Penal Code, which states, ‘A person who explicitly insults being a Turk, the Republic or Turkish Grand National Assembly, shall be imposed to a penalty of imprisonment for a term of six months to three years.’ To compound matters, Article 301/3 states, ‘Where insulting being a Turk is committed by a Turkish citizen in a foreign country, the penalty to be imposed shall be increased by one third.’ Thus, if Pamuk is found guilty, he faces an additional penalty for having made the statement abroad.”