European court fines Turkey over Kurdish-speaking politicians
ISTANBUL - Hürriyet Daily News
Hürriyet photoThe European Court of Human Rights (ECHR) has fined Turkey over 60,000 euros in the case of several politicians who were all tried and convicted by Turkish courts for speaking Kurdish during election rallies.
The court decided unanimously that Turkey had violated freedom of expression by convicting the Kurdish politicians – Şükran Aydın, Ayşe Gökkan, Ayhan Erkmen, Orhan Miroğlu and Mesut Bektaş – who had been fined and even sentenced to prison under a now-amended law that banned speaking any language other than Turkish during election campaigns.
States have the right to regulate the language of the election process, the court said, but “a blanket ban on the use of unofficial languages coupled with criminal sanctions” violated freedom of expression.
The ban, according to the European Court of Human Rights, “directly affected the applicants and had thus amounted to an interference with their freedom of expression.”
The court fined Turkey 10,000 euros for each of the applicants and another 10,000 euros for court expenses.
Aydın and Gökhan had been convicted for speaking Kurdish during election rallies in 2002, while Bektaş was convicted in 2004, and Miroğlu and Erkmen in 2007.
They lodged a complaint with the ECHR in 2008.