‘Murderer state’ slogan not a crime, Turkish prosecutors rule after 8-year long probe
The use of slogans such as 'The murderer state will pay' will no longer be considered a crime, according to a prosecutors' ruling.The use of slogans such as “The murderer state will pay” and “We will fight until we tear the oligarchy down” is not a crime, Turkish prosecutors have ruled following an eight-year investigation.
The Ankara Prosecutor’s Office, which was probing the writing of the slogans with spray paint on the walls of a high school in Ankara, has set a precedent with the ruling, which stated that such slogans, frequently used by leftist groups in Turkey, are covered by “freedom of thought,” daily Milliyet reported Sept. 29.
Those who wrote the graffiti in the Turkish capital were unidentified, but special prosecutors had extended the investigation on charges of “spreading the propaganda of a terrorist organization,” accusing the perpetrators of being members of the Revolutionary People’s Liberation Party/Front (DHKP/C), an outlawed leftist group.
Among the graffiti were several slogans frequently used by leftist youth movements of the 1960s and 70s, such as “Revolution is the only path” and “Ulaş lives,” referring to the leftist student Ulaş Bardakçı who was killed during clashes with the police in Istanbul in 1972. Bardakçı has become a symbolic figure, inspiring many renowned artists, including novelist Yaşar Kemal, who wrote a poem about him.
Propaganda does not constitute crime
A prosecutor in charge of terrorism crimes was assigned to the initial investigation launched in 2006, before it was delivered to a prosecutor working on crimes against the constitutional order.
In his ruling, prosecutor Sadık Bayındır said the suspicion of propaganda did not amount to proof that a crime was committed. “[To be considered a crime] there should be acts that legitimize or praise the methods of terror organizations that include force, violence and threats or incites to adopt, interiorize and spread them,” the decision read.
Bayındır also referred to recent rulings of the Turkish Supreme of Appeals and the European Court of Human Rights that the use of slogans should be considered within the scope of freedom of expression.
Use of such slogans has long been considered a crime by courts in Turkey. Recently, many protesters involved in last year’s Gezi protests were either charged or condemned for chanting slogans.