Turkey defends local paper in Euro court

Turkey defends local paper in Euro court

Mesut Hasan Benli - ANKARA / Radikal
The government of the Republic of Turkey’s lawyers, in their defense submitted to the top European court for human rights, showed a newspaper article calling for the murder of Kurdish politicians in reciprocation for every killed soldier as being “within the limits of acceptable criticism.”

In 2008, a local court in the western city of Düzce ruled Işın Erşen, a columnist for the Bolu Express, did nothing criminal when he implied five members of the now-defunct Democratic Society Party should be murdered whenever a soldier was killed by the outlawed Kurdistan Workers’ Party (PKK).

“They are the enemies of Turks and they are the targets of civilian patriots,” Işın Erşen wrote in the disputed article, dated Oct. 2007, while also listing the names of all the DTP’s then-parliamentary deputies and mayors in the article. The local court said the article was protected by the freedom of speech. Eventually, the Supreme Court of Appeals process ended with the court’s approval of the local court’s ruling, which it said was “in accordance with the relevant laws and procedures.”

Then, Faruk Duran, Selahattin Demirtaş’s lawyer, then DTP parliamentary deputy leader, filed a complaint to the ECHR in 2009.

In its defense at the ECHR, Turkey said that an effective investigation over the issue was carried out and the prosecutor concluded the newspaper article remained within the limits of freedom of expression. “The applicant [Demirtaş] is a public figure who is involved in politics. According to the Court’s established case-law, the limits of acceptable criticism are wider with regard to politician’s private lives,” the defense said, adding that the Turkish government considers that there is no violation of the European Convention on Human Rights’ (ECHR) provisions.