Turkey: most weird ‘free speech’ case ever?

Wednesday, 7th March 2007 at 21:48 UTC 4 comments

One from the Newswire: Man jailed for calling someone “Mr”.

“A Kurdish politician in Turkey has been sentenced to six months in prison for referring to jailed Kurdish rebel leader Abdullah Ocalan as “Mr Ocalan”. A court … said the use of “Mr” by Ahmet Turk implied respect for Ocalan.”

Apparently its a crime to have respect for a Kurdish freedom fighter in Turkey.  I don’t remember this happening anywhere else, but then, the way things are going in Britain, it might not be longer before we’re faced with such bizarre and draconian rules too.  Remember, we are awaiting the sentencing of a young man for his choice of words on a protest, and again, he was from one of the most despised minorities, in the British case he’s a Muslim.  We mustn’t take free speech for granted anymore, it is being challenged almost everywhere by governments wanting to make exceptions to our inalienable rights.

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Entry filed under: Freedom, Human Rights, Politics.

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4 Comments Add your own

  • 1. Greg  |  Thursday, 8th March 2007 at 0:26 UTC

    Except that freedom of speech isn’t an inalienable right, Graham, and I think you may know it. I need hardly mention the cliche of shouting fire in a theatre.

    Reply
  • 2. Graham Martin  |  Friday, 9th March 2007 at 0:01 UTC

    Rights can come with responsibilities obviously. But to take away someone’s freedom of speech is unacceptable, even if they are seen as having abused it. The idea that someone can be guilty of anything just by opening their mouth strikes me as worrying: how can anyone have the right to define what combinations of words are legal and which aren’t?

    Reply
  • 3. LordRich  |  Friday, 9th March 2007 at 14:42 UTC

    Things are certainly starting to get interesting in Turkey again, what with this and Turkey’s apparent support of Iran.

    For a long time it’s been illegal to display a Kurdish flag in Turkey, and it’s only in 2000 that the Kurdish holiday of Newroz became legal. Turkey also has conscription, and conscientious objection can effectively lead to life inprisonment.

    Currently however, it is easy for UK citizens to gain entry due to the economics of tourism. A visa will be issued on entry, but is usually just a formality. I’m pretty sure I’d be allowed in for a short stay, but although I do have a house over there it’s in a village a long way from where anything exciting would be happening (other than the ocaisional bombing to try and scare away tourists).

    I’d suggest keeping an eye on Turkey again, it seems unlikely that anything major is going to kick off – but it may be worth doing something on March 24th to celebrate Newroz and highlight what’s happening.

    Reply
  • 4. Peter  |  Saturday, 10th March 2007 at 12:05 UTC

    While Turkey has a fairly appalling attitude towards the Kurds, I would not go so far as to describe the PKK as Freedom Fighters.

    It is a Marxist guerilla movement fighting for Kurdish independence, and is not unfamilar with targetting civilians and children to achieve their objectives.

    They do have a very good introduction to their website. Very rabble-rousing… pkk.org – headphones required!

    Reply

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