Bruce Swaffield’s Toolbox report on “Turkish code opposed by media groups” (January-February) couldn’t have been more timely if he had consulted a crystal ball.
By now, journalists around the world are aware of the murder of Hrant Dink, the Turkish-Armenian editor of a dual-language Istanbul-based weekly newspaper, Agos, on Jan. 19.
Dink was one of the victims of the infamous Article 301 of the Turkish Penal Code and had been tried and convicted of “insulting Turkishness” – even though the sentence was suspended; the case has gone to the European Court of Human Rights – because he stated what historians around the world accept as a fact of history: the genocide of the Armenians by the Ottoman Turks, starting in 1915. The Republic of Turkey denies the fact.
The “controversial article,” as Swaffield puts it, creates enemies of the state, and it is easy to go from being an enemy to being a victim of an assassin who has, in effect, executed an enemy. In truth, Turkey was the murderer.
As Swaffield pointed out, Noble Laureate Orhan Pamuk was also a victim of Article 301 but was let off because of a technicality. Likewise let off as a result of a technicality was Professor Elif Shafak, who was brought to trial because a character in her latest novel referred to the Armenian genocide. As of this writing, Pamuk is in America and, according to some sources, may never return to Turkey because she, too, is in fear for her life.
Greater Philadelphia Chapter
Editor’s note — Turkey doesn’t deny the fact that hundreds of thousands of Armenians died, but attributes the deaths to inter-ethnic strife, disease and famine as a result of World War I.