"Hate Speech and Hate Crime" was the topic of a meeting of the Human Rights Agenda Association (İHGD) in Ankara on Saturday (6 November). The association emphasized the need to implement an according awareness in the media and the education system.
Tankut Taşkın Soykan gave a presentation on the struggle against hate speech and hate crime by the Organization for Security and Co-operation in Europe (OSCE) in the beginning of the meeting that was supported by the German Embassy.
Soykan explained that the European Commission against Racism and Intolerance (ECRI) as well as the Office for Democratic Institutions for Human Rights (ODIHR) of the OSCE exist to counter these crimes. Rights advocates and non-governmental organizations can convey information to this structure which is being fed only very little by information from the Turkish officials.
Caution with new media
Prof. Mutlu Binark from Bahçeşehir University (Istanbul) warned that hate speech was regularly widespread in new kinds of media such as blogs, forums, twitter and facebook. He stressed the need to develop an according strategy within the educational system.
Awareness of local media and in education
Ferai Salman, representative of the Joint Platform for Human Rights (İHOP), described the need of raising awareness for hate speech and freedom of expression also on the level of the local media. He said that this area should be monitored on the other hand. It was underlined that local and nation-wide journalist organizations were obliged not raise their voice against this kind of speech as much as they do so against violations against journalists.
Attack against Romans tried under article 216
The President of the Izmir Romani Association, Abdullah Cıstır, drew attention to the importance of the courts to demonstrate determination in the struggle against hate crimes. Referring to the attacks on Romans in Selendi (western Turkey) said that the trial opened under article 216 of the Turkish Criminal Court (TCK) on "inciting hatred and hostility" was the result of their determined following up of the procedures.
EU, Prime Ministry and Ministry of Justice part of the process
The participants of the meeting shared their observations and suggestions. They emphasized the importance of inviting representatives from the General Secretariat of the European Union, the Prime Ministry and the Ministry of Justice. They furthermore agreed on the importance to include other ministries and public institutions into the process.
It was criticized that the Presidency of the General Staff had targeted different sections of society in its past statements. Moreover, the participants requested Prime Minister Erdoğan to refrain from exclusionary statements.
The meeting was attended by representatives of the Human Rights Centre of the Ankara University Political Sciences Faculty, the LGBT associations KAOS GL and Black Pink Triangle (Izmir), KURT DER, the Refugees Association, the Diyarbakır Bar Association, the Civil Society Development Centre (STGM) and the Caucasian Association. (EÖ/VK)