International PEN warned "such trials undermine the Turkish government efforts to bring the country into conformity with these standards." And called for "a halt to all trials against writers, publishers and journalists, and for further review of Turkish legislation that allows for such prosecutions."
The PEN statement came after a 2 December trial hearing against Fatih Tas, owner of the Aram Publishing House. His trial adjourned to 8 February 2006, Fatih Tas is accused of publishing the Turkish translation of a book by US academic, John Tirman.
"One more setback for writers and publishers in their efforts to promote freedom of expression in Turkey," says Sara Wyatt, International PEN's Programme Director for Writers in Prison Committee.
On 17 November 2005, the owner of the Aram Publishing House, Fatih Tas was brought before the Istanbul Court of First Instance on charges under Article 301 of the Penal Code for "insult to the state and to the army". The action stems from Aram's publication earlier this year of a Turkish edition of the book by the American academic, John Tirman, currently Executive Director of MIT's Center for International Studies, Spoils of War: the Human Cost of America's Arms Trade.
First published in the US in 1997, the book refers to the transfer of weapons, military, political and economic support by the US to Turkey, weapons that Tirman accused the Turkish army of having used against Kurdish civilians as well as the rebel group, the PKK.
In a press release protesting the trial, Tirman describes his book as "highly critical of the Turkish military, various government ministers, nationalism, and Atatürk, the founder of the Turkish Republic." The indictment against Tas refers to the accusations of human rights violations, as well as references to Kemal Ataturk's nationalism as being "fascism", and suggestions that the policy in the Kurdish south east in the early 1990s amounted to a "genocide". Tas argues that the book is legitimate criticism. Article 301 of the Penal Code provides sentences of 6 months to three years in prison. (IP/EK/YE)
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