In a public statement FIDH and IHD said:
"On 15 February 2006, Mr. Kaboglu, former head of the Human Rights Advisory Council, and Mr. Oran, member of this Council, will appear before the Ankara Penal Court of First Instance. They have been charged under Articles 216/I and 301/II of the new Penal Code, for "inciting hatred and enmity" and "humiliation of the courts authority"; they face 18 months to five years in prison.
"In 2004, a Minority and Cultural Rights Commission was established under the presidency of Baskin Oran to function under the Human Rights Advisory Council headed by Mr. Kaboglu. A report on cultural and minority rights was written by the chairman of the Commission Baskin Oran. When the report calling on Turkey to grant more rights to minorities, as well as to overhaul its approach to national identity, was released in October 2004, it reportedly provoked a lively debate within Turkey. An investigation was subsequently launched against the author of the report and the chairman of the Council, claiming that their positions were untenable, in violation of Art. 15 (3) of the International Covenant on Economic, Social and Cultural Rights ratified by Turkey in September 2003, which stipulates that "the State parties (. . . ) undertake to respect the freedom indispensable for scientific research (. . . )".
"This case is an additional example of infringement upon freedom of expression, a flagrant violation of international standards and, in particular of the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights which was ratified by Turkey in September 2003. Our organisations reiterate their deepest concern regarding the multiplicity of legal actions aiming at punishing those who exercise freedom of expression and, in particular, the frequent use of Article 301 of the revised Turkish Penal Code on the denigration of "Turkishness", the Republic, and the foundation and institutions of the State, to prosecute non-violent critical opinions (1).
"On 7 February 2006, the trial of five journalists of the Radikal and Milliyet newspapers, charged with criticising the Istanbul administrative court's ban of a university conference about the Armenian question, started before the Court of Bagcilar district. The trial has been postponed to 11 April. Four of the charged journalists are being prosecuted under Art. 301 of the Turkish Penal Code and they face six months to ten years of imprisonment.
"Our organisations welcome the fact that, on 22 January 2006, the Orhan Pamuk case was dismissed by the first instance court of Sisli. On 9 February 2006, Mr. Hrant Dink and Mr. Sehmuz Ülek, vice-President of Mazlum-Der, a Turkish human rights organisation, accused of "insult to the Turkish State" for statements they made during a conference held in Mazlum-Der Urfa branch in December 2002, were finally acquitted on the grounds that the elements of crime were not material. Nevertheless, on 25 December 2005, Mr. Dink was again charged, with three of his colleagues of Agos magazine, of "attempting to influence the judiciary". This accusation followed a column published in the magazine which criticized a sentence pronounced against Hrant Dink on 7 October 2005.
"Our organisations urge the Turkish authorities to take all necessary measures to ensure respect for freedom of expression and, in this regard, to amend the relevant domestic legislation, particularly Articles of the Penal Code and among them Art. 301, which constitutes a threat to freedom of expression, in violation of Turkey's international legal obligations.
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