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Can Turkey Learn Tolerance?

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  • Originally posted by Joseph View Post

    Ministry of Justice gives permission for the trial of writer Temel Demirer under article 301 for saying that there was genocide of Armenians in Turkey at a protest meeting held on January 20, 2007, right after the murder of Hrant Dink.

    Bia news center - Ankara

    Erol ÖNDEROĞLU - [email protected]
    Ministry of Justice has given permission for the continuance of the trial of Temel Demirer under article 301 for saying that Hrant Dink was not only killed for being an Armenian, but recognizing the genocide as well.

    Not surprised by this decision of the ministry, Demirer’s lawyer Şiar işvanoğlu told bianet that if the ministry had refused giving permission, then those more liberal minded judges would be willing to use initiative.”

    “We were expecting this decision. With this decision, they have just proven that their promises regarding the European Union, democracy, the structural reforms and the human rights are all fairytales. On the one hand, they go to Armenia to watch a game, on the other hand they are filing cases under article 301.”

    It was Minister Şahin who gave the permission

    According to the new version of article 301, a permission from the Ministry of Justice is required to try cases under this article.

    Demirer’s case went to the ministry on May 15 and minister Mehmet Ali Şahin decided to allow the case to proceed.

    He is on trial for asking people to commit article 301 crime for 301 times

    Demirer is accused for “provoking people to hatred and hostility” for his speech in Ankara on January 20, 2007, the next day after the murder of Hrant Dink.

    The indictment prepared by prosecutor Levent Savaş on January 24, 2007 is based on police reports, tape recordings and CD’s. The indictment claims that Demirer made the following speech in the meeting where Hrant Dink’s murder was protested:

    “I will be brief. (…) We live in a country where not shouting the truths partners with murder. Hrant was killed not only because he was an Armenian, but because he voiced the truth of genocide in this country. If the Turkish intellectuals do not commit this crime of article 301 301 times, then they will be accomplices to this murder. There is genocide in our history. Its name is Armenian Genocide. Hrant told this truth at the expense of his life. I commit the crime and I ask everyone to do the same. Those who do not commit this crime against this state are those who share the responsibility of the murder of Hrant Dink. Those who massacred Armenians yesterday are attacking our Kurdish brothers today. Those who desire the brotherhood of the peoples must settle with this history. We have to commit this crime, so what happened to our Armenian brothers yesterday will not happen to our Kurdish brothers. I ask everyone to commit this crime. Yes, there was Armenian genocide in this country.” (EÖ/EÜ/TB)
    General Antranik (1865-1927): “I am not a nationalist. I recognize only one nation, the nation of the oppressed.”


    • Very interesting.

      Letters from Istanbul
      The Schism in the Turkish Left
      By Ayse Gunaysu

      The Armenian Weekly
      Sept. 20, 2008

      “The Ittihadists committed a cruel genocide,” wrote Ahmet Altan without putting the word in quotation marks, on the day the president of Turkey visited Yerevan. “Don’t ever say they also killed us,” he continued. “What did the Armenian woman in Bursa, the old man in Adana, the baby in Sivas have anything to do with the Armenian fedayis on the Russian border, apart from being Armenian?”

      He then invited his readers to put themselves in the place of Armenians, to imagine that they were all of a sudden taken from their homes, forced to set off on a death march where they witnessed their people die, witnessed their own family members get killed, some shot dead, some drowned in rivers, just because they were Armenian. He tells how their properties were usurped and their belongings looted. “And we, for long years, have forbidden the grandchildren of these people to mourn for their beloved ones,” he continues. He asks, “If it were your grandparents or parents who got killed, wouldn’t you want to cry this out loud? Wouldn’t you feel you owe this to your grandparents?”

      Apologizing for my rough translation, which certainly lacks the poignancy of Altan’s own words, here is how he ends his column:

      “Now we are going to their country. I don’t know if we can, but is it that impossible to look at them with tears in our eyes and softly say, ‘Forgive us’? If we do, perhaps the heavy burden on our shoulders will be relieved and we will see up there, that place where we will all go, a momentary smile on the face of a heavily mustached old Armenian.”

      Ahmet Altan is one of the two founders of Taraf, a relatively new newspaper in Turkey. Taraf has become a parameter of the deepening schism in the Turkish socialist left. One of the two sides of the Turkish socialist left doesn’t like Taraf. Some of them even declared the daily as their enemy on the grounds that Taraf writers have “waged a war against socialists.” The reason is that a number of columnists systematically criticize socialist/communist tradition in Turkey for being nationalistic and ignoring the complexity of life by sticking to the old paradigms of class struggle. Some others think that by taking a firm position against the military at a time of escalating tension between the military and the AKP government, Taraf is practically siding with the government and giving in to the neo-liberal ideology.

      Now, given the fact that the same Ahmet Altan who is accused of siding with the neo-liberal AKP government takes a clear stand on the so-called “Armenian question,” where does Altan’s position on the Armenian Question stand in the schism in the Turkish left? Has this got anything to do with the ongoing confrontation between the two camps of the Turkish left—the orthodox Marxists and the so-called “liberals”?

      With some exceptions, the orthodox Marxists would never openly object Altan’s stance in this context. But their silence, or their dealing with the issue only in the context of, for instance, Hrant Dink’s assasination, is a definite stand in its own right.

      It was not until the 1990’s that part of the Turkish left realized that the complexity of life included issues which cannot be reduced to manifestations of class conflict. However, this realization was never put into words and never articulated as such, because it would mean abandoning the conviction that class relations determined everything in life. Yet, the recognition was there, because the truth made itself so visible, that what was happening was so real, so hurtful, so obvious: a war was going on for more than 20 years now, shedding so much blood, changing the demography, the socio-economic structure, and even the topography of part of the country.

      The Kurdish issue liberated some of us from party lines and the orthodox Marxist class approach, giving rise to an awareness of the nationalist essence of the traditional left in Turkey and how it helped the establishment cover up certain truths about our past—the terrible demographic engineering and its consequences manifested in ordinary everyday racism, to which we had become so accustomed that we weren’t even aware of its existence. Then we were able to notice that we were living side by side with the victims of this commonplace racism without really seeing them.

      At first, this handful of people were marginalized by the left. But as “minority rights” became part of the public knowledge, primarily by means of the EU Progress Reports on Turkey and EU projects awarded to awareness raising programmes, a public awareness emerged. In parallel to this process, certain groups on the socialist left included “minority rights” issues in their agenda. Yet, they still did not deal with the matter as a question central to democracy and human rights but rather as a specific field of interest, just like environmental issues or sexual orientation questions or the rights of the disabled.

      In order for the Turkish socialist left to see the real size of the issue and the link between the established system and denialism, Hrant Dink had to be assasinated.

      This ability to overlook what was going on was because the whole structural problem that prevents Turkey from being a real democracy and being a country respectful of human dignity—i.e. the “Turkishness” of the state—is reduced to “minority rights.” They are still unable to see that this is an inseparable element, thus an essential part of the Turkish way of ruling the country.

      I had read a hair-raising war cry in Aram Andonian’s unforgettable book The Balkan War, published in Turkish by Aras Yayinlari in Istanbul. With an amateurish translation it goes as follows:

      “Let blood spout out from every inch of ground I step on, let the spring flowers under my claws turn into desert and desert into a dungeon.

      If I leave a stone on top of another, let my own hearth be extinguished forever.

      I swear that my bayonet will turn rose gardens into cemeteries and that I will leave this land in complete ruins so that no civilization will be built thereon for ten centuries.

      If I leave a leaf on a branch and a flag on a bastion, let a black stamp be affixed on my breast. My breath will spread fire, my gun radiate death, my steps create precipices.

      I will smear every white color with black gunpowder and every trace of gunpowder with a handful of blood. I will hang the feeling of mercy on the blade of my sword, ideals on the barrel of my gun, and civilization on the shoe of my horse’s hind leg.

      Hollows in the mountains, shadows of forests, the wrinkled face of ruins will forever tell the story of the Turk passing through this land.”

      This was how Aka Gunduz, whose real name was Enis Avni Bey, a member of the Committee of Union and Progress (CUP), swore before the grave of Mehmet the Conqueror upon hearing the reports that four small Balkan countries had declared mobilization against the Ottoman Empire for their independence, leaving aside the conflicts among themselves. The passage is from his article published in the daily Tanin, dated Oct. 21, 1912.

      The Turkish socialist left has to see that here in Turkey, there are hundreds and thousands of people who may not have Enis Avni Bey’s literary skill or may not share his choice of words but feel more or less the same way towards the people they think are the enemies of their country.* These people are mostly wage-earners, laborers, the unemployed, and the unpropertied. Without dealing with this racism and chauvinism, generated by the ruling elite but put into practice by the poor masses, not even one single socialist goal—let alone a victorious revolution—can be achieved.
      General Antranik (1865-1927): “I am not a nationalist. I recognize only one nation, the nation of the oppressed.”


      • Turkish authorities blocked access to British author Richard Dawkins' website. [Getty Images]

        Turkey's blocking of websites raises doubts about freedom of expression


        Turkey has banned prominent British academic and evolutionist Richard Dawkins' website, the latest of hundreds of controversial internet bans that undermine freedom of expression in the EU candidate country.

        By Ayhan Simsek for Southeast European Times -- 01/10/08

        An Istanbul court ordered a ban on Turkish access to British author Richard Dawkins' site ( after controversial Islamist and creationist Adnan Oktar claimed the site libelled his character.

        Oktar and his shadowy, well-funded group have been leading campaigners against Darwinism, publishing and distributing thousands of books for free, in Turkey and in more than 50 other countries.

        Oktar's book Atlas of Creation received rough treatment on Dawkins' website, where the British academic pointed out errors in its content and attacked Oktar for manipulating facts.

        "I am at a loss to reconcile the expensive and glossy production values of this book with the 'breathtaking inanity' of the content," the scientist wrote in July.

        While Oktar and his followers won their legal case against Dawkins' website, they failed to ban his prominent book, The God Delusion. The same Istanbul court that blocked his site last month upheld circulation of his book last April, citing freedom of expression.

        Dawkins' website is not the only victim of the legal campaign by Oktar's group against Darwinist or atheist sites. Oktar and his followers, exploiting loopholes in Turkish law, managed earlier to obtain temporary bans on leading internet sites, including Google Groups and WordPress blogs, citing alleged insults to Islamist authors.

        Authorities have blocked access to Turkish evolutionist websites such as as well. In late September, they also banned the website of a major trade union, the Union of Turkish Educators (Egitim Sen), for publishing criticism 19 months ago of Atlas of Creation.

        The controversial Oktar received a three-year prison sentence last May for founding an illegal organisation for personal gain and with criminal intent. He remains free on appeal.

        His group's considerable financial backing is mysterious, and the Turkish press often accuses it of secretive, cult-like practices and financial exploitation of its followers.

        Turkish media have reacted with outrage to the vaguely justified internet bans. "Take your hands off our internet," the leftist daily Radikal headlined on Tuesday. The daily denounced the blocking of the websites and emphasised that most of the bans did not even result from court rulings, rather from decrees by the country's Telecommunications Directorate.

        Turkey's ruling Islamist-rooted Justice and Development Party (AKP) has announced its commitment to the EU accession process and pledged to revive reforms. But recent restrictions on the internet raise significant doubts about that commitment. The AKP rejects charges of a hidden Islamist political agenda and describes itself as a conservative democratic party. Some leading AKP members have publicly disputed evolutionist ideas in the past, but the party has no direct link to Oktar and tries to distance itself from his group.

        This content was commissioned for



        • Originally posted by Alexandros View Post
          An Istanbul court ordered a ban on Turkish access to British author Richard Dawkins' site ( after controversial Islamist and creationist Adnan Oktar claimed the site libelled his character.


          While Oktar and his followers won their legal case against Dawkins' website, they failed to ban his prominent book, The God Delusion. The same Istanbul court that blocked his site last month upheld circulation of his book last April, citing freedom of expression.
          Wierd... I'm reading his website now in Turkey.


          • Originally posted by hitite View Post
            Wierd... I'm reading his website now in Turkey.
            You subversive


            • Originally posted by steph View Post
              You subversive
              I didnt even have to use ktunnel or another proxy.

              This banning of websites is the epitome of idiocy in this country.


              • Originally posted by hitite View Post
                I didnt even have to use ktunnel or another proxy.

                This banning of websites is the epitome of idiocy in this country.
                For sure, although I bet sites that should be banned aren't, like most other countries.


                • Wow

                  Originally posted by hitite View Post
                  I didnt even have to use ktunnel or another proxy.

                  This banning of websites is the epitome of idiocy in this country.
                  But if you do really need to use a good proxy, don't worry with KTunnel,
                  go for hide ip or the Privacy guard. Also protects against viruses.
                  ¡Tierra y Libertad!



                  • Turkish Armenians indignant at Defense Minister’s statement
                    13.11.2008 15:19 GMT+04:00

                    /PanARMENIAN.Net/ Those who do not like Turkey’s "one nation, one flag" structure can leave and go anywhere they like better, Turkish Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdogan said when commenting on Defense Minister Vecdi Gonul statement that Turkey had to deport Greeks and Armenians in the beginning of the 20th century.

                    Defense Minister Vecdi Gonul took this threatening discourse to new heights on Monday with a speech he gave at the Turkish Embassy in Brussels. "Would we be the nation-state we are today if the Greeks in the Aegean region or the Armenians here and there continued to stay in Turkey?" he asked.

                    Gonul drew harsh criticism from intellectuals and civil society organizations for expressing ideas in a way that could be taken for justifying ethnic cleansing.

                    The Armenian community of Istanbul sent a letter to PM Erdogan to remind that the Turkish Constitution says that Turk is a citizen of Turkey, irrelative of the nationality, Turkish Press Review reports.


                    • Answer from Arat Dink to Defense Minister


                      Answer to Turkish Defense Minister Gonul's "Would we be the nation-state we are today if the population exchange and deportation didnot happen" 'weird' saying: "We couldnot be. Also you werenot minister. If you were, you wouldnot think like that".

                      Arat Dink continued his words: You appreciate moy absence, and then state that a country is based on this absence, then tell "if they were, how can be our situation".

                      What if minorities live in here? Our culture would be rich as a forest. Everybody were born where his/her mother were born. In that case country becomes homeland. If nothing changed, those people would live with us.

                      I have a suggestion: Every Monday morning we swear in the buildings [he implies "School Oath" in Turkey, every Monday morning called "Our Oath": a nationalistic rubbish -ardakilic]. In minority schools, let us say "My absence shall be presented to Turkish existence"*

                      * Last words of this oath is "My existence shall be presented to Turkish existence".

                      P.S.: Sorry for the bad translation. Arat Dink's words are not easy to be translated because of being full of idioms.
                      [B]Fiat justitia, et pereat mundus[/B]