Les juges de Strasbourg visent l’article 301 qui punit de deux ans d’emprisonnement toute personne ayant dénigré "la nation turque" ou "l’Etat de la République de Turquie". Cet article a été fréquemment utilisé contre des journalistes ou des intellectuels, coupables d’avoir évoqué le "génocide arménien", un statut que la Turquie refuse d’accorder aux massacres commis en 1915 par l’empire Ottoman.

"Le libellé de l’article 301 du code pénal, tel qu’interprété par la justice, est excessivement large et vague et ne permet pas aux individus de régler leur conduite ou de prévoir les conséquences de leurs actes", affirme la Cour. L’arrêt, qui est susceptible d’appel, fait suite à la requête d’Altug Taner Akçam, un historien turco-allemand résidant à Ankara et spécialisé dans les événements de 1915.

Visé par trois plaintes pénales déposées par des ultra-nationalistes, il se plaignait, bien qu’elles aient été classées sans suite, d’avoir été soumis à une campagne de harcèlement de la part de certains médias et d’avoir reçu des menaces de mort. Cette situation, arguait-il, l’avait contraint à ne plus écrire sur la question arménienne.

Adoptée sous la pression de l’Union européenne, la réforme de 2008, qui soumet les poursuites à l’aval du ministre de la justice, n’est pas suffisante, affirme la CEDH. Elle "souscrit" à l’avis de Thomas Hammarberg, Commissaire aux droits de l’homme du Conseil de l’Europe, pour qui ce dispositif d’autorisation préalable ne saurait remplacer une nécessaire mise aux normes du droit, eu égard à la protection de la liberté d’expression.

Selon le gouvernement turc, le ministre de la justice n’a fait droit qu’à 80 demandes de poursuites sur les 1 025 qui lui ont été soumises au titre de l’article 301 de mai 2008 à novembre 2009.

Altug Taner Akçam avançait un nombre nettement plus élevé, soit 116 personnes poursuivies entre juillet et septembre 2008 selon l’Independent communications network, une organisation non gouvernementale de surveillance des médias.

La Cour européenne des Droits de l’Homme a jugé mardi à l’unanimité que la reconnaissance du génocide arménien ne peut pas être criminalisée en Turquie. Le verdict découle d’une affaire portée devant le tribunal par le célèbre érudit Taner Akçam.

Dans le cas Taner Akçam, la Cour a statué que les poursuites pénales de la Turquie sur la question du génocide arménien constitue une violation de l’article 10 (liberté d’expression) de la Convention européenne des Droits de l’Homme.

Décision de la Cour

La Cour estime qu’il y a eu « ingérence » dans la liberté d’expression du requérant. L’enquête pénale dirigée contre celui-ci, la position adoptée par les juridictions turques sur la question arménienne dans les affaires où elles font application de l’article 301 du code pénal turc – consistant en pratique à sanctionner toute critique de la politique officielle sur ce point – ainsi que la campagne publique menée contre l’intéressé confirment que les personnes exprimant des opinions « intempestives » sur cette question s’exposent à un risque considérable de poursuites et donnent à penser que la menace pesant sur le requérant est réelle. Les mesures adoptées pour introduire des garanties contre des poursuites arbitraires ou injustifiées sur le fondement de l’article 301 ne sont pas suffisantes. Les informations statistiques fournies par le Gouvernement démontrent la persistance d’un nombre élevé d’enquêtes, et le requérant soutient que ce nombre est encore plus important. Le Gouvernement n’a pas fourni d’explications sur l’objet ou la nature des affaires ayant donné lieu à une autorisation d’enquêter délivrée par le ministre de la Justice. En outre, la Cour souscrit à l’avis exprimé par le Commissaire aux droits de l’homme du Conseil de l’Europe, M. Thomas Hammarberg, dans un rapport où celui-ci a indiqué qu’un dispositif d’autorisation préalable au cas par cas par le ministre de la Justice ne constituait pas une solution durable susceptible de se substituer à l’incorporation des normes pertinentes de la Convention dans le système et la pratique juridiques turcs.

En outre, la Cour estime que si l’on peut admettre dans une certaine mesure que l’objectif du législateur consistant à protéger et à préserver les valeurs et les institutions de l’Etat contre le dénigrement public est légitime, le libellé de l’article 301 du code pénal, tel qu’interprété par la justice, est excessivement large et vague et ne permet pas aux individus de régler leur conduite ou de prévoir les conséquences de leurs actes. Bien que les autorités turques aient substitué l’expression « nation turque » au terme « turcité », il n’y a apparemment pas eu de changement dans l’interprétation de ces notions. A cet égard, la Cour rappelle que, dans l’arrêt qu’elle a rendu en 2010 en l’affaire Dink c. Turquie, elle a reproché à la Cour de cassation d’avoir maintenu son interprétation. En conséquence, l’article 301 demeure une menace pour l’exercice de la liberté d’expression. Il ressort clairement du nombre d’enquêtes et de poursuites fondées sur cet article que toute opinion ou idée considérée comme offensante, choquante ou dérangeante peut aisément faire l’objet d’une enquête pénale de la part du ministère public. A la vérité, les dispositions censées empêcher la justice d’appliquer abusivement l’article 301 sont impuissantes à garantir l’absence de poursuites car tout changement survenant dans la volonté politique ou dans la position du Gouvernement peut avoir des incidences sur l’interprétation de la loi par le ministre de la Justice et donner lieu à des poursuites arbitraires.

La Cour conclut que, faute de prévisibilité, l’ingérence dans la liberté d’expression du requérant n’était pas « prévue par la loi », au mépris de l’article 10.

La Cour estime que, dans les circonstances de l’espèce, le constat de violation auquel elle est parvenue constitue une satisfaction équitable suffisante aux fins de l’article 41.

Turkish State Accused of Crimes against Humanity

Solidarity with the Victims of All Genocides and the Forum for Stateless Nations: Action against Genocidal Turkey:
"We accuse Turkey of Crimes against Humanity"
"Why do you imprison writers for their thoughts and deny people freedom of expression?"
1. Crimes Against Humanity.
Turkey and the ruling AKP party are currently engaged in crimes against humanity. We urge UK parliamentarians and concerned members of the public to address and confront these key concerns and acts being perpetrated by a NATO ally. Martin Dolzer, the author of a key Report of the Human Rights Delegation from Brussels, Berlin, North Rhine-Westphalia and Hamburg (based on a visit between 15 October-25 October 2010 by lawyers, human rights observers, an MEP, a member of the German Bundestag, the Parliamentary Assembly of the Council of Europe and the Land Parliament of North Rhine-Westphalia) concluded that:
The current situation in the Kurdish provinces of Turkey is characterised by grave human rights violations, repression and war crimes committed by the Turkish military and special units of the Gendarmerie … The Turkish state’s ongoing policy of war and repression, military operations and attacks by state forces on the civilian population have been taking place almost daily for several months. In the first six months of 2010, these operations resulted in more than 20 extra-legal executions by state and paramilitary forces, and over 650 documented cases of torture. In addition to this, reports of the Turkish military using chemical weapons and mutilating the bodies of the dead have become more common over the last five months. Incidents in which forest fires have been started and toxic defoliants used have also been documented more frequently. Psychological warfare is used with varying degrees of intensity as an alternative means of prosecuting the conflict. Press freedom is restricted again and again. Torture and mistreatment by the police and the military are particularly common in the provinces of Hakkari, Sirnak, Dersim, Agri and Siirt. Journalists, human rights activists and individuals active in politics are particularly affected by these practices.
Furthermore, the systematic harassment and rape of women by the security forces is a major problem in small towns … Generally, it is evident that … the Turkish government has been resorting to a worrying degree to methods that involve the criminalisation of functioning local political structures, the detention of politicians and activists who have an impact on international public opinion or, in the provinces that are increasingly affected by military operations, even attacks on the right to life … Rape has been used systematically for years in several regions as a way of enforcing the state’s policy of assimilation and the political suppression of the Kurdish population.
The situation has not improved since then. Whilst intense psychological warfare is being waged within Turkey, intense aerial bombardment continues of northern Iraq, ostensibly targeting ‘PKK’ positions. However, “extensive damage to the villages” in the area there is ongoing (ANF August 18), yet hardly reported in the mainstream British press.
The Armenian, Assyrian, Greek, Kurdish, Greek Cypriot and ‘Other’ genocides continue to be officially denied, and the Kurdish genocide (as defined by the Genocide Convention, Raphael Lemkin who coined the term and other genocide scholars and human rights activists), continues to remain “ongoing”, including in its cultural, linguistic and political context (Fernandes 2011). For Janet Levy: “Discriminatory practices against minorities continue unabated. Full political participation, equal rights and freedom of expression and religion are curtailed” by the Erdogan government. “The denial of the well-documented historical truth and the memorializing of its murderers perpetuate the crime of genocide and is an affront to its victims, families and survivors. The descendants of the Armenian, Assyrian and Greek victims deserve nothing less than full recognition of this atrocity and a full apology by the Turkish government” (Levy, American Thinker, August 2011).
2. Assaults on Freedom of Expression and Freedom of Speech.
‘Operations’, ostensibly in the name of ‘anti-terrorism’ have sought to actually disrupt any political initiatives aimed at resolving the ‘Kurdish question’ democratically and peacefully. Representatives and supporters of the Peace and Democracy Party (BDP) have been scandalously targeted alongside trade unionists, academics, students, lawyers and human rights campaigners. According to BIA (7 October 2011): “Ten elected mayors, eight mayor assistants, two deputy mayors, two former mayors, two provincial general assembly presidents, four provincial general assembly vice presidents and 29 municipality council members are currently in prison in Turkey. The Peace and Democracy Party (BDP) announced the number of people taken into custody and being arrested in the course of the so-called KCK operations since April 2009 … According to the announcement of the BDP, 7,748 party executives and employees were taken into custody and 3,895 were arrested between 14 April 2009 and 6 October 2011… Based on the figures published by the BDP, only within the past six months, 4,148 persons were taken into police custody and 1,548 people were arrested”. The most recent raids took place earlier this month, designed to spread terror amongst the populace and those advocating democratic rights and peaceful resolutions to conflicts: Among the people taken into custody after raids this October are members of the pro-Kurdish Peace and Democracy Party (BDP) Party, the Democratic Society Congress (DTK), the noted academic and political scientist and translator Deniz Zarakolu, journalist Tayyip Temel (former General Publications Director and now writer of the Kurdish Azadiya Welat newspaper), reporter Aydin Yildiz, Kazim Seker (editor of the Özgür Gündem newspaper) and Kemal Aydin, Executive of the Association for Solidarity and Support of Relatives of Disappeared People (YAKAY-DER).
Prosecutors have also demanded 150 years imprisonment for BDP deputies Leyla Zana, Nursel Aydogan and independent MP Aysel Tugluk. BDP Co-Chair Selahattin Demirtas “remarked that BDP politics in the Parliament will lose its meaning should Ahmet Türk be stripped of his deputyship in connection with the ongoing cases … Demirtas said; ‘They demand 2,474 years imprisonment for us’” (ANF 15 October 011). Joint attorney of the BDP Sinan Zincir has stated that these operations against the BDP are intended to "openly and clearly prevent the democratic efforts of the BDP and to break the democratic will of the Kurds" (BIA 5 October 2011). As far as BDP Group Vice President Hasip Kaplan is concerned, the operations which target political parties must be seen as a “policy of war”, not “a policy of negotiation”: “The Kurdish issue is a problem with political, economic, social, cultural, historical extents and its solution must be ensured at the Parliament through peaceful and democratic means … [But] the way [it is]following is the way of crimes against humanity and genocide ” (ANF, 5 October 2011).
The assault against freedom of expression is all-embracing: “Students Berna Yilmaz and Ferhat Tüzer held a press conference on Friday (7 October, at the Istanbul Bar Association), one day subsequent to their release from prison pending trial after 19 months in detention. The students are being tried on the grounds of posting a banner that [simply] read ‘We want free education and we will get it’. [For this], they stand accused of ‘membership of the DHKP/C terror organization’ (Party and Revolutionary Front for the Liberation of the Turkish People) and ‘making propaganda for a terrorist organization’ because they posted a banner calling for free education during the speech of Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdogan on 14 March 2010” (BIA, Nilay VARDAR, 10 October 2011). Raziye Kizil, President of the Komela Jinen Dengbej (KJD) Women Dengbejler House, is also currently facing two trials against her on the grounds of having sung Kurdish folk songs: “’These trials are sad for all of us. We are artists. It does not matter if you are a Turk, a Kurd, a Laz or a Circassian – everybody should be able to sing songs freely in their mother language. It cannot be a crime to sing a folk song’, Kizil stated” (BIA, 11 October 2011).
The Platform for Solidarity with Arrested Journalists (TGDP) has just issued the following statement:
"Who is next? The terror of mass detentions and arrests against Kurdish politicians who act in accordance with the Anti-Terror Law (TMY) and against journalists is a direct attack on free speech, freedom of demonstration and assembly and press freedom. TMY operations have no credibility at all with unfounded allegations” (BIA, 7 October 2011).
We ask concerned MP’s and members of the public to do everything they can to raise these concerns.
For further information, contact Eilian Williams at: info: 07588256783 [email protected]

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