FacebookTwitterGoogle+RedditEmail

Insult Your Country

by MICHAEL DICKINSON

Imagine it.

You live in a democratic country that has ratified both the United Nations International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights, and the European Convention on Human Rights, both of which value freedom of expression as central. Surely you think– and dare to speak your thought freely if you are the member a state that upholds those principles.

But imagine if that same country should have a Penal Code that includes a clause that contradicts the very same principles it claims to uphold. Imagine just for the sake of it that the country in question were America. This then would be the offending clause:

“A person who explicitly insults being an American, the Republic or American Government, shall be imposed to a penalty of imprisonment for a term of six months to three years.”

In addition: “where insulting being an American is committed by an American citizen in a foreign country, the penalty to be imposed shall be increased by one third.”

If you were an American, of course you wouldn’t dream of such a curtailment of your right to free speech, and couldn’t imagine such a situation to exist. But it does.

Just change the name of the country and nationality to Turkey, and Turkish, and we’re talking Article 30/1 of the Turkish Legal Code, and we’re talking a possible three year jail sentence facing Turkish writer Orhan Pamuk, for his explicit insults, made during an interview with the Tages Anzeiger newspaper in Switzerland earlier this year. The trial is due to take place in Istanbul in December.

Orhan Pamuk is one of Turkey’s most well known authors. His works have been published world wide in over 20 languages. He was nominated for this year’s Nobel Literary Prize. His most recent book, Istanbul, is a fond personal history of his native city. He loves his country. What could he have said which so explicitly insulted being a Turk?

Basically it boils down to a nasty word–genocide. Did he say it or didn’t he? What he is quoted as saying was: “a million Armenians were killed in these lands and nobody but me dares to talk about it”– a reference to the killings by Ottoman Empire forces of thousands of Armenians in 1915-1917.

Turkey does not contest the deaths, but denies that it could be called “genocide”, saying that the death toll is inflated and that Armenians were killed in civil unrest as the Ottoman empire collapsed. The word genocide, is defined in most dictionaries as “the systematic, planned annihilation of an ethnic, racial or political group.” That seems a fairly accurate description of the accounts of systematic forced expropriation, deportation, and disappearance of up to a million Armenians during that time.

Pamuk also got into trouble for referring to the “30,000” Kurds killed since 1984 in the conflict between Turkish forces and Kurdish separatists.

Recently the author (understandably not wanting to spend three years inside) has been trying to explain his remarks. Of the Armenian Massacre he said: “I did not say, we Turks killed this many Armenians. I did not use the word ‘genocide’.”

And on Turkey’s 20-year conflict with Kurdish guerrillas seeking autonomy, branded a terrorist group by the US and EU. He said: “There are martyred Turkish soldiers among those 30,000 to 35,000 killed people. Let’s express our respect to them.”

Pamuk complains that he had become a victim of a “defamation campaign” resulting in vilification by some Turkish papers, death threats and book burnings, but he has also received massive international support for his right to say what he believes.

As for the Armenian genocide– was it or wasn’t it? There are records, there are eye-witness reports, there is fog and there is eye and whitewash. Somewhere in there is the truth which always remains. And truth will out.

Foul crimes and atrocities have been committed by one group of people against another since written history. We shouldn’t cover up the fact that some of our grandparents were ignorant sadistic racists, but face the facts, apologize and forgive as best we can, and move on, improving as we go to a better world for those who come after us.

And as to the truth or not of the Armenian genocide, Hitler certainly believed he had learned a lesson from that idea when talking of the need for massive resettlements.

He said:

“We intend to introduce a resettlement policy. Think of the biblical deportations and the massacres of the Middle Ages…and remember the extermination of the Armenians. One eventually reaches the conclusion that the masses of man are mere biological plasticine Have placed my death-head formations in readiness – with orders to them to send to death mercilessly and without compassion , men, women, and children of Polish derivation and language. Only thus shall we gain the living space (lebensraum) which we need. Who, after all, speaks today of the annihilation of the Armenians?”

MICHAEL DICKINSON is an English teacher working in Istanbul Turkey. He can be contacted at http://yabanji.tripod.com/ or mdickinson@kablonet.com.tr

 

Michael Dickinson can be contacted at michaelyabanji@gmail.com.

More articles by:
June 29, 2016
Diana Johnstone
European Unification Divides Europeans: How Forcing People Together Tears Them Apart
Andrew Smolski
To My Less-Evilism Haters: A Rejoinder to Halle and Chomsky
David Rosen
Birth-Control Wars: Two Centuries of Struggle
Jeffrey St. Clair
Noam Chomsky, John Halle and Henry the First: a Note on Lesser Evil Voting
Sheldon Richman
Brexit: What Kind of Dependence Now?
Yves Engler
“Canadian” Corporate Capitalism
Lawrence Davidson
Return to the Gilded Age: Paul Ryan’s Deregulated Dystopia
Priti Gulati Cox
All That Glitters is Feardom: Whatever Happens, Don’t Blame Jill Stein
Franklin Lamb
About the Accusation that Syrian and Russian Troops are Looting Palmyra
Binoy Kampmark
Texas, Abortion and the US Supreme Court
Anhvinh Doanvo
Justice Thomas’s Abortion Dissent Tolerates Discrimination
Victor Grossman
Brexit Pro and Con: the View From Germany
Manuel E. Yepe
Brazil: the Southern Giant Will Have to Fight
Rivera Sun
The Nonviolent History of American Independence
Adjoa Agyeiwaa
Is Western Aid Destroying Nigeria’s Future?
Jesse Jackson
What Clinton Should Learn From Brexit
Mel Gurtov
Is Brexit the End of the World?
June 28, 2016
Jonathan Cook
The Neoliberal Prison: Brexit Hysteria and the Liberal Mind
Paul Street
Bernie, Bakken, and Electoral Delusion: Letting Rich Guys Ruin Iowa and the World
Anthony DiMaggio
Fatally Flawed: the Bi-Partisan Travesty of American Health Care Reform
Mike King
The “Free State of Jones” in Trump’s America: Freedom Beyond White Imagination
Antonis Vradis
Stop Shedding Tears for the EU Monster: Brexit, the View From the Peloponnese
Omar Kassem
The End of the Atlantic Project: Slamming the Brakes on the Neoliberal Order
Binoy Kampmark
Brexit and the Neoliberal Revolt Against Jeremy Corbyn
Doug Johnson Hatlem
Alabama Democratic Primary Proves New York Times’ Nate Cohn Wrong about Exit Polling
Ruth Hopkins
Save Bear Butte: Mecca of the Lakota
Celestino Gusmao
Time to End Impunity for Suharto’’s Crimes in Indonesia and Timor-Leste
Thomas Knapp
SCOTUS: Amply Serving Law Enforcement’s Interests versus Society’s
Manuel E. Yepe
Capitalism is the Opposite of Democracy
Winslow Myers
Up Against the Wall
Chris Ernesto
Bernie’s “Political Revolution” = Vote for Clinton and the Neocons
Stephanie Van Hook
The Time for Silence is Over
Ajamu Nangwaya
Toronto’s Bathhouse Raids: Racialized, Queer Solidarity and Police Violence
June 27, 2016
Robin Hahnel
Brexit: Establishment Freak Out
James Bradley
Omar’s Motive
Gregory Wilpert – Michael Hudson
How Western Military Interventions Shaped the Brexit Vote
Leonard Peltier
41 Years Since Jumping Bull (But 500 Years of Trauma)
Rev. William Alberts
Orlando: the Latest Victim of Radicalizing American Imperialism
Patrick Cockburn
Brexiteers Have Much in Common With Arab Spring Protesters
Franklin Lamb
How 100 Syrians, 200 Russians and 11 Dogs Out-Witted ISIS and Saved Palmyra
John Grant
Omar Mateen: The Answers are All Around Us
Dean Baker
In the Wake of Brexit Will the EU Finally Turn Away From Austerity?
Ralph Nader
The IRS and the Self-Minimization of Congressman Jason Chaffetz
Johan Galtung
Goodbye UK, Goodbye Great Britain: What Next?
Martha Pskowski
Detained in Dilley: Deportation and Asylum in Texas
FacebookTwitterGoogle+RedditEmail