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:

CounterPunch Magazine

minimag-edit

bernie-the-sandernistas-cover-344x550

zen economics

Weekend Edition
January 20, 2017
Friday - Sunday
Paul Street
Divide and Rule: Class, Hate, and the 2016 Election
Andrew Levine
When Was America Great?
Jeffrey St. Clair
Roaming Charges: This Ain’t a Dream No More, It’s the Real Thing
Yoav Litvin
Making Israel Greater Again: Justice for Palestinians in the Age of Trump
Linda Pentz Gunter
Nuclear Fiddling While the Planet Burns
Ruth Fowler
Standing With Standing Rock: Of Pipelines and Protests
David Green
Why Trump Won: the 50 Percenters Have Spoken
Dave Lindorff
Imagining a Sanders Presidency Beginning on Jan. 20
Pete Dolack
Eight People Own as Much as Half the World
Roger Harris
Too Many People in the World: Names Named
John Berger
The Nature of Mass Demonstrations
Stephen Zielinski
It’s the End of the World as We Know It
David Swanson
Six Things We Should Do Better As Everything Gets Worse
Alci Rengifo
Trump Rex: Ancient Rome’s Shadow Over the Oval Office
Brian Cloughley
What Money Can Buy: the Quiet British-Israeli Scandal
Kent Paterson
Mexico’s Great Winter of Discontent
Norman Solomon
Trump, the Democrats and the Logan Act
David Macaray
Attention, Feminists
Yves Engler
Demanding More From Our Media
James A Haught
Religious Madness in Ulster
Dean Baker
The Economics of the Affordable Care Act
Patrick Bond
Tripping Up Trumpism Through Global Boycott Divestment Sanctions
Robert Fisk
How a Trump Presidency Could Have Been Avoided
Robert Fantina
Trump: What Changes and What Remains the Same
David Rosen
Globalization vs. Empire: Can Trump Contain the Growing Split?
Elliot Sperber
Dystopia
Dan Bacher
New CA Carbon Trading Legislation Answers Big Oil’s Call to Continue Business As Usual
Wayne Clark
A Reset Button for Political America
Chris Welzenbach
“The Death Ship:” An Allegory for Today’s World
Uri Avnery
Being There
Peter Lee
The Deep State and the Sex Tape: Martin Luther King, J. Edgar Hoover, and Thurgood Marshall
Patrick Hiller
Guns Against Grizzlies at Schools or Peace Education as Resistance?
Randy Shields
The Devil’s Real Estate Dictionary
Ron Jacobs
Singing the Body Electric Across Time
Ann Garrison
Fifty-five Years After Lumumba’s Assassination, Congolese See No Relief
Christopher Brauchli
Swing Low Alabama
Dr. Juan Gómez-Quiñones
La Realidad: the Realities of Anti-Mexicanism
Jon Hochschartner
The Five Least Animal-Friendly Senate Democrats
Pauline Murphy
Fighting Fascism: the Irish at the Battle of Cordoba
Susan Block
#GoBonobos in 2017: Happy Year of the Cock!
Louis Proyect
Is Our Future That of “Sense8” or “Mr. Robot”?
Charles R. Larson
Review: Robert Coover’s “Huck out West”
David Yearsley
Manchester-by-the-Sea and the Present Catastrophe
January 19, 2017
Melvin Goodman
America’s Russian Problem
Dave Lindorff
Right a Terrible Wrong: Why Obama Should Reverse Himself and Pardon Leonard Peltier
FacebookTwitterGoogle+RedditEmail