Kurdish mayor prosecuted under charges of insulting “Turkishness”


A Kurdish mayor from Diyarbakir, Osman Baydemir, is being prosecuted under Turkey’s controversial Article 301 under the Turkish criminal code that prohibits one from insulting “Turkishness”. From Bianet:

Diyarbakır Mayor Baydemir is prosecuted on the grounds of harshly criticizing and cursing operations against the outlawed Confederation of Kurdistan. He is sued under article 301 of the TCK. Baydemir faces imprisonment of up to 3 years.

Diyarbakır – BÄ°A News Center 19 August 2010, Thursday

Mayor Osman Baydemir of the Diyarbakır Metropolitan Municipality in the pre-dominantly Kurdish region of south-eastern Turkey stands trial on the grounds of a speech in which he harshly criticized the operations against the Democratic Confederation of Kurdistan (KCK) carried out in December 2009 in eleven different provinces. The KCK is the outlawed umbrella organisation that includes the militant Kurdistan Workers Party (PKK). Baydemir cursed in his speech.

Now he is prosecuted under Article 301 of the Turkish Criminal Code under charges of “insulting Turkishness”. The mayor is facing a prison sentence of up to three years.

According to the indictment, a total of seven people filed a complaint against Baydemir: three people from Samsun (Black Sea coast), one from Edirne (Thrace), one from Istanbul, one person residing in Balıkesir (southern coast of the Sea of Marmara) and one person detained in the TekirdaÄŸ Closed Prison (Thrace). The complainants are merely mentioned as “plaintiffs” in the indictment.

Baydemir is a member of the pro-Kurdish Peace and Democracy Party (BDP). The prosecution is based on a press release he delivered in the Diyarbakır Provincial Building of the pro-Kurdish Democratic Society Party (DTP), which was closed down by a decision of the Constitutional Court in 2009. In his statement made on 25 December 2009, Baydemir referred to the KCK operations in eleven provinces and criticized the categorization of “hawks” and “doves” in this context. He said, “Damn the ones who are saying this”, using a rather rude Turkish expression. (SP/VK)