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Hollow Promises of Turkish Reform - HyeOctane - Taking Grassroots Activism to the Next Level

HyeOctane

Taking Grassroots Activism to the Next Level

Hollow Promises of Turkish Reform

February 5th, 2008 by

Last week, it was reported that Turkey has further delayed reform of Article 301 of its Penal Code, which punishes those the state deems to be “insulting Turkishness.” This was the notorious article Hrant Dink was persecuted and convicted under before being murdered in front of the headquarters of his Agos newspaper last year.As always, the main motivation for the Turkish state to even pretend that it seeks to change its ways is pressure from the EU, which has made it clear that Article 301 is an unacceptable obstacle to free speech. Sadly, this same pattern of Turkey promising reforms in the face of European pressure, only to have the changes never materialize, has been repeated over and over again since the early 1990s, to the point of absurdity.

For instance, before Article 301, it was Article 8 of the “Anti-Terror” law and then Prime Minister Tansu Ciller promising change in the face of a European Parliament vote on a customs union with Turkey. Now it is Tayyip Erdogan giving the false promises in order to pacify demands for change and dupe Europe into coalescence. Each time, the changes that are made are simply cosmetic and rendered insignificant by a host of other laws the state uses at its discretion to punish its critics.

Even the government’s talk of reforming Article 301 has to do not with removing the shameful Article completely, but merely making a few cosmetic word changes and having the Justice Ministry be responsible for permitting prosecutions. Thus, instead of being persecuted for “insulting Turkishness,” dissidents will now be hunted down for “insulting the Turkish nation.”

The fact remains that even if reforms of 301 meant something or were not delayed, the problem of Turkish repression would still remain. It must be realized that the problems of democracy in Turkey are much deeper than one article. They have to do with a whole regime and society built on a culture of oppression, authoritarianism, denial and injustice. Until this culture is defeated, democracy and rule of law will remain hollow promises meant simply for Western consumption.

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This entry was posted on Tuesday, February 5th, 2008 at 5:58 pm and is filed under Uncategorized. You can follow any responses to this entry through the RSS 2.0 feed. You can leave a response, or trackback from your own site.

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