BIANET – 2.10.2013 – ECHR found the Turkish State guilty of violating freedom of expression for having used the word “sayin” while mentioning Öcalan – PKK leader. İstanbul – BIA News Desk – 02 October 2013 – The European Court of Human Rights (ECHR) found the Turkish State guilty of violating freedom of expression one more time. The case concerned 19 applicants who stated that they had taken part in a petition campaign which had involved between 60 and 70 persons.
Relying on Article 10 (freedom of expression), the applicants complained about their conviction for having used the word “sayin” – which, they alleged, is a term of courtesy – when sending 67 letters on 18 July 2008 to the Halfeti State. The court ordered Turkey to pay 60,660 euros to 19 applicants.
Prosecutor admitted as “offense denounce”
On 18 July 2008, 67 individuals sent letters to the Halfeti State Prosecutor within a petition campaign called “If addressing [someone] using the term “sayın” is an offense, then I too say “sayın” Abdullah Öcalan, I commit this offense and I denounce myself”.
Notably, the letters included the following passage “If addressing [someone] using the term “sayın” is an offense, then I too say “sayın” Abdullah Öcalan, I commit this offense and I denounce myself”.
The State Prosecutor charged the applicants with praising the leader of a terrorist organization and called for their conviction.
On 3 November 2008 the criminal court found the applicants guilty of the offense of praising a crime and a criminal, and sentenced them, in consequence, to three months’ imprisonment, which was reduced to two months and fifteen days. The court then commuted this sentence to 75 day-fines, or a fine of 1,500 Turkish liras.
The applicants alleged that their conviction had been political rather than legal in nature and applied to ECHR.
The list of applicants were as follows: Erdal Yalçınkaya, Muzaffer Yalçınkaya, Talip Yalçınkaya, Yılmaz Kal, Hacı Yalçınkaya, Ali Kal, Bahri Yalçınkaya, Bahattin Erdil, Hanifi Büyükertaş, Mustafa Öcalan, Ahmet Yalçınkaya, Mehmet Ali Büyükertaş, Mehmet Salih Türk, Osman Ozak, Mustafa Bayram, Kahraman Akşahin, Cafer Öcalan, Mehmet Büyükertaş and Yusuf Koykaç.
“Lack of fair trial”
“PKK is recognized as a ‘terrorist organization’ by the U.S., UN and NATO. Abdullah Öcalan is mainly associated with PKK in Turkey, therefore using praising expressions may also mean the praising of his actions and crimes,” Turkey said in its defense.
The court, however, found Turkey’s defense “unconvincing and insufficient”, ruling that “such petition did not include a call of violence nor organization propaganda”.
It also found Turkey guilty of violation Convention Article 10 on freedom of expression, criticizing that the initial local court verdict was not taken to the Supreme Court of Appeals and defendants had no other means of appeal.
While the applicants submitted their complaint regarding “lack of fair trial”, the court found Turkey guilty of violation Convention Article 6/1.
The court ordered Turkey to pay 60,660 euros to 19 applicants. Turkey will also pay 100,000 euros for court expenses. (AS/BM)
* Click here to read the original article in Turkish.