Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdogan
Office of the Prime Minister
Fax: +90 312 417 0476
23 January 2007
As Chair of Norwegian PEN Centre, Writers in Prison Committee, I express my deep shock at the murder of Hrant Dink, the editor of the bilingual Armenian-Turkish magazine, Agos who was shot dead outside his offices in Istanbul, and I urge you, Your Excellency, to see to it that the investigation into his murder be impartial and transparent, and that all those responsible for the crime are brought to justice.
I am seriously concerned that the existence and the use of laws that criminalise “insult to freedom Turkishness” are not only in violation of international standards protecting the right to freedom of expression, but that these laws also endanger the lives of those charged.
I call for your urgent reconsideration of insult laws, in particular the repeal of Article 3001 of the Penal Code. Around twenty “301 trials” are still before the courts. In a recent comment on Article 301, The Minister of Foreign Affairs dismissed concerns about the law saying that no-one had been imprisoned under it. This, to date, has indeed been the case, yet, as shown so appallingly by Dink’s murder, the effect of this law is to tar those accused as enemies of the state and to turn them into targets of fanatics
I also call for an end to all prosecutions of writers, editors, publishers and journalists solely for the peaceful practice of their professions.
Confident that you, Your Excellency, will do all in your power to investigate the murder of Hrant Dink, and that you will see to it that those responsible for this crime are brought to justice, I remain,
Elisabet W. Middelthon, Chair Writers in Prison Committee, Norwegian PEN
The Turkish Embassy, Oslo, Norway
The Norwegian Ministry of Foreign Affairs, Oslo, Norway
The Norwegian Embassy, Ankara, Turkey