November 20th 2007
Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Ergodan
Article 301 in Turkish Criminal law
International PEN is disappointed that outright abolition of this article is not under consideration. It has been campaigning for repeal of Article 301 ever since it first entered Turkish law in June 2005. PEN sees no role for laws that penalise insult to the state or state officials in any democracy. It has recently raise concerns about the existence of such laws in several EU countries and has called on its membership of writers in those countries to work towards their annulment.
In this connection we strongly condemn the trial against the son of Hrant Dink. Arat Dink has been given a one year suspended sentence, and several other trials are pending against other writers and journalists under Article 301 and other laws that suppress the right to freedom of expression. Sarkis Serkopyan is another of those persecuted under this law.
We would like to, once again, express our hope that these trials will be dropped in recognition that they are in breach of the international treaties to which Turkey is committed.
We support calls for the repeal of Article 301 in recognition of the fact that it has been used to bring numerous people to the courts solely for having legitimately expressed their opinions, in direct violation of international human rights standards.
As of today, PEN has on its records 21 writers and journalists still on trial for insult to the state!
Sincerely hoping that The Prime Minister will use his high position to further a repeal of Article 301,
Writers in Prison Committee of Norwegian PEN, translator
Copy to Turkish Embassy in Oslo