He had, in a let-me-tell-you style of frankness, told a Swiss newspaper that “30,000 Kurds and 1 million Armenians were killed in these lands and nobody but me dares to talk about it.”
Well, in these lands of painful memory, laws may change but old habits die hard. Remember that ultranationalist lawyer Kemal Kerinçsiz, who led the campaign against this “traitor” was quick to take the lead in bringing these words to court because “he, as a Turk, felt denigrated and wanted compensation in the name of Turkishness.” He wanted to be protected and paid with the help of famous article 301.
The case was almost lost in the channels between a court in the Şişli district of İstanbul and the Supreme Court of Appeals. While the lower court insisted that the lawyer had no case, the other kept insisting that he did.
The latter won. In a final note, the Grand Assembly of the Supreme Court of Appeals argued that “affiliation with a nation is protected by law and it is in the interest of all citizens to be able to file cases if their honor is hurt.” The lower court had no choice but to abide by the verdict. Pamuk must pay a compensation of 6,000 TL to five complainants.
According to law experts, this landmark decision sets a precedent. Since article 301 is retroactive in eight years, people whose feelings are “hurt” may be campaigned to file similar cases against the author.
“Good news” for the Nobel laureate, whose name also seems to have been wiped from school books these days.
We are back in a dilemma. Turkey is a distributor of hope, as well as being in the service of great despair. No wonder so many people these days are returning to the question, “What is going on?”
The seemingly desperate pursuit of an unpublished book by detained journalist Ahmet Şık has greatly contributed to arguments that strange forces are in action. In the absence of transparency, people -- including myself -- are puzzled, not convinced, that there is a rationale behind the pursuit of material that is totally evasive in the digital sphere. I have not encountered any logical explanation as to why a set of notes -- directives from the “Ergenekon circles” -- is something of a “to be or not to be” in a vital case for the normalization of Turkey. If it hangs on such a tiny thread, should we all lose hope?
This one, about Şık’s text, certainly has hints of surrealism. In a country where a considerable amount of books filled with amazing conspiracy theories, anti-semitism, disinformation and hatred for democracy are on display at book shops, this one makes no sense at all.
It has divided the press further. While a camp finds enough arguments to conceal the unethical role the detained journalists -- possibly acting as either willing or unaware lackeys in the hands of police and military -- the other camp is involved in activities that downplay the importance of freedom of expression. The poison spreads further -- the poison of distraction.
The government is still unaware, or denies the fact, that it will be perceived as responsible -- no matter what -- for things going wrong in critical cases like Ergenekon.
The build-up of debate around Şık’s unpublished book also overshadows enormously important stories that have unfolded in the past week. The reports and leaks reveal that some documents found in the search at the Gölcük naval base indicate the local gendarmerie command’s direct involvement, and its upward links to the military command, in the murder of the missionaries in Malatya.
Furthermore, a key figure of the massive, dark, ruthless dirty war against the Kurds and leftist groups in the ‘90s began to talk about the crimes against humanity committed in those days. Ayhan Çarkın, who says that he can no longer live with the burden on his conscience, confessed that the entire state mechanism is involved and must be put on trial. He even claims that some of the so-called Asala murders on Turkish diplomats are the work of Turkish “dirty warriors.” He told the press that he stepped in to talk because he was encouraged by the arrest of all the high rank officers in the Sledgehammer trial. He is now under arrest, to be “debriefed,” mainly because he needs to be protected.
No wonder there is this overall overwhelming feeling. The upper echelons of the state are in the midst of a huge struggle for power, the judiciary is defiant -- as the Pamuk case shows -- the case of Şık puzzles and casts a shadow on Ergenekon and the truth is pushing through people who can no longer keep it a holy secret. Let us not jump to conclusions and instead watch what is unfolding.