Suspension of trial hearing against Orhan Pamuk

The trial against Orhan Pamuk has been postponed to 7 February 2006 after the Ministry of Justice said that it needed more time to study the trial dossier.

On hearing of the news that the process will drag on, the President of International PEN, Jirí Gruša said “It is unbelievable that Orhan Pamuk, one of Turkey’s best known and eminent authors, is in this situation. What it indicates is a complete disregard for the right to freedom of expression not only for Pamuk, but also for the Turkish populace as a whole. This decision bodes ill for other writers who are being tried under similar laws.”

Jirí Gruša is referring to the cases of around 14 other writers, publishers and journalists accused of “insult” for having criticised the Turkish state and its officials. They are on trial for writings on issues including accusations that the Turkish army has committed human rights abuses and for commentary on the mass killings of Armenians by the Ottoman army in the early 1900s. They are being prosecuted under the revised Penal Code that had been amended earlier this year as part of a process aimed at removing from Turkish law human rights anomalies. This is part of the process that the government hopes will lead to acceptance to the European Union. The EU’s Enlargement Commissioner, Olli Rehn, has said that the trial has cast a shadow over Turkey’s application.

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