Diyarbakır Bar Association investigated for insult to Turkishness

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The Diyarbakır Chief Public Prosecutor’s Office has launched an investigation into the previous administration of the Diyarbakır Bar Association over Article 301 of the Turkish Penal Code (TCK), which stipulates a prison sentence of between six months and two years for insulting Turkishness and the Turkish state.

The Gazete Duvar news website reported that the investigation is focused on four press statements issued by the bar association in 2017.

One of the press statements, issued on Dec. 27, 2017, criticized a government decree introducing a uniform for inmates who had been convicted of terrorist acts or were in pre-trial detention on terrorism charges.

Another was a statement of support for the Armenian people on April 24, 2017, when an Armenian genocide allegedly carried out by the Ottoman state in 1915 was commemorated.

The third criticized parliament’s decision to punish former Peoples’ Democratic Party (HDP) deputy Osman Baydemir for his use of the word “Kurdistan” in a parliament session in December 2017.

Turkish authorities are sensitive to the word “Kurdistan” as it implies a state for Kurds living in Turkey. The word became stigmatized especially after a separatist Kurdish guerilla movement emerged in the mid-1980s.

The last statement, released on Sept. 14, 2017, was a call to shed light on a Turkish drone attack in Hakkari province that caused civilian deaths.

The prosecutor accused bar association executives of failing to mention the outlawed Kurdistan Workers’ Party (PKK) as a terrorist organization.

Nahit Eren, a former executive of the association, on Friday said that he stood behind every statement they had issued.

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