Petition in European Parliament Seeks to Apply Increased Pressure on Turkey

(Marmara)–European Parliament members have begun a petition drive that calls for pressuring Turkey to drop charges against Turkish author Orhan Pamuk.

Heading the effort are Greek Members of Parliament Panagiotis Beglitis and Dimitrios Papadimoulis–and Germany’s Feleknas Uca. Their statement calls for an end to not only Pamuk’s trial–but also that of Editor Hrant Dink and Publisher Ragip Zarakoglu. The three are charged with "denigrating Turkish identity."

While Dink–the editor of the bilingual Armenian-Turkish newspaper Agos–was convicted in October of "denigrating Turkish identity," and received a six month suspended sentence–he now faces charges of attempting to influence the judiciary for saying that he would leave the country if the case against him was not dropped.

Pamuk faced up to three years in prison for saying to a Swiss newspaper in February that Turkey is unwilling to deal with painful episodes in its treatment of the country’s Armenian minority or its continuing problems with its 12 million Kurdish citizens.

Following intense international condemnation–Pamuk’s December 16–2005–trial was quickly halted when the presiding judge decided the court would need the approval of the Justice Ministry for the trial to proceed. The next hearing is scheduled for February 7–2006.

The head of the Istanbul-based Belge International Publishers–Zarakoglu is charged with "insulting and undermining the State" for publishing Dora Sakayan’s book "Garabet Hacheryan’s Izmir Journal: An Armenian Doctor’s Experiences" and George Jerjian’s book "History Will Free Us All–Turkish-Armenian Conciliation."

The petition also calls on the European Parliament to closely follow developmen’s in Turkey’s judicial system and ensure reforms of objectionable penal codes.

Half of the 732 Members of Parliament must sign the petition in order for the body to accept the document.

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