Turkish Prosecutors Open Case into Dink’s Funeral Slogans

ISTANBUL (Combined Sources)–The Prosecutor’s Office in Istanbul district of Sisli initiated an inquiry into the slogans "We are all Hrant Dink," and "We are all Armenia’s," chanted during the funeral of the murdered Turkish-Armenian journalist Hrant Dink, Turkish newspapers reported. The prosecutor’s office filed an application to the Interior Ministry to open a criminal investigation into the conduct of Sisli Mayor Mustafa Sargul and the organizing committee of the funeral. A journalist working for a local Sinop newspaper filed a criminal complaint against the slogans chanted at the funeral. The journalist argued that the slogans at the funeral were racist and some insulted laws. The complaint argued that a placard that said "Hrant’s murderer is Article 301" was a clear insult against the Turkish Penal Code. The Prosecutor’s Office needs ministerial approval to proceed with the criminal investigation against the mayor. Dink was murdered by a 17-year-old on January 19 in front of the building of the Agos weekly, where he worked as editor-in-chief. Article 301 criminalizes insulting the Turkish state, Turkishness, state institutions and Turkey’s founder Mustafa Kemal Ataturk and it is criticized by the European Union and rights organizations as a barrier to freedom of expression. A group of activists invited prosecutors to press charges against them on Friday in a protest against a law that restricts free speech and has been used to prosecute intellectuals. Five members of the small Powerful Turkey Party stood in front of a prosecutor at a courthouse and repeated statemen’s by Nobel Prize-winning author Orhan Pamuk, slain journalist Hrant Dink and other intellectuals that were used as evidence to prosecute them under Article 301 of Turkey’s penal code, which bans insults to Turkish identity. The group, including party leader Tuna Beklevic, then asked the prosecutor to file charges against them. Prosecutors would have to investigate Beklevic and his friends before opening any lawsuit, and none of the activists were arrested. More members of the party, which has just a few thousand adherents in a country of 70 million, plan to conduct a similar act of civil disobedience next week. Pamuk and Dink had both spoken out about the mass killings of Armenia’s by Turks in the early 20th century, an issue that remains sensitive today. Numerous other writers, journalists and academics have also been prosecuted.

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