“This is a very clear example that the so-called amendment of 301 is good for nothing. It was just a bad joke,” International PEN chief Eugene Schoulgin said, adding that there were more than 80 such cases pending against writers and journalists.
Turkish writers had warned before the April amendment that they would continue to be targeted by nationalist prosecutors.
“This court decision seems to bear out our worst fears that the changes to the law won’t necessarily make a difference,” said Human Rights Watch’s Turkey researcher Emma Sinclair-Webb.
The ruling AK Party defended the changes to article 301 saying that other members of the European Union, which Ankara wants to join, have similar rules. Brussels welcomed the reform as a step forward but called for further moves.
Turkey has several other laws limiting free speech and this week a popular transsexual singer, Bulent Ersoy, was on trial for “turning people against military service” for comments she made on television, local media reported.
Zarakolu was sentenced to five months in jail, which he may convert into a fine, but will appeal, Schoulgin said. Zarakolu was not available to comment.
He was tried for publishing a translation of a book about the Armenian massacres. George Jerjian’s The Truth Will Set Us Free is a call for reconciliation between Turks and Armenians and tells the story of a Turk who saved the writer’s Armenian grandmother.
Pamuk was also tried for his comments about the Armenian Genocide, but his case was dropped. Armenian-Turkish editor Hrant Dink was convicted under 301 for his calls for reconciliation between Turks and Armenians before he was shot dead in Istanbul by a teenage nationalist last year.