Jurisprudence in Turkey has not progressed much since the days of the Ottoman Sultans. Armenian literature has a lesser known satirist, called Arantzar who ridiculed the Turkish laws of his day. In one of his stories an Armenian is convicted by a Turkish court for having insulted the beard of a mullah (very much like Sevan Nisanyan’s insult of the Prophet). But upon appeal, the merciful judge acquits the offender on the basis of the fact that the very number of hairs on the mullah’s beard, which were subject of the offense, had already fallen during the morning after a vigorous combing.
We wish that Nisanyan’s case could have a similar outcome. (See related story on Page 1.)
Turkey currently is a candidate for membership in the European Union, upon whose preconditions the Erdogan government has been introducing some improvements in his country’s laws, especially in the area of human rights and freedom of speech, never mind the continuing carnage of Kurds and attack on the free press with the incarceration of increasing numbers of journalists.
Turkish national Dogu Perinçek insults the Armenian Genocide in Switzerland and it is absolved by the European Court of Human Rights, supposedly in defense of the offender’s right to free speech, yet the same country, clamoring for the rights of Mr. Perinçek, sentences an Armenian intellectual, Sevan Nisanyan, to 25 years of incarceration under trumped-up charges for speaking the truth about Turkish history. People could accept warped legal logic from a country like Turkey, but it is unexpected for a European court to emulate Turkish thinking.
Incidentally, there was a worldwide outcry when Turkish journalists, including the editor of Cumhuriyet, were jailed, while no similar movement has taken place in the two years since the unjust arrest of Nisanyan.