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17.01.2018

One man's hero is another's terrorist - that's OK, says top court

by Emil Weber

The European Court of Human Rights (ECtHR) has protected the right of Turkish prisoners to openly honour a Kurdish leader, in its recent judgements.

The European Court of Human Rights (ECtHR) in Strasbourg (photo: Nicoleon, Cour européenne des droits de l'homme, CC BY-SA 4.0) The European Court of Human Rights (ECtHR) in Strasbourg (photo: Nicoleon, Cour européenne des droits de l'homme, CC BY-SA 4.0)

“He had praised the imprisoned leader of the PKK [Kurdistan Workers' Party], Abdullah Öcalan by using the honorific ‘sayın’, meaning esteemed”, the ECtHR judgement read. “[He] was found guilty of breaching a prison order by the Bolu F-type Prison Disciplinary Board…[and] was sentenced to 11 days’ solitary confinement”.

Mr. Abdullah Öcalan, one of the founders of the PKK which is considered a terrorist organisation by Turkey and several international organisations, is serving a life sentence in prison from where he writes books.

Mr. Adıyaman’s complaints against the Board’s order were rejected by the domestic authorities, but the top European human rights court backed him.

“The Court holds that there has been a violation of Article 10 of the Convention”, read the short unanimous judgment of the ECtHR Second Section.

The ECtHR issued two further similar judgements on 16th January on the case of Mr. Yusuf Çabuk and the case of Mr. Yasin Aydın, Mr. Ahmet Gerez and Mr. Nusret Kaya. They all had referred to Mr. Öcalan in the same manner.

These rulings are important for journalists and their freedom of expression when covering PKK as well. The ECPMF has recently reported that the ECtHR issued a similar judgement involving a newspaper’s praising of the intellectual roots of Kurdistan Workers' Party which had been sanctioned from Turkey.

 

Case of Adıyaman v. Turkey, application no. 24211/08. 9 January 2018; Case of Çabuk v. Turkey, application no. 7886/08. 16 January 2018; Case of Aydin v. Turkey, application nos. 43641/05, 41892/06 and 41893/06. 16 January 2018;





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