The new Turkey
30 October 2018:
Fourteen years after the report was published, the European Court of Human Rights (ECHR) has found in favour of the academics, İbrahim Kaboğlu and Baskın Oran, whose complaints about the threats and hate speech they received for the report had been repeatedly ignored by Turkish courts.
Kaboğlu and Oran, who chaired, respectively, the council and the working group responsible for the report, had filed four claims for damages against columnists at various Turkish newspapers for the insults, threats and hate speech they said the articles had contained.
After seeing their cases dismissed several times, the pair took their cases to the ECHR, which on Tuesday ruled in their favour and handed Turkey a 7,000 euro fine for violating article eight of the European Convention on Human Rights relating to respect for private life.
The ruling states the articles’ authors had "sought to undermine their intellectual personality, causing them feelings of fear, anxiety and vulnerability," and that the hate speech against the academics aimed "to humiliate them and break their will to defend their ideas".
Turkey’s local courts had therefore “not struck a fair balance between the applicants' right to respect for their private life and freedom of the press" when they dismissed the academics’ cases, the ruling said.
More than this, however, a comparison drawn in the ruling to Turkish-Armenian thinker Hrant Dink illustrated the risks run by anyone targeted by similarly nationalistic campaigns.
Dink had faced similar harassment for discussing sensitive topics during the same period. He was assassinated in January 2007 after being tried for “denigrating Turkishness” the previous year. Dink had written articles and given interviews and speeches in which he referred to the Armenian Genocide.
In Kaboğlu and Oran’s case, some of the most grievous examples cited veer dangerously close to explicit calls for violence.
“If these men were beaten it would calm our nation. (They) deserve a slap,” wrote Arslan Tekin of Yeni Çağ newspaper.
“The price for our land is blood. Sometimes it must be spilled,” said Bircan Akyıldız, then head of public workers’ trade union Kamu-Sen.