Legislation Urges Repeal of Article 301 to Protect Human Rights, Freedom of Speech and Expression

Washington, DC – 29 January 2007 - One week after more than 100,000 mourned slain Turkish-Armenian journalist Hrant Dink in Istanbul, US Congressman Joseph Crowley (D-Queens & the Bronx) introduced legislation (H. Res. 102) in the US House of Representatives condemning the Agos newspaper editor’s assassination, and calling on Turkish authorities to continue investigating the circumstances and fully prosecute those involved in the murder.

“Today, as members of the US House of Representatives, we join the people of Turkey and Armenia in mourning the loss of Hrant Dink, and condemn the senseless murder of an outstanding individual who truly led a courageous life,” Crowley said. “Hrant Dink was a man of conviction and principle who fought for freedom of the press and speech, and for tolerance and understanding. Through his illustrious career as a journalist he tried to bridge the divide between Turkish and Armenian people by fostering a dialogue in the newspaper he founded, Agos.”

Hrant Dink founded the bilingual weekly newspaper Agos in April 1996, to foster a dialogue and encourage understanding between the Turkish-Armenian community and the larger Turkish population. He served as its editor until Jan. 19, 2007, when he was shot dead outside of Agos’ main office in downtown Istanbul. H. Res. 102 is expected to be voted in the House as an up or down vote within the next two weeks.

Journalists and the media community around the world recognized and honored Hrant Dink for his courage and principles, and he was awarded the prestigious Bjornson Prize for Literature for his publications on the Armenian genocide. Hrant Dink’s support for human rights and outspokenness of injustices in Turkey against ethnicArmenians won him notoriety with authorities, who prosecuted and convicted him in court for insulting Turkishness in Turkey under Article 301 of the Turkish Penal Code. Congressman Crowley’s resolution also urges the government of Turkey to
repeal this section of Turkish law that prohibits free speech and is used
to silence critics.

Congressman Crowley stated, “We ask that the government of Turkey remove Article 301, which is an outright attack on the fundamental right to freedom of speech. Authorities should do all in their power to stop acts of intolerance, intimidation and violence against individuals who exercise this fundamental right from happening.”