Tuesday, April 28, 2009

What's in a word?

Human rights lawyer Eren Keskin was aquitted yesterday of "inciting the public to hatred and animosity." when she used the word "Kurdistan" during a panel discussion in 2007. Two years ago, a court in Viranşehir sentenced her to 10 months in prison and a 3,300 Turkish Lira cash fine, but the case is under appeal.

How strong is a country that would send someone to prison for the use of one word? A few days ago, it was Osman Baydemir, being convicted for saying "guerilla" instead of terrorist. The use and control of language is one of the best tools of a totalitarian state because control of language becomes control of thought. This is not a democracy.

Here's a link to the story in Hurriyet:

and here's a link to a documentary about Eren Keskin:

Another news item that is not a surprise is headlined: Thousands of People Wiretapped in the Last Three Years

Justice Minister Mehmet Ali Şahin has stated that in the last three years the phone conversation records of nearly 13,000 people have been disposed of as their content does not constitute a crime, once again placing wiretapping debates in Turkey under the spotlight.

“As far as I know, the number of individuals whose phone conversations are wiretapped is around 70,000. Some are claiming that 70 million Turkish citizens are being wiretapped. Such allegations have nothing to do with reality,” Şahin remarked.

According to the data as to the individuals whose phone conversation records were disposed of in the past three years, İstanbul residents were subjected to wiretaps the most. The phone conversations of 494 people in İstanbul were disposed of in 2006, while this figure climbed to 736 in 2007 and fell to 684 in 2008.

Phone conversations in the southern and southeastern regions are also closely wiretapped, according to the same data. The conversations of 395 people were disposed of in 2008 in Adana, while this figure was 864 in Diyarbakır, 411 in Mersin and 618 in Van.

Control of lanugage, control of thought, ... it makes me laugh to read that these conversations were disposed of because their content did not constitute a crime. So there are criminal letters, there are criminal words, there are criminal conversations that a state must defend itself from. Sometimes it just seems so laughable.

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