4 March 2008


Lawyer and human rights activist on trial for statements made to German newspaper "denigrating the army"

Incident details

Eren Keskin

human rights worker(s)

(BIANET/IFEX) - The General Staff has charged lawyer and human rights activist Eren Keskin for "denigrating the army" under Article 301, and asked the Istanbul Bar Association to carry out a disciplinary investigation against her.

Following a complaint by the General Staff, the Kartal Chief Public Prosecution in Istanbul launched a trial against Eren Keskin, a lawyer and former president of the Istanbul branch of the Human Rights Association (IHD). Article 301 of the Turkish Penal Code has been cited, in this case for Keskin's alleged "denigration of the army."

In addition, the army demanded that the Istanbul Bar Association initiate a disciplinary investigation against Keskin. On 15 February 2008, the Bar Association asked Keskin to defend herself. Six days later Keskin sent an answer, saying that she believed that a disciplinary investigation violated the principles of democratic law.

In a statement published in Germany's "Der Tagesspiegel" on 24 June 2006, Keskin had argued that the attack on the State Council in 2006 had not aimed at destroying the state, but that it had served to strengthen the laicist, authoritarian and military state order. In fact, she said, in Turkey no government was able to carry out its programme because the country was being ruled by the "National Politics Document" prepared by the army, and that no government could oppose it.

Prosecutor Arzu Akgün has demanded up to two years imprisonment for Keskin.

In her reply to the Bar Association, Keskin said, "In no democratic country can generals of the General Staff demand that a professional institution judge people, especially not lawyers, for their thoughts."

Keskin pointed out that she had been tried many times before and been to prison for her thoughts, and was still facing trials: "I will continue to say what needs to be said in order to get rid of the militarist pressure on the legislative, executive and the judiciary in Turkey for as long as I live."

"If, as a legal professional institution, you believe that people should be punished for their thoughts, then you can give me whatever punishment you want. But I will continue to express my opinions freely," she said.


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