The Council of Europe has condemned the prison sentence imposed on the leading Turkish publisher, Ragip Zarakolu, who was condemned by Turkish court earlier this month under Turkey’s notorious Article 301 of its penal code which is used to intimidate writers, journalists and publishers.
Leading delegates at the Parliamentary Assembly of the Council of Europe from a number of countries and all the main political groups have supported a motion in support of Zarakolu and called on the Council of Europe to send a fact-finding mission to Turkey on the continuing use of Article 301 to attack freedom of expression in Turkey.
"Turkey is going through a serious political crisis but it is made worse by the failure of both the government with its majority in the Turkish Parliament as well as the secular opposition to remove Article 301 from the penal code," said Dr Denis MacShane, the former Europe Minister in Britain who is a UK delegate to the Council of Europe.
"It is particularly worrying that a party affiliated to the Socialist International will not seek the complete and other abolition of Article 301 and let Turkey’s writers like the Nobel laureate, Orhan Pamuk, or the distinguished publisher, Ragip Zarakolu, write and publish freely in line with European norms.
"As a strong supporter of Turkey’s European ambitions it is a continual disappointment that there is no clear action based on agreement across the political divide to remove Article 301. Both the AKP in power and the secular democratic opposition do their nation great harm by not showing that Turkey’s writers, journalists and publishers can enjoy the same rights as their colleagues in all EU member states and other democracies around the world."