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Turkish Novelist Facing Prison Over Genocide Claims

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  • Turkish Novelist Facing Prison Over Genocide Claims


    The Herald, UK
    Ankara October 17 2005

    A Turkish novelist who could face prison over charges he insulted
    his country has defended himself, insisting he did not describe the
    killings of Armenians in the early 20th century as a genocide.

    Orhan Pamuk, one of Turkey's best-known writers, is to go on trial on
    December 16 and could face up to three years in prison for comments
    on the killings of Armenians and Kurds.

    The United States and the European Union have called on Turkey to
    drop charges to ensure freedom of expression.

    "I did not say, we Turks killed this many Armenians," Pamuk said. "I
    did not use the word 'genocide'."

    Turkish prosecutors filed charges against Pamuk after he told a Swiss
    newspaper in February "30,000 Kurds and one million Armenians were
    killed in these lands and nobody but me dares to talk about it".

    He was referring to Kurds killed during Turkey's two-decade conflict
    with autonomy-seeking Kurdish guerrillas and to Armenians killed
    around the time of the First World War.

    The PKK, or Kurdistan Workers Party, is branded as a terrorist group by
    the US and EU. Indeed, Turkish authorities yesterday blamed Kurdish
    rebels for an explosion caused by a remote-controlled bomb which
    injured five people at an Istanbul filling station on Saturday.

    Armenians say 1.5 million of their countrymen were killed by Ottoman
    Turks, which Armenia and several nations recognise as a genocide.

    Turkey, however, denies that the mass killings were genocide, saying
    the death toll is inflated and that the Armenians were killed in
    civil unrest as the Ottoman Empire collapsed.

    Asked about the numbers of people killed that he referred to in his
    interview with the Swiss newspaper, Pamuk said "they were spontaneous

    "There are martyred Turkish soldiers among those 30,000 to 35,000
    killed people. Let's express our respect to them," Pamuk said,
    complaining that he had become a victim of a "defamation campaign".

    The EU, which Turkey hopes to join, has said it will be watching
    closely when Pamuk goes on trial in December.

    Pamuk's books, which include the internationally acclaimed Snow and
    My Name is Red, have been translated into more than 20 languages and
    the novelist has received numerous international awards.