Tuesday, January 24, 2006

lumbering toward free expression

Turkey has dropped charges against novelist Orhan Pamuk for "insulting Turkishness":

Orhan Pamuk, who gained international acclaim for books including "Snow," "Istanbul," and "My Name is Red," was on trial for "insulting Turkishness" after he said Turks have killed more than a million Armenians and more than 30,000 Kurds. He could have faced up to three years in prison.

Pamuk's remarks to a Swiss newspaper highlighted two of the most painful episodes in Turkish history: the massacre of Armenians during World War I — which Turkey insists was not a planned genocide — and recent guerrilla fighting in Turkey's overwhelmingly Kurdish southeast.

On Monday, an Istanbul court said it was forced to drop the case because it had not received permission to proceed from the Turkish government, criticized for failing to commit itself to free expression even as Turkey lumbers toward membership in the European Union.