Turkish court acquits bar association on trial over Armenian Genocide mention

A Turkish court acquitted Diyarbakır Bar Association board members who were on trial for making a press statement on the Armenian Genocide. The Bar Association had previously been acquitted in three previous cases on the same charges.

Duvar English

A Turkish court on Feb. 2 acquitted the former head of the Diyarbakır Bar Association and board members in the case against them for using the term "Armenian Genocide" in their statement on April 24, the Armenian Genocide Remembrance Day, in 2020.

The trial was held at Diyarbakır High Criminal Court on the charge of "publicly degrading the Turkish nation, the state of the Republic of Turkey, the Turkish Parliament, the government, and the judicial organs of the state," Article 301 of the Turkish Penal Code (TCK).

Many lawyers attended the hearing in support to their colleagues.

Former head of the bar association Cihan Aydın said, "In the defense industry, targets to be hit are first marked with lasers, and then shots are fired. As the Diyarbakır Bar Association, we have been marked many times and the most important of these was Tahir Elçi. Elçi was first marked and then killed." 

Elçi, Former Head of the Diyarbakır Bar Association, was assassinated in 2015 after years of threats. 

When the presiding judge intervened Aydın's words and said, "This is not the place for them," Aydın said, "Yes, we are saying the same thing. This case does not belong here. This case was opened due to events that took place outside of this place. First, we are marked by politicians, media, and law enforcement, then we are referred to the judiciary."

Aydın reminded that three lawsuits were filed against the previous board members of the bar association due to their statements on the Armenian Genocide and they have been acquitted each time.

"These acquittals have been finalized. Then why are you bringing more lawsuits? Where is the legal predictability then? When we speak, we are targeted; when we are elected as mayors, we are targeted, dismissed, and arrested. Where was the judiciary when these were happening,” Aydın underscored.

Aydın also criticized the article used against them and added that the Armenian Genocide took place in 1915 and at that time the Republic of Turkey and its institutions had not been established. “How can we insult something that does not exist (back then),” he added.

“This is a case of freedom of thought and expression. There are three acquittals. Therefore, it is your discretion, I do not want an acquittal. We are ashamed to ask for it,” the former bar association head noted.

The court acquitted all defendants separately.