Eren Keskin, a prominent Turkish lawyer, has been handed a 10-month prison sentence on charges of “insulting the Turkish nation and the Republic of Turkey” for criticizing the killing of a 12-year-old by a police officer while speaking at conference back in 2005.
A former president of the Human Rights Association’s (İHD) İstanbul office, Keskin was a guest speaker at a conference in the Çerkezköy district of Tekirdağ province. While there, she commented on the killing of 12-year-old Uğur Kaymaz and his father by police, saying: “The [Turkish] state has a wild mindset [that allows it] to slay a 12-year-old. Turkey has to answer [for this]. Turkey has a dirty history.” Ten years after her comment, a court sentenced her to 10 months in jail, basing its ruling on the highly controversial Article 301 of the Turkish Penal Code (TCK).
The judge chose not to put Keskin on probation, saying she “has a bad record and might commit another similar crime in the future.”
Speaking to the media on her conviction, Keskin said she has no criminal record and that the judge, seeing her as an enemy, acted with vengeance.
“The expressions ‘bad record’ and ‘criminal record’ are used for people who have committed serious crimes. I am a human rights activist and a lawyer. So far, I have only been tried for my views. The government claims that there is nobody in jail for their opinions, but apparently nothing has changed in Turkey,” Keskin said.
Many Turkish journalists and authors, including Elif Şafak and Nobel literature laureate Orhan Pamuk, have faced prosecution based on the same article, mostly concerning comments supporting claims of an Armenian genocide in 1915. Following a large number of cases, an amendment was introduced to Article 301 in 2008, narrowing the scope of the crime. If the Supreme Court of Appeals upholds Keskin’s conviction, she will be the first person in a long while to be imprisoned based on the article.