The Turkish Supreme Court of Appeals Tuesday nullified a local court ruling that dropped a civil suit against Nobel Prize-winning novelist Orhan Pamuk for his controversial remarks about the Armenian Genocide that were published in a Swiss magazine in 2005.
A civil suit had been filed by a group of five people who claimed that Pamuk put the blame for atrocities committed against Armenia’s during the collapse of the Ottoman Empire on the entire Turkish nation with his remarks. During an interview to Swiss Das magazine Pamuk had said, "We killed 30,000 Kurds and 1 million Armenia’s in these lands. Nobody but me dares to say this in Turkey." His remarks drew indignation from the Turkish public–particularly from nationalist circles.
Istanbul’s Third Civil Court of First Instance dropped the case in a 2006 ruling on the grounds that there had been no violation of the individual rights of the plaintiffs in Pamuk’s remarks. The plaintiffs appealed the court decision.
After reviewing the local court’s ruling, the Court of Appeals nullified it on the grounds that there was no definition of individual rights in the Turkish legal system and that the scope of individual rights was not definite.
"It has been left to the judiciary to decide on what goes into the definition of individual rights. Both in legal doctrine and judicial rulings, it is acknowledged that individual rights include individuals’ physical, emotional and social values as well their profession, honor and dignity, freedom, health, race, religion and bonds of citizenship," read the court ruling.
The court noted that the plaintiffs had a legal right to file a complaint over Pamuk’s remarks because they were linked with citizenship bonds. The court asked for the review of the case in consideration of the fact that the plaintiffs had a legal right to file such a case.
The court ruling has opened the way for thousands to file cases against Pamuk. The lawyer of the plaintiffs, Kemal Kerin?siz, who is a well-known ultranationalist, said earlier that thousands would file cases against Pamuk and take away his Nobel Prize money if the Supreme Court of Appeals nullified the local court ruling.
In other news, police believe that Pamuk and a number of Kurdish politicians were on the hit list of an ultranationalist group, 33 of whose alleged members were detained this week, newspapers reported Wednesday.
Those arrested, including retired soldiers, journalists, nationalist lawyers and underworld figures, are being interrogated in Istanbul, prosecutors said in a statement.
They were detained Tuesday as part of a probe into the discovery of hand grenades and bomb detonators in a house in Istanbul in June, the statement said, without giving other details.
Police believe the suspects were planning to assassinate Pamuk, who won the 2006 Nobel literature prize, prominent journalist Fehmi Koru and Kurdish politicians Leyla Zana, Osman Baydemir and Ahmet Turk, the daily Milliyet reported.
Police are also investigating whether the suspects were involved in several politically motivated attacks that shocked Turkey over the past two years, the daily Sabah said.
They include the murders of ethnic Armenian journalist Hrant Dink, Italian Catholic priest Andrea Santoro and a senior judge killed by a gunman who stormed into the country’s top administrative court, the daily said.
Officials said the suspects include Kemal Kerincsiz, a lawyer notorious for initiating legal action against Pamuk, Dink and other intellectuals for disputing the official line on the World War I Ottoman era massacres of Armenia’s. Turkey fiercely rejects that killings and deportations were genocide.
Another prominent detainee is retired general Veli Kucuk, who has been accused of organizing extra-judicial killings of Kurds in the 1990s.
The suspects also include a retired colonel, a newspaper columnist, the spokeswoman of the Turkish Orthodox Church and two prominent underworld figures.
Sabah termed the detentions a blow against the "Deep State"-a term used to describe a coalition between the Turkish security, judiciary system, bureaucracy, and political parties acting outside the law to preserve what they consider Turkey’s best interests, often employing the services of the underworld.
Dink’s family, as well as prosecutors, and many prominent Turkish figures claim that the journalist’s self-confessed teenage assassin was incited by people who remain at large and enjoy the protection of some members of the security forces.