Excerpts from Relevant Laws and Decrees
(All translations unofficial.)
Constitution of the Republic of Turkey/Türkiye Cümhuriyeti Anayasas1
(No. 2709, Adopted November 7, 1982)
Preamble, (Amended: 1995/4121.1)
No protection shall be given to thoughts or opinions that run counter to Turkish national interests, the fundamental principle of the existence of the indivisibility of the Turkish state and territory, the historical and moral values of Turkishness, or the nationalism, principles, reforms, and modernism of Atatürk, and that as required by the principle of secularism there shall be no absolutely no interference of sacred religious feeling in the affairs of state and politics;
The provisions of Article 1 of the constitution establishing the form of the state as a Republic, the provisions of Article 2 on the characteristics of the Republic, and the provisions of Article 3 shall not be amended, nor shall their amendment be proposed.
Article 26Freedom of Expression and the Dissemination of Thought
26.1 Everyone has the right to express and disseminate his thought and opinion by speech, in writing, or in pictures or through other media, individually or collectively. This right includes the freedom to receive and impart information and ideas without interference from official authorities....
26.2 The exercise of these freedoms may be restricted for the purpose of preventing crime, punishing offenders, withholding information duly classified as a state secret, protecting the reputation and rights and the private and family life of others....
26.3 No language prohibited by law shall be used in the expression and dissemination of thought. Any written or printed documents, phonograph records, magnetic or video tapes, and other means of expression used in contravention of this provision shall be seized by a duly issued decision of a judge or, in cases where delay is deemed prejudicial, by the competent authority designated by law.
Article 27Freedom of Science and Arts
27.1 Everyone has the right to study and teach freely, explain, disseminate science and arts and to carry out research in these fields.
27.2 The right to disseminate shall not be exercised for the purpose of changing the provisions of Articles 1, 2, 3, of this constitution....71
Article 28Freedom of the Press
28.1 The press is free and shall not be censored. The establishment of a printing house shall not be subject to prior permission and to the deposit of financial guarantee.
28.2 Publication shall not be made in any language prohibited by law....
28.4 In the limitation of freedom of the press, Articles 26 and 27 of the constitution are applicable.
28.5 Anyone who writes or prints any news or articles which threaten the internal or external security of the state or the indivisible integrity of the state with its territory and nation, which tend to incite offense, riot or insurrection, or which refer to classified state secrets and anyone who prints or transmits such news or articles to others for the above purpose shall be held responsible under the law relevant to these offenses....
No language other than Turkish shall be taught as a mother tongue to Turkish citizens in teaching and learning institutions. Foreign languages to be taught at learning and teaching institutions and the rules under which schools conducting training and education in a foreign language are to be determined by law. The provisions of international treaties will be respected.
Turkish Penal Code/ Türk Ceza Kanunu (No. 765, Adopted March 1, 1926)
Those who, except in circumstances indicated in the aforementioned articles, publish articles inciting people to break the law or harm the security of the country, or make publications or suggestions that make people unwilling to serve in the military or make speeches to that end in public meetings or gathering places, shall be imprisoned from between two months to two years and be punished with a heavy fine of between twenty-five and 200 lira.
N.B.: The monetary fine in the article written is raised 180 times.
Article 158(Amended: 1961/235)
Whoever insults the President of the Republic face-to-face or through cursing shall face a heavy penalty of not more than three years.
If the insulting or cursing happens in the absence of the President of the Republic, those who commit the crime will be liable to imprisonment of between one and three years. Even if the name of the President of the Republic is not directly mentioned, allusion and hint shall be considered as an attack made directly against the President if there is presumptive evidence beyond a reasonable doubt that the attack was made against the President of Turkey.
If the crime is committed in any published form, the punishment will increase from one-third to one-half.
Those who publicly insult or ridicule the moral personality of Turkishness, the Republic, the Parliament, the Government, State Ministers, the military or security forces of the state, or the Judiciary will be punished with a penalty of no less than one year and no more than six years of maximum security imprisonment....
If insulting Turkishness is carried out in a foreign country by a Turk the punishment given will be increased from one-third to one-half.
Article 311Inciting to commit a crime, Threatening with the goal of inciting panic and fear (Amended: 1953/6123); (Amended: 1981/2370)
One who publicly incites the commission of a crime shall be punished in the ways below.
1. If the penalty of the felony incited is higher than the duration of the heavy penalty, a heavy imprisonment of between three and five years;
2. If limited heavy imprisonment or imprisonment is necessary, it will be from three months to three years imprisonment in accordance with the type of crime.
3. In other circumstances, a heavy fine of between 1,000 and 5,000 lira will be applied.72
If the incitement occurs by various means of mass media, sound tapes, records, films, papers, periodicals, or with other press instruments, or by writings written by hand and then multiplied and printed or distributed, or by signs or written announcements hung, the heavy imprisonment and fines which will be determined according to the paragraphs above will be doubled.
Article 312--(Amended: 1981/2370)
One who openly praises an action considered criminal under the law or speaks positively about it or incites people to disobey the law shall be sentenced from six months to two years of imprisonment and to a heavy fine of between 2,000 and 10,000 lira.73
One who openly incites people to enmity and hatred by pointing to class, racial, religious, confessional, or regional differences will be punished by imprisonment of between one to three years and a heavy fine of between 3,000 and 12,000 lira.74 If the incitement is done in a way that could possibly be dangerous for public security, the punishment given to the perpetrator is increased from one-third to one-half.
Penalties given to those who carry out crimes in the paragraphs written above by means outlined in the second paragraph of Article 311 will be increased accordingly.
Anti-Terror Law/Terörle Mücadele Kanunu (No. 3713, Adopted April 12, 1991)
Article 8Propaganda against the indivisibility of the State(Amended: 1995\4126.1)
Written or oral propaganda, along with meetings, demonstrations, and marches, that have the goal of destroying the indivisible unity of the state with its territory and nation of the Republic of Turkey cannot be conducted. Those who conduct such activities shall be punished with imprisonment of between one and three years and a heavy fine of between 100 million lira and 300 million lira. If this crime is conducted habitually, imprisonment cannot be converted into a monetary fine....75
If the propaganda crime determined in the first paragraph is committed by means of periodicals determined in the third article of the Press Law No. 5860, the owner will also be given a monetary fine of an amount up to ninety percent of the past months average sales even if the frequency of the periodical is less than a month. This fine, however, cannot be less than 100 million lira. The responsible editor of the periodicals will be subject to one-half of the monetary fine given to the owner as well as imprisonment of between six months and two years.
If the propaganda crime determined in the first paragraph is committed by press works or other mass communication instruments outside of the written periodicals in the second paragraph, the responsible editor as well as the owners of the means of mass communication will face imprisonment of between six months and two years and a heavy fine of between 100-300 million lira. In addition, if the act is committed by means of radio or television, a broadcast prohibition of between one and fifteen days can be given to the said radio and television stations.
If carried out by means explained in the second paragraph or by methods of mass communication outlined in the third paragraph, the punishment determined in paragraph one will increase from one-third to one-half.
Political Parties Law/ Siyasi Partiler Kanunu (No. 2820, Adopted April 26, 1982)
Article 81: Preventing the Creation of Minorities
a) cannot put forward that minorities exist in the Turkish Republic based on national, religious, confessional, racial, or language differences....
b) cannot by means of protecting, developing, or disseminating language or cultures other than the Turkish language and culture through creating minorities in the Republic of Turkey have the goal of destroying national unity or be engaged in activities to this end;
c) cannot use a language other than Turkish in writing and printing party statute or program, at congresses, at meetings in open air or indoorgatherings; at meetings, and in propaganda, cannot use or distribute placards, pictures, phonograph records, voice and visual tapes, brochures and statements written in a language other than Turkish; cannot remain indifferent to these actions and acts committed by others; however, it is possible to translate party statutes and programs into foreign languages other than those forbidden by law.
The Law concerning the Founding and Broadcasts of Television and Radio/ Radyo ve Televizyonlar1 n Kurulus ve Yay1nlar1 Hakk1nda Kanun (No. 3984, Adopted April 13, 1994)76
Article 4: Broadcasting principles:
Radio and Television broadcast are to be carried out in the understanding of public service according to the principles below:
Broadcasts cannot be contradictory to the following:
a) the existence and independence of the Turkish Republic, the indivisible unity of the state with its territory and nation;
b) the national and spiritual values of society....
d) the general morality, civil peace, and structure of the Turkish family;
Must be conducted in accordance with:
h) the general goals and basic principles of Turkish national education and the development of national culture;
i) fairness and objectivity in broadcasting and the fundamental principle of respect for the law....
l) to present news in a speedy and correct way;
m) the principle that broadcasts will not be made that have a negative effect on the physical, intellectual, mental, and moral development of children and youth....
t) radio and television broadcasts will be made in Turkish; however, for the purpose of teaching or of imparting news those foreign languages that have made a contribution to the development of universal cultural and scientific works can be used.
Foreign Language Education and Teaching Law (No. 2923)
a) The mother tongue of Turkish citizens cannot be taught in any language other than Turkish....
c) Taking into consideration the view of the National Security Council, the Council of Ministers by its decision will determine in Turkey what foreign languages can be taught.
Decision No. 92/2788, Official Gazette, March 20, 1992
2...It had been decided by the Council of Ministers on March 4, 1992 that in official and private courses education and teaching are to be made in the following languages: English, French, German as well as Russian, Italian, Spanish, Arabic, Japanese, and Chinese.
The law concerning fundamental provisions on elections and voter registries/ Seçimlerin Temel Hükümleri ve Seçmen Kütükleri Hakk1nda Kanun (No. 298, Adopted April 26, 1961)
....It is forbidden to use any other language or script than Turkish in propaganda disseminated in radio or television as well as in other election propaganda.
Press Law/ Bas1n Kanunu (No. 5680, Adopted July 15, 1950)
The press is free.
The publishing of printed works is subject to the written directives in this law.
Article 16Criminal responsibility for crimes committed by means of the press--(Amended 1983/2950)
1. The responsibility for crimes committed in periodicals belongs, together with the person who caused the crime, whether the writer, news writer, artist, or caricaturist, to the periodicals responsible editor. However, punishments depriving liberty given to responsible editors without regard to their duration shall be converted to monetary fines.... Responsible editors cannot be punished with security detention.
2. The responsible editor is not required to give the name of writers, news writers, artists, or caricaturists who publish with a pen name or alias. Without regard to the first paragraph, the responsibility for a writing, or a news report, or a picture, or a caricature, where the author of a work is not clear or where the authors names is not revealed in a true manner by the responsible editor at the latest during the first court interrogation, shall fall to the responsible editor as if he were the person who through writing, or news writing, or making a picture or caricature caused the crime.
3. The responsible editor is not responsible for writings, news, pictures, or caricatures published by the periodicals owner without his approval. Under such circumstances, the legal responsibility of the responsible editor belongs to the person who publishes the writing, news, picture, or caricature.
4. In crimes that are committed in publications that are not defined as periodicals [books], the legal responsibility belongs to the publisher together with the writer, translator, or artist. However, regardless of the duration, all verdicts giving the penalty of imprisonment for the publishershall be converted to fines. Computation of the fine is based on the amount mentioned in the Law No. 647 on the Execution of Penalties, Article 4, Paragraph 1. Publishers are not to be penalized with security detention.
In the case where the author of the printed work published as a non-periodical is not identified, the responsibility belongs to the publisher without regard to the aforementioned articles. In the case when the work is published without the knowledge and consent of its writer, translator, or artist, only the publisher becomes responsible as if the one who created the work.
When the above mentioned persons are not identified or a case in a Turkish court is not opened against them, the responsibility belongs to the seller and distributor when the publisher is not known.
In quotations that are made in publications published in Turkey without the consent of the owner, the responsibility belongs to the one who made the quote.
If publication is made in any language prohibited by law, the relevant articles which envision converting into monetary fines and of not giving a penalty of placing under security detention shall not be applied.
Article 31(Amended 1983/2950)
The entry or distribution into Turkey of works published in a foreign country that contradict the indivisible unity of the state with its territory and nation, national hegemony, the existence of the Republic, national security, public order, general law and order, the common good, general morality or health can be outlawed by a decision of the Council of Ministers.
Provincial Administration Law/ _l Idaresi Kanunu (No. 5442, Adopted June 10, 1949)
Article 2/d/2 (Amended 1959:7267)
Village names that are not Turkish and give rise to confusion are to be changed in the shortest possible time by the Interior Ministry after receiving the opinion of the Provincial Permanent Committee.
Police Duty and Responsibility Law/ Polis Vazife ve Selâhiyet Kanunu (No. 2559, Adopted July 4, 1934)
Article 8(Amended: 1985/3233)
If the police are in possession of incontrovertible evidence and by order of the districts highest civil servant, areas where plays are conducted, presentations given, films or videos shown that will damage the indivisible unity of the state with its territory and nation, constitutional order, or general security or common morality can be closed by the police or have their activities stopped.
If the reason for the closing or ceasing of activities require a legal investigation by the state, the investigation file shall be immediately given to the judiciary....
The Law concerning crimes committed against Atatürk/ Atatürk Aleyhine Islenen Suçlar Hakk1nda Kanun (No. 5816, Adopted July 25, 1951)
Anyone who publicly insults or curses the memory of Atatürk shall be imprisoned with a heavy sentence of between one and three years.
A heavy sentence of between one and five years shall be given to anyone who destroys, breaks, ruins, or defaces a statue, bust, or monuments representing Atatürk or the grave of Atatürk.
Anyone who encourages others to commit the crimes outlined in the paragraphs above will be punished as if committing the crime.
If the crimes outlined in the first article are committed by a group of two or more individuals, or publicly, or in public districts or by means of the press will have the penalty imposed increased by a proportion of one-half.
If the crimes outlined in the second paragraph of the first article are committed using force...the penalty will be doubled... .71 See Article 4. 72 Fine later increased three times according to Turkish Penal Code Article 119. 73 Fine later increased three times. 74 Fine later increased three times. 75 Parliament amended the Anti-Terror Law in October 1995. Before its amendment, Article 8 punished all so-called separatist propaganda regardless of the method, intent, or idea behind it. 76 Until 1993, television and radio broadcasting was state controlled under Article 133 of the constitution. In 1993, parliament amended Article 133 to allow for private radio and television stations.