Resolution adopted without a vote by the Inter-Parliamentary Council
at its 163rd session (Moscow, 12 September 1998)

The Inter-Parliamentary Council,

Referring to the outline of the case, as contained in the report of the Committee on the Human Rights of Parliamentarians (CL/163/12(a)-R.1), and to the resolution adopted at its 162nd session (April 1998) concerning the case of Mr. Hassan Mezarci, a former member of the Turkish Grand National Assembly,

Taking account of the letters from the President of the Turkish National Group dated 30 June and 24 August 1998 and of the observations provided by the Turkish delegation at the hearing held on the occasion of the 100th Inter-Parliamentary Conference (September 1998),

Recalling that, contrary to information supplied to it by the parliamentary authorities in March/April 1995, Mr. Mezarci was sentenced to 18 months' imprisonment on 29 January 1996 by Bandirma Penal Court, having been found guilty of violating Articles 1 and 2 of Law 5816 by insulting the memory of Atatürk: he had called for an investigation into the alleged extrajudicial killing of Ali Sükrü, a member of Parliament for Trabzond in the 1920s who, Mr. Mezarci claimed, had been murdered on Atatürk's orders,

Recalling also that, in his letter of 5 January 1998, the President of the Turkish National Group stated that various judicial proceedings on charges of insulting the memory of Atatürk were under way against Mr. Mezarci, namely case N° 1996/588 before Ankara 8th Criminal Court, case N° 1996/575 before Ankara 20th Criminal Court and case N° 1996/570 before Ankara 5th Criminal Court; recalling also that he has been charged with insulting the Republic and the Armed Forces by stating in an interview, published on 15 January 1997 that " the heads of the gangs are the Prime Ministers, the Chiefs of Staffs and Presidents " and that the relevant trial is still under way before Istanbul Criminal Court N° 2,

Recalling further that Mr. Mezarci was found guilty of insulting and defaming the Turkish Parliament and sentenced to ten months' imprisonment under Articles 159(1) and 159(2) of the Penal Code; that, according to the indictment, he stated the following: " This Constitution and this Assembly will not resolve any of the country's problems and it will lead to another military coup. The solution is the Sharia system. I cannot sit in this Assembly. I am disgusted with it "; that at the court hearing on 19 March 1997, Mr. Mezarci reportedly said " I described Sharia as a belief, not as a State form. (...) It is my constitutional right to inform people of my Assembly activities. I have spoken more openly in the Assembly than in newspaper reports where I have been quoted "; recalling also that an appeal is pending,

Recalling finally the stated will of the Turkish authorities to make every effort to bring Turkish legislation into line with European human rights standards, particularly with respect to freedom of expression,

Bearing in mind the interpretation given by the European Court of Human Rights to freedom of expression, namely that " freedom of expression constitutes one of the essential foundations of (such) democratic society, one of the basic conditions for its progress and for the development of every man. Subject to Article 10(2), it is applicable not only to 'information' or 'ideas' that are favourably received or regarded as inoffensive or as a matter of indifference, but also to those that offend, shock or disturb the State or any sector of the population. Such are the demands of that pluralism, tolerance and broadmindedness without which there is no democratic society " (Handyside v. UK, September 1976),

  1. Thanks the President of the Turkish National Group for his consistent co-operation; also thanks the Turkish delegation for the general observations it provided at the hearing held in Moscow;
  2. Reaffirms that in making the statement which, on 29 January 1996, led to his sentencing to 18 months' imprisonment, Mr. Mezarci was simply exercising his right to freedom of expression, guaranteed under Article 10 of the European Convention on Human Rights, to which Turkey is a party;
  3. Reiterates its wish to receive detailed information on the other judicial proceedings apparently still under way against him;
  4. Requests the Secretary General to convey this decision to the President of the Turkish National Group;
  5. Requests the Committee on the Human Rights of Parliamentarians to continue examining the case and report to it at its next session (April 1999).

Note: you can download a complete electronic version of the brochure "Results of the 100th Conference and related meetings of the Inter-Parliamentary Union" in PDF format (file size approximately 570K). This version requires Adobe Acrobat Reader, which you can download free of charge.Get Acrobat Reader

Human rights of parliamentarians | Home page | Main areas of activity | Structure and functioning