By THE ASSOCIATED PRESS
Published: September 1, 2005
Filed at 2:25 a.m. ET
ISTANBUL, Turkey (AP) — A Turkish novelist has been charged with insulting his country’s national character and could face prison, his publisher said Wednesday.
Orhan Pamuk is scheduled to go on trial on Dec. 16 and could face up to three years in prison for comments on Turkey’s killing of Armenians and Kurds, publisher Tugrul Pasaoglu said.
Turkish court officials were not immediately available to comment.
”Thirty-thousand Kurds and one million Armenians were killed in these lands and nobody but me dares to talk about it,” Pamuk was quoted as saying in an interview with a Swiss newspaper magazine in February.
Armenians claim the the killing of Armenians by Ottoman Turks around the time of World War I was the first genocide of the 20th century.
Turkey vehemently denies an Armenian genocide took place, saying the death toll is inflated and Armenians were killed in a civil war as the Ottoman Empire collapsed, eventually giving way to the Turkish Republic in 1923.
The ”thirty thousand Kurds” mentioned by Pamuk refers to those killed since 1984 as Turkey fought a war against armed Kurdish separatists. The fighting ended in 1999 after a cease-fire was called by the rebels, but has resumed since then.
Turkey, along with the United States and the European Union, considers members of the main rebel group — the Kurdistan Workers’ Party or PKK — terrorists.
Turkey, which has been trying to improve its human rights record as it vies for membership in the European Union, is extremely sensitive about both the Armenian and Kurdish issues, and the new Turkish penal code makes it a crime to denigrate Turkey’s national identity.
Pamuk’s books include the internationally acclaimed ”Snow” and ”My Name is Red” and have been translated into more than 20 languages.
Pamuk has not shied away from dealing with Turkey’s more controversial historical issues, drawing criticism for his statements.