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18 February Conference: Freedom of Expression & Freedom of Religion or Belief – The Case of Turkey

This event seeks to explore the legal issues at the core of the intersection of freedom of expression and freedom of religion or belief as well as the implications of international human rights law and Turkey’s national law. Members of religious or belief communities, non-believers, legal experts and thinkers come together to present and analyze problems, patterns and ways of moving forward.

The Norwegian Helsinki Committee Freedom of Belief Initiative will organize a Conference on February 18, 2016, in cooperation with Ankara University Centre for Human Rights, entitled Freedom of Expression & Freedom of Religion or Belief – The Case of Turkey.

Both freedom of religion or belief and freedom of expression are fundamental human rights that Turkey has an obligation to uphold. Both freedoms fail to be protected in line with international human rights law.

On the one hand Article 216(3) of the Turkish Criminal Code, is repeatedly used to prosecute critics of religion, in particular atheists, while on the other hand hate speech and discriminatory speech against minorities as well as minorities within majorities are ignored by prosecutors.

This event seeks to explore the legal issues at the core of the intersection of freedom of expression and freedom of religion or belief as well as the implications of international human rights law and Turkey’s national law. Members of religious or belief communities, non-believers, legal experts and thinkers come together to present and analyze problems, patterns and ways of moving forward.

18 February 2016

Venue: Aziz Köklü Hall, Ankara University Faculty of Political Sciences, Cebeci Campus

Program 

Simultaneous translation in Turkish and English will be provided.

10:00 – 10:15 Introductory Speeches

10:15 -11:30 Session 1  

Belief Communities & Non-Believers and Freedom of Expression: Problems and Solutions 

Moderator: Sema Kılıçer – Consultant on Political Issues for the European Union Delegation to Turkey

  • Zehra Pala – Association for Atheism
  • Rita Ender – Jewish Community
  • Ali Yıldırım – Alevi-Bektaşi Federation
  • Halil İbrahim Yenigün – Mazlum-Der
  • İhsan Özbek – Chair of the Association of Protestant Churches Protestant Community

Break

11:45 – 12:30 Session 2 

  • “Religion or Belief Based Hate Speech in Media” Pınar Ensari – Media Watch on Hate Speech Project Research Coordinator – Hrant Dink Foundation

Lunch Break 

13:45 – 15:00 Session 3  

International and National Legal Framework

Moderator: Assistant Prof. Murat Sevinç – Ankara University Faculty of Political Science

  • “Freedom of expression in International Law. Standards and Implementation”  -Katie Morris, Article 19
  • “Religiously intolerant speech and the international covenant on civil and political rights” -Tom Herrenberg, Leiden University
  • “Turkish Legislation and Practice”  – Tolga Şirin, Marmara University

Break

15:15- 16:30 Session 4 Reflections on How to Move Forward

Moderator: Hasan Saim Vural, Ankara University Centre for Human Rights

  • “The Limits of Freedom of Expression and Threats” -Cennet Uslu, Kırıkkale University
  • “FoE & FoRB: Let’s Put Affirmative Action on the Agenda”  – Mine Yıldırım, Norwegian Helsinki Committee Freedom of Belief Initiative
  • The Alevi Case & Key Recommendations  – Kazım Genç, Lawyer
  • FoE v. FoRB:  A Clue for the Identification of the New AKP Constitution? – Kerem Altıparmak, Ankara University Centre for Human Rights.