Ankara’s Sincan First High Criminal Court has upheld the decision of the Court of Appeal not to start criminal proceedings against the organizers of the “I Apologize to the Armenians” campaign, Turkish daily Radikal reported.
The internet signature campaign (“Erminilerden Özür Diliyorum” in Turkish) was launched in December 2008 by four Turkish intellectuals — journalist Ali Bayramoglu, Prof. Baskın Oran, Prof. Ahmet Insel and Dr Cengiz Aktar — and gathered 30,000 signatures.
The campaign message is as follows: "I cannot reconcile my conscience to denial of and insensitivity about the great Ottoman disaster imposed upon the Armenians in 1915. I reject this injustice and share the feelings and grief of my Armenian brothers and sisters. I apologize to them."
A complaint, filed by six Turkish residents, was subsequently investigated by Ankara Public Prosecutor Abdulvahap Yaren. A case was launched under Article 301 of the Turkish Criminal Code, but it was dropped in January 2009, as "in a democratic society, opposing ideas are also protected under freedom of thought".
Although the Sincan First High Criminal Court had backed the Ankara public prosecutor’s decision in March 2009, it only recently decided not to start a criminal trial against the campaign organizers.