Date of Graduation

Fall 12-14-2012

Document Type


Degree Name

Master of Arts in International Studies


International Studies

First Advisor

Richard G. Hovannisian


Concerns over human rights violations in Turkey by the European Union (EU) have hindered the Republic of Turkey’s accession to the EU. Freedom of expression has been denied through a number of laws since the creation of the Republic in 1923. This thesis presents how and why speech has been constrained in Turkey, and it provides an argument that Ottoman history has a direct impact on the country’s politics today. It also examines the implications of legislation that has been applied to silence individuals addressing controversial issues in public. In particular, Article 301 of the Turkish Penal Code has been one of the main laws used to punish those who speak of granting more rights to minorities. Hundreds of scholars have been prosecuted under Article 301, and this paper looks into a few noteworthy cases to portray the impact that this law has had on Turkish society. In recent years, there have been a number of legislative reforms carried out in the country to bring Turkish laws in line with European law; however, there is still much work to be done to improve Turkey’s human rights record and acquire EU membership.