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Hürriyet Daily News reports that 1080 people have been convicted in Erdoğan "insult" cases in Turkey in 2016. This isn't particularly interesting; there have been several rounds of purges since the failed 2016 coup attempt. However, this time, it appears children as young as 12 years old are amongst the accused:

A total of 4,750 people aged over 18 years old, 36 foreign nationals, and two legal entities were accused of “insulting” Erdoğan. Some 102 people aged between 12 and 15, as well as 138 people aged between 15 and 18, were accused on charges of “crimes against the sovereignty of the state and its bodies.”

The courts acquitted 679 people accused of these charges and suspended the pronouncement of the judgement for 867 others. “Insulting the president” is a crime in Turkey punishable by up to four years in jail.

Hürriyet Daily News. 1,080 convicted in Erdoğan "insult" cases in Turkey last year - http://www.hurriyetdailynews.com/1080-convicted-in-erdogan-insult-cases-in-turkey-last-year.aspx?pageID=238&nID=114850&NewsCatID=338 [Accessed 28 Jun. 2017].

Unfortunately, the article doesn't go into any more detail. Do we know What specific crimes these children allegedly commit? Is there a real possibility children will end up in jail for "insulting" Erdoğan?

  • Unfortunately, I couldn't find Turkish version of the article. But, it seems it is rooted Cumhuriyet's article. Couldn't found anything on Ministry of Justice web site either. – user16265 Aug 19 '17 at 14:16
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The crimes could have involved social media or physical signs. The children could go to jail for 1-4 years.

For Erdogan, prosecuting children is not new. In the past few years, there have been several notable cases where minors as young as 12 were prosecuted for insulting him. From Vice News, in late 2015 (emphasis mine):

Turkish authorities are charging two children, ages 12 and 13, with "insulting the Turkish president" after the two allegedly tore down posters bearing the face of President Recep Tayyip Erdogan.

. . .

On Wednesday, the prosecutor's office in the predominantly Kurdish city of Diyarbakir announced that it would seek to put the boys behind bars for up to two years and four months, according to Hurriyet Daily.

The article notes that a 14-year-old had previously been arrested for comments made on a Facebook page but had been released after being judged "young to stand trial". What's notable in this 2015 case is that the boys are being charged under Article 299, which allows prison terms of up to four years. The prosecutors were aiming for more than half that for the children, which indicates that the government may not view them as much less responsible than adults. I am not aware of the results of the case.

There have been other cases of minors (and presumably adults) mocking Erdogan on social media, including one in early 2016 involving a 16-year-old - again, prior to the coup. There had been a large-scale police investigation into him, another indication that Turkish authorities are taking young violators of Article 299 very seriously. In 2014, a 16-year-old student made a speech at a protest, and was promptly arrested for insulting the president.

I should note that some cases involving minors have been dropped, even while Erdogan continues to go vigorously after adults. This may indicate that the government is unwilling to all the way in its attacks against criticism by minors.

In short, it is unclear what crimes these 240 children were charged with, but in the past, cases have commonly included negative remarks made on social media, as well as simply defacing government posters. I would assume that the youngest children would not have been speaking at protests, but the older ones could have been.

To answer your final questions, it is a very real possibility that these minors will be charged. If they are charged under Article 299 and convicted, they would face up to four years in prison.

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