Two Turkish children have been pardoned by President Recep Tayyip Erdogan following a trial over their insults of him and his ruling Justice and Development Party (AKP), on the condition that they apologise to him and memorise nationalist poems.
One of the children who is known as A.Ç. to maintain his privacy was on trial for insulting Erdogan on social media on 28 March 2014. The other, known as V.E., was under investigation for sending social media messages also insulting Erdogan during his Premiership.
Following a court case, the children – whose ages are unknown – were given the option of being pardoned on the condition that they both offer their apologies to Erdogan. Child A.Ç. was also ordered to memorise the Turkish national anthem, while child V.E. was ordered to memorise the famous poem "Yağmur".
After apologising and learning the poems by heart, the two children were pardoned and absolved of their charges, with Erdogan dropping his complaint against them. "The two sides came to an agreement after the two kids memorised the national anthem and apologised to our president," which Erdogan's attorney Huseyin Aydın told Turkish newspaper HaberTürk yesterday.
In Turkey, insulting anyone in the role of the president is a crime which, according to the country's penal code, carries a jail term of one to four years. Many critics and opposition figures have called the law a limitation on freedom of speech and a tactic to quell criticism.
Due to the existence of that law, thousands of citizens have reportedly faced prison or fines, and between the years of 2010 and 2017, 12,893 cases of insulting the president were filed. Of those, 12,305 were allegedly filed by lawyers representing Erdogan.