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September 2, 2010 - Updated on January 20, 2016

Two Kurdish newspapers banned for a month, cultural magazine seized


Reporters Without Borders regrets that Kurdish publications have again been suspended or seized under the Anti-Terrorism Law (Law 3713), which allows the Turkish courts to impose harsh penalties on journalists and media when they allude to Kurdish armed separatists and fosters a repressive climate for the Kurdish media. Although the European Court of Human Rights has repeatedly condemned Turkey because of the Anti-Terrorism Law, the country’s constitutional court has refused to consider overturning it. In the latest case, an Istanbul court suspended the daily Rojev for a month on 28 August under article 6 of the law because an article in that day’s issue used a photo of a poster of Abdullah Öcalan, the jailed leader of the outlawed Kurdistan Workers Party (PKK), and a photo of the PKK flag. The PKK has been waging an armed struggle against the Turkish state since 1984 and is on the Turkish, European Union, US and Canadian lists of terrorist organisations. The day before, a court in the southern city of Mersin ordered the seizure of the latest issue of the cultural quarterly Güney (issue No. 53) under article 25 of the Press Law on the grounds that an article by Ali Dagdeviren was pro-PKK propaganda. The article criticised the jailing of Kurdish minors under the Anti-Terrorism Law but did not at any time mention the PKK. On 24 August, an Istanbul court suspended the country’s only nationwide Kurdish daily, Azadiya Welat, for a month and ordered the seizure of that day’s issue because of offensive content but did not specify which articles, columns or photos it found offensive. The newspaper has repeatedly been prosecuted or had issues seized. This was the eighth time it has been sanctioned since its launch in 2006. Reporters Without Borders reiterates its support for former Azadiya Welat editors Vedat Kursun and Ozan Kilinç and other journalists with Kurdish media who are serving long jail sentences. The case of Kursun, who has been sentenced to 166 years in prison, is emblematic of the way the Anti-Terrorism Law is being abused. In another recent case, an American journalist, Jake Hess, was deported on 20 August after being detained for nine days. “The grounds given by the authorities for expelling him and banning him from re-entering the country are the fact that his name is on a list of people accused of links with the PKK,” his lawyer, Serkan Akbas, said. The European Court of Human Rights condemned Turkey 12 times in cases involving freedom of expression in 2009. Seventeen percent of the rulings issued by the court since 1959 have concerned Turkey.