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Authorities close "Gündem" newspaper for 15 days following coverage of pre-election opinions

(BIANET/IFEX) - After an article on pre-election opinions in Batman, a south-eastern province, was published in the "Gündem" newspaper on 12 July 2007, an Istanbul penal court has closed the newspaper for 15 days. Cause for the closure was an article published on 12 July (issue no. 132), entitled: "The Batman Message: Stand By the Guerrillas".

The newspaper has been closed for periods of 30 and 15 days before and has now been closed for "spreading PKK propaganda in a call for violence". The 13 July issue of the newspaper was confiscated.

"Gündem"'s editor-in-chief, Yuksel Genc, argued that the closure was a violation of freedom of the press. He said that the newspaper has continually been targeted, but that the last two months had seemed more normal. "We find it meaningful that our newspaper is closed in the week running up to the elections," he said. "It becomes clear once again that in such a time, Kurds are silenced."

In the article, journalist Cengiz Kapmaz evaluated the pre-election period in Batman, a province in south eastern Turkey. One worker to whom he spoke said: "The people's expectations of the [pro-Kurdish] independent candidates are very clear. The people are sending them to Parliament not in order to support PKK terrorism, but to support the people's children who are struggling for their rights. They must not forget that. Those who call [PKK leader] Abdullah Öcalan 'honourable' whenever they mention him, we expect to attend the funerals of those people's children who are killed."

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