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A newspaper owner was shot to death in southeastern Turkey on 22 September, reports IPS Communication Foundation (BIANET).

Kasim Ciftci, owner of the "Hakkari Province Voice" newspaper, was found dead near the ruins of old Van City on 22 September. According to "Yüksekova News", eyewitnesses saw two men arguing near the ruins. The argument turned into a fight, and Ciftci was shot twice.

Meanwhile, Turkey continues to use the judicial system to curb free expression. Journalists are still being charged under Article 301 of Turkey's Penal Code, which makes "insulting Turkishness" a crime punishable by prison terms. Turkish rights groups, including BIANET and the Initiative for Freedom of Expression, have been reporting on the numerous trials and actively campaigning to abolish the law.

According to International PEN, ARTICLE 19 and the International Publishers Association (IPA), 18 trials against 24 people under Article 301 were heard between April and July 2007.

Just last week, Haci Bogatekin, owner of the local paper "Gerger Firat" in Adiyaman, southeastern Turkey, was accused under Article 301 for his March 2007 article entitled "Turkey has made mistakes". Bogatekin blamed the state for the deaths of "millions of Armenians and Syriac Christians," and other ethnic and religious groups across the country.

Last month, International PEN, ARTICLE 19 and IPA issued an open letter to the newly-elected President of Turkey Adbulah Gül calling for the abolition of Article 301.

The letter laments that the article was not abolished in the wake of the assassination of Hrant Dink in January 2007. Dink, editor of the Armenian-Turkish weekly "Agos", had been convicted under Article 301 for comments on mass killings of Armenians a century ago. Critics say his conviction led to him being targeted.

The full text of the letter can be can be downloaded at:

Visit these links:
- BIANET on Ciftci:
- IFEX alerts on Turkey:
- Human Rights Association (bi-annual) Report on Rights Violations in Turkey:
- Initiative for Freedom of Expression:
(2 October 2007)

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