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Kurdish newspaper receives two-month publication ban

(BIANET/IFEX) - An Istanbul court has convicted the daily newspaper "Günlük" of "spreading PKK propaganda" in two issues of the paper. According to journalist Ragip Zarakolu, Kurdish media is targeted frequently.

Judge Necat Ede of Istanbul's 12th Heavy Penal Court cited Article 6 of the Anti-Terrorism Law, an article which former President Ahmet Necdet Sezer had asked the constitutional court to reconsider. The court declared on 5 September 2006 that it would consider the objection, but there have been no developments in the last three years.

The issues in question were published on 1 and 2 June 2009. A picture of imprisoned PKK leader Abdullah Öcalan in the first issue prompted a one-month closure.

In the 2 June issue, a column entitled "Operations must be stopped" by Hüseyin Ali and an article by Teoman Deprem entitled "PeKeKe or PeKaKa?" resulted in a second ban being handed down.

In his column, Ali had referred to the extension of a unilateral ceasefire by the KCK (Koma Civaken Kurdistan, the Union of Kurdistan Societies), the umbrella organisation that includes the PKK. He had written, "everyone must be aware of the value of this, and democratic forces must use this period for a solution."

Deprem had written that those pronouncing the PKK as "PeKaKa" (i.e. according to the Turkish alphabet), were not in support of a solution to the Kurdish question. He said that the name of the organisation should be pronounced "PeKeKe", i.e. according to the Kurdish alphabet.

In addition, writers for "Günlük," among them Cevat Düsün, Ragip Zarakolu, Ziya Çiçekçi and Veysi Sarisözen, are on trial, facing possible imprisonment.


BACKGROUND:

In a statement in December 2008, journalist and publisher Ragip Zarakolu said that 21 of the newspapers publishing in Kurdish or focusing on the Kurdish question had faced 46 publishing bans since 2006. Following that statement, newspapers such as "Özgür Yorum", "Politika", "Analiz" and "Ayrinti" were banned again.

The Istanbul 10th Heavy Penal Court imposed a one-month ban on the weekly "Özgür Yorum" (Free Interpretation) newspaper for its 14-20 March 2009 issue. All of the articles in the issue were considered problematic.

The weekly "Politika" newspaper was handed a one-month publication ban by the Istanbul 11th Heavy Penal Court for articles that appeared in its 14-20 February issue.

On 28 February, the weekly "Analiz" newspaper was also given a one-month ban for its 28 February-6 March 2009 issue.

On 26 January, the Istanbul 14th Heavy Penal Court handed the weekly "Ayrinti" (Detail) newspaper a one-month ban for articles in its 5th issue of 24-30 January 2009.

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