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 International Press Institute IPI condemns attacks on Turkish Zaman newspaper in Europe

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International Press Institute IPI condemns attacks on Turkish Zaman newspaper in Europe  17.2.2012   

Alleged supporters of the Kurdistan Workers' Party attacked the Zaman daily's offices in Paris on Wednesday. Photo: Today's Zaman.
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February 17, 2012

VIENNA, — The International Press Institute on Friday condemned a series of "unacceptable" attacks on Turkish newspapers in Germany and France by suspected Kurd activists.

"We condemn these attacks and we hope that German and French authorities conduct swift, transparent and complete investigations that hold all of the perpetrators accountable," Anthony Mills, press freedom manager for the watchdog, said in a statement.

"We also reiterate that it is absolutely unacceptable to resort to violence against journalists to express political disagreement with them," it said.

The statement came a day after German police said that arsonists torched the headquarters of the Turkish-language newspaper Zaman in the western city of Cologne and attacked a cafe frequented by the Turkish community.

Authorities have not ruled out a link to the banned Kurdistan Workers' Party (PKK), considered by the European Union and Turkey as a terrorist organisation.

"In one of the two cases, we have evidence that a substance was used to spread the fire," the spokeswoman said. "Typical PKK slogans were shouted" during the two Cologne attacks.

On Wednesday, Zaman's offices in the Paris suburb of Pantin were vandalised by a dozen masked men, with a police source telling AFP that PKK had claimed the attack.

Zaman said that it marked the third attack against its Paris office in six months.

PKK activists have also previously attacked the newspaper's offices in London, Vienna and Zurich.

February 15 marked the 13th anniversary of the arrest of PKK chief Abdullah Ocalan.

Since it was established in 1984, the PKK has been fighting the Turkish state, which still denies the constitutional existence of Kurds, to establish a Kurdish state in the south east of the country, sparking a conflict that has claimed some 45,000 lives.

But now its aim is the creation an autonomous Kurdish region and more cultural rights for ethnic Kurds who constitute the greatest minority in Turkey, numbering more than 20 million. A large Turkey's Kurdish community openly sympathise with the Kurdish PKK rebels.

PKK's demands included releasing PKK detainees, lifting the ban on education in Kurdish, paving the way for an autonomous democrat Kurdish system within Turkey, reducing pressure on the detained PKK leader Abdullah Öcalan, stopping military action against the Kurdish party and recomposing the Turkish constitution.

Turkey refuses to recognize its Kurdish population as a distinct minority. It has allowed some cultural rights such as limited broadcasts in the Kurdish language and private Kurdish language courses with the prodding of the European Union, but Kurdish politicians say the measures fall short of their expectations.

The PKK is considered as 'terrorist' organization by Ankara, U.S., the PKK continues to be on the blacklist list in EU despite court ruling which overturned a decision to place the Kurdish rebel group PKK and its political wing on the European Union's terror list. 

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