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 Turkish court bans pro-Kurdish daily Özgür Gündem for month: Editor

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Turkish court bans pro-Kurdish daily Özgür Gündem for month: Editor  26.3.2012  

A Turkish court banned a pro-Kurdish newspaper for a month for spreading "terrorist propaganda" or propagating PKK. The PKK demanded Turkey's recognition of the Kurds' identity in its constitution and of their language as a native language along with Turkish in the country's Kurdish areas, the party also demanded an end to ethnic discrimination in Turkish laws and constitution against Kurds, ranting them full political freedoms.

Copy of Ozgur Gundem held by Kurdish MP Ozgur Gundem: Photo: Cihan

Ozgur Gundem's editor Huseyin Aykol
March 26, 2012

ISTANBUL, — A Turkish court banned a pro-Kurdish newspaper for a month for spreading "terrorist propaganda" and police raided its offices in Istanbul to seize the Sunday edition, its editor said.

Ozgur Gundem editor Huseyin Aykol said the court, in its decision late on Saturday, cited the newspaper's reporting of Kurdish New Year celebrations from the Qandil mountains in Kurdistan region in Iraq's north as one example.

The Qandil mountains are the main base of the Kurdistan Workers' Party (PKK) militants. 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. 

"We have suffered such a huge number of arrests and such intense pressure on us over the year. We don't want to get used to this," Aykol told Reuters.

In December, police detained several of the newspaper's journalists and carted away computers as part of a crackdown on Kurdish media outlets.

Two years ago, a Turkish court sentenced the editor of a Kurdish newspaper to 21 years in prison for printing what it called Kurdish terrorist propaganda.

Aykol said a total 109 publishers and journalists from Dicle news agency, Firat news agency, Azadiya Welat and Ozgur Gundem were currently detained. Most are pending trial but some have been convicted.

Ozgur Gundem, which prints in Turkish to raise awareness of the Kurdish issue, was first published in 1992 but was banned two years later and only began publishing again last April.

Turkey and Kurdish militants are fighting 27-year-old war in the mountains of southeast Turkey and Kurdistan region of northern Iraq. The Turkish government refuses to negotiate directly with the PKK.

Some 700 more people were arrested, and one policeman and a Kurdish activist were killed during Kurdish New Year celebrations that turned into riots this week as police tried to stop a show of popular strength by Kurds across the country.

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.

Copyright ©, respective author or news agency, Reuters | | Agencies 


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