Friday, October 30, 2009

Anti-Terror Law Thwarts Kurdish Initiative

Submitted by Tsiatsan on Friday, October 30 2009
güncel Erol ÖNDEROĞLU - Filiz Koçali, Ramazan Pekgöz and Ziya Çiçekçi from Günlük newspaper are facing imprisonment and severe fines because of an interview with Murat Karayilan on Kandil Mountain about the Kurdish initiative. The case is scheduled for 24 February 2010.
The Istanbul Republican Chief Prosecutor's office opened a case against Günlük newspaper publishing director Filiz Koçalı, journalist Ramazan Pekgöz and owner of the daily Ziya Çiçekçi because of an interview with Murat Karayılan, Head of the Turkish Democratic Confederation (KCK), urban arm of the militant Kurdistan Workers Party (PKK), within the Union of Kurdistan Societies, the umbrella organisation that includes the PKK.

In the issues from 7, 8 and 9 August the Kurdish Günlük newspaper had published the interview in three different sections entitled "We did what Hasan Cemal wanted", "I completely agree with Yaşar Kemal" and "If the state would take one step we would take two". On the basis of the interview the republic chief prosecutor's office claims "spreading PKK propaganda" and sees legal grounds of guilt because the descriptions emanate from a member of the organization.

Reflecting problems arising out of the Kurdish Initiative, the three members of the newspaper staff are facing prison sentences because they gave way to assessments of the government's Kurdish initiative. Milliyet daily, Newsweek and Washington Post published similar interviews like the one in Günlük.

Limitations of the initiative
Recently, an increase in pressure on newspapers discussing the Kurdish question and newspapers publishing in Kurdish can be observed.

In Istanbul for instance, the 8-page Özgür Görüş newspaper has been banned for 1 month last week for "spreading propaganda on page 9". In Diyarbakır, southern Turkey, Azadiya Welat newspaper distributor Mehmet Altay has been convicted to a 10 months prison sentence because of publishing a photograph of imprisoned PKK leader Abdullah Öçalan holding an issue of the daily above his head in a triumph like pose. Furthermore, journalist Veysi Sarısözen from Günlük newspaper is tried for writing "we do not make propaganda but the people do".

First hearing scheduled for 24 February
In the indictment of the trial under charges of "spreading propaganda for an illegal organization" and "giving space to the organization's statements and explanations" Istanbul Public Prosecutor Hakan Karaali demands a 10 years and 6 months prison sentence for Koçali and Pekgöz and a fine of 10 million Turkish Lira (45,000 €) for Çiçekçi. The first hearing of the trial will take place on 24 February at the Istanbul 9th High Criminal Court.

In his indictment prepared on 11 September, Karaali claims to base the punishment of the newspaper officials on article 6/2 and 7/2 of the Anti-Terror Law (TMY).

Further reasons of guilt are the following pronouncements made in the interview: "The PKK forces have gone beyond limits, which steps did the state take within the last 5 years?", "If the state would take one step, we would take two" and "If they let us have a state now, we would not accept it".

Relevant articles of the TMY
Article 6/2 of the TMY says, "Those who print or publish leaflets and declarations of terrorist organizations shall be punished with a fine of between 5 and 10 million Turkish liras".

Article 7/2 goes as follows: "Those who assist members of illegal organizations or make propaganda in connection with such organizations shall be punished with imprisonment of between 1 and 5 years. If this crime is committed via the media the punishment shall be increased by 0.5. Additionally, the persons responsible for the publishing who did not participate in the crime constituted by the media body shall be sentenced to a judicial fine equivalent to between 1,000 and 10,000 days". (EÖ/VK)