Saturday, February 13, 2010

Media right groups condemn 21-year jail term for Kurdish editor


Rudaw - The Media rights group IPI and Reporters Without Borders blasted the Turkish authorities on Friday after a Kurdish-language newspaper editor was jailed for 21 years for allegedly spreading propaganda for the Kurdistan Workers Party.

"Too often the authorities in Turkey and elsewhere use anti-terrorism laws to restrict press freedom," International Press Institute director Director David Dadge reacted in a statement. "This is unacceptable," he said, adding that the move amounted to "government censorship of the media."

According to RSF, “freedom of expression must be extended once and for all to the Kurdish press,” reacting to the 21-year jail sentence which a court in Diyarbakir, the largest city in Turkey’s mainly Kurdish southeast, has passed on Ozan Kilinç, the owner and editor of the country’s only Kurdish-language daily, Azadiya Welat.

“Banning the democratic expression of ethnic minority demands will not help Turkey to put an end to extremist violence,” RSF added. “In this case, the sentence was out of all proportion to the offence, which was the expression of views that could be criticized.”

The Kurdish paper had described the imprisoned PKK-leader Abdullah Ocalan, as the "leader of the Kurdish people" - and it had failed to describe Turkish soldiers killed in battle as "martyrs".

© Rudaw