Press “Freedoms” in Turkey

More about the press and the PKK. Like Zana’s conviction the other day, Turkish journalist Veysi Sarısözen has just been sentenced for “legitimizing” the PKK. The below article was published by BİA2 on their website http://www.bianet.org/.

BİA2 is a project ‘Establishing a Countrywide Network in Turkey for Monitoring and Covering Media Freedom and Independent Journalism’ and is implemented by IPS Communications Foundation since 17 November 2003. A 36 month project, BİA² is based on the gains of foundation’s previously implemented BİA project and overseen by the project coordination headed by project advisor Nadire Mater and project coordinator Ertuğrul Kürkçü. 80 percent of the project’s budget is met through a grant contract under the European Union’s Initiative for Democracy and Human Rights (EIDHR).

You’ll find many Kurdish-related articles on their Website.

Journalist Sarısözen Sentenced For Portraying PKK As The Party Of The Kurdish Revolt

The court sentences journalist Sarısözen for portraying the Kurdish Workers Party (PKK) as the party of the revolt of the Kurdish people in his articles and thus legitimizing its existence. The journalist held a press release to defend his right to portray the PKK in any way he likes.

Bia news center – İstanbul
10-12-2008

Journalist Veysi Sarısözen (photo) protested the prison sentence against him for criticizing the imposition of the terrorist label to describe the Kurdish Workers Party (PKK) at the press release held together with his lawyer Anıt Baba at the Istanbul branch of the Human Rights Association (İHD).

The legal background of the sentence of one year and three months given by the 13th High Criminal Court of Istanbul on October 13 had accused Sarısözen for “trying to legitimize the activities of the PKK by claiming that it represents a segment of the people and is the organization of the revolt launched by the people it represented, and therefore doing propaganda of the armed terrorist organization PKK.”

Sarısözen: PKK does not need my praise
Pointing out to the speed of his prosecution, which was launched upon the complaint by the General Staff, Sarısözen said the PKK did not need his praise.

Saying they appealed the decision, lawyer Baba argues that if the Supreme Court of Appeals approved the decision then this will mean that no other perspective than the denialist official one about the Kurdish problem will be allowed.

While publisher and journalist Ragıp Zarakolu emphasized that the freedom of expression was under threat in Turkey, Filiz Koçali, president of the Socialist Democracy Party (SDP) said there was an attempt to eliminate the perspective of democratic and peaceful solution to the Kurdish problem. Moreover, Gülseren Yoleri, head of the Istanbul branch of the Human Rights Association, indicated that the state did not show patience to any option other than the militarist one.

“Banning words is incompatible with the principle of the rule of law”
Sarısözen was accused of the following words in the article titled “Etc., Etc.” that was published in the copy of “Gündem” newspaper dated November 12, 2007:

“Banning words is not compatible with the principle of the rule of law. For example, calling the PKK a terrorist organization cannot be imposed. We have the right to make a different description. We take the PKK as the political and military organization of the last Kurdish uprising. We are not saying they are innocent, what they have been doing is legal, ‘they are coming from a mosque’ and the like. We are making a different description. Can’t we do this? Etc., etc.”

Suspect for another article
Sarısözen is also on trial for another article titled “Is it terror or war?” that appeared in the copy of the same newspaper dated June 14, 2007. In this case, he is accused of doing the propaganda of the PKK by describing it as an organization in rebellion.

Sarısözen is facing one and a half years under article 7/2 of the Anti-Terror Law. The trial will continue at the 10th High Criminal Court on March 10, 2009. (EÖ/TB)

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