The fourth editor-in-chief of the only Kurdish-Turkish women’s magazine in Turkey has now been in detention for three months, with a 20-day extension just announced by a Diyarbakır court. Gurbet Çakar of the magazine Rengê Hêviya Jinê (Colour of a Woman’s Hope), was arrested three months ago by the Diyarbakır public prosecutor’s office when she appeared there to give a statement. The charges related to her arrest were ‘making propaganda for the PKK via the media.’
In a hearing on 10 June, the Diyarbakır 5th High Criminal Court dismissed the request for her release. She had previously been sentenced to more than three years in jail.
Çakar’s lawyer, Servet Özen, said that a total of five cases have been filed against Çakar. Servet Özen was also on the legal team that defended Mehdi Tanrıkulu, managing editor of the Kurdish newspaper Azadiya Welat.
Turkish authorities frequently use harsh anti-terrorism laws to stifle freedom of the press and freedom of expression in Turkey, particularly against Kurdish-language publications and Kurdish journalists.
In the case of Rengê Hêviya Jinê, Özen explained that the cases were filed on the grounds of calling imprisoned PKK leader Abdullah Öcalan ‘leader of the Kurdish people’ and for publishing photographs of him and members of the PKK.
Özen is preparing appeals on behalf of Çakar. Other charges against the editor include ‘membership in an illegal organisation and committing a crime on behalf of the organisation.’ The case related to her detention will continue on 1 July.
Rengê Hêviya Jinê began publishing in November 2007. It is a bi-monthly publication with articles that focus on political, cultural and social issues from women’s perspectives. Thirteen issues have been published despite constant harassment from the Turkish judiciary. There are currently 16 open court cases involving the magazine and its editors.
Çakar is one of four successive editors to be charged. The first managing editor, Sultan Sonsuz, was sentenced to one year and three months in one of the ‘propaganda’ related charges. Sonsuz is facing imprisonment of between four years and nine months and 20 years in total for the remaining four cases. Her successor, Ruken Aktaş, is facing imprisonment of up to three years and nine months. One trial against Aktaş was dropped. The Diyarbakır 6th High Criminal Court handed down a one year and three month prison sentence to Aktaş’s successor, Sibel Esmer. Esmer has appealed to the decision.
**UPDATE (08 October 2010): Prosecutors have announced they will seek a 20-year sentence in their case against Gurbet Çakar on charges of ‘making propaganda for an organisation, being a member of the organisation and committing crime on behalf of the organisation.’
Hêviya Jinê, yargı kıskacında. Gündem Online, 11 April 2010.
Önderoğlu, Erol. Chief Editor of Women Magazine Detained since March! Bianet, 14 June 2010.