"We have been informed that a Turkish Court banned Kurdish daily newspaper "Özgür Gündem" for a month, due to allegations that it spreads "terrorist propaganda". Turkish police also raided the newspaper’s Istanbul headquarters on 24th March 2012 and seized the newspaper’s Sunday edition.

The daily "Özgür Gündem" -which closely monitors and reports on Kurdish issue- has been the target of restrictions and attacks from the Turkish state since its foundation in 1992. The daily started again its activities in 2011 after 17 years of closure, countless court cases, and disproportionate financial fines. During the 90’s, 76 people amongst its journalists and distributors have been murdered and many others arrested.

According to Turkish human rights lawyers, 109 journalists from Özgür Gündem, Dicle News Agency, Firat News Agency and Azadiya Welat are currently imprisoned within the very controversial Turkish Anti-Terror Law.

I strongly condemn the Turkish Court’s decision to ban "Özgür Gündem", which is one of the voice of Kurdish people in Turkey. Suspension of newspapers and imprisonment of journalists are the result of unacceptable and disproportionate policies of Turkish government which must be ended as urgent matter. The Turkish Court’s ban is also contrary to the European Court of Human Rights’ decision of 20th October 2009 regarding the suspension of newspapers in Turkey for alleged "terrorist propaganda", which -inter alia- ruled that Turkey violated provisions on press freedom, in several occasions.

I call on Turkish authorities to respect the decisions of European Court of Human Rights, to ensure the reopening of "Özgür Gündem", to respect fundamental freedoms and human rights, and to bring its legislation in line with European standards for a more democratic and pluralistic Turkey.

Brussels, 27th of March 2012

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