On 11 April 2009, the Istanbul 13th Heavy Penal Court decreed that the
daily "Kurdish Azadiya Welat" newspaper and the weekly "Özgür Mezopotamya"
(Free Mesopotamia), which had just started operating, be banned from
publishing for one month.

Emine Demir, license holder and editor of the "Azadiya Welat" newspaper,
said that this ban showed the insincerity of the government’s attempts at a
solution to the Kurdish question.

The court said that the newspaper had reported announcements of the PKK and
spread organisational propaganda on seven of its pages, thus violating
Anti-Terrorism Law No. 3713.

One reason given for the banning of "Özgür Mezopotamya" was a feature on
the families of two young men, Mustafa Dag and Mahsum Karaoglan, who died
when the police intervened in a march to the natal village of imprisoned
PKK leader Abdullah Öcalan on his 60th birthday. Another news item which
pointed to 31 locations in the Cizre and Silopi districts of the
southeastern Sirnak province as mass graves was also considered a violation
of the law.

A news item on the eighth page which discussed the results of a survey on
Barack Obama in the USA, entitled "Winds of Socialism in the USA" (Baye
sosyalîzme li Amerîkaye gur dibe), was also considered part of the
"organisational propaganda".

In the 11 April issue of "Azadiya Welat", articles on pages  one to six and
eight were also considered "organisational propaganda".

An interview with Abdullah Öcalan’s lawyers, commemoration adverts, another
article on Obama and thank-you advertisements by winning mayoral candidates
of the pro-Kurdish Democratic Society Party (DTP) were all part of the

Demir criticised the fact that the government was now running a Kurdish TV
channel (TRT 6) and had opened Kurdology departments at universities, but
was banning the only newspaper in Kurdish, saying that this showed the
insincerity of the government.

Referring to the fact that one reason for the publication ban was
statements by Öcalan, Demir argued that even members of Parliament of the
ruling Justice and Development Party (AKP) were saying that a solution to
the Kurdish question needed to take the PKK into account. "All newspapers
show Öcalan’s photos and cite his statements. It is normal for us to cover
Öcalan’s statements, both because of demands of our readers and because
Öcalan is a part of the solution. This decision is antidemocratic."

For further information contact Nadire Mater at BIANET, Faikpasa Yokusu,
No. 41, Antikhane, Kat: 3, D.8-9, Cukurcuma, Beyoglu, Istanbul, Turkey,
tel: +90 212 251 1503, fax: +90 212 251 1609, e-mail: [email protected],
Internet: http://www.bianet.org