56 Turkish-Kurdish Mayors have exercised their Right to Freedom of Expression, by writing a letter to the Danish Prime Minister, Anders Fogh Rasmussen.
In the letter they urge the Danish Prime Minister, Anders Fogh Rasmussen, not to revoke the broadcast licence of the Kurdish language satellit tv-station, ROJ TV.
The Turkish State considers ROJ TV s broadcasts to be in support of the Kurdish Liberation Movement, PKK. For this reason, the Turkish State regards the letter to the Danish Prime Minister, Anders Fogh Rasmussen, as an expression of support to the PKK.
The Danish Radio and TV Broadcasting Commission, Det Danske Radio og TV N vn , has investigated ROJ TV s broadcasts and exonerated the TV station, finding no legal infringements of the regulations. The Commission found the broadcasts to be of commonplace news and cultural content.
Up until now the City Mayors have appeared before the Court many times, the Prosecution is now insisting on a jail term of up to 2 years. They also run the risk of being barred from holding public office, including a mayoral position. This seems particularly unreasonable, and a threat to a Publicly Elected Official's ability to do their duty.
One of the accused, Chief Burgomaster (Chief Mayor) of the Kurdish major city of Diyarbakir, Osman Baydemir is one of many Kurdish politicians charged in not one, but in a series of cases. All in all, he is at risk of being sentenced to 280 years in prison. All the charges against him revolve around his use of the Kurdish language, and the Right to Freedom of Expression.
March 12th, 2008, Osman Baydemir is quoted in the Danish national newspaper Politiken as saying, "For New Years I sent a greetings card to Government and the Prosecution, where I wrote, 'Happy New Year' in Turkish, English and Kurdish. All the cards were returned to Sender except the one that I sent to the Prosecution. I was pleased, and thought that maybe they were softening up a little. But as it turned out, they used the card as evidence to charge me once again, not so much because I wrote the card in Kurdish, but because I used the letter 'w' that is used in the Kurdish language but not in the Turkish. "
The next trial date is set for April 15th, 2008, where a decision is expected.
By signing this petition, you are supporting the 56 Turkish-Kurdish Mayors fight for Freedom of Expression, as well as to protest the fact that Publicly Elected Officials using this Right, can risk such a serious sentence.
You can get further information on the case at: kurdiskforum.dk
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