Thursday, September 28, 2006

DTP mayors: We stand behind what we said

The New Anatolian with AP / Ankara
27 September 2006

A group of mayors from the pro-Kurdish Democratic Society Party (DTP) on trial for a letter supporting a Danish-based pro-Kurdish broadcaster yesterday accused the indictment against them of being a product of a recent escalating in nationalism in Turkey.

The 56 DTP mayors in question wrote to Danish Prime Minister Anders Fogh Rasmussen last year asking him to keep allegedly pro-Kurdish Kurdistan Workers' Party (PKK) Roj-TV, which is based in Denmark, on the air despite a statement from the Turkish government asserting that the broadcaster is a mouthpiece for the terrorist organization.

In the first hearing yesterday the 45 mayors present, including Diyarbakir Mayor Osman Baydemir whose name crops up in several other indictments and investigations regarding his help for the terrorist group, defended what they wrote.

The trial is being held in Diyarbakir, where a recent mysterious bomb attack escalated tension. Baydemir also faces an investigation for participating in a march held after the bombing.

Danish diplomats and human rights activists were also present to monitor the case.

The indictment against them, prepared by the Diyarbakir Chief Public Prosecutor's Office and sent to the Diyarbakir High Criminal Court in June, seeks sentences ranging from seven-and-a-half to 15 years in prison under Article 220/7 of the revised Turkish Penal Code (TCK) which stipulates the same sentences for people who deliberately aid and abet terrorist groups as group members.

The Danish premier has strongly criticized the indictment against the mayors. "I find it rather shocking ... that because you write a letter to me, you are being accused of violating the law," Anders Fogh Rasmussen told Danish public radio in June.


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