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Kurdish Human Rights Project: This is the legacy website of the Kurdish Human Rights Project, containing reports and news pertaining to human rights issues in the Kurdish Regions for 20 years.

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KHRP Observes Acquittal of Kurdish Publisher Charged with Disseminating Separatist Propaganda

The Kurdish Human Rights Project today welcomes the formal acquittal of Ahmet Önal, the Kurdish publisher charged with the dissemination of separatist propaganda, during proceedings at Istanbul Heavy Criminal Court Number 11.

A KHRP delegation today observed the trial of Mr. Önal in which he was accused of showing demonstrable support of an “armed terror organisation”, for his publication in 2005 of The Diaspora Kurds by Hejare Samil.

In defence of Mr. Önal , his lawyers referred to his right to free expression as enshrined in Article 10 of the European Convention on Human Rights. It is, it was asserted, Mr. Önal’s right as a publisher to ‘receive and impart information and ideas without interference by public authority’.

In hearing, the trial judge, whilst expressing ‘concern’ about the publication, concluded in a written statement that the book consisted of wide-ranging research that contained no intent to propagandize. He therefore moved to acquit with the stipulation that Mr Önal be awarded 1100 New Turkish Lira in state compensation.  Under domestic Turkish law, the prosecution has fifteen days to appeal the decision.

As head of Peri Publishing, which has released some 270 titles, Ahmet Önal has already served two prison terms in relation to similar charges.

In response to today’s news, KHRP Executive Director Kerim Yildiz today stated: “The acquittal today of Mr. Önal on these spurious charges is to be welcomed, and I am very pleased that a KHRP Trial Observation mission was on hand to witness the decision. It is essential that the right to freedom of expression, including the freedom to discuss and debate issues considered distasteful by the political establishment, is staunchly protected. It is one of the cornerstones of a truly democratic society”.

A report on today’s trial observation will be released by KHRP shortly.