Kurdish journalist Ozgur Amed was sentenced on February 21 to three years in prison for political activism for the rights of the Kurdish people, Firat News Agency reported on February 25. The 7th Criminal High Court of Diyarbakir sentenced him under Turkish Penal Code Article 220/6 for “committing an illegal organisation crime while not being an illegal organisation member”.
This Orwellian-sounding crime refers to his participation in a demonstration in Diyarbakir three days after a Turkish war plane massacred 34 Kurdish civilians in the village of Roboski on December 28, 2011.
On this day, 38 villagers were engaging in trade on the Turkish-Iraqi border when they were mistakenly identified as Kurdistan Workers Party (PKK) operatives and shot at by a Turkish F-16 fighter jet. Of the 34 villagers killed, 19 were children, opendemocracy.net reported on May 12, 2014.
Amed was sentenced despite several police officers testifying that he “was among those dispersing after the demo but was not witnessed assaulting the security forces”.
The Turkish government has a long history of repressing journalists and the Kurdish population. Turkey is a NATO member and NATO has enabled this repression for many decades. Its brutal war against the Kurdish people has claimed more than 40,000 lives since the early 1980s.
Amed has been an active supporter of the revolution in the cantons of Rojava in northern Syria. His articles for Özgür Gündem and Yeni Özgür Politika have played an important role in chronicling this unique revolution as it unfolds.
No concrete evidence was produced at his trial. An online petition to Turkish Minister of Justice Bekir Bozdag calling for Ozgur Amed's release can be signed at avaaz.org.