"Newroz" and "Kawa" Reason for Imprisonment?

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Sign the petition for Iraq's three-region solution December 6, 2007 "Newroz" and "Kawa" Reason for Imprisonment?

A trade union representative in Kilis, southeastern Turkey, is on trial for using the letter "w" in two newspaper articles.

Bianet  - By Tolga Korkut

In Turkey, the use of non-Turkish words, for instance from French and English, is common in books and also in names of workplaces and shops. 

No problem if its English, only if it is Kurdish...  

While this was never a case for the judiciary, the use of Kurdish words and letters has been surpressed for years, citing Law No. 1353 on the Acceptance and Application of Turkish Letters. This law was conceived on 1 November 1928 and was incorporated into the Turkish Penal Code as Article 222, under the heading "Hat and Turkish Letters". 

Before this incorporation took place on 1 June 2005, human rights activists had warned authorities about its adverse consequences. 

"Newroz" articles cause for trial  

Now Kiyasettin Aslan, the Kilis province chair of the Office Workers' Union (BES) is on trial for using the words "Newroz" and "Kawa" in articles published in two local newspapers. The "w" does not exist in the Turkish alphabet, which has not stopped people from writing Internet addresses starting with "www." or the private Turkish Show TV channel from broadcasting. 

In an article published in the local Huduteli newspaper on 20 March and entitled "May the Newroz Fire Never Go Out" and another article in the Kent newspaper on 24 March, entitled "Fire and Iron", Aslan had written about the Newroz Festival. 

Prosecutor Serkan Özkan is demanding that the Kilis Criminal Court of Peace sentence Aslan to two to six months imprisonment. The trial will begin on 27 December. 

BES province representatives have condemned the trial and called for solidarity with Aslan. 

Aslan warned by employer  

After writing the articles, Aslan, who works as a security guard at the Musabeyli Fiscal Office, was given a warning under Article 136 of Law 657 on Civil Servants on 1 October. His appeal was refused by fiscal office authorities on 28 November. 

Not the only case 

Article 222 has also been used to penalise the Sur municipality in Diyarbakir, which has offered municipal services in Kurdish, Armenian and Syriac as well as Turkish. The 8th Chamber of the State Council decreed that mayor Abdullah Demirbas be dismissed from office and the municipal council dissolved for "violating the Law on the Hat and Turkish letters". 

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