Halil Bakırcı, the Mayor of Rize (eastern Black Sea coast) and member of the ruling Justice and Development Party (AKP), suggested that males should be allowed to have a "Kurdish co-wife" as his contribution to the solution for the Kurdish question. While Bakırcı's proposal was regarded as "part of freedom of expression" by the Rize Public Chief Prosecution, journalist Ahmet Topçu, owner of the Vira Karadeniz ('Incessantly Black Sea') newspaper, received an eleven-month prison sentence for criticizing the mayor at the same time.
As reported by the Karadeniz Gündem ('Black Sea Agenda') newspaper on 28 February, the local daily Vira Karadeniz published an article critic of Mayor Bakırcı on 23 August 2010. Thereupon, Bakırcı sued journalist Topçu.
The article subject to the trial was entitled "The Kurds are left without spouses, the people of Rize without water". The criminal complaint was filed by the mayor's lawyer, Yunus Çoruh and was based on allegations of an "attack on his client's personal rights".
The Rize 2nd Criminal Court of First Instance handed down an eleven-month prison sentence to journalist Topçu and postponed the pronouncement of the judgement. After the hearing, Topçu said that this was a decision "concerning freedom of thought and expression" in general.
In June 2010, Bakırcı had proposed that "Kurds should have co-wives" in order to solve the Kurdish question. The mayor was broadly criticized for his suggestion and had to apologize later on. The AKP had temporarily suspended Bakırcı.
In his article, Topçu had criticized, "Bakırcı is suggesting absurd solutions to the Kurdish question but he is not able to find a solution to the water problem in Rize, which is in a region with the highest precipitation".
Journalists Associations condemn police violence against journalists
In another incident, the Black Sea journalists associations condemned a recent case of police violence against journalists. The police stopped a "military farewell convoy" and treated one of the young people violently. Free-lance journalist Necati Dilli and Ali Bakoğlu, co-owner of the Zümrüt Rize ('Emarald Rize') newspaper, were attacked by the police when they recorded footage of the police violence.
The Head of the Rize Journalists Association, Faik Bakoğlu, condemned the incident in a written statement published in the Zürmrüt Rize local and urged for legal actions against the responsible people.
Bakoğlu put the attacks against journalists on par with "blows that bring down press freedom at the same time".
The statement was also supported by the Rize Journalists and Reporters Associations and the Rize Branch of the Contemporary Journalists Association (ÇGD).
The Black Sea Media Members Association condemned the attack in an announcement as well. (EÇ/EÖ/VK)
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