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Cablegate: Turkey: Court Acquits Three Children Indicted for Singing

VZCZCXRO3954
RR RUEHAG RUEHAST RUEHDF RUEHFL RUEHIK RUEHKW RUEHLA RUEHLN RUEHLZ
RUEHPOD RUEHROV RUEHSR RUEHVK RUEHYG
DE RUEHDA #0024 1720913
ZNR UUUUU ZZH
R 200913Z JUN 08
FM AMCONSUL ADANA
TO RUEHC/SECSTATE WASHDC 4658
INFO RUEHGB/AMEMBASSY BAGHDAD 0130
RUEHAK/AMEMBASSY ANKARA 1200
RUEHZL/EUROPEAN POLITICAL COLLECTIVE
RUEHDA/AMCONSUL ADANA 1262

UNCLAS ADANA 000024

SENSITIVE
SIPDIS

E.O. 12958: N/A
TAGS: PGOV PHUM PREL TU IZ
SUBJECT: TURKEY: COURT ACQUITS THREE CHILDREN INDICTED FOR SINGING
KURDISH SONG

REF: A) ANKARA 050; B) ANKARA 719; C) Adana 15

1. (U) The Diyarbakir Heavy Criminal Court on June 19 acquitted
three teenagers, who were accused of "making propaganda for a
terrorist organisation or its aims" under the anti-terrorism
law. The prosecution was brought after the children, who are
all members of the Diyarbakir Yenisehir Municipality Children's
Choir, sang a Kurdish language anthem Ey Raqip (Hey Rival) at a
world music festival in San Francisco in October, 2007. The
choir sang songs in a total of nine different languages
including a Turkish patriotic song (Ganakkale Marsi). Six other
members of the choir who are under 15 years of age are being
prosecuted for the same offence at a Children's Court. They are
also expected to be acquitted at their hearing July 3.

2. (SBU) The court agreed to acquit at the request of the
prosecutor. The children's lawyer, Baran Pamuk, told us he was
happy with the acquittal, but noted that the court found that
the children did not knowingly commit a crime, leaving
unanswered whether singing the song in fact constituted a crime.
Pamuk said he fears that the adult choir instructor, Duygu Vzge
Bayar (who was named in the original indictment) will be
prosecuted upon her return to Turkey.

Comment
-------------

3. (SBU) Since the suit was filed in January, the political
context has evolved: Turkey's relations with Iraq (including the
Kurdish administration in the North) have improved considerably;
the Turkish parliament has mandated Kurdish-language
broadcasting on the state television network and it has modified
article 301, a statute frequently used to limit political
speech. These factors, in addition to a minor outcry in the
international human rights community led by Amnesty
International, probably influenced the court's decision.

GREEN

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