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Journalist gets suspended sentence due to tweet on YPJ women in Kobani

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An İstanbul court has handed down a suspended sentence of 15 months to a journalist due to a 2015 tweet that showed women, part of a Kurdish group in Syria, celebrating the liberation of the Syrian Kurdish town of Kobani from the Islamic State in Iraq and the Levant (ISIL), the Bianet news website reported.

Neşe İdil shared the post her X account in January 2015 with a note, saying, “YPJ women celebrating the complete liberation of Kobani from ISIL.” The women were carrying rifles.

YPJ refers to the Women’s Protection Units, part of the Syrian Democratic Forces involved in the Syrian civil war.

The siege of Kobani, a Kurdish town in northern Syria, was launched by ISIL in September 2014. The town was retaken in January 2015 by the Kurdish People’s Protection Units (YPG) and its allies. The battle for Kobani was considered a turning point in the fight against ISIL.

İdil was given the suspended sentence on charges of disseminating the propaganda of the outlawed Kurdistan Workers’ Party (PKK), listed as a terrorist organization by Turkey and much of the international community.

According to the indictment, İdil praised the activities of the PKK, the Kurdish Communities Union and the YPG by posting the photo of the armed YPJ women on her X account, claiming her action went beyond the limits of freedom of speech.

Turkey considers the YPG to be an extension of the PKK, which has been waging a bloody campaign in Turkey’s southeast since 1984.

İdil’s lawyer demanded her client’s acquittal, giving decisions of the Supreme Court of Appeals, the Constitutional Court and the European Court of Human Rights in similar cases as examples. The court, however, convicted the journalist of the charge of disseminating terrorism propaganda.

Rights groups routinely accuse Turkey of undermining media freedom by arresting journalists and shutting down critical media outlets, especially since President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan survived a failed coup in July 2016.

Turkey is ranked 165th in the Reporters Without Borders (RSF) 2023 World Press Freedom Index, among 180 countries, not far from North Korea, which occupies the bottom of the list.

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