Turkey put 44 Kurdish journalists on trial today, accusing them of fomenting armed rebellion against the state—possibly the first of many trials against more than 900 indicted reporters, the Guardian reports. Officials say today's defendants are terrorists, yet some are accused of writing articles about prison abuse, war casualties, and sexual harassment. "This trial is clearly political," says a journalist whose charges were dropped last year. "The government wants to set an example; it wants to intimidate."
At issue is the Kurds' 28-year struggle against Turkey, which has claimed more than 40,000 lives—most of them Kurdish—since 1984, reports Reuters. Turkey has responded by jailing thousands of Kurds over the past few years. That roiling conflict imbued today's courtroom, where proceedings were delayed for hours by raucous behavior. Even after things settled, the court refused to let defendants speak in Kurdish. "Using your mother language is like breathing," a defendant said. "Should permission be sought when taking a breath?"