Turkey: Prominent Kurdish lawmaker
sentenced to 10 years in jail
By Ekurd.net staff writers
Turkey's prominent outspoken Kurdish rights advocate
Leyla Zana, former Kurdish MP in Turkey Zana spent a
decade behind bars
(between 1994 and 2004)
in Turkey for speaking Kurdish in the Turkish
Parliament after taking her parliamentary oath. She
was the first Kurdish woman to be elected to
May 24, 2012
Photo: Getty Images.
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DIYARBAKIR, The Kurdish
region of Turkey, — A Turkish court sentenced a
prominent Kurdish woman lawmaker to 10 years in
prison in absentia Thursday for membership of an
outlawed separatist group and spreading its
Leyla Zana was convicted by a judge in southeastern
Diyarbakir of having violated the penal code and the
anti-terror law in nine different speeches.
The 51-year-old was accused of having supported and
spread propaganda in favour of the Kurdistan
Workers' Party (PKK) and praised its imprisoned
leader Abdullah Ocalan.
Although Zana now enjoys immunity from prosecution
as a member of the Turkish parliament, the case
stems from before she was elected.
She was sentenced to 10 years in prison for
membership of the PKK when the case was originally
heard in 2008. But the country's supreme court of
appeals overturned the ruling, and ordered a
It is expected that Zana's lawyer Fethi Gumus, who
attended Thursday's hearing, will appeal the
Zana, who won a seat after standing as an
independent in the 2011 election, was the first
Kurdish woman to win a seat in the Turkish
parliament in 1991.
One of the most outspoken Kurdish rights advocates,
she was imprisoned between 1994 and 2004 for alleged
links with the PKK.
Leyla Zana was sentenced to 15 months in prison on
July 28, 2009 for remarks upholding Kurdish PKK
rebels fighting the Turkish government. On December
4, 2008 sentenced to 10 years' imprisonment for
Zana, who in 1995 won the European Parliament's
Sakharov human rights award, and several other Kurds
were elected to parliament in 1991, but lost their
seats in 1994 after their party was outlawed for
links with the PKK. Zana and three colleagues spent
10 years behind bars for collaborating with the
rebels. They were released in June 2004.
Zana and her colleagues were first sentenced to 15
years in jail in 1994 for membership of the Turkey's
outlawed PKK. In March 2003, Zana and her
co-defendants were allowed a retrial after their
original conviction was condemned as unfair by the
European Court of Human Rights in 2001. She was
released in 2004 after Turkey's appeals court
overturned her conviction.
Leyla Zana, the symbol of peaceful strife of the
Kurdish people, was granted the Italian honorary
nationality in Rome on October 23, 2008.
- More than 13 years' imprisonment within two years
Zana received a two-year prison sentence from the
Diyarbakir 6th High Criminal Court on the grounds of
a speech made at the Newroz celebrations in 2007
(traditional Kurdish festival to mark the beginning
of the Iranian New Year and the arrival of spring).
She was sentenced for saying "The three leaders of
the Kurds Jalal Talabani, Massoud Barzani and
Zana stood trial once more under charges of
"praising crime and criminals" based on her defence
in the case mentioned above. The Diyarbakır 6th High
Criminal Court acquitted the politician.
Former DEP MP Zana received a prison sentence of one
year and three months based on a speech she had
given at a seminar held by the School of Oriental
and African Studies in London on 24 May 2008. Zana
was convicted of "propaganda for an illegal
organization". In her speech,www.ekurd.net
she had likened the PKK and its imprisoned leader
Abdullah Öcalan's importance to the Kurdish people
to the importance the brain and heart have to
humans. "They have created a new life for the
Kurdish people, so that a people that used to be
ashamed of its existence gained a spirit of freedom
On 4 December 2008, Zana was sentenced to
imprisonment of ten years by the Diyarbakir 5th High
Criminal Court under allegations of "spreading
propaganda for the PKK" in nine different speeches.
The court voiced the opinion that "the defendant's
activities over all reached the dimension of
membership of the PKK/Kongra-Gel terror
organization". The decision included Zana's
deprivation of the right to vote and to be elected
and several other political rights.
The PKK has several times proposed peaceful solutions regarding Kurdish problem,
Turkey has always refused saying that it will not negotiate with “terrorists”.
Since it was established in 1984, the PKK has been
fighting the Turkish state, which still denies the
constitutional existence of Kurds, to establish a
Kurdish state in the south east of the country, sparking a conflict that has claimed some 45,000
But now its aim is the creation an autonomous
and more cultural rights for ethnic Kurds who
constitute the greatest minority in Turkey,
numbering more than 20 million. A large Turkey's
Kurdish community openly sympathise with the Kurdish PKK rebels.
PKK's demands included releasing PKK detainees,
lifting the ban on education in Kurdish, paving the
way for an autonomous democrat Kurdish system within
Turkey, reducing pressure on the detained PKK leader
Abdullah Öcalan, stopping military action against
the Kurdish party and recomposing the Turkish
Turkey refuses to recognize its Kurdish population
as a distinct minority. It has allowed some cultural
rights such as limited broadcasts in the Kurdish
language and private Kurdish language courses with
the prodding of the European Union, but Kurdish
politicians say the measures fall short of their
The PKK is considered as 'terrorist' organization by
Ankara and U.S. The PKK continues to be on the
blacklist list in EU despite court ruling which
overturned a decision
to place the Kurdish rebel group PKK and its
political wing on the European Union's terror list.
Sources: AFP | Reuters | AP | ekurd.net |
ANF | Agencies
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