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 Kurd with lemon accused of supporting "terror" in Turkey

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Kurd with lemon accused of supporting "terror" in Turkey  16.6.2012  

Mehmet Tahir Ilhan. See Related Links 
Deaf, illiterate and dumb Kurdish man accused of supporting "terror" in Turkey

June 16
, 2012

MERSIN, — A Turkish prosecutor has demanded that a Kurdish man who is deaf, illiterate and unable to speak be jailed for 25 years for supporting terrorism, BBC reported.

Possession of a half-lemon was cited as evidence against Mehmet Tahir Ilhan. Lemon can ease the effects of tear gas.

Mr Ilhan is charged with making propaganda for the banned Kurdistan Workers' Party (PKK) and with taking part in an illegal organisation.

Mr Ilhan, a bazaar porter from the city of Mersin, denies the charges.

Using sign language at a hearing in the south-eastern city of Adana, he said he had got caught up in a violent pro-Kurdish demonstration.

Under Turkey's anti-terrorism law it is an offence to show any sign of support for the PKK.

Laws criticised

The BBC's Jonathan Head in Istanbul says Turkey's judiciary often administers harsh penalties on bafflingly slight evidence.

However, even by Turkish standards, this case is extraordinary, he says.

If Mr Ilhan is found guilty, the court is expected to pass a sentence close to the 25 years that the prosecutor has asked for.

Over the past 18 months, hundreds of Kurdish activists, journalists and politicians have been detained under anti-terrorism legislation.

The use of Turkey's anti-terrorism laws has been widely criticised. The Council of Europe said it was having a "chilling effect" on freedom of speech.

Our correspondent says the Turkish government is trying to encourage Kurdish moderates with such concessions as Kurdish language classes in school, while at the same time isolating the more hard-line PKK members.

But the sometimes incomprehensible actions of its judiciary will inevitably undermine such efforts, he adds.

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 lives.

But now its aim is the creation an autonomous Kurdish region 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 constitution.

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 expectations.

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. 

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