Kurdish Politician In Turkey Jailed In Free Speech Case

A court in the city of Diyarbakir sentenced Kurdish poltician Leyla Zana to two years in jail for praising Abduallah Ocalan, jailed leader of the outlawed Kurdistan Workers’ Party(PKK). She was sentecned under a law that penalizes “propaganda of a terrorist organization.” Zana has already spent nearly a generation for working with the PKK. The court decision was made due to a speech she made in March, 2007, at the Nevruz(coming of Spring) festival in Diyarbakr where she was with Iraq President Jalal Talabani and Massoud Barzani, president of the semi-autonomous Kurdistan administration in northern Iraq. She mentioned their names along with that of Ocalan in saying, “I am grateful to those three leaders.. They all have a place in the hearts and minds of the Kurds.”

The action of putting in prison a person for speaking at a festival will not be well received by the European Union which expects its members to respect the right of free speech. Ms. Zana has already been recognized by the European Parliament in presenting her its Sakharov human rights award.

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