Friday, April 9, 2010

EUTCC Patron Leyla Zana sentenced to prison by Diyarbakir court

EUTCC 09/04/2010

Leyla Zana, a former MP who has gained internationally acknowledgment for her tireless political work for the Kurdish People, was Thursday April 8 sentenced to 3 years imprisonment, accused of being supportive to the PKK and its leader Mr. Abdullah Öcalan.

The court has claimed that Leyla Zana, in her speeches, has praised Abdullah Öcalan for his tireless work for the Kurdish causes and announced him as the Kurdish national leader. She should also have stated that if PM Erdogan intends to solve the Kurdish issue he should take Öcalan as the interlocutor and instead of travelling to Diyarbakir he should visit him in the Island of Imrali Prison. In another speech Leyla Zana should have expressed that the PKK and its jailed leader are "as important for the Kurdish people as the brain and the soul are for a human being."

Leyla Zana won a seat in the Turkish Parliament in 1991, as the first Kurdish woman ever to be elected. Her decision to deliver the oath in Kurdish led to a 15 years sentence of which she served 10. She was released in 2004 due to huge international pressure. Zana has received the Rafto Prize in 1994 and the Sakharov Prize for Freedom of Thought in 1995. She has been nominated for the Nobel Peace Prize several times.

Despite of Turkish authorities’ violent political actions against Kurds in Turkey and Europe and her own sufferings and losses during her 10 years of imprisonment, Leyla Zana remains a strong voice for peace and democracy and claims that it can only be obtained by a non-violent political solution. She urges Turkey to open talks with the Kurds in which representatives of the PKK should be included.

The decision of the Diyarbakir Court is a political decision; it is shocking and unworthy for a state claiming membership in the European Union. The Diyarbakir Court decision is just another example of Turkey’s hostility to the Kurdish freedom movement.

The EUTCC strongly urges Turkish authorities to reverse the sentence of Leyla Zana and take all possible steps in order to avoid further confrontations with the Kurds. The EUTCC also calls on the European Union to take the measures necessary to finally stop Turkey’s meaningless and devastating politics against the Kurds in Turkey and Europe.

Kariane Westrheim, PhD, Chair of EUTCC, Bergen - Norway

Hans Branscheidt – Board of Directors EUTCC, Frankfurt - Germany

Professor Michel Gunter, Secretary General, EUTCC, Tennessee, USA