News24

Turkey: Kurdish MP jailed

2009-10-27 17:54

Diyarbakir - A Kurdish member of Turkey's parliament was sentenced to 18 months in jail on Tuesday for "terrorist" propaganda, according to court records seen by AFP.

The judge ruled that Aysel Tugluk "spread the propaganda of a terrorist organisation" in remarks favouring the outlawed Kurdistan Workers' Party (PKK), which has led a bloody 25-year rebellion against Ankara and is listed as a terrorist group, the document said.

A lawyer for Tugluk, who belongs to the Democratic Society Party (DTP), said they would appeal the sentence, handed down by a court in Diyarbakir, the largest city of the Kurdish-majority south east.

In a speech made at a rally in Diyarbakir in 2006 before she was elected as a member of parliament, Tugluk praised a declaration signed by tens of thousands of Kurds upholding jailed PKK chieftain Abdullah Ocalan as their leader.

She also said PKK demands should be taken into account in efforts to end the Kurdish conflict.

The court sent the ruling to parliament, which, under Turkish law, has to lift a deputy's judicial immunity before any prison term can take effect.

DTP the main Kurdish party

The DTP, Turkey's main Kurdish party, is routinely accused of supporting the PKK and even serving as its legal political arm.

The DTP itself is currently on trial at the Constitutional Court for links with the PKK, facing the risk of being banned.

The PKK took up arms against Ankara in 1984, sparking a conflict which has claimed about 45 000 lives.

The government is currently working on fresh reforms to expand Kurdish freedoms, but insists on rejecting dialogue with the PKK and says the rebels should either surrender or face military action.