Turkish Court Convicts Leader of Pro-Kurdish Party
A Turkish court on Thursday sentenced the leader of the only legal pro-Kurdish party to one year in prison for suggesting the formation of an independent Kurdish state, reported the Associated Press the same day.
According to the AP, it was the second prison term for Ahmet Turan Demir, head of the People's Democracy Party. In February, he was sentenced to three years and nine months in prison for going on a hunger strike in 1998 in support of Kurdish rebel leader Abdullah Ocalan, it said.
Demir is free pending the outcome of his appeals, which could take a year.
According to the indictment, Demir drew a comparison between the breakup of Czechoslovakia into the Czech Republic and Slovakia and carving out a Kurdish state from Turkey during a speech in October in Ankara.
"It (the Kurdish question) must be solved one way or the other," the indictment quoted Demir as saying. "Czechs and Slovaks one day said, 'Let's ... establish separate states.' So they solved their problems without fighting or trouble."
The indictment called Demir's statement separatist propaganda. Another party member, Esin Akgul, who read a poem also deemed separatist propaganda, also received one year in prison, according to the agency.
Turkey's approximately 12 million Kurds are not recognized as a minority. Turkey bans education and broadcasting in the Kurdish language.
Turkey has waged a 15-year war against Kurdish guerrillas fighting for autonomy in southeastern Turkey. More than 37,000 people have died in the conflict, said the agency – Albawaba.com
© 2000 Al Bawaba (www.albawaba.com)