12/22/2020, 09.33
TURKEY
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Diyarbakir, former Kurdish MP Leyla Güven sentenced to 22 years in prison

Judges find her guilty of "membership" and "propaganda" in favour of a terrorist group (the PKK). In 2018, she served a similar sentence of one year in prison. In June, the Parliament voted her out of office. Among the "evidence" presented, her being co-president of the Congress for a Democratic Society (DTK).

Istanbul (AsiaNews / Agencies) - A court in Diyarbakir, in south-eastern Turkey, has sentenced former Kurdish MP Leyla Güven to 22 years and three months in prison, on charges of belonging to the Kurdish Workers' Party (PKK), which is outlawed in the country. According to the judges, the political leader and activist is guilty of ties of "terrorism" and has been returned to her cell, just two years after her parole.

Booted out of parliamentary office in June, the 56-year-old Kurdish leader ended up on trial for "membership" and "propaganda" in favour of a terrorist group (PKK). The "evidence" used for the sentence includes her being co-president of the Congress for a Democratic Society (Dtk), a body that the Ankara government accuses of being linked to the Kurdish Workers' Party.

The defence has already announced an appeal against a sentence defined as unfair and based on specious facts. A few hours after the verdict, her daughter Sabiha Temizkan released a note on social media: "My mother - she wrote her -  was condemned for her activities in favour of the Dtk, which on other occasions was recognized as an authoritative interlocutor by the authorities themselves ".

"This condemnation - added fellow deputy Ebru Günay, spokesman for the People's Democratic Party (HDP), is a concrete example of the application of a law that is enemy of the Kurds". Her removal as a parliamentarian in June was a direct consequence of a previous conviction, again with the charge of "belonging to an armed terrorist organization".

Leyla Güven was arrested in January 2018 after criticizing the Turkish military offensive taking place in the Kurdish-majority enclave of Afrin, in northern Syria. Defining the operation as an "invasion" cost her a year's imprisonment, which was not suspended even when she was elected to Parliament where in theory she should have benefitted from immunity.

In November of the same year she launched a hunger strike, to protest against the prison condition of Kurdish leader Abdullah Öcalan, founder of the PKK and considered enemy number one by President Recep Tayyip Erdogan. The Kurdish leader was released from prison in January 2019, after serving her sentence.

Ankara accuses the HDP of being a sort of "political showcase" for the PKK. This claim has been firmly rejected by the pro-Kurdish party, which declares itself the victim of a repression wanted primarily by the Turkish president. Selahattin Demirtas, its emblematic and charismatic former leader, has been detained since November 2016 on charges of "terrorism".

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