EUTCC EU Turkey Civic Commission

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EUTCC was established in order to monitor and conduct regular audits of the European Commission's performance in ensuring Turkey's full compliance with the accession criteria as defined within the meaning of the accession agreements.

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Kurdish Spokesperson and EUTCC Patron Leyla Zana Convicted to Ten Years in Prison by a Turkish Court

6 December 2008

Press Release: For immediate release

Kurdish Spokesperson and EUTCC Patron Leyla Zana Convicted to Ten Years in Prison by a Turkish Court

Leyla Zana, a well know political spokesperson for the Kurds in Turkey, was Thursday convicted to ten years in prison by a Turkish Court in Diyarbakir. The court ruled that Leyla Zana had violated the penal code and the anti-terror law in nine different speeches.  She is accused of having supported and spread propaganda in favour of the PKK (Kurdistan Workers’ Party). At a Newroz celebration in Diyarbakir Leyla Zana stated that PKK leader, Mr. Abdulla Öcalan, should be regarded as one of three Kurdish leaders.  It is expected that Zana will appeal the verdict.
Leyla Zana was the first Kurdish woman to win a seat in the Turkish Parliament in 1991. Her decision to give the Parliamentary Oath in Kurdish led to immediate calls for her arrest. This was the first time Kurdish had been spoken in the Turkish Parliament. She was sentenced to 15 years in prison but was released in 2004 due to international pressure. Zana received the Rafto Prize in 1994 and the Sakharov Prize the following year.

Despite Leyla Zana’s sufferings and personal losses during the previous 10 years of imprisonment in Turkey, she has continued to speak on behalf of her people. Since her release in 2004 Leyla Zana has been an outspoken, courageous and loyal ambassador to the Kurdish people. She demands recognition for the Kurdish language, Kurdish identity and freedom of expression in addition to political and cultural rights. Zana seeks a non-violent and democratic solution for the Kurds living within Turkey's borders.
Leyla Zana sent the following statement to the EUTCC Chair Kariane Westrheim today:

“The case against me is a violation against freedom of thought, and represents a threat to every Kurd in Turkey. The decision of the court is just another way to repress, silence and punish the Kurds. The mentality governing this country is that problems can be resolved by anti democratic and repressive means and that unfair trial can provide political and social peace. But despite all this, our people will claim their legitimate rights, and will continue to struggle for this as long as it takes”.

EUTCC calls on the European Union and the international community to take political action and strongly condemn Turkey for having convicted Leyla Zana to ten new years in prison. 


For further information
Kariane Westrheim
Chair of EUTCC
Menneskerettighetenes plass 1
5007 Bergen, Norway
Telephone: +47 976 42 088