Turkey’s Kurdish HDP co-chair Yuksekdag gets another jail sentence

Published by Ekurd Daily on 9/6/2017

ADANA,— A court in southern Turkey on Thursday sentenced a former lawmaker and co-chair of the Kurdish Peoples’ Democratic Party (HDP) to one year in prison for insulting the government, Anadolu agency reported.

Figen Yuksekdag, already jailed for “terrorism-related” charges and links to Kurdistan Workers Party PKK, was not present at the hearing at Adana’s 11th Criminal Court of First Instance.

The court rejected the demand of Yuksekdag’s lawyer for a re-assessment of the former deputy’s addresses at an HDP gathering, and a funeral ceremony in Adana on Oct. 12, 2015, for which she was charged with insulting the government.

Yuksekdag was sentenced on Tuesday to one year and six months in prison by an Ankara court for “promoting terrorism”.

According to the indictment submitted to Ankara’s 17th High Criminal Court, in a 2015 interview with German broadcaster Deutsche Welle, Yuksekdag characterized the Kurdish PKK as a “national liberation movement … that stands for democracy and equality”.

She also claimed that the PKK’s “policies are not terrorist policies”.

In April 2017, Yuksekdag was sentenced to one year prison for propaganda for the PKK.

In February, Yuksekdag was removed from her seat in parliament after a court upheld her initial conviction on terrorism charges from last September. A month later, she lost her party membership.

Yuksekdag was elected as a deputy for the eastern province of Van in November 2015. She was detained in November 2016 along with 13 other HDP lawmakers including Selahattin Demirtas on charges of links and propaganda for PKK.

Thousands of officials from the HDP and dozens of lawmaker have been detained since 2015.

Turkey’s government has accused the HDP of having links to the PKK,  a charge that the HDP denies.

The PKK took up arms in 1984 against the Turkish state, which still denies the constitutional existence of Kurds, to push for greater autonomy for the Kurdish minority who make up around 22.5 million of the country’s 79-million population.

A large Kurdish community in Turkey and worldwide openly sympathise with PKK rebels and Abdullah Ocalan, who founded the PKK group in 1974, and has a high symbolic value for most Kurds in Turkey and worldwide according to observers.

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