Turkey Sentences Woman for Pro-PKK Comments

DIYARBAKIR, Turkey (Reuters)–A Turkish court sentenced a woman to 18 months in jail on Thursday for making a speech in support of jailed Kurdish Workers Party (PKK) guerrilla leader Abdullah Ocalan. The court ruled that Nesrin Deniz, a member of a Kurdish group campaigning for Ocalan to be freed, was guilty of making propaganda on behalf of an illegal group. Deniz had told a large gathering during a festival in Diyarbakir in southeastern Turkey in March: "Mr. Ocalan is an irrefutable reality of this country. A solution cannot be found without seeing that." Ocalan, whose PKK launched an armed campaign for a Kurdish homeland in 1984, was captured in 1999 and is serving a life prison sentence. Ankara blames the PKK, which is also branded a terrorist organization by the European Union and the United States, for more than 30,000 deaths. Turkish authorities have launched proceedings against dozens of mayors for commen’s on the Kurdish issue, which the European Union follows closely as it monitors Turkey’s progress toward EU membership.

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