Turkey to Jail 114 Activists for Statement On Kurds

ANKARA (Reuters)–A Turkish court on Friday sentenced 114 intellectuals and human rights activists to a year in prison for signing a 1993 declaration calling for a peaceful solution to the country’s Kurdish conflict.

State-run Anatolian news agency said the group was sentenced for "separatist propaganda." Rights activists said the declaration–signed by both Turks and Kurds–had also been presented at the United Nations.

Those convicted include sociologist Ismail Besikci–who has already been sentenced to around 200 years in jail for books and other works about the Kurds.

Turkish authorities brook little dissent in their 14-year-old war against the separatist Kurdistan Workers Party (PKK)–fighting for self rule in the country’s southeast.

PKK leader Abdullah Ocalan was captured by Turkish special forces in Kenya in February and is awaiting trial on a remote island prison.

Ocalan’s lawyers called for state protection on Friday after two members of their team were attacked by unknown assailants on a busy Istanbul street on Friday.

"It is not possible to speak of a free and fair trial in a country where the lives of the lawyers are not protected," the defense team said in a written statement faxed to Reuters.

No one was injured in the attack–it said.


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