DIYARBAKIR, Turkey (AFP)–Leading Kurdish activist Leyla Zana was sentenced to 15 months in prison Tuesday for remarks upholding the Kurdistan Workers’ Party (PKK) and its struggle for social justice for Turkey’s oppressed Kurdish population, judicial sources said.
The court in Diyarbakir, the largest city of the Kurdish-majority southeast, ruled that Zana’s remarks constituted propaganda in favor of the outlawed PKK, which has waged a bloody 25-year campaign for self-rule in the region.
Speaking at a conference in London last year, Zana said the PKK and its jailed leader Abdullah Ocalan are “as important for the Kurdish people as the brain and the soul are for a human being.”
Her lawyers said they would appeal the sentence.
They have already lodged an appeal against a 10-year jail term that Zana was given in December for belonging to the PKK and diffusing its propaganda.
The 48-year-old Zana, the first Kurdish woman to win a seat in Turkey’s parliament, has already spent a decade in jail, along with three fellow former Kurdish lawmakers, for supporting the PKK. They were released in 2004.
She was elected to parliament in 1991, but lost her seat in 1994 after her party was outlawed.
The PKK, listed as a terrorist group by Turkey and much of the international community, took up arms in 1984 to protect Turkey’s Kurds from state oppression, sparking a conflict that has claimed about 45, 000 lives.