Wednesday, June 7, 2017

Three progressive women leaders are sentenced to prison in Turkey

A Turkish court in Ankara has sentenced Figen Yuksekdag, the former co-leader of the Peoples' Democratic Party (HDP) to one year and six months in prison for an interview with German media. She has been in detention since November 2016 at a prison just east of Istanbul. She did not attend her trial via teleconference, said Kurdistan24 Ankara bureau.

In a 2015 interview with the German public broadcaster Deutsche Welle, Yuksekdag rejected government's accusations that the HDP was a political front for the Kurdistan Workers' Party (PKK) but stated that the "PKK is a people's liberation movement. At the same time, it is fighting for democracy and equality." The court ruled that those words constituted propaganda for a "terrorist" organization.

Our comrade is already serving a ten month's prison sentence over her conviction in a 2013 terror-related trial. In February, the Turkish Parliament announced that Yuksekdag was stripped off her lawmaker status, a first time in decades that this has happened Turkey. Another court forced her out of the office of HDP leadership, and the party last month elected a new woman co-head, Serpil Kemalbay.

Numerous legal actions are going on against Yuksekdag, as prosecutors are demanding imprisonment of up to 83 years. The Turkish Interior Ministry on Monday announced that two HDP lawmakers, Tugba Hezer and Faysal Sariyildiz, could face a loss of citizenship along with 128 others if they did not come back from abroad in 90 days.

Peoples' Democratic Party (HDP) MP for Amed, Nursel Aydoğan, whose parliamentary membership was revoked in early May, has been given a jail sentence of 20 months. She was charged with “spreading propaganda for a terrorist organization” due to her speech at a funeral in the Elbistan district of Maraş for People's Defense Forces (HPG) guerrilla Oruç Ay who lost his life in 2012.

Lawyers will appeal against the sentence following the official announcement of the final judgment.

Aydoğan was jailed as part of the operations against HDP deputies in November 2016 and released on April 21, 2017 with a ban fporbidding her to travel abroad.

The Diyarbakır Chief Prosecutor's Office objected to Aydoğan's release and appealed to the Diyarbakır 5th Heavy Penal Court for an arrest warrant to be issued. After considering the appeal, the court issued the arrest warrant. The HDP MP was later sentenced to 4 years, 8 months and 7 days in prison, and her parliamentary membership was revoked when the final judgment was read out at the plenary on May 9.

The Mersin 2nd Heavy Penal Court had also given  Aydoğan a 10-month prison sentence for allegedly “spreading propaganda for a terrorist organization.”

Peoples' Democratic Party (HDP) Women's Assembly Spokesperson and MP for Siirt, Besime Konca was jailed on December 13, 2016 and released on May 3, 2017 after a hearing at the Batman 2nd Heavy Penal Court. Following her release, the Batman 3rd Heavy Penal Court issued an arrest warrant for her after approving an appeal against her release. She was then detained and jailed again on May 29, 26 days after her release from prison.

The fifth hearing in the case against Konca, who is accused of “spreading terrorist propaganda” for participation in the funeral in Batman of Cihat Türkan who died in Amed's Sur district, was held at the Batman 2nd Heavy Penal Court. Konca attended the hearing and lawyers from the Amed and Batman Bar Associations were also present. HDP Batman MP Ayşe Acar Başaran and other progressive leaders and activists also monitored the hearing.

The hearing started with the reading of the indictment and went on with the defense lawyers stating that Konca has been imprisoned unlawfully in a politically motivated judgement. Attorney Aslan demanded Konca's release. Attorney Kübra Demir stated that they wanted to withdraw from the case which, she said, has gone into the history of Turkey's lawlessness.

Following the withdrawal of the lawyers from the case upon the court's rejection of their demand for additional time to work on their case, lawyers from the Amed Bar Association applied to the court to get involved but this demand was not accepted. The court handed down a prison sentence of two years and six months for the HDP deputy for allegedly “spreading propaganda for a terrorist organization” and continued of her imprisonment.

On hearing the judgement, Konca said,"First you are asking us to give our point of view, but you totally disregard anything we say. Therefore, one cannot speak of justice. Decisions made in advance are just being read out here. There are unidentified graves in Istanbul, which belong to the executioners of the Ottoman era. You have turned justice into unidentified graves. As elected politicians, we will continue our struggle."

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