Turkey PM Erdogan meets prominent Kurdish
lawmaker Leyla Zana
By Ekurd staff writers
Turkey's Prime Minister Recep
Tayyip Erdogan, center, his deputy Besir Atalay,
right, meet with Leyla Zana, an independent Kurdish
lawmaker from southeastern Kurdish city of
Diyarbakir (Northern Kurdistan), in Ankara, Turkey,
Saturday, June 30, 2012 Turkey's prominent outspoken
Kurdish rights advocate Leyla Zana, former
Kurdish MP in Turkey Zana spent a decade behind bars
(between 1994 and 2004) in Turkey for speaking
Kurdish in the Turkish Parliament after taking her
parliamentary oath. She was the first Kurdish woman
to be elected to Turkey's parliament. Photo:
July 1, 2012
ANKARA, — Turkey's Prime Minister Recep
Tayyip Erdogan held talks with a prominent Kurdish
lawmaker and rights advocate in a rare meeting
Saturday to try and resolve a decades-old separatist
No statement was issued to the press after the
one-and-a-half hour meeting which followed Leyla
Zana's comments in a recent newspaper interview
praising Erdogan as the head of the strongest
government in Turkey's history.
Zana told daily Hurriyet early this month that with
the political will, Erdogan had the power to solve
the Kurdish problem.
"The strongest one can halt all this if he wants.
Who's that strongest one? It's the current
government and its head Recep Tayyip Erdogan," she
Zana, among the most outspoken advocates of Kurdish
rights who won the European Parliament's Sakharov
human rights award in 1995, was imprisoned from 1994
to 2004 for alleged links with the separatist PKK.
But her latest comments won plaudits from government
officials and Erdogan said he was ready to meet her.
Zana, who in 1995 won the European Parliament's
Sakharov human rights award, and several other Kurds
were elected to parliament in 1991, but lost their
seats in 1994 after their party was outlawed for
links with the PKK.
Zana and three colleagues spent 10 years behind bars
for collaborating with the rebels. They were
released in June 2004.
Zana and her colleagues were first sentenced to 15
years in jail in 1994 for membership of the Turkey's outlawed
Kurdistan Workers Party (PKK) which has been
fighting a 26-year bloody campaign for Kurdish
self-rule in the country's southeast.
In March 2003,www.ekurd.net
Zana and her co-defendants were
allowed a retrial after their original conviction
was condemned as unfair by the European Court of
Human Rights in 2001. She was released in 2004 after
Turkey's appeals court overturned her conviction.
Leyla Zana, the symbol of peaceful strife of the
Kurdish people, was
granted the Italian honorary
nationality in Rome on October 23, 2008.
Zana received a two-year prison sentence from the
Diyarbakir 6th High Criminal Court on the grounds of
a speech made at the Newroz celebrations in 2007
(traditional Kurdish festival to mark the beginning
of the Iranian New Year and the arrival of spring).
She was sentenced for saying "The three leaders of
the Kurds Jalal Talabani, Massoud Barzani and Abdullah
Zana stood trial once more under charges of
"praising crime and criminals" based on her defence
in the case mentioned above. The Diyarbakir 6th High
Criminal Court acquitted the politician.
Former DEP MP Zana received a prison sentence of one
year and three months based on a speech she had
given at a seminar held by the School of Oriental
and African Studies in London on 24 May 2008. Zana
was convicted of "propaganda for an illegal
organization". In her speech, she had likened the
PKK and its imprisoned leader Abdullah Öcalan's
importance to the Kurdish people to the importance
the brain and heart have to humans. "They have
created a new life for the Kurdish people, so that a
people that used to be ashamed of its existence
gained a spirit of freedom and resistance."
On 4 December 2008, Zana was sentenced to
imprisonment of ten years by the Diyarbakir 5th High
Criminal Court under allegations of "spreading
propaganda for the PKK" in nine different speeches.
The court voiced the opinion that "the defendant's
activities over all reached the dimension of
membership of the PKK/Kongra-Gel terror
organization". The decision included Zana's
deprivation of the right to vote and to be elected
and several other political rights.
On July 28, 2009 Zana
was sentenced to 15 months in prison for remarks upholding Kurdish PKK rebels
fighting the Turkish government. On
December 4, 2008
sentenced to 10 years' imprisonment for praising PKK
On May 24, 2012, a Turkish court sentenced Leyla
Zana to 10 years in prison in absentia for
membership of an outlawed separatist group and
spreading its propaganda. Leyla Zana was convicted
by a judge in southeastern Diyarbakir of having
violated the penal code and the anti-terror law in
nine different speeches.
Since it was established in 1984, the PKK has been
fighting the Turkish state, which still denies the
constitutional existence of Kurds, to establish a
Kurdish state in the south east of the country, sparking a conflict that has claimed some 45,000
But now its aim is the creation an autonomous
and more cultural rights for ethnic Kurds who
constitute the greatest minority in Turkey,
numbering more than 20 million. A large Turkey's
Kurdish community openly sympathise with the Kurdish PKK rebels.
PKK's demands included releasing PKK detainees,
lifting the ban on education in Kurdish, paving the
way for an autonomous democrat Kurdish system within
Turkey, reducing pressure on the detained PKK leader
Abdullah Öcalan, stopping military action against
the Kurdish party and recomposing the Turkish
Turkey refuses to recognize its Kurdish population
as a distinct minority. It has allowed some cultural
rights such as limited broadcasts in the Kurdish
language and private Kurdish language courses with
the prodding of the European Union, but Kurdish
politicians say the measures fall short of their
The PKK is considered as 'terrorist' organization by
Ankara and U.S. The PKK continues to be on the
blacklist list in EU despite court ruling which
overturned a decision
to place the Kurdish rebel group PKK and its
political wing on the European Union's terror list.
Sources: AFP | Reuters | ANF | Ekurd.net |
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