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Kurd party leaders imprisoned in Turkey for distributing Kurdish language material

[JURIST] Two high-ranking Kurdish politicians were each sentenced to a year and a half in prison Monday by a Turkish court for distributing Kurdish-language party materials praising imprisoned Kurdish rebel leader Abdullah Ocalan [advocacy website]. Ahmet Turk and Aysel Tugluk, president and vice-president of the pro-Kurdish Democratic Society Party (DTP) [Wikipedia backgrounder], received one year sentences for distributing materials written in a language other than Turkish and additional six month sentences for "praising crime or criminality" by supporting a jailed rebel. The sentences were temporarily suspended pending appeal. AP has more.

Turkey's limitations on free speech, particularly under Article 301 [Amnesty backgrounder; JURIST news archive], have drawn international criticism and contributed to the nation's delayed accession [JURIST report] to the European Union [official website]. Though Turkish officials have recently appeared open to amending Article 301 [JURIST report], another DTP leader, Hilmi Aydogdu, was charged [JURIST report] last week with inciting hatred after saying any Turkish attack on the Kurdish-dominated city of Kirkuk [Global Security backgrounder; JURIST news archive] would be comparable to an attack on all Kurds. Aydogdu faces up to three years in prison if found guilty.

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