[JURIST] Leyla Zana [NNDB profile], a Kurdish spokesperson and member of the European Union Turkey Civic Commission (EUTCC) [official website], was sentenced [EUTCC press release] Saturday to 10 years in prison for supporting the Kurdistan Worker's Party (PKK) [BBC profile; FAS backgrounder]. A Turkish court in the city of Diyarbakir ruled that Zana had violated article 314 of the Turkish Penal Code [text, in Turkish] and anti-terror laws in nine speeches she gave between July 2007 and March 2008 in support of the PKK. The court also revoked [Zaman report] her right to vote and run for political office, among other political rights. In response to the sentence, Zana said in a statement to EUTCC Chair Kariane Westrheim:
The case against me is a violation against freedom of thought, and represents a threat to every Kurd in Turkey. The decision of the court is just another way to repress, silence and punish the Kurds. The mentality governing this country is that problems can be resolved by anti democratic and repressive means and that unfair trial can provide political and social peace. But despite all this, our people will claim their legitimate rights, and will continue to struggle for this as long as it takes.Zana is expected to appeal the conviction to Turkey's Supreme Court of Appeals.
Zana became notorious when she was the first women elected to Turkey's parliament in 1991, and shortly thereafter there were calls for her arrest when she read the Parliamentary Oath in Kurdish. She was sentenced to 15 years in prison along with other members of her Democracy Party, when the party was banned in 1994. She served ten years in prison until her conviction was overturned and she was freed from prison [JURIST reports] in 2004. In calling for a peaceful settlement to issues of Kurdish rights, she had been nominated for the Nobel Peace Prize in 1995 and 1998, and was awarded the Sakharov Prize [official website] in 1995.