[JURIST] A Kurdish lawyer in Turkey will face trial at a later date for comments he made about the Kurdistan Workers Party (PKK), when he said the group was not a terrorist organization but a political movement. Tahir Elci was detained [Reuters report] on Tuesday and released later that day, but he is not permitted to leave the country and must report regularly to the police. In an interview for CNN Turk, Elci stated [Middle East Eye report] that even if the PKK’s actions sometimes are of a terrorist nature, it has widespread support. The PKK, a separatist group launched in 1984, is considered a terrorist group in Turkey, the US and the EU. Terror propaganda laws in Turkey make being a “terror apologist” punishable with jail time.
The PKK, deemed an illegal terrorist organization by the Turkish government, advocates for secession of part of Turkey’s territory to become an independent Kurdish state within Turkey. Last month, Human Rights Watch (HRW) [advocacy website] accused [JURIST report] Turkish police of “disturbing abuse” for their actions towards detainees in the renewed conflict with the PKK. A ceasefire between the PKK and the Turkish government ended after a suicide attack in July. In March 2014, The European Court of Human Rights (ECHR) [official website] condemned [JURIST report] Turkey for violating the rights of Abdullah Ocalan, the jailed founder of the PKK. Ocalan, arrested for “leading a gang of armed terrorists responsible for attacks resulting in the death of thousands of people,” complained of unfair judicial treatment and has been campaigning for the legitimacy of the PKK beginning with his incarceration in 1999.