Friday, April 11, 2008

Turkey jails Kurdish Nobel nominee

A Turkish court has sentenced Leyla Zana, a Kurdish politician and former Nobel peace prize nominee, to two years in prison for spreading "terrorist" propaganda, court officials said.

Zana was convicted in the southeastern Turkish city of Diyarbakir for a speech she made at Kurdish festival last year. In the speech, she said that the Kurdish people had three leaders, Massoud Barzani and Jalal Talabani, Kurdish politicians in northern Iraq, and Abdullah Ocalan, the jailed Kurdistan Workers Party (PKK) leader. Zana came to prominence in 1994 when she was convicted for links to the PKK, which is outlawed in Turkey.

She was released in 2004 after Turkey's appeals court overturned her conviction and that of three other Kurdish former politicians.

Full story here.


super hero said...

i believe there is a minor detail the article you are referring has skipped. and that is, PKK is a terrorist organization (as in Al-Queda) and Abdullah Öcalan is the leader (as in Bin Ladin). PKK is not just an outlawed party in Turkey, but internationally accepted terrorist organization, and that is only because they are terrorists (as in murder, massacre, drug traffic, blackmail and you name it). in that particular speech, Leyla Zana made it very clear that she sees Abdullah Öcalan as her leader.

what did you say again? freedom of speech? right.

Selene Verri said...

You are right, but there are other things this article does not say.
The situation is actually much more complex than it seems.

Leyla Zana has always tried to be a messanger of peace, independent from PKK. You might remember that when she was released from prison she announced she would found a new political movement, not addressed exclusively to Kurds.

After that, silence. For a while she vanished, and I wondered what had happened to her. I had my answer thanks to this interview, where I learned that PKK had finally realised it was losing power, and so had changed strategy in order to keep it. They couldn't let Leyla Zana become an independent, respected leader. So they cut her off from politics. I even heard she received threats from PKK.

So, you can see she finds herself now in a most uncomfortable position.

Either she chooses to abandon the PKK, and so also to abandon her work for the Kurdish cause, since PKK wouldn't let her do it, and possibly she risks her life or the life of her relatives; or she accepts the compromise of being "sponsored" by PKK, and she risks prison.

You might say that "freedom of speech" goes in both ways...