Former Kurdish deputy given 5 more years for terrorist propaganda

Leyla Güven, a Kurdish politician who was ousted from the Turkish Parliament in June 2020, has been handed down a prison sentence of five years for disseminating propaganda for a terrorist organization, Turkish Minute reported on Friday, citing the state-run Anadolu news agency.

The sentence comes after Güven, a former deputy from the pro-Kurdish Peoples’ Democratic Party (HDP) and current co-chairperson of the Democratic Society Congress (DTK), was sent to prison in December 2020 after being given a sentence of 22 years, three months.

Güven, who had stood trial due to her statements critical of a Turkish military operation in the Afrin region of Syria, was handed down the sentence on charges of membership in a terrorist organization and two counts of disseminating terrorist propaganda.

The latest sentence was ordered by the Hakkari 2nd Criminal Court of First Instance on Friday on charges of spreading propaganda for the outlawed Kurdistan Workers’ Party (PKK) due to Güven’s remarks during an event in the city on Feb. 13, 2020, Anadolu said.

Meanwhile, a number of HDP executives and members were detained in Mardin province on Saturday as part of an investigation carried out by the Mardin Chief Public Prosecutor’s Office, according to local media reports.

The detentions in Mardin follow similar ones carried out in İstanbul, Kocaeli and Manisa provinces a day earlier.

The ruling Justice and Development Party (AKP) has increased its crackdown on Kurds, especially after the collapse of Ankara’s reconciliation process with the outlawed PKK in 2015.

Turkish authorities had conducted direct talks with Abdullah Öcalan, the jailed leader of PKK, listed as a terrorist organization by Turkey, the US and the EU, for over two years until the summer of 2015, when the death of two police officers near the Syrian border became the official reason for its collapse.

Since then, there have been continuing clashes between the PKK and Turkish security forces. More than 40,000 people, including 5,500 security force members, have been killed in four decades of fighting between the Turkish state and the PKK.

Both the AKP and its ally, the far-right Nationalist Movement Party (MHP), frequently accuse HDP, the second-largest opposition group in parliament, of ties to the PKK. The party denies the government’s claim and says it is working to achieve a peaceful solution to Turkey’s so-called Kurdish issue.

The Kurdish issue, a term prevalent in Turkey’s public discourse, refers to the demand for equal rights by the country’s Kurdish population and their struggle for recognition.

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