Jailed former mayor of Diyarbakır sentenced to 14 years in prison on terrorism charges

Gülten Kışanak

Gülten Kışanak, a former mayor of Diyarbakır who has been in pretrial detention since October 31, 2016, was sentenced on Friday to 14 years, three months in prison, the Turkish press reported.

The final hearing in Kışanak’s trial was held at the Malatya 5th High Criminal Court where she was handed down 11 years, three months on charges of membership in a terrorist organization and three years for spreading terrorist propaganda.

Appearing in the courtroom for the first time, Kışanak told the panel of judges that she always acted according to democratic principles and had done nothing wrong.

Kışanak, who was elected mayor in the 2014 local elections in a landslide victory, garnering 55 percent of the vote in Diyarbakır, was dismissed by the government one day after her arrest along with scores of mayors of Kurdish cities and towns in southeastern Turkey. The Turkish government appointed a district governor in Ankara as mayor of Diyarbakır to replace her.

Sebahat Tuncel

Former deputy and co-chair of the pro-Kurdish Peace and Democracy Party (BDP) Sebahat Tuncel, another defendant in the trial, was sentenced to 15 years in prison. Tuncel could not appear in court due to health problems since she has been on a hunger strike for two weeks.

The Kurdish political movement has come under intense pressure from the current government of President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan, who is bent on marginalizing pro-Kurdish political organizations with the help of a military crackdown and abuse of the criminal justice system.

In its report titled “Kurdish Political Movement under Crackdown in Turkey: The Case of the HDP,” SCF gives a snapshot of what has happened since February 2015, when HDP representatives and Justice and Development Party (AKP) ministers came together for the last time to publicly discuss how to move forward in resolving the Kurdish problem, coming up with a deal known as the Dolmabahçe Agreement. Erdoğan torpedoed the agreement to win nationalists and launched a campaign of stigmatizing, demonizing and marginalizing the most substantial Kurdish political movement in Turkey’s history.

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