Turkey sentences founding member of Kurdish women’s association to more than 7 years in prison

Narin Gezgör (Photo: MA)

A Diyarbakır court has sentenced Narin Gezgör, a founding member of the Rosa Women’s Association, a Kurdish women’s rights group, to seven years, six months in prison on terrorism-related charges, the Gazete Duvar news website reported on Monday.

Gezgör was convicted in a retrial after an appeals court overturned a previous verdict involving the same length of imprisonment on the same charge due to the failure of the lower court to adequately examine the case.

The sentence was handed down on charges of membership in a terrorist organization, which carries a minimum imprisonment of six years, three months. Evidence brought against Gezgör included her membership in the association as well as her media interviews and anonymous witness testimony that incriminated her.

It is common for Turkish authorities to prosecute and convict people on terrorism-related charges for their non-violent civil society engagement and political commentary. Politically active Kurds are often accused of membership in the outlawed Kurdistan Workers’ Party (PKK), an armed group designated as a terrorist organization by Turkey and much of the international community.

Turkey’s anti-terror legislation has repeatedly drawn criticism in international reports for being overly broad and ambiguous, allowing courts to interpret social affiliation as terrorism links and commentary as terrorist propaganda. Turkish courts commonly accept anonymous witness testimony as evidence of defendants’ links to terrorism. Allegations of torture and ill-treatment in police custody often involve the coercion of detainees into signing statements that incriminate themselves and others. In the 2022 edition of the Rule of Law Index published by the World Justice Project, Turkey was ranked 116th among 140 countries, with a score even worse than that of Russia and Belarus.

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