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Former HDP lawmaker sentenced to prison on terrorism propaganda charges

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A former lawmaker from the pro-Kurdish Peoples’ Democratic Party (HDP) has been sentenced to 15 months in prison on charges of spreading terrorist propaganda, according to a tweet from the lawmaker.

Former HDP deputy Altan Tan announced on Thursday that he was handed down the prison sentence by the Ankara 21st High Criminal Court due to his remarks during a TV program on CNN Türk earlier this year and that his sentence was not suspended by the court.

Tan said he was convicted of disseminating terrorist propaganda for the outlawed Kurdistan Workers’ Party (PKK).

The PKK, which has been waging a bloody campaign in Turkey’s Southeast since 1984, is listed as a terrorist organization by Turkey, the EU and the US.

During the program on CNN Türk in March 2021, Tan talked about the demands of the country’s Kurds for the settlement of the Kurdish issue such as the Kurdish language being a regional official language for Turkey in addition to Turkish.

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.

Following his suggestions, he was accused by the other guests, who included figures such as ultranationalist journalist Hulki Cevizoğlu, of disseminating PKK propaganda.

The HDP is under immense political pressure as Turkey’s Constitutional Court accepted an indictment last June seeking the party’s closure. The HDP is accused in the indictment of links to the PKK and of posing a threat to the “indivisible integrity of the state.”

President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan and his ruling Justice and Development Party (AKP) have long portrayed the HDP as the political front of the PKK. The party denies links to the PKK and says it is working to achieve a peaceful solution to Turkey’s Kurdish issue and is only coming under attack because of its strong opposition to Erdoğan’s 20-year rule.

Hundreds of HDP politicians including the party’s former co-chairs have been behind bars for several years on bogus terrorism charges.

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