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Former Kurdish politician gets suspended sentence on terrorist propaganda charges

Emine Ayna

Kurdish politician Emine Ayna

Emine Ayna, a former co-chair of the Kurdish Democratic Regions Party (DBP), has been given a suspended sentence for disseminating terrorist propaganda in speeches she gave, the pro-Kurdish Mezopotamya news agency reported on Tuesday.

Ayna, who is already behind bars due to the Kobani case, was handed down a suspended sentence of two years, six months by the Diyarbakır 4th High Criminal Court on charges of spreading terrorist propaganda in seven speeches she gave between 2011 and 2016.

The Kobani trial concerns the deadly Kobani protests in southeastern Turkey in 2014, in which the protestors expressed their support for Kurdish fighters in the Syrian town of Kobani while accusing Ankara of failing to provide adequate help and of supporting the Islamic State in Iraq and the Levant (ISIL), which had laid siege to the town.

Ayna’s lawyer, Semra Balyan, pointed out that the speeches were made during the period when her client was a party leader and a member of parliament, emphasizing that the speeches fell within the scope of political activities. She noted that her client’s speeches did not contain any incitement to violence and that they were related to a possible solution for the 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.

Ayna was given a suspended sentence on charges of disseminating propaganda for the outlawed Kurdistan Workers’ Party (PKK), listed as a terrorist organization by Turkey and much of the international community.

It is common in Turkey, which has a poor record on freedom of expression, for politicians, intellectuals and activists to face terrorism-related charges due to their statements.

The Turkish government has been harshly criticized for silencing dissent and jailing critics of its policies.

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