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Kurdish politicians accused of "doing propaganda for a terrorist organization", face prison sentences

(BIANET/IFEX) - Prosecutor Mustafa Sahin has called for prison sentences for the mayor of Diyarbakir province in eastern Turkey, Osman Baydemir, and the Democratic Society Party (DTP) representative in the province, Nejdet Atalay, for describing the members of the Kurdistan Workers Party (PKK) as "guerrillas". The accused say they were simply expressing the pain they felt over watching people from both sides get killed in the conflict.

Sahin, the prosecutor of the 4th High Criminal Court of Diyarbakir, has called for a trial of Baydemir and Atalay under article 7/2 of the Anti Terror Law, which punishes "doing propaganda for a terrorist organization".

The accusation came after a meeting held in front of the Municipality's Guest House on 25 February 2008 to protest the Northern Iraq land operation of the Turkish Armed Forces.

Judge Hüsamettin Otçu gave the accused and their lawyers until 24 February 2009 to prepare their defense against Prosecutor Sahin's ruling.

Admitting that the speech cited in the indictment was made by him, Baydemir said, "When I was making this speech my purpose was to make a critique and state both my expectations and hopes in order to help end the suffering in the country. I was not trying to commit (a) crime. My goal was to express my sorrow for the deaths of the police officers, the soldiers, the civilians and the guerrillas."

Similarly, Atalay also stated that his aim was not to commit a crime.

According to article 7/2, "A person who does propaganda for a terrorist organization is sentenced from one to five years. If the offense is done through the media then the sentence is increased by half."

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