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Former politician acquitted in one case, charged in another

(BIANET/IFEX) - The Ankara Public Prosecution has filed a lawsuit against Ahmet Türk, former co-chair of the pro-Kurdish Democratic Society Party, which was closed in December 2009 by the Constitutional Court. Türk stands accused of violating the Political Parties Law after he delivered a speech to Parliament in Kurdish on the occasion of International Mother Tongue Day.

In a Parliamentary Group Meeting in the Turkish Grand National Assembly on 24 February 2009, Türk said, "21 February is Mother Tongue Day and people should voice their own thoughts and ideas in their own languages". After that, he addressed the parliamentary group and the journalists in Kurdish.

As stipulated in article 81 (c) of the Political Parties Law, "political parties cannot use a language other than Turkish in writing and printing party statutes or programs, at congresses, at gatherings in open air or indoors, at meetings . . . "

Türk, who is being tried before the Ankara 3rd Criminal Court of First Instance, is facing a prison sentence of at least six months, under article 177 of the Political Parties Law.

On 6 May, Türk was acquitted in another case filed by the Istanbul 9th High Criminal Court on 16 January 2008. The case stemmed from remarks he made voicing his approval of the Kurdistan Workers' Party's (PKK) proclamation of a ceasefire. The court eventually decided that Türk "did not intend to make propaganda".

Türk had attended an iftar meal (breaking of the fast at sunset during Ramadan) in the Ümraniye district of Istanbul on 30 September 2006. Referring to the ceasefire declared by the PKK, Türk told the journalists, "Great democrats and intellectuals supported the people who saw Turkey moving towards a disaster. (. . .) The PKK announced the ceasefire in order to give a chance to develop a democratic South-East, for peace, for brotherhood, for a democratic Turkey. I want to say that we are very happy about this." The remarks, which were broadcast on the Kurdish ROJ TV station the next day, drew fire from authorities.

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