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Peace activist sentenced to six years in jail

(BIANET/IFEX) - On 9 June 2010, the Izmir 10th High Criminal Court sentenced activist Sultan Acibuca to six years and three months in prison on charges of "membership in an illegal organization". The charges were connected to a speech Acibuca made on 8 March 2008, International Women's Day, and on other remarks made on different occasions. The court based the conviction on article 314/2 of the Turkish Criminal Code (TCK) and article 5 of the Anti-Terror Law (TMK) which prescribes a more severe punishment.

The sixty-one-year-old Acibuca is a member of the "Peace Mothers", a group of women who oppose the ongoing conflict between the Turkish Armed Forces and the militant Kurdistan Workers' Party (PKK).

Acibuca's condemnation of the murder of Turkish-Armenian journalist Hrant Dink was deemed a criminal offence, as was her attendance at a meeting on the occasion of World Peace Day on 1 September, her call for peace at the Women's International Labour Day and attending three press conferences as a spectator.

Acibuca's lawyer, Nezahat Pasa Bayraktar, presented his client's defence in the 9 June hearing. He stated that Acibuca's right to attend the press conferences was guaranteed by Turkish law and the European Convention of Human Rights and that her activities did not constitute a crime. Punishing an activist for defending peace contravened the law, Bayraktar argued.

The lawyer also drew attention to the fact that Turkey has been convicted of violating freedom of thought and expression countless times by the European Court of Human Rights. Referring to the Incal vs. Turkey case, Bayraktar demanded that his client be acquitted since she had not committed a crime.

Read excerpts from Acibuca's International Women's Day speech

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