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Twenty former DTP members convicted on propaganda charges

(BIANET/IFEX) - Twenty former members of the defunct Democratic Society Party (DTP) have been found guilty of "spreading propaganda for an illegal organisation" and each sentenced to ten months behind bars. The charges stem from their attendance at a sit-in organized by the pro-Kurdish DTP in Batikent, Diyarbakir in 2008.

On 15 March 2011, the 5th High Criminal Court of Diyarbakir, a provincial capital in the Kurdish-majority southeastern part of the country, acquitted three of the 23 defendants. Twenty others were sentenced to imprisonment of one year on charges of "spreading propaganda for the PKK", the illegal, armed Kurdistan Workers' Party. Their sentences were later mitigated to ten months each due to good conduct.

The court claimed that "slogans supporting the organisation were chanted by people in the group that had gathered in front of the tent" and "music praising the organisation was played in the vicinity". The 20 defendants "did not do anything to prevent this development, made it run more smoothly and showed corresponding footage on an LCD screen", the court stated.

The three-day sit-down strike was organised with the aim of protesting the allegedly violent treatment of Abdullah Ocalan, imprisoned leader of the PKK.

Lawyer Tahir Elci told BIANET that the people convicted were provincial chairs who had been appointed to obtain the necessary permits from the police and provide logistical support. Elci drew attention to the fact that some of them were not even in the area at the time.

The lawyer emphasised that none of the defendants was involved in any kind of "propaganda" throughout the protest action.

The defendants were also tried on charges of "committing a crime on behalf of an organisation while not a member of the organisation". However, the court decided to acquit all defendants of these charges.

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