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Politician sentenced to two years in jail in connection with speech

(BIANET/IFEX) - Kurdish politician Aysel Tugluk, an independent representative in Van, was handed a two-year prison sentence for "making propaganda for a terrorist organization" in one of her speeches. The charges stem from a speech she delivered on 17 March 2010 in the Yuksekova district of Hakkari, a Kurdish-majority province on the southeastern tip of the country.

The corresponding investigation was run by the Special Authority Public Deputy Chief Prosecutor in Van. The trial was heard before the Van 3rd High Criminal Court.

As reported by the ntvmsnbc.com news website on 2 August 2011, Tugluk said in a statement after the final hearing, "What does a politician do? A politician talks and declares her opinion."

Tugluk continued, "This may disturb others. People must be able to talk about everything very openly and clearly unless violent language is used. If we had been able to talk about the Kurdish question in this country 15 to 20 years ago, things would have developed very differently. Perhaps we would not have experienced that much suffering. I am being punished for a speech in which I called for peace as a politician. What did I say in that speech? Did I say that Ocalan [imprisoned leader of the armed outlawed Kurdistan Workers' Party] should be addressed? The state itself is talking to Abdullah Ocalan. Is it a crime that I talked about Ocalan's status?" Tugluk said, condemning the ruling.

The politician added, "It is said that Turkey is changing but if we encounter this when we express different opinions in this country, we have to ask the Prime Minister, who talks about freedom of thought, what kind of democracy that is."

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