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Turkish court jails Kurdish leaders
Defendants vow to appeal to European Court of Human Rights if necessary.
Last Modified: 27 Feb 2007 03:06 GMT
Turkey has fought Kurdish fighters in its southeast region for more than two decades [GALLO/GETTY]

A Turkish court has sentenced the leader and deputy leader of a mainly Kurdish party to 18 months each in prison for using the Kurdish language in political leaflets.
 
Ahmet Turk, head of the Democratic Society Party (DTP), and Aysel Tugluk, the party's deputy leader, were convicted on Monday but plan to appeal against their sentence.
Nuri Ozmen, the lawyer representing the two Kurdish political leaders, said: "We will take the case to the European Court of Human Rights if need be."
 
Turk and Tugluk were found guilty of allowing distribution of leaflets in the Kurdish language on International Women's Day last March.
The Ankara court also ruled that the leaflets contained praise for Abdullah Ocalan. The government says Ocalan, a Kurdish leader, is a terrorist and he is now serving a life sentence at a prison on an island near Istanbul.
 
Ozmen said his clients had nothing to do with the leaflets, which he said had been prepared by local women DTP activists. He also denied the leaflets had praised Ocalan.
 
Ankara blames Ocalan, and Kurdish fighters under his command, for the deaths of more than 30,000 people in Turkey's southeast region since 1984.
 
Kurdish fighters have been active in the southeast of Turkey for more than two decades, though violence has fallen considerably since the 1999 jailing of Ocalan.
 
The DTP campaigns for more cultural and political rights for Turkey's estimated 12 to 15 million Kurds and says it is a purely peaceful party.
 
But many say it is a mouthpiece for Kurdish separatists. Use of the Kurdish language also remains a sensitive issue in Turkey.
 
A number of EU-related reforms have eased restrictions on its use in broadcasting and education, but it still cannot be used at rallies or for other political purposes.
Source:
Agencies
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