The Acts of the Democracies




Kurds in Turkey

Leyla Zana, the first Kurdish woman to be elected to parliament in Turkey, has a 15 year sentence increased by 2 years by a panel of 3 judges (2 civilian; 1 military) for her views on Kurdish rights. Hatip Dicle (another Kurdish parliamentarian) is also sentenced to 15 years in prison for pro-Kurdish views. She would not be released until 2004 when she would be nominated for a Nobel Peace prize.

The Kurds are a significant minority in the south and east of Turkey. The USA has many military bases in the region and provides military aid to Turkey. Over 27,000 people have died under severe government suppression.

Ragip Duran becomes the 29th journalist imprisoned in Turkey. Turkish laws prohibit journalists from covering certain issues like the country's Kurdish minority.

Some three hundred issues of left wing, pro-Kurdish, or pro-Islamic publications are confiscated and numerous journals were closed down. Ulkede Gundem (Agenda in the Land), a newspaper advocating the recognition of Kurdish identity, is fined heavily and closed by court order for 312 days. Issues of Hevi (Hope), a weekly newspaper in Kurdish are confiscated 43 times during the first nine months of the year. In Diyarbakir, Sefik Beyaz, former head of the Kurdish Institute, is sentenced to one year imprisonment and a heavy fine for "making separatist propaganda by playing Kurdish music" during his election campaign in 1995.

TV stations are closed for "airing programs in Kurdish". The Kurdish Culture and Research Foundation is forbidden to run classes in Kurdish. Several universities refuse to register female students who wear traditional Muslim head scarves.

Dr. Eda Guver, is charged with "abusing her authority and violating the civil servants' code" after she asks security forces to leave her office while she was examining victims.

The European Union rejects Turkey's application for membership citing oppression of minorities and torture of suspects in custody as reasons.

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