Leyla Zana, the never ending jail sentence

Kurdish politician is again sentenced to prison on charges of terrorism · This is her fifth conviction in only four years, all of them based in some speeches delivered by her · Zana served a 10 years sentence because of alleged membership to PKK

Kurdish MP Leyla Zana has again been sentenced to 10 years in prison on charges of terrorism, Turkish newspaper Zamanwrote yesterday. Zana has been sentenced by a criminal court in Amed (Diyarbakir in Turkish). Judges consider that some speeches delivered by Zana in 2007 and 2008 prove that she is a member of the banned organization Kurdistan Workers' Party (PKK).

Zana's lawyer Fethi Gümüş rejected the charges and argued that if she had been a member of PKK she couldn't have been elected in Turkey's legislative election in 2011.

The Kurdish politician will not enter prison while she is a member of the Turkish Parliament, a post that grants immunity. Next legislative election in Turkey is set for 2015.

A long string of sentences against Zana

The development does not come as a surprise, since Zana has accumulated several jail sentences since 1994, always on similar grounds. The first sentence came in 1994, when the Ankara State Security Court convicted her to 15 years imprisonment because of alleged membership to PKK. Although being an MP, she was stripped of immunity and entered prison, where she spent 10 years until her release in 2004.

This was not the end of her persecution by Turkish courts. In April 2008 she was sentenced to three years of prison. This was the first time that the 2007 and 2008 speeches were used to convict her. In those speeches, Zana said that the Turkish-Kurdish conflict should be solved while taking into consideration that Abdullah Öcalan (jailed founder of the PKK) is the leader of the Kurds and that he should considered by the Turkish state as an interlocutor.

On similar grounds, Zana was further sentenced to 10 years in December 2008 and again in July 2009 and April 2010.

(Image: Leyla Zana. Picture by Vindheim.)