Freedom for Leyla Zana Campaign Launched
Bia news centre (bianet.org) – Istanbul: A campaign to free Kurdish politician Leyla Zana has been started by rights activists, among them writers Bilgesu Erenus, Murathan Mungan, Seyhmus Diken and Ragip Zarakolu, human rights activists Hurriyet Sener, Esber Yagmurdereli and Sebnem Korur Fincanci, journalists Inci Hekimoglu and Ragip Duran.
Speaking at a press briefing at the Chamber of Mechanical Engineers in Istanbul yesterday (16 March), they have called on the Supreme Court of Appeals to overturn the 10-year prison sentence, and on the Turkish Parliament to lift all legal obstructions to the freedom of expression.
The press briefing was participated in by lawyer Eren Keskin, Leman Yurtsever from the Human Rights Association (IHD), lawers Ergin Cinmen and Ayse Batumlu, writers Erol Ozkoray and Nemciye Alpay, and conscientious objector Halil Savda.
No democracy without freedom of expression
The DiyarbakÄ±r Heavy Penal Court has sentenced Leyla Zana to ten years imprisonment for speeches she made. For Eren Keskin, â€œThe aim of the campaign is to make sure that all ideas are free in Turkey. On the other hand we demand that the present impasse concerning the Kurdish question be solved and political prisoners be freed. As long as people are tried for dissident thoughts, there can be no democratisation.â€
IHD representative Yurtsever read another part of the statement:
â€œLeyla has been given 10 more years imprisonment for speeches she made. Her file is at the Supreme Court of Appeals. Let us not allow this to happen this time. As long as Leyla Zana, and other dissidents are in prison, we will not be free.â€
Supreme Court of Appeals should consider ECHR case law
Lawyer Ergin Cinmen continued: â€œExpression of thoughts is the most important freedom. Without freedom of expression, there can be no democracy or law. There can be no application of democratisation policies. What we ask from the Supreme Court of Appeals is that it apply the case law of the European Court of Human Rights. Laws that restrict the freedom of expression must be abolished in parliament.â€
Article 90 of Constitution should be applied
â€œThe freedom of expression is not just any freedom, it is the basis for democracy,â€ continued writer Ã–zkoray. â€œWithout the freedom of expression and thought, no democracy can be founded. The penalties under Article 26 of the Constitution must be abolished. We expect the Supreme Court of Appeals to apply Article 90 of the Constitution, which accepts the superior claim of international agreements. If judges apply this article, then we can provide freedom of expression in Turkey.â€
Laywer Batumlu added that freedom of expression could not be guaranteed just with laws. â€œRegulations are important, but the basic issue is one of practice. For instance, no court cases are opened because of the racist slogan â€˜Love the country or leave itâ€™, but all dissident thoughts can be punished. This is a problem of mentality. There must be no limit to the freedom of expression.â€
The campaign organisers called on others to support the campaign on the website http://leyla-zana.blogspot.com.
In December 2008, the 5th High Criminal Court of DiyarbakÄ±r sentenced Leyla Zana, a member of the formerÂ Democracy Party (DEP), to ten years imprisonment for â€œbeing a member in a terrorist organizationâ€ under Article 314/2 of the Turkish Penal Code. The court also decided to deprive Zana of the right to vote and be elected and other political rights.
According to Ntvmsnbc, the court reached its decision in the absence of Zanaâ€™s lawyer, who could not join the hearing due to an excuse reported to the court.
Leyla Zana was in prison between 1994 and 2004 for her activities as a Kurdish activist,and an additional 2-year term for an article written in 1998 while in jail. She is famous in Turkey as the countryâ€™s first ever Kurdish woman to be elected to Turkeyâ€™s parliament.
Atilla Tuygan, Ayhan Bilgen, Aysan Sonmez, Ayse Akdeniz, Ayse Hur, Baris Bayir, Bilgesu Erenus, Biriz Berksoy, Busra Beste Onder, Can Baskent, Cengiz Algan, Cengiz Gulec, Cuma Boynukara, Cuneyt Yalaz, Dogan Ozguden, Erdir Zat, Eren Keskin, Ergin Cinmez. Erol Onderoglu, Erol Ozkoray, Ersin Kalkan, Esber Yagmurdereli, Feryal Oney, Ferhat Kentel, Ferhat Tunc, Filiz Kocali, Gunay Aslan, Hakan Ozturk, Hakan Tahmaz, Hande Demircioglu, Halil Berktay, Halil Savda, Halime Guner, Haluk Tekeli, Hidayet Sevkatli Tuksal, Hilal Kaplan, Hulusi Zeybel, Hulya Tarman, Hurriyet Sener, Huseyin CakÄ±r, Inci Hekimoglu, Inci Tugsavul, Ismail Besikci, Jale Parla, Kerem Ciftcioglu, Latife Tekin, Leman Yurtsever, Mehmet Atak, Meltem Aravi, Metin AydÄ±n, Metin Goksel, Metin Kilic, Mihriban Karakaya, Murat CakÄ±r, Murathan Mungan, Mustafa Elveren, Nebile Irmak Ã‡etin, Necmiye Alpay, Nedime Gul, Nil Demizkazik, Nilgun Yurdalan, Oguz Sonmez, Orhan Miroglu, Ozan Sah Turna, Ozlem Goner, Perihan Magden, Ragip Duran, Ragip Zarakolu, Selami Ince, Semra Somersan, Serdar Kordu, Sevim Soylu, Seydi FÄ±rat, Sibel Ozbudun, Sinan Kara, Sanar Yurdatapan, Sebnem Korur Fincanci, Seymus Diken, Taha Parla, Taner KoÃ§ak, Tayfun Gonul, Tayfun Isci, Tayfun Mater, Taylan Tosun, Temel Demirer, Ulker Uncu, Veysi SarÄ±sozen, Yalcin Ergundogan, Yasemin Oz, Yesim Dorman , Yildiray Ogur, Yildiz Ramazanoglu, Zeynep Bayramoglu, Zeynep Gambetti, Zeynep Tanbay, Ziya Yuruk. (EO/AG)
Report by Erol Onderoglu for Bianet