Turkish prosecutor seeks up to five years sentence for Kurdish leader

ANKARA – A prosecutor in Istanbul has prepared an indictment against a co-chair and a deputy of the pro-Kurdish Peoples’ Democratic Party (HDP), demanding five years in prison for each on ‘terrorist’ propaganda charges.

The deputy chief prosecutor of Istanbul’s Bakırköy district, Kadir Yılmaz, prepared an indictment for HDP co-chair Selahattin Demirtaş and Ankara deputy Sırrı Süreyya Önder for allegedly making terrorist propaganda during a Newroz address at Kazlıçeşme in Istanbul’s Zeytinburnu district on March 17, 2013, state-run Anadolu Agency reported Aug. 12.

Two people were listed as plaintiffs in the indictment, filing a complaint to the Istanbul Chief Public Prosecutor’s Office regarding the rally organized by the Peace and Democracy Party (BDP) and the Peoples’ Democratic Congress (HDK). The investigations into Demirtaş and Önder, which were launched after the plaintiffs’ complaints, were handled separately from others being investigated because the two are lawmakers.

Slogans in support of Abdullah Öcalan, the leader of the outlawed Kurdistan Workers’ Party (PKK), were chanted during the rally, which also included pictures of Öcalan. Demirtaş and Önder allegedly praised him and the PKK, the indictment stated.

“The suspects are lawmakers of a party represented in the parliament. Some of the speeches made in the rally in Istanbul praised the PKK/KCK [Kurdistan Communities Union], which aims to form an independent Kurdistan based on Marxist and Leninist values and which has staged armed attacks since 1984,” the indictment read, adding that the state “has the right to expect political figures to stay away from statements praising and legitimizing terrorist attacks.”

The indictment sent to the Bakırköy 2nd Court of Serious Crimes is currently in the process of examination.