Green MEP for London, Jean Lambert has today expressed her concern and disappointment over the decision of the Turkish authorities to sentence Leyla Zana, a prominent Kurdish human rights activist and MP, to ten years in prison for spreading ‘propaganda’ on behalf of the Kurdish People’s Party.
Ms Zana, who has met with Jean on several occasions, won the prestigious European Parliament’s Sakharov Prize in 1995 for her work to improve human rights, and extend democracy and freedom of expression in Turkey.
Commenting on the announcement of Ms Zana’s sentence, Jean, a prolific campaigner on Kurdish rights, said:
“Today’s news is a depressing outcome for human rights and for the Kurdish people. Leyla Zana is an inspirational figure who has tirelessly fought against intolerance and oppression, and who has already served a ten year prison sentence for speaking Kurdish in the Turkish Parliament following her election as the first female Kurdish MP. Even now, the use of Kurdish language is still banned in public places despite international pressure to reform human rights law.
“I hope that Leyla can win a new appeal against this sentence so that she can continue her work towards a peaceful solution for Turkey and a better situation for the Kurdish Community.”
Notes to Editors
In December 2008, Ms Zana was accused of spreading propaganda from the PKK through speeches made at meetings through 2007 and 2008, including a speech made at the Houses of Parliament, and for promoting terrorism, and was acquitted. Today’s announcement is the result of a second trial.