Tuesday, June 20, 2006

Indictment against Turkish Mayors

By Athina Saloustrou
15 Jun 2006

Dozens of mayors from SE Turkish towns are running the risk of getting a 10-year sentence for sending letters to Danish Prime Minister Anders Fogh Rasmussen, an indictment released on Thursday read. The 56 mayors are accused of "knowingly and willingly helping the outlawed Kurdistan Workers Party (PKK)," when they called on him to bear up under pressure and decide against the shutdown of Denmark-based Kurdish broadcaster Roj TV. The indictment has yet to be accepted by judicial authorities, therefore it is still unclear whether the police preliminary investigation will pave the way for trials. No date has been set for any trial, either.

Last week, a mayor from the southeast of the country was sentenced to serve a 15-month time in prison, because his comments were broadcast on Roj TV.

The Kurdish party took up arms against Turkey in 1984. More than 30,000 people, mostly Kurds, have been killed in that conflict so far.

Ankara, on the other hand, is under pressure from the EU to upgrade the cultural rights of its ethnic minorities, especially the 12 million Kurds who until the 1990s were not allowed even to use their language in public.