ANKARA: The leader of Turkey’s largest pro-Kurdish party in parliament was sentenced to 10 months in prison on Tuesday for disseminating propaganda in favour of Kurdish PKK rebels, state news Anatolian said.
The sentence against Selahattin Demirtas, which can be appealed, comes amid intense media speculation that the government and Kurdish politicians are engaged in diplomatic efforts to persuade the Kurdistan Workers’ Party (PKK) militant group to declare a permanent ceasefire.
Conservative Turkish prosecutors regularly sentence Kurdish politicians and journalists on charges of disseminating PKK propaganda. Such cases are normally appealed against and final rulings sometimes takes months, if not years.
The predecessor of Demirtas' Peace and Democracy Party (BDP) was banned by Turkey's high court in 2009 for its suspected links to the PKK.
The PKK, which took up arms against the Turkish state in 1984 to demand more autonomy in the largely Kurdish southeast Turkey, called a unilateral ceasefire on Aug. 13.
Turkey has officially refused to negotiate for a settlement with the PKK, but Turkish media has reported that government and BDP officials have held talks to convince the PKK to lay down its weapons.
The PKK is labelled a terrorist organisation by Ankara, the United States and the European Union. More than 40,000 people, mainly Kurds, have died in the conflict in the southeast. – Reuters