Nov 04 2017

Turkish parliamentarian jailed for two years for “insulting” the state

ADANA - A Turkish court has sentenced a member of parliament from a mainly Kurdish party to more than two years in jail for social media posts and a speech deemed “openly contemptuous towards the government and state of the Republic of Turkey”.

Meral Danış Beştaş, a deputy for the Peoples’ Democracy Party (HDP), was prosecuted for social media posts and a speech in February 2016 which implied police were deliberately provoking violence in the wake of civil unrest that resulted in the deaths of two demonstrators.

Two young men, 16-year-old Mahmut Can Çakır and 19-year-old Murat Daşkan, were killed during clashes between protesters and police in Adana, the southern city Beştaş represents in parliament.

While Daşkan was fatally shot in the midst of the protests against curfews in Turkey’s majority-Kurdish southeast, Çakır was hit while watching from a nearby roof.

During Beştaş’s speech a week after the incidents, she produced bullets that she said had been delivered anonymously to both Kurdish separatist and rival Kurdish Islamist sympathisers in the city, each with the other group’s name written on.

“Those who placed these bullets are the same who killed Mahmut Can Çakır and Murat Daşkan, she said. “Those who place bombs here and those who do not catch the culprits are the same.”

She also called the government “the real separatists”:

These massacres, these barbarous sanctions … are actually aimed at dividing Turkey. If the issue is separatism, it is those in Turkey who answer demands for equal and free lives in a common homeland on the basis of a democratic nation state with massacres who are trying to divide this people from one another.