|Turkey : Campaigner's prison sentence for "Mr|
Ferhat Kaya, a local politician and campaigner who has taken up the rights of those adversely affected by BP's controversial Baku-Ceyhan (BTC) pipeline in the Ardahan region of Turkey, has been sentenced to six months imprisonment and a fine by domestic courts.
International human rights and environmental organisations have today written to the Minister of State for Europe , Douglas Alexander MP, urging the UK Foreign and Commonwealth Office to use its good offices to ensure Kaya's rights are respected.
The sentence follows a court hearing in one of a number of cases concerning the human rights defender. The charges centre on allegations that Kaya referred to Kurdish rebel leader Abdullah Öcalan as “Mr” Öcalan during a public speech; deemed to be an offence in Turkey as it accorded respect to the Kurdish leader and was thus sufficient to breach Turkey's stringent anti-terror laws.
Kaya's lawyers have appealed the charges. If unsuccessful, Kaya will be banned from any future role in public service, including voting, standing as a candidate in elections, or establishing or managing any trade union, association, corporation, company or political party, under the terms of Article 53 of the Turkish Penal Code.
Many suspect that Kaya's treatment is related to his position as a candidate for DEHAP, a political party that has taken up the Kurdish issue, and his work in obtaining rights for people adversely affected by the BTC pipeline.
Kerim Yildiz, Executive Director of KHRP, says, “Last week Orhan Pamuk's trial in Istanbul received international press and public attention. It is important to recognise that violations of freedom of expression continue elsewhere in Turkey , and that international financial institutions and corporations also play a role.”
Rochelle Harris, PR Officer, at +44 (0) 207 405-3835
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