Turkish woman’s imprisonment for signing petition is human rights breach: ECHR

Europe’s top human rights court found that a Turkish woman who signed a petition supporting a jailed Kurdish separatist leader had not committed any act of terror and that jailing her for signing the petition amounted to a breach of her human rights.

The European Court of Human Rights (ECHR) ruled that Turkey violated the freedom of thought and expression of Fehime Ete, who in 2006 signed a petition as part of a campaign called “Ocalan is my political will,” the pro-Kurdish Mezopotamya News Agency (MA) reported on Wednesday.

The petition, which was signed by 3,243,000 people in Turkey between July 2005 and May 2006, defended the views of Abdullah Ocalan, the jailed leader and founder of the outlawed Kurdistan Workers Party (PKK).

Labeled as a terrorist organization by Ankara, the European Union, and the United States, the PKK launched a separatist insurgency against the Turkish state in 1984.

Since his capture in 1999, Ocalan has been held in solitary confinement in a prison on the island of Imrali the Marmara Sea.

According to a news report by Aydin Atay from the pro-Kurdish MA, it was decided by the European Court that saying “Ocalan is my political will” does not constitute any terror-related crime.

The court, therefore, found Turkey’s government guilty for violating Article 10 of the European Convention on Human Rights on freedom of expression by sentencing Ete to a year and eight months in prison for “making propaganda for a terrorist organization.”

The ECHR also ordered that Ete be paid 2,500 euros in non-pecuniary damage and 780 euros in lieu of legal costs.

After being detained on February 25, 2006, Ete was given a sentence of a year and eight months in prison by a Diyarbakir court over alleged terror propaganda.

Her lawyers took the case on April 10, 2010, to the Supreme Court of Appeals, which approved the verdict of the trial court on September 20, 2011.

While the trial was ongoing, Ete was arrested on February 16, 2010, and served a year and two months in prison.

She was then released on March 15, 2011, before completing the sentence, because she had already served six months jail time, after being arrested before her trial for a separate case earlier.

Reyhan Yalcindag, a lawyer representing Ete, appealed to the ECHR and argued that her client faced a violation of her right to freedom of thought and expression.

Families visit PKK leader Ocalan and fellow inmates in Imrali prison


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