ECHR rules Turkey violated rights by jailing ex mayor for attending funeral and demonstrations

The European Court of Human Rights (ECtHR) has ruled that Turkey violated the human rights and right to freedom of expression of a former Kurdish mayor by imposing a jail term for attending a funeral and demonstrations.

According to a report by Ayca Soylemez from Bianet news portal, ex-Batman mayor from the Democratic Society Party (DTP), Nejdet Atalay, was on March 11, 2008, sentenced to 10 months in prison for “propagandizing for a terrorist organization.”

The pro-Kurdish DTP was banned by the Constitutional Court of Turkey on December 11, 2009, after it has become a “focal point of activities against the indivisible unity of the state, the country, and the nation”.

The sentence came after an investigation was launched against the former mayor by the Diyarbakır Chief Public Prosecutor’s Office for attending the funeral of four members of the outlawed Kurdistan Workers’ Party (PKK) and demonstrations on March 28, 2006.

Ankara lists the outlawed PKK, an armed insurgent group fighting a decades-old insurgency for Kurdish self-rule in southeast Turkey against the Turkish state, as a terrorist organization.

Atalay reportedly applied to the ECHR after the Court of Cassation upheld his sentence, arguing that it violates the freedom of expression guaranteed by Article 10 of the European Convention on Human Rights.

The ECHR on Tuesday ruled that by imposing a prison sentence on Atalay for attending a funeral and demonstrations, Turkey violated his freedom of expression.

The ECHR ruled that Turkey pay 5,000 euros for non-pecuniary damages and an additional 2,000 euros for material damages.

The ECHR has jurisdiction to decide complaints submitted by individuals and States concerning violations of the Convention for the Protection of Human Rights and Fundamental Freedoms.

The funerals of the outlawed PKK members held in Diyarbakir turned into riots in late March 2006.

Some demonstrators reportedly targeted police stations with bombs and vandalized shops and public buildings while Turkish security forces responded with gunfire and tear gas.

During the events between March 28 and April 3, 2006, the rights to life of 10 people, including innocent bystanders and five children, were violated by Turkish authorities, the Human Rights Association Diyarbakır Branch announced in the aftermath.

More than 550 people were reportedly detained as a result of these events, including over 200 children.

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