Top Turkish court upholds jail sentences for over a dozen Kurdish politicians

Turkey’s Supreme Court of Appeals has upheld prison sentences handed down to 13 Kurdish politicians in 2012 on terrorism charges, Evrensel newspaper reported.

The top court has upheld jail terms ranging between six to nine years for the defendants, which include the former mayor of eastern Van province Bekir Kaya, in what known as the Kurdistan Communities Union (KCK) trial, it said.

The KCK is an umbrella organization that is affiliated with the outlawed Kurdistan Workers’ Party (PKK), but unlike the PKK is not listed as a terrorist organization by itself outside of Turkey.

Turkish police in June of 2012 detained 12 defendants in the case in an operation targeting the KCK, launching a case on terror charges. Kaya, who had already been behind bars for over six years, was remanded in custody.

The court in 2018 ruled for the detention of another 13 defendants in the KCK trial, who remained free on bail.

The Turkish government in recent years has intensified its efforts to criminalize the Kurdish political movement.  The pro-Kurdish Peoples’ Democratic Party (HDP), Turkey’s third largest political party, is facing closure after Turkey’s top court last year accepted indictment seeking to disband it. 

Since 2019, 48 of the 65 elected HDP mayors in Turkey’s predominantly Kurdish eastern and southeastern regions have been removed from office by the Interior Ministry, citing "terror" investigations.''

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