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Jail sentence for Leyla Zana condemned

August 3, 2009 1:00 PM

Liberal Democrat MEP for London Baroness Sarah Ludford has condemned the 15 month prison sentence imposed by Turkish court on Kurdish politician Leyla Zana for comments she made about the PKK and its jailed leader Abdullah Ocalan.

Sarah Ludford, who is the Liberal Democrat European justice & human rights spokeswoman, has met Leyla Zana on several occasions and is an outspoken supporter of cultural and political rights for Kurdish people in Turkey and elsewhere.

She said: "As is well known, I am a firm advocate of Turkish accession to the EU. But the necessary reforms must include respect for free speech, an end to the criminalisation of legitimate if controversial political views, and the related ending of the role of the military at the heart of state power."

"Only a political solution to the Kurdish question will path the way for vital democratic renewal in Turkey and enable it to step into line with international and European human rights standards."

"I join the EU-Turkey Civic Commission (EUTCC) in calling on the European Union and the international community to take political action to try and stop Leyla Zana's imprisonment and encourage the government to begin a real dialogue with Kurds at last."