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Turkey: Sentences Lengthened for Use of Kurdish

(Oct. 27, 2010) It was reported on October 22, 2010, that a court in Turkey had penalized three Kurdish-speaking defendants for attempting to use their own language during their trial. A judgment was announced without allowing the defense a chance to speak, and an often applied “good conduct” abatement of punishment was disallowed. The resulting sentences were for 15 years of imprisonment, three years longer than the sentences given to Turkish-speaking co-defendants. (Turkish Court Lengthens Prison Sentence for Speaking Kurdish During Trial, FIRAT NEWS AGENCY ONLINE (Oct. 22, 2010), Open Source Center, Document No. GMP20101022062002.)

The Diyarbakir Heavy Criminal Court found all six defendants in the case guilty of belonging to the PKK, the Kurdistan Workers Party. (Id.) The PKK is considered by many nations, including the United States, to be a terrorist group. (See Turkey: Country Specific Information, U.S. Department of State website (July 29, 2010), http://travel.state.gov/travel/cis_pa_tw/cis/cis_1046.html.)