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Turkey jails two Kurdish former parliamentarians

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Turkish police officers detain former pro-Kurdish Peoples’ Democracy Party (HDP) parliamentarian, Sebahat Tuncel (C) on November 4, 2016 during outside Diyarbakir’s courthouse. (AFP)
A Turkish court has sentenced two Kurdish politicians to lengthy jail terms on charges of belonging to a terrorist organization and disseminating terrorist propaganda, Demiroren News Agency (DHA) reported.

It said former parliamentarian Gultan Kisanak, who was arrested in 2016 when she was the joint mayor of Diyarbakir city in southeast Turkey, was jailed for 14 years and three months.

Sebahat Tuncel, who had also served in parliament, was jailed for 15 years, the agency said. She has been on hunger strike for three weeks and did not attend the court hearing.

Kisanak rejected the charges in court and said she had been held for two years before Friday's sentencing.

"I do what I do because it is true, legal, legitimate, humanitarian," Demiroren quoted her as saying. "Everything I do is in the frame of democratic politics."

Kisanak was arrested in October 2016 and accused of making speeches in support of the Kurdistan Workers Party (PKK), which has waged an insurgency in the mainly Kurdish southeast of Turkey since the 1980s. More than 40,000 people have been killed in the violence.

Turkey, the European Union and the United States have all designated the PKK a terrorist organization.

President Tayyip Erdogan has said the removal of elected officials and civil servants accused of links to the PKK is a vital part of the battle against it.
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