Turkish court orders peace petition signatory to pay visit to killed police’s family
An Istanbul court has ordered Gülsün Güvenli, who is standing trial for signing a 2016 petition calling for peace in the country’s southeast, to pay a condolence visit to the family of a police officer killed in a PKK attack in 2015.
Istanbul’s 37th Heavy Penal Court on Feb. 12 sentenced Güvenli to one year and three months in jail on charges of “making propaganda for a terrorist organization,” Demirören News Agency reported.
“I do not think that I am guilty. I have used my constitutional right and my freedom of expression. There needs to be an element of crime for me to feel regret. I demand my acquittal,” said the academic during the final hearing.
The court deferred the announcement of the verdict, but in an unprecedented ruling, obliged Güvenli to pay a condolence visit to the family of police officer Ahmet Çamur, who was killed in a PKK attack in southeastern province of Hakkari’s Şemdinli district on Aug. 15, 2015.
“I would be honored. I am against all killings, that’s why I signed the petition,” said Güvenli, according to local media.
“I think ruling this kind of liability is unfair for the martyr’s family. It would remind the family of their previous sufferings. Moreover, it is not prudent to perceive a condolence visit as penalty. This can trigger feelings of hatred and animosity. We will use our right to appeal,” said Güvenli’s lawyer Tüten Ateş following the verdict.
More than 1,120 Turkish and foreign academics signed a petition in 2016 calling for peace in the country’s southeast following clashes erupted after the collapse of a peace process between Turkey and the PKK in the summer of 2015.
Prosecutors accused 146 of the signatories of making propaganda for the PKK, with many having lost their jobs at universities.
The PKK is listed as a terrorist organization by Turkey, the United States, and the European Union.
The trial of the academics began on Dec. 5, 2016. Many of their hearings are still ongoing.