The Turkish Constitutional Court rejected an appeal by Kurdish politician Meral Danış Beştaş who had objected to a court decision of upholding charges regarding her taking part in an event organised by the local administration of the district of Lice in Turkey’s Kurdish-majority district in 2009.
In 2009, a criminal case was filed against Meral Danış Beştaş, currently MP and co-chair of the parliamentary group of the Peoples’ Democratic Party (HDP), after she had attended an organised event to plant trees near a village in Lice.
The indictment alleged that Beştaş had participated in ‘making propaganda for an illegal group’, based on an assertion that the organisation of the event itself was of criminal nature since the village of Fis was the place where the outlawed Kurdistan Workers’ Party (PKK) had been founded, and the event had taken place on the anniversary of the PKK’s foundation.
Beştaş had filed an appeal with the Turkish Constitutional Court on grounds that the court’s decision constituted a ‘violation of the freedom of expression’.
The Constitutional Court rejected her appeal on Monday. The verdict stated that the event in 2009 had been organised with the intention to mark the date and place of the birth of a ‘terrorist group’.
“The appellant, who was tried and not sentenced to imprisonment, was instead put on probation for three years. Although it can be accepted that there is a deterrent effect on the appellant regarding the court decision in question, it can also be concluded that it is a considerably milder ruling compared to imprisonment or fine.”
The Court ruled:
“The intervention in the appellant’s freedom of expression was required in the context of the people’s right to protect themselves against terrorism. The Supreme Court concluded that the freedom of expression was therefore not violated.”