The Trial


The charge of treason, which had caused the prosecution to call for the Parliamentarians' deaths, was later lessened to participation in the PKK, but all were sentenced to 15 years of their lives being spent in the custody of their country. Witnesses against them were shown to be faulty- they were abused to obtain various falsifications, many were on trial themselves, had conflicting testimonies, and were not allowed to be cross-examined. Any reference to the Kurds was presented as confirmation of PKK affiliation. Leyla Zana had always made a point of advocating nonviolent democracy. Zana herself explains the senselessness of the accusations against her:


"In speaking of the existence of the Kurdish people, of its country Kurdistan, in peaceably calling for the recognition of the Kurdish culture and identity in a democratic framework and within existing frontiers, I am supposed to have defended the same objectives as the PKK and therefore to be 'objectively a member of the political wing of that party,' which is engaged in an armed struggle; whereas all our action was aimed at silencing the guns and of seeking a peaceful solution to the Kurdish problem."


Zana, and other members of the DEP (Democracy Party), a political group replacing the banned HEP, had in fact corresponded with PKK officials, as necessary for trying to come to an agreement. The European Union deemed Zana's entire trial to be biased, and Turkey's policy on the Kurds to be in need of serious modifications; therefore, Turkey was denied admission into the group.
In 2002 and 2003, in the hopes of finally gaining entrance into the EU, Turkey's government abolished laws, including those denying Kurds the right to be independently taught in their own language and to name their children whatever they so choose, including Kurdish names. All citizens of Turkey are now allowed reconsideration of cases the EU finds to have been conducted unjustly. Despite the hopefulness of these reforms, there are several key catches, which check international celebrations. Only cases tried after the passage of the law allowing reconsideration of trials are to be reassessed. Also, although it is technically illegal, those seeking Kurdish rights have continued to be mistreated, thrown in prison, and executed.