[Congressional Record Volume 144, Number 141 (Friday, October 9, 1998)]
[Extensions of Remarks]
[Page E2007]
From the Congressional Record Online through the Government Printing Office [www.gpo.gov]




ANKARA'S DECISION TO SENTENCE LEYLA ZANA A BLATANT VIOLATION OF FREEDOM 
                             OF EXPRESSION

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                          HON. ELIZABETH FURSE

                               of oregon

                    in the house of representatives

                       Thursday, October 8, 1998

  Ms. FURSE. Mr. Speaker, I rise today to express my indignation over 
the decision of the Turkish government to sentence Leyla Zana, the 
Kurdish parliamentarian who is currently serving a 15-year sentence, to 
2 additional years in prison as a blatant violation of the freedom of 
expression and an insult to her supporters worldwide.
  This time, the Turkish authorities charge that Leyla Zana broke the 
law in a letter she wrote to the People Democracy Party (HADEP) to urge 
them to be forthcoming, diligent, decisive and to push for individual 
and collective freedoms. The fact that Leyla Zana has been charged with 
inciting racial hatred reveals that Turkey is a racist state and 
continues to deny the Kurds a voice in the state.
  As my colleagues know, Leyla Zana is the first Kurdish woman every 
elected to the Turkish parliament. She won her office with more than 84 
percent of the vote in her district and brought the Turkish Grand 
National Assembly a keen interest for human rights and a conviction 
that the Turkish war against the Kurds must come to an end. Last year, 
153 Members of this body joined together and signed a letter to 
President Bill Clinton urging him to raise Leyla Zana's case with the 
Turkish authorities and seek her immediate and unconditional release 
from prison.
  Leyla Zana was kept in custody from March 5, 1994, until December 7, 
1994 without a conviction. On December 8, 1994, the Ankara State 
Security Court sentenced her and five other Kurdish parliamentarians to 
various years in prison. Leyla Zana was accused of making a treasonous 
speech in Washington, DC., other speeches elsewhere, and wearing a 
scarf that bore the Kurdish colors of green, red, and yellow. This year 
marks her fifth year behind the bars.
  Today, in Turkish Kurdistan, 40,000 people have lost their lives. 
More than 3,000 Kurdish villages have been destroyed. Over 3 million 
residents have become destitute refugees. Despite several unilateral 
cease-fires by the Kurdish side, the Turkish army continues to pursue 
policies of hatred, torture and murder, and genocide of the Kurdish 
people.
  Mr. Speaker, as I finish my sixth year in office as a Member of the 
United States Congress, I find it outrageous that the government of 
Turkey, after so much outcry, after so much petitioning and after so 
much publicity would dare to punish her again incensing her friends and 
supporters all over the world. There is only one word that comes to my 
mind and it is, fear, Mr. Speaker. The government of Turkey is afraid 
of Leyla Zana and it thinks it can lock her away forever. That was the 
story of those who locked Nelson Mandela. The longest nights, Mr. 
Speaker, give way to bright dawns. Mr. Mandela is a public servant now. 
And the world is grateful.
  People like Leyla Zana who utter the words of reconciliation and 
accommodation need to be embraced, validated, and freed. I urge the 
government of Turkey to set aside its conviction of Leyla Zana and free 
her immediately, and I urge my colleagues and government to condemn her 
conviction and make her release a priority.

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