In a written statement, the European Commission asked Turkey to address the problem of broad interpretations by courts hearing terrorism-related cases. A statement made by Peter Stano, the spokesperson for European Commissioner for Enlargement and European Neighborhood Policy Stefan Füle, stressed that Turkey should make a clear distinction between incitement to violence and the non-violent expression of ideas. Stano added that the EU Commission will closely follow what happens during the appeal process.
The statement said: “We are seriously concerned about the ruling in yet another case of a Kurdish politician being sentenced. While supporting Turkey in its fight against terrorism, the Commission regards freedom of expression as a fundamental value, the protection of which should be compatible with an effective fight against terrorism. Turkey should address the too broad interpretation by terrorism courts, and make sure a clear distinction is made in law and in practice between the incitement to violence and the non-violent expression of ideas. The Commission will follow closely the appeal of this case.”
The court sentenced Tuğluk to 14-and-a-half years in prison, citing Article 7/2 of the Counterterrorism Law (TMK) on “making propaganda for a terrorist organization” and Article 314/3 of the Turkish Penal Code (TCK) on “engaging in crimes on behalf of a terrorist organization,” the Anatolia news agency reported on Tuesday.
In addition, the EU statement praised the newly announced plan of the Justice and Development Party (AK Party) to offer Kurdish as an elective language course in Turkish schools. “We welcome the announcement of Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdoğan that optional Kurdish language classes will be made available in Turkish public schools already in the 2012-2013 [academic year] where the need arises,” the statement read.