Prosecutor focuses on religious exploitation in Nevruz protest indictment

June 14, 2008, Saturday/ 19:38:00
The Diyarbakır Chief Public Prosecutor’s Office has completed its indictment of 14 people arrested on charges of inciting hatred among the public during Nevruz incidents that erupted in March.The indictment focuses on the exploitation of religion by the outlawed Kurdistan Workers’ Party (PKK), accused of spreading propaganda and inciting hatred among the public.

Fourteen alleged PKK supporters were arrested in southeastern Diyarbakır province last month over incidents that erupted during Nevruz celebrations in March. In the indictment the Diyarbakır Chief Public Prosecutor’s Office accuses these 14 individuals of using religion as a means to influence people, raising tension in society and spreading the propaganda of a terrorist organization.

“The outlawed PKK tries to regain popularity among people in the region by exploiting people’s religious beliefs. TV stations, Web sites and newspapers belonging to the group serve this purpose. The group is in close cooperation with such organizations as the Kurdistan Islamic Party, the Imams’ Association of Kurdistan and the Patriotic Imams’ Association of Kurdistan to appeal to Kurdish citizens’ religious sensitivities,” reads the indictment.

The prosecutor’s office also stresses in the indictment that the jailed leader of the PKK, Abdullah Öcalan, made a call to the organization to prepare the groundwork for the establishment of a faculty of theology in southeastern Şanlıurfa province.

“Öcalan once called on the PKK to focus on Şanlıurfa denizens’ sensitivity toward Islam. He told the group to dwell on Şanlıurfa being a city of prophets in its propaganda,” said the indictment.

The indictment also mentioned a meeting between Barbara Anne Lakeberg, the alleged founder of a human rights organization in northern Iraq, and H.B. and A.T., two suspected PKK supporters who were arrested during Nevruz protests in Diyarbakır in March.

“Lakeberg, an American citizen who can speak Kurdish, got in contact with H.B. and A.T. and told them she is the founder of a human rights organization in northern Iraq and that she wants to establish a similar organization in Diyarbakır as well. She also told the two men that she has close contacts with Central Intelligence Agency [CIA] officers. The three exchanged views on religion, religious sects and the PKK’s propaganda on religion during their meeting,” the indictment said.

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