Kurdish activist and former member of parliament Leyla Zana has announced the creation of a new political party for Turkey. The shortly before going on trial for the third time for alleged links with armed Kurdish rebels. Zana said the party, whose name has not yet been decided, aims to “achieve a peaceful and democratic solution” to Kurdish demands for more cultural and political rights. She was accompanied by three other Kurdish former parliamentarians.
Like her they were jailed for collaborating with the banned Kurdistan Workers’ Party, something they deny. The four had their sentences confirmed in an earlier retrial this year, but European institutions warned that their continued imprisonment would affect Turkey’s efforts to join the European Union.
In June 2004 they were finally released, and the next month a Turkish appeals court overturned their convictions on procedural grounds, ordering a retrial. Last week Zana belatedly collected the 1995 Sakharov Prize for human rights, awarded by the European Parliament.