15-yr-old jailed for 'terrorist' offences

ISTANBUL: A 15-year-old Turkish girl who was arrested at a demonstration in support of a banned Kurdish group has been jailed for nearly eight years after being convicted of “terrorist” offences, including allegedly throwing stones at police.

The case comes amid renewed scrutiny of Turkey’s human rights record after it was named as the worst violator of the 47 signatory states to the European convention of human rights.

The girl, who has been named only as Berivan, was detained in the south-eastern city of Batman last October at a rally for the banned Kurdistan People’s Party, which is regarded by Turkey, the US and EU as a terrorist group.

A court in Diyarbakir found her guilty of “crimes on behalf of an illegal organisation” after prosecutors alleged she had hurled stones and shouted slogans. She was also convicted of attending “meetings and demonstrations in opposition to the law” and “spreading propaganda for an illegal organisation” despite claiming in court that she did not know what the word propaganda means.

In her defence, the girl denied throwing stones or being part of the demonstration but said she had only stopped to watch it out of curiosity, while on her way to visit an aunt. The conviction highlights Turkey’s practice of jailing children for terror-related offences under counter-terrorism legislation introduced in 2006.