ERBIL, Kurdistan Region (Kurdistan 24) - A court in the Turkish city of Kayseri on Thursday sentenced a primary school teacher to ten months in prison for having voted for the Peoples' Democratic Party (HDP) in the last elections.
Teacher Fatma Saydan received the punishment on the grounds that she was disseminating propaganda for the banned Kurdistan Workers' Party (PKK), a group waging a decades-long guerrilla warfare against the Turkish troops over suppression of Kurdish identity and rights.
The privately-owned Dogan news agency reported that in her defense Saydan said she had only revealed she was voting for the HDP and did not praise the PKK which Ankara and its Western allies consider a "terrorist" group.
One of her colleagues K. F. who testified against her told the Kayseri criminal court that Saydan was praising PKK's imprisoned founder Abdullah Ocalan as "a peace envoy and a man of good intentions."
"She was also promoting the right to self-rule and telling us a division [Kurdish independence from Turkey] would be in everyone's best interests," F. told the court.
Another colleague, K. B. said Saydan had suggested she should vote for the HDP in the run-up to the 2015 elections.
The school's headmaster Z. M. and other teachers said they had not heard of any "terrorist propaganda" from Saydan.
The court decided to put off the execution of her sentence, said Dogan news.
HDP, Turkey's second-largest opposition bloc, got 13 percent of votes in the June 2015 elections, effectively denying President Recep Tayyip Erdogan's ruling Justice and Development Party's (AKP) a super parliamentary majority to form a one-party government.
Having failed to reach a consensus to create a coalition for the first time since coming to power in 2003, Erdogan went for snap elections in November.
The move combined with the collapse of ceasefire peace talks with the PKK achieved a generation of enough support for an AKP victory again.
Last year, two months after a botched military coup attempt against Erdogan's rule in July, the government suspended the employment of some 14 thousand teachers mostly in Kurdish provinces over alleged links with the PKK.
Editing by Ava Homa