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Lawmakers Visit Political Prisoner

Tue., Jan. 20, 1998

A delegation of U.S. lawmakers investigating Turkey’s human rights situation visited the country’s most prominent Kurdish political prisoner Monday.

The leader of the delegation, Rep. John Porter, told reporters afterward that Leyla Zana was in good physical and mental condition.

Zana, a 36-year-old former legislator, was arrested in 1994 after Parliament lifted immunity for her and 13 other lawmakers with the pro-Kurdish Democracy Party.

The Turkish government regards the KDP as a front for the separatist Kurdistan Workers Party.

Under U.S. pressure, Turkey tried to free Zana on health grounds last year, but a medical report concluded she was healthy enough to serve out her term.

Besides, Zana rejected the offer, saying her freedom had no meaning without “democracy and peace” in Turkey.

The United States and European Union have criticized Turkey for its treatment of the autonomy-seeking Kurds, who have been fighting Turkish forces in a 13-year war that has killed at least 28,000 people.


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