Hacı Bişkin / DUVAR

Sırrı Sakık, the former mayor for the eastern province of Ağrı, has received five years and 10 months in prison for a 2015 press statement that he gave for the armed conflict between the military and Kurdistan Workers’ Party (PKK) to come to an end. The prison sentence was handed down despite then Ağrı Governor Musa Işın’s testimony that he had been previously informed about the press statement.

The Ağrı 1st Heavy Penal Court gave its ruling on Sept. 14, without the presence of Sakık and his lawyers in the courtroom. The charges against Sakık included “aiding the PKK in a willing way” and “holding terror propaganda.”

After a peace process between the Turkish government and the PKK collapsed in July 2015, the Ağrı governor’s office in August 2015 declared the area around Mount Ağrı and Mount Tendürek, an area considered to be the PKK foothold, as a “special security zone” to prevent civilian causalities in an operation to be conducted in the following days.

Several Kurdish politicians and representatives of NGOs consisting of about 250 people then gathered at this “special security zone” calling on the government to restart negotiations with the PKK so that violence could end. Among this group was also Sırrı Sakık, who was at the time Ağrı mayor from the Peace and Democracy Party (BDP).

After Sakık held a five minute-long telephone conversation with then Gov. Musa Işın, he was allowed to make a press statement. Işın later acknowledged this telephone conversation, saying during a court hearing, “Yes, I had been notified [of the press meeting].”

Sakık commented on the jail sentence given to him, saying that this is an “unjust” decision. “My lawyers could not go to the hearing due to pandemic. I also really wanted to go to the court hearing. In this process that included neither my lawyers nor me, I have been given a penalty. This has no reciprocity in the law. We face a unjust implementation,” Sakık told Gazete Duvar.

Sakık said that the press statement for which he received a jail term explained how the Ağrı residents were “tired” of the resumed clashes between the PKK and Turkish military. “I said [during the press statement], ‘We are tired of these clashes; and we are here, as NGOs and Ağrı people, for these clashes not to reoccur.’ The press statement lasted about half an hour. The governor also says himself how we turned Ağrı into a city of peace, as recorded in the minutes of the court hearings,” Sakık said.

Sakık was removed his post in 2017 by the Interior Ministry. Ağrı Gov. Işın was instead appointed as a trustee to the Ağrı Municipality.

Sakık was the Muş mayoral candidate for the Peoples’ Democratic Party (HDP) in the 2019 local elections but lost the race to the ruling Justice and Development (AKP) Party candidate Savcı Sayan.