Kox in Council of Europe: ‘Release Kurdish and Palestinian MPs’

7 October 2012

Kox in Council of Europe: ‘Release Kurdish and Palestinian MPs’

07-10-2012 • 'Parliamentarians should be in Parliament, not in prison. For that reason the Council of Europe must do more to free elected representatives in Turkey and Palestine. The authorities in Turkey and Israel must give elected Members of Parliament the chance to do their work instead of throwing them into jail.’ SP Senator Tiny Kox issued this appeal this week in Strasbourg, where representatives of all Europe’s parliaments were gathered.

Tiny KoxDuring last week a great deal was said about political prisoners in member states and partner states of the Council of Europe. Senator Kox, Chair of the United Left Group in the Parliamentary Assembly of the Council of Europe (PACE), considers that there are far too many such prisoners in far too many member states. 'That goes against the very essence of democracy,’ says Kox. ‘We must demand persistently that all citizens in Europe be able to exercise their political rights and not be arrested, condemned and thrown into prison. We know that this happens and we must therefore do something about it.’

At this moment thousands of people are behind bars in countries such as Turkey and Israel, mostly on the basis of anti-terrorist laws. Other countries as well, such as Azerbaijan and Ukraine, are holding people in jail for political reasons. Kox pointed out that member states deny having political prisoners. These people are, on the contrary, always condemned as a result of transgressions of national criminal law. As an example he cited the Kurdish-Turkish Leyla Zana: 'She was jailed in Turkey as a so-called terrorist prisoner, released as a result of a ruling by the European Court of Human Rights, and finally awarded the prestigious Sakharov Prize by the European Parliament. Since then, however, she has nonetheless been condemned several times by the Turkish courts on the grounds of transgression of Turkish anti-terrorist laws.’

Together with other parliamentarians Kox last week called on the Turkish government to free the arrested MPs immediately, announcing at the same time that he had asked the Israeli government to release more than twenty elected members of the Palestinian Parliament from their imprisonment. As special rapporteur for Palestine to the Council of Europe, he noted that the Palestinian Parliament was being seriously obstructed in the fulfilment of its duties because Israel was making it impossible for it to function. A Council of Europe delegation will shortly visit Palestine and Israel, when this question will be on the agenda.

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