'Assassinations and threats will not keep us quiet': This is an extract from a note written in prison by Leyla Zana, one of the six Kurdish MPs on trial in Turkey

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The Independent Online
TURKEY has a long tradition of political trials. Even so, the trial of me and my Kurdish colleagues in parliament is a first in the political life of the country. For it is the first time under a government that purports to be civilian that the elected representatives of the people have been tried for their opinions and threatened with capital punishment.

This is a purely political trial. Even before we came to court, we were judged and condemned by the Prime Minister and other government ministers. The government spokesman called us 'terrorists'. It is no longer possible to believe in the independence and impartiality of Turkish justice.

This justice would condemn me to death for the peaceful and legitimate performance of my parliamentary duties since my election for Diyabakir in October 1991. My crime seems to have been a phrase in Kurdish on the fraternity of Kurds and Turks living together in equality and democracy, which I uttered when I was making my oath of loyalty in parliament. We have become enemies to strike down, the favourite targets of the counter-terrorism campaign, which in the space of two years has killed 54 of our leaders.

But assassinations and death threats will not keep us quiet. We continue to work in favour of dialogue between the Kurdish and Turkish communities while all the time bearing witness in Turkey and abroad to the drama of the Kurdish people, the massacres and the destruction of towns and villages by the army.

It is because our voice had begun finally to be heard in Europe and the United States that the government decided to silence us by lifting our parliamentary immunity from prosecution, throwing us in prison and banning our party, the Party for Democracy.

But the government is mistaken if it thinks it will silence the Kurds by banning our party. We have acted according to our convictions and what we consider the interests of the country and democracy. We will never renounce our ideas and beliefs.

(Photograph omitted)