Final Trial of Selahattin Demirtas and MP Sirri Onder At the Silivri Prison Compound Court

Selahattin-Demirtas

 

Written by Margaret Owen, International Trial Observer and Barrister

Friday 7 September

I was informed that Selahattin Demirtas (pictured), the imprisoned former co-chair of the pro Kurdish Peoples Democratic Party (HDP), would at last be appearing in person for this final, 6th hearing. Selahattin Demirtas has been detained since November 2016 under anti-terror law. He faces various charges and is accused of making terrorist propaganda. Demirtas’ co-defendant is the HDP MP for Ankara, Siri Surreya Onder, who will also be present at the hearing.

I travelled to Istanbul to report on the trial as an International Observer from the UK. Outside the Silivri prison compound I expected to find crowds of Demirtas/HDP supporters. Upon my arrival at the prison however, it was eerily quiet, as apart from a sizeable police presence, I found only a few hundred supporters, and soon discovered that Demirtas himself would not be there in person after all; he would be delivering his defence to the terrorism charges via video link.”Look”, said one female supporter, pointing to the sky. “You see the drone. The police want to identify who is here outside the court so they can investigate us for supporting terrorism”.  It was the first time I had seen a drone, like a black insect in the peaceful blue sky.

At the entrance to the court I was joined by a few other international observers, from the Canadian, Swiss and Dutch embassies. The nature of this trial would reflect the status of Turkey’s justice system since Erdogan won the 2018 Presidential election, in which Demirtas also stood as a candidate from his prison cell. It’s a significant event.

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STATE TERROR, HUMAN RIGHTS VIOLATIONS, AND AUTHORITARIANISM IN TURKEY

Report of the Third Imrali Peace Delegation, based on its Visit to Turkey, Feb. 13-19, 2017.

INTRODUCTION

The events of the past year-and-a-half demonstrate very clearly that there can be no democracy in Turkey without a peaceful resolution of the Kurdish question. The political situation in the country has deteriorated dramatically over the past year-and-a-half, since the breakdown of the peace process in mid-June 2015, and especially since the failed coup in mid-July 2016.

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Fear of genocide in South-east Turkey

 Report on an emergency visit to HDP MPs in Diyarbakir, Turkey, 18th -20th November 2016 by Julie Ward MEP and Melanie Gingell, barrister

Peace in Kurdistan Campaign

MPs in South-East Turkey have expressed fears that the next step in the repressive, downward spiral in the mainly Kurdish district of South-East Turkey will be a genocide.

Julie Ward, Labour MEP for North West England, and Melanie Gingell, Barrister, visited Diyarbakir in South East Turkey between 18th and 20th November 2016 in response to an urgent call from the HDP in a mission facilitated by Peace in Kurdistan Campaign. Both women have made previous visits to the region, Ward as recently as mid-October 2016. Continue reading

Message of solidarity from Pen International

 

Dear President and Members of the Peace Committee of International PEN,

Dear President and Members of the PEN Turkey Centre and Kurdish PEN Centre,

As many of you know, the Turkish government is continuing their harsh repression of the civil rights and Freedom of Expression of their Kurdish citizens.

On the 3rdof October 2016, the Kurdish Channel Med-Nuçe was shut down by their satellite provider, on Turkey’s request. This channel reported news hourly and had 26 genuine programs focusing not only on the Kurdish issues but also on women, labor conditions, environment, and local and international political discussions. It was their window on the world. Continue reading

Call for solidarity with rule of law, human rights, democracy and freedoms- Trial of Kamuran Yuksek.

05/10/2016 For immediate release PARTÎYA HERÊMÊN DEMOKRATÎK
To the international press and public opinion

Call for solidarity with rule of law, human rights, democracy and freedoms
The Democratic Regions Party (DBP) is a Kurdish political party that works towards developing democracy, human rights, rule of law, freedom and the status of Kurds in Turkey. DBP follows the tradition of the struggle and line of the Kurdish political movement. The Kurdish political movement has been fighting against the status quo and its supporters since the beginning of 90’s. DBP and the Kurdish political movement have a strong tradition of struggle of progressive forces. Continue reading

Support Turkish Academics under Attack.

Call for Support to the Academics under Judicial Harassment

Please make a small video on your phone in support of the academics who are standing with Kurdish people under attack in South-East Turkey and who are losing their jobs and facing prosecution as a result. See below for details.
Turkish scholars have been subject to heavy pressures and constraints since the declaration of the petition “We’ll not be a party to this crime” launched by the Academics for Peace initiative in mid-January. In Mersin, a middle-sized city on the Mediterranean Coast, this climate of pressure has been experienced in an accentuated manner as the twenty-one petitioners of the city’s University have since then faced very serious threats and sanctions. Continue reading

Frederike Geerdink: Reporting under siege in Turkey

22 October 2015

Last night, the Kurdish Community Centre in north London hosted an event with Frederike Geerdink, who is in London for a series of events promoting her new book on the Roboski massacre, The Boys Are Dead, which tells the story of her investigations into the atrocity on 28 December 2011 which killed 34 people.

frederike KCC event

Courtesy Ari Murad

Frederike gave a captivating account of her encounters with the Turkish authorities, which she said began the day she first visited Roboski in the weeks after the massacre took place.

She also described how state and private media in Turkey uncritically parroted the government narrative that the people killed were ‘terrorist helpers’ hiding PKK members among them as they crossed the border from Iraq, not civilians, and that the military was acting on sound intelligence. International media at the time insisted that the attack was an unfortunate accident and repeated that the government would carry out a full investigation.

Frederike was determined to uncover the truth behind the incident, however, and travelled to Roboski to hear from the villagers themselves and investigate the area. She discovered that neither the claims of sound intelligence (increased walkie talkie activity was the only evidence offered) nor that it was actually an accident on the part of the military were true. Continue reading

EDM tabled in UK parliament expresses ‘concern’ about state censorship and arrests in Turkey

An early day motion (EDM) has been tabled in the UK parliament calling for the release of Turkish journalists arrested in the latest police crackdown on the press. You can encourage your MP to sign the EDM by writing to them with your own message, or you can use our model letter which you can download here.

Early Day Motion 719: Restrictions On Press Freedom In Turkey

That this House is concerned about widespread reports of state censorship, and the firing, imprisonment and wiretapping of journalists in Turkey; notes that about 20 journalists were arrested in a series of dawn raids in Turkey in mid-December 2014; further notes that one of the journalists arrested in December, television presenter Sedef Kabas, is facing a prison sentence of up to five years for a tweet about a corruption probe involving high profile names; welcomes the statement by the EU High Representative for Foreign Affairs and the EU Commissioner for Enlargement Negotiations that the latest crackdown is against the European values and standards Turkey aspires to be part of; calls on Turkish authorities to remove the travel bans imposed on the journalists, drop all criminal charges against them and release all other journalists behind bars in the country; and further calls on Ministers in the UK Government to raise these concerns with their counterparts in Turkey.

Sponsors: Clwyd, Ann/ Osborne, Sandra / Corbyn, Jeremy / Farrelly, Paul / Durkan, Mark / Russell, Bob    /   House of Commons: 21.01.2015

Freelance journalist working in Kurdistan responds to RSF allegations against PYD

Reporters Without Borders (RSF), one of the world’s leading media freedom organisations, reported last week that it has recorded a ‘growing number of abuses’ by the PYD against reporters and journalists working in Rojava. They allege that the People’s Protection Units (YPG) and the local security forces (Asayish) have been perpetrating ‘abuses on a large scale’, claiming ‘the PYD and its henchmen have no qualms about arresting or even abducting news and information providers whom they see as too critical in order to silence them and intimidate the others.’

Peace in Kurdistan Campaign received a copy of a letter written to RSF by freelance journalist Karlos Zurutuza, who has worked in Kurdistan for many years, responding to the RSF. Given that the picture drawn in the reports entirely contradicts his experience in the region, he felt obliged to write to the organisation and make his experience public. He makes clear that during the six recent trips he has made to Kurdish-controlled regions of Syria, he has found no evidence of the censorship or harassment detailed in the RSF reports, and has been able to work in Rojava without obstacles from authorities. Karloz requested we publicise his letter to offer readers and the public his personal experience of journalistic work on the ground in Rojava, which is a clear challenge to the claims.  We reproduce his letter below.*

*Editors Note: Karlos Zurutuza originally named fellow journalist Mr Massoud Hamid as author of the RSF report. This version of the  letter was circulated and published before he knew of this mistake, and has now been replaced with an amended version (below). He has written a public apology to Mr Hamid for the error, which we also publish below. Nonetheless, Mr Zurutuza stands by his statements on his experiences as a journalist in Rojava.

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KNK: Release all critically ill prisoners in Turkey


The KNK has sent an open letter to Prime Minister Erdogan and Justice Minister Bekir Bozdağ calling for the release of hundreds of critically ill prisoners who are languishing in Turkish jails without proper medical attention. As the letter explains, despite recent changes to the law that would allow for seriously ill prisoners to be released, any prisoner charged under the anti-terror law who is suffering health problems has no chance of release under the current rules.

We know of at least 544 prisoners in Turkey are seriously ill who deserve to be released. We also know that 2300 people have died in Turkish prisons in the last 13 years.

The appeal has been signed by over 12o prominent public figures from across the world, including Selahattin Demirtaş, Co-chair of Peace and Democracy Party (BDP); writer and former political prisoner Ragip Zarakolu; Professor Noam Chomsky; several Members of the British, Irish and European Parliaments; and Archbishop Emeritus Desmond Tutu, to name a few. The appeal was also published in Turkish daily Radikal.

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