Margaret Owen observes 6th hearing of the KCK trial of lawyers, 17 September 2013

This week a UK delegation of six barristers and solicitors travelled to Istanbul to observe the sixth hearing of the KCK trial of lawyers, a major anti-terror trial in which 46 lawyers representing Kurdish leader Abdullah Ocalan are being tried on mass for their association with him as their client.

In this hearing the final 16 defendants whose case had not yet been heard were able to present their defence. None were released on bail, and so must endure continued imprisonment on top of the 22 months they have already spent in pre-trial detention until the next hearing, scheduled for 19 December.

The delegates included international human rights barristers Margaret Owen OBE, Hugo Charlton, and Mark Jones of St Ives Chambers, as well as Tooks Chambers’ Bronwen Jones and Law Society Human Rights Committee member, Tony Fisher and Ali Has, solicitor and representative of the Law Society Human Rights Committee International Action Team.

We will bring you reports and statements by the delegates in the near future. In the meantime, Margaret Owen has written three blog posts giving her observations of the highly political hearing, which are below.

All of our delegates reports and statements on the trials, as well as our actions here in the UK to bring the issue to wider attention, can be found on the International Observation of the KCK trial of Kurdish Lawyers page.

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Challenging the Oppression of Lawyers in Times of Conflict


Queen’s University Belfast Human Rights Centre, School of Law, will host a one day conference in November called Challenging the Oppression of Lawyers in Times of Conflict, which will tackle questions about the causes of oppression of lawyers in conflict and post-conflict scenarios, and what protections can be provided. Lawyers-in-Conflict-Poster3

Aims of the conference:

“In times of conflict it is common for severe oppression to infiltrate every aspect of life as a result of both State and non-State actors’ actions. Those in a position to challenge the oppressors, such as lawyers, are often subjected to systematic discrimination and violence during times of conflict. Such oppression deprives lawyers of their fundamental rights.

The aim of this one day conference is to bring together academics, activists, grass-roots expert, legal professionals and students to learn from each other and ignite debate on the issues that lawyers face during time of conflict, the impact of these issues from a human rights perspective and potential ways to address these issues. It seeks to engage a holistic approach that draws from conflict experiences across the globe which at are at various stages in their progression towards peace. As such this conference will bring together experts who have experience in countries which have seen lawyers become specific targets of oppression. Primarily the Basque country, China, Colombia, Northern Ireland, Palestine, Russia, Turkey and South Africa.

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International lawyers groups issue joint statement on KCK lawyers trial

PRESS RELEASE. JUNE 21st, 2013

International delegation observing lawyers trial 20 June in Istanbul

 

Today we, the undersigned, being a delegation of lawyers from five European countries, observed the fifth hearing, on the 20th June, 2013, of the trial of 46 lawyers, our colleagues, who face prosecution for being members of an illegal organisation, allegedly in the course of undertaking their professional duties, i.e acting as defence lawyers for the imprisoned Kurdish leader, Abdullah Ocalan.

While the procedures used by the authorities leading up to the arrests, for example,  seizure of confidential and privileged documents including client files, unlawful and unwarranted phone tapping and intercepting of private correspondence including emails, violate internationally acknowledged standards in human rights law, we are concerned that the hearings themselves breach the various criteria to be complied with to ensure that trials are “fair”. The defendants have had very limited opportunities to challenge the prosecutor’s evidence which has appeared most speculative and flimsy, but when they have done, they have exposed the indictments as being more often in the realm of fantasy than of fact.

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Margaret Owen: Blogs from Istanbul during fifth KCK lawyers trial hearing

Margaret Owen OBE, along with barrister Melanie Gingell and solicitor Ali Has, has continued  her excellent work as international trial monitor at the latest hearing of the KCK trial of 46 Kurdish lawyers, which took place last Thursday. Below are a series of blog posts written by Margaret about the ongoing protests in Istanbul, and of course about the latest developments in the trial.

Tuesday June 18th. Istanbul. Midnight.

We arrived in Istanbul late tonight, half expecting to find armed police, and even the army, blocking roads from the airport to the city, but all was strangely quiet.

Our taxi driver surprised us by saying that the city centre and Taksim square were deserted, and that the BBC and foreign media had grossly exaggerated the protest movement. He was quite angry at our questions and told us that now the demonstrations were all over and everyone had gone home.

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Turkey, peace talks and the PKK: Freedom and Justice for the Kurds

Panel Discussion

Friday, 28 June 2013, 6.30pm
Garden Court Chambers, 57-60 Lincoln’s Inn Fields, London WC2A (closest tube Holborn)

 

Chaired by Professor Bill Bowring, President of the European Lawyers for Democracy and Human Panel Rights (ELDH); International Secretary, Haldane Society of Socialist Lawyers

Speakers include Gareth Peirce, human rights lawyer; Melanie Gingell, barrister Doughty Street Chambers; member of the Bar Human Rights Committee; Dr Ozlem Galip, researcher and lecturer, University of Oxford; Prof Dr Michael Gunter, Professor of Political Science, Tennessee Technological University, Secretary General of EU Turkey Civic Commission (EUTCC); Barry White, National Organiser of the Campaign for Press and Broadcasting Freedom, member of European Federation of Journalists (EFJ)

Over recent months dramatic developments have been taking place in Turkey with the emergence of direct talks between representatives of the Turkish government and the imprisoned leader of the PKK, Abdullah Ocalan. The seminar will explore how a lasting peace can be secured now that a ceasefire has been followed by the start of a phased withdrawal of Kurdish guerrillas.

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Set Journalists Free in Turkey: EFJ campaign update

The European Federation of Journalists (EFJ) pursues its international campaign to Set Free Journalists in Turkey.

Please find below the latest news on the matter: the last week has been eventful in Turkey with the clashes on May day, the many activities focusing on Turkey on the occasion of World Press Freedom Day on 3 May as well as the latest developments in the KCK and Ergenekon cases.

  •  10 May 2013 – EFJ urges authorities to free journalists in Ergenekon court hearing, EFJ website
  • 7 May 2013 – Police violence against journalists covering dispersal of protesters, Reuters
  • 6 May 2013 – Picture gallery of Kite Flying for World Press Freedom Day in Turkey, EFJ website
  • 3 May 2013 – BBC Turkey report for World Press Freedom DayBBC

Write to Adem Uzun!

Earlier in the year, Peace in Kurdistan campaign and CAMPACC began a number of initiatives to demand the release of Brussels-based Kurdish activist Adem Uzun, who was arrested in Paris last October. He was denied bail and he has now spent seven months in prison without a trial date set.

Read more about Adem, the political nature of his arrest and our campaigns to release him.

In February we sent an open letter to the French Justice Minister, Christiane Taubira, which was signed by over 200 campaigners, politicians, academics and community activists, urging the French authorities to release him. Anyone who missed their chance to sign the open letter can still get involved – we also designed and printed cards that YOU can send off her. The more that arrive on her desk the better, so get in touch if you’d like some to send.

Most importantly, we are appealing to everyone to write directly to Adem. It is often said that the most frightening thing for prisoners is the fear of being forgotten. We want to make sure that Adem is not forgotten, and a simple letter from you could break the isolation he must undoubtedly feel at this time. We believe and act of solidarity like this will provide him with great comfort and strength.

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BHRC launches latest report into KCK lawyers trial

Melanie Gingell, barrister from Tooks Chambers and member of the Bar Human Rights Committee, has written a report into the fourth hearing of the ongoing KCK  trial of 46 lawyers in Istanbul, which took place on 28 March 2013. Further observations of the hearing have already been provided by Margaret Owen and Tony Fisher, who joined Melanie at the Silivri court house as international monitors.

The report has been published on the BHRC website, where it is available for download.

The trials continues on 20 June 2013.

Set journalists free in Turkey: EFJ campaign update

The European Federation of Journalists (EFJ) pursues its international campaign to Set Free Journalists in Turkey.

Please find below the latest  news on the matter; note also that today the latest hearing in the KCK case in Istanbul takes place. EFJ is there observing the trial. You can find in-depth information following the link of 19 April. This Friday, a press conference at AJP in Brussels with observers who have been to Istanbul will report on the case.

·         19 April 2013 – KCK Press case: Set our colleagues free, says EFJ, EFJ website
·         18 April 2013 – European Parliament approves 2012 Turkey progress report, EP website
·         15 April 2013 – Tweeting Turkish pianist given sentence for blasphemy, Can Sezer/Ece Toksabay
·         8 April 2013 – Turkey peace talks positive; press freedom still in peril, Özgür Öğret
·         27 March 2013 – “Decriminalize dissent” – Amnesty International report
·         26 March 2013 – After 743 in prison still no freedom for Yalçin Küçük, EFJ website

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Mass trials of lawyers and politicians in Turkey – Legal and political obstacles to the resolution of the Kurdish conflict

PANEL DISCUSSION

Mass trials of lawyers and politicians in Turkey –

 Legal and political obstacles to the resolution of the Kurdish conflict

Thursday 18 April 2013, 6.30pm

Tooks Chambers, 81 Farringdon St, City of London, London EC4A 4BL

This event is free and open to the public.

Two distinguished lawyers, former president of the Turkish Human Rights Association (HRA) Ms Reyhan Yalcindag, and renowned defence lawyer Mr Ercan Kanar, as well as Prof Nazan Ustundag, of Boğaziçi University, will be visiting London to take part in this panel discussion. Following their participation in a conference at Queens University Belfast on the Kurdish question in Turkey, we are pleased to invite these lawyers, academics and activists to share their considerable expertise with us. The event has been called by Peace in Kurdistan campaign, CAMPACC and the Kurdish Federation UK, and will be chaired by Ali Has, solicitor advocate and member of the Law Society Human Rights Committee.

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