Eyewitness in Turkey

Report by Tony Simpson of the Bertrand Russell Peace Foundation and Patrick Deboosere, Professor at Vrije Universiteit Brussels following their visit to Turkey as international observers of the KCK trials. The mass trial at Silivri is one of the largest ongoing trials, with more than 200 defendants. The accused include academic and constitutional law expert Dr Busra Ersanli, publisher Ragip Zarakolu and Kurdish members of the BDP.

 

A political purge is under way in Turkey. Since 2009, thousands of activists from the Peace and Democracy Party (BDP) have been arrested in police raids and interned  in extended pre-trial detention. Following elections in June 2011, the BDP currently has 36 members of the Turkish Parliament, elected mainly with the support of Turkey’s substantial Kurdish minority. Continue reading

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Tribunal with Special Powers: Court at Silivri Prison Campus, Turkey

Statement written by Tony Simpson of the Bertrand Russell Peace Foundation and Patrick Deboosere, Professor at Vrije Universiteit Brussels, who are part of an international delegation monitoring the trial of Ayse Berktay. 

 

13 July 2012

More than 200 people are before the court charged with support for a terrorist organisation, the Union of Kurdish Communities (KCK). The vast majority are Kurdish members of the Peace and Democracy Party, which has 36 elected representatives in the Turkish Parliament. In addition, there are some Turkish supporters of the BDP, including our friend and colleague Ayse Berktay.

Ayse has been remanded in detention until the court reconvenes in October, together with most of the accused, although she has already been detained for nine months, since October 2011. The judges granted bail for an additional 16 accused, including the distinguished academic, Professor Busra Ersanli.

Our international delegation attended four of the eight days of proceedings. During this time only part of the 2,400 indictment was read to the court. Defendants had about an hour to make personal pleas, strictly in the Turkish language as the court refused to hear statements in the Kurdish language, although this was the preferred tongue of many of those in the dock. Fifteen individual defendants made such pleas. Continue reading

Zarakolu: “ATL is a law that censors”

Ragip Zarakolu, well-known author and publisher who is facing 7.5-15 years in prison after being arrested last year in the scope of the KCK operations, makes a passionate argument against Turkish Anti-Terrror Law below on the first day of his trial:

PRESS CONFERENCE INVITATION: Freedom of Thought, Expression and Publication under serious threat.

Monday 2nd July 2012 at 16.00, TGC Headquarters Cağaloğlu

ARGUMENT

In its annual report seven years ago, the Writers Union of Turkey Freedom to Publish Committee made the following prediction:

“The newly proposed Anti Terror Law (ATL) contains very grave provisions that may put the freedom of thought, expression and the press, as well as the freedom to publish under threat”. Continue reading

“Free Zarakolu and his comrades in letters”

Last week, Abdullah Gul made the first state visit to the UK by a Turkish president since 1988. He was welcomed by the Queen, the Duke of Edinburgh and a 41-gun royal salute, before enjoying talks with PM David Cameron about strengthening the nations’ business and military ties and UK support for Turkey’s EU membership bid. Presumably, their discussions didn’t include the recent arrests of writer Ragip Zarakolu and several hundred other authors, journalists, human rights advocates and elected officials in Turkey, so Solidarity with Prisoners of Conscience in Turkey organised a meeting with the Kurdish Federation UK, KNK, and PiK in the Houses of Parliament, to bring much needed attention to the latest example of Turkish state terror. The meeting was hosted by Michael Connarty MP, and included this moving speech by Khatchatur Pilikian: Continue reading

Appeal and Protest against KCK Arrests

Bianet reports on the growing protests amongst Turkish academics and intellectuals over the recent KCK arrests:

04 November 2011

A bill of exception was handed to the Istanbul 14th High Criminal Court to appeal against the detention of 46 people who were arrested on 1 November in the course of the so-called KCK operation (Union of Kurdistan Communities). Prof Büşra Ersanlı and publisher and writer Ragıp Zarakolu are among the detainees. Continue reading

Turkish government attempts to own the Kurds

International Viewpoint reproduces a Sosyalist Demokrasi İçin Yeniyol article that puts the recent arrests of Ragip Zarakolu and Busra Ersanli into context:

It is an old reflex of Turkey’s state tradition to collectively imprison political figures who express the desires of the Kurdish people. Collective arrests started in 1959 with the imprisonment of forty-nine Kurdish intellectuals and turned into collective executions in the 1990s. Now—during the tenure of the Adalet ve Kalkınma Partisi (AKP – Justice and Development Party) of Prime Minister Erdoğan—they have taken the form of sensational mass detentions through the so-called KCK operations under which almost 8000 people have been arrested since 2009. Continue reading

International response to Ragip Zarakolu and Busra Ersanli arrests

Ragip Zarakolu arrested, 28 October 2011

The Kurdish Institute, the International Publishers Association, and International PEN give their responses to the arrests of Ragip Zarakolu and Busra Ersnli, on 28 October 2011, below. You can also find Peace in Kurdistan Campaign’s statement on the arrests here.

The Kurdish Institute: Zarakolu and Ersanli arrested by court

A Turkish court on Tuesday decided to put under arrest 44 people, including Publisher Ragip Zarakolu and Prof. Busra Ersanli, on charges of membership in  the so-called KCK (Union of Kurdistan Communities). They were among about 50 suspects detained over the weekend in a crackdown on the same charges.

After the interrogation at the police, all 50 persons were taken to the Istanbul Courthouse on Monday morning. The prosecutor decided to take 47 of them to court with the demand to arrest them. Continue reading

“Genocide, war crimes and the role of the AKP Government in obstructing the peace process in Turkey”

Solidarity with the Victims of All Genocides

& The Forum for Stateless Nations

Genocide, war crimes and the role of the AKP Government in obstructing the peace process in Turkey

 

An Appeal to UK MP’s to sign EDM 2267

30 October 2011

Last week, our lobby of MP’s and protest outside the Turkish Embassy in London sought to bring attention to the recent wave of arrests of academics and politicians in Turkey. These arrests came as no surprise. Have successive UK governments not turned a blind eye to the fact that the modern Turkish State came about following the seal of approval by Britain and its allies (in the Treaty of Lausanne) of the successful and merciless Genocide of the Armenian, Assyrian-Syriac and Greek populations as well as ‘Others’ from 1915 onwards? (by the CUP and/or Kemalist led nationalists). Have we not turned a blind eye to continued persecution of its national ‘minorities’ by the state of Turkey since its inception? What will it take, I wonder, for a British Prime Minister to robustly call for the government of Turkey to respect its National Minorities, to bravely face its Genocidal past, and to confront the reality of its totalitarian present posing as a democracy? Continue reading