15 years in Imrali: Free Ocalan!

Below is the text from the latest leaflet from the International Initiative on the 15th anniversary of Ocalan’s capture and imprisonment on the prison island of Imrali. The Leaflet can be downloaded as a pdf here for distribution.

On the 15th anniversary of his abduction we demand: Freedom for Abdullah Öcalan

Who is Abdullah Öcalan?
Millions of Kurds regard Abdullah Öcalan as their political representative. He is the most important exponent
of their struggle for rights and democracy and has become a symbol for the freedom of the Kurds. Öcalan opposes separatism and secessionism and stands for a democratic Middle East with all the peoples having equal rights. The ongoing worldwide signature campaign for his freedom has collected 2.4 million signatures. TIME Magazine has elected him among the 100 most influential leaders in 2013.

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Ocalan: My real role in Kurds’ struggle for freedom

Originally published in the Guardian:

The Guardian, Monday 20 January 2014 21.00 GMT

I am writing in response to an editorial published in your newspaper on the occasion of Nelson Mandela’s death (5 December). The article drew comparisons between Mandela, Nehru, Aung Sang Suu Kyi and me. Such comparisons belying a hegemonic mindset demonstrate a lack of understanding of the reality of those faced with struggling for freedom.

In describing me as “feared and worshipped”, I detect hostility towards those who are forced to rely on their self-belief in their struggle against slavery, massacres and policies of denial. Since I have been imprisoned under conditions of solitary confinement on an island for the last 14 years, it is difficult to see how I can be credibly described as a source of fear for anyone except perhaps my captors.

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Haldane Society writes to Turkish Embassy ahead of Erbey trial

The Chair of Haldane Society of Socialist Lawyers wrote to the Turkish Ambassador in London yesterday expressing concern over the continued imprisonment of lawyer and human rights campaigner Muharrem Erbey.

The letter was written in response to PEN International’s call to action for Erbey, whose trial is set to continue with a hearing on the 13 January. Find out more about the campaign here.

 

 

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Haldane Society of Socialist Lawyers defends Turkish colleague

 

The Haldane Society of Socialist Lawyers has written an open letter to the President of Turkey expressing grave concern over charges against their colleague Ramazan Demir, a lawyer and member of the Istanbul Bar who is facing disciplinary charges for allegedly “offending the dignity of a public authority in the performance of its duties” while defending his client in court during the KCK trial of 44 journalists in Istanbul. 

To: President of Turkey, Mr. Abdullah Gül, Cumhurbaskanligi 06100 Ankara, Turkey; Email: cumhurbaskanligi@tccb.gov.tr

27 November 2013

Letter of Concern regarding Av. Ramazan Demir/Istanbul Bar

 

Dear Mr. President,

On behalf of the Haldane Society of Socialist Lawyers I am writing to express our serious concern about the charges against our colleague Advocate Ramazan Demir. We know Adv. Demir as a highly responsible lawyer and we are greatly concerned to hear of these attacks on his professional integrity.

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Towards Democratic Solution From Armed Conflict – The Role Played By Leaders On Peaceful Solutions: South African And Kurdish Experiences – Mandela And Ocalan

by Judge Essa Moosa, director of the International Peace and Reconciliation Initiative and chairperson for KHRAG.

A new dawn has appeared on the horizon of Turkish political landscape. For the first time in almost 100 years the Kurdish issue in Turkey are being seriously addressed. The struggle of the Kurdish people in Turkey to enforce their legitimate claim to self-determination in terms of the Sevres Treaty was met with force, execution, imprisonment, banishment, persecution and repression. Such right to self-determination was approved by the League of Nations, the predecessor of the United Nations[1]. The South African people of colour have also struggled, for more than 100 years, for their right to self-determination and achieved their right on 10 May 1994 with the installation of a government of national unity under the presidency of Nelson Mandela.[2] There are striking similarities between the struggle of the Kurdish people in Turkey for their right to self-determination and the right to self-determination of the oppressed people in South Africa.

Both Turkey and South Africa were colonised and subjugated by various colonial powers over the ages.  Turkey was colonised by the Persians, Mongolians, British, French and the Russians.  South Africa was colonised by the Portuguese, Dutch and British. The political and constitutional evolution of Turkey and South Africa, with the passage of time, is somewhat similar.  South Africa, as it is presently constituted, was formed in 1910 when the imperial power of Britain granted to the white population of the country a measure of self-rule on the basis of white supremacy.[3] In 1921 Turkey promulgated its first Constitution in line with the provisions of the Sevres Treaty, following the demise of the Ottoman Empire.  In 1924, Turkey adopted a Republican Constitution on the basis of Turkish hegemony. The Constitution violated the provisions of the Sevres Treaty which granted the Kurdish people in Turkey, a measure of autonomy where there is a preponderance of Kurdish people and independence after a year if the majority of the people in those regions wish to become independent of Turkey.[4]

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The long road to peace and reconciliation in Turkey

Report by David Morgan, Peace in Kurdistan Campaign

A seminar on ‘’the long road to peace and reconciliation in Turkey’’ has taken place in London with guest speaker from South Africa, Judge Essa Moosa, who was on a brief visit to the UK.

The seminar addressed the current opportunities for dialogue between the Turkish government and the Kurds within the context of the slow moving peace process which was in danger on stalling.  

The event organised by Peace in Kurdistan in association with SOAS Kurdish Society, was held at SOAS on the afternoon of 16 November and attended by students, academics and people from wide spectrum of organisations who take an interest in Kurdish issues.

Judge Moosa, a distinguished law maker and a veteran of the anti-apartheid struggle, was introduced by Birgul Yilmaz, Teaching Fellow at SOAS, Faculty of Languages and Cultures, who chaired the event. He was joined on the panel by Akif Wan, Kurdistan National Congress, UK Representative.

In his address Judge Moosa, who heads the International Peace and Reconciliation Initiative, IPRI, argued that the historic developments in South Africa were a benchmark to understand how the conflict between Turkey and the Kurds might be resolved. (see article entitled “Democratic Solution to the Armed Conflict”)

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Petitions for Turkey’s oppressed lawyers and journalists

This week we received information about two important petitions that need your support.

The first is a Change.org petition for Selçuk Kozağaçlı and his colleagues at the Progressive Lawyers’ Association in Turkey who have been in detention without bail since their arrest in January this year:

AVUKATIM/MESLEKTAŞIM DERHÂL SERBEST BIRAKILSIN! RELEASE MY LAWYER/COLLEAGUE RİGHT NOW!
Read more about the arrests here

The second calls for justice for journalists in Turkey and is one the European Federation of Journalists’ (EFJ) many efforts in the last two years to oppose government repression of journalists and media workers in Turkey:

Justice for Journalists in Turkey
Journalists are not terrorists. The justice system in Turkey has failed its journalists.
To find out more about theEFJ’s Set Journalists Free in Turkey campaign, go to their website.

Please sign the petitions and share widely!

“Hostages of the peace process”: UK lawyers condemn Turkey’s anti-terror law

Meeting Report

24 October 2013

Turkey’s anti-terror legislation has come under fire once again as five lawyers who recently returned from Istanbul gave a damning critique of one of Turkey’s now notorious ‘KCK trials’ at a public event held a Garden Court Chambers.

The lawyers formed part of a 6-person strong delegation that observed the trial of 46 Kurdish lawyers, who are being prosecuted for their work defending imprisoned Kurdish leader Abdullah Ocalan.  What they witnessed, they told the meeting, was a political show trial taking place in the context of peace talks between Ocalan and the Turkish government that reveals far more about authoritarianism in Turkey than the supposed criminality of the defendants. The meeting was chaired by Bill Bowring, Professor of Law at Birkbeck University.

Panel, 9 Oct 2013

L-R: Ali Has, Mark Jones, Bill Bowring, Bronwen Jones, Margaret Owen, Hugo Charlton

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Bronwen Jones reports on 6th hearing of KCK lawyers’ trial

 

Full report on the KCK Trial of Lawyers in Istanbul

By Bronwen Jones

 

Observations

Hearing of 6 November 2012

The court building at Koaeli Prison in Silivri is an approximately two-hour journey from Istanbul.

There was a significant Jandarma (gendarmerie) presence at the court.  International observers were required to surrender mobile phones, but were not searched on entry into the court building or show any identification, and were all permitted to sit inside court and were allowed access to court facilities.  Visiting Turkish lawyers showed their bar cards and were also permitted inside the courtroom.

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Kurdish Lawyers on Trial in Turkey: A Travesty of Justice

Press Statement, 24.09.2013

Six UK lawyers*) formed part of the 30-strong delegation of European human rights lawyers, from several countries, that, on the 17th September, observed, at the Silivri prison court, the 6th hearing of the trial of 45 Kurdish lawyers, who face criminal charges under Turkey’s anti-terror laws.

It has been 22 months since these lawyers were rounded up in dawn raids by Turkey’s anti-terror police. Throughout this period many of the defendants have been held in pre-trial detention, without any reason being given. From time to time, some have been bailed, but 16 lawyers still remain incarcerated.

The next one-day hearing will not be until December 19th, but trials such as these could be prolonged so as to go on for many years.

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