EU Turkey Civic Commission has released a statement condemning the arrest of Ocalan’s legal team and Turkey’s campaign of ‘legal harassment’:

23 November 2011



A fresh example of crackdown on people seeking democracy in Turkey occurred when the lawyers representing imprisoned Kurdish leader Mr. Abdullah Öcalan were detained by Turkish authorities November 22. There are reports of some 100 people taken into custody. Of these 70 are lawyers. Two of them; Ibrahim Bilmez and Cengiz Çiçek have been constructive contributors to the EUTCC annual international conferences in the European Parliament (Brussels).

The police operations are being carried out as part of the continuing campaign of legal harassment against the Kurdish Communities Union (KCK) where more than 4500 people are being detained over the last two years: legally elected MPs, politicians, mayors, trade unionists, teachers, activists, lawyers and journalists are among the detainees. By the arrests of almost the entire defense team of Mr. Öcalan, Turkey shows its true, non-democratic face. In a statement to the press – as an attempt to explain his ill-doing, PM Recep Tayyip Erdogan stated that «they [the lawyers] were working to disrupt the unity of Turkey”. There are reasons to be suspicious when the prime minster so quickly passes sentence on the lawyers whom do not know yet why they have been arrested.

Not since the military coup of 1980 has the world seen such hate policy from Turkish authorities towards its own citizens, in particular against those seeking peace, democracy and negotiations. This policy runs parallel to the army’s massive cross-border air attacks on guerilla positions in North-Iraq, and the use of chemical weapons which recently killed 36 guerilla fighters in October, 2011.

The EUTCC condemns the arrests of 70 lawyers and call for immediate release. Such arrests prevent the Turkish legal system from working correctly and should be reversed in order for peaceful negotiations to be renewed between the Turkish State and its Kurdish population. The arrests of these lawyers make serious inroads on the right of privilege between lawyer and client We call upon the International Commission of Jurists (ICJ) and the International Association of Democratic Lawyers (IADL) to safeguard and protect the lawyer/client privilege and negotiate with the Turkish authorities for the immediate release of all the lawyers that have been arrested to enable them to perform their professional duty to represent and defend their clients who are in custody

Kariane Westrheim, PhD, Chair of EUTCC, Norway (contact: +47 976 42 088)

Hans Branscheidt – Board of Directors EUTCC, Germany

Professor Michel Gunter, Secretary General, USA

Judge Essa Moosa – Board of Directors, South Africa

Kariane Westrheim – Menneskerettighetenes plass 1 – 5007 Bergen, Norway,