Please find below information on our next  meeting, which is free and open to the public. All welcome!

Anti-terror Legislation and the Obstruction of Justice

The Implications of Mass Trials in Turkey for the Peace Process with the Kurds

Wednesday 9 October 2013, 6.30pm

Venue: Garden Court Chambers, 57-60 Lincolns Inn Fields, London WC2A (closest tube Holborn)

Chair: Prof Bill Bowring School of Law, Birkbeck, University of London; President of the European Association of Lawyers for Democracy and Human Rights (ELDH); International Secretary of the Haldane Society and Founder and Chair of the International Steering Committee, of the European Human Rights Advocacy Centre (EHRAC).

Panelists: Margaret Owen OBE, barrister/Door tenant, 9 Bedford Row Chambers; Bronwen Jones, barrister, Tooks Chambers; Tony Fisher, solicitor and Law Society Human Rights Committee member; Hugo Charlton, barrister, 1 Grays Inn Square Chambers; Ali Has, solicitor/advocate and member of the Law Society Human Rights Committee International Action Team; Mark Jones, barrister, St Ives Chambers.

Organised by Peace in Kurdistan Campaign and Campaign Against Criminalising Communities (CAMPACC), Haldane Society of Socialist Lawyers, European Association of Lawyers for Democracy and Human Rights (ELDH)

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In April 2009, police operations across Turkey began against the Kurdistan Communities Union (KCK), which the Turkish government alleges is the ‘urban wing’ of the banned Kurdistan Workers’ Party (PKK). It has become one of the world’s largest and most significant ongoing anti-terrorism operations and as such should be a concern for everyone with an interest in protecting civil liberties, rights and freedoms. It has resulted in over 10,000 arrests of Kurdish lawyers, academics, politicians and local councillors, trade unionists and journalists.

One manifestation of this clampdown inside Turkey is the trial of Kurdish lawyers which has been continuing intermittently over the past 22 months since the lawyers were rounded up in dawn raids by Turkey’s anti-terror police. Their case has implications for the exercise of judicial process and it reflects the way the Turkish state treats the Kurds as second class citizens.

This could seriously obstruct the peace process launched following talks between the Turkish government and Kurdish leader Abdullah Ocalan. While these talks raised hopes that a just settlement might at long last not be too far away, the actions taken against lawyers and Kurdish civil society organisations more generally has threatened to derail the process. The use of the war on terrorism as a pretext for political manoeuvring and is designed to weaken Kurdish social and political organisations.

On 17th September the 6th hearing of the trial of 45 Kurdish lawyers facing criminal charges under Turkey’s anti-terror laws took place. Lawyers from the UK went to Turkey to act as eyewitnesses to observe the legal procedure and on their return have expressed their profound misgivings at the conduct of the trial. It is over 22 months since the Kurdish lawyers were rounded up in dawn raids by Turkey’s anti-terror police and throughout this period many of the defendants have been held in pre-trial detention, denied bail without any reason being given.

The trial is a manifestation of how Turkey treats its Kurdish population and continues to deny them rights despite all the fine words about implementing a reform package.

What is happening inside Turkey is very much a concern of people living outside the country, not just for Kurdish diaspora communities but for everyone concerned about reversing the threat to civil liberties posed by anti-terrorism legislation.

The use of sweeping anti-terrorism legislation actually has implications for civil liberties everywhere and it needs to be situated within the perspective of the global war on terrorism which sees governments worldwide pursing ever more draconian legislation, coordinating state surveillance across borders and adopting ever more sophisticated technologies of social control.

The panelists will address the wider issues at stake for the future of democracy in Turkey and the connections with anti-terrorism policies elsewhere. Members of the team of trial monitors from the UK who have been present at all six hearings of Kurdish lawyers over the last two years will discuss the latest developments in the case and its wider implications for the Kurdish-Turkish peace process.

For more information contact:

Peace in Kurdistan
Campaign for a political solution of the Kurdish Question
Email: / Tel: 0207 5865892

Campaign Against Criminalising Communities (CAMPACC)