6.30-8.30pm Tuesday 18 September 2012

Garden Court Chambers, 57-60 Lincoln’s Inn Fields, London WC2A 3LJ  (nearest tube: Holborn)

Chaired by Prof Bill Bowring, Birkbeck College, President of the European Association of Lawyers for Democracy and Human Rights (ELDH) and International Secretary of the Haldane Society of Socialist Lawyers

Speakers include

Margaret Owen OBE, barrister, member of the Bar Human Rights Committee

Ali Has, solicitor

Tony Simpson, Bertrand Russell Peace Foundation; editor of “The Spokesman”

Barry White, NUJ representative of the European Federation of Journalists

Obsessively sensitive about its image, Turkey seeks to present a modern, liberal and democratic face to the outside world, but the reality for people involved in public life inside the country is far different. Repression is the regime’s inevitable knee-jerk response to those seeking to exercise their civil rights to effect change and participate in political activities accepted as normal in a modern democratic state. Lawyers, journalists, writers, elected politicians, trade unionists and community leaders are all victims of a systematic persecution that has been waged by the Turkish state over the past few years as it has sought relentlessly to silence opposition voices in every area of public life. Kurdish demands for full citizenship rights that are taken as the norm across the modern democratic states of Europe are inevitably criminalised within Turkey.

The current mood inside the country is one of fear and intimidation under a climate of repression with raids on offices, mass arrests and prosecutions against thousands of individuals allegedly associated with the Kurdish Communities Union, KCK, an umbrella association of various social organisations which has been deemed an illegal organisation by Turkey. Legal action against people assumed to be connected with the KCK has been continuing since 2009 and has included a mass trial of 151 Kurdish human rights defenders and political leaders which began in October 2010, and another trial of over 200 mostly Peace and Democracy Party (BDP) members, which began in June 2012. In addition, 35 journalists, also accused of membership of the KCK, are standing trial in September.

The whole process is part of Turkey’s concerted attempt to eliminate all genuine opposition within the country’s political and public life; in particular it demonstrates the regime’s intransigence towards all attempts to achieve Kurdish rights through the legitimate democratic process and as such should be a cause for alarm among human rights defenders everywhere. At present, Turkey is intent on pursuing its critics mercilessly by stepping up the repression; it is time to raise the level of the campaign to make it change course.

The event is sponsored by Peace in Kurdistan Campaign, Haldane Society of Socialist Lawyers, Bar Human Rights Committee and Campaign Against Criminalising Communities (CAMPACC)

All welcome.  For further information contact

Peace in Kurdistan Campaign: estella24@tiscali.co.uk Tel 020 7586 5892 www.peaceinkurdistancampaign.wordpress.com