Middle East Women’s Conference final resolution

Final Resolution

1. Middle East Women’s Conference

Between 31 May and 2 June, the first Middle East Women’s Conference took place in Amed (Diyarbakir). This event, organized by the Free Democratic Women Movement was titled ‘Jin – Jiyan – Azadi’ (women – life – freedom) and was dedicated to the three Kurdish women political activists who were murdered in Paris on 9 January, Sakine Cansız, Fidan Doğan and Leyla Şaylemez. For three days, 250 women from 26 Middle Eastern and North African countries discussed their experiences in the fight for liberation patriarchal power systems and shared their perspectives on the current political developments in the region.

On the second day, a statement was published in the name of the participants denouncing the police violence in Istanbul. It read; ‘Taksim Square belongs to everyone. The attacks are directed against the democratic rights of the population, like the right to protest. We support all people who fight for the natural environment and the right to breathe.’

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‘The Kurdish Question in Turkey’ – Conference Report

“On Wednesday 17 April 2013 the Law School and the ISCTSJ at Queen’s University Belfast hosted a one-day conference entitled ‘The Kurdish Question in Turkey’. The aim of this multi-disciplinary conference was to bring together legal experts, academics, politicians, journalists and grass-roots activists to ignite debate on the Kurdish question in Turkey, particularly from a human rights perspective. The ‘question’ concerns the Turkish-Kurdish conflict. A dispute concerning the rights of Kurds in Turkey, which has spanned over three decades and involved systematic violations of civil, political and socio-economic rights.
The conference dealt with three issues – ‘Democracy Deferred, the Continuing Challenges – Political Trials, Identity and Human Rights’, ‘Victimization of Kurds by the Current Turkish Law’ and ‘Constructive and Peaceful Solution to the Kurdish Question in Turkey’. Eleven speakers presented on these issues to an audience of over 80 participants. The conference, which occurred within weeks of the latest PKK ceasefire, came at a particularly propitious time, thus leading to a number of lively discussions.”

Participants included Peace in Kurdistan patron Margaret Owen OBE, distinguished lawyer from Turkey Ercan Kanar, and head of the BDP Foreign Affairs Commission Nasmi Gur – plus may more.

The report is available for download.

Also, audio-visual recordings from the conference are available at the HR Conference QUB Youtube Channel. The recordings are also gradually being uploaded to the HR Conference QUB Vimeo channel, which we hope to have completed by the end of May.

If you have any further queries you can contact Dennis Arbet Nejbir and Hannah Russell from the organising commmittee at this address queenshrconference@gmail.com.

Lawyers on Trial in Turkey, meeting report

Lawyers on Trial in Turkey: Implications for Establishing Peace and Justice

Report of the public meeting held in Parliament by David Morgan, Peace in Kurdistan Campaign

4 March 2013

In Turkey today lawyers are being locked up simply for doing their job of representing their clients. The abuse of legality has gone so far that lawyers seeking to represent imprisoned lawyers are themselves being prosecuted. At present more than 50 lawyers in Turkey are in jail, of whom the majority are former members of Kurdish leader Abdullah Ocalan’s legal team.

These and other deeply worrying facts were discussed at a briefing meeting, hosted by Lord Kennedy and chaired by solicitor advocate Ali Has, which was held in the Wilson Room, Portcullis House, Westminster, on 28 February.

The meeting was organised by Peace in Kurdistan supported by Haldane Society of Socialist Lawyers the European Lawyers for Democracy and Human Rights (ELDH) and CAMPACC and it was addressed by a distinguished panel of human rights lawyers including Michael Mansfield QC, Professor Bill Bowring and Margaret Owen OBE.

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Event: Lawyers on Trial in Turkey – Implications for Establishing Peace and Justice

Peace in Kurdistan Campaign supported by the Haldane Society of Socialist Lawyers, European Lawyers for Democracy and Human Rights (ELDH) and CAMPACC

Public Meeting

“Lawyers on Trial in Turkey: Implications for Establishing Peace and Justice”

Thursday, 28 February, 6.30-8pm

Wilson Room, Portcullis House, Westminster, SW1

IMPORTANT Please try and arrive at 6pm to make sure you leave enough time to get through security

Hosted by Siobhain McDonagh MP

Speakers: Michael Mansfield QC, President of the Haldane Society of Socialist Lawyers

Prof Bill Bowring, President of the European Lawyers for Democracy and Human Rights (ELDH)

Melanie Gingell, barrister Tooks Chambers and member of the Bar Human Rights Committee: observed hearings in Turkey on 6 November 2012 and 3 January 2013

Margaret Owen OBE, barrister and member of the Bar Human Rights Committee: observed hearings in Turkey on 16 July 2012 and 6 November 2012

Chaired by Ali Has, Solicitor Advocate

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Demirtas addresses BDP group meeting about peace talks

Co-chair of the Peace and Democracy Party (BDP) Selahattin Demirtas addressed the BDP group meeting on Tuesday with an in-depth discussion on the renewed negotiations between the Turkish state and the PKK. Below is a translated version of the full speech:

Selahattin Demirtaş, co-chair of the BDP (Peace and Democracy Party) addresses his party’s parliamentary group meeting on “the Imrali processs” on 8 January 2013

Dear friends,

Today, in our group meeting we would like to share our thoughts, suggestions and approaches to the process which has been under intense discussion for about a week now and has been dubbed ‘the Imrali process’ (i.e. negotiations with Abdullah Ocalan in the name of the Kurdish question, translator’s note) Of course, we are talking about 30 ongoing years of blood and tears with a history of almost 100 years of deep-rooted historical, social, political, cultural and economic problems. The Imrali process is not a topic that popped up today and will be gone tomorrow. At the present stage, everyone should evaluate and debate with a cool head. We should foster hope where it exists, we should criticise the weak points where they exist, everyone should sincerely debate how to bring about an honorable peace with dialogue and negotiation as well as a solution that is bloodless, weaponless and nonviolent. This is our basic intention and approach.Every suggestion and criticism that we will share with you today is rooted in this intention and approach.With us today are the constituents of the HDK (English: Peoples Democratic Congress) and the Left Green Party.

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Karayılan: Dialogue is important but there also needs to be a policy for resolution

Edited version, 9.01.12

KCK Executive Council President Murat Karayılan talked to ANF reporters Deniz Kendal and Rosida Mardin about the recent meeting with the leader of the Kurdish people, Abdullah Öcalan, on Imrali Island.  Stressing the importance of monitoring the initiative carefully, he said, “the initiative launched for dialogue is both an important and an accurate approach.”

Karayılan said that meetings have been taking place with Öcalan since November, and he continued, “of course the visit of Ahmet Turk and Ayla Akat to Imrali showed the significance of these meetings.” This is a new dimension and we are aware of its importance. However, we will find out in the coming days whether these meetings and the renewed dialogue will turn into a process that leads to a resolution of the Kurdish issue or not. The present period may be described as a consultative one, but we need more data to assess the process. The attitude of the AKP government is especially important in this regard. In terms of whether the process of dialogue will be turned into resolution process or not, the government’s attitude will be absolutely decisive.

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Turkish justice system cast into major doubt

This article was originally published in the Morning Star

by David Morgan

Grave concerns are mounting over a mass trial of lawyers in Istanbul who are being charged and tried for terrorism offences.

The 47 lawyers in the dock had represented Kurdish leader and founder of the Kurdistan Workers Party Abdullah Ocalan (pictured) who has been in jail since 1999.

Outside observers fear that the lawyers are actually being tried simply for carrying out their work as lawyers.

Evidence against them had been gathered by tapping their private meetings with Ocalan – a flagrant breach of confidentiality – and the defendants were not given full access to the prosecution case against them, impeding the preparation of their cases. Continue reading “Turkish justice system cast into major doubt”

Trials and Tribulations in Turkey

by David Morgan, Peace in Kurdistan

Turkey’s lamentable human rights record and, in particular its attempts to intimidate independent Kurdish organisations through mass show trials, was the theme of an important seminar held by Peace in Kurdistan on 18 September in Garden Court Chambers.

The briefing brought together leading legal experts, media professionals and human rights activists who had all been taking a close interest in the trials of fellow lawyers, journalists, academics and trade unionists taking place in Turkey over recent months.

The trials, which have involved the arrest of thousands of progressive and mainly Kurdish activists, and seen hundreds sent to trial, have collectively become known as the KCK trials after the Kurdistan Communities Union, an umbrella civil society association, which the Turkish state deems to be a front for terrorism.

The trials in fact amount to Turkey’s attempts to criminalise and eliminate all aspects of Kurdish legal political activity and are the state’s response to recent electoral advances made by the pro-Kurdish Peace and Democracy Party, BDP, which has been gaining strength in the largely Kurdish southeast. Continue reading “Trials and Tribulations in Turkey”

KCK trial dates, Autumn 2012

Since 2009, over 8,000 people in Turkey have been arrested as part of anti-terror operations against the KCK (Kurdistan Communities Union). The detainees include elected officials, such as BDP deputy Sebahat Tuncel, who was last week sentenced to 8 years in prison. Peace is Kurdistan has arranged for people such as Margaret Owen OBE, who observed the hearings of 36 Kurdish lawyers on trial for defending Abdullah Ocalan, to monitor these trials. We’d like to encourage individuals to follow up that work by attending the sentencing of those lawyers, which is expected to happen on 6 November.

The dates for recent and upcoming KCK hearings are as follows:

28 August: Şirnak KCK, at Diyarbakir 6. High Criminal Court 2-12/24

31 August: Izmir KCK: Trial of 34 people arrested before Newroz at Izmir High Criminal Court

5 September: KCK Aydın Trial (29 defendants including 9 arrestees) in Ozmir Continue reading “KCK trial dates, Autumn 2012”

PiK public meeting: “Mass political show trials in Turkey”

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 Continue reading “PiK public meeting: “Mass political show trials in Turkey””