Abuse of process by Turkish government in extradition case ‘a serious indictment of the Turkish state’, says barrister

1 May 2014

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Deniz Akgul, a British citizen originally from North Kurdistan, recently had an extradition request dismissed after the Westminster Magistrates Court found that the government of Turkey had deliberately misled British courts and abused the extradition process.

In a remarkable ruling, the district judge Shenagh Bayne dismissed Turkey’s request to extradite Mr Akgul, who was accused of providing ‘material support’ to the Kurdistan Workers’ Party (PKK) in the form of food, books and cameras under Article 220/7 of the Turkish Penal Code. In her final judgement, the judge not only concluded that the Turkish government abused the extradition process, but she also accepted evidence that Mr Akgul had been previously tortured by Turkish authorities and would face a real risk of further ill-treatment were he to be returned to Turkey.

His barrister, Ben Cooper, has defended some of the most complex extradition cases and won numerous successes on human rights grounds. He has defended ETA suspects and IRA suspects, as well Babar Ahmed and others accused of terrorism by the US. Peace in Kurdistan Campaign spoke with him to find out more about the case and why the ruling is so important.

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ECtHR rejects Ocalan’s case against Turkey

The International Initiative has released a statement regarding the European Court of Human Rights’ recent judgement on Ocalan vs. Turkey case. Read it here:

 

Öcalan vs. Turkey decision: A bad day for human rights in Europe

Statement of International Initiative on the ECtHR decision in Öcalan vs. Turkey (No. 2)

 

The European Court of Human Rights today published its chamber decision in a set of applications by Abdullah Öcalan against Turkey.

The complaints referred, among others, to the isolation conditions on Imrali Island, the aggravated life sentence with no possibility of parole, the overhearing of all consultations with his lawyers and then threat to his life posed by the poisonous substances found in his hair. In the view of Öcalan and his lawyers, these and other violations constitute violations of articles 2, 3, 5, 6, 7, 8, 13 and 14 of the European Convention on Human Rights.

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Amnesty International releases Human Rights Reports 2013

Amnesty International has released its report for 2013. The global update is available to read on their website, and their report on the state of human rights in Turkey can be found here.

The introduction to this years report reads:

“I NEVER IMAGINED THAT…TELLING THE TRUTH ABOUT WHAT WAS HAPPENING COULD MEAN WALKING THE LINE BETWEEN LIFE AND DEATH… MANY TIMES I’VE FELT AS THOUGH FEAR HAS SOAKED THROUGH TO MY BONES, BUT THE FEELING OF RESPONSIBILITY IS STRONGER”

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Report from the lastest KCK trial of Kurdish lawyers

As part of Peace in Kurdistan’s continuing monitoring of the ongoing KCK Trials in Turkey, solicitor Tony Fisher and barrister Melanie Gingell have returned from Istanbul where they observed the latest hearing of a mass trial of 46 Kurdish lawyers. Tony Fisher, a member of the Law Society’s Human Rights Committee, has written the following report about the hearing on 3 January, which includes a summary of the proceedings and a commentary on the highly politicised nature of the trial. The report is also available for download.

KCK TRIAL OF KURDISH LAWYERS – ISTANBUL 3rd January 2013

Background

This is a further report on the trial of 46 Kurdish lawyers and other professionals on alleged terrorist offences arising out of their position as representatives of the PKK leader Abdullah Ocalan. The trial was adjourned from November 2012 to 3rd January 2013 and resumed on the morning of 3rd January at Silivri court. This report should be read in conjunction with my earlier report dated 8th November 2012.
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EUTCC resolution calls for restart of direct negotiations

The EU Turkey Civic Commission (EUTCC) held its 9th International Conference last week In Brussels, with politicians, academics, NGO workers and political activists from Kurdistan, Europe and across the world gathering for two days of discussion. The final resolution, which is reproduced below in full, reflected the main focus of the conference this year by calling for direct negotiations to resume between the Turkish government and the PKK. This echoes the call made made Nobel Peace Prize Laureate Archbishop Despond Tutu at the recent launch of the International Peace Initiative (IPI). A special resolution was also passed calling for the release of Kurdish politician Adem Uzun from French custody, which is also below.

Prominent MP and Rafto Prize Laureate Ms Leyla Zana opened the conference, and a copy of her speech in English is opening speech (pdf). Also available is Dutch academic Joost Jongerden’s conference paper entitled Rethinking Politics and Democracy in the Middle East (pdf).

FINAL RESOLUTION OF THE 9TH INTERNATIONAL EUTCC CONFERENCE, BRUSSELSTHE KURDISH QUESTION IN TURKEY: TIME TO RENEW THE DIALOGUE AND RESUME DIRECT NEGOTIATIONS

The 9th Annual EUTCC International Conference met on 5-6 December 2012 at the European Parliament in Brussels. All of the presentations elaborated on the findings of the European Commission’s most recent (2012) Progress Report on Turkey’s EU accession process that unfortunately: “The Kurdish issue and . . . the 2009 democratic opening aimed at addressing amongst others the Kurdish issue were not followed through. . . .  Overall, there was no progress towards a solution as regards the Kurdish issue.” Continue reading “EUTCC resolution calls for restart of direct negotiations”

The Kurds and Human Rights

David Morgan asks what the Kurdish people have to celebrate on International Human Rights’ Day 2012.

The Kurds constitute one of the world’s largest populations without a nation state of their own. This great injustice is the root cause of the abuses and discrimination to which Kurds are still subjected to at the present day.  This occurs despite the fact that the Kurds are one of the oldest peoples of the Middle East and can trace their lineage back thousands of years; the first mention of the existence of Kurds is traced to reference to ‘Karduchoi’ made by the classical Greek historian Xenophon in The Expedition of Cyrus.

Today, the actual size of the Kurdish population is very hard to establish because of the difficult circumstances in which the Kurds find themselves, but the number is usually estimated at approximately 40 million. The majority of the communities of Kurds are distributed unevenly between the four states of Turkey, Iraq, Iran and Syria. The borders of these contemporary states only came into being following the First World War with the collapse of the Ottoman Empire and the reshaping of the region by the imperial powers. Britain, France and the US share much of the responsibility for the denial of social, cultural, political and citizenship rights to the Kurds and which is still the condition of existence for the majority of Kurds today. Continue reading “The Kurds and Human Rights”

Behind the Kurdish Hunger Strike in Turkey

Journalist Jake Hess has written this article for the Middle East Research and Information Project on the on going hunger strikes and their political context:

To hear Mazlum Tekdağ’s story is enough to understand why 700 Kurdish political prisoners have gone on hunger strike in Turkey. His father was murdered by the state in front of his Diyarbakır pastry shop in 1993, when Mazlum was just nine years old. His uncle Ali was kidnapped by an army-backed death squad known as JİTEM (the acronym for the Turkish phrase translating, roughly, as Gendarmerie Intelligence and Anti-Terror Unit) two years later. Mazlum never saw his uncle again, but a former JİTEM agent later claimed they tortured him for six months before killing him and burning his body by the side of a road in the Silvan district of Diyarbakır.

Such experiences have moved thousands of Kurds in Turkey to join the armed rebellion of the Kurdistan Workers’ Party or PKK, which has been outlawed since its inception. But Mazlum, along with thousands of others, chose to fight for his people’s rights through the non-violent means of pro-Kurdish political parties, a succession of which have been allowed to operate by the Turkish state before then being shut down. He was first arrested in 2001, when he was 17. Now 28, Mazlum has been in jail for three and a half years, though he has not been convicted of a crime. His trial is deadlocked because Turkish courts refuse to let him or his fellow political prisoners offer their legal defenses in their native Kurdish language. All of them speak fluent Turkish; they are making a political point. Continue reading “Behind the Kurdish Hunger Strike in Turkey”

2,000 march in support of Kurdish hunger strikers

By Paul Burnham

On Sunday, 11th November, more than 2,000 Kurds marched five miles across North London in solidarity with the Kurdish hunger strikes in Turkish prisons, which have reached their 61st day. The hunger strikes are reaching a critical stage, and some hunger strikers may be near death.

The 680 hunger strikers include elected representatives who have been jailed under the repressive policies of Turkish Prime minister, Recep Tayyip Erdoğan. They are demanding Kurdish language rights, and the end of the isolation in jail of Abdullah Öcalan, leader of the Kurdish Workers’ Party (PKK), to help to negotiate a political settlement to the Kurdish Question. Other Kurds have joined the strike by refusing food in solidarity, including MPs belonging to the pro-Kurdish BDP (peace and democracy) party. Continue reading “2,000 march in support of Kurdish hunger strikers”

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”

Appeal to delegates at the TUC Congress 2012

 

Support Kurdish and Turkish Trade Unionists

Resisting Repression in Turkey

The political situation inside Turkey is rapidly deteriorating with an alarming increase in repression of opposition activists, including trade unionists, and the increasing militarisation of the State’s conflict with the Kurds. Turkish leaders feel that they have the green light from their NATO allies to use increasingly savage repression against their own people who are fighting for basic civil and political rights.

While the bloody conflict in raging across the border in Syria, where Turkey is playing an overt role in training and providing logistical support for Syrian rebels, the violence and repression within Turkey itself is completely ignored. Continue reading “Appeal to delegates at the TUC Congress 2012”