The Britain Peace Council has released a statement on the latest wave of arbitrary arrests of lawyers in Turkey:


At a time when Turkey is in desperate need of conciliatory talks with the representatives of its Kurdish people it has once again chosen to defy any means of a democratic and peaceful resolution by targeting and detaining 70 defence lawyers as part of its KCK operations; a union of civil society organisations.  

Just last month we saw the arrest and detention of publisher Ragib Zarakolu and Professor Busra Ersanli; a prominent peace activist and member of the Peace and Democracy Party’s (BDP) constitutional reform commission.

Whilst this is a major blow to the heart of any democracy and democratic mechanism it leads to the conclusion that anyone in Turkey who speaks favourably for a peaceful resolution of the Kurdish question is at risk.

One of the cornerstones of any democracy is freedom from arbitrary arrest and detention. In its latest spate of arrests Turkey has not only violated this very requirement of a democratic society but has arrested those very people who defend and advocate this right. Whilst this irony is damaging for Turkey’s image as a regional democracy it is designed to signal a strong message to anyone who opposes its current AKP government, those who speak out on their behalf and now, lawyers who defend those whom use no more than their democratic right to oppose the government and its approach to the Kurdish people and the Kurdish question.

Indeed, it goes without saying that a majority of the lawyers arrested today are those who have conduct of the defence case of Abdullah Ocalan, the leader of the PKK (Kurdistan Workers Party) and others charged in the main KCK case, whom were arrested as long ago as 2009 consisting of peace activists, politicians, intellectuals, members of civil society organisations and lawyers.

The raids that were carried out simultaneously in 16 provinces, including İstanbul, Şanlıurfa, İzmir, Bursa, Muş, Van, Batman, Kars, Denizli and Diyarbakır were historical in nature as such a flagrant attack on the right to an independent legal defence system has never been recorded in Turkish history. Even during the darkest days of Turkey’s 1982 coupe this level of intimidation, and attack on civil society’s right to oppose the government, freedom of thought and speech has never corresponded to the current situation.

Any peaceful resolution of the Kurdish question will require mutual confidence on both sides. The mass arrest of lawyers and the continuation of this arbitrary wave of arrests under the premise of KCK operations cast doubt on any such intentions and therefore jeopardises any attempts at peace talks.   We call for an immediate end to this arbitrary practice and for peace talks to be reinitiated.

*Britain Peace Council (Turkey) Britanya Baris Meclisi

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