The Hopa Prisoners’ Solidarity Committee demands freedoms for the peaceful campaigners arrested while protesting against the building of a hydro-electrical dam in Hopa:
URGENT CALL OF SOLIDARITY FOR THE “HOPA” PRISONERS IN TURKEY
STOP CRIMINALIZING PEOPLE WHO DEFEND LIFE WE DEMAND FREEDOM FOR HOPA PRISONERS!
The below text is prepared in order to inform the international public on the events in the process of the so-called Hopa legal case, to pull attention to the scope, meaning and possible results of this process and to contribute to the efforts of solidarity with the imprisoned life defenders.
In Turkey, people who oppose the commercialization of water and who oppose the plundering of nature by enjoying their democratic rights are in prisons for months.
Opposition against the practices of the governing Justice and Development Party (JDP-AKP) of Turkey is confronting a severe criminalization process.
A new wave of probations, arrests and intimidation is ongoing in Turkey. Indeed, at the moment, in terms of the number of the imprisoned journalists Turkey is the top country in the world list and 12.000 people who were sentenced for “offending terror crimes”, mostly for mobilizations and other actions which are actually non-violent, are held as “terror criminals” in its prisons. While the KCK arrests wave which is extended up to the point of jailing of intellectuals and academics is still ongoing, another wave of arrestments continues though under the shadow of the first one.
In Turkey peasants, activists and members of the democratic mass organisations who are struggling against the commercialization of the natural assets, mainly the water, and other people who support their struggle are being arrested under various pretexts. This new wave of arrests reached its climax during and after President Erdogan’s election campaign visit on 31st May of this year in the small Black Sea border town of Hopa, Artvin. During this visit, the police forces launched an attack over the local people of the town who were peacefully protesting the sale of Hopa-Artvin rivers to private companies for small hydro-electrical dam constructions over them, as a part of the widespread privatization-commercialization process of water resources affecting nearly 3,000 small rivers all around the country. In this police attack, a retired teacher and one of the leaders of the local opposition against commercialization of water resources, Metin Lokumcu was killed under heavy tear-gas. People who after this event protested the murder of the teacher in other provinces were arrested and legal cases were launched against them under the pretext of “terror crimes”.
In this most recent and severe example of the criminalization of the social opposition, 38 people were arrested in total and since the last days of May they are in prisons. 7 of the arrested people, including Taylan Kaya who is a member of the Executive Board of the “Sisterhood of the Rivers”, the popular organisation of the people struggling against the commercialisation of water and who is the Regional Representative of the People’s Houses organisation in the Eastern Black Sea region are still in Artvin-Arhavi jail. All of the arrested ones are held in prisons for more than 6 months without even the official indictments against them are being declared.
Another legal case on the same issue was also launched in Ankara in the first days of the last June, after the arrestment of 28 other people, who are mostly university students in their 20’s and who were exposed to heavy police violence and were tortured during the probation process. The Ankara prisoners of the Hopa case were arrested after enjoying their democratic rights in a demonstration in order to protest the murder of Metin Lokumcu and the aggressive attitude of the JDP government against the people of Hopa. In the indictment of the legal case which is launched against these 28 imprisoned people who are held in Ankara Sincan (isolation type) Prison, sentences of imprisonment for 17 to 25 years are asked for various accusations including “being a member of a terrorist organisation”. The first court hearing of this legal case will be held in Ankara Judiciary on 9th December 2011.
The Hopa case in Ankara also has the importance of showing that the judgement processes in Turkey became to act under the immediate directives of the political power in Turkey.
The accusations in the indictment of the Hopa protests in Ankara and the logic which is used by the prosecution for defining such accusations as “terror crimes” are a serious matter of concern for they mean that every kind of actions, protests and even ideas opposing the government and its implementations might be related with “terror” in the near future. In the case that these accusations really end with such court decisions, this will have the significant meaning that in Turkey, all people who participate in activities protesting the government what so ever will be potentially criminalized and will be confronted with the threat of selective and arbitrary arrests.
In the indictment of the legal case which will have its first court hearing in Ankara on 9th December, the People’s Houses, which is established 79 years ago and which is a democratic, anti-neoliberal mass organisation of the people is also being accused for “having activities manipulated by a terrorist organisation”. People’s Houses which runs for years a constant and inspiring democratic mass opposition against the policies of the JNP government for privatization-marketization of the public services; for violating the right to housing of the poor people by urban transformation projects; and for commercialization of the natural assets, is put in the target of the attacks by the JDP government. Already the JDP government launched numerous legal cases against the members and activists of the People’s Houses because of their struggles defending their basic rights to free education, health, housing and transportation. The associational status of “beneficial for public interest” of the People’s Houses which was officially denoted to it as an association in 1962 is cancelled by the decision of the JDP Cabinet on the date of 4th April 2011. President Erdogan, just after the protests during his Hopa visit, in all of his election meetings, put People’s Houses into the target of the attacks. Parallel to this, in the indictment of the Hopa legal case which will be launched in Ankara on 9th December, the democratic actions and activities of the People’s Houses, such as its protests against the Iraqi war; its campaigns against the price increases as obstacles in front of the people’s right to transportation and its appeal to protest the murder of Metin Lokumcu are accepted as pretexts for the crime of “having activities manipulated by a terrorist organisation”. We urge you to show your solidarity with Hopa case prisoners who are confronted with 17 to 25 years of imprisonment in the legal case whose first court hearing will be on 9th December in Ankara, for they defended the right to life of the retired teacher Metin Lokumcu; for they opposed the commercialization of the natural assets and for the used their most basic democratic right to express one self .
We urge all to protest the Turkish government for these unlawful and unfair practices; to participate in the court hearing on 9th December 2011 at 10.00 o’clock in the Ankara Judiciary and to support the mass protest action in front of the court on the same day. Those who defend life cannot be judged. We demand freedom to Hopa case prisoners.
CONTACT PERSON ON BEHALF OF THE SOLDARITY COMMITTEE WITH THE HOPA PRISONERS:
PEOPLE’S HOUSES HEADQUARTER
Konur Sokak No:8/9 Kızılay, Ankara Telephone: 312-4192717 Fax: 312-4193207 e-mail: firstname.lastname@example.org
İSTANBUL HALKEVİ İstiklal Caddesi Orhan Adli Apaydın Sokak No: 10 Beyoğlu / İstanbul Telefon : 0212 245 82 65 Faks : 0212 245 70 10