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 Turkey arrests 66 for suspected ties to Kurd rebels in anti-KCK operations

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Turkey arrests 66 for suspected ties to Kurd rebels in anti-KCK operations  26.11.2011  

November 26, 2011

ANKARA, — Turkey's courts in Istanbul and mainly Kurdish southeast province of Diyarbakir ordered the arrest of 66 people on Saturday for suspected links to outlawed Kurdish PKK rebels, media reports said.

Thirty-four out of 43 people who were transferred to the courthouse in Istanbul were arrested and nine were released, the Anatolia news agency said, after earlier reporting 33 arrests.

In Diyarbakir, the court ordered the arrest of 32 people for the same charges, said Anatolia.     

Photo: ANF
Those arrested are accused of having links to the Kurdistan Communities Union (KCK), which Turkey claims to be the urban wing of the outlawed Kurdistan Workers' Party (PKK).

Since 2009, some 700 people have been arrested over their alleged links to the KCK, according to government figures, although the Peace and Democracy Party (BDP) puts the figure at more than 3,500.

Five BDP parliamentarians and two prominent intellectuals -- publisher Ragip Zarakolu and academic Busra Ersanli -- are in custody on the same charges.

Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdogan said earlier this month that his government would not ease its crackdown on the KCK, which Ankara claims wants to replace Turkish government institutions in the southeastern Anatolia region with its own political structures.

According to the pro-Kurdish BDP statement, over 7,000 people taken into custody in the last seven months.

KCK-trial, on October 18, 2010 a Turkish court began the trial of 152 high profile Kurdish politicians and rights defenders, accused of being the urban wing of the outlawed separatist Kurdish PKK rebels.

A Turkish court on Nov.1 pressed separatism charges against 23 suspects, in so-called KCK-Trial, including a university professor Prof. Busra Ersanli,  a political scientist, and Ragip Zarakolu, a well-known human rights activist and director of Belge Publishing House, on suspicion of membership in a separatist Kurdish PKK rebel group, state-run television reported.

Intellectuals in Turkey have started a campaign they labelled "We are all KCK". KCK is alleged by the prosecutors to be the "urban wing" of the PKK. ANF news agency reported on Nov.3.

Amnesty International has long held concerns regarding Turkey’s anti-terrorism legislation and its application. The definition of terrorism in this law is overly broad, vague and lacks the level of legal certainty required by international human rights law. Fundamentally, it defines terrorism by its political aims rather than its tactics. Provisions criminalising membership of a terrorist organization have also led to abuses. Persons can be found guilty of membership of a terrorist organization without being a member of the organization if found to have committed a crime ‘in the name of such an organization’.

Since it was established in 1984, the PKK has been fighting the Turkish state, which still denies the constitutional existence of Kurds, to establish a Kurdish state in the south east of the country, sparking a conflict that has claimed some 45,000 lives.

But now its aim is the creation an autonomous Kurdish region and more cultural rights for ethnic Kurds who constitute the greatest minority in Turkey, numbering more than 20 million. A large Turkey's Kurdish community openly sympathise with the Kurdish PKK rebels.

PKK's demands included releasing PKK detainees, lifting the ban on education in Kurdish, paving the way for an autonomous democrat Kurdish system within Turkey, reducing pressure on the detained PKK leader Abdullah Öcalan, stopping military action against the Kurdish party and recomposing the Turkish constitution.

Turkey refuses to recognize its Kurdish population as a distinct minority. It has allowed some cultural rights such as limited broadcasts in the Kurdish language and private Kurdish language courses with the prodding of the European Union, but Kurdish politicians say the measures fall short of their expectations.

The PKK is considered as 'terrorist' organization by Ankara, U.S., the PKK continues to be on the blacklist list in EU despite court ruling which overturned a decision to place the Kurdish rebel group PKK and its political wing on the European Union's terror list. 

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