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 Turkish court agrees to try Kurdish KCK-PKK case

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Turkish court agrees to try Kurdish KCK-PKK case  4.4.2012  
By staff writers

KCK-trial, on October 18, 2010 a Turkish court began the trial of 152 high profile Kurdish politicians and rights defenders, accused of links with the Union of Kurdistan Communities (KCK) an urban wing of the outlawed separatist Kurdish PKK rebels. See Related Links
Critics accuse Turkey of flouting freedom of speech

April 4, 2012

ISTANBUL, —  A Turkish court on Tuesday agreed to try 193 people accused of having links with Kurdish militants in a high profile case that has seen Ankara's attitude towards freedom of speech criticised internationally.

The defendants stand accused of maintaining links with the Union of Kurdistan Communities (KCK) which is allegedly the urban wing of the banned Kurdistan Workers' Party (PKK).

The case is one of several that has seen Prime Minister Tayyip Erdogan's government's record on freedom of speech come under scrutiny. Some 100 journalists are currently in jail on various charges linked to their writings.

State prosecutors have accused the defendants of aiding and abetting "terrorism", but their supporters have alleged the suspects - who include politicians, academics and journalists - are being persecuted for non-violent freedom of expression.

The court's decision means a hearing date will now be set and that the trial will shortly get underway.

The investigation began late last year with the arrests of Marmara University Professor Busra Ersanli, publisher Ragip Zarakolu, several journalists and scores of politicians.

Zarakolu and Ersanli's November arrests sparked an international outcry. Zarakolu, held in a high-security prison.

On February 4, 2012, members from the Swedish Parliament nominate imprisoned Turkish publisher and human rights defender Ragıp Zarakolu who is in jail for KCK links for the Nobel Peace.

Istanbul prosecutor Adnan Cimen charged Ersanli with "leading a terrorist organisation," seeking 22.5 years in prison for her. Zarakolu was charged with "aiding a terrorist organisation," a crime that carries a jail sentence of 15 years.

The indictment also named Murat Karayilan, the PKK's field commander based in Iraqi Kurdistan region, as the head of the KCK and the acting commander of PKK.

Most of the 147 defendants are already behind bars.


The International Publishers' Association (IPA) called for the immediate release of Zarakolu "and all the others who are in prison solely for having exercised their right to non-violent freedom of expression."

"I cannot believe this man (Zarakolu), a democrat, is being treated as a terrorist," Bjorn Smith-Simonsen, chairman of the International Publishers' Association's (IPA) Freedom to Publish committee, told Reuters. "IPA continues to be seriously concerned that the imprisonment of Zarakolu is in glaring violation of Turkey's international human rights obligation."

The indictment also claimed that Ersanli ran a training course, called the Political Academy, for parliament's pro-Kurdish Peace and Democracy Party, and that its contents were heavily influenced by the PKK and the KCK.

Helene Flautre, a French member of the European Parliament and the chairwoman of the EU-Turkey Joint Parliamentary Commission, visited Ersanli in prison in December and voiced concerns about Turkey's anti-terror laws and freedom of speech.

Around 150 politicians and activists are already on trial in another KCK case in the southeastern Kurdish city of Diyarbakir in Turkey Kurdistan region. They are accused of belonging to an armed "terrorist" group.

According to figures compiled by ANF news agency, at least 1,366 people were taken into custody and among them hundreds were sent to prison in Turkey within the last one month March 2012.

Union of Kurdistan Communities or Kurdish Communities Union (KCK), which the PKK is alleged to have established with the aim of creating its own political system in the mainly Kurdish southeast of Turkey.

The KCK is a clandestine group suspected of being the political wing of the armed Kurdistan Workers Party (PKK). Authorities accuse the KCK of wanting to promote insurrection in Turkey's Kurdish regions.

Since 2009, some 700 people have been arrested over alleged links to the KCK, according to government figures. Kurdish media puts the figure at around 3,500.

The KCK-trial began on October 18, 2010 when 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.

Over 7748 people were taken into custody and over 3895 persons were arrested in the scope of KCK operations during the past nine months, the pro-Kurdish Peace and Democracy Party announced. Dozens of BDP executives and employees are still in prison.

At least 567 people were detained by police from 10 December 2011 to 3 January 2012. Among the detainees, including mayors, students, children, human rights activists and union members, over 350 were remanded in custody and sent to prison.

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. 

Sources: Reuters | | AFP | AP | Agencies

Copyright © 2012


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