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 Turkey's KCK trial against 152 high profile Kurdish politicians resumed

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Turkey's KCK trial against 152 high profile Kurdish politicians resumed  9.4.2012  
By staff writers

152 high profile Kurdish politicians and rights defenders will appear at court for the first time on 18 October, 2010. Photo: UKS
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The 42nd hearing of the trial against 152 Kurdish politicians has begun at Diyarbakir 6th High Criminal Court.

April 9
, 2012

DIYARBAKIR, The Kurdish region of Turkey, — 152 prominent Kurdish politicians including deputies and mayors, among whom 99 are under arrest, are accused of “being managers” and “members of an organization” of Kurdish Communities Union (KCK), the alleged urban wing of the outlawed Kurdistan Workers’ Party (PKK).

The trial which is attended by a large number of defendant lawyers is also monitored by representatives of Swedish Embassy, Swiss Embassy, Delegation of the European Union to Turkey, Human Rights Joint Platform (IHOP) and Swedish Union of Lawyers Without Borders. The courthouse has been surrounded by police blockade because of the trial.

In a series of police operations beginning on 14 April 2009 and referred to in the press as the "KCK operations", 151 people were detained on the basis of alleged links to illegal organizations. These people included lawyers, mayors, politicians, trade unionists, and human rights activists, and were recently brought to trial together in Diyarbakir, Turkey.

As the KCK is alleged to be the civil/political wing of the outlawed group and is, therefore, also an illegal organization. Members of the pro- Kurdish Peace and Democracy Party (BDP) have been accused of being members of these illegal organizations. Only 15 days after the party's significant gain in the March 2009 local elections, where it won 50 municipalities, mass raids were carried out at the homes, businesses and offices of mayors, party activists, human rights advisors, lawyers and many others, pursuant to the KCK operations.

The KCK-trial began on October 18, 2010 when a Turkish court began the trial of 152 high profile Kurdish politicians and rights defenders. By the time the trial began many of the defendants had been in custody for a period of 18 months. Much of the evidence had apparently been gathered from wiretapping and phone bugging, and there was a lack of clarity regarding the exact charges, and the basis for such charges, against each defendant.

The trial is significant for the individual defendants, with each facing possible jail sentences of 15 years-to-life if found guilty. Further, the timing of the arrests has led many observers to question the state of democracy in Turkey. The number of defendants, their prolonged detention, the questionable means of collecting evidence, as well as the Court's attitude towards the use of the Kurdish language in the trial, has fanned fears that the accusations are politically motivated rather than based on violations of the law. Therefore, the trial is of a wider significance in terms of the implications it raises regarding democracy in Turkey and the state's attitude towards a political resolution of the Kurdish question.

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.

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.

In March 2012 alone over 1,300 people have been detained. According to figures compiled by ANF news agency, at least 1,366 people were taken into custody within the scope of so-called KCK operations. KCK (Kurdistan Communities Union) the alleged urban wing of the outlawed Kurdistan Workers’ Party (PKK). Among them hundreds were sent to prison in Turkey within the last one month March 2012.

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: | AFP | Reuters | | Agencies

Copyright © 2012


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