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 Mass KCK trial in Turkey over links to Kurdish PKK rebels

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Mass KCK trial in Turkey over links to Kurdish PKK rebels  2.7.2012  
By staff writers

Police blocked people wanting to attend the hearing. The Kurds demanded Turkey's recognition of the Kurds' identity in its constitution and of their language as a native language along with Turkish in the country's Kurdish areas, the party also demanded an end to ethnic discrimination in Turkish laws and constitution against Kurds, ranting them full political freedoms. Photo: ANF See Related Links
Turkey: 205 on trial for alleged links to Kurdish rebels

July 2
, 2012

ISTANBUL, — A mass trial opened in Turkey on Monday of over 200 people accused of links with outlawed Kurdish rebels, part of a wider crackdown against what Ankara considers "terrorists" and their supporters.

In all, 205 suspects -- many of whom remain at large -- are on trial accused of links with the Union of Kurdistan Communities (KCK), which the authorities say is the urban wing of the outlawed Kurdistan Workers Party (PKK), the Anatolia news agency reported.

Prosecutors accuse the defendants, who include intellectuals, journalists and academics, of "aiding terrorism" and distributing "separatist propaganda," according to Anatolia.

A total of 140 suspects in the case have been arrested.

The defendants include members of Turkey's main Kurdish political organisation, the Peace and Democracy Party (BDP), as well as prominent academic Busra Ersanli and publisher Ragip Zarakolu.

"What they actually want to try here today is democratic politics," charged BDP vice-chair Gulten Kisanak, calling for a political solution to the problems of Turkey's large Kurdish minority.

"The issue of democracy, the Kurdish problem cannot be solved in courtrooms," she added.

Tensions ran high at the Istanbul court when many of the defendants insisted on speaking Kurdish, their native language.

"They speak Kurdish because they are Kurds. You can not pretend that a language spoken by 20 million people is unknown," defence lawyer Mehmet Emin Aktar said, Anatolia reported.

The trial is part of a wider crackdown against the outlawed Kurdish rebels and their supporters that began in 2009.

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 to over 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.

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.

On May 8, 2012, 30 people are taken into custody in 6 provinces within the scope of Kurdistan Democratic Confederation (KCK) operations. Teams of the Anti-Terrorism Branch busted houses in Urfa, İstanbul, Muş, Ankara, Diyarbakır, Eskişehir, "Siyaset Akademisi (Politics Academy)" and Kurdish KURDİ-DER association (Kurdish Language Research and Development Association) of The Peace and Democracy Party (BDP).

May 28, 2012, over 35 people detained in Urfa and Diyarbakir on Monday , many BDP executives are among the people taken into custody. New wave of searches and detentions on May 28 in Urfa and Diyarbakir where a total of 35 people, included many BDP executives, have been taken into custody.

June 10, 2012 a Kurdish mayor Bekir Kaya, the mayor of the Kurdish city of Van in southeastern Turkey, and two provincial leaders in the pro-Kurdish Peace and Democracy Party (BDP) were remanded in custody pending trial, CNN Turk said.

Ankara says the KCK wants to replace Turkish government institutions in the southeastern Anatolia region, which is majority Kurd, with its own political structures.

The number of Kurds living in Turkey is disputed, but is believed to be about 12 million.

Reporters Without Borders criticised the trial, saying it reflected the faults in the Turkish judicial system.

"Using guilt by association and interpreting the law in the most repressive manner possible, the justice system is equating outspoken intellectuals with armed terrorists," it said in a statement.

Monday's trial opened as the army said its warplanes had hit three locations in northern Iraq, believed to be Kurdish rebel hideouts, the third raid since a rebel attack on an army outpost last month killed eight Turkish soldiers.

However, the government has been easing its stance on rights for the Kurdish community in Turkey, with Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdogan saying last month that the Kurdish language would be taught as elective course in public schools.

The PKK has several times proposed peaceful solutions regarding Kurdish problem, Turkey has always refused saying that it will not negotiate with “terrorists”.

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 and 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 | CNN | ANF | | Agencies

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