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 Fifty people stand KCK-trial in Turkey over links to Kurdish PKK rebels

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Fifty people stand KCK-trial in Turkey over links to Kurdish PKK rebels  16.7.2012  
By staff writers

Turkish security officers stand under posters of detained Kurdish politicians with writing in Turkish that reads "historical trial begins". Photo: AP
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July 16, 2012

ISTANBUL, — Fifty people, almost all lawyers, went on trial in Turkey on Monday for alleged links with outlawed Kurdish rebels as part of a wider crackdown on the group, AFP reported.

The trial began in an Istanbul court and the suspects include 46 lawyers, three law firm employees and one journalist, the Anatolia news agency said.

They are accused of links with the Union of Kurdistan Communities (KCK), an organization deemed by the authorities as the urban wing of the outlawed Kurdistan Workers' Party (PKK), Anatolia said.

Prosecutors accuse the defendants of liaising between the PKK and the organization's imprisoned leader Abdullah Ocalan.

The suspects "have intentionally undertaken a mission of setting the organization's (PKK) strategy ... and ordering its members for action," the indictment said.

Seven suspects each face up to 22.5 years in prison on charges of "forming and running an armed organization.”

The remainder face up to 15 year sentences on charges of "membership in an armed organization.”

International rights and lawyers' groups have expressed "concern" in a joint declaration Friday over the trial, also noting that similar cases were ongoing or pending against other key Kurdish or pro-Kurdish civil society actors.

The wider crackdown against the outlawed Kurdish rebels and their supporters began in 2009.

Ankara says the KCK wants to replace Turkish government institutions in the Kurdish majority southeastern Anatolia with its own political structures.

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 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.

On 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.

On July 2, 2012, a mass trial opened in Turkey on Monday of 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), part of a wider crackdown against what Ankara considers "terrorists" and their supporters.

On July 13, 2012, an Istanbul court freed 16 suspects who are accused of ties with outlawed Kurdish rebels and had been in preventive custody for months, the state-run Anatolia agency said. Among the 16 was Prof. Busra Ersanli, a prominent political scientist at Marmara University, against whom the prosecution has requested a sentence of 15 years in jail for belonging to a "terrorist organisation."

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.

But now its aim is the creation an autonomous 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.

The PKK wants constitutional recognition for the Kurds, regional self-governance and Kurdish-language education in schools.

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 | ANF | DPA | Agencies

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