Saturday, 20 June 2009
On 18 June 2009, the High Trubinal Court ruled that the police who shot Ugur from his back together with his father have acted in self defense. How is it acting in self defense, let alone being justifiable by any means, to shoot a child from behind at close range with 13 bullets? What kind of "law" would allow and tolerate such abomination?
Think again... Is PKK really a terrorist organization? Don't you think the real terrorist is the Turkish state that shoots Kurdish children from behind, breaks their arms, smashes their skulls with butt of a weapon, tries and imprisons them as adults, AND sees such abomination justifiable?
The Turkish state is determined that it will either assimilate Kurdish children or annihilate them.
I have a question for those people who insist the PKK should lay down arms unconditionally. Are they willing to protect these children if the Kurdish defence forces lay down their arms? I didn't think so.
Friday, 19 June 2009
The AKPasha Inc (which is having yet another crisis these says) is keeping on detaining key DTP figures. They are going to have to build more prisons because the ranks are being filled as we speak. Each time pashas and mullahs have a problem in their marriage, they attack Kurds. I say it's enough, Kurds shouldn't save the day for these thugs anymore.
On 14 April, members of the pro-Kurdish Democratic Society Party (DTP) were taken into custody. Since then, around 500 party members have been taken into custody and 267 have been arrested.
During operations in the provinces of Diyarbakır, Şırnak, Bitlis, Batman and Mardin, all in the southeast of Turkey on 17 June, 19 people were taken into police custody. Among them are municipal officials and academics.
Wednesday, 10 June 2009
[...]My previous post contained the following in it:
The judges Menderes Yılmaz, Selahaddin Menteş and Ömer Adil Küçük hand down the sentences. Three children are convicted of "taking part in activities in the name of a terrorist organisation without being members of the organisation." This means they receive a sentence "as if" they were members: 6 years 11 months. Another child is also accused of spreading organisational propaganda and violating the law on demonstrations, leading to a sentence of 7 years and 5 months. The two children tried without detention receive a 10-month sentence each for violating the law on demonstrations. This is converted into a fine.
"Terrorism" and children
According to Article 250 of the Criminal Procedure Code, ratified in 2004, the State Security Courts were abolished and replaced by heavy penal courts with special authorities. These courts would deal with certain crimes. When the Anti-Terrorism Law was amended in June 2006, these special courts were given the authority to try children aged over 15 for crimes defined by this law.
An amendment to Article 13 of the Anti-Terrorism Law meant that sentences handed down to children aged over 15 could not be converted into other punishments or suspended. This meant that the Anti-Terrorism Law and the Criminal Procedure Code started treating children over 15 years old not as children, but allowing their trial and punishment just like adults.
When, after Öcalan's capture in 1999, fighting stopped, the ruling Justice and Development Party (AKP), which came to power in 2002, seemed to offer a solution to the Kurdish question with a series of reforms aimed at attaining membership in the European Union through democraticisation. However, by 2006, the government seemed to have taken steps backwards even from those limited reforms. It had become clear that it would not make any efforts in the recognition of the Kurdish question or in a discussion of a solution with Kurds.
The changes in the Anti-Terrorism Law came after events in Diyarbakır on 28 March 2006, when the police started shooting into a crowd of thousands of people in a funeral procession for four PKK members. Within five days, ten people died, five of them children. Hundreds of people were taken into custody.
When MPs discussed allowing the trial of 15 to 18-year-olds as adults, they assumed that they could prevent them from joining the PKK. The expected reforms from the government did not happen, and it was clear that it would turn to violence, not sparing children.
Hundreds of children detained, tried, convicted
And this is what happened. Answering the motion of DTP MP Selahattin Demirtaş, Minister of Justice Mehmet Ali Şahin (who left office on 1 May) told parliament that 13 children aged 12-15 and 724 children aged 15-18 had been put on trial under the Anti-Terrorism Law in 2006 and 2007. 319 of them were being tried in Diyarbakır courts. A total of 120 children were convicted under this law in the two years, 88 of them in Diyarbakır.
During the same period, 422 children were put on trial for "founding an organisation with the aim of committing crimes", following Article 220 of the Turkish Penal Code. 107 of these children were in Diyarbakır. In two cases in Diyarbakır, 20 children were convicted. 413 more children, 268 of them in Diyarbakır, were put on trial under Article 314 of the Turkish Penal Code, for "membership in an armed organisation." 34 chidren, 28 of them in Diyarbakır, were convicted. Hundreds of children were handed down punishments with probation, a few were also acquitted.
The number of children affected grew in 2008 and 2009. For instance, a child was crushed by a police tank in Cizre in February 2008 and died. His friends, who took part in his funeral, were arrested. Children took part in Newroz celebrations, demonstrations to mark the birthday of Öcalan, funerals of PKK members or other protests concerning the Kurdish question; the police did not hesitate to act violently and to take them into custody.
After Adana, Diyarbakır...
According to the Adana branch of the Human Rights Association (İHD), 33 children have received a total of 129 years imprisonment for "membership in a terrorist organisation" in the first three months of this year. Now the Diyarbakır court has started handing down sentences. Lawyers fear that if the Supreme Court of Appeals does not take a different stance and ratifies the decrees, hundreds of children will spend a long time in prison.
Meanwhile, rights activists lobbying for children's rights have intensified. Many journalists have reacted to the issue in the media. The Call for Justice for Children gathered around 900 signatures in Istanbul, and the Justice for Children Initiative has united rights activists in Ankara, Izmir and Diyarbakır and the families of the children concerned. They continue to monitor cases and struggle for change.
During a visit of these activists to parliament in February, MPs from the AKP and the opposition Republican People's Party (CHP) promised to bring up necessary legal changes after the local elections. However, judging by the police operation against the DTP and statements by ministers and the Prime Minister, it seems that the attitude of the government towards the Kurdish question has not changed since the local elections, if it has not become more hardened. Today's 23 April, the "Festival of National Sovereignty and Children" shows those Kurdish children who dare go into the streets, the meaning of "National Sovereignty."
"I became more aware," says the 16-year-old boy, who asked not to be named because of his upcoming court case, where he could face seven years in prison if convicted.The Prime Minister recently announced that they may lift the ban on speaking in Kurdish in the prisons. So it seems education in mother tongue will be possible in the prison.
Tuesday, 2 June 2009
In Turkey, hundreds of minors imprisoned on 'terrorism' chargesDo I really need to add anything?!
The 2006 antiterror law makes it a crime to take part in demonstrations supporting the outlawed Kurdistan Workers' Party (PKK).
By Yigal Schleifer | Correspondent of The Christian Science Monitor
Diyarbakir, Turkey - Few would peg Hebun Akkaya, a 17-year-old with a high, nasal voice and polite manner, as a criminal convicted of supporting a terrorist organization.
But the criminal court here in Diyarbakir did. The crime: protesting the prison conditions of Abdullah Ocalan, the jailed head of the outlawed Kurdistan Workers' Party (PKK). Designated a terrorist organization by the European Union and United States, the PKK enjoys grass-roots support among citizens here in Turkey's predominately Kurdish southeast.
"I never thought I could go to prison for throwing a stone," says Hebun, who spent 10 months in an adult prison awaiting his initial trial. "I become really angry when I think that just for throwing a stone they were asking to put me away for 28 years. It's unjust." Now out on bail pending an appeal, he faces an amended sentence of seven years.
Hebun is one of hundreds of minors, some as young as 13, who have been arrested and jailed in Turkey over the past few years under strict new antiterrorism laws that allow for juveniles to be tried as adults and even be accused of "committing crimes in the name of a terrorist organization" for participating in demonstrations. Critics and rights defenders say the amended antiterrorism laws are deeply flawed and also violate international conventions on the detention of children.
"There is a lack of proportionality between the crime and the sentence," says Emma Sinclair-Webb, Turkey researcher for the New York-based watchdog group Human Rights Watch. "Counting what these children do, such as throwing stones or damaging property, as a terrorism offense is a problem."
"You are subject to a court system that doesn't see you as a child," adds Ms. Sinclair-Webb.
Over 1,500 minors prosecuted under antiterror law
As part of its European Union membership drive, Turkey has updated its penal code to more closely reflect European and international standards. But observers say the country took a step backward with a 2006 amendment to the country's antiterror law that made it possible to try minors between the ages of 15 and 18 as adults when the crime is deemed to involve terrorism.
That same year, Turkey's Supreme Court of Appeals ruled that children taking part in demonstrations supported by the PKK could be charged with aiding or acting in the name of the organization.
According to Turkish officials, 1,572 minors were prosecuted under the antiterror law and 174 of them were convicted during 2006 and 2007. Hundreds more court cases against minors have been launched since then.
"The court's decision is very dangerous for the rule of law and for individual freedoms," says Tahir Elci, a Diyarbakir lawyer who is defending several of the jailed children. "According to the high court's decision, prosecutors don't need evidence to claim that somebody committed crimes on behalf of the PKK. Just participating in a demonstration is evidence enough.
"We accept that these kids may have thrown stones, but they didn't do it in the name of the PKK," he adds. "They are children."
Turkish policy conflicts with UN, EU
The 1989 United Nations Convention on the Rights of the Child deals specifically with the issue of the arrest and imprisonment of minors. According to the convention, which Turkey has signed on to, "The arrest, detention, or imprisonment of a child shall be in conformity with the law and shall be used only as a measure of last resort and for the shortest appropriate period of time."
A European Union official in Ankara says the arrest and imprisonment of minors is a cause for "concern."
The official, who asked not to be named because of the sensitivity of the issue, added, "They are not being treated as juveniles, and that is against international conventions. They are being treated as terrorists, and they are not even aware of what they have done."
Brussels has previously expressed concern about what it sees as deficiencies in Turkey's juvenile court system. An EU report last fall on Turkey's progress as a candidate country stated, "Despite some progress in the juvenile justice system, the number of child courts is still inadequate, there is a lack of social workers in these courts and their workload is heavy."
In Adana, for example, the lack of juvenile justice facilities has meant that even children under the age of 15, who by law were supposed to be tried in juvenile court, ended up having their court cases heard in an adult court.
For one boy, jail prompted 'awakening' to PKK views
Turkish prosecutors have defended the heavy sentences given to the children arrested in protests, saying they are a response to an effort by the PKK to mobilize Kurdish youth against the state.
But Sinclair-Webb, of Human Rights Watch, says that sending children off to jail could backfire.
"It's a very hardening process for children and psychologically very damaging," she says. "If you go in as a child who was just having a lark throwing some stones, you may come out as a full-fledged militant.
"If you are trying to win hearts and minds and get people to not join the PKK, this is not the way to do it," she adds.
One teenager, imprisoned for 13 months after participating in a demonstration and now out on bail while he awaits trial, says he was "changed" by his experience in jail.
"I became more aware," says the 16-year-old boy, who asked not to be named because of his upcoming court case, where he could face seven years in prison if convicted.
"The things I learned in prison about myself, about the Kurds, about the PKK, it was like an awakening."