Solidarity with the Victims of All Genocides and the Forum for Stateless Nations Statement on 22 October 2011

We accuse Turkey of Crimes against Humanity
Why do you imprison writers for their thoughts and deny people freedom of expression?

1. Crimes Against Humanity.

Turkey and the ruling AKP party are currently engaged in crimes against humanity. We urge UK parliamentarians and concerned members of the public to address and confront these key concerns and acts being perpetrated by a NATO ally. Martin Dolzer, the author of a key Report of the Human Rights Delegation from Brussels, Berlin, North Rhine-Westphalia and Hamburg (based on a visit between 15 October-25 October 2010 by lawyers, human rights observers, an MEP, a member of the German Bundestag, the Parliamentary Assembly of the Council of Europe and the Land Parliament of North Rhine-Westphalia) concluded that:

The current situation in the Kurdish provinces of Turkey is characterised by grave human rights violations, repression and war crimes committed by the Turkish military and special units of the Gendarmerie թ§Չ‚-Թ» The Turkish stateթ§Չ‚-Չ„§s ongoing policy of war and repression, military operations and attacks by state forces on the civilian population have been taking place almost daily for several months. In the first six months of 2010, these operations resulted in more than 20 extra-legal executions by state and paramilitary forces, and over 650 documented cases of torture. In addition to this, reports of the Turkish military using chemical weapons and mutilating the bodies of the dead have become more common over the last five months. Incidents in which forest fires have been started and toxic defoliants used have also been documented more frequently. Psychological warfare is used with varying degrees of intensity as an alternative means of prosecuting the conflict. Press freedom is restricted again and again. Torture and mistreatment by the police and the military are particularly common in the provinces of Hakkari, Sirnak, Dersim, Agri and Siirt. Journalists, human rights activists and individuals active in politics are particularly affected by these practices.

Furthermore, the systematic harassment and rape of women by the security forces is a major problem in small towns թ§Չ‚-Թ» Generally, it is evident that … the Turkish government has been resorting to a worrying degree to methods that involve the criminalisation of functioning local political structures, the detention of politicians and activists who have an impact on international public opinion or, in the provinces that are increasingly affected by military operations, even attacks on the right to life թ§Չ‚-Թ» Rape has been used systematically for years in several regions as a way of enforcing the stateթ§Չ‚-Չ„§s policy of assimilation and the political suppression of the Kurdish population.

The situation has not improved since then. Whilst intense psychological warfare is being waged within Turkey, intense aerial bombardment continues of northern Iraq, ostensibly targeting ‘PKK’ positions. However, թ§Չ‚-ժ“extensive damage to the թ‚Թ villagesթ§Չ‚-Թ in the area there is ongoing (ANF August 18), yet hardly reported in the mainstream British press.

The Armenian, Assyrian, Greek, Kurdish, Greek Cypriot and ‘Other’ genocides continue to be officially denied, and the Kurdish genocide (as defined by the Genocide Convention, Raphael Lemkin who coined the term and other genocide scholars and human rights activists), continues to remain թ§Չ‚-ժ“ongoingթ§Չ‚-Թ, including in its cultural, linguistic and political context (Fernandes 2011). For Janet Levy: թ§Չ‚-ժ“Discriminatory practices against minorities continue unabated. Full political participation, equal rights and freedom of expression and religion are curtailedթ§Չ‚-Թ by the Erdogan government. թ§Չ‚-ժ“The denial of the well-documented historical truth and the memorializing of its murderers perpetuate the crime of genocide and is an affront to its victims, families and survivors. The descendants of the Armenian, Assyrian and Greek victims deserve nothing less than full recognition of this atrocity and a full apology by the Turkish governmentթ§Չ‚-Թ (Levy, American Thinker, August 2011).

2. Assaults on Freedom of Expression and Freedom of Speech.

‘Operations’, ostensibly in the name of ‘anti-terrorism’ have sought to actually disrupt any political initiatives aimed at resolving the ‘Kurdish question’ democratically and peacefully. Representatives and supporters of the Peace and Democracy Party (BDP) have been scandalously targeted alongside trade unionists, academics, students, lawyers and human rights campaigners. According to BIA (7 October 2011): թ§Չ‚-ժ“Ten elected mayors, eight mayor assistants, two deputy mayors, two former mayors, two provincial general assembly presidents, four provincial general assembly vice presidents and 29 municipality council members are currently in prison in Turkey. The Peace and Democracy Party (BDP) announced the number of people taken into custody and being arrested in the course of the so-called KCK operations since April 2009 թ§Չ‚-Թ» According to the announcement of the BDP, 7,748 party executives and employees were taken into custody and 3,895 were arrested between 14 April 2009 and 6 October 2011… Based on the figures published by the BDP, only within the past six months, 4,148 persons were taken into police custody and 1,548 people were arrestedթ§Չ‚-Թ. The most recent raids took place earlier this month, designed to spread terror amongst the populace and those advocating democratic rights and peaceful resolutions to conflicts: Among the people taken into custody after raids this October are members of the pro-Kurdish Peace and Democracy Party (BDP) Party, the Democratic Society Congress (DTK), the noted academic and political scientist and translator Deniz Zarakolu, journalist Tayyip Temel (former General Publications Director and now writer of the Kurdish Azadiya Welat newspaper), reporter Aydթ„Թ՞n Yթ„Թ՞ldթ„Թ՞z, Kazթ„Թ՞m թ…ժԷeker (editor of the թƒՉ€“zgթƒԹԶr GթƒԹԶndem newspaper) and Kemal Aydթ„Թ՞n, Executive of the Association for Solidarity and Support of Relatives of Disappeared People (YAKAY-DER).

Prosecutors have also demanded 150 years imprisonment for BDP deputies Leyla Zana, Nursel Aydoթ„ժԴan and independent MP Aysel Tuթ„ժԴluk. BDP Co-Chair Selahattin Demirtaթ…ժԴ թ§Չ‚-ժ“remarked that BDP politics in the Parliament will lose its meaning should Ahmet TթƒԹԶrk be stripped of his deputyship in connection with the ongoing cases … Demirtaթ…ժԴ said; ‘They demand 2,474 years imprisonment for us’թ§Չ‚-Թ (ANF 15 October 011). Joint attorney of the BDP Sinan Zincir has stated that these operations against the BDP are intended to “openly and clearly prevent the democratic efforts of the BDP and to break the democratic will of the Kurds” (BIA 5 October 2011). As far as BDP Group Vice President Hasip Kaplan is concerned, the operations which target political parties must be seen as a թ§Չ‚-ժ“policy of warթ§Չ‚-Թ, not թ§Չ‚-ժ“a policy of negotiationթ§Չ‚-Թ: թ§Չ‚-ժ“The Kurdish issue is a problem with political, economic, social, cultural, historical extents and its solution must be ensured at the Parliament through peaceful and democratic means թ§Չ‚-Թ» [But] the way [it is]following is the way of crimes against humanity and genocide թ§Չ‚-Թ (ANF, 5 October 2011).

The assault against freedom of expression is all-embracing: թ§Չ‚-ժ“Students Berna Yթ„Թ՞lmaz and Ferhat TթƒԹԶzer held a press conference on Friday (7 October, at the Istanbul Bar Association), one day subsequent to their release from prison pending trial after 19 months in detention. The students are being tried on the grounds of posting a banner that [simply] read ‘We want free education and we will get it’. [For this], they stand accused of ‘membership of the DHKP/C terror organization’ (Party and Revolutionary Front for the Liberation of the Turkish People) and ‘making propaganda for a terrorist organization’ because they posted a banner calling for free education during the speech of Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdoթ„ժԴan on 14 March 2010թ§Չ‚-Թ (BIA, Nilay VARDAR, 10 October 2011). Raziye Kթ„Թ՞zթ„Թ՞l, President of the Komela Jinen Dengbej (KJD) Women Dengbejler House, is also currently facing two trials against her on the grounds of having sung Kurdish folk songs: թ§Չ‚-ժ“’These trials are sad for all of us. We are artists. It does not matter if you are a Turk, a Kurd, a Laz or a Circassian – everybody should be able to sing songs freely in their mother language. It cannot be a crime to sing a folk song’, Kթ„Թ՞zթ„Թ՞l statedթ§Չ‚-Թ (BIA, 11 October 2011).

The Platform for Solidarity with Arrested Journalists (TGDP) has just issued the following statement:

“Who is next? The terror of mass detentions and arrests against Kurdish politicians who act in accordance with the Anti-Terror Law (TMY) and against journalists is a direct attack on free speech, freedom of demonstration and assembly and press freedom. TMY operations have no credibility at all with unfounded allegationsթ§Չ‚-Թ (BIA, 7 October 2011).

We ask concerned MPs and members of the public to do everything they can to raise these concerns.

For further information, contact Eilian Williams at: info: 07588256783

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