On 16 – 19 July 2012, thirty-six Kurdish lawyers, representatives of imprisoned Kurdish leader Abdullah Ocalan, were tried at Istanbul High Criminal Court. They were arrested in November 2011 and charged under the Anti-Terror Act of ‘being a member of an illegal organisation’ and ‘passing orders of Abdullah Ocalan’. Margaret Owen OBE, barrister, human rights lawyer and patron of Peace in Kurdistan campaign travelled to Istanbul with other international colleagues to observe the mass trial. She has written a report on her observations, entitled ‘Mass trial of 36 Kurdish lawyers in Turkey: Report on the trial of the 36 lawyers at the Istanbul High Criminal Court, 16 – 19 July 2012′.
You can view the report online here: http://peaceinkurdistancampaign.wordpress.com/2012/09/03/lawyers-on-trial-report-on-the-kck-hearings/
The report is a damning indictment of a flawed, highly politicised and prejudiced judicial system. Moreover, this trial is only one of dozens that have been taking place in Turkey since 2009 as a result of the so-called ‘KCK operations’, a result of which over 8,000 people have been arrested for alleged membership to the Kurdish Communities Union (KCK).
The KCK trials, as they have become known, have involved the prosecution of hundreds of members of the Peace and Democracy Party (BDP), local councillors and elected officials, media workers, human rights activists, prominent writers, publishers, and academics, and trade unionists. The next major hearings take place on 10 – 14 September, when 35 journalists will face charges of terrorism. Collectively, these trials represent the Turkish government’ efforts to criminalise any attempt to speak out for Kurdish rights and to dismantle the Kurdish liberation movement as a whole.