KCK trials in Turkey: “Justice will not be served!”


The Peace in Kurdistan Campaign held on September 18th a public meeting in London about the KCK trials in Turkey and had invited a number of speakers who had observed the hearings during the summer.

The people arrested in the KCK operations are accused of being members of an illegal organisation. KCK is an umbrella organisation that consists of Kurdish parties like PKK, PJAK, HPG and many others; it is considered by Turkey to be the political branch of PKK.

The Peace in Kurdistan Campaign wrote in its open invitation letter the following about Turkey and the KCK trials:

“Obsessively sensitive about its image, Turkey seeks to present a modern, liberal and democratic face to the outside world, but the reality for people involved in public life inside the country is far different.”

“Repression is the regime’s inevitable knee-jerk response to those seeking to exercise their civil rights to effect change and participate in political activities accepted as normal in a modern democratic state. “

“Lawyers, journalists, writers, elected politicians, trade unionists and community leaders are all victims of a systematic persecution that has been waged by the Turkish state over the past few years as it has sought relentlessly to silence opposition voices in every area of public life. Kurdish demands for full citizenship rights that are taken as the norm across the modern democratic states of Europe are inevitably criminalised within Turkey.”

The meeting was chaired by Prof. Bill Bowring, President of the European Association of Lawyers for Democracy and Human Rights (ELDH) and International Secretary of the Haldane Society of Socialist Lawyers.

The invited speakers were Margaret Owen OBE, barrister, member of the Bar Human Rights Committee, Ali Has, solicitor, Tony Simpson, Bertrand Russell Peace Foundation and editor of The Spokesman and Barry White, NUJ representative of the European Federation of Journalists.

The KCK trials have been criticised by Kurdish politicians and activists and human rights organisations like The Human Rights Association and the Turkish department of Amnesty International have voiced concern about the arrests and the trials.

The speakers at the public meeting also expressed their concern about the trials.

Margaret Owen said the trial of the 35 lawyers representing Öcalan was ‘ludicrous’ because the court had been abolished and that the indictment against these lawyers representing the Kurdish leader Öcalan ran to 100,000 pages.

Barry White said the impression the observers got during the trials was that “justice will not be served.”

“Stronger together”

The KCK trials was not the only focus point at the public meeting.

Estella Schmid from the Peace in Kurdistan Campaign explained how the developments in the Kurdish areas in Syria have an effect on the Kurdish situation in Turkey:

“The Kurds have come together on Syria; that this united Kurds who have always been split and divided on everything suddenly come together and found a way to deal with Syria.”

Estella Schmid said that it is not just with arms that Kurds have taken over the Kurdish areas, it is also with education and administration. She said they are taking over the government and that this is an important development which has its effect on Turkey which is a good situation for Kurds. 

Barry White spoke about UK relations with Turkey and said that the [UK] government is vulnerable on the question of human rights and freedom of expression in Turkey. He mentioned a publication released earlier this year, called “UK-Turkey relations and Turkey’s regional role” in which it is concluded that the UK government has identified Turkey as a rising regional economic power and that “natural trade and commercial relation form a major element in government’s drive to update UK-turkey ties.” 

White continued:

“However, shortcomings in the Turkish justice system are damaging Turkeys international reputation and leading to human rights abuses in ways that make it harder to advocate close UK-Turkey relations and Turkey’s EU membership. A current calamity in Turkey is limiting fredom of expression and the media. Turkey’s human rights record thus remain a problem for this strategic partnership with the UK and for Turkey’s EU accession prospect.”

We can use this to campaign, we can take these bits and promote them. You ask the question from this report. The more information comes out, the more receptive people are to the messages we are trying to put across.

The [UK] government knows very well there is human rights abuses but they are not taking to task by the opposition or us enough, and that is what we need to do.

“Problem is that we campaign in isolation. I know it sound kliche but we are stronger together, and we learn from each other and we can support each other.”

 Estella Schmid expressed her wish for the organisations involved in the KCK trials to organise:

“There is one thing which I do think all these organisations who have come together on the KCK trial can do and that is to work closer together, to have a plan, to have a kind of an alliance in defence of all human rights defenders, lawyers, journalists etc. and we somehow set up a group and focus on this for a while.”

The article was made based on information and audio kindly sent by KurdishBlogger and he can be followed on twitter at @kurdishblogger.