Kurdish American Human Rights Campaign Media Statement
For Immediate Release
Date: May 28, 2012
The Kurdish American Human Rights Campaign expresses its grave concern regarding the recent conviction of Cihan Kırmızıgül under Turkey’s anti-terrorism laws, which contain an overly broad, vague definition of terrorism and lack the level of legal certainty and fair trial standards required by international human rights law. International human rights organizations have repeatedly drawn attention to Turkey’s flawed anti-terrorism regulations and the misuse of such regulations by the courts.
The Turkish authorities have arrested thousands of Kurds, including children, and others under anti-terrorism legislation and held them in pre-trial detention for years to clamp down on legitimate and peaceful political activities. Since 2001, over 12,000 Turkish citizens, the majority of whom are Kurds, have been convicted under terror statutes. This number represents more than a third of worldwide terror convictions.
What particularly stands out in the midst of the government’s judicial harassment against Kurds in Turkey is the recent conviction of a university student Cihan Kirmizigül on May 11, 2012 at Istanbul 14th High Criminal Court. Cihan Kırmızıgül was sentenced to 11 years 3 months of imprisonment for “aiding a terrorist organization whilst not being a member,” “throwing a Molotov cocktail,” and “damaging property.” The prosecution was based on contradictory secret witness statements that he was wearing a traditional scarf called Puşi,also known as keffiyeh, a piece of clothing Turkish police associates with the Kurdish movement, matching the description of persons alleged to have taken part in a demonstration during which Molotov cocktails were thrown in February 2010. Whilst the conviction will be appealed, Cihan Kirmizigül was charged without any evidence indicating he was actually part of the attacks.
Kırmızıgül, an engineering student at Galatasaray University in Istanbul, had already been detained without conviction in a high security detention center in Tekirdağ for 25 months. During his detention, a prosecutor requested his imprisonment for 15 to 45 years for under the anti-terrorism law. This case exemplifies the flawed justice system established by anti-terrorism legislation the Turkish government routinely employs to target Kurds, or anyone who expresses concerns on behalf of Kurdish community in Turkey.
What is equally worrisome, however, is the draft law introduced in December 2011 which has largely passed unnoticed by domestic and international observers. The bill promises to be yet another tool by which Turkey will be able to limit the rights of prisoners, the majority of whom are Kurds. It would effectively give the government the right to ban prisoners’ access to lawyers for up to six months, further violating international agreements regarding the treatment of prisoners.
KAHRC calls on Turkey to amend its anti-terrorism laws to bring them in line with international standards and ensure that fair trial standards and prisoners’ access to lawyers are applied to all prosecutions in Turkey. The Turkish government should immediately release all political prisoners and work in good faith for a comprehensive, negotiated solution to the Kurdish issue based on democracy and human rights for all.