Posted by: hevallo | July 20, 2010

Hands Off Ismail Beşikçi!

‘Solidarity with the Victims of All Genocides’ and ‘Friends of Belge’

Public Meeting in the House of Commons, London

On the eve of the trials in Istanbul of Ismail Beşikçi (sociologist) and Zeycan Balci Simsek (barrister) and in Ankara of Selcuk Kozagacli (member of the Ankara Bar Association and chair of the Contemporary Jurists Association) for ‘Thought Crime’, you are invited to a meeting:

“Why does Turkey persist in persecuting her intellectuals,her publishers, her lawyers and her ‘Minorities’, and why is the UK government silent?”

Tuesday, 27 July 2010, 6-7.15pm,

Committee Room 19, House of Commons, Westminster, London SW1

Sponsored and hosted by Angus MacNeil MP

Chaired by Eilian Williams


1 The International Platform against Isolation (IPAI)

2 Desmond Fernandes (author of Modernity, ‘Modernisation’ and
the Genocide of Kurds and ‘Others’ and The Kurdish and Armenian Genocides:
from Censorship and Denial to Recognition?)
3 Alex Fitch (Campaign Against Criminalising Communities)
4 Additional Speakers to be announced shortly
Also on the same day: Vigil in front of the Turkish Embassy (near Hyde Park Corner) at 12 noon to ask the above question

For further information, contact: Eilian Williams, Tel: 07718982732
Background Information:
For the Ankara Initiative for Freedom of Thought (which includes, amongst its members, Fikret Baskaya, Sibel Özbudun, Temel Demirer, Sait Cetinoglu, Ragip Zarakolu, Serhat Bucak, Baskin Oran and Recep Marasli):
“Ismail Besikçi is being tried once more … Enough! Each and every part of the regime seems to have sworn to plague the life of the Kurds and defenders of the brotherhood of peoples on the basis of equality and freedom, after the fiasco of the ‘democratisation’ attempts of the party in power … The banning of the Kurdish party [DTP], … the broadcasted imprisonment of the elected local representatives of the Kurds; cases against Kurdish elementary school students on charges of ‘adherence to terrorist organisation’; the implacable persecution of Kurdish magazines and papers; the spreading of a mentality that treats each and every Kurd as a ‘potential terrorist’, are all alarming signs which signify that the country is headed towards a new … hell. And these signs show that the target is … the rights of Kurds to exist as they are: Kurds.
“The last of these signs is the charge brought by the attorney general of Istanbul against Dr. Ismail Besikci … following the publication of his article entitled, ‘The rights of the nations to self-determination and the Kurds’, in the Association of Contemporary Lawyers’ [journal, the editor of which is barrister Zeycan Balci Simsek – hence his trial alongside Besikci] … What the attorney general demands to be penalised is … freedom of thought and expression; and this demonstrates clearly, once again, how willing the ruling class is to violate the limited frame of rights and liberties it has agreed to accept”.
As the academic Van Bruinessen has noted of the scholar who has conducted research into the nature of oppression and genocide of the Kurds: “No other writer in Turkish history has had to face such an endless series of trials and prison sentences for almost every public utterance as Beşikçi has. The odyssey of Beşikçi’s encounters with Turkey’s legal system shows, more eloquently than any abstract political or legal analysis could, what is wrong with the system, and it demonstrates effectively how the officially proclaimed human rights and democratic values become null and void where the Kurdish question is involved. Continuing to write and speak in spite of all attempts to silence him, Beşikçi has become a powerful and important symbol for the Kurds and for the human rights movement of Turkey”.
On the same day as Besikci’s trial, Selcuk Kozagacli (member of the Ankara Bar Association and chair the Contemporary Jurists Association – CHD – an organisation representing 2,500 progressive lawyers all over Turkey) is being tried. As the Istanbul Branch of CHD notes:
“Since the prison massacre of 19th December 2000,[i] 10 years have elapsed. After 10 court years, 10 years after the severe crimes against the people, this murder crime came under the statute of limitations … Those who have committed [this] severe crime towards the people … [have not been held to] account. Those, who should be held accountable, have [instead] been promoted. Ali Suat Ertosun, the general director of the Penal Institutions, who took part in the planning of this massacre, was first recompensed with a state medal for extraordinary services and later nominated as a member of the High commission of judges and state prosecutors. Those who gave him this medal and who brought him to this position, didn’t take as a basis his judicial qualification, but his bloody role in the prison massacre …
“The president of the Contemporary Jurists Association (CHD), Selcuk Kozagacli, [is being scandalously tried] because he said, on the anniversary of the massacre: ‘The most appropriate promotion for Ali Suat Ertosun would be the dock. As long as the prison massacre isn’t condemned in his person, the justice and the political power remain accomplices of this crime’”.
[i] As Georges Henri Beauthier and Jan Fermon, lawyers at the Brussels Bar have clarified, concerning the events surrounding this ‘prison initiative’ that was officially (and in psychological warfare terms of the state) termed ‘Operation Return to Life’: “21 prisons were completely surrounded and isolated from the outside world by thousands of soldiers and policemen. Some sources state that 8,335 soldiers as well as 8 battalions of paramilitary police (jandarma) were involved in the operation … [In] the extreme violence used by the state authorities, 28 prisoners were killed during this operation. Bulldozers and explosives were used to demolish the walls of certain cells. Holes were made in the roof of certain buildings and incendiary devices, toxic gases and chemicals were used to force the prisoners to leave their cells. 6 women were burned alive as a result of this in the prison of Bayrampasa (Istanbul). Once the prisoners were in the hands of the police or the military, many of them were savagely beaten, for some of them resulting in death. The autopsy of some of the deceased prisoners also showed that some had their throats slit” – See their 2006 report entitled ‘Mission to Istanbul in relation to the situation of prisoners in isolation detention in the F-type prisons and to the “hunger strike until death” of lawyer Behic Asci, October 21-22, 2006’.

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