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Thousands detained in eastern Turkey since March

ISTANBUL – Radikal | 5/16/2011 12:00:00 AM | DİNÇER GÖKÇE

A staggering 2,506 people were taken into custody over the past 50 days since the BDP launched its 'Democratic Solution Tent' initiative in mid-March.

A staggering 2,506 people were taken into custody over the past 50 days since the pro-Kurdish Peace and Democracy Party, or the BDP, launched its “Democratic Solution Tent” initiative in mid-March. Some 400 of those taken into custody were arrested, while the police have been most actively rounding people up in the southeastern provinces of Diyarbakır, Batman, Mardin and Hakkari.

“Ninety percent of the evidence is comprised of visuals. There was only one photograph attached to the file of my client, Şahin Akkan. In the image, Akkan is seen throwing a rock. And the sentence is 13.5 years. Even PKK members who lay down arms and surrender receive a sentence of only six years and three months,” said Serkan Akbaş, a lawyer from the Diyarbakır Bar Association, who argued some detentions and arrests were essentially arbitrary. Akbaş also claimed there were people detained solely for whistling, or dancing the traditional “Halay” dance. 

According to reports published by nongovernmental organizations and the media, some 2,000 people were detained between March 24 and April 29. During this intense period, two protesters were killed and 308 were injured in demonstrations. 

At least another 177 were rounded up between April 29 and May 5, while a total of 163 people were taken into custody and 19 arrested in the provinces of Hatay, Bodrum and Adana on May 6 alone. Between May 7 and 11, another 155 were detained and some 53 people were arrested, and 46 more people were detained on May 10, including three members of the leftwing music band, Grup Yorum, bringing the total until May 10 up to around 500 people.

According to a report published by the Human Rights Association, or the İHD, some 7,718 people were detained and another 1,923 were arrested in 2009. Some 3,706 were taken into custody in the eastern and southeastern regions alone in 2010.  

Emin Aktar, the chairman of the Diyarbakır Bar Association, also claimed the Diyarbakır D-type Prison had exceeded its capacity and some detainees had to sleep on the ground.

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