Lawyers protest court after row over Kurdish

Lawyers protest court after row over Kurdish

ISTANBUL- Hürriyet Daily News
Lawyers protest court after row over Kurdish

Police and gendarmerie took safety measures around Silivri Prison as protesters rallied for suspects, including prominent academic Büşra Ersanlı, outside the court. DAILY NEWS photo, Emrah GÜREL

The lawyers left the courtroom in protest in the first hearing of the high-profile Kurdistan Communities Union (KCK) case in Istanbul’s Silivri court yesterday, when the court rejected all their demands, including the appointment of a translator from Kurdish to Turkish.

Some of the 193 defendants, 132 of whom are under arrest for alleged links with the “urban wing” of the Kurdistan Workers’ Party (PKK), answered the questions directed to them in Kurdish, prompting a reaction from the judges.

Chief judge Ali Alçık refused the suspects’ pleas in Kurdish, saying “no language but Turkish will be accepted by the court.” Suspects who plea in Kurdish will be considered absent, he said. Prosecutors accuse the suspects, including many members of the pro-Kurdish Peace and Democracy Party (BDP), as well as prominent academic Büşra Ersanlı and publisher Ragıp Zarakolu, of “aiding terrorism” and of putting out “separatist propaganda.” The defendants’ lawyers left the courtroom after the judge rejected all their demands, including a translator, arguing that there was no point in staying. Other demands rejected argued that the court had no authority to her the case and that the evidence against the suspects were “fabricated.” The hearing continued with the pleas of suspects who spoke Turkish. The hearing was still in progress when the Hürriyet Daily News went to press latte yesterday. All the suspects in the courtroom chanted slogans in Kurdish before the hearing began. “To live is to resist,” they shouted. One of the suspects Kudbettin Yüzbaş was the first to plea. He replied to all the questions directed to him in Kurdish, and thus the other hearings were blocked as well, with the court board halting the identification of suspects.

Outside the courtroom there was also tension, with protesters quarreling with security forces. Some 150 lawyers defended the suspects. Meral Tanış Bektaş, a lawyer of the Peace and Democracy Party (BDP) said the use of one’s mother tongue was a fundamental right and that they were ready to seek their rights in international and municipal law. “More than 10,000 people have been detained since April 12, 2009. The judiciary is cooperating with the government … It is not suspects here that are being tried, but the BDP,” Bektaş said. Another suspect, İnan Poyraz, also took the floor, saying that the right to a defense in one’s mother tongue was a natural right. “If the court board has a problem in understanding the Kurdish language, a translator could be provided.”

Four people from the International Pen and Sweden based International Publishing Asscosiation (IPA) attended the hearing as observers, as well as BDP deputies Sırrı Süreyya Önder and Gülten Kışanak. The Chief Judge said an interim decision would be taken on July 15.

Van robbed during trial


A van belonging to a group of high-profile officials from International PEN and the International Publishing Association (IPA) was robbed by an unidentified person or persons yesterday during the first hearing in the Kurdistan Communities Union (KCK) case in Istanbul.

Passports, documents and computers belonging to Bjorn Smith-Simonsen, the head of the Freedom to Publish Committee of the Geneva-based International Publishing Association (IPA), Alexis Krikorian, freedom to publish director of the IPA, and Eugene Schoulgin, vice president of International PEN, were stolen.

The officials, who were in Silivri, said they also had a large amount of money in the van, but it was not stolen.

The van was parked in a high-security gendarmerie area. KCK suspect and publisher Ragıp Zarakolu said the situation was suspicious, since the observers were in Silivri to support suspects.