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Protesting as a Terrorist Offense


Editor : Human Rights Watch Date & Place : 2010, New York
Preface : Pages : 80
Traduction : ISBN : 1-56432-708-6
Language : EnglishFormat : 216x280 mm
FIKP's Code : 3519Theme : Politics

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Protesting as a Terrorist Offense


Protesting as a Terrorist Offense: The Arbitrary Use of Terrorism Laws to Prosecute and Incarcerate Demonstrators in Turkey

In Turkey, many hundreds of people currently face prosecution, or are serving substantial sentences for terrorism convictions. Their “crime” was to engage in peaceful protest, or to throw stones or burn a tire at a protest. Legal amendments since 2005, along with case law since 2008, have allowed courts in Turkey to convict demonstrators under the harshest terrorism laws, by invoking two articles of the Turkish Penal Code in combination with the Anti-Terror Law. In July 2010, as this report was being finalized, the government passed legal amendments to improve the treatment of child demonstrators; but this report focuses mainly on adult demonstrators, whose treatment remains harsh, disproportionate and ultimately violates several human rights norms.

The vast majority of demonstrators currently being prosecuted under terrorism laws is Kurdish, and the laws are usually invoked in the mainly Kurdish-populated areas of southeast Turkey, or in Adana and Mersin and other cities with large Kurdish populations. People whose writings and commentary on “the Kurdish question” in Turkey support positions perceived to be similar to those of the outlawed armed Kurdistan Workers’ Party (PKK) have long faced particularly harsh punishment under Turkish law. Now the courts are applying the same or even harsher punishments to regular people who take to the streets to demonstrate support for opinions the authorities perceive to be similar to those of the PKK. While many of the prosecutions discussed in this report involve allegations of stonethrowing or tire-burning at demonstrations, the government’s increasingly harsh punishment of Kurdish demonstrators does not appear to be a response to demonstrators’ violent acts, but rather to their perceived ideological support for the PKK. The present laws fall foul of the standards required by human rights law and the rule of law that criminal offenses must be defined precisely and in a foreseeable manner (the requirement of legality). Their application in the manner documented in this report amounts to an arbitrary use of criminal law in violation of international human rights standards and the rule of law. The laws also offend against international law as they criminalize the legitimate exercise of freedom of opinion, expression, and assembly. The imposition of aggravated punishment under the Anti-Terror Law because an individual expresses a political opinion, as opposed to the gravity of the unlawful activity, violates international human rights law.

Official statistics are not available for the number of adults and children convicted under terrorism laws and sentenced to prison for participating in demonstrations, but Human Rights Watch estimates that the figure runs into many hundreds. Anecdotal evidence from interviews with lawyers suggests that the numbers have been increasing in the past two years, since an important legal decision on the issue in 2008...



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