Policing Human Rights Abuses in Turkey
Kurdish Human Rights Project
The Diyarbakir Branch of the Human Rights Association of Turkey (IHD) in south-east Turkey was closed by the Turkish authorities in May 1997 and ten members of the executive/ management committee were prosecuted over allegations of '‘making propaganda” for and assisting the PKK (Kurdistan Worker’s Party), an armed opposition group in Turkey.
It is this prosecution that this report covers.
The Diyarbakir Branch faced permanent closure and the Defendants each faced up to 10 years in prison. However, on 11th May 1999, all ten Defendants were acquitted on the ground that there was insufficient evidence.
The basis of the allegations was that the members had in their possession, either at the offices of the IHD or in their own homes, documents deemed to reveal support for the PKK. The said documents included banned human rights reports and personal literature (poetry). In addition, further grounds for the prosecution were said to be telephone and fax communications with various legitimate non-governmental organisations throughout Europe, including the Kurdish Human Rights Project1.
The forum for the prosecution was the State Security Court (DGM), a military court entirely divorced from the civilian courts, in which the coram of three judges includes a military judge2.
The Turkish authorities have brought multiple prosecutions against the various branches of the IHD (as separate legal personalities) and in parallel, the associated executive members, since its inception ...