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UK Delegation To Observe Diyarbakir Trial of 151 Kurdish Political Activists and Human Rights Defenders

Press Release from the Peace in Kurdistan campaign

Peace in Kurdistan Campaign (PIK) is pleased to announce that an observer delegation consisting of Jeremy Corbyn MP, Hywel Williams MP, Margaret Owen, human rights lawyer, Hugo Charlton, barrister, and lawyers Ali Has and Serife Semsedini, has arrived in Turkey to monitor the trial of 151 Kurdish political activists and human rights defenders which is set to begin in Diyarbakir on 18 October.

“We hope the delegation will build pressure to secure the release and acquittal of these political prisoners,” said Margaret Owen, who is an adviser on Kurdish women and children’s human rights and the Director of Widows for Peace and Democracy (WPD). “At the same time, we will use the opportunity to meet with Kurdish human rights defenders and politicians to learn about recent developments in the region.”

Turkey has imprisoned at least 850 Kurdish political activists, including elected mayors, since April 14, 2009. Most of those targeted have been connected to the Peace and Democracy Party (BDP), a legal formation that controls nearly 100 municipalities and has a parliamentary group. The Democratic Society Congress (DTK), an umbrella organization that brings together civil society organizations and the BDP, has also been heavily persecuted, as has the Human Rights Association of Turkey (IHD).

Those set to go on trial on October 18 include IHD vice-chairperson Muharrem Erbey, former DTK chairman and Member of Parliament Hatip Dicle, Diyarbakir mayor Osman Baydemir, and many other prominent Kurdish leaders.

The trial observation delegation intends to write articles and reports upon the conclusion of the court proceedings and their meetings with representatives of the DTP, lawyers and NGOs and to hold public meetings in London to publicize their findings.

Peace in Kurdistan Campaign has consistently campaigned against Turkey’s arrest operations as well as European complicity in them. The PKK has declared several ceasefires and said it is prepared to disarm under UN supervision if there is a political solution. Turkey has decided to carry out mass attacks on Kurdish civilian activists, not to mention the PKK, instead of taking advantage of these opportunities. The Turkish government is responsible for the ongoing conflict.

The October 18 trial represents an important crossroads for Turkey. Prospects for the beginning of a meaningful conflict resolution process will be bolstered if the suspects are released. If they are sentenced to further time in jail, however, the stage will be set for further conflict.

Peace in Kurdistan Campaign calls on Turkey to immediately release all imprisoned Kurdish politicians and human rights defenders and to take serious steps to help start a peace process. The EU and the US should also contribute to the peace process by ending the criminalization of the Kurdish political movement in their own countries.

Peace in Kurdistan Campaign: Campaign for a political solution of the Kurdish question

Patrons: Lord Avebury, Lord Rea, Lord Dholakia, Baroness Sarah Ludford MEP, Jean Lambert MEP, Alyn Smith MEP, Hywel Williams MP, Elfyn Llwyd MP, John Austin (former MP), Gareth Peirce, Julie Christie, Noam Chomsky, Edward Albee, Mark Thomas, Bairbre de Brún MEP