The Germany-based European Association of Lawyers for Democracy & World Human Rights (ELDH) and the European Democratic Lawyers (AED) called on Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdoğan, President Abdullah Gül and the Turkish government to release the lawyers who were recently detained in the scope of the KCK investigation.
46 people, 41 of whom are lawyers, were taken into custody in Istanbul last week by reason of their alleged membership of the Union of Kurdish Communities (KCK), an organization founded by Abdullah Öcalan, imprisoned leader of the armed outlawed Kurdistan Workers' Party (PKK). 34 of them, including 33 lawyers, were arrested and detained in prison on 26 November after they had been interrogated at the Beşiktaş (Istanbul) Courthouse. At the same time, 36 persons out of a total of 43 people in custody in Diyarbakır (Kurdish-majority city in south-eastern Turkey) were arrested.
The call on the Turkish government was signed by ELDH President Prof Bill Bowring, AED President Gilberto Pagani, ELDH Secretary General Thomas Schmidt and AED Vice President Hans Gaasbeek. Read here a summary of their written plea.
"Contrary to human rights agreements"
* We are deeply concerned about the arrests of lawyers and raids on their homes in Turkey. The arrests include defence lawyers who are engaged in the main KCK trial handled by the Diyarbakır 6th High Criminal Court. This is the latest step in a series of ongoing threats coming from courts and prosecutors in Turkey.
* The lawyers took a stance against the ban of a defence in Kurdish before the Diyarbakır courts as a matter of principle and stated that they would not be able to defend their clients. Both the lawyers and the Diyarbakır Bar Association were warned by court and the prosecutors several times about "committing a crime".
* We also want to point out to the Turkish authorities that these arrests are contrary to all human rights agreements. Furthermore, these arrests seem to ignore the "Basic Principles on the Role of Lawyers" (Havana Rules) as adopted at the United Nations (UN) Congress in Havana/Cuba in 1990.
* According to these rules, the government is responsible to ensure that lawyers can carry out their profession without experiencing threats, interference, harassment and inappropriate intervention. We call on the government in Turkey to release the lawyers. (AS)