Again no releases - this was the result of the Thursday (23 February) hearing of the trial related to the underground Marxist Leninist Communist Party (MLKP) that has been pending for six years. 24 defendants are included in the case, 12 of whom are detained among them also three journalists: Özgür Radio Publications Director Füsun Erdoğan, Atılm newspaper General Publications Co-ordinator Sedat Şenoğlu and Atılım newspaper writer Bayram Namaz.
The next hearing was set for 29 May.
The defendants are tried under allegations of "membership of the MLKP organization" in the context of Operation "Intend" ('Gaye') carried out in several Turkish provinces in September 2006. The indictment accuses the defendants of having held the 4th MLKP Congress at a private home in Nazilli (western Turkey).
"Calling journalists rapists is demagogy"
Detained defendant journalist Füsun Erdoğan addressed the Turkish Government and Prime Minister Tayyip Erdoğan in particular in her speech before the Istanbul 12th High Criminal Court in Beşiktaş.
"It is demagogy aimed at confusing the public to state that only nine journalists are in prison and that the detained journalists stand accused of 'harassment' or 'rape'".
"In the 1980s, people were forced with torture to testify. Nowadays, they are being accused on the grounds of evidence that was prepared beforehand. We are here today because of the Anti-Terror Law (TMK). They have been keeping me in prison for six years and victimized me. I am asking myself why I have been in prison for six years?"
"TMK and ÖYM should be removed"
The Chairwoman of the Socialist Party of the Oppressed (ESP), Çiçek Otlu, read a press release on behalf of her party in front of the courthouse in support for the imprisoned defendants.
She claimed that socialists and journalists have been detained for six years on the grounds of the TMK and the Special Authority Courts. The ESP harshly criticized the ruling Justice and Development Party (AKP) by arguing that the AKP abolished freedom of assembly, freedom of demonstration and freedom of speech.
Otlu put forward that the sentences handed down to members of the ESP Provincial Presidencies of Istanbul and Izmir were politically motivated.
The ESP chairwoman drew attention to the high number of Kurdish politicians, students, trade union members, lawyers and socialists currently being incarcerated. She urged for the abrogation of the TMK and the Special Authority Courts.
Also in the previous hearing of the MKLP case none of the detained defendants was released. Before that, at the hearing in May 2011, Atılım newspaper publications co-ordinator İbrahim Çiçek, Ali Hıdır Polat, Ziya Ulusoy and Uğur Kayacı were released pending trial. (NV)