"They send children from poor Turkish and Kurdish families to the military. One of our sons is on the mountain [joint the PKK], one of our sons is in the army. We do not want them to kill each other. They burned down our houses, they expelled us from our homes. Erdoğan's child is swimming in money. Our daughters get married to Turks. Turkish daughters get married to our sons. We are living side by side. We do not want to fight any more".
61-year-old Peace Mother Sultan Acıbuca voiced these thoughts on 8 March 2008 on the International Women's Day. The Peace Mothers are a group of women who oppose the ongoing conflict between the Turkish Armed Forces and the militant Kurdistan Workers' Party (PKK). Based on this speech and other pronouncements on different occasions, the Izmir 10th High Criminal Court sentenced Acıbuca to imprisonment of six years and three months under charges of "membership of an illegal organization"
The court based the conviction on article 314/2 of the Turkish Criminal Court (TCK) and article 5 of the Anti-Terror Law (TMK) which prescribes an increase of punishment.
"A mother cannot be punished for defending peace"
Acıbucu's condemning of the murder of Turkish-Armenian journalist Hrant Dink was evaluated as a criminal offence as well as her attendance of a meeting on the occasion of the World Peace Day on 1 September, her call for peace at the International Labour Women's Day and attending three press releases as a spectator.
Acıbuca's lawyer Nezahat Paşa Bayraktar presented his client's defence in the hearing on 9 June. He stated that Acıbuca's attendance of the press releases was under legal guarantee of domestic law and of the European Convention of Human Rights. He said that the activities on subject did not constitute a crime. Punishing a mother because she defended peace did not accord with the law, Bayraktar claimed.
He drew attention to the fact that Turkey was convicted of violating freedom of thought and expression countless times by the European Court of Human Rights. Based on the example of the case Incal vs. Turkey, the lawyer demanded the acquittal of his client since her actions did not constitute any crime, Bayraktar stated.
Acıbuca was charged with "membership of the PKK organization", "making propaganda for an illegal organization" and "praising crime and a criminal" on the grounds of the following incidents: attending a press release related to the murder of Dink on 23 February 2007, attending press releases as a spectator on 31 March 2006, 18 January 2006 and 17 February 2007 and a speech delivered at the International Women's Day meeting on 8 March 2008.
Excerpt from Acıbuca's speech on 8 March
This is one section of the speech Acıbuca delivered on 8 March: "I welcome you all with my sorrowful mother's heart, with my aching heart. I bow down before the mothers of fallen soldiers, the mothers of dead guerrillas and Turkish and Kurdish mothers. I want them to understand the grief of the mothers. Turkish mothers and Kurdish mothers feel the same grief. We are one since we are all mothers. Our hearts are sorrowful... We do not want any more raids on the Kurdish people in Kurdish districts. This war is very difficult for both Turks and Kurds. Everybody is suffering..." (EÖ/VK)