21 members of the pro-Kurdish Peace and Democracy Party (BDP), among them writer Ayşegül Devecioğlu, stand accused of having spread PKK/KCK propaganda at a Newroz celebration in Yalova, western Turkey, in March 2012.
The indictment prepared by Public Prosecutor Mustafa Dede in Bursa states that despite the date of Newroz being 21 March, the defendants celebrated it on 20 March, ignoring warnings by security forces that such an event would be illegal.
The indictment further says that a press statement read out during the celebration by BDP district committee member Ayşegül Devecioğlu and BDP Yalova province chairman İhsan Çoşkun was not relevant to the celebration, but rather represented propaganda for the outlawed Kurdistan Workers’ Party (PKK) and the Union of Kurdistan Communities (KCK).
The shouting of the Kurdish slogan “Biji Serok Apo” (“Long live Leader Apo”), a reference to the imprisoned PKK leader Abdullah Öcalan, was further cited as evidence for illegal propapganda.
The accused are being charged with breaching the Anti-Terrorism Laws 7/2 and 5/1, the Law on Meetings and Protests 28/1 and the Turkish Penal Code 58, 53/1-2.
The first court hearing is on 15 March at 10.20 am at the 22nd High Criminal Court with Special Authority in Çağlayan, Istanbul.
“I demanded constitutional rights”
Speaking to bianet, writer Devecioğlu said that the demands in her press release were exactly the same as the suggestions made for a new constitution in a petition presented to the Constitutional Reconciliation Commission.
“At the 2012 Newroz celebration I made a speech about freedom for Abdullah Öcalan and the demand for democratic autonomy. I called for an end to military operations, the start of negotiations, the release of nearly 10,000 Kurdish politicians who are being held in prison unlawfully, self-rule for Kurds and education in the mother tongue, and the right to use one’s mother tongue in the public arena.”
“In addition, I reiterated our basic demands that the rights of people with different cultural, religious and other identities to be equal citizens, protect and develop their cultures and have education in their mother tongue be protected by the constitution.”
To Devecioğlu it is clear that these kind of trials against BDP politicians and dissenters using their democratic rights do a disservice to the peace process that is supposedly taking place. At this year’s Newroz, she said, she would again be standing with those supporters of peace and democracy who demand freedom for Abdullah Öcalan and official recognition of Kurds.
Defendants in the trial
Zeki Artan, Sıddık Kınay, Siban Eminoğlulları, Sedat Kıral, Mülkes Avras, İhsan Coşkun, Ayten Yıldızgörer, Aynur Erbay, Nadire Baran, Kaptan Alpyürek, Ayhan Polat, Aldülkadir Men, Hasan Güneş, Keleş Artan, Dilan Ayral, Tevfik Oruç, Ömer Polat, Ayşegül Akış (Devecioğlu), Berivan Ayral, Nazdar Avras, Mehmet Sait Karaaslan.
Ayşegül Devecioğlu is a renowned writer of two novels and two books of stories. In 2008, she was awarded the Orhan Kemal Prize for one of her novels. (NV/AG/KU)