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We are publishing the statement of defense dated February 21, 2018 of Prof. Dr. Ayşe Erzan, retired from Istanbul Technical University, who has been tried at İstanbul Courthouse 32nd Heavy Penal Court in Çağlayan for having signed the declaration entitled "We will not be a party to this crime" released by Academics for Peace.
Prof. Dr. Erzan denied the charges pressed against her and requested immediate acquittal. Her attorneys made demands for immediate acquittal, consolidation, citation of the Chris Stephenson ruling of the 13th High Penal Court, and adjournment. The judiciary panel granted the adjournment and citation requests.
The trials against academics who signed the declaration started on December 5, 2017. By February 21, 2018, 124 defendants have had their first hearings, and 19 of these have also had their second.
All articles on the trials of academics can be accessed here.
To the attention of the 32nd Criminal Court, Istanbul
Starting from August 2015, the events following the imposition of highly controversial curfews, lasting for months on end in the Southeastern part of Turkey, have resulted in the deaths of more than a thousand people, the total or partial destruction of more than tens of thousands of homes, workplaces, the forced eviction of more than 150 thousand people from their homes in just Diyarbakir, and created more than a million homeless in the whole the region.
On the 16th of September, just after the lifting of a nine-day curfew, I was in Cizre, with a group of women writers, journalists and politicians. In the building where condolences were being received, I saw the pain of the mourners who were carrying photographs of their children, mothers and other relatives. The government claimed that only one civilian had been killed within the duration of the curfew; however 21 people had lost their lives, many of them children, women or the elderly.
Every person's death gives individual pain, but sometimes a particular story stands out as being particularly tragic or unforgivable. For me, this was the death of Bunyamin Irci, a 14 year old boy who had gone out to fetch water from a nearby quarter that still had some. According to the news item in the Birgun daily newspaper of 16 September 2015, based on eyewitness accounts, he was shot in the chest and fell. He raised his hand to signal he was still alive. They shot him in the hand. Then one officer walked up to him and shot him in the head. The witnesses said these were "Special Forces" personnel.  This news item was not refuted.
In the Nur, Cudi and Yafes quarters which we visited in Cizre, most houses were so damaged as to be uninhabitable. I saw with my own eyes, the disproportionate use of force by which the neighborhoods had been reduced to ruins, the electricity and water having been cut, the water tanks atop the roofs deliberately punctured by bullets and the air-conditioners clinging to the outside walls burnt to cinders. Heavy shelling had thrown open the sewers and dirty water overflowed the craters.
The scale of the losses and the destruction suffered by the civilian population could only be comprehended as a collective punitive operation against the inhabitants, a measure that has no place in any modern legal system.
A handful of media channels and human rights organizations in Turkey tried to observe, disseminate and to record these events. The UN Office of the High Commissioner for Human Rights, the Council of Europe Commissioner for Human Rights, the Council of Europe, European Commission For Democracy Through Law (Venice Commission), Human Rights Watch, the International Crisis Group and the International Human Rights Federation published detailed reports on the situation (the URLs of these reports are included as an appendix at the end of this deposition).
These institutions stressed in their reports that the measures taken by the official authorities violated such international tenets of law as,
• "proportionality which has to be observed under crisis situations"
• "effective control of the use of force"
• "protection of the lives and human rights" of the civilian population in the conflict area,
and that this state of affairs was "totally unacceptable".
The UN Office of the High Commissioner for Human Rights stresses in their 25 page report that the violence directed at civilians was unacceptable and yet so far not a single legal process has been started, in disregard of constitutional and international obligations.
There are a number of questions, regarding the use of heavy weaponry, that need closer scrutiny. In the testimonies of the inhabitants, in the reports, which were subsequently published, and in the news items citing the observations of physicians dealing with the wounded, the impression has been voiced that some munitions which were not part of the regular "inventory" may have been used. Such claims have not been investigated, or the results shared with the public.
The kind of damage to the walls of the buildings bring to mind the possibility that Depleted Uranium (DU) munitions, which were deployed by the US army during the Iraq war, have been used. These weapons are able to penetrate thick walls and then burn at a very high temperature. The accumulation of the fine dust from the shattered material creates radioactive pollution both in the environment and in people's bodies and creates grave health problems. Although the deployment of these weapons has not been banned, it is highly controversial. This possibility should definitely be investigated as a public health issue.
After Cizre, news of armed clashes started coming from Diyarbakir and open-ended curfews started to be imposed there as well. On the 30th of December 2015, I was in Diyarbakir together with 106 other proponents for peace, mainly from Istanbul, who had come to show their solidarity and demand an end to the violence. The heart of Diyarbakir, the walled city of Sur, was under curfew. At the gathering in held in an auditorium, we listened to the brother and father, respectively, of two men who had been shot dead in the middle of the street, and whose bodies had not been given to their families for burial although a week had passed. A small group of us then went to speak to the governor of Diyarbakir, and used this opportunity to also ask for the release of the bodies, but to no avail.
During the visit, a discussion regarding the legality of the imposition of curfews in the absence of a state of emergency declared by the council of ministers led to the statement by the governor that this curfew had not been imposed by him, but by the local authorities of Sur. (In either case, this is in clear violation of both the Turkish Constitution, Article No. 19 and the European Convention of Human Rights, Article 5. )
Although we followed up our pleas for the release of the two bodies at a visit to the Prime Minister and Minister of Interior, there was no progress. It was only after 29 days that the horribly mutilated bodies finally were deposited at the morgue.  A similar incident meanwhile took place in Silopi, where an elderly woman was shot in front of her house. It was impossible to go to her aid because of sniper fire, she died and could only be removed and buried after seven days of agony for her family.
I believe that is a civic duty to protest against the humiliation and desecration of what people hold dear, like the proper burial of their dead, as much as it is our right to demand protection for people's lives. It is unacceptable that human rights violations go unpunished and become commonplace. I think that this was one of the main aims of the statement "We shall not be party to this crime." The events taking place at the time of the signing of this statement were already disturbing enough, but subsequent developments have unfortunately shown that our deepest misgivings were justified.
With the ending of the operations at the end of March 2016, the forced eviction policies of the government, already raised in the "We shall not be party to this crime" statement, turned into a massive campaign for the alteration of the demographic structure of Sur and an unparalleled eradication of the cultural heritage. Six neighborhoods were completely leveled with the use of bulldozers and graders. When I went to Diyarbakir in June 2016 and later at the end of September 2017, I learned that many landmarks, including the Hasirli Mosque and St. Giragos church, whose restoration had won the European Union - Europa Nostra (Federation of European Cultural Heritage Organizations) award in 2015, had been destroyed or suffered heavy damage. It should be remarked that Sur, registered as a national cultural landmark, is the buffer zone to the Diyarbakir City Walls and the adjacent Hevsel Gardens, declared World Heritage by UNESCO in 2015.
In this quarter, where Kurdish, Turkish, Armenian, Assyrian, Chaldean or Arabic cultures are intertwined, where the foundations of the houses rest on Roman remains, and where the streets, courtyards and gardens, have a poetry and meaning all of their own, even the cornerstones were uprooted by cranes, effacing the outlines of the streets. Mrs. Irina Bokova, Director General of Europa Nostra, in a letter addressed to UNESCO in 8 July 2016 wrote, "the destruction of this multi-cultural historical heritage in Northern Mesopotamia with roots going back to millennia means, at the same time, the destruction of the heritage of humanity." 
With the passage, on the 21st of March 2016 of an urban renovation bill and the utilization of a "natural disaster area" law (passed in 2012) 90% of Sur has been expropriated from its owners (the rest was already government property). The Alipasa quarter has been now destroyed by 85%. Lale Bey is marked as the next. The inhabitants of Sur are being forced to migrate.
In the course of these events, the people in Turkey were mostly deprived of the possibility to obtain sufficient information about the goings on. Under increasing pressure, a large part of the media covered up and even tried to justify the treatment meted out to the inhabitants, the destruction and loss of lives in Cizre, Diyarbakir, Sirnak, Silopi, Hakkari Yuksekova, Idil and Nusaybin. The unfortunate emergence of discriminatory attitudes and practices on the part of the security forces, in diametric opposition to their real mission, were never subjected to judicial investigation.
The statement "We shall not be party to this crime" was an attempt to create public awareness regarding these events and also a plea for the repudiation of the policies of force, in favor of "seeking solutions for a lasting peace." The breach of the obligation to preserve human lives, the forced evictions and cultural annihilation of which I have only been able to give a few examples, suffice to show how justified and far sighted was the statement which I signed.
I would like to hope that the court will throw out the charges founded on nothing but totally subjective, circular reasoning such as "It is clearly understood that...it is demonstrated."
To accuse the defendants not for what they have said, but for what they have not said, is deeply disturbing for democracy and justice in Turkey.
I believe that it is our right to expect that the human rights violations, which have been pointed out by many signatories, besides myself, will be investigated and the perpetrators will be found out.
I would like to request that the deposition of Assistant Professor Dr. Nihan Aksakalli  being tried for the same charges at the 33. Criminal Court, and who has recorded many civilian deaths and their circumstances in her statement, be included in my dossier as well.
I do not accept the charge of "engaging in terrorist propaganda." I demand my acquittal.
 http://www.hurriyet.com.tr/video/cizre-de-16-kisinin-cenazeleri-topraga-verildi-119603 , https://m.bianet.org/bianet/siyaset/167538-cizre-nin-abluka-altinda-7-gunu-catismali-1-yili
 Birgün, 16.9.2015, "Bünyamin İrci su taşırken vuruldu." https://www.birgun.net/haber-detay/bunyamin-irci-su-tasirken-vuruldu-89527.html
 https://www.theguardian.com/world/2014/jun/19/us-depleted-uranium-weapons-civilian-areas-iraq , https://m.huffpost.com/us/entry/3812888 , https://m.huffpost.com/us/entry/326547
 The letter is attached. Also see http://www.europanostra.org/europa-nostra-raises-voice-destruction-heritage-south-east-turkey/
UNITED NATIONS, OFFICE OF THE HIGH COMMISSIONER FOR HUMAN RIGHTS, "Turkey: Zeid concerned by actions of security forces and clampdown on media," Geneva (1 February 2016)
Birleşmiş Milletler İnsan Hakları Yüksek Komiserliği Güneydoğu Türkiye'de İnsan Haklarının Durumu Raporu, Temmuz 2015 – Aralık 2016 (Şubat 2017):
COUNCIL OF EUROPE, COMMISIONER FOR HUMAN RIGHTS,VISIT TO TURKEY, "Turkey: security trumping human rights, free expression under threat," , Ankara 14.04.2016
COUNCIL OF EUROPE, EUROPEAN COMMISSION FOR DEMOCRACY THROUGH LAW (VENICE COMMISSION), "Turkey – Opinion on the Legal Framawork Governing Curfews," Adopted by the Venice Commission at its 107th Plenary Session (Venice, 10-11 June 2016, Opinion No. 842/2016, CDL-AD(2016)010 Or.Fr., Strasbourg, 13 June 2016 http://www.venice.coe.int/webforms/documents/?pdf=CDL-AD(2016)010-e
(Türkçe çevirisi: Sokağa Çıkma Yasaklarının Yasal Çerçevesi Hakkında Görüş Raporu
HUMAN RIGHTS WATCH, "Türkiye: Devlet Güneydoğudaki Ölümlerin Soruşturulmasını Engelliyor," Temmuz 11, 2016
INTERNATIONAL CRISIS GROUP, "Türkiye'de PKK ile Yaşanan Çatışmaların İnsani Maliyeti: Sur Örneği," Kriz Grubu Avrupa Raporu, N°80 Diyarbakır/İstanbul/Brüksel, 17 Mart 2016
EUROMED RIGHTS - INTERNATIONAL FEDERATION FOR HUMAN RIGHTS,"High Level Solidarity Mission To Turkey," 20-24 January 2016
The letter from Europa Nostra to UNESCO is presented as a seperate document.
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