The Ankara HADEP Trial

blood divider

We have suffered persecution since the days of our predecessors, HEP and DEP. Over 200 colleagues in the Administration have been murdered. During the same period 3,000 mystery killings have taken place of sympathisers and members. -- HADEP official

I salute the Kurdish people which have resisted oppression for 2600 years. HADEP has come to where it is today by shedding its blood. We were few yesterday but today we are many and do not fit in the halls or in the squares -- Kemal Okutan, Ankara 1996 Congress

The Kurdish people trust HADEP. Furthermore, HADEP is a part of the Kurdish people. -- Murat Bozlak, Ankara 1996 Congress

All the regional offices have been raided already twice this year, which has an unsettling effect on people. It is hard for us to operate under such conditions. It is also difficult to work given that the whole central leadership of HADEP has been arrested. Despite this the people still support us. -- President of HADEP Diyarbakir branch, March 1998

Executive members of HADEP, a pro-Kurdish political party are on trial in Turkey. Their 'crime', to speak on behalf of the Kurds.

The Turkish state is pursuing a policy of repression against the Kurdish people that borders on genocide - villages destroyed, crops burnt, people illegally detained, tortured, disappeared, killed. Those who choose to speak on behalf of or attempt to defend the Kurds are similarly targeted - politicians, journalists, writers, academics, human rights activists, peace activists. No one is safe.

HADEP, the People's Democracy Party, rose from the ashes of HEP and DEP. Founded on 11 May 1994, HADEP is a Turkish opposition party that speaks on behalf of the Kurds. Like its predecessors HEP and DEP, HADEP has found itself targeted by the state security apparatus. Its offices have been ransacked, destroyed and closed down. Its officials and members intimidated, detained, arrested, imprisoned, beaten, tortured and killed. Many have fled into exile. Less than three weeks into its existence, a party official was shot dead.

The reason for the harassment by the Turkish security forces of HADEP is that HADEP, like its predecessors, speaks on behalf of the Kurds. HADEP has called for dialogue with the Kurds, an end to the bloodshed, a peaceful solution to the Kurdish problem.

12 February 1998, the police detained seven leading members of HADEP: Murat Bozlak, the President of HADEP; Mehmet Satan, the Vice President of HADEP; Hamit Geylani, the General Secretary; Zeynettin Unay, the Assistant General Secretary, Ishak Tepe, the Treasurer; Riza Yurtsever and Melik Aygul, both members of the Party's Executive Committee.

17 March 1998, an indictment was presented to Ankara's State Security Court by the State Prosecutor, Talak Salk. The indictment stated that the seven members of HADEP had breached Article 168(1) of the Turkish Code, in that they were 'completely under the control and influence of the outlawed Kurdistan Workers Party (PKK) ... and that the PKK carried out many of its important organisational activities by means of HADEP.' Article 168(1) provides that 'whoever establishes armed societies or bands shall be punished by heavy imprisonment for not less than 10 years.' The indictment went on to state: 'Despite the Constitution, the accused have regularly declared that they are a distinct race and people, with their own language, country and culture.'

Part of the 'evidence' against the seven directors was that they were found to be in possession of pictures of two DEP MPs!

The State Prosecutor is seeking sentences in excess of 20 years.

28th April 1998, an interlocutory hearing took place. The defendants applied for and were denied bail. No evidence was presented. The State Prosecutor charged that the defendants had published a calender which included a map of Kurdistan and that the education and teaching within HADEP was separatist and linked to the PKK. The defendants denied both charges. The hearing was deferred until the 28th May 1998.

Independent observers to the trial were almost overwhelmed by the physical presence of the State surrounding the court - tanks, armed soldiers, security guards. Access to the first half of the proceedings was denied on the grounds that the observers lacked the necessary papers. Once inside the court for the second half the observers were shocked to find armed soldiers with guns raised to the public gallery.

In a separate development, nine directors of the Istanbul branch of HADEP were charged under Article 168(1). Five of those charged were to be joined to the case of the original seven. Of those detained, Sirri Sakik, Feridun Yazgar and Sedat Yurttas, were detained when they arrived at the Ankara court to give evidence in support of the original seven.

23 May 1998, arrest warrants were issued for 38 members of HADEP Executive and Party Councils by the Ankara State Security Court on grounds that they were leaders of armed organisations, they were also accused of separatism.

28 May 1998, a second hearing was held. The cases of five of the Istanbul branch was joined to the cases of the original seven.

A brief hearing took place on 26 June 1998, the trial was then adjourned until a date fixed for the end of July.

Following a hearing on 29 July 1998, five of the HADEP leadership were released, four still remain in custody. With the calling of early elections, HADEP has been seriously disadvantaged. The trial continues . . .

Local executive HADEP member Salih Ozdemir, in the name of Batman HADEP has condemned the torture of his colleagues. He has also claimed that on 28 February the National Security Council gave orders to harass and suppress all democratic institutions and associations. His local branch has been banned, the President arrested.

The first proceedings against HADEP were instigated in 1996 following the HADEP 1996 National Congress. At the congress the Turkish flag was torn down by Faysal Akan (not a HADEP member). For this non-violent, peaceful protest Faysal Akan was branded a 'terrorist' and sentenced to 22 1/2 years imprisonment.

Kurdish Human Rights Project, who were observers at the 1996 trial, have severely criticised the manner in which the trial was conducted, and questioned the right to freedom of expression, freedom of association and the right to a fair trial - rights guaranteed under the European Convention on Human Rights to which Turkey is a signatory.

To date, 21 political parties have been banned in Turkey, 19 since 1960.

Lord Avebury, Turkey's Kurdish Policy in the Nineties [Democracy at Gunpoint, Parliamentary Human Rights Group, June 1996]

Mark Muller, Nationalism and the Rule of Law in Turkey [Democracy at Gunpoint, Parliamentary Human Rights Group, June 1996]

The HADEP Trial - The Proceedings against Members of the People's Democracy Party (Ankara State Security Court 25 September & 23 October 1996), KHRP, January 1997

Turkey: The colour of their clothes - Turkish deputies serve 15 years' imprisonment for expression of Kurdish political identity, Amnesty International, 1997

Further information on the Ankara HADEP trial may be obtained from:
Kurdish Information Centre, 10 Glasshouse Yard, London EC1A 4JN
tel +44-171-250-1315 / fax +44-171-250-1317
Kurdish Human Rights Project, Suite 319 Linen Hall, 162-168 Regent St, London W1R 5TB
tel +44-171-287-2772 / fax +44-171-734-4927

Justice in Turkey? ~ Trial of Selma Tanrikulu
(c) Keith Parkins 1998 -- August 1998 rev 4