Margaret Owen observes 6th hearing of the KCK trial of lawyers, 17 September 2013

This week a UK delegation of six barristers and solicitors travelled to Istanbul to observe the sixth hearing of the KCK trial of lawyers, a major anti-terror trial in which 46 lawyers representing Kurdish leader Abdullah Ocalan are being tried on mass for their association with him as their client.

In this hearing the final 16 defendants whose case had not yet been heard were able to present their defence. None were released on bail, and so must endure continued imprisonment on top of the 22 months they have already spent in pre-trial detention until the next hearing, scheduled for 19 December.

The delegates included international human rights barristers Margaret Owen OBE, Hugo Charlton, and Mark Jones of St Ives Chambers, as well as Tooks Chambers’ Bronwen Jones and Law Society Human Rights Committee member, Tony Fisher and Ali Has, solicitor and representative of the Law Society Human Rights Committee International Action Team.

We will bring you reports and statements by the delegates in the near future. In the meantime, Margaret Owen has written three blog posts giving her observations of the highly political hearing, which are below.

All of our delegates reports and statements on the trials, as well as our actions here in the UK to bring the issue to wider attention, can be found on the International Observation of the KCK trial of Kurdish Lawyers page.

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Set journalists free in Turkey: EFJ campaign update

Below is an update from the European Federation of Journalists (EFJ) international campaign to set free all journalists in Turkey.

Latest News

  • 02 July 2013 – List of international and Turkish journalists and photographers injured during the Gezi Park events in Istanbul (soon available in English / in Turkish)
  • 30 June 2013 – Ground Zero – Turkey : Journalist Tim Pool’s first assignment was to do a live stream of the protests against the construction of a mall in Gezi Park (video)
  • 28 June 2013 – Lettre d’AVOCATS.BE à M. Erdogan, Premier ministre de la République de Turquie, au sujet de la situation des avocats en Turquie, in full here (Fr) (PDF)
  • 26 June 2013 – UK Parliament, Early Day Motion : Attacks On Media Freedoms In Turkey, by MP Jeremy  Corbyn e.a.
  • 25 June 2013 – Beviser plantet mod journalist (in Danish), by Esben Ørberg
  • 17 June 2013 – Der Deutsche Journalisten-Verband hat gegen die Medienhetze des türkischen Ministerpräsidenten Recep Tayyip Erdogan protestiert, in full here
  • 17 June 2013 Journalists Call for International Action to End Crackdown on Media in Turkey – Join the Action Now!
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International lawyers groups issue joint statement on KCK lawyers trial


International delegation observing lawyers trial 20 June in Istanbul


Today we, the undersigned, being a delegation of lawyers from five European countries, observed the fifth hearing, on the 20th June, 2013, of the trial of 46 lawyers, our colleagues, who face prosecution for being members of an illegal organisation, allegedly in the course of undertaking their professional duties, i.e acting as defence lawyers for the imprisoned Kurdish leader, Abdullah Ocalan.

While the procedures used by the authorities leading up to the arrests, for example,  seizure of confidential and privileged documents including client files, unlawful and unwarranted phone tapping and intercepting of private correspondence including emails, violate internationally acknowledged standards in human rights law, we are concerned that the hearings themselves breach the various criteria to be complied with to ensure that trials are “fair”. The defendants have had very limited opportunities to challenge the prosecutor’s evidence which has appeared most speculative and flimsy, but when they have done, they have exposed the indictments as being more often in the realm of fantasy than of fact.

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Margaret Owen: Blogs from Istanbul during fifth KCK lawyers trial hearing

Margaret Owen OBE, along with barrister Melanie Gingell and solicitor Ali Has, has continued  her excellent work as international trial monitor at the latest hearing of the KCK trial of 46 Kurdish lawyers, which took place last Thursday. Below are a series of blog posts written by Margaret about the ongoing protests in Istanbul, and of course about the latest developments in the trial.

Tuesday June 18th. Istanbul. Midnight.

We arrived in Istanbul late tonight, half expecting to find armed police, and even the army, blocking roads from the airport to the city, but all was strangely quiet.

Our taxi driver surprised us by saying that the city centre and Taksim square were deserted, and that the BBC and foreign media had grossly exaggerated the protest movement. He was quite angry at our questions and told us that now the demonstrations were all over and everyone had gone home.

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Lawyers’ associations rally around arrested colleagues in Istanbul

After the arrests on Tuesday of at least 47 lawyers at Caglayan Court in Istanbul who were issuing a statement regarding the Gezi Park protests, the European Association for Democracy and Human Rights (ELDH); the Bar Human Rights Committee (BHRC); and the Law Society of England and Wales have all issued statements in support of their colleagues.

All three statements are available below.

European Association for Democracy and Human Rights

London – Düsseldorf, 12 June 2013
Press release
European Lawyers protest

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‘The Kurdish Question in Turkey’ – Conference Report

“On Wednesday 17 April 2013 the Law School and the ISCTSJ at Queen’s University Belfast hosted a one-day conference entitled ‘The Kurdish Question in Turkey’. The aim of this multi-disciplinary conference was to bring together legal experts, academics, politicians, journalists and grass-roots activists to ignite debate on the Kurdish question in Turkey, particularly from a human rights perspective. The ‘question’ concerns the Turkish-Kurdish conflict. A dispute concerning the rights of Kurds in Turkey, which has spanned over three decades and involved systematic violations of civil, political and socio-economic rights.
The conference dealt with three issues – ‘Democracy Deferred, the Continuing Challenges – Political Trials, Identity and Human Rights’, ‘Victimization of Kurds by the Current Turkish Law’ and ‘Constructive and Peaceful Solution to the Kurdish Question in Turkey’. Eleven speakers presented on these issues to an audience of over 80 participants. The conference, which occurred within weeks of the latest PKK ceasefire, came at a particularly propitious time, thus leading to a number of lively discussions.”

Participants included Peace in Kurdistan patron Margaret Owen OBE, distinguished lawyer from Turkey Ercan Kanar, and head of the BDP Foreign Affairs Commission Nasmi Gur – plus may more.

The report is available for download.

Also, audio-visual recordings from the conference are available at the HR Conference QUB Youtube Channel. The recordings are also gradually being uploaded to the HR Conference QUB Vimeo channel, which we hope to have completed by the end of May.

If you have any further queries you can contact Dennis Arbet Nejbir and Hannah Russell from the organising commmittee at this address

BHRC launches latest report into KCK lawyers trial

Melanie Gingell, barrister from Tooks Chambers and member of the Bar Human Rights Committee, has written a report into the fourth hearing of the ongoing KCK  trial of 46 lawyers in Istanbul, which took place on 28 March 2013. Further observations of the hearing have already been provided by Margaret Owen and Tony Fisher, who joined Melanie at the Silivri court house as international monitors.

The report has been published on the BHRC website, where it is available for download.

The trials continues on 20 June 2013.

Set journalists free in Turkey: EFJ campaign update

The European Federation of Journalists (EFJ) pursues its international campaign to Set Free Journalists in Turkey.

Please find below the latest  news on the matter; note also that today the latest hearing in the KCK case in Istanbul takes place. EFJ is there observing the trial. You can find in-depth information following the link of 19 April. This Friday, a press conference at AJP in Brussels with observers who have been to Istanbul will report on the case.

·         19 April 2013 – KCK Press case: Set our colleagues free, says EFJ, EFJ website
·         18 April 2013 – European Parliament approves 2012 Turkey progress report, EP website
·         15 April 2013 – Tweeting Turkish pianist given sentence for blasphemy, Can Sezer/Ece Toksabay
·         8 April 2013 – Turkey peace talks positive; press freedom still in peril, Özgür Öğret
·         27 March 2013 – “Decriminalize dissent” – Amnesty International report
·         26 March 2013 – After 743 in prison still no freedom for Yalçin Küçük, EFJ website

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Mass trials of lawyers and politicians in Turkey – Legal and political obstacles to the resolution of the Kurdish conflict


Mass trials of lawyers and politicians in Turkey –

 Legal and political obstacles to the resolution of the Kurdish conflict

Thursday 18 April 2013, 6.30pm

Tooks Chambers, 81 Farringdon St, City of London, London EC4A 4BL

This event is free and open to the public.

Two distinguished lawyers, former president of the Turkish Human Rights Association (HRA) Ms Reyhan Yalcindag, and renowned defence lawyer Mr Ercan Kanar, as well as Prof Nazan Ustundag, of Boğaziçi University, will be visiting London to take part in this panel discussion. Following their participation in a conference at Queens University Belfast on the Kurdish question in Turkey, we are pleased to invite these lawyers, academics and activists to share their considerable expertise with us. The event has been called by Peace in Kurdistan campaign, CAMPACC and the Kurdish Federation UK, and will be chaired by Ali Has, solicitor advocate and member of the Law Society Human Rights Committee.

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