PRESS RELEASE by the International Peace Delegation

Source: Peace in Kurdistan, 19 February 2017. Photo.

An international peace delegation organized by the EU Turkey Civic Commission (EUTCC) and consisting of 11 members from Europe and North America, including Members of European Parliament and of the Council of Europe, academics, and journalists, has been in Diyarbakir and Istanbul this past week.  The delegation has met with representatives from the Kurdish Freedom Movement, political parties, trade unions, academics, journalists, and other civil society organizations.

The delegation includes: two current representatives from the Parliamentary Assembly of the Council of Europe, Miren Edurne Gorrotxategi and Ulla Sandbaek; a current Member of the European Parliament, Julie Ward; a former MEP, Francis Wurtz; a former Minister of Justice and trade unionist, Ögmundur Jonasson; veteran Foreign Correspondent, Jonathan Steele; the Chair of the Westminster Justice and Peace Commission, Father Joe Ryan; three members of the Advisory Board of the Transnational Institute for Social Ecology, Nathan McDonnell, Dimitri Roussopoulos, and Federico Venturini; and a Lecturer from the University of Cambridge, Thomas Jeffrey Miley.

The delegation applied to the Turkish Minister of Justice, requesting a meeting with the leader of the Kurdish Freedom Movement, Abdullah Öcalan, who has been imprisoned and isolated in inhumane conditions on Imrali Island for eighteen years now, and who is a crucial role player in the peace process.  Unfortunately, the Minister of Justice did not respond to our request.

The delegation also attempted to visit the co-chair from the People’s Democratic Party (HDP), Selahattin Demirtas, currently imprisoned unconstitutionally in Edirne.  Its request was rejected.

Over the course of the week, the delegation witnessed and gathered information about the dire human rights’ situation in the country.  It attended the unlawful, politicized trial of an HDP MP from Diyarbakir; and it toured Diyarbakir and met with many people who informed us about their experiences in the year and a half since the unravelling of the peace process – the spiraling of violence and repression, the military assaults, curfews, countless infringements of civil rights, and human rights atrocities.

The delegation will prepare a report about these disturbing findings, which it plans to distribute widely and to present to the European Parliament, the Council of Europe, and the United Nations, among other international organizations.

The report will highlight Turkey’s non-compliance with the recommendations of the Committee for the Prevention of Torture regarding the unlawful and inhumane treatment of Abdullah Ocalan.

The report will also emphasize the unconstitutional imprisonment of the elected representatives of the HDP, the country’s third largest political party, as well the unlawful persecution and detentions suffered by many of its members.  These unlawful detentions have escalated in a most alarming fashion during our visit, with at least 834 people detained between the 13th and the 15th of this month.

In addition to this report, in coming weeks and months the delegation intends to travel to Strasburg to meet with representatives from the Committee for the Prevention of Torture and with members of the Committee of Ministers and other members of the Council of Europe to inform them about and to urge them to act in response to the Turkish state’s blatant disregard for European law and human rights norms.

For further information, contact Dr. Thomas Jeffrey Miley (tjm52@cam.ac.uk); Julie Ward MEP (omri.preiss@europarl.europa.eu; trevor@juliewardmep.eu); and Kariane Westrheim EUTCC (kariane.westrheim@gmail.com , or +47 976 42 088).

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