Although Kurds are the largest ethnic minority in Turkey, the Turkish constitution fails to recognize them as such. Turkish authorities persecute Kurds simply for speaking their mother tongue outside of their homes. This year has seen an increase in state-sanctioned human rights abuses.
CPTers in Iraq, who regularly visit the Makhmoor Refugee Camp, are particularly concerned about a case involving 22 men, women and children from that camp.
In October 2009, these families and individuals formed a peace delegation that traveled from the camp to the Iraq/Turkey border hoping to jump-start a peace initiative (spearheaded by Turkish Prime Minister Erdogan) between the Turkish government and the Kurdish minority in Turkey. They hoped, through diplomatic means, to address the need for a legal guarantee of Kurdish human rights. A public relations representative from the Makhmoor camp told CPTers that the delegation’s purpose was to “make brotherhood between Turk and Kurd” and “promote the peace initiative to all human rights organizations, associations, community gatherings and media.”
Instead, Turkish authorities arrested the delegates, including a 16-year-old, and they now collectively face 127 years in prison.
Other violations of Kurds’ rights include:*
• sentencing seven children between the ages of 15 and 18 to 6-13 years in prison for allegedly participating in demonstrations;
• banning the Kurdish daily newspaper Azadiya Welat and sentencing its former editorial manager, Vedat Kurşun, to three years in prison for “spreading propaganda for the PKK” (Kurdistan Workers’ Party);
• placing four politicians of the banned Democratic Society Party (DTP) on trial for speaking Kurdish.
*more information on each violation is available at www.bianet.org/english/
In addition, Turkey is requesting Predator drones from the United States, like the ones currently being used in Afghanistan and Pakistan, which Kurds fear could be used against them.
Please contact your own governments and Turkish Embassies urging the Turkish government to cease violating the human rights of Kurds.
USA: Embassy of Turkey; 2525 Massachusetts Ave. NW; Washington, DC 20008; Tel: 202-612-6700 or 01; Fax: 202-612-6744; firstname.lastname@example.org
CANADA: Embassy of Turkey; 197 Wurtemburg St.; Ottawa, Ontario K1N 8L9; Tel: 613-789-4044 or 3440; Fax: 613-789-3442; email@example.com
UK: Embassy of Turkey; 43 Belgrave Square; London, England SW1X 8PA; Tel: 020-7393-0202; Fax: 020-7393-0066.