Turkey: Open Letter to UK PM Gordon Brown appealing for Release of Kurdish Politicians

WLUML Networkers

PEACE IN KURDISTAN CAMPAIGN: Open Letter to Prime Minister Gordon Brown: We, the undersigned, call on Prime Minister Gordon Brown to use all available diplomatic means to bring an immediate end to the repression of Kurdish politicians in Turkey and to promote a political and negotiated solution to the Kurdish conflict. The mass arrest of some 80 leading members of the new Peace and Democracy Party (BDP) that took place in Turkey on Christmas Eve is a deeply disturbing development that can only have grave consequences for the country’s future peace and stability. The action followed the banning of the popular pro-Kurdish Democratic Society Party (DTP) on 11 December by Turkey’s Constitutional Court.

Those detained are all former pro-Kurdish deputies or mayors and include; the former DEP deputy and co-president of Democratic Society Congress, Mr. Hatip Dicle; the Mayor of Sur Municipality, Mr. Abdullah Demirbas,; the Mayor of Kayapinar, Mr. Zülkif Karatekin; the former DEP Deputy and Mayor of Siirt, Mr. Selim Sadak; the Mayor of Batman, Mr. Necdet Atalay; the Mayor of Viransehir; a member of the Congress of Local and Regional Authorities of the Council of Europe, Mrs. Leyla Guven; the Mayor of Kiziltepe, Mr. Ferhan Turk and vice-president of Human Rights Association, Mr. Muharrem Erbey.

With these moves Turkey is embarking on a dangerous new course that could plunge the country into further conflict and violence by alienating the Kurdish voters who in their millions have given support to the DTP and chosen its members as their representatives in successive polls.

Turkey’s turn to repression also sends a signal to the world that the country is not yet ready to observe international norms of behaviour and its democratic obligations with regards to the political and human rights of its peoples.

If Turkey is unable to enter into dialogue with its own people and meet the popular aspirations of its population, in particular its Kurdish citizens, then it can have little hope of reaching agreements democratic issues with its European neighbours in the future.
By banning legitimate political parties that have a mass following among Kurdish voters, the Turkish authorities are quite simply seeking to stifle the legitimate demands of the Kurds for their basic civil, social and cultural rights. These rights are accepted worldwide as the bedrock of a democratic country.

In opting for increased repression Turkey is closing off the democratic option to the Kurds and telling them in no uncertain terms that their concerns will not be resolved through dialogue. This can only create further alienation and discontent among the Kurdish masses.

We call on the Prime Minister to urge the Turkish government to rethink and reverse its repressive strategy and embark on dialogue even at this late hour in order to start to resolve the Kurdish question by peaceful means.

The recent arrests of DTP/BDP members and their continued detentions have been carried out in flagrant disregard for Turkey’s international human rights obligations. We urge the Prime Minister to ensure that the Turkish authorities are obliged to respect their legal obligations in these fundamental matters.

Signed by
Noam Chomsky; Tony Benn; Baroness Sarah Ludford MEP; Jean Lambert MEP; Caroline Lukas MEP; Bairbre De Brun MEP, Sinn Fein; Lord Rea; Lord Hylton; Lord Wallace; John Austin MP; Hywel Williams MP; Bob Russell MP; David Drew MP; Bob Spink MP; Linda Fabiani SNP MSP; Mike Mansfield QC; Louise Christian, human rights lawyer; Dafydd Iwan, LL.D., President of Plaid Cymru, Party of Wales; Bruce Kent, Vice-President Pax Christi; Prof Bill Bowring, President of EDLH European Association of Lawyers for Democracy and World Human Rights; Thomas Schmidt, lawyer, Secretary General of ELDH European Association of Lawyers for  Democracy and World Human Rights; Liz Davies, Chair Haldane Society of Socialist Lawyers; Dr Victoria Sentas, School of Law, King's College London; Frances Webber, human rights lawyer, Vice-President of Haldane Society of Socialist Lawyers; Hugo Charlton, barrister; Margaret Owen, Director WPD, International Human Rights Lawyer; Nick Hildyard, policy analyst; Desmond Fernandes, genocide scholar and author; Dr Felix Padel, Anthropologist; Ara Sarafian, historian; Professor Ben Bowling, School of Law, King's College London; Dr David Whyte, School of Sociology and Social Policy, Liverpool University; Sugin Praisoody, Lawyer; Les Levidow, Campaign Against Criminalising Communities (CAMPACC) ; Jonathan Bloch, Author and LibDem Councillor; Khatchatur I. Pilikian, Prof of Music & Art; Robert Brown MSP; Marlyn Glen MSP; Ken Macintosh MSP; Elaine Smith MSP; Michael Matheson MSP; Christina McKelvie MSP; Dr Bill Wilson MSP; Cathy Peattie MSP; Richard Haley, Secretary, Scotland Against Criminalising Communities ; Stephen Smellie, UNISON Scottish Committee; Roger Tompkins, International. lawyer (retired), Cyprus ; Prof. Dr. Raimund Rütten, Frankfurt am Main, Germany; Joachim Rollhauser, Attorney at Law, Athens; Maria Paradeisi Assistant Professor, Panteion University, Athens Greece; Katerina Papagika, doctor, Athens; Dimitris Stergiopoulos, student, Athens; Iosifina Iakovidou, doctorand, Athens; Dimitris Tsirkas, Athens; Stratis Bournazos, journalist, Athens; Giorgos Karatzas, Human Rights activist, Athens; Manolis Hatiris, doctorand, Athens; Internationalist magazine "Resistencias"; Kurdish Federation UK.

1 February 2010

Peace in Kurdistan
Campaign for a political solution of the Kurdish question
Patrons: Lord Avebury, John Austin MP, Lord Rea, Lord Dholakia, Baroness Sarah Ludford MEP, Jean Lambert MEP, Bairbre de Brún MEP Sinn Féin, Alyn Smith MEP, Hywel Williams MP, Elfyn Llwyd MP,  Julie Christie, Gareth Peirce, Noam Chomsky, Edward Albee, Mark Thomas
44 Ainger Road, London NW3 3AT Tel 020 7586 5892 Fax 020 7483 2531
e-mail: estella24@tiscali.co.uk