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 Turkey: Five years imprisonment for Kurdish 14-Year-Old, 13 minors face up to 100 years jail in Mardin  

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Turkey: Five years imprisonment for Kurdish 14-Year-Old, 13 minors face up to 100 years jail in Mardin  13.2.2010 

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February 13, 2010

DIYARBAKIR, Kurdish Southeastern region of Turkey, — Kurdish 14-year-old C.E. received a five years prison sentence of a court in Diyarbakir on the grounds of membership of an illegal organization. Lawyer Akbaş criticized: "C.E. was not even aware of his possibility to be punished. The photographs do not prove his guilt".

The Diyarbakir 5th High Criminal Court handed a 5 years prison sentence to 14-year-old C.E. by reason of "membership of an illegal organization". Initially, the juvenile received a sentence of ten years imprisonment which was then reduced accordingly. His lawyer Serkan Akbaş declared to appeal against the decision saying, "This was not a fair trial."                  

Archive photo from Turkey
Akbaş indicated, "Children up to a certain age are not able to anticipate the negative consequences of their actions and are not fully sensible of them". The lawyer explained:

"Children are not afraid of penalties since they cannot foresee the meaning and the result of their actions. Nevertheless, these children are expected to give proper, reasonable and logic answers before the court just like an adult. When C.E. appeared at court, he was not even aware of the fact that he might be punished. He did not even defend himself properly. This was not a fair trial".

Court decision ordered in the first hearing

The court decided on the case in the first hearing. Lawyer Akbaş criticized that the "report on the ability of differentiating between right and wrong" was prepared in a perfunctory way. He stated that the photographs presented as evidence did not provide any proof of C.E.'s guilt.

According to the law, a "report on the ability of differentiating between right and wrong" has to be prepared for children younger than 15 years old. The report should give information on the child's ability to identify right from wrong and to make a choice accordingly. It is only after this situation has been clarified that the child can be held responsible for the crimes committed.

As reported by Akbaş, the report for C.E. merely included a few hand-written lines signed by a doctor from a state hospital.

"Membership of an illegal organization and committing crimes on behalf of it"

On 9 October 2009, the anniversary of militant Kurdistan Workers' Party (PKK) leader Abdullah Öcalan's extradition from Syria, a group of people lit a fire and set up road barricades in Cizre in the south-eastern province of Şırnak on the Syrian border. When the police intervened with tear gas and water cannons,
www.ekurd.netthe demonstrators threw stones at them. The police arrested people in side streets around the demonstration who they supposed to have attended the demonstration. 14-year-old C.E. was arrested as well. He was kept at the police station for one day before he was released.

When the case was initially filed, C.E. was facing 12 years imprisonment under charges of "membership of an illegal organization and committing crimes on behalf of it", "opposing law no. 2911 on public meetings and demonstrations" and "spreading propaganda for an illegal organization".

The first hearing of the case was held on 10 February. Photographs of C.E. showing him at the scene of the event with his t-shirt pulled over his face were presented as evidence of crime. C.E. stated that he was on his way to open up the place he was working for. He apparently ran into the demonstration by chance and pulled up his t-shirt to protect himself of the tear gas.

The court decreed for a ten years prison sentence; the sentence was reduced to five years and 15 days because C.E. was younger than 15 years old at the time of the incident.

İHD: 13 Children waiting for justice in Mardin

The Human Rights Association (İHD) branch in Mardin, a neighbouring province of Şırnak, announced that 13 children are detained under the Anti-Terror Act (TMK) in the Mardin Midyat M Type Prison. These 13 children face a total of more than 100 years imprisonment.

The human rights defenders urgently demanded to make the necessary amendments of the TMK and release the children as soon as possible.

PKK

Since 1984 PKK took up arms for self-rule in the mainly Kurdish southeast of Turkey (Turkey-Kurdistan) which has claimed around 45,000 lives of Turkish soldiers and Kurdish PKK guerrillas. A large Turkey's Kurdish community openly sympathise with the Kurdish PKK rebels.

The PKK is considered a 'terrorist' organization by Ankara, U.S., the PKK continues to be on the blacklist list in EU despite court ruling which overturned a decision to place the Kurdish rebel group PKK and its political wing on the European Union's terror list.

The PKK demanded Turkey's recognition of the Kurds' identity in its constitution and of their language as a native language along with Turkish in the country's Kurdish areas,
www.ekurd.net the party also demanded an end to ethnic discrimination in Turkish laws and constitution against Kurds, ranting them full political freedoms.

Turkey refuses to recognize its Kurdish population as a distinct minority. It has allowed some cultural rights such as limited broadcasts in the Kurdish language and private Kurdish language courses with the prodding of the European Union, but Kurdish politicians say the measures fall short of their expectations.

Last August, the government announced plans to expand Kurdish freedoms in a bid to erode popular support for the PKK and end the insurgency.

The Kurdish south of Turkey erupted in protests in December in the wake of the ban and officials have rounded up scores of pro-Kurdish politicians as tensions escalate.
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