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 Kurds in London Demand Release of Girl in Turkish Jail 

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Kurds in London Demand Release of Girl in Turkish Jail  14.3.2010
By Peter Marshall  

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March 14, 2010

LONDON, — Around a hundred people gathered opposite the Turkish Embassy in London on Friday in a protest demanding that Turkey recognise its obligations under the UN Convention on the Rights of the Child and the European Convention on Human Rights (ECHR) and release the fifteen year old Kurdish girl Berivan Sayaca, jailed for 8 years for allegedly throwing stones at police vehicles in a demonstration, and all Kurdish children currently held in Turkish jails.

The protest was organised by the Free Berivan Committee and most of those taking part on a damp Friday afternoon were from the Kurdish community in London. As well as placards demanding Berivan's release, some had pictures of Turkish atrocities, while others waved flags with an image of Abdullah Ocalan, held in solitary confinement on a Turkish island since 1999, and recognised by many Kurds as the leader of the Kurdish people.

Turkey has over the years been the worst violator of the 47 states that have signed the ECHR, responsible for roughly one fifth of all violations. In 2009 there were 347 negative rulings against Turkey, 21% of the total, most commonly for violating the right to a fair trial, although there were 30 condemnations for inhumane or degrading treatment.

Kurds are treated as second-class citizens in Turkey, and suffer disproportionately from injustice and abuse. Berivan was detained at a rally in support of the banned Turkey Kurdistan Workers' Party (PKK) last October in Batman, a city in southeast Turkey.

Berivan denies throwing stones and has stated she was not a part of the demonstration but had simply stopped to watch on her way to visit her aunt. She is reported as saying "When they arrested me they beat me up a lot. I don't understand why they treated me like this. I am very upset here, I am in pain here" and she confessed to the crimes of throwing stones, attending the unlawful meeting and spreading propaganda for an illegal organisation only after these beatings.

She was tried under anti-terror legislation introduced in 2006, which allows courts to try juveniles as adults and pass sentences up to 50 years. Here original sentence of 13 1/2 years was reduced on appeal to 7 years 9 months because of her age. She is just one of 737 minors who have been charged under these anti-terror laws, and just one of 2,622 children currently held in Turkish jails.

There are thought to be roughly 5 million Kurds living in each of Turkey, Iraq and Iran, and about 1.6 million in Syria,
www.ekurd.netwith around 1.3 million now living in Western Europe, with significant populations in North London and also in Dewsbury.

Co-incidentally at the same time as this demonstration was taking place outside the Turkish Embassy, there were another group of just over 30 Kurds only a couple of hundred yards away on another side of Belgrave Square holding a protest outside the Syrian Embassy.

They were commemorating the start of the 'Qamlishi Uprising’, (also known as the Western Kurdistan Uprising,) which began during a football match in that city in northern Syria where supporters waved Kurdish flags on 12 March 2004 and spread to other Kurdish towns close to the Turkish border as well as Damascus and Aleppo which also have significant Kurdish populations.                       

Kurds in London Demand Release of Girl in Turkish Jail




Protest ahead of the Turkish Embassy


Kurds with flag of the Kurdish PKK leader Abdullah Ocalan in London Demand Release of Girl in Turkish Jail
Photos: demotix com
At least 30 were killed and over 160 injured as Syrian forces brutally suppressed the uprising.
 
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