Turkey: Lawyers storm out of the courtroom
in landmark KCK case
By Nilay Vardar - BIA
A specially authorized
Istanbul court rejected all the defendants demands
in the Kurdistan Communities Union (KCK) trial
during the first hearing of the case on Monday.
Eminent publisher Ragıp Zarakolu and academic Büşra
Ersanlı are also facing charges as part of the
July 3, 2012
ISTANBUL, The first hearing of the
Kurdistan Communities Union (KCK) trial
kicked off in Istanbul's Silivri
district on Monday. The court rejected all the
defendants' demands, while the lawyers stormed out
of the courtroom in protest. Eminent publisher and
Nobel Peace Prize candidate nominee Ragıp Zarakolu
and prominent academic Büşra Ersanlı are also
standing trial in the suit.
Some 205 suspects are currently implicated in the
2401 page long indictment prepared by specially
authorized Prosecutor Adnan Çimen, up from 193
suspects since the merging of the trial with other
Prof. Büşra Ersanlı, an academic from Marmara
University's Faculty of Economics and Administrative
Sciences, is facing the charge of "leading a
terrorist organization," while Ragıp Zarakolu, the
owner of Belge Publishing House, is standing trial
on the charge of "aiding and abetting a terrorist
organization." Translator Ayşe Berktay (Hacımirzaoğlu)
is also facing the charge of "being a member of a
The Peace and Democracy Party's (BDP) co-chair
Gültan Kışanak, BDP deputies Ertuğrul Kürkçü, Sırrı
Süreyya Önder, Sebahat Tuncel, Ayla Akat Ata and
Pervin Buldan, People's Republican Party (CHP)
deputy Binnaz Toprak, and Lami Özgen, the head of
the Confederation of Public Sector Trade Unions (KESK,)
also arrived in the courtroom to watch the trial.
The suspects greeted the audience at the court with
the slogan "berxwedane jiyane" (To resist is to
live,) while Chief Justice Ali Açlık cautioned those
present in the courtroom to refrain from applauding,
booing and displays of extravagant behavior.
Aktar: "20 million people
speak this language"
Suspects Kudbettin Yazbaşı and Mümtaz Aydemir issued
their identity checks in Kurdish, while Chief
Justice concluded the check with the notice that "a
language other than Turkish [had been] used."
"This would constitute no trial if the language of a
20 million strong people in Turkey is referred to as
an 'unknown language,'" said Mehmet Emin Aktar, the
head of the Bar Association in the southeastern
province of Diyarbakir
Meral Danış Beştaş also took the floor and said the
case file had put on trial the BDP's right to engage
in democratic politics. Only the Constitutional
Court reserves the right try political parties, she
said and subsequently requested a ruling for "lack
of venue and jurisdiction."
Beştaş also requested that three experts examine the
BDP's political activities and decide accordingly
whether an investigation was called for. If they
affirm the need for a probe, she said,www.ekurd.net
then the case file should be sent to the Supreme
Court of Appeals.
The lawyers followed with a demand for a translator
to be brought in so as to allow for a plea in the
suspects' mother tounge.
"A disgrace for democracy"
A large crowd consisting of the representatives of
various parties, and primarily those of the BDP,
also gathered before the courthouse.
"Restoring the Kurds' democratic rights is not
merely an issue for the Kurds but also for Turkey.
No one will be free unless the Kurds are free," BDP
deputy Ertuğrul Kürkçü told the crowd.
Gültan Kışanak also thanked the demonstrators who
arrived from every corner of Istanbul to show their
support despite authorities' attempts to stop their
"A disgrace for democracy took place inside. [They]
shut the suspects' microphones [when they attempted]
to plea in Kurdish. If there is no assimilation in
Turkey [as they claim,] then why do they not permit
a plea in the [suspects'] mother language?" she
BDP member Barış Özgüneş also took the floor in the
name of everyone who desired to plea in Kurdish once
the court reconvened after a recess at 13:00 p.m.
The suspects all wore black dresses to commemorate
the Sivas massacre on July 2, as they could not hold
a commemoration in the eastern province of Sivas,
Mobs had torched the Madımak Hotel in Sivas, causing
the deaths of a number of intellectuals and members
of Turkey's Alevi minority in 1993.
Lawyers storm out of the courtroom
"Language is not merely a tool to express oneself,
but a sacred means that expresses a people's dreams,
imagination and system of thoughts. We reject [this]
rhetoric about an 'unknown, inexplicable language.'
Refraining from mentioning the name of the Kurdish [langauge]
amounts to a perpetuation of the [policies] of
denial. Speak at home and on the street, but not in
the courtroom! We reject this," Özgüneş said.
Prosecutor Ramazan Saban then rejected the defendant
lawyers' arguments for "lack of venue and
jurisdiction" in the case, as well as their demands
for pleaing in Kurdish, their rejection of the
indictment and the removal of telephone records from
Following another recess that began at 15:00 and
ended 16:45, the Chief Justice proceeded to reject
all the defendant lawyers' demands. The lawyers
responded by storming out of the courtroom in
Officials detained Prof. Ersanlı on Oct. 28, 2011 in
the district of Datça in the southwestern province
Ragıp Zarakolu, the head of the Turkish branch of
the International Publishers Association's (IPI)
Freedom to Publish Committee and a writer at the
daily Evrensel, was also taken under custody on the
Authorities then issued an order for their arrest on
The Istanbul 15th Court for Serious Crimes released
Zarakolu and 14 other suspects on April 10, 2012.
The prosecutor's office has requested between 7.5 to
15 years behind bars for Zarakolu and 15 to 22.5
years in prison for Prof. Ersanlı. (NV)
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