Turkey: Terrorism Laws Used to Jail Kurdish Protesters

Human Rights Watch unequivocally condemns the October 31, 2010 suicide bomb attack in Istanbul. It is essential that Turkey’s response targets the perpetrators, not legitimate dissenters, Human Rights Watch said. A Human Rights Watch report released today documents the use of anti-terror laws to prosecute hundreds of Kurdish demonstrators as though they were armed militants, violating free expression, association, and assembly.

The 75-page report, “Protesting as a Terrorist Offense: The Arbitrary Use of Terrorism Laws to Prosecute and Incarcerate Demonstrators in Turkey,” is based on a review of 50 cases. It describes 26 cases of individuals prosecuted for terrorism even though they had nothing to do with violence such as the October 31 attack, but simply for taking part in protests deemed by the government to be sympathetic to the outlawed armed Kurdistan Workers’ Party (PKK). Hundreds of Kurdish demonstrators are currently in prison pending the outcome of their trials or appeals against convictions. Others are serving long sentences that have been upheld by Turkey’s top court of appeal.

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