This year, Newroz will be celebrated with the backdrop of increasing political repression being carried out in the name of the so-called ‘KCK operations’. Since 2009, these police operations have been used as a blunt instrument by the Turkish government in their anti-terror effort, which has resulted in the criminalisation of all forms of Kurdish political activity.
The aim of this year’s visit by committees from Europe for Newroz celebrations is to stand in solidarity with the about 6.000 prisoners in Turkish jails, most of whom are Kurdish. As of 17 January 2012, the detainees include 6 MPs, 16 mayors, 97 journalists, 43 lawyers and party officials, academics, hundreds of members of local authorities, women’s rights advocates, representatives of ecological movements and various NGOs. This is on top of the existing 2.672 charged and imprisoned children (under the age of 18) and 500 students.
While 35.117 people remain under arrest worldwide on terror related charges, 12.897 of these are in Turkey. So Turkey, which was named in the last annual report of the European Court of Human Rights as by far the worst human rights violator of all 47 signatories to the EU Convention on Human Rights, also occupies the number one place on this issue as well. All this clearly demonstrates how the AKP Government in Turkey is trying to supress and imprison all the democratic sections of society that are critical of them, mainly the Kurds, under the guise of ‘War on Terror’.
In short, this country, which experienced long years of military custody and coup, is now continuing with this tradition by way of political custody and civilian coup. Contrary to the dominant narrative that views Turkey as a burgeoning liberal democracy, in reality the AKP is in danger of turning the country into a fascist state.
The current situation in Turkey is expressed perfectly by the words of Martin Niemoller, who wrote of the Nazi period in Germany:
“First they came for the communists, and I didn’t speak out because I wasn’t a communist.
Then they came for the trade-unionists, and I didn’t speak out because I wasn’t a trade-unionist.
Then they came for the socialists, and I didn’t speak out because I wasn’t a socialist.
Then they came for the Jews, and I didn’t speak out because I wasn’t a Jew.
Then they came for me, and there was no one left to speak out for me’’
Why ‘Ez jî li virim’? (‘I am here too’?)
Kurdish political prisoners are isolated from the trial process from the very beginning due to the prohibition of Kurdish in government institutions, denying Kurdish people the right to defend themselves in their mother tongue. As the courts have repeatedly rejected this legitimate demand of the Kurds, the arrestees have begun to respond to inspections with ‘EZ LI VIRIM’ in their language, which means ‘I am here’. ‘EZ LI VIRIM’ has then been transformed into ‘EZ JI LI VIRIM – I am here too’, which means ‘I committed the same crime’, as the slogan for the new solidarity campaign of naming and turning oneself in. Therefore, we use the slogan of ‘EZ JI LIVIRIM’ for the Newroz delegations this year, so we never have to say ‘and there was no one left to speak out for me’ like Niemoller, and to show that the people who are subjected to the terror of the AKP government are not alone.
We would be delighted if you were available to participate in the Newroz delegations this year;
• To escalate and internationalize the solidarity with all political prisoners as part of the ‘KCK operations’;
• To observe and document political repression by the state, to prevent possible attacks with your presence, and to be there for the Kurdish people in Newroz, the Resistance and Liberation Festival of Kurds;
• To demand a peaceful and political solution to the Kurdish question through dialogue and to support the project of Democratic Autonomy proposed by the Kurds as a solution;
We invite you to side with the rightful, not with the powerful, by participating in the Human Rights Committees of Newroz 2012.
Note: All delegations are obliged to make an official visit application to the Turkish Ministry of Justice to visit the arrestees.
Information: The Newroz delegations will be organized in cooperation with the Peace and Democracy Party (BDP).
20 February 2012
KNK – Kurdistan National Congress
KON KURD – Confederation of Kurdish Associations in Europe
FEK BEL – Federation of Kurdish Associations in Belgium
FED-BIR – Kurdish Federation UK