More than 5 000 Kurdish children have been prosecuted in Turkey and nearly 3 000 children
are currently imprisoned. Children have been convicted in adult courts of crimes including
that of being member of illegal armed groups and parties, although they were only throwing
stones. According to independent lawyers 2 721 named children are serving prison
sentences as long as eight years. The children have been convicted under Turkish laws
against terrorism.
As a medical doctor, I am concerned about the health, life and development of these
children. Information from the parents, brought to my attention by the Human Rights
Association in Turkey (IHD) as well as by lawyers suggest that the Kurdish children in Turkish
prisons are suffering from malnutrition. There are serious suspicions that the children will
suffer both psychological and physical damage which will last for long time. In addition, the
children do not get sun and fresh air daily, although it is every imprisoned humans right.
Detained children suffering
Turkey signed the UN CRC in 1990, but does not fulfil its obligation according to it and does
not use the CRC in practice.
The Turkish state in 2005 replaced the juvenile courts with appellate courts, where antiterrorism
laws apply. This mean that the serving of the sentence can never be postponed,
moreover the sentence may be increased with up to fifty percent. Many children who are
accused under the anti-terrorism laws have been arrested in connection with the celebration
of Newroz (Kurdish New Year) during which they have thrown stones at the military and the
police. At best, Kurdish children under the age of fifteen are then subjected to investigations
by social workers or psychiatrists, in which they are asked how old they are, who their
parents are and where they live. If they can answer these simple questions they are
considered to be familiar with the legal consequences of their actions, and can be tried
under anti-terrorism laws.
In October 2009 Muharrem Erbey of AmnestyPress stated that, only in the last four years,
about 3 000 children in Turkey had been prosecuted in adult court. In many cases children’s
parents have complained to the IHD that their children have been tortured. It has come to
light that children have been imprisoned just because they made the V sign during political
meetings. Currently 250 Kurdish children are imprisoned in the infamous military prison in
Kurdocide Watch-CHAK
Box 5047, 141 05 Kungens Kurva-Sweden
E-mail: [email protected]
The lawyer Muharen Erbey, chairman of the IHD, is since 2009 imprisoned in the same
prison as the children he previously defended. When Erbey visited Sweden in October 2009
he gave a speech in the Swedish Parliament accusing the Turkish state of not respecting
human rights and prosecuting children as adults.
In May 2010 the Diyarbakir Bar Association, led by Chairman Emin Aktar, protested to the
prison management against prison conditions. The children have found broken glass, nails
and hair in their food. Many children have suddenly fallen ill in unexplained infections.
Children often have their breaks and other prison activities dispensed. The prison
management have punished 31 children by deporting them to five different prisons. This
made it impossible for their parents to visit them. Since the end of May some twenty parents
have been striking outside the prison in Diyarbakir because they do not have the money to
visit their deported children.
Detained Children’s Psychosocial Health
Currently I work as a doctor in Stockholm at a children’s clinic and I know how fragile and
defenceless children can be. Therefore, it is absolutely necessary that the basic rights under
the CRC are guaranteed.
From my experience as a physician, I know that acute and prolonged mental stress can result
in different mental disorders (post-traumatic stress disorder, depression, anxiety and
phobias). In the worst case there is suicide, which many children have committed in Turkish
prisons in recent years. It is horrible that over 5 000 Kurdish families are living with the
knowledge that their children may be subjected to torture, deportation and even suicide. It
is deeply regrettable that the Turkish State does not follow the CRC they signed in 1990 and
fully ratified in 1995.
The Prison Environment is Never Accepted for Children – Show Your Support
Help the imprisoned children! It is reasonable to demand:
• that countries that have ratified the United Nations Convention on the Rights of the Child
have an obligation to comply with it, and that other countries must act when this is not the
• that children should not be tried in courts under Turkish anti-terrorism laws as being
members of illegal armed groups and political parties .
• that if a child is to tried, it should be in a juvenile court and not in an adult court.
Dr. Nemrud Büyükkaya
• The above data are published by the IHD and is coming from the lawyers who defend the children,
• Herman, J.L. (2001): Trauma and Recovery. Rivers Oram Press. ISBN 978-0863584305
• V. Papageorgiou, A. Frangou-Garunovic, R. Iordanidou, W. Yule, P. Smith and P. Vostanis (2000): War trauma
and psychopathology in Bosnian refugee children. European Child & Adolescent Psychiatry, Volume 9, Number
2 / June, 2000. pp. 84-90
Kurdocide Watch CHAK member, Dr. Nemrud Büyükkaya has recently followed the situation
of Kurdish children imprisoned in Turkey and his report has been presented above.
Kurdocide Watch CHAK
Box 5047, 141 05 Kungens Kurva-Sweden
13 juni 2010