PM Ufuk Uras, women’s rights activist Pinar Selek and conscientious objector Mehmet Tarhan were among the 20 people who gathered in front of the Taksim post-office in Istanbul.
Reading the press statement on behalf of the Justice For Children Initiative, performance artist Zeynep Tanbay urged the government to make sure all children are tried in special courts designed in this respect, rather than in criminal courts. "Counter Terrorism Law and the Penal Code should be amended in order to guarantee international standards in juvenile justice."
Around 40 NGOs support the initiative. In Diyarbakir, mayo Osman Baydemir and MP Gültan Kisanak supported the event.
The letters including the demands of the activists were sent to these people:
President Abdullah Gül, PM Recep Tayyip Erdogan, Parliament’s chair Köksal Toptan, Parliamentary Committee on Monitoring Children’s Rights chair Cevdet Erdöl, Parliamentary Commission on Human Rights chair Zafer Üskül, Minister on Human Rights Cemil Çiçek, Minister of Justice Mehmet Ali Sahin, social services department general manager Ismail Baris.
During a recent visit to the parliament by rights activists, ruling Justice and Development Party officials as well as main opposition Republican People’s Party officials promised to bring those demand to agenda. Responding a motion by DTP MP Selahattin Demirtas, Minister of Justice Mehmet Ali Sahin revealed that 724 children have been accused by terror charges in 2006 and 2007, as defined at the Counter Terrorism Law.
319 among those were tried in Diyarbakir courts, focus of Kurdish unrest in Southeastern Turkey.
Another 422 children were tried with the Article 220 of the Penal Code during the same period, which penalizes "organizing to commit crime." Yet another 413 children were accused of "membership to armed organizations", as defined in Article 314 of the Penal Code.
In 2006, the government had introduced a change in the Counter Terror Law, which enabled courts to try children aged between 15 and 18 as adults. In the same year, the Court of Cassation made a leading ruling, deeming participation in an protest as legal proof for "membership to the organization" calling for the protest. As a result, hundreds of children are tried with membership to the PKK, while activists condemn the situation as being against international standards.(EÜ/AGÜ)
List of involved NGOs are as follows:
Aileler, Ankara Barosu, Amargi Kadin Akademisi, Basak Kültür ve Sanat Vakfi, Berfin Yoksullukla Mücadele Dernegi, Çagdas Hukukçular Dernegi Van Subesi, Cizre Esnaf ve Sanatkarlar Odasi, Cizre Soförler Odasi, Cizre Üniversiteliler Dernegi (CÜDER), Çocuklar Ayni Çati Altinda Dernegi (ÇAÇA), Çocuk Çalismalari Birimi (ÇOCA), Dives Cizre Temsilciligi, Diyarbakir Barosu, Diyarbakir Büyüksehir Belediyesi Çocuk Müdürlügü, Diyarbakir Göç-Der, Diyarbakir Sarmasik Yoksullukla Mücadele ve Sürdürülebilir Kalkinma Dernegi, Egitim Sen Genel Merkezi, Egitim-Sen Cizre Subesi, Gündem Çocuk: Çocuk Haklarini Tanitma, Yayginlastirma, Uygulama ve Uygulamalari Izleme Dernegi, Irkçiliga ve Milliyetçilige Dur De Girisimi, Insan Haklari Dernegi, Insan Haklari Gündemi Dernegi, Istanbul Çocuk Haklari Aktivistleri Grubu, Izmir Çagdas Hukukçular Dernegi, KESK Sirnak Subesi, MEM U ZIN Kültür Merkezi, Mazlum-Der, Mazlum-Der Istanbul Subesi, Mazlum-Der Van Subesi, Özgürlügünden Yoksun Gençlerle Dayanisma Dernegi (Öz-Ge Der), Sendika.Org, Sosyal Hizmet Uzmanlari Dernegi Genel Merkezi ve Tüm Subeleri, Sirnak Barosu, Sirnak Kadin Dernegi (Sar-Der), Sirnak Gençlik Çalisma Grubu (Genç-der), Sirnak Tabipler Odasi, Travma Çalismalari Enstitüsü, Tutuklu ve Hükümlü Aileler Demokratik Dayanisma Dernegi (TUHAD-DER), Türkiye Insan Haklari Vakfi (TIHV), Türkiye Baris Meclisi, Türkiye Çocuklara Yeniden Özgürlük Vakfi Ankara Subesi, Türkiye Gençlik Federasyonu, Türk Tabipleri Birligi Merkez Konseyi (TTB), Vakit Geldi Girisimi, Van Barosu.
Bia news center – Istanbul
10 March 2009, Tuesday