Upon hearing the news of the arrests, protest demonstrations were immediately started all over Turkey.
The first hearing of 17 members of the BDCG started in early hours in Diyarbakir. The BDCG members, who had come back to Turkey from Quandil and Maxmur to show their faith in peace and contribute to the peace process, were on put on trial for their speeches. Those prosecuted members of the BDCG are mostly former guerrilla. There were massive protests and support activities continuing in front of the Diyarbakir Court Building which hundreds of people waiting outside all night. Many lawyers from Diyarbakir Bar Association had also attended the trials as well as many peace activists from all over the country.
Amnesty International publishes stories told by children arrested in Turkey
The report published today by Amnesty International called "Turkey: All children have rights: End unfair prosecutions of children under anti-terrorism legislation", contains many first-hand accounts from children taken into custody. The children tell of their ordeal while in the hands of the security forces.
A child told Amnesty International how he was detained by police at the scene of a demonstration in Diyarbakir:
“A police officer caught me by the arm and beat me with a baton. I tried to escape but another officer caught me and beat me too. After that four or five officers beat me with batons and punched and kicked me.”
Once charged, children are frequently remanded in custody for months before the trial verdict. During this period, children are held under the same conditions as adults and no provision is made for them to continue their education.
Prosecutions are often based on insubstantive evidence or statements taken from the children under pressure. Children as young as 12 have been tried in adult courts in violation of law. Most cases end in convictions with prison sentences, some for many years.
The anti-terrorism legislation that the children are prosecuted under is vague and overly broad in its wording and unfair in its application by judges and prosecutors. Long due amendments to the Anti-Terrorism Law would not alter the broad and vague definition of terrorist crimes under which children are prosecuted.
“The Turkish authorities are obliged under international and domestic law to protect the rights of children, during their arrest, detention and trial. However, these rights are systematically violated. The arrests and prosecutions continue,” Andrew Gardner said.
“The Turkish authorities have to reform anti-terrorism legislation so that it is in line with international standards as a matter of urgency. They must also implement a series of measures to ensure that the rights of children are not violated.”
BDP critical of proposal presented yesterday by Parliament’s Justice Commission
A bill on ‘stone-throwing children’ was sent from the Parliament’s Justice Commission to subcommittee on Wednesday.The bill is part of the Justice and Development Party, so called Kurdish initiative, a package of proposals aimed to solve the Kurdish question. In reality so far the proposals have proved to be quite vague if not a cosmetic exercise at all. If the bill is passed, the AKP say, the 300 children arrested during the rallies would be released and would go on trial as minors instead of members of a terrorist organization.
But BDP Istanbul Deputy Sebahat Tuncel said that the regulations insufficient. Tuncel added that the BDP and the Advocates for Justice for Children platform, find the bill insufficient and unable to meet the demands of the families are. “Society cannot be free – remarked MP Tuncel – in a country where the children aren’t free”.
BDP Hakkari Deputy Hamit Geylani said that the bill is “far from abolishing the problems with order", while speaking for Advocates for Justice for Children, Arif Akkaya said that children were being arrested without notifying the parents, jailed in other provinces and thus prevented from being released. “Children are being tortured in jail,” said Akkaya.
Mehmet Atak, speaking for the Platform said that “Turkey, while concerned with Palestinian children, should not overlook the 4,000 children in its own country.”
The subcommittee will finalize its work by Monday, before it sends the bill to Parliament’s General Assembly to be voted on.