|IHRC Observer Returns from landmark trial in Turkey
23rd June 1999
An observer from the Islamic Human Rights Commission was sent to monitor
the trial of the Malatya 75 which was adjourned Tuesday, 22 June 1999.
IHRC was particularly concerned with these cases, as the prosecutor has
asked for the death penalty for 51 of them. The 75 were arrested after
participating in a demonstration against a ban on female students wearing
headscarves and attending university.
The 75 were being tried under Section 146 of the Penal Code. They were
charged with trying to change the constitutional order by force.
The observer noted that police and army presence was especially high
at the hearing. Lawyers for the 75 are concerned that the process will
be prevaricated over a series of one day hearings. Politically motivated
prosecutions in the past have been known to last up to 7 years.
The senior judge conceded that five of the defendants had been tortured.
However he upheld the charges against 70 of the defendants on what can
only be described as spurious grounds. This included the possession of
books in Kurdish and on Kurdish issues, on socialism and on political Islam.
On the growing controversy over the headscarf ban, IHRC observer, barrister
Osama Daneshyar said, "The Turkish system is trying to deny these girls
their basic human rights to the freedom of religious expression and their
right to education. This trial, in particular, is not based on evidence
but conjecture and prejudice. These prosecutions have more to do with the
paranoia of the state. There is still no evidence to support the prosecution
case that these people were trying to overthrow the system. You cannot
have a fair trial, when these people are charged with an act which is considered
to be a person’s right under the European Convention of Human Rights to
which Turkey is a signatory."
Representatives of Turkish human rights organisation Mazlumder were
denied access to the hearing. Last week their offices across Turkey, were
raided and closed down by police. The homes of several of its executive
officers were also raided.
18 year old Gulan Intisar Saatcioglu
facing death penalty for reading a poem -
'Song of Freedom'
Those on trial and facing the death penalty include a 18 year old, Gulan
Intisar Saatcioglu. Her part in the alleged attempt at changing the constitution
was to read out a poem entitled ‘Song of Freedom’ at the demonstration.
Two of her sisters, and her mother, journalist Huda Kaya also face the
death penalty. The trial resumes next month.
Huda Kaya and her three Daughters facing execution