PUBLIC AI Index: EUR 44/004/2001
UA 11/01 Arbitrary detention/fair trial concern/
ill-treatment 19 January 2001
TURKEY Six children, aged 14 to 16
Twenty-eight children aged from 9 to 18 were arrested on 9 January, accused
of chanting slogans for the outlawed Kurdistan Workers’ Party (PKK). They were
allegedly beaten and ill-treated, and detained in cruel, inhuman or degrading
conditions. Six of them, aged 14 to 16, remain in an adult prison.
Anti-Terror Branch police in armoured vehicles arrived in the small town of
Viransehir, in the southeastern province of Urfa, at around 5 pm. They arrested
a group of children, reportedly beating them as they did so, and demanded the
names of other children. The police reportedly claimed the children had been
chanting PKK slogans around a bonfire. The parents apparently denied this,
saying the children had been playing football, and some of them had lit a fire
to warm themselves.
Police raided other homes in the town the next morning, at around 4.30am,
reportedly beating and arresting more children and their parents. The parents
were released after a few hours, but a total of 28 children, one of them only
nine years old, were detained at Police Headquarters. The children later told
lawyers that they were forced to stand for two or three hours with their faces
to the wall and their hands above their heads, and were not allowed to look
around or speak. They were also constantly threatened and verbally abused.
All 28 children reportedly spent the next two days in a cell measuring three
metres square, with no bed, toilet or washing basin. They were reportedly given
nothing to eat or drink, and were taken to the toilet only two or three times:
this was their only chance to drink water.
It is reported that at least some of the children were questioned, without
a lawyer present, and none were given access to a lawyer. The police reportedly
made the children sign documents, the content of which was unknown to them,
and which at least some of them could not read: 12 are reported to be illiterate.
Despite this, the police did not read the documents out to them.
The 28 children were brought before a prosecutor and a judge on 11 January,
and it is believed they have been charged with membership of an illegal
organization, disseminating propaganda for this organization and violation
of the law on demonstrations. Twenty seven of the children were remanded to
an adult prison. Though 21 have been released, six - FD(14), SE (16), BD (15),
ZE (16), OD (15) and M Y (16) - remain in Viransehir Closed Prison, after appeals
for their release were rejected. The children’s cases have been sent for trial
to the State Security Court in Diyarbakir.
The children’s allegations were recorded by lawyers appointed by the Human
Rights Association (IHD), who visited them in prison on 12 January.
Turkey is a party to the Convention on the Rights of the Child, the European
Convention for the Protection of Human Rights and Fundamental Freedoms (European
Convention) and the Convention against Torture and Other Cruel, Inhuman or
Degrading Treatment or Punishment. Under these treaties Turkey is obliged to
ensure that no one is subjected to torture or other cruel, inhuman or degrading
treatment or punishment. International standards also require that children
be deprived of their liberty only as a measure of last resort and for the shortest
appropriate time. Children in custody must be kept separate from adults, and
have the right to prompt access to legal and other appropriate assistance.
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