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Turkey: Arbitrary detention/fair trial concern/ ill-treatment

, Index number: EUR 44/004/2001

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.

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.
BACKGROUND INFORMATION
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.
RECOMMENDED ACTION: Please send telegrams/telexes/faxes/express/airmail
letters in English or your own language:
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- calling on the authorities to review the detention of these children
immediately, in line with international standards, which state that children
shall be deprived of their liberty only as a measure of last resort and for
the shortest appropriate time;
- urging the authorities to initiate a prompt, impartial, independent and
thorough investigation into the allegations that the children were ill-treated
by police, and that they were held in the Police Headquarters in conditions
that amounted to cruel, inhuman or degrading treatment or punishment;
- asking them to ensure that the police officers allegedly responsible are
suspended from active duty while they are under investigation, and that the
children receive compensation, treatment and rehabilitation;
- urging the authorities to ensure that each of the children in prison is examined
and given any necessary treatment by an independent doctor of their choosing;
- stating that all children who are arrested should be told immediately why
they have been arrested, and afforded access to a lawyer and all other rights
and safeguards enshrined in international standards;
- asking them to ensure that any who are charged with recognizably criminal
offences are tried promptly in accordance with international standards for
fair trial, and afford the special protections due to people of their ages;
- urging the authorities to ensure that any statements made as a result of
ill-treatment or coercion are excluded from evidence in any proceedings against
the children.
APPEALS TO:
Minister of Interior
Mr Saadettin Tantan
çileri Bakanl
06644 Ankara, Turkey
Telegrams: Interior Minister, Ankara, Turkey
Faxes: + 90 312 418 17 95
Salutation: Dear Minister
Minister of Justice
Prof Hikmet Sami Türk
Ministry of Justice
Adalet Bakanl
06659 Ankara, Turkey
Telegrams: Justice Minister, Ankara, Turkey
Faxes: + 90 312 417 3954 / 418 5667
Salutation: Dear Minister
State Minister responsible for women and children
Mr Hasan Gemici
Office of the Prime Minister
Babakanlk
06573 Ankara, Turkey
Telegrams: Babakanlk, Ankara, Turkey
Faxes: + 90 312 417 0476
Salutation: Dear Minister
COPIES TO:
State Minister with responsibility for human rights
Mr Rütü Kazm Yücelen
Office of the Prime Minister
Babakanlk
06573 Ankara, Turkey
Faxes: + 90 312 417 0476
and to diplomatic representatives of Turkey accredited to your country.
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Please could appeal writers in EU member countries also send copies to their
Minister of Foreign Affairs.
PLEASE SEND APPEALS IMMEDIATELY. Check with the International Secretariat,
or your section office, if sending appeals after 1 March 2001.

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