|HUMAN RIGHTS DEFENDER FACES IMPRISONMENT|
THE PUBLICATION OF A BULLETIN CALLING FOR A PEACEFUL RESOLUTION OF THE KURDISH QUESTION COULD LEAD TO A 7½ YEAR PRISON SENTENCE FOR NAZMI GÜR, SECRETARY GENERAL OF THE HUMAN RIGHTS ASSOCIATION OF TURKEY.
The Kurdish Human Rights Project today referred the case to the UN Special Rapporteur on the promotion and protection of the right to freedom of opinion and expression, and the Working Group on Arbitrary Detention.
Nazmi Gür, human rights defender and activist in the internationally renowned Human Rights Association of Turkey (IHD) has been charged with the crime of assisting an armed gang organisation. If convicted he will face between 3 and 7½ years imprisonment.
The charge results from the publication of an article entitled 'It is not hard to reach peace', published on World Peace Day, 1st September 1999. In particular the Public Prosecutor's office of Ankara State Security Court No. 1 objected to the use of the terms "the people's of this country" and "…a dirty war waged for the last 15 years".
"Turkey has been found, on successive occasions, to be in breach of its obligations under Article 10 (freedom of expression) of the European Convention on Human Rights" said Kerim Yildiz, Executive Director of the Kurdish Human Rights Project. "Yet the charges against Nazmi Gur indicate that lessons learned before the European Court of Human Rights are going unheeded in Turkey, and raise serious concerns in relation to Turkey's application to the European Union. At a time when Prime Minister Bulent Ecevit promises a rapid improvement in Turkey's human rights record, and Foreign Minister Ismail Cem calls for an easing on Kurdish language and broadcasting restrictions, the charges against Nazmi Gur make a mockery of the Turkish justice system".
In scenes echoing those surrounding the prosecution and subsequent imprisonment of Akin Birdal, former President of the IHD, Nazmi Gür faces imprisonment for calling for a peaceful resolution to the Kurdish question. The south east of Turkey has been ravaged by 15 years of armed conflict between the Turkish security forces and the Kurdistan Workers' Party (PKK).
The Kurdish Human Rights Project, the Bar Human Rights Committee of England and Wales, the Norwegian Bar Association, FIDH and the Euro-Mediterranean Human Rights Network (EMHRN) will be sending international trial observers to the hearing on Thursday 3rd February 2000, 9.30am, Ankara State Security Court No. 1.
NOTES FOR EDITORS:
1. The Kurdish Human Rights Project works for the promotion and protection of human rights within the Kurdish regions of Turkey, Iraq, Iran, Syria and the former Soviet Union.
2. The Human Rights Association (HRA) is a non-governmental organisation dedicated to work for the defence, establishment and promotion of human rights and fundamental freedoms in Turkey.3. Nazmi Gur is being prosecuted in accordance with articles 9 and 20 of Law No. 2845; article 36 and 169 of the Turkish Penal Code; and article 5 of Law No. 3713.