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Kurdish Human Rights Project: This is the legacy website of the Kurdish Human Rights Project, containing reports and news pertaining to human rights issues in the Kurdish Regions for 20 years.

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Turkey: BTC campaigner considers indefinite hunger strike to protest ill-treatment

The prominent human rights defender detained and allegedly tortured in Turkey following his work to mitigate the impacts of the controversial Baku-Ceyhan (BTC) pipeline has indicated that he will commence a 'death fast' hunger strike on 12 May 2004 if his application for release is not accepted. Human rights and environmental groups are calling on the international community to intervene urgently to guarantee the safety of the campaigner.

Kaya has been involved for some time in mitigating the impacts of the BTC project by ensuring that local people obtain the compensation to which they are entitled and that their rights under the ECHR are respected. He has this year assisted people affected by the pipeline in bringing complaints to the European Court of Human Rights and European Court of Justice.

Kaya was detained on Wednesday following his attendance at meetings with those affected by the pipeline and later with trade unionists in Ardahan. He states that he was humiliated and very badly beaten up during his detention. An officer pointed a gun at his head and verbally abused him and his family. Kaya was pushed to the ground and kicked repeatedly. Witnesses and relatives observed blood on his clothes and deep cuts on his arms and elsewhere. A medical report is consistent with allegations of torture or ill-treatment. He was also derided as a 'terrorist' by the court prosecutor, although he was not attendant at the court hearing.

Witnesses, human rights and environmental groups believe this is Kaya's second detention in connection with his work to highlight concerns over the pipeline. On Friday 7 May 2004, Kurdish Human Rights Project and the Cornerhouse wrote to the UK Secretary for International Development and Minister for Trade and Investment calling for their action over his case. Earlier requests for action received reassurances from Mr. MacShane, the Foreign Office minister, that Amnesty International had found no evidence of a connection between Kaya's earlier detention and his work in relation to the BTC pipeline. In fact, Amnesty International had not even investigated the case.

There is strong and direct evidence of a link between his intimidation, arrest and torture and his work to highlight the social and environmental impacts of the BTC pipeline. Kaya himself believes his current detention is wholly to prevent his political activities regarding the pipeline.