|Concern over arrest and sentencing of BTC campaigner Ferhat Kaya for "Mr" remark|
Press release from:
The Kurdish Human Rights Project and other concerned NGOs today wrote to the UK Secretary for International Development and the Minister for Trade and Investment calling for action over the arrest and sentencing of Ferhat Kaya, Chair of the pro-Kurdish Democratic People Party (DEHAP) in the Central District of the city of Ardahan in north-east Turkey.
Mr. Kaya was recently sentenced to six months' imprisonment for referring to the jailed Kurdish leader Abdullah Ocalan as "Mr Ocalan" in a speech he delivered in April criticising the detention conditions of the leader of the banned Congress for Freedom and Democracy (KADEK).
The evidence strongly suggests that Mr. Kaya has been singled out for prosecution because of his work in obtaining rights for people affected by the Baku-Tbilisi-Ceyhan (BTC) pipeline. Witnesses suggest that Mr. Kaya's speech was by no means illegal, nor even especially contentious nor different from others given at the same event. Moreover, whilst other speakers at the same congress were charged with similar offences, they noticeably had their charges either dropped or were acquitted.
"It seems evident from the circumstances of Mr. Kaya's prosecution that he has been deliberately singled out for his entirely lawful work on the BTC pipeline, in direct contravention of all assurances given by BP, the World Bank and the UK government," says KHRP Executive Director Kerim Yildiz.
"There is absolutely no justification for Mr Kaya's detention," added Mr Yildiz. "If Mr Benn and Mr O'Brien do not press the government of Turkey to reconsider this case, it will send an unmistakable message to all those affected by the pipeline that dissent will be punished."
Nicholas Hildyard of The Cornerhouse, one of the groups supporting the campaign to overturn Mr Kaya's sentence, stated, "It is incumbent upon BP and the other sponsors of the BTC pipeline to live up to their promises and ensure that no-one is harmed by the project."