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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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KHRP welcomes Turkey's decision on Ocalan death sentence

The Kurdish Human Rights Project (KHRP) today welcomed the Turkish government's timely decision to wait for the European Court of Human Rights to pass judgment in the case of Abdullah Ocalan v Turkey, before asking Parliament to make a decision on whether to carry out the death sentence passed on the imprisoned PKK leader.

In particular KHRP commends the stance adopted by Prime Minister Bulent Ecevit in urging Turkey to await the Court ruling.

Mark Muller, KHRP Chairman, stated that 'Ecevit's support of the Court's request represents a vigorous support for the rule of law in Europe. Turkey's recent accession to candidate status for the European Union now provides the Turkish state with an important opportunity to substantially review and re-address its abysmal human rights record, for so long documented by KHRP's work before the ECHR. Turkey's decision in relation to Ocalan reflects a recognition of Turkey's obligations within Europe, and must be commended'.

The European Court of Human Rights had asked Turkey not to execute Mr Ocalan before it can review the case, a process which may take up to two years. Turkey is a member of the Council of Europe and as such is bound by the decisions of the European Court of Human Rights.

Kerim Yildiz, KHRP Executive Director, drew attention, however, to the plight of those who have been sentenced to death in Turkey, for so long as the death penalty remains part of Turkish law. 'While the death penalty exists, Mr Ocalan and all others on Turkey's death row remain at risk. We call on Turkey to follow the example of other European countries by incorporating Protocol 6 of the European Convention on Human Rights into Turkish law'.


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 death penalty existed in Turkey before the foundation of the Republic of Turkey in 1923. Since 1923, 588 people have been executed for crimes such as murder, drug trafficking and violent attempts to overthrow the constitutional order. Since 1984 there has been a de facto moratorium on executions, as the Turkish parliament did not vote on any death sentences brought before it for approval. However, death sentences continue to be imposed by military and civilian courts.