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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 Condemns Extreme and Disproportionate Use of Force against Protestors

KHRP is deeply alarmed by the reported disproportionate use of force being used against civilians by Turkish authorities in the Kurdish region of Turkey.

Yesterday, 23-year old university student Aydın Erdem, was killed after he was shot during violent clashes between Turkish police and protestors in the city of Diyarbakir, and hundreds more have been reportedly detained following protests in the provinces of Batman, Hakkari, Şanliurfa, Mardin and Siirt.  KHRP has received reports of anti-riot police trying to block the marches and using pepper gas and water cannons to disperse the crowds of protestors. Clashes also took place in Istanbul and in the south-eastern town of Yüksekova where a teargas grenade on Saturday, left a 19-year-old with serious head injuries.

The protests were sparked by news of the worsening prison conditions for KHRP applicant, Abdullah Öcalan, after he was moved to a new maximum security prison on İmralı Island, off the coast of Istanbul. Last month, new inmates were transferred to the Island in a bid to end Öcalan’s continued solitary confinement and comply with the Committee for the Prevention of Torture’s (CPT) consistent findings that his solitary confinement and conditions of detention were inconsistent with humane treatment. In response to the protests and a request from the pro-Kurdish Democratic Society Party (DTP), the government has agreed to allow a visit from the CPT to verify Mr Öcalan’s new conditions of detention.

Tensions in the region are also particularly high ahead of tomorrow’s expected decision by the Constitutional Court into the 2-year long closure case against the DTP. The July 2007 general elections gave a pro-Kurdish party representation in the Turkish parliament for the first time in 14 years. Yet shortly after, prosecutors filed a number of requests to have the parliamentary immunity of DTP MPs lifted, in order to pave the way for legal proceedings against them, and a party closure case ensued.

‘KHRP is gravely concerned to hear about the killing of student Aydın Erdem and the wave of detentions and deteriorating security situation taking hold across the Kurdish region of Turkey’, said Rachel Bernu, KHRP Managing Director. ‘Furthermore, KHRP is concerned to learn that these clashes have impacted on the much-needed discussion in Turkey on the criminalisation of stone-throwing children under its anti-terror law. Turkey has a responsibility to its children and its entire citizenry to ensure that it complies with its own human rights commitments.  This is especially the case during times of heightened tension.  KHRP is of the view that the cycle of violence in the Kurdish regions must stop, and each side must take responsibility for its actions.  Anger must be acknowledged but also it must be properly channelled.  The government has an important choice to make at this critical time.  Will it be a champion of human rights or will it revert to its old security state habits?  The reports over the weekend are not encouraging.’