Friday, November 20, 2009

Human rights groups urge Turkey to protect Kurdish children


London - On Universal Children’s day, both the KHRP based in London and the Human Rights Association (IHD) from Diyarbakir called on Turkey to protect Kurdish children. “KHRP has found that despite reforms, the fundamental barriers for Kurdish children to be on par with their Turkish counterparts remain.”

According to a KHRP report, children are one of the most vulnerable sections of any society. “This has become particularly acute given the application of new anti-terror legislation that has been used to criminalize children. This was observed by KHRP in last year’s trial proceedings against members of a children’s choir after they sang a Kurdish song at a world music festival in the United States.”

“The lack of mother tongue education; discrimination in the justice system, plus the wide scale internal displacement and isolation of Kurds in Turkey are all contributory factors undermining the protection of Kurdish children in Turkey”, said Rachel Bernu, KHRP Managing Director. “In order for real progress to be made, a democratic solution to the Kurdish issue must be sought. External actors, particularly the EU, must use their influence to ensure Turkey’s compliance with all of its international obligations, particularly within the course of its EU-accession bid.”

Also the IHD sent a letter to the Turkish Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdoğan and asked him to change the Turkish Anti-Terror Law, that ‘violated international agreements to which Turkey is a party’. The IHD said that recent modifications to the laws are important, but don’t constitute a solution for the child victims of the Anti-Terror Law. “Unless positive changes for children – whose numbers increase every day and constitute our future – are made with these modifications, they won’t represent improvements for them, and in terms of its criminal aspects, judicial lawlessness will continue.”

The IHD called on the Council of Ministers and the Turkish Grand National Assembly to look over this piece of legislation once more. “Otherwise, the procedural changes to be made will only result in children being treated as terror criminals in juvenile courts instead of terrorists in adult high criminal ones.”

© Rudaw