"The Turkish authorities are obliged under international and domestic law to protect the rights of children, during their arrest, detention and trial. However, these rights are systematically violated. The arrests and prosecutions continue," said Andrew Gardner, author of a new Amnesty International report, "Turkey: All Children Have Rights."
Public Meeting: Justice and Freedom for Kurdish Children
End the Prosecution of Children under the Anti-Terror Laws in Turkey
Tuesday, 20 July, 7-9pm
Committee Room 4, House of Lords, Westminster, SW1
Hosted by Lord Rea
Chaired by Hugo Charlton
Barrister & Peace in Kurdistan Campaign
Guest speaker: Serkan Akbas
Lawyer, Member of Diyarbakir Bar Association, Executive Committee of the Peace and Democracy Party (BDP) Diyarbakir
and supporter of Justice for Children Initiative
Baroness Sarah Ludford MEP
Hywel Williams MP
Researcher on Turkey for Amnesty and author of the AI report
“Turkey: All Children Have Rights”
Director of Redress
Kurdish lawyer, British Peace Council
Legal Director, KHRP
The detention of children is an outrageous abuse of power by any state and contravenes every principle of international law. Not only does the practice offend our belief that children should not be treated the same as adults by the legal system, the political costs of victimising children in this way are incalculable. In Turkey the use of detention and jailing of children has emerged as a major issue in the last few years; since 2006, thousands of children as young as 12 have been prosecuted and hundreds have been arrested following the adoption of anti-terrorism legislation which allows suspects to be detained on suspicion for attending a protest, shouting slogans, doing a victory sign or simply being found on the vicinity of a public demonstration. These minors often complain of being exposed to torture and maltreatment while in custody, living in appalling conditions in prison, and are frequently denied access to education. While hypothetically anyone can be arrested under the Turkish anti-terror law, its provisions have been disproportionately used against Kurds.
The holding of Kurdish children in Turkish prisons, some serving sentences of 5-25 years, is a terrible shame on Turkey and a stain on its image abroad. Such abuses and maltreatment that Kurdish children are regularly forced to endure only adds to the profound alienation and sense of grievance felt by the entire Kurdish community who are struggling for their very existence in their own country.
The mass prosecution and imprisonment of children has generated considerable protest both in Turkey and internationally. Under the banner of the Justice for Children Initiative, a broad range of civil society actors, lawyers, and intellectuals from all corners of Turkey have demanded an immediate end to the practice and succeeded in keeping the issue on the public and political agenda. Turkey has also been criticized by Amnesty International, Human Rights Watch, and UN bodies for its use of anti-terror legislation to enforce draconian sentences against minors for political offenses.
The groundswell of opposition to this appalling practice, which involves prosecuting some children in adult courts, can only contribute to the prolonging of the deep social divisions that weaken the Turkish Republic and whose roots lie in the long failure to seriously address the Kurdish question. In this respect, the detention of Kurdish children is clearly not only a human rights issue and cannot be remedied simply by changing the law. All Kurdish children, who experience discrimination from an early age, are still unable to speak their mother tongue openly and need to be circumspect when expressing their opinions; many children who cannot return to their homes and are left orphans or separated from their families, are victims of a conflict that urgently needs to be resolved for the sake of their future and for Turkey's future.
The event is supported by Peace in Kurdistan Campaign, Liberation, British Peace Council, Kurdish Federation UK, Roj Women Assembly, Kurdish Community Centre Haringey and Halkevi
For information contact Peace in Kurdistan Campaign
firstname.lastname@example.org tel 020 7586 5892 or 020 7272 4131
NOTES: Selected reports
CHAK – 3000 Kurdish Children are imprisoned in Turkey; 15 June 2010
Amnesty: All children have rights: End unfair prosecutions of children under anti-terrorism legislation in Turkey, 17/06/10
KHRP: The Situation of Kurdish Children in Turkey: Fact-Finding Mission Report