Turkey: Diyarbakir Children Face 24 Years Jail

BÝA (Diyarbakir) - The prosecution has demanded 9 to 24 years imprisonment for 80 children alleged to have been involved in the wave of incidents in Turkey's Southeast provincial capital of Diyarbakir during which 11 people, including 5 children, were killed when security forces opened fire on the crowds.

The indictment was sent to the Diyarbakir Capital Offences Court for Minors on Monday and charges the children for "membership to an armed organisation, inflicting damage on public buildings and other property, preventing civil servants from carrying out their duty" as well as violating law 2911 on Meetings and Demonstration Rallies.

Another case launched against 36 children was rejected by the same court and sent to the Ankara Capital Offences Court for Minors.

115 children spend holiday in prison

The number of children arrested in Diyarbakir for allegedly being involved in a wave of incidents during which security forces opened fire and killed 11 people including five minors has risen to 60, officials of the city Bar Association said.

The children are being held in prison for approximately on a month facing possible life time imprisonment, indicted with "damaging the sovereignty of the state", "inciting and provoking the people to uprising, hatred and enmity" and "aiding and abetting the outlawed Kurdistan Workers Party (PKK) organization".

Since there are no prison compounds for minors in Diyarbakir, all of the children are being held at an annex building of the E-type prison in the province.

ECHR application underway if minors not released

The Diyarbakir Bar Association Children's Right Centre has disclosed their appeals for the release of the children were being rejected on grounds of the offences being "committed against the security of the state", in concern that the children could escape and a reasoning that the amount of time they spend in prison should be proportional to their possible penalty.

The Center will make a new application for the children's release in the coming days and if this not draw a positive result it will use the right for urgent application to the European Court of Human Rights citing that the educational rights of the children were being violated and that they could not continue with their education.

115 children in annex building

Children aged 12 to 18 are being held at a building block generally referred to as "Annex Building" in the E-type prison compound of Diyarbakir in the lack of any correctional institution for children in the province. The Center has stated that youth aged 18 are being held in their own dormitory in the same building.

Information reaching the Centre reveals there are 55 more minors in addition to the 60 children arrested for the Diyarbakir incidents and bar officials regard the total of 115 minors being held in a single building as "a fearsome number".

According to the Bar Association, children held in the compound started their imprisonment injured through torture and mistreatment and that while law number 5395 on the Protection of Minors should have been imposed, authorities had preferred to place the children in prison.

Justice Ministry refuses meeting

The "Initiative to End All Forms of Violence Towards Children" formed by organizations active in children rights in Diyarbakir and surrounding provinces has still not received a reply from the Justice Ministry to an appeal for an urgent meeting to discuss the issue.

In a statement it made on April 10, the Initiative called on violations to end immediately and demanded for the urgent release of the minors.

Torture and mistreatment under detention

A total of 202 children had been detained in relation to the incidents in Diyarbakir between March 28 and April 1, 2006 and 91 of them were arrested after their initial custody period. As result of an appeal made by the Diyarbakir Bar Association, 34 of the imprisoned children were later released.

The Bar Association Center had disclosed then that 95 percent of the children detained by security forces had been subject to torture and mistreatment.

All rights of the children were violated

Children's rights advocates have stressed over the recent weeks that while children in need of protection aged 12-15 and 15-18 should be placed under immediate protection for their suffering from psychological trauma due to uncontrolled acts of violence that have taken place at the time of their leaving school or work, their being subjected to physical violence, placed under custody in violation of law, subjected to the crime of torture while under custody, their being transferred for interrogation and arrested on charges of "violating the integrity of the state and sovereignty of the country" is unacceptable.

Rights advocates stating that the rights of the children stemming from international and national law is being violated with the current situation in Diyarbakir noted that "without even taking under consideration if the physical-moral elements of allegations against them have been established and disregarding the arrangements made with the purpose of protection, the arrests are unjust and violate the law."

Children incited resentment and hostility!

Allegations made against the children are as follows:

* Aiding and abetting the terrorist PKK organization,

* Inciting and provoking the people to rebellion, resentment and hostility,

* Conducting attacks on security forces with arms, firebombs, knives, stones, sticks,

* Inciting the people to looting,

* Conducting stone, stick, firebomb attacks on public establishments and institutions, political party buildings, public housing, official patrol vehicles, police panzers, business places kept open,

* Setting fire to banks after occupying them by force,

* Violating Act 2911 on Meetings and Demonstration Marches.

pdf: http://www.bianet.org/index_eng_root.htm

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