International Delegation of the World Tribunal on Iraq (WTI/2003-2005) will attend and observe the first trial of Ayşe Berktay.
Berktay is a translator, researcher and global peace and justice activist. Since her arrest in October 2011 during the "Union of Communities in Kurdistan (KCK) operations" she has been held in pre-trial detention in Bakırköy Women's Prison in İstanbul.
Nine months after her initial incarceration, Berktay's trial, along with others, is scheduled to run from July 2nd to July 13th in Silivri.
"Numerous members and supporters of the Peace and Democracy Party (BDP) -which has 36 elected representatives in the Turkish Parliament- have been criminalized and imprisoned on the pretext that they are alleged members of the KCK, a group which the Turkish state claims to be the urban branch of an armed organization known as the PKK."
"Professor Büşra Ersanlı is the best known of those who were thus imprisoned in 2011, together with the publisher Ragıp Zarakolu, who has since been released."
"Not a terrorist, but an idealist"
Members of delegation made a statement about Berktay:
"We now wish to focus public attention on Berktay. As participants in the former WTI network, we have now formed an international delegation to observe the trial of Berktay. She helped found the World Tribunal on Iraq in 2003, and was a principal organizer of its culminating session in Istanbul, which took place in June 2005."
"We know Berktay to be a person of great integrity and honesty. She is not a terrorist, but an idealist who is committed to peace and democracy!"
First Group will attend the trial on 2-3-4 of July. Italian lawyer Fabio Marcelli (International Association of Democratic Lawyers; European Association of Lawyers for Democracy and World Human Rights), Spanish lawyer Maria Louisa Martin Abia (member of the International Association of Democratic Lawyers and European Association of Democratic Lawyers), Belgian philosopher Lieven De Cauter (professor at Leuven University, president of the BRussells Tribunal, co-founder of the WTI) are in the first group.
Second group will come to İstanbul on 11-12-13 of July. Tony Simpson (director of the Bertrand Russell Peace Foundation and editor of The Spokesman Journal) Paloma Valverde (coordinator of the Spanish antiwar organisation CEOSI, member of the IAON network), Pedro Rojo (coordinator of the Spanish antiwar organisation CEOSI, member of the IAON network, co-founder of the WTI Spanish sessions), Ayça Çubukçu (Assistant Professor in Human Rights at the London School of Economics and Political Science, co-founder of the WTI New York session), Patrick Deboosere (political scientist, professor of demography at the Free University of Brussels, co-founder of the BRussells Tribunal and the WTI) are in the second group.
"During the past three years, the Turkish state has imprisoned some 8000 citizens under the guise of fighting terrorism. In a wave of detentions known as the 'KCK* operations', it has targeted activists, academics, journalists, lawyers, students, elected officials, translators and publishers on account of their democratic activities in support of the rights demanded by Kurdish citizens in Turkey."
"We recognize that the 'KCK operations' are used to spread fear amongst activists, to silence public dissent, and to normalize the arbitrary arrest of citizens. The mass arrests of peaceful activists and intellectuals, their lengthy pre-trial detention, and the ensuing trials constitute a source of shame for Turkey, at a time when 'Turkish democracy' is sometimes hailed as a model for the Arab world."
International Delegation of WTI urge the Turkish Government to stop suppressing democratic efforts in support of rights demanded by Kurdish citizens in Turkey.
"We urge the Turkish government to stop criminalising activism under the guise of counter-terrorism. We demand the immediate release of Berktay and all political prisoners in Turkey!" (AS)
* To see Ayşe Berktay's letter from prison click here.