Europe and Central Asia
Summary of Amnesty International’s Concerns in the Region
January – June 2006
Here the entry on Turkey
Unnecessary restrictions on the right to freedom of expression remained a prominent concern. In spite of the fact that novelist Orhan Pamuk’s case was dismissed in January a steady flow of prosecutions was brought under Article 301 of the Turkish Penal Code (TPC) against a number of individuals who peacefully expressed their dissenting opinion in a way deemed to „denigrate Turkishness“ or state institutions. The October 2005 six-month suspended prison sentence imposed on journalist Hrant Dink under this article was upheld in July by the General Penal Board of the Court of Cassation. AI has previously documented its concerns about this vaguely-worded article and continued to call for its immediate abolition, rejecting the argument often advanced in this period by the Minister of Justice and other authorities that arbitrary prosecutions would be prevented in due course with the emergence of case-law on the article.
A number of other laws were used to prosecute individuals in a way that AI considered an unnecessary restriction on freedom of expression. In May Milli Gazete journalist Mehmet Sevket Eygi was sentenced to one year’s imprisonment for „inciting enmity among the population“ under Article 216 of the TPC for an article he wrote entitled No Energy or Patriotism left [Gayret ve Hamiyet Kalmadi]. The conviction came in spite of the prosecutor in the case calling for Mehmet Sevket Eygi’s acquittal. Also in May, İbrahim Kaboğlu and Baskın Oran, respectively former head and committee member of the Human Rights Advisory Board (HRAB) under the auspices of the Prime Minister’s Office, were acquitted on charges under the same article. They had been prosecuted in relation to the publication of a report on minority and cultural rights authored by Baskın Oran, which suggested inter alia „people from Turkey“ in place of „Turks“ as a more appropriate designation for citizens of Turkey. Despite the acquittal, AI considered that this prosecution illustrated the failure of certain elements of the Turkish prosecution authorities to internalize international law and standards relating to freedom of expression.
This same failure was demonstrated in a number of cases brought under Article 288 of the Turkish Penal Code. In February, prominent journalists Murat Belge, İsmet Berkan, Hasan Cemal, Erol Katırcıoğlu and Haluk Şahin were charged with „attempting to influence the judicial process“ under this article in connection with newspaper articles they wrote about a judicial decision to ban a conference on the situation of Armenians during the Ottoman Empire. In June a case was opened against writer Murat Yetkin on the same charge after he wrote a column in Radikal newspaper entitled Turkey will also be tried [Türkiye de yargılanacak] in which he criticized the prosecution of novelist Orhan Pamuk under Article 301.
Cases were brought against Perihan Mağden and Birgül Özbarış for allegedly „alienating people from military service“ under Article 318 of the TPC after writing articles on conscientious objection in Yeni Aktüel and Özgür Gündem respectively. The latter faced seven charges and potentially a prison sentence totalling 21 years.
Law 5816 on crimes against the memory of Atatürk continued to be used to bring prosecutions despite a ruling from the European Court of Human Rights in February that found that the law had been used in violation of Article 10 of the European Convention on the Protection of Human Rights and Fundamental Freedoms in the case Odabaşı and Kocak v. Turkey.
In a positive step for the promotion of greater freedom of expression in the context of minority cultural rights, private television broadcasts in Kurdish began on 23 March on the channels Gün TV and Söz TV based in Diyarbakır. However, time limitations and particular restrictions of content on non-Turkish language private television and radio broadcasts continued as for state broadcasts, and all television broadcasts were obliged to carry Turkish subtitles. The Higher Board for Radio and Television (RTUK) subsequently further amended the regulation on broadcasts in languages other than Turkish, so that music programmes and films broadcast (for example, in Kurdish languages) were no longer counted within the four-hour per week television broadcasting limit and five-hour per week radio broadcasting limit for languages other than Turkish.
On May 2, İbrahim Güçlü, Zeynel Abidin Özalp, and Ahmet Sedat Oğur were detained in Diyarbakır after they held a press conference announcing that they were about to stage a walk to the border with Iraq in protest at the Turkish military build-up close to the border and at the Turkish state’s policies towards the Kurdish population. The three men were charged under the Law to Fight Terrorism with „making propaganda for the PKK (Kurdistan Workers’ Party)“ and faced a possible prison sentence of between one and three years. İbrahim Güçlü and the other two were widely known as strong critics of the PKK. The three men were initially remanded to pre-trial detention but bailed at the first hearing of their trial which took place on June 8 at Diyarbakır Heavy Penal Court No 6.
A rising number of armed clashes between the Turkish Armed Forces and the Kurdistan Workers’ Party (PKK) in the southeastern and eastern provinces of the country formed the backdrop to the rather bleak picture of human rights which emerged in the first half of 2006. A rising number of bombings – in some cases claimed by armed oppositionist groups and in others committed by perpetrators whose identity was unclear – also continued in 2006. Most bombings during this period caused material damage, some caused civilian deaths and many injuries.
On 9 February a bomb exploded in an internet café in the Bayrampaşa district of Istanbul killing the café owner, Zafer Işık, and injuring 15 people, seven of them police officers. The attack was claimed by the Kurdistan Freedom Falcons (Teyrebazen Azadiye Kurdistan, TAK), a group alleged to be closely connected to the PKK and which claimed a number of other bombings in this period.
On 9 March a suicide bombing in Van perpetrated by a PKK member resulted in two civilian deaths and the death of the bomber.
Several bombings causing material damage in cities were claimed by the Marxist Leninist Communist Party (MLKP). There were also a number of bombings causing material damage whose perpetrators were unknown.
On 11 February former PKK executive, Kani Yılmaz (Faysal Dunlayıcı), one of the founders with Osman Öcalan of the Patriotic Democratic Party of Kurdistan (PWD), and Sabri Tori (Serdar Kaya), another member of the PWD and formerly a PKK member, were assassinated in a car bomb in Suleymaniyeh in northern Iraq. This continued the pattern of assassinations allegedly perpetrated by the PKK against those associated with the PWD, a party established in opposition to the PKK in northern Iraq.
On 5 February Andrea Santano, a priest at the Santa Maria Catholic Church in Trabzon was killed. The alleged perpetrator, a juvenile, O.A., reportedly testified that he had killed Andrea Santaro in revenge for the cartoons of the Prophet Muhammad published in foreign newspapers (originating in Denmark). The trial of O.A. began on 14 June.
On 17 May, in an armed attack on judges at the Council of State (the higher adminstrative court of appeal) Mustafa Yücel Özbilgin, a judge in the Second Chamber of the Council of State was killed, and four other judges were wounded. The gunman, a lawyer, was arrested near the scene. The attack was alleged to have been perpetrated „in revenge“ for a controversial decision by the chamber in October 2005 that upheld the city governor’s refusal to promote a teacher seen wearing a headscarf while off-duty. The investigation examined evidence that the attack was part of a broader conspiracy.
The funerals of four members of the PKK (killed, along with 10 others, in a military operation on 24-25 March in the Şenyayla region between Muş, Bingöl and Diyarbakır) became the context for protests which escalated to violent rioting and spread to other cities in the southeast region.
After the funeral ceremonies held on 28 March, at which clashes broke out between protesters and police, resulting in mass injuries of both protesters and police, and damage to property, violent protests again began on 29 March. Three people (one of them a child aged nine) were allegedly fired on by the security forces and killed. Their funerals provided the context for further demonstrations and further fatal shootings of a child aged six and a minor allegedly by members of the security services. In all there were 10 deaths of demonstrators and onlookers (four of the deaths were of minors) in Diyarbakır in the course of the demonstrations, with the autopsies revealing fatal shooting in eight out of 10 cases as the cause of death. There were also two fatal shootings of demonstrators in Kızıltepe, and in Batman a three-year-old boy was reportedly hit by a stray bullet while playing on a rooftop. On 2 April there were demonstrations in Istanbul and one group of demonstrators reportedly set a public bus on fire: a woman passenger and the two sisters waiting at a bus stop where the bus crashed were killed. Coinciding with the protests, on 31 March, members of the Kurdistan Freedom Falcons (TAK) planted a bomb in a rubbish bin in the Kocamustafapaºa neighbourhood of Istanbul, killing a street seller and heavily wounding three others.
There were mass arrests in all cities during the demonstrations. In Diyarbakır, the Bar Association reported that lawyers for the legal aid service were called out to deal with 543 detentions (199 of them under 18 years); 91 minors and 278 adults were formerly arrested and remanded to pre-trial detention. There were also reports of unofficial detentions. There were widespread allegations of torture or other ill-treatment in police custody. On the basis of reports by the legal aid service of the Bar, the human rights organization Mazlum Der reported that 95 per cent of detainees were tortured or otherwise ill-treated during apprehension and detention. AI raised concerns about violations allegedly committed by the security forces in the course of efforts to police violent demonstrations, and allegations of torture or other ill-treatment made by detainees, in a letter to the Turkish government (see AI Index: EUR44/05/2006).
An AI delegate interviewed some of the minors detained, arrested and bailed pending trial in Diyarbakır. Their allegations of ill-treatment amounting to torture at the Çarşı Police Station in central Diyarbakır were consistent and credible: two 14-year-old boys apprehended in different parts of the city and reportedly unknown to one another separately described being held in a confined space where they were stripped naked for some time then allowed to put their underpants back on. They both reported that they were made to pour cold water over each other or had cold water poured over them when they refused, were threatened with rape and otherwise verbally threatened throughout, were made to lie on the concrete floor, had their hands tied tightly behind their backs with plastic masking tape and were made to kneel in this position for long periods, while being regularly beaten (with fists, truncheons and iron bars) and kicked by police officers at every stage. Lawyers reported that minors were not taken to the children’s department of the police at another location as the regulations require, but were instead held for around nine hours at the Çarşı Police Station before being transferred to the children’s department. Here the boys reported being lined up and slapped once again.
Lawyers at the Diyarbakır Bar Association also reported procedural irregularities at many stages during the apprehension and detention process, with prosecutors themselves also reportedly complaining that police apprehension records lacked detail, were worded in a generic way and did not provide a basis for formal arrest later on. The apprehension records reportedly demonstrated little difference between those detained and freed and those detained and then arrested.
The adults detained (and some minors) were reportedly mainly sent to the Anti-Terror Department of the Police in Diyabakir and held en masse in a sports hall. Lawyers reported to AI allegations of physical ill-treatment, repeated beatings of adults and minors held there, and of their being made to sing the national anthem. Because of the large number of detentions, doctors were brought directly to the sports hall to perform the obligatory medical examination of all detainees (this is against normal regulations which state that detainees must be brought to a hospital or clinic). Lawyers also reported that as they arrived to meet with clients assigned to them by the Bar legal aid service, they were subjected to verbal threats, intimidation and were kept waiting by members of the security forces. One lawyer reported that he was punched by a police officer at the entrance to the Anti-Terror Department.
Following the Diyarbakir incidents, 35 investigations into allegations of torture or other ill-treatment were initiated by prosecutors. Seventy-two complaints of torture or other ill-treatment were the subject of an administrative investigation by the inspectorate of the Ministry of the Interior.
Many local officials from the Democratic Society Party (DTP) in cities such as Batman, Siirt and Kızıltepe were detained and then remanded to pre-trial detention after the demonstrations, charged under anti-terrorism legislation. Osman Baydemir, DTP mayor of Diyarbakır, has been charged for selected sentences from a speech he made to the crowd during the protests. The indictment focuses on comments such as, „our pain at losing 14 has now risen to 16“ (a reference to the 14 PKK members killed in Şenyayla, and to the two civilians killed during the demonstrations). The Diyarbakır governor was beside Osman Baydemir during this speech and together they reportedly made efforts to persuade the crowd to disperse and go home.
There were allegations that the Diyarbakır protests had been partially organized by the PKK and that shopkeepers, in particular, had been instructed to keep their businesses closed and shutters down.
Demonstrators who allegedly participated in the violent riots were later charged with „attempting to damage the integrity of the country and state“ (article 302 of the TPC); „membership of an illegal organization“; making propaganda for an illegal organization“; „aiding an illegal organization“; „possessing explosives“. The indictments seen by AI were all prepared to a standard form, repeating the same formulations – a history of the PKK and an account of the riots – and did not include specific allegations about the persons indicted. Instead they included this formulation:
However, although it cannot be stated clearly which incident the suspects participated in, to which workplace they incurred what damage, which members of the security forces they attacked, or which public building they burnt… the suspects were immediately apprehended by the security forces at places where the incidents occurred and were detained…and although it is not possible to determine how directly they participated in the crimes attributed, their joining in the demonstration in question and contribution to the funeral ceremony under the instruction of the organization [PKK] helped and facilitated the committing of the crimes in question….
Torture and ill-treatment continued to be reported. In general, however, there was a decrease in reports of torture or ill-treatment of individuals detained on suspicion of committing terrorist offences. The important exception to this trend was the mass allegations of torture made following the detentions and arrests during the Diyarbakır protests, as discussed in the previous section.
The deteriorating security situation and the passing of draconian anti-terrorism legislation in the western European context – in particular by the UK – inspired a revised Law to Fight Terrorism which was widely criticized by human rights defenders and bar associations in Turkey, and by AI (see Turkey: Briefing on the wide-ranging, restrictive and arbitrary draft revisions to the Law to Fight Terrorism, AI Index EUR: 44/09/2006). The law was passed by the Turkish Parliament on 29 June.
In light of the apparent breakdown of correct detention procedures in Diyarbakır and the evidence of widespread misconduct and violations by law enforcement officials – in a context of mass detentions which would undoubtedly present a challenge to any police force – AI was particularly concerned at a new provision introduced in the revised Law to Fight Terrorism. Article 9 of the new law permits access to legal counsel for those detained under suspicion of committing terrorist offences to be delayed for a period of 24 hours, at the request of a prosecutor and on the decision of a judge. Lawyers in Turkey judged that this 24-hour postponement would be likely to become standard practice in the detention of terror suspects. The Diyarbakır case revealed again quite starkly that most allegations of torture or other ill-treatment relate to the first hours of detention. In a country with a very recent history of widespread and systematic torture, changes in the law which introduced the right to immediate access to legal counsel for all detainees was an especially important breakthrough and has apparently contributed to the decrease in torture allegations. AI will therefore continue to press for a repeal of a law allowing for any postponement of access to legal counsel (as outlined in AI Index: EUR 44/009/2006).
AI previously raised concerns that individuals detained for ordinary crimes (in particular theft and public order offences, and involvement in organized criminal gangs) continue to be at particular risk of torture or other ill-treatment. Since detainees from these groups are less likely to lodge complaints and some are drawn from particularly vulnerable groups (minors), comprehensive research on this area is lacking.
AI was also concerned about the continuing lack of effective and transparent monitoring of places of detention and the lack of consistent and regular scrutiny of the implementation of detention procedures.
Fatal shootings of civilians by members of the security forces continued to be a problem in Turkey. Generally explained by the security forces as resulting from „failure to obey a warning to stop“, such killings often demonstrate disproportionate use of force and in some cases may amount to extra-judicial executions. AI raised particular concern about a provision in the revised Law to Fight Terrorism which fails to make explicit the clear stipulation in international standards that the use of force must be strictly necessary and proportional to the aim, and that the use of lethal force is only permissible when „strictly unavoidable to protect life“ (Principle 9, UN Basic Principles on the Use of Force and Firearms by Law Enforcement Officials). AI feared that Article 15 of the new law which permits the „direct and unhesitating“ use of firearms to „render the danger ineffective“ may contribute further to unwillingness to pursue thorough and impartial investigations into shootings by members of the security forces.
Aytekin Arnavutoğlu (aged 23) was shot dead on the night of 11 May. Travelling with two other men in a car in the Unkapanı district of Istanbul, Aytekin Arnavutoğlu died when a plain-clothed police officer in another car allegedly shot repeatedly at their car. The full circumstances were disputed. A police officer, who was released from custody on 12 May, has been charged with unintentionally „exceeding the legitimate use of force and causing death“.
The persisting failure to bring law enforcement officials who commit human rights violations to justice also signaled the lack of genuine advance in this area. Investigations into human rights violations by law enforcement officials continued to be marked by deeply flawed procedures and supported suggestions of an unwillingness on the part of the judiciary to bring perpetrators to justice. An overwhelming climate of impunity persisted.
The case of five male teenagers (E.B, N.Ç ,M.K., Ç S and İ.Z.) who were detained on 2 October 2005 during the opening of a shopping centre in the Black Sea town of Ordu and were allegedly tortured (see: AI Index: EUR 01/007/2006, and POL 10/001/2006) concluded with a decision by the prosecutor not to pursue an investigation (Ordu Public Prosecutor’s decision no. 2005/2386). A lawyer for three of the teenagers appealed against this decision, but the prosecutor for the higher court rejected the appeal and upheld the decision not to investigate (decision of Giresün Public Prosecutor dated 27 February).
On 13 February it was reported that the Istanbul Forensic Institute had announced that the DNA tests of 11 bodies found buried in a mass grave in the Kepre hamlet near Alaca village in the Kulp district of Diyarbakır, which was discovered by villagers in November 2004, belonged to villagers who had „disappeared“ after being detained in October 1993. The villagers were detained during operations carried out by the 1st and 2nd battalions of the Bolu Commando Regiment and subsequently „disappeared“. The case brought by lawyers for the families of the „disappeared“ was the subject of a European Court of Human Rights judgment in May 2001 in which Turkey was found in violation of Articles 2, 3, 5.1 and 13 (Akdeniz and Others v. Turkey 23954/94 ECHR 353). The Turkish authorities previously maintained that the 11 missing men had been abducted by the PKK. Lawyers in Diyarbakır lodged a new complaint with the public prosecutor on the basis that the discovery of the bodies in the place where the men were detained necessitated an investigation to determine whether they were killed while in custody. The decision of the military prosecutor as to whether an investigation would be opened was pending.
Concerns about the investigation into the bombing of a bookshop in the southeastern town of Semdinli, in Hakkari province, on 9 November 2005, and the subsequent trial of three suspects (two of them members of gendarmerie intelligence) were raised by AI (AI Index: EUR 44/06/2006).
On 9 November 2005, in the town of ªemdinli in Hakkari province, southeast Turkey, a bookshop was bombed, killing one man and injuring others (see AI Index: EUR 44/033/2005). After their apprehension at the scene of the crime, it was revealed that two of the suspects were gendarmerie intelligence officers (JİT) and the alleged bomber a PKK informant (a former PKK member who was then working for gendarmerie intelligence). In early March, all three were charged in the Van Heavy Penal Court No. 3 on suspicion of „undertaking activities aimed at destroying the unity of the state and the territorial integrity of the country“ (Article 302 of the TPC) and „forming a gang to do this“ (Article 316), articles which fall under the Law to Fight Terrorism (3713), and faced a sentence, if convicted, of aggravated life imprisonment. The first hearing against them took place on 4 May. On 19 June, with unprecedented speed, the case against the non-commissioned officers Ali Kaya and Özcan İldeniz was concluded and the court sentenced them to 39 years and five months’ imprisonment each for „establishing a gang“, killing and injuring. The file of the third defendant, Veysel Ateº, was separated out and his trial continued.
The first hearing against a gendarmerie sergeant who was being tried separately in the Hakkari Heavy Penal Court, accused of having used excessive force resulting in death when he allegedly opened fire on the assembled crowd during the ªemdinli prosecutor’s scene-of-crime investigation some hours after the bombing, took place on 18 January. He was bailed. After the hearing on 18 May, the case was transferred to Malatya, on the grounds of security considerations.
The sentencing of two gendarmerie intelligence officers was an unprecedented step in the Turkish context and was welcomed by lawyers and human rights defenders in Turkey. It nevertheless remained a point of concern to human rights defenders and AI that the court had failed to examine chain-of-command involvement in the bombing and that the failure to broaden the investigation had limited the incident to appearing to be no more than the work of a single undisciplined three-man unit.
Events prior to the trial of the intelligence officers were particularly disturbing and demonstrated the willingness of senior government, state and military authorities to interfere flagrantly in the prosecution. After the 92-page indictment prepared by Prosecutor Ferhat Sarıkaya had been submitted to the panel of judges at the Van Heavy Penal Court for their approval in early March 2006, the content of the indictment became a subject of intense discussion between the government and the military, with the General Chief of Staff seeking extraordinary meetings with the Prime Minister and the President. AI considered that on the basis of these actions and public statements made by different parties, the content of the indictment was deemed unacceptable to some senior authorities even before the court – invested with the authority to accept or reject it – had made its decision. AI considered that the merits or deficiencies of an indictment prepared by a prosecutor should be a matter for the court alone to decide, and that the actions of the General Chief of Staff constituted a direct interference in the proper role of the prosecution and undermined the independence of the judiciary.
In the indictment the Van prosecutor also recommended that allegations of the alleged involvement in the ªemdinli case of the Head of the Army and three local senior members of security forces in the region (the Commander of the Hakkari Province Gendarmerie, the Commander of the Hakkari Mountain Commando Brigade and the Commander of the Van Law and Order Corps) be further investigated by the military prosecutor since, according to Turkish law, these issues fell outside the remit of a civilian prosecutor in the civilian Heavy Penal Court and were a matter for the military court. This exposed once more the parallel system of justice in Turkey in relation to serious human rights violations allegedly committed by military personnel, whereby it is senior military authorities who give permission for investigation and prosecution by military prosecutors and military courts. (AI noted that the trial of the two accused gendarmerie intelligence officers in a civilian Heavy Penal Court was an exceptional case). AI considers that allegations of serious human rights violations – including killings, torture, „disappearances“ – by members of the security forces should be investigated by civilian prosecutors, and trials against them should take place in civilian courts.
The impact of this parallel system of justice in the case of the ªemdinli bombing has been to prevent investigation of the local chain of command within the security forces in Hakkari and Van provinces – irrespective of the allegations made against the Head of the Army – since the General Chief of Staff did not authorize an investigation by the military prosecutor into whether or not they could be held responsible for the incidents in their capacity as senior personnel. By limiting the avenues of investigation to just two members of the security forces (plus an informer), the risk remained that a number of crucial questions would remain unanswered. Investigation of whether there was a chain of command responsible for the incident would answer the questions of whether the ªemdinli bombing was part of a wider conspiracy or even an official policy to carry out such bombings as part of a counter-terrorism operation.
Following a complaint from the General Chief of Staff, two inspectors from the Ministry of Justice were dispatched to Van to interview Prosecutor Ferhat Sarıkaya. Following their recommendation that Ferhat Sarıkaya be disciplined, the High Commission of Judges and Public Prosecutors, charged with determining the appropriate penalty, took the decision on 20 April to dismiss Ferhat Sarıkaya permanently from office for having acted in a way that harmed his profession (Article 69 of the Law on Judges and Public Prosecutors). An appeal against the decision would be heard by the same body and there was no recourse to appeal through a court of law against the decision.
Other areas of concern related to the Parliamentary Investigative Commission into the ªemdinli incidents. During its investigation, the Commission conducted a series of interviews which were made public and received wide and detailed coverage in the press from January onwards. AI was concerned that the press coverage of these interviews may have contributed to undermining the results of such an investigation. In at least one case, an individual whose remarks were reported was subsequently removed from office. The Commission should have taken steps to ensure that statements were made to the Commission in confidence pending the release of the Commission’s findings. Rather than adopting such a course, circulated and published statements prompted senior figures in the government, state and military in turn to comment publicly and interfere in the course of the Commission’s investigation, potentially discouraging some of those subsequently interviewed from making frank statements to the Commission.
For example, there were detailed reports of remarks by Sabri Uzun, Head of the Intelligence Department of the General Direction of Security of the Police, suggesting that the local gendarmerie in Hakkari were responsible for bombings in the region. It was alleged that the complaint of senior military authorities to the government about Sabri Uzun’s remarks prompted his removal from office on 22 March.
In April the Parliamentary Investigative Commission on ªemdinli reported that it had failed to reach conclusions on the ªemdinli incidents, stating that „some information needed to elucidate the incidents was not made available to it by the [Hakkari] Provincial Gendarmerie Command on the grounds that it pertained to state secrets; that not all the incidents were perpetrated by the PKK, that the footprints of a dog and a horse were mixed up [a saying indicating in this context that the evidence was confusing], that for this reason it had not been possible to assess where the incidents led“. The commission therefore left conclusions to the verdict of the court and did not publish a final report.
It was notable that the relationship between the Commission’s work and the criminal investigation was never properly established from the outset and the two were conducted simultaneously. Prosecutor Ferhat Sarıkaya charged with the criminal investigation obtained one of the interviews conducted by the Parliamentary Investigative Commission and included it in the final indictment: the Commission had interviewed a Diyarbakır businessman who made allegations about the past activities of one of the defendants and the Head of the Land Forces of the Army. The inclusion of this material in the indictment became a particular area of controversy.
Prosecutions of those who „knowingly support“ illegal armed political organizations (the combined use of Articles 314/2 and 220/7 of the 2005 Turkish Penal Code)
A trend emerged whereby individuals accused of non-violent activities – frequently expressions of opinion – were prosecuted under articles of the TPC which, when combined, resulted in a punishment equal to the charge of membership of an illegal organization. Article 220/7, „knowingly and willingly supporting an [armed opposition] organization“, stipulates punishment „as a member of an organization“ and thus indicates another article of the Penal Code, Article 314/2, for which the prison sentence is set at between five and 10 years. Prosecutions under Articles 220/7 and 314/2 constitute a significant percentage of prosecutions.
There was strong pressure against officials of the DTP throughout the first half of 2006, with numerous prosecutions for „membership of the PKK“, for „making propaganda for the PKK“, or, thirdly – and of relevance here – for „knowingly and intentionally supporting the PKK“, though not by offering material support.
For example, on 13 June legal proceedings were begun against 56 DTP mayors who signed a letter (dated 27 December 2005) to the Danish Prime Minister, Anders Fogh Rasmussen, arguing that on grounds of it being a popular transmitter of Kurdish language and cultural life, the Denmark-based satellite television channel Roj TV should not be closed down by the Danish authorities at the request of the Turkish government. The letter explicitly avoided comment on the political line promoted by the television channel and the content of its broadcasts, but rather dwelt on the need for greater freedom of expression in Turkey. The DTP mayors were being prosecuted under Articles 220/7, 314/2 and 314/3.