By Fréderike GEERDINK
The AKP government of Prime Minister Erdoğan has effectively decreased the once unlimited power of the army. The power of the judiciary was strengthened. But now that power has too strong a grip on society.
Why did you visit wounded demonstrators in hospital? Why did you give interviews to so many TV and radio stations? Why did you attend that press conference? Why did you help get bodies of PKK members back to their families? ‘All legal activities’, says human rights lawyer Reyhan Yalcindag, based in the southeastern city of Diyarbakir, ‘but Kurdish politicians and activists are being questioned and jailed for it.’
And not just a few Kurdish politicians and activists were arrested and jailed, but a total of about 4,000 since April 2009. And that number is still rising, because all over Turkey new suspects are still being arrested in what has become known as the ‘KCK trials’. The KCK is an umbrella organisation of Kurdish groups, including the PKK, which is considered a terrorist organisation by Turkey, the EU and the United States. By arresting peaceful, democratically elected politicians and activists under the KCK flag, practicing democratic rights suddenly becomes a crime. Lawyer Yalcindag: ‘And so you can end up in a cell for giving out a press release, for participating in a demonstration or for shouting a slogan.’