Since 2009, we have been witnessing an intensified effort by the Turkish state, and governing Justice and Development Party, to silence all public opposition in Turkey. One of the main pillars of this suppression policy is the concept of “terror” and the arbitrary arrests under the guise of “fighting terrorism”. In the past few years, the Turkish state has fabricated various “terrorist” organizations such as Ergenekon, KCK, Balyoz and Devrimci Karargah to silence public dissent and to erase political opposition from all aspects of social life. Many opposition activists have been arrested on false allegations that they are associated with these organizations.
The image portrayed by the foreign press that Turkey is “taking solid steps towards a more advanced democracy” is both misleading and highly alarming. The ruling Justice and Development Party has established control over all state branches including the legislative, executive, judiciary and the security forces, thus unifying the ruling party with the Turkish state. The tacit cooperation between the police, the judiciary and the media currently arms the government with a total lack of restraint and accountability that can only be witnessed under authoritarian regimes.
Over the last couple of years, nearly 13.000 people have been arrested under the auspices of the Anti-Terror Law. Throughout the world, a total of about 35.000 people are currently imprisoned due to ‘terror’ charges. The fact that almost one third of these detainees are in Turkey alone demonstrates the alarming extent of the problem. Those arrested and prosecuted under the Anti-Terror Law include parliament members, mayors, political party leaders, human rights activists, scholars and journalists, as well as an estimate of around 600 students.
The accusations of terrorist organization membership and terrorist propaganda against students are based on activities such as participating in anti-government demonstrations and rallies, carrying political banners, writing political articles and even carrying the Palestinian scarf (poşu). Phone wiretapping and technical monitoring activities carried out by the police are commonly followed by house raids to student homes in which items like posters, banners, books, photos, scarves, umbrellas are confiscated as indications of “highly probable criminal suspicion” and considered sufficient evidence for detentions. Typically, it takes several months until the indictments listing the official charges against detained students are first presented and a court hearing takes place. As such, extended trial and imprisonment periods effectively translate into an indirect conviction. During this long period, students are subjected to heavy physical and mental harassment, as well as being deprived of their right to education.
We, the signatories of this petition, closely follow the trials of all the students arrested under the auspices of the “Anti-Terror Law”. We demand that the Turkish government take the necessary steps to stop arbitrary detentions of students, to improve the conditions of those imprisoned, to acknowledge their right to education, to shorten the trial periods which effectively turned into actual criminal sentences, and to release all detained students immediately. In order to stop the political repression on all segments of social opposition in the country, we urge both the Turkish and the international public to express their solidarity and support our cause.
PLEASE SIGN THE PETITION here: