A Turkish story: Hatip Dicle case

Journalist Hamza Aktan writes about Hatip Dicle case and violation of civil rights in Turkey
Hamza Aktan is a journalist living in Istanbul. His writing (in Turkish) can be followed at http://hamzaaktan.blogspot.com/

As many other aspects of the Kurdish issue, the decision by the Election Board to strip off Hatip Dicle of his legitimate mandate is also among the consequences of the ongoing set of values created by the government regarding the Kurdish issue. This set of values has been maintained for so many years that exceptional cases in other countries have become ordinary and possible in Turkey. What enables the YSK to consider the case within the framework of an ascribed legal order and to unanimously approve the decision in accordance with the ‘law’ is this structured context.
YSK attributes Dicle’s veto decision to the 76th article of the Constitution which says that detainees sentenced to one year or more in prison can’t be elected MP. When remembered that Dicles imprisonment sentence was approved by High Court on June 9, three days before the elections, we see that the court made the decision within a ‘legal’ frame, while non suit is not against any of the present legal regulations.

However, considering the timing of the ‘more than a year’ imprisonment sentence and the execution time of the penalty, which paved the way for his exclusion by the YSK, we can more easily observe the injustice against Dicle and the ignorance of 85 thousand people’s freewill on a simple law-bureaucracy basis.

The story of 1 year and 8 months

In the last months of 2007, at a time when Turkey was making ready for a new cross-border operation, Hatip Dicle made a statement to the ANKA agency. The statement, published by the agency on 23 October 2007, was reflected to papers and websites in a different way, with the title; “Former DEP member says ‘PKK uses its legitimate right of defense’. “

However, this expression, which in fact isn’t written on the real statement, is an example of what happens to many Kurdish politicians. The media takes out several expressions from the statement, comment them and than write, with the idea that they both amount to the same thing.

However, in his statement, Dicle underlines that he is on the side of a peaceful solution to the Kurdish problem and says that there was a remarkable tendency to violence in the recent period. He tells that he finds cross-border operations wrong.

Dicle afterwards speaks out the words which were used against him and brought to light the accusation of “making propaganda for the organization”.

“The PKK declared a ceasefire last year as a result of the efforts by the U.S., KDP (Kurdistan Democrat Party), Iraqi President and the DTP (Democratic Society Party) – said Dicle – but this ceasefire has become invalid. The PKK will use its legitimate right of defense unless the army does not stop the operations. Conflicts have come to this point in this way and I have heard about the recent press release of the PKK. They express that they side with a peaceful solution and they note they will not mount any attack shoal the army stop the operations. I don’t expect a further statement from them. From the very beginning, the U.S. proposed to Turkey to make peace with both the Kurds of northern Iraq and the Kurds in the country. But the state is moving in the opposite direction and it is not looking for a dialogue with Kurds, which also causes tension between Turkey and the U.S.”

As seen, it is not possible to speak of any propaganda for the organization or a tone of voice praising ?????? ????????? violence. On the contrary, Dicle, with the responsibility of a politician, is inviting the state to a peaceful solution.

However, Ankara’s 11th High Criminal Court considers these expressions as propaganda of the organization and sentences him to two years in prison. Then, with a ‘discretionary mitigation’, the penalty is reduced to one year and eight months.

Therefore, with a look at the basis of all these happenings, it can be understood that the primary concern is the violation of Dicle’s freedom of expression and the fact that he is a victim of the prevailing ‘thought crime’ order in Turkey.

On the other hand, our familiarity with this kind of penalties in Turkey doesn’t enable any discussions about the disproportion of the penalty. Otherwise, we would now be holding discussions about the rightfulness of the two year-imprisonment sentence given to comments and phrases which are obviously open to discussion as to whether they amount to ‘propaganda’.

One more injustice

Not satisfied with the victimization of a politician who is imprisoned because of his ideas, Turkey, which has turned the Kurdish problem into a combination of numerous injustices, takes no notice of 85 thousand people’s right to vote and in accordance with an ordinary article of the law, for the second time, it suspends a MP’s right to be elected.

While announcing the exclusion of Dicle, YSK Vice President Turan Karakaya pointed out that the MP to be elected instead of Dicle would be from another party. This statement will also bring in a new injustice that can hardly be accepted by the people whose representative was stripped of his legal membership of the parliament.

Considering the election results and the injustice that an AKP member will be elected instead of Dicle, it must be the most basic moral duty of AKP, CHP and the MHP to prevent a person to obtain a mandate he or she doesn’t deserve (as he or she has not been chosen by voters) and to enable the person who truly deserve it to have his or her right respected.

(Translation from Turkish: Berna Ozgencil)

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