KCK trial resumed in Diyarbakır

The 13th hearing of the 59th hearing in KCK (Kurdistan Communities Union) case has begun at Diyarbakır 6th High Criminal Court early Monday morning.

175 Kurdish politicians, 97 arrested, appear on the dock today including deputies and mayors.

The hearing is being attended by 35 arrested politicians including IHD (Human Rights Association) former chair of Amed Branch, lawyer Muharrem Erbey, mayor of Batman Necdet Atalay, BDP deputies Selma Irmak and Kemal Aktaş.

The hearing is also being monitored by many defense lawyers as well as families and relatives of defendants. It is continuing with the defense of lawyers in response to the accusations against Turan Genç, member of the DTP (Democratic Society Party) Local Administrations Commission.

In a series of police operations beginning on 14 April 2009 and referred to in the press as the "KCK operations", 151 people were detained on the basis of alleged links to illegal organizations. These people included lawyers, mayors, politicians, trade unionists, and human rights activists, and were recently brought to trial together in Diyarbakır.

Members of the pro- Kurdish Peace and Democracy Party (BDP) have been accused of being members of these illegal organizations. Only 15 days after the party's significant gain in the March 2009 local elections, where it won 50 municipalities, mass raids were carried out at the homes, businesses and offices of mayors, party activists, human rights advisors, lawyers and many others, pursuant to the KCK operations.

The subsequent trial relating to the KCK operations began on 18 October 2010 at the Special State Penal Court. By the time the trial began many of the defendants had been in custody for a period of 18 months. Much of the evidence had apparently been gathered from wiretapping and phone bugging, and there was a lack of clarity regarding the exact charges, and the basis for such charges, against each defendant.

The trial is significant for the individual defendants, with each facing possible jail sentences of 15 years-to-life if found guilty. Further, the timing of the arrests has led many observers to question the state of democracy in Turkey. The number of defendants, their prolonged detention, the questionable means of collecting evidence, as well as the Court's attitude towards the use of the Kurdish language in the trial, has fanned fears that the accusations are politically motivated rather than based on violations of the law. Therefore, the trial is of a wider significance in terms of the implications it raises regarding democracy in Turkey and the state's attitude towards a political resolution of the Kurdish question.