Public Announcement to International Public Opinon
Call to Observe the Trial in Van City on 21-22 January
Since April 14, 2009 there have been many operations carried out under the name of “anti-terror operations” but mainly these operations are directed against elected representatives, managers, and members of Peace and Democracy Party (Barış ve Demokrasi Partisi or BDP). As a result of arrests and detentions, lawsuits have been filed all over Turkey and proceedings are ongoing. One of these cases includes the trial of Mr. Bekir Kaya, mayor of Van. His trial will occur on January 21-22, 2013 in Van City.
In the local elections held on March 29, 2009, our party won the Van Municipality by a large margin in spite of all the efforts of the ruling party AKP and its media. After the election, BDP Van Municipality headed by Mr. Bekir Kaya documented that 190 Million TL (Turkish Lira) of debt was incurred by fake invoices during AKP governance. Due to fraud, the Municipality of Van took more than 100 files to court to punish those responsible.
On October 23, 2011 and on November 9, 2011, the province was hit by two earthquakes of magnitudes 7.2 and 5.6, followed by thousands of aftershocks. Tragically, 638 citizens lost their lives in these incidents. Despite all the efforts made to declare Van a disaster area, the government failed to act and the people of Van were forced to live in tents during the middle of winter. Representatives of the government did not provide sufficient support or help heal the wounds caused by the earthquakes. Moreover, the government rejected international aid based on a non-humanitarian reason, ‘to see (test) their own potential,’ as declared by one of its ministers. The government after trying every means to prevent our Van Municipality to heal the wounds of earthquake decided to employ judicial means to this end. Realizing that they cannot win Van after it was listed as to-be metropolitan municipality, that Prime Minister Erdoğan said ‘I want Van’ was a precursor to this operation.
Instead of following the corruption files, the judiciary has expanded its political genocide operations over Van municipality and Kurdish institutions with the government’s instructions. Duties of those who are put on trial with the operation that took place on June 7, 2012 clearly reveal this reality:
Van City Mayor, Lawyer Bekir KAYA,
Bostaniçi District Mayor Nezahat ERGÜNEŞ,
Baskale Former District Mayor İhsan GÜLER,
Başkale District Mayor Hecer SARIHAN,
Edremit District Mayor Abdulkerim SAYAN,
Özalp Mayor Murat DURMAZ,
Former BDP Chairman of Van Cüneyt CANİŞ,
BDP Chairman of Ercis District Veli AVCI,
BDP Chairman of Muradiye District M.Şirin YILDIZ
BDP Co-Chair of Van Mihriban SAH,
BDP Chairman of Van Central District Halis ÇAKIR,
BDP Chairman of Baskale District Derviş POLAT,
BDP Chairman of Çaldıran District Metin ADUGIT,
In the 710-page long indictment, all activities organized and attended by 13 elected Politicians were re-classified as crimes. These include civilian Friday prayers (weekly Islamic prayers not organized by government’s official religious leaders) and even press statements (such as the one from Newroz on the 8th of March honoring International Women Workers Day).
The state of the indictment and the evidence clearly shows that this lawsuit is not filed due any violent action on the part of the defendants. The actions undertaken by the elected mayors and politicians in their official capacity should not be the subject of criminal proceedings. Yet these leaders have been imprisoned for months without seeing any indictment. Politicians were arrested and prosecuted for participating in politics, and mayors for engaging in municipal work and for implementing the policies of their party.
We, as the Peace and Democracy Party, invite the public to take a stand on this case, to say “no” to the reckless disregard for law and to stand by the political prisoners whose only crime has been to express their opposing beliefs and ideals.
We invite all individuals, intellectuals, non-Governmental Institutions, bar associations and press members from around the world who are troubled with the unlawful acts of the judicial branch and corresponding government policies, to attend the hearing that will take place on 21-22 January 2013 at the Van 5th High Criminal Court.
Date of hearing: 21-22 January 2013
Location: Van 5th High Criminal Court Van Courthouse, Center, VAN
Meral Danış Beştaş
Vice Co-chair of BDP in charge of Human Rights and Law
Vice Co-chair of BDP in charge of Foreign Affairs