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Another political mass trial in Turkey

22. June 2005

Free the ESP activists

On 7th December 2004 the police attacked the protest of ESP (Socialist Platform of the Oppressed) activists against the New Penalty Law which is going to make living conditions for political prisoners in Turkey more difficult and which was a discussion point in parliament on that same day. This attack ended up in a clash and when the ESP activists were defending themselves, 47 out of them were arrested and tortured. Whilst one of the 47 was released due to his young age, 46 ESP activists, among them members of the Socialist Youth Association, 6 journalists and one artist, were imprisoned.

Of the 46 ESP activists, 29 men were put in Sincan F-type isolation prison (Ankara) and 17 women in Ulucanlar prison (Ankara).

They all been taken to court with the allegation of “being members of a terrorist organisation” under the pretext of the Anti-terror Laws´ section 2/2, which writes “even if they are not members, the ones who commit crime on behalf of an organisation will be considered as terrorists and be punished as organisation members”. The prosecutor demands 22.5 years of punishment for each of them.

While 26 of them are freed at the first trial in March, which was also observed by many representatives, delegates from various organisations and by individual people, 18 of them are still kept in prison. The second trial is on 18 April 2005.

The character and aim of the state´s attack

The protest of the ESP (Socialist Platform of the Oppressed People) against the New Penalty Law on 7th December 2004 in Ankara was one of its activities with an oppositional character. 46 activist including 6 journalists have been imprisoned since then. At the same time, this attack on ESP activists showed the truth about the government´s political view on “tolerating opposition”. According to the state and its toleration of different kinds of oppositional activities, no march to parliament is allowed. It is forbidden to march to parliament which is said to be the centre of representation of people. When people keep on defending their right to march, they are soon attacked by the police. This is what happened on the 7th December 2004 to

ESP activists as well. They insisted on their right to march and protest. The Turkish state always talking about its democracy to the oppressed people was invited to prove this in practice. However, the state´s forces did not allow ESP activists to march and this led to a clash. Because the ESP activists defended themselves by throwing stones and petrol bombs, 46 of them have been imprisoned and the state wants each of them to be sentenced to 22.5 years. Whilst these “illegal elements” of defence are no prove to be sentenced in anti-globalisation protests, or at least to be sentenced to 6-8 months prison, it is a juristic scandal that 46 people in Turkey are going to sentenced to altogether 1035 years of imprisonment.

The revenge attack on ESP activists has not been limited just with imprisonment. Deniz Bakir, the representative of ESP in Ankara, and three other ESP activists were tortured under the pretext that they were taken to the police station. The ESP activists who went to Ankara to protest against the isolation in prison which caused 118 prisoners` death and the New Penalty Law which strengthens the isolation were imprisoned in isolation cells and tortured. The fact that they have been tortured in prison shows us that the ESP activists were right with their protest.

Apart from the attack on ESP, other mass protests and the opposition were attacked in late future as well. On 10th December 2004, the police attacked the march of officials of KESK and imprisoned 30 people. Another example is the attack of the police together with civil fascists on socialist and revolutionary students at Istanbul University. The police entered the Beyazit Campus, threw gas bombs in the class rooms, beat up all left wing students and whomever they met, imprisoned 46 students and want each of them to be sentenced to 15 years.

The real reason of attacking the protest of ESP is the state´s intolerance to the struggle for rights and freedoms. The state´s political line is to limit several rights of people by using the case of ESP as one step. And it conveys the message to the whole society that if people are going to demand and fight for more rights, they are going to be punished in a very hard way. This political view of the state has the aim to oppress people. The oppressed people and ESP who sees itself as the representative of oppressed people are going to make use of their right to fight against this politics. It is the responsibility of every human being and not just of ESP who defends the fight for political rights to protest against the imprisonment and to fight for the release of the 46 ESP activists.

Some examples:

Deniz Bakir, Death Fast Fighter Ankara Representative of ESP

He was first sent to prison in 1995 at the age of 18. He was arrested at the demonstration organised by Turk-Is (trade union) with the allegation of being a member Communist Youth Organisation and sentenced to 12.5 years. Deniz Bakir, who joined in may resistances, has took part in the death fast action in prison where he was sent by force after the massacre of prisoners on 19 December 2000.

He released from prison due to his health conditions. But he again and again taken to police custody because of his political activities and was kidnapped and threatened by plain-cloth police officers.

Deniz Bakir, who is representing the Ankara bureau of ESP, was tortured during his detention and in SINCAN F-TYPE prison where he has been taken to. He is still in prison.

Serap Kervanci, Film Director,BEKSAV Member

Serap Kervanci, who is the Cinema Workshop Director of BEKSAV (Science, Education, Aesthetic, Art Research Foundation), have shoot documentary films called “song of who drink the Sun”, “mornings belong to someone” and “Deja-Vu”. Director Serap Kervanci, who attended to several film workshops in Istanbul and Diyarbakir, were detained when she was shooting pictures with her camera for her new film called “Prison and the Society” in Ankara. She is still in Ulucanlar prison. She is still in prison.

Basak Sahin

Basak Sahin was born in 1977 in Istanbul. She is still studying at Istanbul University Cerrahpasa Medical Faculty at third year. She took part in the frontline of actions against (YOK) Higher Education Council, which keeps the universities under the control of army, government and the state. She was detained so many times. She got arrested and beaten with a truncheon by the police for taking part in the student demonstrations against the sucking of students at the universities. She then released 2 weeks after.

Basak Sahin has established Socialist Youth Association with group of her friend in 2004 and she is still the president of this association.

Socialist Youth Association organized in 13 province of Turkey and deals with the academic and democratic problems and demands of the youth in socialist point of view. Many of its members are university students, but everyone under the age of 30 could become a member. Socialist Youth Association took the frontline in the actions against YOK (Higher Education Council) and struggle against student penalties. Finally it took part in sending live shields to the mountains against the Army operations in Kurdistan. She was released at the court on 11 March 2005.