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The freedom of opinion they mean

2. March 2006

Belgium: up to 6 years of prison for politically supporting liberation struggle in Turkey

Bahar Kimyongür (l) at Assisi's Anti-imperialist Camp 2003
[Bahar Kimyongür (l) at Assisi’s Anti-imperialist Camp 2003]

On February 28, 2006, 7 political militants were convicted to heavy sentences ranging from 4 to 6 years of imprisonment. The reason: no crime committed or ordered by these individuals but the membership in and political support activity for the Turkish “Revolutionary People’s Liberation Party-Front” (DHKP-C) which is mentioned in the EU’ notorious Black List as a terrorist organisation. This appalling anti-democratic sentence has been made possible by the draconian “anti-terrorist” laws passed in the course of the US pre-emptive terror war.

In the political show trial in Brugge, Belgium, 11 persons were tried out of which 4 were absolved and 7 convicted. Musa Asaoglu was sentenced to 6 years, Zerrin Sari and the leader of the DHKP, Dursun Karatas (in absence) to 5 years each, Bahar Kimyongür, Fehriye Erdal (in absence) and Sükriye Akar to 4 years each. Exept Kimyongür, who holds regular residence in Belgium, all present were immediately taken into custody.

The decisive political novelty is that the sentence did not refer to any major offence liable to prosecution according to traditional bourgeois democratic penal codes. Not even the concrete involvement in military actions against the Turkish state was subject of the process (something which the Belgian judiciary would actually not be competent for). The quintessence of the sentence was that all were found guilty of membership in what they EU happens to call terrorist organisation.

What is being punished is the support by political means to a revolutionary organisation in a foreign country. This is a clear violation of the basic democratic rights to freedom of opinion, expression and coalition.

On the other hand it is the absolution for the Turkish state which denies its several million strong Kurdish minority not only the right to self-determination but also basic civil rights revolving around the use of their language. While – if fitting to the geo-strategic interest of the West – the US has used even much softer forms of oppression as pretext for military intervention, in this case the West including the EU has fully supported the war waged against the Kurdish strive for liberation. Furthermore it should be noted that the Turkish regime is in unbroken continuity to the military regime set up after the bloody coup d’etat of 1980 which was supported by the NATO. Not only the Kurdish but also the Turkish democratic, anti-imperialist and revolutionary forces where forced to operate underground and resort to armed struggle. Until now some 10.000 political prisoners linger in the hands of the state’s torturers, a fact which has been revealed once and again also by EU institutions.

The Brugge sentence is a further step in the full fledged legitimisation of the Turkish state and its anti-democratic record preparing its adhesion to the EU. Both on the domestic as well as on the external field it as a move towards what could be called Guantanamisation.

This is especially true for the case of Feriye Erdal. Several years ago she was absolved form the accusation of terrorism and extradition to Turkey denied by the very Belgian judiciary. The Turkish press went mad and diplomatic pressure has been exerted on Belgium ever since. Thus the new sentence against her serves also to please Ankara.

Most appalling, however, are the sentences against Bahar Kimyongür and Sükriye Akar. Both were born in Europe and hold Belgian respectively German nationality. Kimyongür as officer of the DHKC information bureau in Brussels – which actually has been tolerated by the Belgian authorities – was accused of having translated and spread the party’s communiquà©s including those where responsibility for armed activities were claimed. This does not only openly criminalize active political solidarity for revolutionary liberation movements but also simple journalism. Akar, on her part, was found guilty for membership only because her presence in a conspirative flat was proved.

Regarding the party leader Karatas no connection to that conspirative flat, where some small fire arms and personal documents were seized and which therefore played a dominant role in the amalgam of the prosecutor, could be proved. The sentence against him is purely political without even the attempt to construct something concrete. It was only spelled out to please Turkey and to issue an arrest warrant.

The sentence is one of the first applications of the Black List and the ensuing change of the legal system in the sense of the US Patriot Act. It serves to establish an example intimidating anti-imperialist activism. While Europe is swaggering of freedom of expression and press if it comes to the anti Muslim witch hunt it is at the same time criminalizing not only those who fight against the tyranny of the US’ capitalist empire but even those who simply dare to raise their voice against the outrageous injustice. We are moving head-on towards a new McCarthyism. Actually the adhesion of Turkey to the EU is not democratising Turkey but brings Turkish standards of military oligarchic rule into Europe. This must sound the alarm bells of all democratically minded people who we call upon for action to protest the sentence and the connected political and legal frame work symbolized by Guantanamo.

Free the Brugge 7!
Repeal the Black List and the anti-democratic terror laws!

Anti-imperialist Camp
March 2, 2006