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Kurdish Human Rights Project: This is the legacy website of the Kurdish Human Rights Project, containing reports and news pertaining to human rights issues in the Kurdish Regions for 20 years.

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2004 Annual Report - Page 5
Article Index
2004 Annual Report
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Fact-finding and trial observation missions play an essential part in KHRP's programme to monitor human rights abuses in the Kurdish regions and to help to press for the rule of law and a wider democratic platform for discussion there. These missions also help KHRP in maintaining grassroots links with survivors of human rights abuses and the people who defend them and, in turn, offer support for those involved in the fight for human rights on the ground.

KHRP fact-finding and trial observation missions provide a channel of communication between individuals and groups and in the Kurdish regions and the international policymakers with the influence to change their lives. Moreover, to the people in the Kurdish regions, the missions enable them to communicate their stories and concerns to an international human rights organisation that is not subject to the intimidation and censorship faced by domestic organisations: safeguarding them against the risk of further ill-treatment or harassment.

In 2004 KHRP conducted six fact-finding missions to Turkey and Iraqi Kurdistan. In Iraqi Kurdistan, the mission examined the problems faced by the most vulnerable groups particularly women, minorities and internally displaced persons (IDPs), particularly in the light of the prevailing security threats throughout the year seen in most of Iraq. Five missions to Turkey examined a range of issues, including the human rights, cultural and environmental impacts on affected communities of the construction of large-scale infrastructure projects including dams and pipelines; the effi cacy of recent pro-EU reforms passed on improving human rights; and in particular the situation faced by the most vulnerable groups, namely women, internally displaced persons (IDPs) and Kurds. The missions also examined the continuing reports of human rights violations such as torture or ill-treatment and extra-judicial killings in the Southeast area particularly.

A further four delegations were sent to observe trials in Turkey, to monitor compliance with standards of due process. Several trials were against human rights defenders, often the subject of unfounded prosecutions or arbitrary trials as a method of intimidation. Others were against police and security offi cers accused of perpetrating human rights abuses including torture, ill-treatment and extra-judicial killings. KHRP maintains the belief that by ensuring the perpetrators of human rights violations are not able to act with impunity, similar abuses are prevented from occurring in future. In all these missions, the delegation consulted with a range of government offi cials, members of the judiciary, local non-governmental organisations, human rights defenders and individuals. This enabled the mission to corroborate reports of human rights abuses, most significant in areas where there is diffi culty obtaining reliable information beyond statecontrolled sources. This also enables KHRP to monitor and evaluate its work to ensure that it was meeting the current needs of the most disadvantaged groups in all its work. Following the missions, KHRP circulates its findings to a wide range of groups including international governmental and intergovernmental bodies, UN mechanisms, EU representatives, parliamentarians, academics, lawyers, non-governmental organisations and interested individuals. KHRP also brings its findings to the attention of the domestic and international press and broadcast media.

FACT-FINDING MISSIONS Turkey - January 2004

In January 2004, KHRP and the Corner House visited the Ortagecit and Haskoy villages in Turkey to obtain witness statements from villagers expropriated from their land by the construction of the Baku-Ceyhan oil pipeline.

The fact-finding mission provided further evidence in support of an application to the ECtHR lodged on behalf of 38 villagers (Yaziki and 37 Others v. Turkey). The applicants complain of violations under Articles 6, 8, 13, 14 in conjunction with 6, 8, 13 and Article 1 of Protocol 1 to the Convention. (See Project 1: Human Rights Advocacy and Training)

Turkey - March 2004

In March 2004, a fact-finding mission to Turkey assessed the current human and women's rights situation, including the effi cacy of recent reforms aimed at improving human rights to meet EU accession standards. The delegation held meetings in Istanbul and Diyarbakir with representatives of political parties including the ruling AKP government, the DEHAP party, NGOs and women's groups.

The fact-finding mission also visited a newly opened Kurdish language school in Batman on its second day of operation. The opening of the school in itself potentially signals a shift in Turkish authorities' attitude towards Kurdish language education.

Turkey - August 2004

This fact-finding mission examined the cultural and environmental impacts of large infrastructure projects in south-east Turkey. Fundamental flaws in plans for the proposed Ilisu dam in Turkey provoked international attention from 2000 to 2002. Following an exemplary international campaign, the consortium of companies planning to build the dams collapsed, safeguarding the ancient sites of archaeological significance in the area as well as the welfare of up to 78,000 people, mostly Kurds, who stood to be displaced by the project.

Almost three years on, a joint fact-finding mission by KHRP and the National University of Ireland, Galway, provided new evidence that the Turkish state has not learned the lessons of Ilisu. The mission gathered evidence of a new consortium of companies coming together to build the discredited dam and others. The basis for the projects remains essentially the same, and there is no evidence that affected communities have been consulted. Of those consulted by the mission, the overwhelming response was one of absolute opposition to the dams.

Turkey - September 2004

This was the fourth international fact-finding mission to assess the human rights, social and environmental impacts of the Baku-Tbilisi-Ceyhan (BTC) oil pipeline, which BP and other companies (as part of the BTC Consortium) are currently building in order to bring oil from Caspian Sea oilfields to Western markets. Construction of the pipeline commenced in 2002 and is due to be completed by 2005. The mission comprised representatives of KHRP, Environmental Defense, the Corner House and Friends of the Earth (England, Wales and Northern Ireland). It undertook field visits in the Ardahan (north-east) and Sivas (central) sections of the pipeline route and conducted interviews in Ankara. The mission found evidence of human rights abuses, expropriation of land, labour violations, and serious violations in quality control during construction, that have been raised by affected peoples, experts, pipeline workers, non-governmental organisations and the project's own monitoring reports.

Iraqi Kurdistan - September 2004

In spite of fears that the continuing insecurity would prevent access, a KHRP fact-finding mission in 2004 assessed the human rights and security situation in the wake of the war and the demise of Saddam Hussein, particularly for the region's Kurds. The mission sought to follow up information gained during its 2003 mission. KHRP met with a number of ministers of the Kurdistan Regional Government (KRG) in both the KDP-governed city of Arbil and the PUK's base of Suleymaniya; and held meetings with international and local non-governmental organisations. The mission also visited refugee camps and resettlement complexes.

Turkey - December 2004

KHRP sent a fact-finding mission to a number of cities in the Kurdish region of Turkey, including Van, Diyarbakir, Mardin and its district Kiziltepe and Hakkari, to investigate two extrajudicial killings that had been reported in the region, one involving a 12-year-old boy and thereby attracting particular concern. The mission met with family members of the victims, with human rights defenders and with the Van, Diyarbakir and Mardin Bar Associations. The mission also sought generally to examine the current human rights situation in the area, particularly the problems faced by internally displaced persons (IDPs), detainees and women.



Trial of human rights defender Huseyin Cangir - March 2004

On 17 March 2004, KHRP observed the trial of human rights defender Huseyin Cangir, the branch chair of Insan Haklari Dernegi (Human Rights Association) in Mardin. IHD is the largest human rights organisation in Turkey and a partner organisation of KHRP. Cangir has been prosecuted for the publication of posters advertising Human Rights Week (10 to 17 December) featuring the phrase 'Peace Will Win' in Kurdish. The Van Criminal Court of held that all posters were to be confiscated. A case was subsequently lodged against both Cangir and the Chair of IHD Siirt branch, Vetha Aydin. The trial was observed by international women's rights lawyer Margeret Owen. The case was adjourned. KHRP will continue monitoring these trials, which are ongoing, and the issue of prosecuting human rights defenders, in 2005.

Trial of human rights defenders M. Sezgin Tanrikulu and Selahattin Demirtas - March 2004

In March 2004 KHRP observed the trial of human rights defenders M. Sezgin Tanrikulu and Selahattin Demirtas, respectively chair of the Diyarbakir branch of the Human Rights Association (IHD) and president of the Diyarbakir Bar Association. Tanrikulu was prosecuted for a speech made concerning torture in Turkey and the practice of state offi cials of attending medical examinations where allegations of torture are investigated. KHRP will continue monitoring these trials, which are ongoing, and the issue of prosecuting human rights defenders, in 2005.

Trial of human rights defender Ferhat Kaya - September 2004

Ferhat Kaya is a human rights defender and representative of the DEHAP party in Ardahan, north-east Turkey, who has been at the forefront of a campaign to highlight the local, social and environmental impacts of BP's Baku-Tbilisi-Ceyhan oil pipeline. There is significant evidence that threats and incidents of harassment experienced by Kaya have been directly connected to his human rights work, raising concerns over the extent of human rights due diligence undertaken by the international financial institutions backing the project.

An international mission including representatives of KHRP, the Corner House, Environmental Defense (USA) and Friends of the Earth (England, Wales and Northern Ireland) observed the trial of eleven police officers acquitted of allegedly ill-treating Kaya in May 2004. Simultaneously, Kaya was indicted and placed on trial for resisting arrest, insulting police offi cers and failing to comply with their requests. Kaya faces a custodial sentence if found guilty at the trial, due to take place in 2005. The mission observed a pervasive climate of repression in the region and the breach of numerous international human rights standards in Kaya's cases. The report highlights major shortfalls in the implementation of pro- EU legislative reforms, particularly regarding torture or ill-treatment. Disquietingly, Kaya was again detained, allegedly ill-treated and placed under investigation subsequent to the mission. KHRP will continue monitoring these trials, which are ongoing, and the issue of prosecuting human rights defenders, in 2005.

Trial of three security officers accused of human rights violations - December 2004

This joint mission by KHRP and the Bar Human Rights Committee of England and Wales to observe the trial of three security offi cers for an alleged extra-judicial killing and the torture or ill-treatment of a key witness.

Siyar Perinçek was the son of a member of the Insan Haklari Dernegi (Human Rights Association) board of directors. IHD is the largest human rights organisation in Turkey and a partner organisation of KHRP. Siyar was on a motorbike opposite the Adana branch of IHD on 28 May 2004. According to witnesses, he fell to the ground when approached by security officers whereupon an officer shot him in the back. He died later at hospital. A key witness Nurettin Basçi was arrested and is currently on remand in Adana Kurkculer Ftype prison, where he alleges being subjected to torture or ill-treatment.

The trial of three security offi cers took place on 21 December 2004. The mission expressed concern over failures to comply with domestic legislation as well as a breach of several international legal standards. Among other breaches, the delegation noted the lack of cooperation from authorities on issues including the disappearance of key evidence; the nonattendance of the offi cers on trial; and the failure to provide a fair and impartial hearing for the complainants. One judge was observed to sleep through most of the hearing. Interviewees expressed concern over continuing violations of the prohibition of torture or ill-treatment, and the implications of this on Turkey's EU accession. KHRP will continue monitoring these trials, which are ongoing, and the issue of prosecuting human rights defenders, in 2005.