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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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In the first decision of the European Court of Human Rights concerning the forced eviction of Kurds from south-east Turkey the European Court of Human Rights has found that the burning of houses by security forces constitutes a violation of the European Convention of Human rights.

In a 27 page judgement the court held, by nineteen votes to two, that the Turkish state had violated the right of the applicants to private and family life (Article 8 of the European Convention) and the right to peaceful enjoyment of their property (Article 1 of the First Protocol.) The Court further held, by seventeen votes to four, that Turkey had interfered with the applicants right to complain to the European commission in violation of Article 25 of the Convention.

The case, Akdivar and Others v Turkey (application No 21893/93), concerns the destruction of nine houses in the village of Kelekci in the Dicle province of Diyarbakir and the subsequent destruction the village. In their application to the European Commission of Human Rights, the applicants stated that on 10 November 1992 the Turkish security forces launched an attack on the village of Kelekci, burning their homes and killing animals and livestock belonging to the inhabitants.They complained under Articles 3, 6, 8, 13, 14, 18 and 25 of the Convention.

The Court supported the Commission's finding of facts as to the responsibility the security forces for the burning of the homes of the applicants. It found it established that:

security forces were responsible for the burning of the applicant's houses on 10 November 1992 and that the loss of their homes caused them to abandon the village and move elsewhere.

In finding a violation of Articles 8 and Article 1 of Protocol 1 the Court said:

The Court is of the opinion that there can be no doubt that the deliberate burning of the applicants' homes and their contents constitutes a serious interference with the right to respect for their family lives and homes and with the peaceful enjoyment of their possessions. No justification for these interferences having been proffered by the respondent government..... Following their application to the European Commission, a number of the applicants were questioned by Turkish authorities about their applications and asked to sign a declaration denying that they had ever made applications. In addition, two of the applicants had been filmed by the authorities in the course of these interviews. The European court concluded that this amounted to "a form of illicit and unacceptable pressure on the applicants to withdraw their application." and that Turkey was therefore in violation of Article 25(1) which guarantees the right to individual petition.

The Court did not consider it necessary to examine the applicants complaints that they had been denied a right to an effective remedy as guaranteed under Articles 6 and 13, but did find there was no obligation in that case to exhaust domestic remedies. The Court also declined to consider whether or not there had been a violation of Article 3, which guarantees the right to freedom from torture or inhuman and degrading treatment or punishment.

The court decided that on the particular facts of the present case there had been no violation of Article 14 (right to non-discrimination) and 18 (which prohibits the abuse of power .)

The Turkish state was ordered to pay the applicants' costs and expenses and the Court stated it would decide on further compensation at a future date.

This case is just one of many cases concerning the evacuation and destruction of villages in southeast Turkey. Another case has been referred to the court and a large number of cases involving the destruction of villages are presently before the European Commission. To date, an estimated 3 million people have been evicted from villages in south-east Turkey following the destruction of 3,000 villages in the region. There is clear evidence that the burning of the applicants' village forms part of a wider long term state policy directed at Turkish citizens of Kurdish origin. This policy aims at and has already achieved massive population displacement in the emergency region of south-east Turkey.

The Kurdish Human Rights Project, and the Human Rights Association of Turkey (IHD) have assisted in bringing these cases to the European Commission and Court . This is the first case to reach the Court. The applicants were represented in Court by Professor Kevin Boyle B.L. and Ms Francoise Hampson. The evacuation and destruction of villages in Turkey is continuing. Kerim Yildiz, Executive Director of the Kurdish Human Rights Project, said "this decision has important implications for all displaced people in southeast Turkey; it is hoped that the Turkish government will abide by the judgement of the European Court and rescind its policy on forced village evacuations."