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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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On 28 November 1997 judgment was delivered in the case of MENTES. The European Court of Human Rights dismissed the Government's preliminary objection concerning the exhaustion of domestic remedies under Article 26 of the Convention (fifteen to six). With respect to three of the four applicants Ms Azize Mentes, Ms Mahile Turhalli and Ms Suliye Turhalli, the Court held there had been a violation of Article 8 (right to respect for home) on account of the burning of their houses by the security forces (sixteen to five). It also found a violation of Article 13 (right to an effective remedy before a national authority).

The applicants are former residents of Saggoze village in the Genc district of Bingol province.

According to the applicants, after an attack by the PKK on the Ucdamlar gendarme station on 23 June 1993, the security forces assembled some of the villagers and carried out searches. They burned down ten to thirteen houses including those of the applicants. The villagers were told that this was a punishment for helping the terrorists. The house of Ms Uvat, the fourth applicant was burned down in a separate incident. The applicants were forced to leave the village whilst the remaining inhabitants left in the autumn of that year.

According to the Government, since 1983 the PKK had sought to use the applicants' village as a shelter and supply base. The villagers were forced to leave the village by the terrorists who used the houses. When the security forces took action against them, they fled setting the houses on fire.

The case was declared admissible on 9 January 1995 (the full text of the decision is in Volume 1 of KHRP reports on Cases) and investigation hearings were held in Ankara from 10 July to 12 July 1995. The Commission's report on 7 March 1996 established the facts and expressed the opinion that there had been a violation of Articles 3, 6, 8 and 13. It also concluded that there had been no violation of the Convention in respect of the fourth applicant Ms Uvat.

The Court attached particular weight to the fact that the public prosecutor did not carry out any meaningful investigation into the matter. The Court was also not satisfied that the remedies available were "adequate and sufficient" in respect of the applicants' complaints and therefore dismissed the Government's preliminary objection.

The Court awarded the first three applicants UK£27,795 in costs and expenses (less the FRF 13,295 granted in legal aid by the Council of Europe). The claim for damages was reserved for a future date.


In a judgment delivered at Strasbourg on 26 November 1997 in the case of SAKIK, the European Court of Human Rights unanimously held that there had been breaches of Article 5.3 (right to be brought before a judge or other officer authorised to exercise judicial power promptly),5.4 (right to speedy decision on lawfulness of detention) and 5.5 (enforceable right to compensation) of the European Convention on Human Rights, but no breach of Article 5.1. The Court also dismissed the Government's preliminary objections concerning the exhaustion of domestic remedies.

The Court held that Turkey should pay the applicants compensation and awarded them approximately UK£12,000 in legal costs and expenses claimed.

The case is brought by Mr.Sirri Sakik, Mr Ahmet Turk, Mr Mahmut Alinak, Mr Mehmet Hatip Dicle, Mr Orhan Dogan and Mrs Leyla Zana, all former members of the Turkish Parliament, sitting as members of the People's Labour Party (HEP). On 2 March 1994 their parliamentary immunity was lifted by order of the public prosecutor and Mr Dicle and Mr Dogan were detained whilst Mr Sakik, Mr Turk, Mr Alinak and Mrs Zana were taken into custody on 4 March, on suspicion of undermining the territorial integrity of the State. Mr Sakik, Mr Turk, Mr Alinak and Mrs Zana were detained for a period of twelve days, whereas Mr. Dicle and Mr. Dogan were detained for fourteen days despite applications to be brought before a judge on 3 and 11 March.

Mr Sakik and Mr Alinak were eventually sentenced to three years and six months imprisonment for separatist propaganda and Mr Turk, Mr Dicle, Mr Dogan and Mrs Zana to fifteen years imprisonment for membership of an armed gang.

The case was declared admissible by the Commission on 25 May 1995. The Commission's report on 23 May 1996 established the facts and expressed the unanimous opinion that there had been violations of Article 5.3, 4 and 5.

The Court noted that the period and length of the applicants' detention without judicial detention was unnecessary despite the fact the applicants stood accused of terrorist links. The Government raised a preliminary objection on the ground of non-exhaustion of domestic remedies which the Court dismissed as it had not been raised at the admissibility stage of the proceedings.


The European Court of Human Rights held that the applicant Mr Mehdi Zana, the former mayor of Diyarbakir convicted on account of a statement made to journalists, had not infringed his right to freedom of expression as guaranteed by the Convention.

Mr Zana had said,"I support the PKK (Workers' Party of Kurdistan) national liberation movement; on the other hand, I am not in favour of massacres. Anyone can make mistakes and the PKK kill women and children by mistake."

The statement was published in the daily newspaper Cumhuriyet. Mr Zana was accused of "defending an act punishable by law..."

The case was declared admissible by the Commission on 21 October 1991 and adopted a report on 10 April 1996 establishing the facts and expressing the opinion that there had been a violation of 6.1 and 3(c), and Article 6 of the Convention. The Court concurred.

The Court awarded him approximately UK£4,000 in damages and UK£3,000 (less the sum of legal aid from the Council of Europe) in costs and fees.

The Kurdish Human Rights Project (KHRP) has assisted these applicants in bringing their case before the European Commission of Human Rights in Strasbourg.