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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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This week the European Commission of Human Rights is holding investigation hearings in Ankara in the cases of Akum and others v Turkey and Bilgin v Turkey. The cases concern allegations of extra-judicial killings and the destruction of a village in southeast Turkey. The Commission will hear evidence from the applicants themselves and also from other villagers, public prosecutors, doctors, officers of the gendarmarie and other public officials.

1. The case of Akum and others (Appl. No. 21894/93) concerns allegations that Turkish soldiers intentionally killed three of the applicants close relatives.

On the 10th of November three herdsmen from Kursunlu village and Kayas village (Elazig province, southeast Turkey) were out tending their goats when they were killed. Eyewitnesses state that they saw the men in the custody of soldiers. Some time later the villagers found the bodies of the three men, Mehmet Akum, Mehmet Akan and Dervis Karakoc with bullet wounds. The body of one of the men also bore signs of torture. The families of the men petitioned the authorities and proceedings were brought against members of the gendarmarie. These men were subsequently acquitted and the government have not referred to any other suspects.

The applicants invoke the right to life (Article 2), the prohibition on ill-treatment (Article 3), the right to effective remedies (6 and 13) the prohibition on discrimination (Article 14) and the right to respect for property (Article 1 of Protocol 1). The Government contest the complaints and state that the events took place in an armed clash with the PKK during which the soldiers acted in self defence.

2. The Bilgin case (Appl. No. 23819/94) concerns allegations that in September 1993 Turkish soldiers conducted a raid on the village of Gozderesi (Silvan district, Diyarbakir province). The applicant alleges that the women, children and old men of the village were beaten and threatened with death. The soldiers set fire to the villagers' goods and their crops and systematically destroyed the insides of the villagers' houses using axes and rifle butts. The applicant's house and goods were also destroyed in this way. In his application to the Commission the applicant relies on Articles 3, 8 (right to respect for family life and the home)13, 14 and 18 (abuse of power) of the Convention and Article 1 of Protocol 1.

The Government deny the applicant's allegations. It contends that no operation organised by security forces took place in the village of Gozderesi in September 1993.

In due course the Commission will publish its findings in both of these cases.

Legal Reform in Turkey

On the 7th of March Turkey's Grand National Assembly approved new legislation which will shorten the length of time for which detainees can be detained without being charged. A press release issued by the Turkish Foreign Ministry states that, under the new law, persons held on suspicion of offences tried on State Security Courts can now be held for a maximum of 7 days on the order of a judge. Within the state of emergency the maximum period of detention after an order from a judge will be 10 days. Detainees who have been charged or whose period of detention has been extended by order of a judge are to be allowed access to a lawyer at any time.

Previously, detainees held on suspicion of offence tried in the State Security Court could be held for up to 30 days within the state of emergency and for 15 days elsewhere. On the 18th of December 1996 the European Court of Human Rights ruled in the case of in Aksoy v Turkey, a cases assisted by the KHRP, that in the absence of sufficient safeguards, the detention of the applicant for 14 days was too long and in violation of Article 5 of the European Convention.