Bizden Koparılanlar




Extracts of interventions from the 4th Euro-Mediterranean meeting of families

of the disappeared


Human rights’ associations threatened, Turkish criminal law inadequate, witness protection

insufficient: an alarming situation for associations fighting against enforced disappearance 

The current situation in Turkey is alarming: such is the consensus shared by a number of associations in the region. The recourse to enforced disappearances, a widespread practice duringthe Turkish-Kurdish conflict in the 1990s, is still prevalent today in Turkey and especially in Kurdistan.The two associations Mothers for Peace (represented by Ms Nezekhat Teke) and Meya Der (represented by Mr Ibrahim Halil Oruc) are working together on these issues, denouncing the armed conflict taking place in this region and being particularly alarmed by the pressure theTurkish authorities are subjecting the human rights associations to. The situation of the human rights organisations and notably of those fighting against enforced disappearance has become unbearable. Organisation members are harassed, threatened, arrested and imprisoned. Evenworse, according to Mr Velat Demir of the Yakay Der organisation, relatives of the missing,lawyers, journalists, human rights defenders etc. are being threatened, intimidated, torturedand sometimes imprisoned for being supposedly linked to the Kurdistan Workers’ Party (PKK).Nearly 7,500 people are currently in prison.For Velat Demir, the lack of public support in solving these crimes of enforced disappearancesis undeniable. This is shown through the lack of witness protection. During the trial of ColonelCemal Temizöz in 2009, a number of witnesses had to retract their statements because theyhad not been included in the witness protection programme. Turkey is required to implementeffective witness protection. Furthermore, the Turkish criminal law proves to be unsuitable incondemning the crime of enforced disappearance: in the new Turkish criminal code from 2005,enforced disappearance does not qualify as a crime against humanity. Velat Demir deploresthe fact that crimes committed before 2005 remain judged according to the old Turkish criminalcode, especially with regards to the limitation period.One of the cornerstones of the fight against enforced disappearance rests on the identificationof the body. The Turkish authorities need to develop their position in this field too. Indeed, inorder to identify the body of a missing person in Turkey, you need the DNA sample from eitherthe father or the mother. Only this parental DNA sample is accepted for the identification. Thebrothers and sisters of missing persons sometimes have to exhume their parents’ remains toretrieve their DNA; either that or refuse to follow through with the identification process. This is anunacceptable situation that the associations Mothers for Peace and Meya Der are denouncing.These different obstacles obstruct justice, disrespect the duty of truth as well as and particularlyhinder work towards reconciliation. Velat Demir insists that it is essential to identify and sentencethose behind the acts of violence so that the reconciliation process between Turks and Kurdscan reach a resolution. However, to Mr Demir, despite of the extreme difficulty and danger faced

Duty of Truth 07 ///