Van Bommel wants Dutch presence at mass trial of Turkish Kurds

9 January 2011

Van Bommel wants Dutch presence at mass trial of Turkish Kurds

SP Member of Parliament Harry van Bommel is urging Foreign Minister Uri Rosenthal to send observers to next week’s mass trial in the Turkish Kurd town of Diyarbakir. On Thursday 13th January hundreds of democratically elected Turkish Kurd politicians and political activists will stand trial on charges of membership of a terrorist organisation despite the fact that the political party involved, the DTP, is not banned. Van Bommel describes what is happening as a ‘political trial that does not belong in a country that wants to join the European Union. The Netherlands must condemn this.’

Van Bommel this weekend asked the Foreign Minister for clarification regarding the precise charges lodged against the politicians and other accused. In total during the last two years thousands of citizens have been arrested on suspicion of membership of a terrorist organisation. Among the defendants in the trial of 13th January is also the incumbent mayor of the largest Turkish Kurdish city of Diyarbakir. At least seventy-four others were, at the beginning of 2009, elected a mayors, or members of local or regional councils. 'With this trial we are moving ever further away from a peaceful solution to the Kurdish question,’ says Van Bommel. ‘Prosecuting people on grounds of membership of a legal political party must have consequences for the negotiations between the EU and Turkey.’

Last April Van Bommel drew the Dutch government’s attention to the prosecution in Turkey of politician Leyla Zana. The Foreign Minister’s response was to state that the Dutch Embassy was following developments regarding the Kurdish question in Turkey closely, and that representatives of the Netherlands were continually in attendance in trials where the rights of Kurdish activists were possibly under threat. Van Bommel sees the presence of representatives of the Dutch Embassy as a logical follow-up to this involvement and assumes therefore that his request for such a presence will be given a positive response

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