Turkish Interior Minister Süleyman Soylu claimed that all non-governmental organisations and Diyarbakır Bar associations in the country’s southeast are affiliated with the outlawed Kurdistan Workers’ Party (PKK), during an interview he gave to Turkey’s state-run TRT Haber.
Assessing the developments in the southeast Anatolia and Turkish government’s crackdown against Kurdish entities Minister Soylu has stated that “I shall express this too; such flagrant evaluations have been made. Those non-governmental organisations (NGOs), including the Diyarbakır Chamber of Commerce and Industry and the Diyarbakır Bar Association which is also affiliated with the PKK, were in a new setup in Diyarbakır, yesterday. I am saying that very loudly and clearly. These NGOs are supporting the PKK.”
“Since all of our actions are legal, so whenever the PKK cannot say anything, the Diyarbakır Bar Association raises its voice against them. And now, yesterday, they were in a new setup. Twenty, twenty-two NGOs, so-called NGOs… (Because) all of these NGO’s are taking side with the PPK we closed down an essential part of them… But, these type of NGOs like the Bar Association, Medical Association, the so-called human rights associations… There are associations which are affiliated with the PKK,” said Soylu.
“PKK, with its all mastermind, is trying to coordinate the elections,” claimed Soylu and added that “Especially in the east and the southeast Anatolia, the PKK is trying to put pressure and meanwhile it is releasing these malice generating NGOs. All of theses (NGOs) produce malice. It is very clear. These (NGOs) send people to the mountains. These (NGOs) show all their efforts to clear the dirty games that PKK plays.”
“The chambers of commerce are also like this. I’m saying it clearly. Because these chambers of commerce have always made some negative statements in certain situations. When they were told their statements are wrong, they tell us ‘we didn’t mean that’ and they hided behind lies as always,” said Soylu and continued: “The (Diyarbakır) Bar Association is like this too. Their main mission is to clear (the crimes of) the PKK.”
The Board of Directors of Diyarbakır Bar Association has made a statement concerning the accusations of Minister Soylu on Tuesday and urged Soylu to do what is necessary if he is really behind his allegations. The statement added that “As Diyarbakır Bar Association’s Chair and Board Members, we await your anti-terror teams and prosecutors. We are not afraid; rather, we are right there where you murdered Tahir Elçi…”
On October 15, 2015, Tahir Elçi, former head of Diyarbakır Bar Association, had stated that ‘the PKK is not a terrorist organisation’ on CNN Turkey TV. Thereupon, while the channel was sentenced to pay a fine of 700,000 TL (232,000 euros) Tahir Elçi was brought to İstanbul after being taken into custody on November 20, 2015 in his very office at the bar association. He faced imprisonment of 7,5 years on charge of “propagandizing for a terrorist organization.”
Elçi was murdered on November 28, 2015 during a press statement he was making in front of Dört Ayaklı Minare (Quadruped Minaret) in Sur district of Diyarbakır province. The investigation has not made any progress and the perpetrators have not been identified so far.
Since 21 July 2016, the date state of emergency declare, 14 incumbent or former presidents of the provincial bar associations were targeted by Turkish government. President of Konya Bar Association Fevzi Kayacan (sentenced to 10,5 years), President of Trabzon Bar Association Orhan Ongoz, President of Siirt Bar Association Cemal Acar, President of Gumushane Bar Association Ismail Tastan were arrested and then unseated. Former Presidents of Manisa, Erzurum, Erzincan, Afyon Bar Associations Zeynel Balkiz, Mehmet Guzel (sentenced to 13 years), Cemalettin Ozer, Mehmet Akalin were arrested too.
In addition to all; presidents of the Aksaray and Kahramanmaras Bar Associations, Levent Bozkurt and Vahit Bagci and former presidents of Yozgat Bar Association Haci Ibis and Fahri Acikgoz were detained and then released.
Categories: Today in Crackdown