Dear Comrades and Friends, (*)
Today we had an immensely successful first session of the trial of the six women of DIP for propaganda of and support to terrorism in Çorlu, an industrial working class city of European Turkey. The six defendants, young women whose ages range from 19 to 35, put up a courageous example of political defence, stressing the commitment of DIP to women’s liberation all around the world and the support that DIP extends to the rightful struggle of the Kurdish people for its legitimate rights. Armagan, the chief defendant, made a long speech, citing a plethora of instances of wanton repression and humiliation of Kurdish women at the hands of the Turkish army and police. She had to spar for long minutes with the presiding judge, who insistently wanted to extract a condemnation out of her regarding the military activities of the PKK, but to no avail. Armagan reminded the judge that this was not relevant to the case legally and hence she could not be forced in court to express an opinion on this issue. The other defendants were also unrepentant and gave shorter statements that nonetheless acted as an unambiguous instance of political defence on their part.
The lawyers, a woman and a man both party activists, pointed out that the leaflet for which the women of DIP are being indicted is an official statement of the party and openly claimed by the party centre, which implies that the case should go to the Constitutional Court, which alone is powered to try political parties for supposed criminal offences. They therefore demanded that the court declare it is incompetent to oversee the case. In addition, on the substance of the case, they pointed out that the women of DIP expressed outrage and solidarity in the face of the scores of cases of humiliation of Kurdish women by the Turkish “security forces” and that, in the final analysis, what the court case really was making a target was solidarity between women of different peoples (Turkish and Kurdish), solidarity for which DIP women stood resolutely. The lawyers also quoted verbatim statements by many different spokespeople of the AKP, including many members of the council of ministers to the effect that Abdullah Ocalan and the PKK pursued visionary policies that inspired a new dawn for the Middle East and a statement by Tayyip Erdogan from the 1990s in which he says one should be as much against state terrorism as one is against the PKK! On the basis of these and other evidence, the defence lawyers demanded immediate acquittal, in case the former procedural demand was not granted.
The prosecution was so badly cornered that the trial prosecutor (a different person from the prosecutor who has written the indictment) requested additional time to reflect on both counts (the demand for refusal of jurisdiction by the court and, in case this is not granted, the demand for immediate acquittal). At a certain point, the prosecutor became totally apologetic, claiming that when he was serving in “the Southeast” (read Turkish Kurdistan), he was the prosecutor that mingled with the people most, that he had attended courses on human rights in England, and that he had married his spouse on, of all days, 8 March! He also admitted that even he does not agree with the indictment! This left the indictment in a situation that we in Turkish call “a baby abandoned in the yard of the mosque”!
The trial has been postponed to 13 June, when prosecution will present their final take on the case and our lawyers will respond to that final assessment. This will then lead to the final decision of the court, most probably on the same day.
All of us at DIP incline, cautiously, in the direction of the court handing down an acquittal. This will be a victory of course, but the better decision would be “non-competence”, i.e. referring the case to the Constitutional Court. That would be a grand victory, since it would form a precedent for future cases whenever local militants of all socialist and Kurdish parties, not only of DIP, are put under the pressure of state forces. But this is a very slight possibility. I say “cautious” because court cases in Turkey, even in situations when these are not kangaroo courts, are fully influenced by the events of the period. A bomb the day before the court session and you don’t know what will happen.
During their intervention, the lawyers presented to the court a copy of a publicity advertisement in a left-wing daily that carried the petition of our foreign friends and comrades with the signatures of each of you (unfortunately only those that had arrived in time to include, but the rest will be circulated electronically). We think that the success of the trial also depends on that support and we thank all of you. May we add that several political groups in Turkey that come from the Trotskyist tradition were also active in supporting the DIP’s women.
Thank you, comrades, for the wonderful solidarity and we hope to collaborate on more positive issues in the future.
(*) Letter from Turkey