A new report by the Human Rights Watch released Monday accuses Turkey of violating rights laws in its dealings with the Kurdish people.
The report says that although Turkey has signed a number of human rights treaties, it has violated a number of them by using terrorism laws to jail Kurdish protestors.
In addition, the report says, the Turkish government violates freedom of speech on a regular basis, especially in Kurdish areas.
Turkish police at Kurdish protest (Photo: Reuters)
The report documents 26 instances in which protestors were charged with terror-related offenses for merely being present at events the government sees as pro-PKK, which have been outlawed.
Hundreds of Kurdish protestors are currently being held in prisons, awaiting the outcomes of their trials or decisions on appeals filed on their behalf. Others are carrying out lengthy sentences approved by the Turkey's Supreme Court.
The courts have ruled that merely participating in any event sponsored or promoted in any way by the PKK warrants judging the participant as a member of the rebel group, and people belonging to this category have been deemed terrorists by the state even if all they did was shout a Kurdish slogan, throw a stone, or torch a tire.
In July, following criticism for trying children who participated in a PKK rally as terrorists, the Turkish parliament changed the relevant laws, preventing such cases from reoccurring.
Other cases documented in the report include that of a student serving six years in prison for making the "victory" sign at a funeral for four members of the Kurdish group.
In another case, a mother of six was sentenced to seven years in prison for holding up a sign protesting the prison conditions of PKK leaders.
Last month Turkey began a trial for 150 Kurds, 12 of them mayors of cities, accused of PKK membership. The report says 1,700 are still waiting to be tried. The Human Rights Watch is calling on the government to halt these trials and reconsider punishments already meted out.
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