I have a piece in the Times today looking at the plight of children unlucky enough to fall into the clutches of the Turkish police and prison system after becoming victims to the draconian anti-terror laws.
The government is finally moving to deliver on its pledge to amend the legislation so that kids such as the one in my story (also mentioned in the previous post), will no longer be tried as adults.
Once passed, this amendment will no doubt provide occasion for a hearty round of self-congratulation on the part of the government, however there’s a depressing risk that it could also kill off further debate on the absurd injustice of Turkey’s anti-terror legislation.
Consider two points of law:
1) Under Article 220/6 of the penal code anyone deemed to have acted on behalf of a (terror) organization, can also be tried as a member of that organization– a crime carrying a mandatory ten years.
2) 2) Under a 2008 Supreme Court of Appeals judgment, anyone attending an event sanctioned or supported by the PKK can be deemed to have acted on its behalf.
Taken together these two pieces of law mean that if you and I were to attend a demonstration, and if the PKK, through one of their media organs, were to suggest that attending that demonstration is a good idea, then you and I could find ourselves potentially looking at a decade behind bars.
The amendment being debated does nothing to change this situation.
One detail I’d wanted to include in my story, but wasn’t able to, was the account of another of the kids imprisoned under the terror laws of a visit to the psychologist in Diyarbakir’s E-Type juvenile prison. The 17 year-old told me:
When they took us to the psychologist in the prison, she told us we were terrorists. We said we weren’t terrorists, we just throw stones, but she said ‘No, you’re terrorists’… My political ideas developed in a very radical way. The problem’s not us but the system, which sees us as an enemy.
I thought his last point hit the nail on the head.
If you want to read my Times piece you’ll find it just over there, that’s right- there, behind the paywall. One pound entry.
Incidentally (sorry to ramble now) there’s been a lively debate about the pros and cons of charging for online news content since the Times launched its paywall
last month. I liked David Mitchell’s defence of it, which you can find here
, for free, which is kind of ironic I guess.