New facility opened at Diyarbakır Prison for stone-throwing minors

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Children are seen throwing stones at a group of children believed to be directed by the outlawed PKK as they throw stones at policemen.

An additional building has been opened at a prison in Diyarbakır to hold girls under 18 who receive prison sentences for throwing stones at police officers during illegal demonstrations in Turkey’s eastern and southeastern provinces.

Five girls who were arrested and held with adult prisoners will move to the new section of the prison. A report drafted by the Diyarbakır branch of the Human Rights Association (İHD) states that 267 children were tried under the Counterterrorism Law in Diyarbakır last year and 78 of them were arrested and sentenced to extended prison terms. Furthermore, a total of 737 minors have been tried under the Counterterrorism Law since 2006 on the grounds that they were members of a terrorist organization or participated in illegal demonstrations.

In November 2009 a prosecutor demanded 23 years in prison for each of six students, five of whom were in elementary school and between the ages of 13 and 14, for taking part in events that occurred in Diyarbakır and targeting security forces by throwing stones and Molotov cocktails during protests. Later a similar demand came from an Adana prosecutor, who called for a highly debated sentence of 58 years per protester for six youths between the ages of 13 and 16.

Minors can be sentenced to several years in prison under various articles of Turkey’s Counterterrorism Law, on charges such as “spreading the cause of a terrorist organization,” “committing a crime on behalf of a terrorist organization without holding membership,” “resisting police dispersion attempts with weapons or instruments” and “vandalizing public property.”

Top scoring student in jail

A 17-year-old student from Diyarbakır’s Anatolian High School, identified as E.A., is also among the minors at Diyarbakır Prison. In 2007 E.A. was given an award by Hüseyin Çelik, the education minister at the time, for his success in school.

He was taken into police custody during a protest in 2009 in front of the now-defunct pro-Kurdish Democratic Society Party (DTP) building in Diyarbakır. The prosecutors investigating the incident demanded a 15-year sentence for the talented student on the charge of committing a crime on behalf of a terrorist organization despite not being a member. In his plea, the student dismissed the allegations and said he was just on his way to school wearing his school uniform.

Furthermore, the prosecution demanded a prison sentence of between 19.5 and 44.5 years for a student from Batman Science High School identified as K.A.

30 January 2010, Saturday


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