Free Berivan and all Kurdish Children in Turkish Jails.

To: Turkish Justice Ministry.
We, the undersigned, are shocked by the 8 year jail sentence given to a young Kurdish girl of 15 in Turkey.

We are deeply concerned at reports
(The Guardian, 1st Feb 2010) that a 15-year-old girl, a Turkish Kurd,
named Berivan, has been jailed in Turkey for nearly eight years after
being convicted of „terrorist“ offences.

She was arrested at a demonstration in the south-eastern city of Batman in October 2009. The
13-and-a-half-year sentence originally imposed on her was later reduced
on appeal to seven years and nine months because of her age. She was
found guilty of „crimes on behalf of an illegal organisation“ after
prosecutors alleged she had hurled stones and shouted slogans.

She was also convicted of attending „meetings and demonstrations in opposition
to the law“ and „spreading propaganda for an illegal organisation“.
There are substantial concerns as to the fairness of her trial and

We understand that under counter-terrorism legislation
introduced in 2006, Turkey has been trying juveniles as adults, and
jailing them for up to 50 years. Recent official figures have revealed
that there are currently 2,622 minors in Turkish prisons. According to
the Diyarbakir Human Rights Association, some 737 minors have been
charged under the counter-terrorism legislation since its introduction.
Out of 267 tried in Diyarbakir last year, 78 were given extended jail terms.

According to the European Court of Human Rights, between 1959 and 2009
Turkey was the worst violator of the European Convention on Human
Rights, with almost 19% of all violations, and 2,295 judgements issued
against it. Turkey also had the highest proportion of violations in
2009, with 347 out of 1,625 negative rulings. The right most commonly
violated was the right to a fair trial. Turkey was also condemned in 30
cases of inhumane or degrading treatment.

Turkey ratified the UN¹s Convention on the Rights of the Child (CRC) on
4 April 1995. Berivan is a ³child², whose rights are protected by this
Convention. Article 37 (c) of the CRC provides that

³(b) No child shall be deprived of his or her liberty unlawfully or
arbitrarily. The arrest, detention or imprisonment of a child shall be
in conformity with the law and shall be used only as a measure of last
resort and for the shortest appropriate period of time;²

We consider that an 8 year sentence on conviction for the
crimes reported is grossly disproportionate, and appears to be a
violation of Turkey¹s treaty obligations under the CRC.

We call on the Turkish government to release Berivan and all Kurdish children held in Turkish jails without further delay under humanitarian law.


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