Turkish Writer Pinar Selek Faces Her Fifth Life Sentence — Global Issues
BIARRITZ, France, March 23 (IPS) – The woman we are meeting in a house in the suburb of Biarritz – 800 km southwest of Paris – is a university professor, author of many books books and hundreds of articles, and is a well-known human rights activist.
According to Turkish courts, she also planted a bomb that killed seven people and injured more than 120 at the Spice Bazaar in Istanbul 25 years ago.
Pinar Selek told IPS: “There were four scientific reports, including one by the Turkish police themselves, pointing to a gas explosion, but then they said it was a bomb and I gave up. trap”. This 51-year-old Turkish woman is embroiled in one of the strangest trials in the history of the Turkish judiciary.
“It’s Kafkaesque,” she blurted out. “The case is based on the testimony of a Kurdish man who said that we planted the bomb together. Then he claimed to have confessed under torture, and that he didn’t even know me. He’s free in Turkey, and I’m in exile.”
On June 21, 2022, Turkish news agency Anadolu announced the annulment of the fourth acquittal of Pinar Selek by the Supreme Court of Turkey. Previously, she was found not guilty in three criminal proceedings.
But the life sentence was tough and cannot be appealed. On January 6, 2023, the Istanbul Magistrates Court issued an international arrest warrant against her.
Martin Pradel, Selek’s lawyer, spoke of a “pure political case”.
“I have never heard of any other case that has gone on for 25 years without legal proof of any kind. And this is not to mention Pinar has been acquitted four times,” Pradel told IPS by phone from Paris.
The lawyer called on the French state to protect Selek as a French citizen. If not, he added, the next step would be to appeal to the European Court of Human Rights.
“Where are they?”
Born into a family of leftist fighters in Istanbul, Pinar Selek has dedicated her life to making visible the “invisible” people of her homeland: women and Kurds, girls. prostitutes, gypsies, homosexuals, Armenians…
“Where are they?” has always been her question as a researcher, and also as an activist. It was this commitment to survival that landed her in prison in 1998, after refusing to give police a list of Kurdish contacts for one of her sociological studies.
“When they started building new prisons, we opposed the move. More than 300 people died under attack where prisons were even bombed,” Selek recalls.
She was released from prison after more than two years of imprisonment, torture and hunger strike, where, according to her, dozens of people died. Back on the street, she is one of the founders black peoplea groundbreaking feminist organization in Turkey, and also the first feminist bookstore in her country’s history.
She added a series and a few own book on its shelves, but she hasn’t been back for a long time. She had to leave the country in 2009 and, after acquiring French citizenship in 2017, settled in Nice, where she teaches at the Universidad Côte d’Azur, a public institution.
Ilya Topper, a Spanish journalist and analyst who worked in Istanbul for more than ten years, considers Selek’s trial in 1998 “part of a brutal campaign against everything that seems to regard the claims of the Kurds is a topic that can be discussed.”
“Up until about 2005, anyone within a hundred meters of the protest holding a banner with a slogan that bore any remote resemblance to a phrase once said by someone from the PKK ( The Kurdistan Workers’ Party) will be imprisoned for many years,” the expert told IPS by phone from Istanbul.
Until more than a decade ago, he added, mayors were still convicted for saying something in Kurdish under the charge of “speaking a language that doesn’t exist”. He illustrates it with a specific case:
“In 2011, a Kurdish mayor was sentenced to half a year in prison and a fine of 1,500 euros for naming a public park after Ehmedi Xani, an 18th-century Kurdish poet. not the writer, but the first letter of his surname: it is written with the letter X, which exists in Kurdish, but not in Turkish.”
Selek’s trial, the analyst noted, “highlights the degradation of the Turkish Justice in a country where you can go to jail for any reason.”
Several human rights watchdogs have repeatedly denounced Selek’s case. Human Rights Watch describes it as “a perversion of the criminal justice system”; The International PEN Club – a world association of writers with advisory status at the United Nations – includes Selek in list out of 115 authors are harassed, persecuted or abused around the world.
In a phone conversation with IPS, its president, Burhan Sönmez, mentioned other notorious cases in Turkey, such as that of publishers and human rights defenders. Osman Kavalaor opposition politician Selahattin Demirta?
“Both remain behind bars despite the ruling of the European Court of Human Rights on their immediate release,” insisted Sönmez from London.
Solidarity goes hand in hand with accusations. More than a hundred figures including intellectuals, political leaders and social agents will attend the hearing to be held in Istanbul on March 31. It is a legal proceeding to inform the Selek about her surety life sentence.
Michele Rubirola, the former mayor of Marseille and today the first deputy of the synod, was chosen to represent the city. In a phone conversation with IPS, Rubirola spoke of “someone who is a victim of injustice and oppression.”
“Selek’s academic struggles have turned into political struggles, and the ruthlessness of the political and judicial power she faces has cemented her as a human rights activist. really,” added the delegate.
A quarter-century-old judicial process is reaching a critical juncture just weeks before a decisive election in Turkey, a referendum on more than two decades of Turkish President’s rule. Turkey, Recep Tayyip Erdoğan.
“My trial is one of the signs that the crime originated in Turkey: it reflects both the continuity of the dictatorship and the configuration of the repressive devices,” Selek lamented.
She also confessed to worrying about how it might affect her family in Turkey and herself in the host country.
“I have been convicted of a massacre and my movement may be restricted internationally and even within France. Furthermore, Turkey is asking me to pay millions of dollars for the deaths and devastation and there is an international financial convention that can be implemented in France,” she recalls.
Today, her only certainty is that she will try to move on with her life. In addition to her work in college, she speaks and organizes events and rallies. She said, exile, “may have uprooted me from my country, but not from the streets.”
© Inter Press Service (2023) — All rights reservedOrigin: Inter Press Service