Koma Komalen Kurdistan

Group of Communities in Kurdistan
Koma Civakên Kurdistan
Leadership
Honorary Leader Abdullah Öcalan
President of Legislative Council Zübeyir Aydar
Chairman of Executive Council Murat Karayılan
Vice-Chairman of Executive Council Cemil Bayık

Koma Civakên Kurdistan (KCK) (Group of Communities in Kurdistan) is an organization founded by PKK,[1] formerly named Koma Komalên Kurdistan (KKK) (Peoples' of Kurdistan), to put in practice Abdullah Öcalan's ideology of democratic confederalism.

Structure

Abdullah Öcalan is the group's representative leader, however due to his imprisonment the organization is led by an "assembly" called "Kurdistan People's Congress (Kongra-Gel)", which serves as the group's legislature. The President of the Kongra-Gel is Zübeyir Aydar. "The Assembly" elects a 31-man Executive Council, the Chairman of this Executive Council is Murat Karayılan. Cemil Bayık is said to be the Executive Council's Vice-President.[2][3]

There are five main subdivisions of the KCK: the ideological front, the social front, the political front, the military front and the women's division.[4] In addition to the PKK, political parties such as the PJAK (Partiya Jiyana Azad a Kurdistanê - The Free Life Party of Kurdistan) active in Iran and the PYD (Partiya Yekiti a Demokratik - Democratic Union Party, in Kurdish) active in Syria, as well as civil society organizations, and the PKK's armed wing, the HPG (Hêzên Parastina Gel - People's Defense Forces, in Kurdish) are included.[5] In Iraq the party is called PÇDK - Partiya Çaresera Demokratik Kurdistan (Kurdistan Democratic Solution Party).[6]

As Article 21 of the KCK contract details, provincial-regional assemblies come into being in compliance with the geographical and ethno-cultural characteristics of the countries in which they operate. Within the scope of the KCK formation, Turkey has been divided into four province-regions. These are namely, Çukurova (one of the provinces in the eastern Mediterranean part of Turkey), Amed (in Diyarbakir, one of the provinces in the southeastern Anatolia), Serhat (Erzurum, one of the provinces in the eastern part of Turkey) and the Aegean region.[6] Urban assemblies are the formations that report to the People's Assemblies that operate in cities. Organizations of towns and quarters are the bodies that carry out the actions it towns and quarters.[6][7]

When the structure of the KCK organization is analyzed in a general framework, the following structure is seen:[6]

Ideology

You can find original text on :tr:KCK Sözleşmesi

The philosophy of the KCK is described in the foreword[8] to the agreement (sözleşme) that the Kurdistan People's Congress (Kongra-Gel) accepted on 17 May 2005. It was written by the leader of the PKK, Abdullah Öcalan on 20 March 2005.[8] Having described the need for a democratic confederalism Öcalan went on to say:

The democratic confederalism of Kurdistan is not a State system, it is the democratic system of a people without a State... It takes its power from the people and adopts to reach self sufficiency in every field including economy.
The democratic confederalism is the movement of the Kurdish people to found their own democracy and organize their own social system... The democratic confederalism is the expression of the democratic union of the Kurdish people that have been split into four parts and have spread all over the world... It develops the (notion of) a democratic nation instead of the nationalist-statist nation based on strict borders.

Some have called the KCK a Soviet model of State[9] others have termed it "radical democracy".[10] Murat Karayılan, the head of KCK (after President Abdullah Öcalan) explained in his book "Bir Savaşın Anatomisi" (Anatomy of a War) the principle of "democratic confederalism":

The alternative is the independent self-declaration of the democratic confederal system. (...) The society should be independent, the nation should be independent. Yet, the main purpose should be for independent nations to form a democratic nation community together and based on equality, within a confederal system... It is a system of partnering, where various cultures live together.[5]

The aim is a "union of equity and free will".[11]

History

The idea of the KCK was proposed at the 5th Congress of the Kongra-Gel (Kongra Gelê Kurdistan – Kurdistan People's Congress) held in Qandil in May 2007, and it replaced the KKK, which had been in existence since 2005. KKK, standing for Koma Komalên Kurdistan, was established at the Kongra-Gel's 3rd Congress in Qandil with 236 delegates in May 2005, in accordance with Öcalan's "democratic confederalism" concept.[5] At the 3rd Congress of Kongra-Gel, at which the KKK was established, the organizational chart identified a Kongra-Gel Presidency Council of five individuals, eleven Permanent Commissions, a Court of Justice of seven individuals, and a KKK Executive Council Presidency of seven individuals. In this 3rd Congress, Zübeyir Aydar was made the Kongra-Gel President, and Murat Karayılan was appointed as President of the KKK Executive Council.[5]

In May 2007, at the 5th Congress in Qandil attended by 213 members representing the Kurds in Turkey, Iran, Syria, Iraq and abroad, the KKK's name was changed to the KCK. The KCK was envisaged as an umbrella organization covering the Kurds of Turkey, Iran, Iraq and Syria, as opposed to the Turkey-focused organization of the KKK.[5]

Detentions and court cases of alleged members

Between April 2009 and October 2010 some 1,800 people were detained on charges of being members of KCK/TM.[12] Most of them were politicians active in the meanwhile closed down Democratic Society Party (DTP) or the Peace and Democracy Party (BDP).[13] Trade unionists and human rights defenders have also been among the detainees.[14]

At the beginning of October 2011 the number of detentions since April 2009 was given as 7,748 of whom 3,895 suspects were placed in pre-trial detention.[15] 4,148 detentions were reported from the last six months, resulting in 1,548 arrest warrants.[15] In an answer to the progress report of the European Union of 12 October 2011[16] The Turkish Interior Ministry announced on 14 October 2011 that a total of 605 people suspected of membership of KCK remained in pre-trial detention.[17] Until July 2012 the Democratic Turkey Forum had identified 54 trials against alleged members of KCK, involving 1,818 defendants, some 800 of them in pre-trial detention. A different count on detentions and arrests lead to an estimate of 4,250 detentions and 2,400 arrests in three years.[7]

Most suspects have been charged with membership of an illegal organization under Article 314 of the Turkish Penal Code. Special heavy penal courts in various cities such as Izmir, Adana, Erzurum and Diyarbakir are conducting trials against groups from different towns.

The main trial in Diyarbakir

On 18 October 2010 the main trial started at Diyarbakir Heavy Penal Court No. 6. It involved 151 defendants, 103 of them in pre-trial detention. The 7578-page indictment was prepared in 15 months. The detainees requested that they be allowed to defend themselves in Kurdish during the trial. The court rejected the request.[18]

After 14 hearings Diyarbakir Heavy Penal Court No. 6 adjourned the case on 11 November 2010 to 13 January 2011. It did not allow the defendants to testify in Kurdish pointing at a decision of Diyarbakir Heavy Penal Court No. 4 of 10 November 2010 stating that the defendants should not be allowed to speak Kurdish since they had testified to the police and the arresting judge in Turkish.[19][20] The trial continued in 2011 and 2012. On 19 June 2012 another hearing was held, while the number of defendants still was 152 (99 of them pre-trial detention) and 19 "on the run".[7]

The trials in Istanbul

At the end of 2011 waves of detentions of alleged KCK member were reported from Istanbul and related areas.[21] It took quite some time to prepare the relevant indictments. In March 2012 the 2400-page indictment against 193 people -147 of the pre-trial detainees- was sent to Istanbul Heavy Penal Court No. 15.[22] Istanbul Heavy Penal Court No. 16 accepted indictment against 50 defendants (almost all of them lawyers) on 18 April 2012.[23] In the case of the journalists Istanbul Heavy Penal Court No. 15 accepted indictment on 11 May 2012 and scheduled the first hearing for 10 September 2012.[24]

When the main trial in Istanbul started the number of defendants had increased to 205, 140 of them in pre-trial detention.[25] On the second day a speaker from the national TV and radio stations TRT started to read a 133 page summary of the indictment.[26] After the 8th session Istanbul Heavy Penal Court 15 decided on a lengthy break until 1 November 2012 and ordered the release of 16 defendants, including Prof. Dr. Büşra Ersanlı. In April 2012 15 defendants including the publisher and human rights activist Ragıp Zarakolu had been released.[27]

On 16 July 2012 Istanbul Heavy Penal Court 16 started to hear the case of 50 defendants, 46 of them lawyers and 36 of them in pre-trial detention.[28] The 892 page indictment accuses the defendants to have formed a "committee of the leadership" (tr: Önderlik Komitesi) and asked for sentences between 7.5 and 22.5 years' imprisonment. After the third session the court released nine defendants and adjourned the hearing to 6 November 2012.[29]

First verdicts

As of July 2012 at least 13 trials have resulted in verdicts.[7] One of them referred to 31 trade unionists of the Confederation of Public Workers' Unions (KESK). Most of them belonged to the teachers' union Eğitim-Sen. They had been detained in and around Izmir in May 2010, but released pending trial. On 28 November 2011 Izmir Heavy Penal Court passed its verdict and sentenced 25 defendants to 6 years, 3 months' imprisonment. Five defendants were acquitted.[30] Until July 2012 155 defendants had been convicted to sentences varying between 1 year, 6 months' and life imprisonment.[7] In some cases the Court of Cassation has upheld verdict of the lower courts.[31] The 9th Penal Chamber of the Court of Cassation stated in its verdict that the KCK is acting with the aim of turning the PKK terrorist organization into a separate state structure. The verdict stated that the KCK is regarded as the political branch of the PKK.[31]

Criticism of the judicial procedures

The trials raise a series of fair trial concerns common to cases involving terrorism charges, including prolonged pre-trial detention and limitations on access by defendants and their lawyers to the evidence against them.[32] Frequent use of arrests instead of judicial supervision, limited access to files, failure to give detailed grounds for detention decisions and revisions of such decisions highlight the need to bring the Turkish criminal justice system into line with international standards and to amend the anti-terror legislation. The detention of elected representatives is a challenge to local government and hampers dialogue on the Kurdish issue.[33] The evidence against the defendants is largely based on wiretaps, surveillance of an office some of the accused frequented, intercepted email correspondence, and testimony from secret witnesses. However, there is scant evidence to suggest the defendants engaged in any acts that could be defined as terrorism as it is understood in international law.[34] Prosecutions brought under anti-terrorism legislation have frequently been based on secret witness testimony that cannot be examined by defence lawyers.[35] On 15 April 2011 the Joint Platform for Human Rights (formed by the Human Rights Association (HRA), the Association of Helsinki Citizens and the Turkish section of Amnesty International issued a report on the trial in Diyarbakir.[36] It concluded that the defence of human rights is under threat of criminal investigations, the accused cannot use their native language and that the privacy of communication was under threat.[36]

External links

  • First indictment against the KCK in Turkish, accessed on 21 October 2010. It carries the date of 25 May 2009 and was directed against just one defendant, Serdar ZİRİĞ, who now is defendant 154 in the main trial against KCK members in Diyarbakır that started on 18 October 2010.
  • Indictment of the main trial in Istanbul (the word (DOCX) file
  • Democratic Turkey Forum (DTF): Backgrounder on the Group of Communities in Kurdistan, KCK

References

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