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War Resisters' International condemns Pinar Selek's life sentence

Hannah Brock, War Resisters' International | 08.02.2013 12:20 | Anti-militarism | Gender | Repression

War Resisters' International, an international network of pacifist and antimilitarist organisations with more than 80 affiliates in 40 countries, condemns the persecution of Pinar Selek.

On 24 January 2013, Pinar Selek, a Turkish feminist antimilitarist campaigner, was given a life sentence by an Istanbul court. The court issued an arrest warrant for Pinar, who is currently living in Strasbourg.

Pinar Selek is accused of causing multiple deaths and injuries in the 1998 Spice Bazaar explosion in Istanbul on 9 July 1998. There is no evidence that Pinar committed such a crime. The accusation against her was obtained under torture from a co-defendant, and should therefore be inadmissible.

The statement was later revoked by the co-defendant, Abdulmecit Ozturk, at his trial. Moreover, there is no evidence that a crime was committed at all. Much evidence points to the explosion being caused by a gas leak, rather than through intentional violence against civilians.

This case has been reopened, after acquittals and re-prosecutions, three times in 14 years. In this time, Pinar has been imprisoned for over two and a half years.

Given the lack of evidence against her, and ongoing persecution, we conclude that Pinar's prosecution is politically motivated. It is related to her identification with the antimilitarist movement in Turkey. Her work has challenged patriarchy, nationalism, and militarism.

In 1998 Pinar – a sociologist – was undertaking research into the conflict between the Turkish state and minority Kurdish community. For this research, she interviewed members of the PKK, the Kurdistan Workers’ Party. On her return she was apprehended by Turkish security services and, when she refused to reveal the names of her informants, was tortured. It was soon after this that she was accused of instigating the 1998 Spice Bazaar explosion.

Pinar's persecution is one of a series of examples of the persecution of antimilitarists in Turkey, including conscientious objectors. Examples of this persecution can be found here:

War Resisters' International have been aware of Pinar Selek's persecution for many years, have sent an international observer to her trial in 2011, and in 2011 made a statement in her support, calling for an end to her prosecution. We will continue to support Pinar Selek, and all antimilitarists in Turkey. We express solidarity with the 'We Are Still Witnesses' platform, which is working for justice for Pinar.

War Resisters' International demands:

- the immediate quashing of Pinar Selek's life sentence, and an end to her persecution. Her trial is in violation of Article 6 of the European Convention on Human Rights, which protects the right to a fair trial. We express our hope that she will receive compensation for her 2 ½ years of false imprisonment, and torture, but also for all the legal processes she has endured – without cause – since 1998.
- an immediate end to the persecution of antimilitarists in Turkey. Initially, with the abolition of article 318 of the Turkish Penal Code – alienating people from military service – which criminalises any criticism of the Turkish military, and of militarism more generally.


You can follow Pinar's struggle on Amargi's blog here:

Hannah Brock, War Resisters' International
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