Letter: All eyes on Turkey

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The Independent Culture
Sir: In a country criticised by the European Court of Human Rights as having state security courts which are neither independent nor impartial, the commencement of the trial of the PKK leader, Abdullah Ocalan (report, 1 June), gives little hope for a fair outcome.

The detention of Ocalan and the relentless intimidation of his defence team have made a mockery of Turkey's commitment under the European Convention to adhere to fair trial provisions. Consistently denied free access to Ocalan, his defence lawyers have been forced to endure harassment and violent physical abuse. Three of them have been sentenced to jail terms.

While Abdullah Ocalan must face the charges for crimes of which he is accused, his execution would serve only to ignite further violence with a complete disregard for human rights.

Therefore, as Turkey stands at a crossroads, it must take this opportunity to make peace with its Kurdish minority and put an end to a conflict waged by both sides which has claimed more than 35,000 lives.

ANN CLWYD MP

All-Party Parliamentary Human Rights Group

House of Commons

London SW1

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