Press Release: Mass arrests of Kurds in Belgium causes great concern across Europe
At 5am this morning, the offices of ROJ TV were raided by the Belgium along with several other addresses in Belgium. 30 people were arrested including Mr Remzi Kartal, Mr Zubeyir Aydar and Mr Eyep Duru. Though we understand that ROJ TV has not been closed down none of the journalists have yet been allowed back into the building and transmission has ceased for the time being. ROJ TV is the mouthpiece of the Kurdish community in Europe and is seen as a beacon of hope for all those who seek the resolution of the Kurdish Question.
Remzi Kartal is particularly well known and respected across Europe and in the UK for his diplomatic activities on behalf of his people. Like many Kurds, Mr Kartal regarded Europe as a safe haven when he had to flee repression in his homeland. Mr Kartal had been elected to the Turkish Parliament as a Democratic Party (DEP) member along with Mr Aydar. They were prevented from playing their part in the democratic political process and were quickly attacked and detained with Ms Leyla Zana later serving a long prison sentence. Fearing incarceration and torture, they fled to Europe where they were granted asylum.
In 2002 the European Court of Human Rights, ruled against Turkey and in favour of Mr Kartal and 12 others, under Article 3 of Protocol 1. The systematic torture of dissidents by Turkey was yet again proved beyond doubt and Mr Kartal received 50,000 Euros compensation.
Undeterred Mr Kartal started to campaign in exile for the Kurdish cause and became well known in diplomatic and government circles all over the UK and Europe for his lobbying work and advocacy of a democratic and peaceful solution to the Kurdish question in Turkey.
All three men have been working constructively in the search for a peaceful settlement based on justice and respect for everyone's rights inside Turkey. For their diplomatic efforts they should be honoured not incarcerated. Their vision of a just, free, peaceful and democratic Turkey is one that we all share and as such we demand that their freedom is returned to them to allow them to continue in their chosen and much valued roles.
Mr Kartal and Mr Duru were arrested in Spain in 2009 but subsequently released without charge. We fully expect the same to happen again and already many of those arrested have been released but these tactics of intimidation against those working peacefully to further the Kurdish cause are of great concern, particularly in the lead up to the International Women's Day on 8 March and the Kurdish New Year, Newroz which is celebrated on 21 March.
An emergency demonstration is being held in the UK to protest the arrests at midday tomorrow, Friday 5 March outside the Belgian Embassy, 17 Grosvener Crescent, London.
For further information contact: Peace in Kurdistan
Estella Schmid: 020 7586 5892; firstname.lastname@example.org