On Saturday, Sidki Zilan, co-founder of the Kurdistan Islamic Initiative for Rights, Justice, and Freedom, known as the Azadi Initiative, called on lawmakers from different political parties who deal with human rights issues to release a joint declaration regarding the situation of Turkish prisons and inmates.
Zilan called for an end to the imprisonment of innocent people in Turkish prisons. He tagged three politicians on Twitter – Sezgin Tanrikulu from the main opposition secular Republican People’s Party (CHP), Mustafa Yeneroglu from the ruling Justice and Development Party (AKP), and Omer Faruk Gergerlioglu from pro-Kurdish People’s Democratic Party (HDP) – asking for a joint statement to be released.
“There are many innocent inmates serving sentences in [Turkish] prisons. [Please] come together from all political parties and issue a joint press release. You have a great responsibility because if you do this, the victims will be freed. They are waiting for your unified stance. Isn’t that easy?” Zilan called out to the lawmakers.
HDP’s Gergerlioglu and CHP’s Tanrikulu responded positively to Zilan's call on
Twitter. However, AKP’s Yeneroglu has not yet replied.
A while later, the Azadi head tweeted again, tagging Yeneroglu, saying that he believed AKP’s Yeneroglu agreed with them and was sensitive to justice-related issues. Zilan vowed that a joint press conference would break down many taboos in the country.
Azadi’s Zilan posted another tweet calling on the Islamist Felicity Party (SP) and to the pro-Turkish Nationalist Movement Party (MHP) to also get involved in the unified stance.
Zilan also asked for general amnesty via his social media account.
The Azadi is an Islamist pro-Kurdish moderate movement which advocates self-governance of the Kurds in what it calls Kurdistan.
AKP working on general amnesty
Late on Friday, Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan said the Ministry of Justice was working on a general amnesty bill to be announced after the June 23 Istanbul mayoral rerun poll.
“It is not possible to release everyone, but our ministry is working on who should be released,” the president said in a Ramadan program.
The far-right MHP, AKP’s electoral and parliamentary ally, first mentioned amnesty in an election campaign prior to the June 24 parliamentary and presidential elections in 2018.
At the time, Erdogan turned down the MHP’s demand, causing friction between the two allies.
Since then, MHP has been urging AKP for amnesty that will pardon more than 160,000 prisoners, including the nationalist mob boss Alaattin Cakici.
AKP intensifies crackdown on opponents
Critics say there has been a massive and ever-increasing crackdown on Erdogan’s dissidents since the failed coup attempt in July 2016, notably pro-Kurds and Gulenists who are followers of Fethullah Gulen, a US-based self-exiled cleric whom Ankara blames for the coup.
The Erdogan administration has targeted thousands of people for criminal investigation and arbitrary detention, associating them with terror crimes, according to Human Rights Watch (HRW), an international organization which investigates and reports on abuse taking place all around the world.
The Turkish authorities have expended the practice of prosecuting amiable civic activities as terrorist crimes, with prosecutors stretching the definition of terrorism beyond all recognition, according to Nate Schenkkan, Project Director at Freedom House, an independent watchdog organization dedicated to the expansion of freedom and democracy around the world.
According to official statistics reported in November 2018, Turkey has jailed 743 children (534 aged between 0-3 years, and 200 between 4 and 6) together with their mothers.
“You tyrants! You opened court cases against ordinary citizens over terror charges. Your definition of membership of terrorist organizations is unlawful,” Zilan yelled at the AKP officials.