Kids that throw stones at the police during demonstrations in the south east of Turkey (and in other places where many Kurds live, like in Adana and Mersin) will no longer be charged with being a member of a terrorist organization or for making propaganda for terrorists. The 196 children now serving a prison sentence for that offence will be home ‘before bayram’, meaning before September 9th, the day of Eid al-Fitr, the feast that ends Ramadan.
The law that sent kids to prison for many years (sometimes more than ten!) dates from 2006. The AKP thought they could get a grip on protesting Kurdish youth by changing the anti-terror laws so that children throwing stones could be convicted for the above-mentioned crimes, but also by making it possible for protesting kids between 15 and 18 years old to be tried not by juvenile courts but by high criminal courts for adults.
Only these two things have changed. For the rest, children can still be put in jail for throwing stones, but only for a term of six months to three years. Also unchanged: the proof needed to convict a child. A statement from a police officer that he saw the kid throw stones is enough. That’s why even boys who claimed to have not thrown stones at all but were only passing by a protest, or joined it without throwing stones, were sometimes convicted. And will still be convicted in the future.
Another thing I wonder about is the kind of help the children will get when they are released ‘before bayram’. It sounds like the state is offering them a gift, but in fact, the state has put these children through a traumatic experience. What help will they get to overcome this? How will they catch up with school, how on earth will they be able to pick up normal life again? I’m afraid the kids and their families will just be left to their fate.
The problem of stone throwing kids remains unsolved. The only way to really solve it is to solve the Kurdish question. I predict dozens of stone throwing kids will be sent to jail before that ever happens.