The KCK suspects you never heard of

‘I see him, I see him!’ says Delal. She, her sisters and mother go up the stairs of the public gallery to see him better. By “him” they mean their father and husband, Kemal Seven. He is one of the accused on trial in KCK probe which started yesterday inIstanbul. ‘Does he see us?’ Delal’s sister asks. Yes, he does. They wave to each other like crazy, as do the other accused, around 140 of them altogether.

Kemal Seven is standing trial on the same day as the two famous accused in this specific KCK trial: academic Busra Ersanli (still in jail) and publisher and human rights activist Ragip Zarakolu (released). But you have probably never heard of him. He was a teacher at the Politics Academy of the BDP, just like Busra Ersanli.

From left to right: Zelal, Delal and Demet Seven, daughters of KCK suspect Kemal Seven, on the first day of the trial against their father.

I have been attending the trial all day. In the breaks or when I just left the court room for a while, I talked to several family members of ‘nameless’ people. With Hanife, for example, a woman whose husband is a suspect. She is sitting on the ground in the hallway, crying: there are no more visitor passes available, so she can’t go in to support her husband. And with Sehrihan and Emir, whose father is in the court room – yes, they saw him and they waved. And when I go into the court room again with my press card, which always takes me through doors that remain closed to others, there is a woman crying, leaning against the metal detector: she doesn’t have a visitor pass but she came to see and support her son.

It bothers me that most of the attention in these mass trials is going to the few famous accused. All kinds of arguments are used to explain why they shouldn’t have been arrested for having ties with the KCK: they are pro peace, they are real democrats and don’t want to have anything to do with the violence of the PKK, they are intellectuals whose freedom of speech has been restricyed, etc. Of course, this is all true, but it distracts from the real problem in this case.

Because by only supporting these famous people with such arguments, you indirectly give legitimacy to the trial as a whole. It leads to, for example, Foreign Minister Davutoglu saying: ‘I don’t believe Busra Ersanli is a terrorist’. For your information, none of the other suspects are terrorists either. They are Kurdish civilians who have been in most cases somehow contributing to peaceful Kurdish politics and doing nothing against the law. And the prosecutors and even the judges know it: there is no evidence against them whatsoever.

The argument against the prosecution of Busra Ersanli and Ragip Zarakolu should be exactly the same as the arguments against the arrests of Kemal Seven and all the other suspects you never heard of: the KCK trial is a purely political trial to silence and scare the Kurdish political movement. It’s a show trial reminiscent of dictatorships. All charges against all suspects should be withdrawn as soon as possible.

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