Pro Kurdish Foreigners Face Turkish Prosecutor

ISTANBUL (Reuter)–Eighteen foreign peace activists appeared before a Turkish prosecutor on Thursday–facing possible deportation for organizing an unauthorized news conference–witnesses said.

Police detained the activists on Wednesday after security forces broke up an impromptu news conference calling for a peaceful end to Turkey’s Kurdish conflict.

The detainees sung "We shall overcome" before going into a closed-door meeting with the prosecutor in a court building in central Istanbul. Some complained that police treatment had been violent.

"One friend was near me (on the police bus). A policeman came and put a gun to his head and pulled him by the hair. He had a ring in his nose and they tried to pull that out as well," one of the detainees told reporters at the court building.

Representatives of the group on Wednesday said police wearing crash helmets burst into a meeting in an Istanbul hotel and dragged delegates to police buses outside the main entrance. They said 25 people were detained.

On Thursday–the accused looked tired and said they had spent the night on the floor of a police station. Some bore bruises and one had apparent blood stains on his white shirt.

The mostly German group was part of an aborted trans-European "peace train," organized by a pro-Kurdish group in Germany–which planned to hold a demonstration in the southeastern city of Diyarbakir earlier this week.

Security forces prevented foreign and Turkish activists from assembling in Diyarbakir and stopped the group making statemen’s in either Ankara or Istanbul.

Police officials said the news conferences were forbidden under a law which bars demonstrations in Turkey by foreigners who have not obtained prior permission.

A spokesman for the activists said on Wednesday there was a "high probability" the foreigners would be deported.

The activists launched the "peace train" initiative as part of a campaign to seek a negotiated end to 13 years of conflict between security forces and Kurds.


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