Turkish Human Rights Activist Sentenced to Prison

(Combined Sources)–Eren Keskin–head of the Istanbul branch of the Human Rights Association (IHD) and one of the founders of the Legal Aid Project for sexually tortured women–has been sentenced to 10 months in prison by a Turkish Court for insulting the Turkish armed forces.

Keskin is being charged–under Article 301 of the Turkish Penal Code–for statemen’s she made about rape and other sexual assaults suffered by female inmates at a public meeting in Cologne–Germany in March of 2002. Her crime was to publicize the sexual torture that some of her women clients reported they had suffered in custody.

Keskin’s ten month sentence was reduced to a fine of 6000 Turkish Liras–but the lawyer refused to pay bail–preferring instead to serve out her sentence.

According to the Istanbul branch of IHD–Keskin and her lawyers have already taken her case to the court of appeals and are demanding that the sentence be dropped.

Keskin has become the target of a major smear campaign in the Turkish media. A male journalist publicly threatened her with sexual harassment in a radio program. After international pressure–the Turkish Press Council finally issued a warning in July 2002 to the journalist concerned.

Keskin has faced 86 lawsuits in relation to her human rights activities. In one trial she is charged under Article 8 of the Anti-Terror Law for having disseminated "separatist propaganda" in statemen’s made during a panel discussion on "Violence against Women" held in November 2001.

In another trial she is accused for press statemen’s and bulletins on the subject of Kurdish language and culture which were issued by the IHD between January and March 2002. She is charged under Article 169 of the Turkish Penal Code with support for the illegal armed opposition Kurdistan Workers’ Party (PKK) through these publications. The prosecutor alleges that the statemen’s were prepared according to decisions taken by the PKK.

Keskin had been receiving death threats over the telephone for many years. Harassment against her has included telephone death threats–being shot at–physical assault by a police officer and arbitrary detention and ill-treatment.

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