In 2010 the Turkish Parliament, reacting to criticism by Amnesty International and other human rights organizations, modified their Anti-Terrorism Laws to end the prosecution of children in adult courts solely for taking part in demonstrations. Despite this change, children, and particularly Kurdish children, continued to be arrested, prosecuted, jailed and abused under other provisions in the Turkish Anti-Terrorism laws.
What has taken place at Pozanti prison outside of Adana, Turkey, reveals just how badly children are being abused and mistreated under these laws. According to a report by members of the European Parliament, children in the prison were deprived of food and medical treatment, beaten while naked with iron bars by prison staff, and sexually abused by adult prisoners. As H.D. a 15-year-old, reported:
“Some of our friends were molested many times. They beat us and forced us to undress. What we have been through cannot be put into words.”
The abuses were reported to the Ministry of Justice, but only seven months later, after the abuses were publicized by a Kurdish news agency and on twitter, did the Justice Minister take action. His solution: move the children from Pozanti to another overcrowded children’s prison 500 kilometers away from their families and put them in single, camera-monitored cells. As for the three Kurdish reporters who published the story about the abuses, they were arrested a few days ago and charged with being members of a terrorist organization.
April 23 was Children’s Day in Turkey. The Turkish NGO Followers of Justice for Children (ÇİAT) organized a forum in honor of the occasion. At it, a child victim of Turkey’s Anti-Terrorism Laws “who doesn’t prefer to tell his name speaks: ‘We didn’t kill anybody, we didn’t damage to property of anyone. Why are we kept in prison while people selling drugs are walking outside? Nothing happens to the drug-dealers. However, we are put in prison. We are beaten. We do not want to be put in prison any more.’”
When the reporter asked why “he didn’t prefer to tell his name, he reminded [the reporter of] the child who was subjected to 40 years of penalty as he talked to press after he was released from Pozantı Prison.”
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