Assyrian Awareness: Organizations Responses

Europe Watched
by Namik Durukan - Hürriyet | Diyarbakir DHA | February 23, 2001
Translated by Dr. Racho Donef

Posted: Monday, March 05, 2001 11:04 pm CST


Diyarbakir, DHA (Hürriyet) -- 15 foreigners watched the trial of the Church of the Virgin Mary priest Yusuf Akbulut who is on trial for saying "in addition to the Armenians, Syrianis were also subjected to genocide".

In Diyarbakir's SSC [State Security Court] his solicitors stated that Akbulut said these in a chat; that it was not a media statement; and, that they did not constitute a crime.

The trial of the Syriac Church of Virgin Mary priest Yusuf Akbulut, which was initiated in Diyarbakir SSC for saying "in addition to the Armenians, the Syrianis were also subjected to genocide" - while the USA House of Representatives Sub-Committee was discussing the so-called Armenian genocide resolution - continued. The foreigners showed great interest to the hearing.

The accused priest Yusuf Akbulut, who is not in detention, was in attendance in Diyarbakir No 2 SSC. The priest Yusuf Akbulut is charged under Article 312/2 and 3 of the TPC [Turkish Penal Code], for "inciting people to hatred and enmity by referring to religious, racial, sectarian and regional differences" through the press; [the prosecutor asked] for between 1 to 3 years imprisonment. It had been stated that the [video] cassette which was shown in Kanal D's news report and contains the talk constituting the offence, has been received by the Court upon its demand, However, it is yet to be transcribed by an expert.

HE SAID IT IN A CHAT

Yusuf Akbulut's solicitors Abdülkadir Pekdemir and Muhammet Akar stated that a transcription of the cassette received by the court will not change anything, that even if the statements which caused the trial are verified, they would still not constitute a crime and argued that there was no need for the transcription of the cassette. The solicitors Abdülkadir Pekdemir and Muhammet Akar said the conversations recorded in the video were part of a chat, that they were not a media release; that [as such] should not constitute a crime and that their client used his right to individual criticism. Akar said, "[O]ur client's trial for his thoughts is in contravention of the European Human Rights Convention and Articles 24 and 25 of our Constitution. Since there is no concentration of Syrianis and Armenians in our region it is not possible for Akbulut to have committed the crime cited in the indictment under the Article 312 of the TPC. On the grounds of all these reasons we are asking for the acquittal of our client".

TRANSCRIPTION OF THE CASSETTE WAS REQUESTED

Yusuf Akbulut, who spoke subsequently, said he agreed with his solicitors' statements and asked for his acquittal.

The Public Prosecutor Yilmaz Aktas requested a transcription of the tape received by the court. The Court decided that the video cassette it received be transcribed by an expert and adjourned for 5 April 2001.

SUPPORT FOR THE SYRIAC PRIEST

Fifteen Europeans observed the hearing at Diyarbakir No 2 SSC. Sweden's Istanbul General Consul Sture Theolin, Norway's Istanbul General Consul Hakan Svane, Swedish Social Democratic Party deputies, Syriani Yilmaz Kerimo, Carina Hagg, Swedish Left Party Deputies Lennard Varmby and Syriani Sabri Yildiz [sic], German CDU Party Deputies Monika Brudlewsky [sic], German STD Party Deputy Angelica Graff, author of the book 'Assyrian Genocide' Gabriele Yonan [sic] and Human Rights representatives from various European countries and 6 members from the Assyrian Association Federation active in Germany, carefully observed the hearing. Some of the foreigners took photos.



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