On February 9, 2011, Pinar Selek, accused without any evidence on the same charges for which she had already been officially declared innocent twice, is going to be retried before the 12th High Criminal Court of Istanbul.She risks a life sentence in prison for involvement with the supposedly “terrorist” organization, the PKK (Kurdistan Workers’ Party). However, the true significance of this trial is whether the government will continue – or cease - the terror campaign that for over twelve years they have aimed at her and those who defend her rights and their own, completely disregarded.1
Pinar Selek is a woman and a feminist; I share with her, and many others, a thousand-yearhistory of patriarchal oppression on which all States—be they qualified as police or democratic or religious—have been founded.
Pinar Selek is a sociologist; I share with her, as a researcher, the belief that sociology, like all social sciences, can only be critical. Furthermore, not to take into account the systems of domination that structure all societies means to legitimize them and to become their active accomplice.
Pinar Selek is therefore a committed intellectual. I share with her the analysis that an intellectual cannot disassociate theory from practice, reflection from action. Furthermore, not being committed is a de facto support of all injustices.
The difference between us – although my personal and political evolution is quite similar to hers(which doesn’t mean analogy of thoughts)– is that she is Turkish and I am French, and for that reason alone she could be put in jail for the rest of her life while I am free.
We are fighting the same battles.
I am free; she must be free as well.
I will not go into the arguments her supporters have so clearly formulated and proved throughout her long, tenacious and courageous battle.2
The following considerations are what strike me as essential:
* First, for anyone with the minimum of good faith it is overwhelming evident by looking at her, listening to her for five minutes, or reading what she has written, that Pinar Selek, a completely transparent person, could never set off a bomb. As her sensitivity, the range and depth of her analysis and her courage show, she can only speak the truth.
* Secondly, all the judicial system’s accusations against her for more than 12 years are based on outrageous manipulations and worse still,insults to intelligence.
* Finally, how can a State’s judicial system shamelessly pretend to enforce the country’s laws and to continue to prosecute a woman who has been tortured by the police of this very State?
Pinar Selek is right in refusing to answer the question which is so often asked: “But why you?” for the same reason that she is right in refusing to justify herself.
It is not her responsibility.
It is, in fact, up to the State to provide the reasonswhy she—with, and after, so many others—was chosen to bea symbol of freedom of speech, a symbol of freedom of research (refusal to disclose sources being a founding principle), a symbol of feminist struggles, and a symbol of battles for liberation from all dominations.
And to face the consequences.
Pinar Selek must be definitively cleared of all the charges against her.
But this is not enough.
I consider, for my part, that:
* Justice must recognize the lies, the tortures, the theft of part of her life; the ordeal that the State imposed on her, as on many others: theft of her writings, falsification of information and fabrication of false proofs, the manipulations, menaces, slander, imprisonment, and torture … without forgetting what Pinar Selek has so clearly analysed—the human cost, the terrible intellectual cost of “being held guilty for something that you have spent your entire life fighting against.”
* Justice, the State, after acknowledging their respective responsibilitiesmust furthermore present their excuses and offer her the reparations that are to due to her, as to so many others.3
These demands will then become an integral part of the present struggles in the world, in France, in Turkey, in Tunisia and in Egypt, necessary to build the deep-seated political alternatives that are so badly needed. To put a definitive end toall forms of torture, an end to the charges of “terrorism” and “terrorist”—so loosely interpreted according to the specific interests of all States— and the very existence of “political prisoners” are prerequisites.
Do we have even have to mention that all political prisoners, men and women, have been liberated by the new Tunisian government?
Pinar Selek, the honour of Turkey.
So that a “crime against (her) humanity” will not, once again, be committed.
I will be in Istanbul, with many others, on February 9th.
1 Arrested on 11 July 1998 and tortured for refusing to reveal the names of the people she had interviewed for her research on the Kurds—which itself was considered a sign of support of the PKK (Kurdistan Workers’ Party)—she was then accused of having set off a bomb in the Spice Bazaar on July 9, 1998.
She spent two and a half years in prison, in spite of the fact that the principal witness for the prosecution, who had declared that he had placed the bomb with her, retracted his statement: not only did he claim that he was tortured but also that he didn’t know her. After six experts’ reports (including by the police) indicated that a gas leak and not a bomb had caused the explosion for which she was accused, she was freed on bail in December 2000, and acquitted in June 2006 by the 12th High Criminal Court of Istanbul. Since then a long judicial-political battle has ensued which led to two acquittals in court trials. And now Pinar Selek once again risks a life sentence on February 9, 2011 and continues to be accused of “being a member of the PKK and having committed this act (the bomb attack)”.
2 Cf., especially the information pack created by the French Support Group as well as the article entitled “Why was Pinar Selek Chosen as a Target?”
3 On December 30, 2010, Mme Demir d'Azadiya Welat, former editor of Azadiya Welat, the only daily Kurdish newspaper in Turkey received an outrageous sentence of 138 years in prison for “propaganda in favour of Kurdish rebels” and “belonging to a terrorist organisation”. My support of Pinar Selek obviously includes her as well.