Tortured Baku-Ceyhan Pipeline Campaigner considers indefinite hunger strike
[Update: Ferhat has now been granted bail... click here for details...]
The prominent human rights defender detained and allegedly tortured in Turkey following his work to mitigate the impacts of the controversial Baku-Ceyhan (BTC) pipeline has indicated that he will commence a 'death fast ' hunger strike on 12 May 2004 if his application for release is not accepted. Human rights and environmental groups are calling on the international community to intervene urgently to guarantee the safety of the campaigner.
Kaya has been involved for some time in mitigating the impacts of the BTC project by ensuring that local people obtain the compensation to which they are entitled and that their rights under the ECHR are respected. He has this year assisted people affected by the pipeline in bringing complaints
to the European Court of Human Rights and European Court of Justice. The project is funded by the World Bank, the European Bank for Reconstruction and Development and a number of export credit agencies, including Britain's Export Credits Guarantee Department (ECGD), US Ex-Im, COFACE (France) and SACE (Italy).
Kaya was detained on Wednesday following his attendance at meetings with those affected by the pipeline and later with trade unionists in Ardahan. He states that he was humiliated and very badly beaten up during his detention. An officer pointed a gun at his head and verbally abused him
and his family. Kaya was pushed to the ground and kicked repeatedly. Witnesses and relatives observed blood on his clothes and deep cuts on his arms and elsewhere. A medical report is consistent with allegations of torture or ill-treatment. He was also derided as a 'terrorist' by the court prosecutor, although he was not attendant at the court hearing.
Witnesses, human rights and environmental groups believe this is Kaya's second detention in connection with his work to highlight concerns over the pipeline. On Friday 7 May 2004, Kurdish Human Rights Project and the Cornerhouse wrote to the UK Secretary for International Development and Minister for Trade and Investment calling for their action over his case. Earlier requests for action received reassurances from Mr. MacShane, the Foreign Office minister, that Amnesty International had found no evidence of a connection between Kaya's earlier detention and his work in relation to the BTC pipeline. In fact, Amnesty International had not even investigated the case.
There is strong and direct evidence of a link between his intimidation, arrest and torture and his work to highlight the social and environmental impacts of the BTC pipeline. Kaya himself believes his current detention is wholly to prevent his political activities regarding the pipeline.
UK SUPPORTERS - PLEASE WRITE TO EXPRESS YOUR CONCERN TO HILARY BENN, the UK minister responsible for Britain's support for the project through the World Bank and the European Bank for Reconstruction and development. For a specimen letter, see below.
FOR SUPPORTERS OUTSIDE UK, PLEASE EMAIL YOUR EXPORT CREDIT AGENCY IF IT IS INVOLVED OR YOUR EXECUTIVE DIRECTOR AT THE WORLD BANK AND EUROPEAN BANK FOR RECONSTRUCTION AND DEVELOPMENT
For further information contact:
- Kurdish Human Rights Project: Kerim Yildiz (Executive Director) / Rochelle Harris (Public Relations Officer) - 020 7287 2772
- Nicholas Hildyard, The Cornerhouse 01258 473 795
For those in the UK, please write to Hilary Benn. Please send your letter to: PrivateSecretary@dfid.gov.uk
For updates see www.baku.org.uk