The journalist’s statement at the Criminal Court of First Instance of Diyarbakir
Dear my Friends;
2 days ago, I had a court trial for my Twitter posts on Afrin operation adjourned until 14 February 2019. The prosecuter demands 3 years imprisonment sentence for my 7 tweets about peace. Here is my statement at the court.
Thank you for your solidarity.
Nurcan Baysal, Statement at Court, 16/10/2018, Diyarbakır’s 7th Criminal Court of First Instance
I am a peace activist and human rights defender as well as a writer. As a member of various peace initiatives in Palestine, Bosnia, Ireland and Turkey, I advocate for peace not only in Turkey but also abroad. I am also a mother, who desires a peaceful environment where no single human being is killed. I am a mother who wants to protect not only the right to life of my own children but also children of the whole world.
Last year in January, before the so called “Operation Olive Branch” has started, I was very much worried about the people who may lose their lives because of this operation. I believe that conflicts should be resolved by dialogue rather than arms. Humanity has already learnt that armed conflicts and war cause human rights violations, such as the right to life. I only wanted to express my concern and worry for the thousands of civilians living in Afrin, where the operation was going to take place. Through my social media posts, I just wanted to draw attention to potential human death and to invite the Turkish government to adopt peaceful policies; I just wanted to give voice to peaceful dialogue instead of military operations to resolve conflicts. I’ve never incited people to hatred and enmity. Those accusations are unacceptable for someone like me, who has dedicated her life to peace and to building a life in solidarity for all people. The accusation of “inciting people to hatred and enmity” is very serious and grave. Facing such accusations only for my tweets intended to protect children’s lives, is against the general principles of law.
As a human rights defender, writer, mother and citizen of Turkish Republic, I am entitled to criticise government’s policies and I exercised my right to criticise through my social media posts. Governments may take wrong decisions; therefore, we, the citizens, should criticise governments and influence their decisions in the right direction. This is a right granted to citizens by constitution, and also a requirement of democracy. I believe that the military operation to Afrin would be in contradiction with the principle of a foreign policy that sustains peace, which is expressed in our Constitution, and that it wouldn’t be in the public interest since the operation would weaken people’s will to live together in solidarity and peace. The people of Afrin are the relatives of people living in this country, in Urfa, Mardin and my home town Diyarbakir.
Caring for public interest is not the government’s monopoly; it is also our right as citizens.
In this regard, I, as a citizen, only criticised the government’s policies in Afrin out of my concern for public interest, the future of this country and the future in which people will live together in solidarity. Additionally, the right to peace is a fundamental right, even protected by the United Nations Charter. In 1984, the United Nations adopted the “Declaration on the Right of Peoples to Peace”. We have a responsibility to demand the protection of rights stipulated under international conventions.
I was taken into custody from home in front of my children; our door was knocked down ; I was held in custody for 3 days and today I am here being prosecuted. It is all just because I didn’t want people to die as a result of the declared military operation and expressed my criticism. All these things I faced are against democracy and human rights. I want peace as someone who advocates for a free and equal life for all people. I consider the accusation of “inciting people to hatred and enmity” an insult; I do not accept the accusation and I demand my acquittal.