Pınar Selek
Condemnation of Pınar Selek will be a Disgrace to Turkey
Elif Nas Ünal - İstanbul - BIA News Desk - 29 April 2014

Bianet spoke with Martin Pradel, Pınar Selek’s lawyer and the representative of International Federation for Human Rights (FIDH) on Pınar Selek’s 16 year long judicial proceedings. 

Pınar Selek was found guilty of the July 9th, 1998 Mısır Bazaar explosion, got acquitted three times but received a life sentence in the end. Her next trial will be on 30th of April and Supreme Court of Appeals 9th Criminal Division is expected to deliver her verdict. 

Martin Pradel was mandated by the Observatory for the Protection of Human Rights Defenders (OBS) to observe hearings of Pınar Selek’s trials between 2010 and 2013. Pradel, will be in Turkey to observe the trial on April 30th. 

The next trial is on the 30th of April, and Supreme Court of Appeals is expected to deliver Pınar Selek’s verdict, what do you think is going to happen?

That is the impossible question because nobody could ever imagine on the beginning how everything happened and describing it kind of an unbelievable story. So telling you what is going to happen will be a bit pretentious. I really hope that, this is going to end for Pınar Selek, she does not deserve this. I would also say Turkey does not deserve the confirmation of the condemnation of Pınar Selek because this case is a disgrace to Turkey. Telling you what is going on is impossible for me, but telling you what I think would be right is something quite obvious. When you follow this case, you realize that it is obvious that, the condemnation of Pınar Selek has nothing to do with truth, justice and state of law. 

Pınar Selek applied to the European Court of Human Rights (ECHR) before the Constitutional Court opened the way to personal applications a year ago. I have two questions here, what was Pınar’s first application about and is she planning to apply directly to the ECHR if the decision won’t come out in favor of her? 

I didn’t observe this part of the trial, I only went to Istanbul and followed the case in Istanbul, but what I heard of the case in Strasbourg is it deals with the fact that this case took 15 years in order to have a solution and it still continues, so it’s a problem of delay. It’s not about the case itself. It was a criticism in my understanding of the situation, and the criticism was not on the accusation itself but on the conditions of the trial. What we have to expect is not for something like another case in ECHR, what we really hope is a dismissal of this accusation. What I saw in Istanbul is typically and tragically a caricature of what an unfair trial could be. 

"Prosecuting Selek for three times is something absurd"

What do you think of the expert reports on Pınar Selek’s case?

The question is first about the fact that the authorities really want to say that this explosion is a crime; it could not be an accident in their understanding of the situation. The problem is, it was an accident. For a reason which is not out in the open, they want this explosion to be a crime. Most of the time, the experts say it’s not a crime, it’s an accident, and there is one expert who is saying it might be an accident but it also might be a crime, we don’t know. Because of that, they say, this might be a crime, so this is a crime. Sometimes, that kind of situation just leaves you breathless. You cannot explain something that is not explainable and then you have to think of some reasons to fight for these prosecutions. When you think of the very beginning, you see that everything in this case is really absurd.

Accusing Pınar Selek of a crime which was not even committed, prosecuting Pınar Selek for the 3rd time and then acquit her once again, and then decide to take back this decision is something absurd, it should not exist. Trying to explain that Abdülcemit Öztürk accused Pınar Selek under torture, but because he was tortured he could not be trusted, but he could be trusted anyway on one thing, when he talks about Pınar Selek, is something absurd. So all of this case, all the proceedings, and all the facts, everything on this case is totally absurd. So this prosecution is pointless.

There is an image, you see this kid playing with his toys and he wants to put a cylinder in a square, so he needs something to make the cylinder to go into the square and he destroys everything in the end. This is exactly the same. They destroyed every principle which is the basics of the Turkish proceedings and finally they break their law, this law they’re supposed to apply. Those experts who says things, they don’t listen because they don’t want to listen. 

Is there any chance that France or Strasbourg University would return Pınar Selek back to Turkey? 

There is the Geneva Convention, and the Geneva Convention makes that France and all the countries of Europe have the duty to protect Pınar Selek. It’s now what the law on Pınar Selek is. Nothing is ever impossible, but in order to oblige for Pınar to come back, they would have to explain that Pınar Selek represents a clear and present danger.

Pınar Selek was never dangerous; she didn’t commit a crime, that’s why this will never be a problem. That’s the reason why INTERPOL decided to destroy the files on Pınar Selek. INTERPOL is an organization of international police, and they have the duty to make sure that what is asked to them is not political, and not against INTERPOL principles, based on the human rights. They saw that conditions of this accusation contain major violations of human rights, and they destroyed all of the files.  

"Her academic approach made her dangerous for them"

How does Pınar Selek feel?

She’s sad because her country and the place where she would like to live is Turkey. This where her family stands, her friends stand, even if now she has friends all over the world, she would like to be living in her beloved İstanbul. What is very obvious to me is that she is confident.

She is confident because she knows that she didn’t do what she’s accused of. I read what she wrote lately, and you see that she’s not scared of this situation. She has decided to go to the end of the world for to prove that what was said on her is false. She would go to the end of the world.  

Have you ever observed any campaigns in Europe on Pınar Selek?

I haven’t been to the campaigns related to Pınar Selek but I gave conferences on her case. I saw that, those who criticize the justice in Turkey are not the enemy of the states. They just believe that Turkey doesn’t deserve this justice and I share their thoughts. Because Turkey has to be a model, but with this case it looks like they throw the idea away, just as if they don’t care. They get focused on condemning Pınar Selek, crushing the principles, their proceedings and what do they look like.

In Turkey, Pınar Selek’s supporters consider her case from two different points of views; one of sides believe that the situation is a violation of having a fair trial, and the other side is seeing the situation from Pınar being a sociologist and academician. What do you think about that?

In my opinion, those two positions are compatible. You can consider that she’s prosecuted for a wrong reason and therefore the consequence will be that there is a violation of having a fair trial. I think there is a lot of people who felt criticized for themselves as soon as Pınar started describing the society.

Describing sometimes is criticizing. She said the conditions of women in Turkey is not admissible, this is something she used to say just like a lot of feminist activists, man or woman. They said, this is not something we should accept, they said these situations are described in sociology. This was not to criticize the society, and nobody should take it personally, this was something that was said to make some changes in the end.

When you get away from a path which is very simple and when you don’t say everything is really nice in Turkish society, then you can easily become an enemy of the state. It’s a question of freedom of speech and conscience. In the end, if you are a scientist, someone who is working in academics, if you have an academic point of view, then you become really dangerous for them. This is why I think she became very intolerable. (ENÜ/ÇT/BM)

* Click here to read the article in Turkish.

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