Naples Conference on Mediterranean Lawyers

We thank the organizing associations of this meeting for their work and for their kind invitation. Many lawyers of our association from various European countries are present today to follow our work carefully.

The AED (European Democratic Lawyers Association), in which Italy is present through the association “Legalteam Italia”, has always contained in its structure a Commission called “Defense de la Defense“, which is devoted to defend and practice solidarity with lawyers who are deprived of liberty throughout the world or persecuted for their work of human rights’ advocacy.

For this reason, along with the intervention of lawyers of the association, the Commission has been present in Indonesia, Spain, Tunisia, Kashmir and in many other countries of the world where the role of lawyers has been opposed by dictatorial and / or fake democratic governments.

It was immediately decided to express our utmost solidarity with the colleagues of neighbouring Turkey even in view of its forthcoming accession to the European Union. During the 1990s protests, we got together in front of the Turkish government to protest for the arrest of the then President of the’ Association of Human Rights and Vice-President, both lawyers of the Diyarbakir Order, Sakar and Tanrikoglu.

On this occasion, a delegation from Germany was sent to organize the presence of trial observers during their trial as well as the presence of lawyers in Istanbul, where solidarity was given to colleague Erin Keskin, of the same Human Rights Association, arrested in Istanbul and prosecuted on the 20th of May 1997.

During the coming years, the AED has always worked to defend our colleagues who have suffered arrests and torture in Turkey. We remember our colleague, the lawyer Sevil Dalkilic, who was tortured and induced to confess falsely that she was a member of a terrorist organization; in this occasion as in other, AED and Amnesty International coordinated the intervention. The Turkish government never responded to the many motions and protest letters sent by our association to the diplomatic representatives of  their country. The AED through its commission defense of the defense sent a report to the Human Rights Commission in New York on the case of Sevil Dalkilic.

Several interventions have been organized to ensure the presence of the AED lawyers, as well as other international observers of associations formed during the years, to trials against lawyers who face arrests and torture in Turkey for the work in the defence of citizens unjustly accused of carrying out terrorist activities, especially lawyers and representatives of Kurdish citizens who for years have been claiming their autonomy and freedom, while the Turkish government has always been the expression of military dictatorships and fascist hegemony. The Turkish government have always denied political independence to the Kurdish community, who today is also engaged, militarily, in defending Europe from the attacks of ISIS in the Syrian territories.

For some years now, lawyer’s protests have taken place. Lawyers demonstrate, clothed in their working robes, in front of the Turkish Embassies and Consulates in the countries where members of the AED are present.

Lawyers protest against the numerous arrests and expulsions from Turkish territory of members of delegations who come here to observe the proceedings against lawyers, journalists, teachers and workers subject to the repression that the Turkish government now exercises against all opponents. During the long-term detention of the President of the Kurdish Workers Party (PKK), President Ocalan; numerous lawyers have been expelled because they were engaged in defense of Ocalan both in Germany and in Italy in the short period of his presence in Europe, where he asked for political asylum (granted in Italy in 1998).

Colleagues are also denied entry to Turkey, when they go to provide legal aid together with Turkish Lawyers and their Associations (CHD, IHD, etc …).

In 2011, the AED dedicated for the first time the day of the 24th of January to the protest in defense of lawyers threatened around the world because of their role in the defense of human and civil rights. The 24th of January commemorates the day were a large group of labour lawyers were assassinated by fascists in Madrid in 1977 for their commitment to defend workers.

In the following years, an increasing number of lawyers have demonstrated on behalf of other lawyers. They have demonstrated in front of the Embassies of Colombia, Honduras, the Philippines, Iran and, above all, in recent years, Turkey, Egypt and China. This initiative has led to the collaboration of many associations, and from 2012 to today, hundreds of lawyers in their robes have demonstrated in front of diplomatic delegations across Europe. This has also determined the entry into our association of a Turkish Lawyers’ Association from 2015. In 2017 the Greek have also joined our association.

The Mediterranean is the scene of numerous political transformations that have emerged from the peoples’ awareness of their right to self-determination; since 2011, with the well-known “Arab Spring”, we have seen the desire for change expressed by peaceful peoples who have immediately suffered repression and violence. The people have confronted this repression with courage and determination, together and with the help of lawyers who have been threatened and tortured for their civil engagement.

To further our political commitment and the cooperation with the Associations of Lawyers as well as the individual lawyers present today, we welcome the proposal to sign a Charter here in Naples, which defines the principles and goals for which we have chosen the commitment all of us try to pursue, with our usual solidarity and the necessary affirmation of the right of all those who call us to defend the conquests of liberty for which they struggle and die.

On this particular occasion, it is time to express our solidarity to the Catalan people who, peacefully, have tried to manifest their political self-determination and have suffered an unheard of repression by the police forces of a country that should deal democratically with the disputes that arise with the citizens. Instead the Spanish state has sparked an unjust and evil force against helpless citizens, causing hundreds of injured in a day, when all they wanted to do is to vote.

Naples, on the 7th and 8th of October 2017

for the AED Simonetta Crisci

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