If you cry tomorrow, it will be in vain

The United Nations Convention on the Rights of the Child (CRC) went into force in September of 1990.  Only two countries in the world have not ratified this convention: the US and Somalia.  Turkey ratified the CRC on 04 May 1995.

The CRC applies to everyone equally, with special protections for particularly vulnerable groups, such as ethnic minority children.  [1]

Here are summaries of a couple of the CRC articles: [2]

Article 30 (Children of minorities/indigenous groups): Minority or indigenous children have the right to learn about and practice their own culture, language and religion.  The right to practice one’s own culture, language and religion applies to everyone; the Convention here highlights this right in instances where the practices are not shared by the majority of people in the country.

Article 37 (Detention and punishment): No one is allowed to punish children in a cruel or harmful way. Children who break the law should not be treated cruelly. They should not be put in prison with adults, should be able to keep in contact with their families, and should not be sentenced to death or life imprisonment without possibility of release.

Governments of countries that have ratified the Convention are required to report to, and appear before, the United Nations Committee on the Rights of the Child periodically to be examined on their progress with regards to the advancement of the implementation of the Convention and the status of child rights in their country.

Turkey routinely arrests, detains, tortures, and abuses its children.  They are subjected to horrific treatment at the hands of the state security and police.

A past example…in April 2006 Amnesty International reported that 57 of the 91 minors detained during the events in Diyarbakir (March 2006) remained in prison pending trial. Some of them alleged ill-treatment or torture in custody, and their lawyers suggest that they were also subjected to irregular detention procedures. Amnesty International noted that some of the minors could face charges under articles of the Turkish Penal Code which fall under the jurisdiction of the Anti-Terror Law, and that in the case of at least one possible charge the penalty is life imprisonment. [3]

Immediately after the March 2006 incidents in Diyarbakir, Turkish Prime Minister Erdoğan warned that ‘the security forces will act against women and children’ who he said were being used as the ‘pawns of terrorism.’  Addressing the parents of the region he added, ‘If you cry tomorrow, it will be in vain.’  [4]  Sadly, the state still acts against children, in blatant violation of the CRC.

Last December a Human Rights Watch report about Turkey stated that there are  “signs of continuing problems of police violence, and a reported rise in overall complaints of torture and police violence since the beginning of 2007.” [5]

Seyfi Turan (see video below)

Seyfi Turan (see video below)

A recent example…just two days ago in Hakkari, Turkish police brutally beat a 14-year old Kurdish boy, Seyfi Turan, with the butt of a rifle for participating in a demonstration (some media outlets report Turan’s age as 12).  The beating rendered the boy unconscious and the police left him at the scene of the beating, bleeding and with a fractured skull.  Other protesters came to the boy’s aid and took him to hospital where he is in critical condition.  [6]   He was in hospital in Hakkari and later transported to Van.  Another boy while running from the police, fell, sustained a severe head trauma and died on the scene.  And the irony of these incidents is that they took place on Children’s Day, ‘celebrated’ every 23rd April in Turkey since 1935.

The entire choatic incident was captured on video and posted widely on YouTube (blocked in Turkey) and other sites.  Subsequently, Turkish authorities had to recognise this for what it was: another case of human rights abuse against the Kurds (and their children) by the Turkish authorities.  Were it not for the filming of the incident and new social media networks, this would not have been such a high-profile incident and Turan’s case would have been just another statistic for Amnesty International or Human Rights Watch.  As I mentioned in a post just a week ago (The State of Kurdish Media) we need use these new media tools to speak out against repression, abuses of freedom of expression, and violence against children.

Let us not let Turan’s family cry in vain.


[1] UNICEF website

[2] UNICEF Website, Rights under the Convention on the Rights of the Child, http://www.unicef.org/crc/index_30177.html

[3] http://asiapacific.amnesty.org/library/Index/ENGEUR440052006?open&of=ENG-2U5

[4] http://www.ombudsnet.org/resources/infoDetail.asp?ID=7872&flag=news

[5] Closing Ranks Against Accountability: Barriers to Tackling Police Violence in Turkey.  Human Rights Watch, 05 December 2008.

[6] http://www.bianet.org/english/minorities/childrens-day-in-hakkari-one-dead-one-beaten-brutally


2 thoughts on “If you cry tomorrow, it will be in vain

  1. well it’s really sad to see even “a” person that’s why I think Kurds’ voice is needed to be heard, however, violence and seperatist movements are never acceptable. in fact, for most of the kurds nothing will ever change even if they manage to found country called Kurdistan nothing will change for them. Now people with influence is in business sector and politics (senators etc), but other people will continue to live a life of misery under same people(rich kurds, powerful kurds, aga , leaders of asirets). Those people will be more powerful indeed. Those seperatists are putting lives of innocent people for their simple and greedy benefits not for true liberation of Kurds or providing them a high quality life. Blaming on Turkey is pointless after a point, Turkish sovereign is not only bad towards kurds but to all of the groups even to turks. Yes they all need more democracy but another tiny country called kurdistan in that region means only more suffering

  2. Zaher Mahmud
    Uncomfortable luggage

    Pawn on the Internatonal political chessboard
    Zaher Mahmud is an ordinary school boy, living in the provincial capital town Sulaimania in Iraqi Kurdistan until, at the age of eleven his leg is hit by a bullet. His life derails. In-between odd jobs he is frequently on the run. At a very early age, he joins the Kurdish guerrilla. When he is eighteen, he is hit by a phosphor bomb. Only because he is admitted into a London hospital Zaher survives his severe burns. In 1976 he ends up in the Netherlands as a refugee. Will Zaher Mahmud be able to pick up his life again or will the ideas and spectres from his youth continue to hunt him?

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