State Security Courts

   State Security Courts (Devlet Guvenlik Mahkemesi) in Turkey were toned-down, modern-day versions of the earlier Independence Tribunals during the 1920s. Turkey's eight State Security Courts had jurisdiction over civilian cases involving the Antiterrorist Law of 1991 that contained the notorious Article 8, which covered membership in illegal organizations and the propagation of ideas banned by law as damaging the indivisible unity of the state. Each court consisted of five members: two civilian judges, one military judge, and two prosecutors. In all there were a total of 18 such State Security Court panels.
   These courts took a leading role in trying to stifle violent and nonviolent Kurdish activists and in so doing provide a veneer of legality to the state's campaign against Kurdish nationalist demands. Thus, these courts closed down newspapers and narrowly interpreted the right of free speech. Nurset Demiral, the former head of the Ankara State Security Court, became both the symbol and the reality of the problem these courts presented to democratic freedoms. For example, Demiral demanded the death penalty for Leyla Zana and the other Demokrasi Partisi (DEP) members of parliament who were finally imprisoned in 1994. Later, Demiral joined the ultra-right Nationalist Action Party led by Alparslan Turkes.
   Turkey eventually abolished the State Security Courts in an attempt to help meet the requirements for membership in the European Union (EU).

Historical Dictionary of the Kurds. .

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