Friday, May 11, 2012

Cihan Sentenced to 11 years in Prison....

May 10, 2012

Late in March, I dedicated a blog entry to the fate of Cihan Kirmizigul, a promising engineering student at Galatasaray University, who had been held for 25 months awaiting trial for an alleged terrorist attack on a market, which was politically motivated. In my words, I stated that:

All evidence and common sense points to the fact that Cihan had nothing to do with the protesters chanting Kurdish slogans, who clashed with police and threw molotov cocktails targeting a neighborhood market. Rather, he was an innocent bystander who happened to be wearing a keffiyeh, one similar to those who committed the attack. With no other evidence linking him to the crime other than the keffiyeh, Cihan has been held for over two years in solitary confinement charged with taking part in an act of terror. All common sense would lead to the simple understanding that that Cihan was at the wrong place at the wrong time...Yes, for this he has been held in a F-type solitary cell. If this Kafkaesque scenario was not enough, the prosecutor has called for a 45-year term sentence, if he is found guilty of the crime …”

Following his last trial, which I reported on, he was released pending trial which took place yesterday. Sadly, the verdict is in: Cihan Kirmizigul will sit in prison for 11 years and 3 months for aiding a terrorist organization, throwing a Molotov cocktail, and causing property damages among other charges.  Let us hope that a court will accept an appeal since it seems that the only evidence they can produce was the original reason for keeping him detained for so long; wearing a keffiyeh similar to the perpetrators of the crime. In fact, if I have all the facts right, the only eye-witness who originally testified that he saw Cihan commit the crime, retracted his statement even before his trial in March. Further, it seems that no finger prints or any other evidence has been found connecting Cihan to the crime. 

I will end with the words of my former blog that stated that indeed this is a tragedy since:

Cihan was: a serious young aspiring bright student, someone who in normal circumstances should be a poster-boy for Turkey's education system: a youngster of Kurdish origin, from a rural background, that despite all the cards stacked up against him reached the top and integrated into one of Turkey's most prestigious public institutions. 

Lets hope that this is not the last we hear of this trial. Certainly, this should worry the AKP led Turkish government since it stands as a stark case of injustice that breaks all conventions of common sense.  Yes, if Cihan is guilty let him serve; however, until now it seems that to most that he simply is being held for being at the wrong place at the wrong time, not to mention wearing a keffiyeh and being of Kurdish origin.  

Wednesday, May 2, 2012

Israeli Elections on the Way?

May 1, 2012

According to reports coming from Israel, the Likud party is considering calling early elections, which would be held either before the High Holidays in early September, or following then in mid-October. What is sure is that this will certainly work towards strengthening the Likud's hold over the Knesset. In the meantime, today Tzipi Livni, the former head of the centrist-right Kadima party resigned following losing the leadership to former general Shaul Mofaz, who will need to work hard to not lose their votes to the upcoming Yesh Atid (there is a Future) party, led by Yair Lapid. This party will certainly make waves in the elections; it seems that every Israeli election has a "star" party that comes and goes like the tide. Lapid, a former TV anchor and columnist is the son of Tomi Lapid, who also made the jump from journalism to politics during the nineties.

As for the Labor party, they have hopes that the former investigative and hardball former radio host ShellyYahomovitz can save them from thier own self-destruction, following the exiting of 4 members who followed Defense Minister Ehud Barak and founded the Atsmaut (Independence) party, and left the labor party with a measly 8 seats. Another party, which will need to be watched is Avgidor Lieberman's Israel Beitenu (Israels Our Home), which swept us 15 seats and serves as the third largest party, behind Kadima and Likud, but of course has served the Likud as their major coalition partner. If an indictment comes against Lieberman for corruption in the next few weeks, that could lead to a decline in the party, which has led the anti-democratic legislation during the last few years.

Lastly, for the Sephardic religious party Shas, the fourth largest party in the Knesset, could see a split if they do not allow Aryeh Deri back in as a its leader, now that he is out of prison for serving his time related to corruption. Therefore, one of the most charismatic leaders of the nineties is back on the playing field and if the Rabbi Ovadia Yosef does not give him ample voice in the party, he could form a competitive party dividing their vote.

As we see, things are heating up, and once declared I will follow this closely! Something is wrong about elections in the summer, or even around the September Holidays. Well, one thing is for sure, the competing parties better get their act together if they want to make a dent in the Likud's ability to sweep more seats. Sadly, I say this since under the Likud and Israel Beitenu government no progress whatsoever has been made on the peace process, and little tolerance has been shown to competing views within the Israeli society. I could go on, but this will be for another blog entry.....