ANDREWS APPEALS FOR CLEMENCY FOR OCALAN
Speaking in Belfast today the Minister for Foreign Affairs, Mr. David Andrews T.D., stressed his regret at the imposition of the death sentence on Abdullah Ocalan by the State Security Court of Ankara and joins the international community in appealing for clemency.
The Government's opposition to capital punishment as a matter of principle, irrespective of the defendant and the offence of which he is convicted, is well-known. Minister Andrews said "The abolition of the death penalty contributes to the enhancement of human dignity and the progressive development of human rights and the continued use of the death penalty diminishes us all. For these reasons, Ireland and her EU partners are working assiduously towards the universal abolition of the death penalty."
Minister Andrews has been following the trial of Abdullah Ocalan closely and on his instructions a representative of the Irish Embassy in Ankara was present at the trial. Earlier, together with his EU colleagues, the Minister had called on Turkey to ensure a free and fair trial for Mr. Ocalan. He emphasised directly to Speaker Cetin of the Turkish Grand National Assembly, on the occasion of his visit to Dublin, Ireland's concern to see fair and correct treatment for Mr. Ocalan and an open trial according to the rule of law before an independent court, with access to legal counsel of his choice and with international observers admitted to the trial. He also stressed, in particular, Ireland's strict opposition to the death penalty.
It is understood that Mr. Ocalan's lawyers are preparing an appeal to Turkey's Higher Courts and ultimately, if necessary, to the European Court of Human Rights. While not wishing to pre-empt such appeals Minister Andrews expressed the strong hope that Turkey's 15 year moratorium on the death penalty will be maintained in relation to Mr. Ocalan, pending its early abolition.
The Government continues to be concerned with the Kurdish question. Since 1984 over 30,000 people have died in fighting between the Turkish Army and the PKK. The Government supports the territorial integrity of Turkey and utterly condemns terrorism. However, it has also made clear to Turkey that the fight against terrorism must be conducted with due respect for human rights and the rule of law and that a peaceful political solution must be found to the Kurdish question.