AN APPEAL court in Turkey upheld the death sentence on Kurdish rebel leader Abdullah Ocalan last week. The five judges said Ocalan's original trial had been 'conducted in accordance with legal procedures'.
The original trial was, however, a mockery of justice. There was no jury. Ocalan was denied private meetings with his lawyers. The Turkish state whipped up a lynch mob atmosphere inside and outside the court. Defence witnesses were not called and Ocalan's defence team was beaten up. Ocalan's lawyers are now appealing to the European Court of Human Rights against the sentence.
Turkey's rulers have rejected Ocalan's call for a dialogue to bring to an end the 15 year war between the army and Kurds in the south east of Turkey. The Turkish army wants to win a complete victory over the Kurdish movement. However, the Turkish state faces huge problems in pushing ahead with the execution of Ocalan. It wants to be admitted into the European Union.
But public opposition in Europe to Turkey's human rights abuses means that EU governments have had to come out against the death penalty there. The Turkish government, which will have to approve in parliament any execution, is deeply split. All this means that pressure from trade unionists in Britain can help prevent the execution and force the Turkish state to look for peace in Kurdistan.