Wednesday, 14 November 2012

News Release: Right Livelihood Foundation To Monitor Trial Of Laureate

Hayrettin Karaca

90 years old Turkish environmentalist Hayrettin Karaca has been summoned to appear in court two weeks before he will come to Stockholm to receive his 2012 Right Livelihood Award.

November 20th, 2012 will mark the fourth hearing in the case against Hayrettin Karaca and others at the Criminal Court in Dikili, Western Turkey (File No 2011 / 0113). Mr. Karaca and his fellow defendants are accused of illegal trespass and disturbing the business area of the mining company Koza Altin Madencilik A.S.

The case exemplifies the difficulties Turkish environmentalist face when they take a strong stance for the protection of the environment and against the interests of powerful corporations like the mining industry.

Mrs. Agneta Johansson, board member of the Right Livelihood Award, will observe the proceedings. Mrs. Johansson is an international lawyer, Deputy Director of the International Legal Assistance Consortium in Sweden, and brings prior experience from observing trials around the world.

The Right Livelihood Award Foundation calls for all proceedings against Karaca to respect international standards on due process and fair trial.

On 17 April 2010, Karaca went to Kozak, a region in the western part of Turkey, where gold mining companies operate, for a fact-finding visit and to support the local movement against the gold mining. After a public meeting with the villagers, the locals took Karaca, activist lawyer Hasan Namak and others to state owned forest land where the mining company Koza Altin was cutting 7400 trees. When Karaca started to take photos of some tree and plant species, three cars appeared and its passengers – claiming to belong to the mining company – insulted, intimidated and threatened Karaca, Namak and the locals. The employees of the mining company thus restricted their freedom of movement in what was clearly a public street.

Whilst Karaca and Namak filed a complaint against the mining company for harassing them, the mining company registered a complaint against them and the locals for trespassing and disturbing their business area. The public prosecutor decided to only open the case against Karaca and others and chose not to initiate proceedings against Koza Altin. They now face a trial with the prospect of 6 years’ imprisonment if they are convicted.

Hayrettin Karaca will come Stockholm on December 5 for the Award Ceremony in the Swedish Parliament on December 7. A press conference will be held the day before, on December 6.

At the Award Ceremony, Hayrettin Karaca will accept an Honorary Prize
“for a lifetime of tireless advocacy and support for the protection and stewardship of our natural world, combining successful entrepreneurship with effective environmental activism”.

Sharan Srinivas
Programme Manager

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