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I would like to begin by first thanking Mrs. Judith Sargentini and Fair Trials International for inviting me to speak at this important discussion.
My presence here officially marks the end of 14 years that I have been barred from the European Parliament. I was banned for the same reason that Interpol placed me on their terrorist watchlist: for participating in peaceful protests against the presence of the then Turkish Minister of Foreign Affairs, Ismail Cem, right here in Brussels on the 28th of November 2000.

After this simple demonstration, which intended to draw international attention to Turkish political prisoners dying in the longest hunger strike in history, I was refused multiple times at the gates of Parliament when I attempted to enter as an interpreter for delegations of Turkish lawyers and NGOs.

It is clear that Interpol is not alone to blame for criminalization that I had to undergo.

Nevertheless, I am very happy to return here, and thank Pascal Heymans, Head of Security, who removed me from the European Parliament’s blacklist.

Due to the protest that took place here in Brussels, I was accused in Turkey of being the leader of a terrorist organization, and was henceforth subject to the mercy of an Interpol Red Notice declared by a court in Ankara.

After this Interpol Red Notice was issued, I was arrested repeatedly in 3 different countries. On the 28th of April 2006, I was stopped by the Dutch police on my way to Amsterdam to prepare for a concert. As a result of this Interpol alert, I was incarcerated for 68 days.

On the 17th of June 2013, I was arrested by the Spanish police while with my family on vacation at the Cathedral-Mosque of Cordoba. This time, because Interpol, I was deprived of liberty for 5 days.

On 21 November, the Italian police arrested me at Orio al Serio airport in Bergamo, while I was on my way to a conference on Syria. Again, because of the Red Notice, I was detained for 111 days, including 12 days in jail and 99 days of house arrest. Interpol has therefore robbed me of a total of 184 days of freedom, which amounts to over 6 months of unjust detention.

Finally, thanks to Fair Trials International and the efforts of my friends and comrades, Interpol definitively removed me from its watchlist on 22 August of this year. Thanks to this significant victory, I decided last September 9th to request the Turkish authorities to allow me to appear freely in Turkey to defend myself on trial and receive a full acquittal.

On the 24th of October, the 10th Ankara Assize Court accepted my request. I was granted safe passage throughout Turkey for a 3-month period until the 24th of January. I now await my trial in Ankara, which was set for this Friday, the 12th of December.

As I announced in my latest press release, today I will announce my decision to attend my trial in Turkey or not.

After much thought and consultation with my comrades, friends and supporters, I will temporarily defer this opportunity return to Turkey.

Indeed, I believe that it is wiser for me not to offer my torturers something that they would interpret as capitulation. Especially due to the fact that recently, Turkish authorities have used my image to physically and mentally torture activists arrested in Istanbul.

Police have showed private photos of me to the young activists they were torturing, saying "While you have hard time here, your leader Kimyongür sips wine in bars in Europe.” One can expect anything from policies that amount to such inhumanity.

Who still remembers the fate of the two Turkish communist leaders, Nabi Yagci and Nihat Sargin, who were arrested upon their arrival to the Ankara airport after seven years of exile in Europe on the 16th of November 1987.

Mr. Yagci and Mr. Sargin were arrested on the tarmac, despite being accompanied by an impressive delegation of political leaders, Western journalists and MEPs. The two communist activists were then tortured for 19 days in the "Derin Arastirmalar Laboratuvari" (DAL), the Deep Research Laboratory of the Turkish Police in Ankara. Mr. Yagci and Mr. Sargin were only released on the 4th of May 1990, 900 days after their arrest at the Ankara airport.

There is also the more recent case of the Turkish sociologist, Pinar Selek, who was exiled to France. Last week, the Turkish Justice system sent a bad signal in Mrs. Selek’s case, which had lasted 16 years. This past Friday, December 4, a prosecutor has demanded life imprisonment against Mrs. Selek, for her involvement in a bomb attack in 1998. That is particularly concerning because this attack never existed.

According to expert reports, the event was simply an accident caused by gas leak, not a terrorist attack. But in Turkish courts, one is never safe from fabricated "evidence" and "anonymous witnesses.”

Finally, just last Tuesday, December 2nd, the Turkish Parliament adopted a draft government bill that strengthens the influence of the executive branch over the judiciary. This new law would effectively allow the government to oust all judges who are not aligned with Erdogan's policy.

Additionally, committee discussions will take place this week regarding another bill that will dramatically expand police powers and allow security forces to use live firearms during protests.

It is clear to me that the political climate in Turkey will not allow me to safely reach my court in Ankara, or defend myself before an impartial tribunal. Today, it is clear that Erdogan's Turkey is a police state. It is a state where justice is increasingly politicized. It is a state that offers no chance for freedom.

Thank you for your attention.
Bahar Kimyongür

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