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Red Alert on Shafak Case

Human rights groups are warning to authorities on the outlawed activities of
intervening Jurists Union demanding measures and an investigation. Concerns
mount over security at court due to rightwing group's public appeal to
display "national unity".

A day before the controversial trial of Turkey's internationally acclaimed
writer Elif Shafak is heard in an Istanbul court, human rights organizations
have warned authorities over the outlawed activities of an intervening group
of rightwing jurists led by attorney Kemal Kerincsiz and previously dubbed
the Union of Jurists.

Concern has mounted over the possibility of the so-called Kerincsiz group,
responsible for the original criminal complaint against Shafak for her
best-seller novel "Father and Bastard" that stands trial under article 301,
stirring up trouble before and during the hearing and obstructing the court.

In some circles there is fear the group may result to physical protest and
violence as in previous cases involving Turkish intellectuals recognized for
their work and contributions in the West.

"Western imperialism, in its struggle to force the Sevres (Treaty) on Turkey
again, has chosen to use Orhan Pamuk, Hrant Dink, Perihan Magden, Murat
Belge, Hasan Cemal and those like them through idolizing them" a statement
issued by the Kerincsiz-linked group said earlier this week. "The new
princess selected by the ethnic minority supporters, the separatists, EU and
USA followers, treaty intellectuals, is Elif Shafak" it claimed, referring
to enemies of Turkey and making them pay in front of justice.

Shafak, who last week gave birth in America and is on maternity rest will
not attend the hearing although publisher Semih Sokmen, representing the
Metis Publishing House that printed the best-seller will be there together
with dozens of others in support and against expected to turn up.

In reference to past acts of disruption in the form of protests and physical
attacks staged by attorney Kerincsiz and those around them, Turkey's Human
Rights Association (IHD) has issued a statement asking authorities to give a
conclusive end to "the show of violence during hearings" and appealed to
everyone to be present at Thursday's trial to show solidarity to Shafak.

The IHD appeal follows a statement along the same lines made earlier this
week by the Contemporary Journalists Association (CGD) and warned that
unless a show of violence at court could be prevented "those public
officials who have failed to use their authority will be as responsible as
those supporting violence for the grave developments that could take place".

The Peace Initiative of Turkey and the Citizens' Initiative have also issued
statements on the case in which they stated that Kerincsiz and his group
were in preparation to obstruct justice in Thursday's hearing and appealed
to prosecutors to take preventative action. Their statement constituted a
criminal complaint against the Union of Jurists, now dubbed the "Grand Union
of Jurists" with a claim that this group under the influence of Kerincsiz
and those around him was involved in outlawed activities.

Concern before trial

Shafak's case will be heard at the Beyoglu 2nd Criminal Court of First
Instance at 10.30 in the morning and both those supporting her and the
Kerincsiz group opposing have so far issued public appeals calling on
followers to turn up at the Beyoglu Justice Hall.

The rightwing jurists have in their statement called on everyone to fulfill
a "National Duty" on the day of the trial saying "the time has come to say
stop to the enemies of Turks on legitimate grounds. We invite everyone to
the Beyoglu Justice Hall under the slogan 'invitation to national duty' to
make the enemies of Turks pay in the field of justice for swearing at and
insulting the Turkish nation".

References such as "making them pay" have raised concerns that tension will
hit the case as in the examples of the previous trials of writers and
journalists such as Orhan Pamuk, Hrant Dink, Perihan Magden, Murat Belge and
Hasan Cemal where the so-called Jurists Union was involved.

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