Osman Baydemir (born 1971 in Diyarbakır) is a Kurdish politician, lawyer and human rights activist in east Turkey. He is the current mayor of his home town of Diyarbakır and member of the Peace and Democracy Party (BDP).
Life and career
Osman Baydemir graduated from the Law Faculty at Dicle University in Diyarbakır. In 1995 he became the chair of the Diyarbakır branch of the independent Human Rights Association. Between 1995 and 2002 he also was a board member and became vice-president of the association. In February 1999 he became one of the first lawyer who volunteered to defend Abdullah Öcalan. In 2001 he became a founding member of the Human Rights Foundation of Turkey (HRFT or TİHV Türkiye İnsan Hakları Vakfı). At the general elections in 2002, he was the candidate of the Democratic People's Party (DEHAP), but the party failed to reach the 10% election threshold. In 2003, Baydemir spent 6 months in the United States, to improve his English. In 2004, he was elected mayor of Diyarbakır.
In May 2005 he married Reyhan Yalçındağ, the deputy chair of the Human Rights Association in Turkey. On April 23, 2006 their son Mirzanyar was born.
Charges and threats
As a human rights activist and as a politician, Osman Baydemir has been subjected to persecution on various levels. According to a report of Amnesty International of 12 February 2004 there were 200 court cases against him for his human rights activities. The daily Radikal reported on July 11, 2006 that during the last two years a total of 129 investigations against him had been conducted.
Osman Baydemir has received numerous threats. In June 2001 Amnesty International issued an urgent action on his behalf. After the assassination of Armenian journalist Hrant Dink in January 2007 Osman Baydemir was among several people who received death threats.
Recent court cases against Osman Baydemir include:
- In May 2006 Osman Baydemir was charged with an illegal act by providing an ambulance of the municipality for the transport of a corpse. In September 2006 Osman Baydemir was acquitted.
- Osman Baydemir and 55 other mayors of the DTP Party were indicted because in December 2005 they signed a petition to the Danish Prime Minister Anders Fogh Rasmussen urging him not to close the Kurdish television station Roj TV. They were charged with supporting the PKK. The trial started in September 2006. In April 2007 the prosecutor asked for sentences of 15 years' imprisonment for 52 mayors.
- He was prosecuted for violating a Turkish law prohibiting the use of letters not in the Turkish alphabet when he sent out a New Year's greeting in Kurdish which included the letter "W". On April 19, 2007 Diyarbakır Peace Court No. 2 dropped the charges since the Ministry of Justice had not permitted that such a case be heard.
- Osman Baydemir, Kim Kimdir?[unreliable source?]
- Akyol, Cahit; Kurt, Nurettin (1999-02-24). "Yuhalandılar". Hürriyet (in Turkish). Retrieved 2008-08-20.
- "Board of Founders". Human Rights Foundation of Turkey. 2006-12-04. Retrieved 2008-08-20.[dead link]
- "Osman Baydemir got married (Turkish)". newspaper Zaman. 2005-08-06. Retrieved 2011-05-07.
- "Turkey: Restrictive laws, arbitrary application - the pressure on human rights defenders". Amnesty International. 2004-02-12. Retrieved 2008-08-20. See footnote 18.
- "Baydemir'e iki yılda 129 soruşturma". DHA (in Turkish) (Radikal). 2006-11-07. Retrieved 2008-08-20.
- "Turkey: Death threats/Fear for safety Eren Keskin and Osman Baydemir". Amnesty International. 2001-06-06. Retrieved 2008-08-20.
- "Singer Ferhat Tunç informed about death threat with two months delay". Freemuse. 2007-04-10. Retrieved 2008-08-20.
- Cebe, Özgur (2002-05-30). "Ambulans davası açıldı". DHA (Milliyet). Retrieved 2008-08-20.
- "Baydemir beraat etti". DHA (in Turkish) (Radikal). 2006-09-28. Retrieved 2008-08-20.
- "Prosecutor seeks 15 years for Kurdish mayors over Denmark letter". AFP (Kurdish Institute of Paris). 2007-04-03. Retrieved 2008-08-20.[dead link]
- "Daily human rights report". Human Rights Foundation of Turkey. 2008-08-20. Retrieved 2008-08-20.[dead link]
- "Daily human rights report". Human Rights Foundation of Turkey. 2007-04-20. Retrieved 2008-08-20.[dead link]
- What do the Kurds Want? (December 2004) petition, signed also by Osman Baydemir.