Zana Aksu is the former president of the IHD (Human Rights Association) branch in Siirt, a town in Southeast Turkey. He is also editor-in-chief of a local news website called Siirt’ten Öte, which was closed down by the government. He is known for drawing attention to the mass graves after periods of conflict, as well as reporting on the many human rights violations in the Siirt region.
Aksu is a conscientious objector to military service. He has been detained many times and has been levied administrative fines and a suspended sentence.
Zana Aksu was charged with “making propaganda for a terrorist organisation”. There are several court cases against him. One of these cases relates to him joining a press statement during a one-day strike on 29 December 2015, organised by trade unions. The strike was against curfews and armed violence, including the Turkish military intervention in East and Southeast Turkey against the armed organisation PKK (Kurdistan Workers’ Party). Aksu is also being investigated for “membership to a terrorist organisation”.
A lawsuit was filed at Siirt 3rd Criminal Court of First Instance in 2015 for his news entitled “Siirt, the name of the province where making a voice is a crime” and his social media posts after the explosion in Urfa’s Suruç district in July 2015, in which 34 people lost their lives. At the decision hearing held on September 23, 2020, Aksu was sentenced to one year for “inciting hatred and enmity”.
In the lawsuit filed due to Aksu’s announcement of his conscientious objection, it was decided to postpone the announcement of the verdict and this file was finalized and closed. Aksu was detained several times for the same reason and was sentenced to a judicial fine. In another conscientious objection case in Siirt 2nd High Criminal Court, the court decided to dismiss the case on January 10, 2020, considering that Aksu had been sentenced before the same administrative fine.