The Kurdish community in Europe and Kurdistan commemorated, in various ways, the anniversary of the assassination, on 13 July 1989, of Dr. Abdulrahman Ghassemlou, General Secretary of the Kurdistan Democratic Party of Iran, and two of his companions, Abdullah Ghaderi and Dr. Fazil Rassoul, by emissaries of the Iranian President, in the middle of "peace talks" (see our special Bulletin Dr. Ghassemlou, regarding the circumstances surrounding these State murders). On 13 July his friends from all horizons and origins met in the Paris cemetery of Père Lachaise to pay tribute to the late Kurdish leader.
A commemorative celebration had earlier taken place in the Colbert hall of the French National Assembly, supported by the Socialist International and the French Socialist Party. Kurdish, Iranian and Western public figures recalled various aspects of Dr. Ghassemlou’s life before an invited audience of 200 people. Amongst the speakers were Mrs. Danielle Mitterrand, Mr. Bernard Kouchner, French Minister of Health, Lord Avebury, Chairman of the Human Rights Commission of the British Houses of Parliament, Gérard Chalian, writer, Dr. Bernard Grandjon, Honorary President of Médecins du Monde, Alain Chenal, French Socialist Party representative to the Mediterranean countries, Juliette Minces, sociologist, Marc Kravertz, journalist, Kendal Nezan and, obviously Abdullah Hassanzadeh, the new General Secretary of the KDPI.
Mr. Hans-Goachim Ehrig, German lawyer in the case of the quadruple assassination of Iranian Kurds at the Mykonos Restaurant in Berlin in 1992, summed up that case. For his part the Austrian Green M.P. and author of a book on Dr. Ghassemlou’s murder explained the "reasons of State" that motivated the Austrian government in hushing up the Ghassemlou case despite a series of spectacular actions, such as the Austrian Green M.P.s’ boycott of a parliamentary session. "But, with all the tenacity needed, we will continue our struggle for truth and justice, because the honour of our people and the future of Austrian democracy are involved" he concluded.
The former American Ambassador to Croatia, Mr. Peter Galbraith, and the British Labour M.P. Ms. Ann Clwyd, also took part in this commemorative meeting. Similar commemorative meetings took place in other European capitals all through the month of July at a time when the Islamic Republic was faced with a spectacular series of student demonstrations for freedom of expression and democratic reforms… Unlike the majority of Iranian opponents who predicted the fall of the Islamic regime "within a few months", Ghassemlou, as from 1979, strove to convince his supporters that theirs was a tong-term struggle that could last 25 years, the time needed for the children born under the Islamic Revolution to grow old enough to challenge its very bases and think of a more modern Iran. Will history prove the rightness of this man who was a visionary in so many other areas?
The M.P.s of the "multi-faceted Left" majority questioned Mr. Pierre Moscovici, Secretary of State for European affairs on the death sentence passed on Abdullah Öcalan (Journal Officiel: 30/6/99). François Loncle, Socialist M.P. for the Eure, stressed: "certainly the drift to terrorism of the Kurdish activists is unacceptable. But one cannot hide the tragic fate of the Kurdish population of Turkey, as also in Iraq – thousands of dead, villages forcibly evacuated or destroyed, millions of people displaced, Members of Parliament jailed, Human Rights defenders persecuted". He was loudly applauded by the other M.P.s when he added that "after the international community intervened in Kosovo, in the name of justice, it is hard to accept its silence on the situation of the Kurds, whose rights are spurned".
Pierre Moscovici, while deploring "the conditions and conclusion" of Abdullah Öcalan’s trial, replied that "the verdict, alas! was no surprise" and recalled that "all the means of recourse have not been exhausted" and that "the non-application of the death sentence is part of our shared values, and thus of the gains of the European Union".
Questioned by the RPR member for the Isère, Richard Cazenave, the Secretary of State for European Affairs made the point by adding that "it is clear that the sentencing of Öcalan solves nothing and that a purely repressive approach will not allow a final solution (…) That is why priority must be given, more than ever, to a political approach to the Kurdish question, based on a strengthening of cultural rights, of democratic aspirations as well as launching a fresh programme of development in the South of the country (…) The European Union us ready to help Turkey resolve this problem and; naturally, France will support its efforts".
The Turkish authorities seized the opportunity of the visit of the German Foreign Minister, Mr. J. Fischer, to reiterate Ankara’s application to join the European Union. However, they clearly threatened the European Union to do an about turn if the Helsinki Conference does not include Turkey among the 11 candidates already selected at the Luxembourg Conference. "The Helsinki Conference is the last chance. If there is no positive result m the European Union will cease to be one of our priorities. We will then re-examine the Customs Union in this new context" declared Ismail Cem, the Turkish Foreign Minister.
On the sidelines of the European Union for over thirty years, mainly because of its Human Rights record, Turkey is clearly deaf to the European Union’s appeals. Prime Minister Ecevit has stated that Human Rights will be improved, but not because the European Union demands it. According to him, Turkey has made enough concessions and it is the E.U.’s turn to make some sacrifices. Moreover he criticised the European Parliament’s resolution calling for the death sentence on Abdullah Öcalan not to be carried out, saying that this was "disrespectful". One of the biggest Turkish dailies, Hurriyet, headlined its front page of its 24 July issue "Either Candidate or Disunion".
In Strasbourg, the newly re-elected European Parliament passed a resolution on 22 July 1999, regarding the death sentence passed on Abdullah Öcalan and the future development of the Kurdish question in Turkey. The Parliament condemned the sentence on A. Öcalan and re-iterated "its firm opposition to the application of the death sentence" and "insistently" called on "the Turkish authorities not to apply the penalty".
Moreover the European Parliament expressed doubts as to whether Abdullah Öcalan "had benefited from an equitable trial in view of the procedure adopted by the State Security Court" and stressed that "throughout almost the whole period an Army judge had taken part in the trial". The European body also considered that "the execution of Mr. Öcalan would have serious implications for the security and stability of Europe and that it would damage the process Turkey’s integration into the European Union". Parliament concluded by calling on the Turkish government "to tackle the causes of the conflict in Turkey by seeking a solution that would recognise the political, social, and cultural fights of the Kurdish population" and on the PKK "to put an end to acts of violence and terrorism and to collaborate in the search for a peaceful solution in Turkey".
However, questioned by the Turkish daily Milliyet on 6 July 1999, the retired Turkish General, Kemal Yavuz, the favourite adviser of the Press when it wants to feel the pulse of the top echelons of the Turkish army, called for the execution of Abdullah Öcalan. According to K. Yavuz, if Öcalan is imprisoned he could only become "a time bomb" for Turkey. "He will only be a subject constantly used by foreign countries (…) While anarchist movements undertake armed actions or indulge in taking hostages to demand the release of Öcalan, the foreign countries that now are content to merely call for his imprisonment will start to put on pressure to call for him to be pardoned or exiled" the General declared. Pointing the finger at the European Union, he added "Must we submit ourselves to Europe’s orders? What will Turkey gain if it acts under European orders? Become a candidate for membership of the Union? (…) What further sacrifices will they ask of this country that is not even considered as European as Bulgaria or Rumania? (…) Haven’t we experienced, in the 80 years we have existed as a nation, what submission to foreign pressure has brought us?" General Yavuz the severely criticised the country’s leaders, stating that "for the last forty years [Editor’s Note: Date of passing over to a multi-party system] the country has been run by irresponsible people, without any training and demonstrating a distressing ineptitude". Finally he ended by stating that it was impossible to explain to those whose sons had died fighting the PKK that "it was in the country’s interests that Öcalan be merely jailed".
For its part, the executive council of the PKK, on Tuesday 6 July, called on its activists to "intensify the struggle". Three serious acts of violence have been attributed to Kurdish fighters since the sentence was passed. On 1 July a cafe at Elazig was machine-gunned - there were 4 deaths. The 4 July, an explosion in a crowded park in an Istanbul neighbourhood caused 1 death and 25 injured. The next day, a young woman of 19 was killed by the explosion of a bomb she was carrying, wounding 17 people near an Adana police station. Abdullah Öcalan stated that he did not approve of the series of acts of violence attributed to Kurdish rebels and renewed his peace offer, warning that he might lose control of the PKK if his position did not improve.
Elsewhere, the Turkish authorities announced that 13 PKK fighters had been killed in the course of Army operations during the week in the provinces of Sirnak, Diyarbekir, Hakkari, Mardin and Van. To this must be added the 40 PKK rebels killed during the week-long incursion of Turkish forces into Northern Iraq, which ended on 19 July 1999.
PKK official, Cevat Soysal, was captured by the Turkish authorities on 21 July 1999. Prime Minister Bulent Ecevit, appeared personally on television to announce the capture "in Europe" of the "number two of the Kurdistan Workers Party" in the course of an "operation crowned with success". As with the arrest of Öcalan in Nairobi on 15 February 1999, the Turkish authorities remained vague about the exact circumstances of C. Soysal’s arrest.
ERNK, the political wing of the PKK, denied that Soysal was a high ranking executive and stated that he had been handed over to the Turkish authorities in Moldavia, where he had been in detention for a week previously. However, the Turkish and Moldavian authorities firmly deny Moldavia’s implication. On the other hand the ERNK states that this arrest "casts a shadow on the peace process launched by President Apo". In a communiqué dated 22 July 1999, the command council of the PKK threatened Turkey that it would "use its right of reprisal" specifying that "acts of international piracy and terrorism give our party the right of reprisal. If nothing is done to stop these acts, committed by Turkey, this right will, no doubt, be exercised".
Cevat Soysal, who had political refugee status in Germany, will be tried under Articles 168 and 125 of the Turkish Penal Code for "forming an armed band" and "attacks on the territorial integrity of Turkey", according to the Public Prosecutor of the Ankara State Security Court, Nuh Mete Yüksel. Photographs appearing in the press on 22 and 23 July show Soyal was badly tortured, unable to stand up or use his arms.
The German Foreign Minister, Joschka Fischer, called on Ankara to conduct an enquiry into the accusations of torture of Cevat Soyal.
In a letter sent to his Turkish opposite number, Ismail Cem, on 28 July 1999, Mr. Fischer demanded that Cevat Soyal be examined by a trustworthy doctor. The few pictures broadcast of C. Soyal show him unable to stand upright but supported by two people. His lawyers declare that he had been subjected to multiple tortures for 11 days, after which the Turkish authorities decided to triumphantly announce his arrest to the press. The defence lawyers stated, on 30 July 1999, that they had filed a complaint before the European Court for Human Rights.
On the other hand, on 27 July 1999, the Ankara State Security Court sent the file regarding Abdullah Öcalan’s death sentence to the Court of Appeals. President Suleyman Demirel stated that Turkey was faced with a "delicate decision". He indicated on 1 August that "the decision to execute is a political one. Naturally, this is a sensitive subject. Turkey has not faced so sensitive a subject for many years".
Finally, on 26 July 1999, the Turkish Public Prosecutor, Nuh Mete Yuksel, issued an international warrant for the arrest of 32 members of the Brussels based ‘Kurdish Parliament in Exile’. Charged with "the constitution of illegal armed groups intended for actions against Turkish unity", Ankara has ordered the arrest of Yasar Kaya, President of the Kurdish Parliament and his colleagues, who face at least 15 years jail each.
Yasar Kaya has asked for UNO’s protection, stressing that the members of his Parliament have the status of political refugees and ought to be protected by the United Nations. The Brussels based self-styled ‘Kurdish Parliament in Exile’, created on 12 April 1995 in The Hague, has 165 members and seeks a negotiated solution to the Kurdish conflict.
Elsewhere, a five man delegation of this "Kurdish Parliament in Exile" was received at Vitoria by the Speaker of the Autonomous Spanish Basque Regional Parliament on 29 July 1999m despite Turkish pressure and the protests of the government in Madrid.
On 8 July, the European Human Rights Court found Turkey guilty in 15 separate cases: 11 times for violations of the freedom of expression of Kurds, 9 times for violation of the right to be tried by an independent court and 2 cases where Kurds had been tortured and killed.
The Court found that there had been violation of Article 10 of the European Convention on Human Rights (of which Turkey is a signatory) in 11 cases. 13 petitions had been filed by journalists, lawyers, Trade Unionists, writers or academics who had been sentenced to several months imprisonment and several thousands of dollars in fines for "separatist propaganda", after having published, or allowed to be published, remarks favourable to the Kurdish cause. Amongst them are, in particular Haluk Gerger, journalist, Fikret Baskaya, Professor of economics, Munir Ceylan and Kamil Tekin, respectively former President of the Oil Industry Workers Union and publisher of the Istanbul weekly "Haberde Yoruma Gerçek" [Editor’s Note: News and Comments: the Truth] who had filed five petitions. The Court found that "litigious sentences are to be considered as ‘interferences’ in the right to freedom of expression of the petitioners". The Court found that even though such interferences were covered by Turkish law, they could not be considered "necessary in a democratic society". Turkey was sentenced to pay $6,000 to $8,000 personal damages, together with material damages in some cases as well as costs.
The sentences having been passed by State Security Courts, on which sat Army judges, the Court also found that Article 6 of the European Convention – the right to trial by an independent and impartial Court – had also been violated by the Turkish authorities. On 18 June Parliament had hastily ‘demilitarised’ these courts for the trial of Abdullah Öcalan.
Furthermore the Court considered that there had been violation of the Right to Life in two cases. The first petition had been filed by the widow of Zeki Tanrikulu, a Public Hospital doctor, who had been shot down in the street without the police reacting in any way to arrest the murderers. The second case concerned the disappearance of Ahmet Catici after being taken in for questioning, on 8 November 1999, by gendarmes in the village of Citlibahçe. The Court considered, in the second case, that the responsibility of the gendarmerie was involved, not only for Ahmet Catici’s death but also in acts of torture. Ankara was sentenced to pay $30,000 to Tanrikulu’s family and $55,000 to Ahmet Catici’s.
Despite frequent warnings and condemnations by European official bodies, Ankara seems little inclined to make any concessions in matters of Human Rights. While visiting Turkey from 4 to 7 July, Claudia ROTH, Chairwoman of the German Parliament’s Human Rights Commission and Vice-President of CILDEKT was refused permission to enter the Ankara Central Prison, where several prisoners of opinion, like Leyla Zana and Akin Birdal, are being held. Raising the issue of the death sentence passed on Abdullah Öcalan with Mehmet Ali Irtemcelik, Turkish Secretary of State for Human Rights, she stated that the Turkish Mr. Human Rights retorted. "If the death penalty had not existed we would have had to invent one specially for this case, and even then it would not have been a harsh enough punishment".
Subjected to lying and abusive articles in the Turkish press, Ahmet Kaya, a Kurdish singer elected Turkey’s musician of the year for 1998 and now threatened with a 10.5 year prison sentence for having said publicly that he also wanted to compose songs in Kurdish so as to "defend the Kurdish cultural reality in Turkey" held a press conference on 28 July 1999, in Paris. In the presence of his lawyer, Mr. Osman Ergin, Vice-President of the Istanbul bar, Mr. Patrick Baudon, President of the Fédération Internationale des droits de l’homme (FIDH – International Federation for Human Rights) and Kendal Nezan, President of the Paris Kurdish Institute, Mr. Kaya stated that "one day some people will finally write the story of a man who, because he was of Kurdish origin, wanted to write just one song in Kurdish, that this couldn’t split any country, and those reading it will understand that one should not be afraid of those who sing or of their songs". He moreover deplored the fact that "the Turkish press is spreading masses of unfounded stories about him, without any evidence or witnesses, and very biases comments", adding that he had never intended to insult his country. "Through me it ‘s a culture that is being targeted" he stressed.
The persecution of Kaya has aroused lively reactions in artistic circles in Turkey and abroad. In France the former Minister of Culture, Jack Lang, President of the Foreign Affairs Commission of the National Assembly, at the same time as deploring the reaction of the Turkish authorities, sent Ahmet Kaya his "deepest feelings of admiration for his determination and courage".
For all that, the Turkish press continues to turn a deaf ear to A. Kaya’s statements and continues to wage a "real media lynching campaign" to quote the expression used by Mr. Nezan at the press conference. The next hearing of the musician’s trial will be held on 25 August in Istanbul.
Turkey’s Prime Minister, Bulent Ecevit, and his government coalition partners, revealed at a press conference on 22 July 1999 "the economic package" supposed to relaunch the crisis ridden Turkish economy. One of the first decisions of the Turkish government was to postpone for another three years the period of grace allowed to holders of dirty money in the country. An earlier project, nicknamed by the Turkish press "where did you find this?" aimed at bringing the banking system into conformity with the requirements of the OCDE for the fight against money laundering, should have come into effect this year. The State had, in fact, committed itself to not asking any questions about the origin of suspect funds provided the people concerned made their declaration to the Inland Revenue before 30 September 1998. This period of grace had been extended, in practice, already. To stimulate their flagging economy, bled white largely as a result of the cost of the war in Kurdistan and the drop in tourist revenue, Ankara is counting on the colossal resources of the grey economy ($ 100 billion a year, according to the French conservative daily le Figaro of 13/11/98) – and for this it is extending the immunity of its gigantic money laundering operations for a further 3 years, in blatant disregard of International law. This decision means no one will be questioned about the source of their wealth for a further 3 years. It also gives carte blanche to the powerful mafia groups operating under the protection of certain State organs. In 1996m the drug traffic earned the Turkish economy $ 37.5 billion. The Russian mafia ;may also use the Turkish banking system to launder part of its money. Western governments that deal out heavy sentences to petty local dealers remain silent about the Turkish government’s organisation of this gigantic money laundering operation.
On 20 July 1999, Turkey celebrated with great pomp the 25th anniversary of its armed incursion into Cyprus. A high-ranking Turkish delegation went there for the occasion, including Mr. Ecevit, the man who ordered the operation at the time and who is again Prime Minister today, the Ministers for Foreign Affairs, Ismail Cem, Defence, Sabattin Çakmakoglu, Energy, Cumhur Ensumer, and the Secretary of State in charge of the affair, Sukru Sina Gurel.
The island, which has been divided into two sectors – Greek and Turkish – since the Turkish invasion of 1974, was the subject of UN Security Council discussions in June 1999, on the initiative of the G8. UNO had asked its General Secretary, Kofi Annan, to invite the leaders of the Cyprus Greek and Turkish communities to take part in negotiations in New York, without any pre-conditions, in the autumn. Bulent Ecevit simply replied that "the Cyprus question no longer exists (…) Before the Turkish intervention, there was constant war in Cyprus. For the last 25 years the island lives in continuous peace. We will never give way to pressure (…) Negotiations can only take place on the basis of recognition of the KKTC (Ed. Note: The Turkish Republic of Northern Cyprus)". Rauf Denktash, President of the KKTC (proclaimed, in 1983 but only recognised by Turkey) went further: "We must defend at all costs the national line that has been created now and we will never abandon it thanks to the support of our mother country, Turkey".
The anniversary of the Turkish invasion gave the Greek authorities the opportunity of appealing to the international community to go into action. Mr. Kranidiotis, Greek Minister for European Affairs, Declared that "the Cyprus tragedy is a black page in contemporary world history. In 1974 the invaders indulged in one of the most horrible ethnic cleaning operations which had the effect of turning one third of the population of the island into refugees".
While the international community expresses its concerns over the situation in Cyprus, de facto annexed to Turkey with a status equivalent to that of a Turkish province at all levels, Ankara doesn’t stop making declarations of independence, stressing the ethnic differences on the island. The Turkish authorities, who refuse to recognise the very existence of 18 million Kurds in Turkey, demand, quite brazenly, the independence of 190,000 Turkish Cypriotes. Receiving the KKTC "ambassador" on 19 July 1999, Turkish President Suleyman Demirel declared: "the Greeks and the Turks have different countries. If one ignores this, one ends up with Greeks and Turks living together, and blood will flow one day (…) This State was created because of the fact that two different peoples live on the island".
However, when receiving the German Foreign Minister, Mr. J. Fischer, in Ankara on 22 July President Demirel again declared that "There is no Kurdish problem in Turkey, only a terrorist problem". Thus Turkey rejects both the co-existence of two peoples on Cyprus and also the slightest cultural rights to the 15 to 18 million Kurds in Turkey.
THE U.S. UNDER-SECRETARY OF STATE FOR HUMAN RIGHTS DENOUNCES THE ABSENCE OF FREEDOM OF EXPRESSION FOR KURDS. Visiting Turkey in order to draw up next year’s report on the Human Rights situation in there, Harold Hongju Koh, American Under-Secretary of State for Human Rights, Democracy and Labour, denounced, on 2 August 1999, "the problems of Human Rights and free expression" for the Kurds. "The Kurds cannot express themselves easily… The people who emigrate from their villages have problems, and there are also problems in the prisons" stated Mr. Koh in Diyarbekir after a visit to Urfa, Mardin and a number of villages in the region. The American official had, earlier, called for humanitarian aid for Kurdistan, which remains the least developed region, with a high rate of unemployment.
These statements displeased the Turkish authorities, who summoned the U.S. chargé d’affaires to Ankara to express their "concern". However, they leave one wryly sceptical. The American Administration, while allowing its officials to express these criticisms, continues to provide Turkey with all kinds of support, especially military, despite its massive violations of the rights of Kurds.
Thus, for example, 10 of the 50 American Black Hawk helicopters bought by Turkey from the Sikorsky company were delivered to Turkey on 7 July 1999. In the course of the ceremony, the Head of the Turkish General Staff, Huseyin Kivrikoglu, declared that "the Turkish Security forces, who aim at being one of the most powerful armies in the world, will protect the Turkish democratic and secular Republic against all threats". The American Ambassador to Turkey, Mark Parris, for his part, stated that "one of the reasons we support the sale of American defence equipment to Turkey is because that equipment will allow joint operation in international crises".
Elsewhere, the private television network NTV reported that, on 3 July 1999, 10, 000 Turkish soldiers, supported by helicopter gunships, launched a fresh offensive against Kurdish rebels in Northern Iraq. Turkey makes frequent incursions into Iraq, but this one will be the first since Abdullah Öcalan’s condemnation.
Turkey plans to spend 150 billion dollars to modernise its weaponry over the next 25 years, yet is has been hit by one of the severest recessions in its history, showing, for the first six months of 1999, a drop of 8.4% in its GNP whereas over the same period last year the Turkish economy had shown a 9.2% growth. This is the worst result since 1994, according to the National Institute of Statistics (DIE). The economic situation is so depressing that the Turkish press, like the political caste, attributed the suicide attempt, on 7 July 99, of Hikmet Ulugbay, Minister of State for the Exchequer, to the country’s economic situation.
SIXTEEN MEMBERS OF HADEP HAVE BEEN RELEASED. Charged for "giving assistance to a terrorist organisation" which, under Article 169 of the Penal Code is punishable by up to 7 years 6 months jail and imprisoned since November 1998, sixteen leaders of the People’s Democratic Party (HADEP), including the President Murat Bozlak, were released on Monday 12 July 1999 BY THE Ankara State Security Court. The President of the Court, Turgut Mehmet Okyay, who had pronounced the death sentence on Abdullah Öcalan on 29 June last, judged that there were no grounds for prolonging their incarceration.
HADEP, whose leaders had been obliged to conduct the election campaign from behind bars, won about 40 municipalities at the elections on 18 April 1999. The Public Prosecutor of the Court of Appeals, Vural Savas, had, however, started proceedings in January 1999 to ban it for "organic links" with the PKK and many members of HADEP have already been sentenced by Turkish Courts.
READ IN THE TURKISH PRESS. In his editorial of 7 July 1999, Zülfü Livaneli, staff journalist on the Turkish daily Sabah describes the role of the Turkish media, capable, in his view, of deciding the fate of every one of the citizens. Here is the full text of his article:
"Date: 7 July 1998. An extraordinary explosion took place in the "Egyptian Bazaar" [Editor’s Note: the great spice market, one of the main tourist attractions of Istanbul] and 7 people, including 3 children, were killed and 127 were injured.
These 7 people are buried and commemorated as being victims of the "Egyptian Bazaar". But there were not only 7 martyrs. There was also someone else. A young woman called Pinar Selek was the eighth victim of the Egyptian Bazaar explosion, and she’s still suffering. In fact, it was assumed to be a bomb explosion, and Pinar Selek was selected as the guilty party. The young woman was torn to pieces by public opinion and the Press. I remember her lawyer father crying aloud on the TV screens "My daughter has nothing to do with bombs or arms!". No one would listen to him. Pinar also explained that she was a sociologist and just doing a research project on the PKK, but every one turned a deaf ear. Today the police have published a report in which an explosives expert, with 20 years experience behind him, attests that he could find no trace of explosives in the Egyptian Bazaar explosion. Who is going to answer for what this innocent girl and her family have suffered? Who will bind their wounds? Who will ease their pain?
Pinar Selek and her family are only one example. There are hundreds, even thousands of similar events in Turkey. Lives have been broken by the police and before the courts.
There is a journalistic dimension to the event. We are now used to seeing certain journalists destroy people’s lives without any investigation and not even caring whether they are right or wrong. Today Turkey is full of people, wrongly dishonoured by certain irresponsible press organs, individuals who can no longer mix in society, who have suffered a social lynching. Some commit suicide, others try and be forgotten by lying low. There is no mechanism in Turkey for protecting the citizen from the press. The fate of citizens is left to the good graces of the media. Agreed - but the media only play an intermediary role in this. They relay an event or a scenario. But what can one say about us? Why do we believe everything we’re told? Why do we hide behind that horrible saying "No smoke without a fire"? Why do we take pleasure in gathering in front of our screens to watch the lives of people being torn to shreds? In what way are we any different from the Romans who, formerly, howled "Kill him! Kill him, tear him to pieces" when men were thrown to the lions or gladiators were at one another’s’ throats? Seen in this way, the murderer of tragic heroines like Pinar Selek is not the media but us.
• THE JUNE 1999 ASSES-SMENT OF HUMAN RIGHTS VIOLATIONS IN TURKEY ACCORDING TO MAZLUM-DER. Mazlum-Der, one of the Human Rights defence organisations in Turkey, published its assessment of Human Rights violations in Turkey in June 1999. In the course of a press conference, Yilmaz Ensarioglu, President of the Association, stated that Turkey had been placed 136th out of 191 countries in its respect for political rights and public freedom, in 74th position in respect of Health, well-being and Education and amongst the 14 worst with respect to Human Rights. The assessment runs as follows:
|Number of "unsolved" murders||24|
|Number of kidnappings||103|
|Number of "disappearances"||3|
|Number of accusations of torture||139|
|Number of rapes||2|
|Number of people taken into detention||1937|
|Number of arrests||106|
|Number of villages evacuated or burned down||11|
|Number of prisoners of opinion||136|
|Number of publications seized or forbidden||27|
|Number of journalists taken into detention||5|
|Number of attacks on freedom of worship||768|
|Number of books banned||23|
|Number of attacks on civil associations||193|
|Number of civil associations banned||2|
• A 45% DROP IN THE NUMBER OF TOURISTS. Tourism is running out of steam in a big way in Turkey according to figures published by the trade. Antalya and Dalaman, two of Turkey’s largest airports have recorded losses of 45% in the number of tourists, compared with the same period last year. In 1998, 1.2 million people were accommodated in the region for the first 6 months of the year, against only 690,000 this year.
Günger Uras, journalist on the Turkish daily Milliyet, wrote in his editorial of 21 July 1999, that the Turkish authorities were fooling themselves about the reasons for this drop in tourist traffic by maintaining that it was not due "to fears of terrorist attacks" and that the situation had improved since the beginning of July. According to Mr Uras, on the contrary, the reasons are directly linked to the "danger of terrorist actions" and that the situation will get worse, since the hotels are receiving more and more low cost tourists, who spend very little.