After the election of Miss Nalin Baksi to the Swedish Parliament, then another young Kurdish woman Miss Feleknas Uca to the European Parliament, two Kurds of German nationality have just been elected to the Berlin Senate following the elections of 10 October 1999. They are Mr. Giyasettin Sayan and Miss Evrim Helin Baba, elected on the PDS list. The Kurdish community is deploying increased efforts to integrate young people of the second generation to invest themselves more and more in the political life of their countries of adoption.
Five Turkish intellectuals – Yashar Kemal, Orhan Pamuk, Ahmet Altan and Mehmed Uzun, all writers, and Zülfü Livaneli, a musician and journalist, have just launched an international appeal for the cultural rights of the Kurds. At a Press Conference on 11 October in Istanbul, they made public the declaration reproduced below, already signed by about fifty public figures. Amongst the signatories are the 1999 Nobel Literature Prize-winner Gunter Grass, José Saramago and Nadine Gordimer, previous Nobel Literature Prize-winners, Elie Wiesel, Nobel Peace Prize-winner Costa Gavras, film director, Arthur Miller, Writer, Jack Lang, former French Minister of Culture, Maurice Béjart, choreographer, Ingmar Bergman, writer and film director, Liv Ullman, actress …
"The 20th century, one of the bloodiest centuries in human history, is about to end. In these last days, we are haunted by one question: will the 21st century be as bloody as the previous one? Will weapons, war and violence maintain their sovereignty? Will racism, nationalism, the hatred of the "other" once again butcher and torch the world? Will oppression still determine ethnic and social responsibilities?
Our response to these questions is a categorical "no!" The new century and the peoples of the new century have the obligation to reject all forms of discrimination and oppression.
We, writers and artists whose signatures appear below, wish to see Turkey as a leading exponent in the instigation of rights and democracy. We believe that Turkey, which is an integral part of the civilized world, has the will and the faith to implement freedom, equality and justice for all her peoples.
At present, Turkey is seen as betraying the vital injunctions of human rights and democracy. Even Turkish government officials admit to this fact. The most critical problem is the Kurdish question. Because of her failure to solve this problem adequately, Turkey can neither take the desired steps in matters of human rights nor achieve full democracy.
We believe that Turkey has the power to solve the Kurdish problem. None of the concerns, felt by the young Turkish Republic of 1923, which rose over the remains of the multi-cultural Ottoman Empire, are valid today. Today, the Kurds of Turkey, numbering approxi-mately 15 million, are essential citizens of the country. The Kurds only demand to preserve their language', their cultural identity and to live within the unity of the Turkish Republic as free citizens; to read and write and be educated in Kurdish; to work, serve and pursue happiness while preserving their distinct identity and culture.
Since 1923 there have been serious political efforts in pursuit of Turkism. Kurdish has been outlawed as a language for education, teaching and communication. Under this suppression countless individuals have been arrested and punished. Tens of thousands of towns, villages, hamlets, mountains, valleys and hills have had their names changed to render them Turkish. On occasions, Kurds have been called "Mountain Turks". The Constitution and other codes of law have supported these policies.
None of these measures have been effective. Kurds have not become Turks. The Kurdish problem has not been resolved. The blood-soaked -and prohibitively costly events of the last 15 years- corroborate this: Violence is not a solution. Violence will neither transform Kurds into Turks nor enable Kurds to attain their rights.
Now, in a democratic step that will be an example to the whole world and the new century, Turkey must solve the Kurdish problem by embracing her Kurdish citizens in their own right. We believe that such a step forward will immensely strengthen Turkey economically, socially and culturally. Kurdish is one of the richest living languages of the Mesopotamian civilization. It has a rich classic literature as well as a varied musical tradition and a blooming modem literature. The very ancient history and cultural heritage of the Kurds belong to us all.
Instead of being denied or belittled, these riches must form a vital part of Turkey's wealth. Kurds, who, throughout history, have constituted a third of the mosaic of the peoples of Anatolia, must no longer face discrimination; they must be given their rights and dignity so that they can, once again, become a dynamic entity in Anatolia and Turkey. Kurdish must become a language of education and learning. The need for Kurdish radio and television must be recognized. The rights of Kurdish language, culture and identity must be given constitutional guarantees.
We appeal to the President, the Prime Minister, the Parliament and the Government: please save Turkey from her shame. While you tend to the wounds of the earthquake which has saddened all of us, please tend also to the social wounds that have been bleeding for over 70 years.
Turkey, in the 21st century, must stand proudly as a beacon of light, an exemplar of humanitarian and democratic values"
This appeal was co-signed by: Harold Pinter, Adonis, Michael Holroyd, Arne Ruth, Bibi Anderson, Erland Josephson, Johannes Salminen, Margaret Atwood, Yorman Kanluk, Antonis Samarkis, John Berger, Jaan Kaplinski, Kirsti Simonsuuri, Suzanne Bögger, Nikos Kasdaglis, Thorvald Steen, Adriaan van Dis, György Konrad, Sigmund Strömme, Mahmud Dowlatabi, Alberto Manguel, Birgitta Trotzig, Margaret Drabble, Adame Michnik, Kerstin Ekman, Kal Nieminen, André Velter, Richard Falk, William Nygaard, Gunter Wallfaff, Lady Antonia Fraser, Monica van Paemel, Georg Henrik von Wright, Juan Goytisolo, Herbert Pundik, Per Wästberg, Sir David Hare, Claude Regy, Moris Farhi, Ronald Harood, Klaus Rifbjerg, Homero Aridgis, Michael Higgin, Bernice Rubens, Elisabeth Nordgren.
This appeal was echoed in a reductive manner by the Turkish press. These limited themselves to writing that the Nobel Prizewinners had demanded more democracy in Turkey. Nowhere was there any reference to the issues of fundamental rights for the Kurds and of the Kurdish question contained in this declaration. The daily paper Sabah, in 12 October 1999 devoted an article on page 23 headlined "The declaration of the intellectuals – more democracy" and the daily Milliyet presented it in the same way writing "Declaration for democracy". As for the mass circulation daily Hurriyet, it completely ignored this important document. However, the liberal editorial writers mentioned it in their columns. The example of this appeal shows that the control of the media by the State remains very effective, in any case as far as any discussion of the Kurdish question.
The 1999 Nobel Literature Prizewinner, visiting the Frankfurt Book Fair on 15 October 1999, called for a democratic solution to the Kurdish question. Questioned about the reasons that led him to sign the International Appeal for fundamental rights for the Kurds, he said: "I hope that, in Turkey, they have now understood, that the Kurds are not "Mountain Turks". The Kurds are a major oppressed minority. The great majority of Kurds do not demand independence but the enjoyment of their cultural rights and the right to speak and learn their own language. If Turkey does not understand this, the terrible war being waged at the moment will continue and the gateway to Europe will continue to be closed to them. It cannot be otherwise. Perhaps an agreement can be reached". Gunter Grass also criticised Germany’s foreign policy by denouncing the extradition of Kurds to Turkey where they are later subject to arrest.
After two weeks isola-tion, the jailed Kurdish M.P.s were, as from 5 October, again allowed to receive visits from their relatives. once a week for 45 minutes from behind the bars of the prison visiting room.
As a result we have had some information on their detention condition. The three men M.P.s, Hatip Dicle, Orhan Dogan and Selim Sadek were transferred to common dormitory in which some 45 to 50 political prisoners are detained, most of whom are accused of being PKK members. On the other hand Leyla Zana who, since 1994, has had a fairly spacious cell to herself is now obliged to share it with 5 other women political prisoners accused of membership of extreme left Turkish organisa-tions. The lack of room forces them to take it in turns to sleep.
According to several testimonies, Leyla Zana remains profoundly traumatised by the savage repression of the protest movement of some of the detainees in Ankara Central Prison. From her cell window she saw the killing of seven prisoners, beaten to death by truncheons and clubs by hundreds of police and gendarmes, on the night of 26 September 1999. "That sight, of unparalleled savagery, the screams of those being tortured, haunt me day and night" she told her visitors, who found her emaciated, traumatised and in a state of chock.
The Turkish Prime Minister had stated that "the State has decided to re-establish its authority whatever the price". In consequence the relative (and short lived) calm was secured at the cost of 12 killed and hundreds of injured. One of the survivors of these killings, Cemal Çakmak, in a testimony published by the daily paper Özgür Politika of 7 October 1999, stated that the Turkish security forces had pre-established lists of "agitators" who were arrested as soon as the trouble began and beaten to death, then machine-gunned to give credence to the idea of armed clashes inside the prison.
In 1996, a similar slaughter took place in Diyarbekir Prison. The families of the victims had lodged complaints against the murde-rers, who had been identified. However, with one postponement after another, the case is still dragging on, and the murderers are still free and still on duty.
Two American organisa-tions, the World Policy Institute and the Federation of American Scientists have just published a 43 page report entitled "Arming Repression: US Arms Sales to Turkey during the Clinton Administration". Its authors, Tamar Gabelnick, William D. Hartung and Jennifer Washburn submitted Washing-ton’s military relations to a rigorous examination and give whole series of figures which, show that, despite its Human Rights rhetoric, America is arming the Turkish war machine and its repression.
According to the American State Department "the Turkish Armed Forces are about 80% on equipment of American origin". Thus, of the 4,200 tanks of the Turkish Army, 3,800 are American made M-48 and M-60 tanks. Apart from 44 CN-235 Spanish transport planes, the whole Turkish air fleet is of American origin: 175 F-16s, 87 F-5s, 18 F-4Es as well as 37 Cobra helicopter gunships and 55 Sikorsky Black Hawk transport helicopters. The bulk of the Turk armoured transports consists of 2,813 M-113 APCs provided by the Americans.
From 1950 to 1983, during the Cold War period, American arms sales to Turkey, "NATO’s strategic ally" totaled $ 1,196,065. With the war in Kurdistan between the Turkish Army and the PKK guerrillas, beginning in 1984, they snowballed reaching, for the 1984-1998 period a total of $ 10,466,855 – of which $ 4,927,223 was for the first six years of Bill Clinton’s Presidency (1993-1998).
The authors established that the sales were subsidised to the extent of 77% by the American taxpayers. Since 1984, these direct and indirect subsidies amounted to over $8 million. Moreover, the Americans provide the Turkish Armed Forces with instruction and training. Thus, since 1950, they have trained 23,268 Turkish officers, 2,900 of then since 1984. They recall that, according to independent enquiries, these arms have been used on a large scale for the civil war that has caused 37,000 deaths (largely amongst the Kurds) and resulted in the destruction of 3,000 Kurdish villages in "South-East Turkey" and generated between 500,000 and 2.5 million internal refugees.
Lured by the perspectives of the proposed $150 billion arms acquisition between now and 2030, of which $31 billion over the next 8 years, the American leaders have closed their eyes to the massive Human Rights violations committed by Ankara – and this in violation of American law and the declared principles of American foreign policy.
The authors draw particular attention to Washington’s double standards as applied to the two essentially similar situations of Kosovo and the Kurds in Turkey. "In both cases the complaints of the populations concerned – the denial of fundamental political and cultural rights and the imposition of military and para-military violence – have been ignored by the regime in power that has sought to impose its will by force of arms. Over and above the intensity and duration of the killings, the most striking difference between the two cases was the response of the United States. In Kosovo, the United States and their allies waged a major war of air raids to oblige the Serbian forces to leave the province. In Turkey, the United States and their allies have been the principle arms suppliers of the Ankara regime. If the Clinton administration can justify going to war over the issue of ethnic cleansing in Kosovo, it should be capable of firming up its political will for the much less arduous task of stopping the supply of American arms which are used supply the muscle for ethnic repression in Turkey".
Seven years after the 1992 Sallah-ed-Din (Irbil) meeting of the Iraqi opposition, in Iraqi Kurdistan, which gave birth to the United Iraqi National Congress, a fresh meeting of its National Assembly was held in New York from 29 October to 1 November 1999, sponsored by the US Administration, with the participation of several Iraqi political organisations and parties, including the Movement for Political Harmony, the Constitutional Royalist Movement, the Turkoman Front, the Assyrian Movement, a delegation of Iraqi tribes, Massoud Barzani’s Kurdistan Democratic Party, represented by Sami Abdoulrahman, Roj Shawish and Hoshyar Zibari amongst others, the Patriotic Union of Kurdistan, represented by its President, Jalal Talabani as well as Fouad Massoum, Latif Rashid, and Barham Saleh and finally the Islamic Union Movement of Iraqi Kurdistan. However, certain parties and political movements boycotted the Congress, such as the Supreme Council of the Islamic Revolution in Iraq, the Dawa Islamic Party, The Iraqi Communist Party and the Free Iraqi Council.
Several American public figures took part in these meetings: Senators Sam Browback and Bob Kerry, Ambassador Schifter as well as Mr. Francis J. Ricciardone, special coordinator for transition in Iraq, and David L. Mack, Vice-President of the Middle East Institute. They confirmed the American government’s support for this political body for democratic change in Iraq by overthrowing the Saddam Hussein regime.
Some NGOs like Human Rights Alliance and Indict (which runs an international campaign for the trial of Iraqi leaders who have committed crimes against humanity) were also present.
Following the work of this congress, new commissions and bodies were set up:
The Congress adopted a number of resolutions regarding Human Rights in Iraq aimed at accelerating the struggle against the regime, such as one reactivating the special judicial commission on Human Rights in Iraq so as to stop the atrocities committed on the civilian population by the Iraqi Army.
The Congress stressed that the struggle of the Iraqi opposition must be against the Saddam Hussein regime, sparing the army so as to neutralise it in the attempt to overthrow the regime. Finally the congress altered the paragraph regarding "federation" after a lively discussion on the political committee led by Dr. Nadjmedine Karim, Dr. Ali Babaknan, who are members of the Kurdish Institute of Paris, and the representatives of the Kurdish Parties.
The original paragraph read: "the Iraqi National Congress declares it respects the will of the Kurdish people (in Iraq) to choose the form of partnership which must unite all the components of the Iraqi people, namely federation". Following the debates, the word "respects" was replaced by the more binding "recognises"
This is the first time that such a wide assembly of Iraqi opponents of the regime have thus fully recognised the Kurds’ right to a democratic federation.
Following a week of discussions, on 13 October 1999, the European Commission issued a report in favour of Turkey’s membership, but tempered by demands for concrete reforms on questions of human rights and protection of minorities. The Commission made the same remarks as last year regarding the excessive weight of the National Security Council (MGK) in Turkish political life and stressed that this together with the drum-head courts (DGM) were "incompatible with a democratic system", while favourably welcoming the demilitarisation of the State Security Courts. The Commission also called on Turkey not to execute Abdullah Öcalan and encouraged Ankara to pursue the road to democratisation. Europe maintains, on the other hand, its criticisms of the violations of human rights stressing that torture remains widespread and freedom of expression systematically restricted. However, the solution of the Kurdish question was seen as the key to progress in this area.
In the economic field, it called for urgent and rapid reforms in fiscal matters. Observers have noted that the earthquake of 17 August had greatly contributed to a wave of sympathy for Turkey.
The Turkish press crowed victory at the announcement of the Commission’s report. The popular daily Milliyet headlined its 14 October front page "Europe At Last!" Its editorial writer Güneri Civanglu remarked, on the same day, that "the waiting room door has been opened to Turkey". Hurriyet, another mass circulation daily, even put forward the claim "We are in 28th position" for membership of the E.U. Turkey’s situation should be made clearer after the Helsinki summit in December.
A few days before the publication of the report, Prime Minister Bülent Ecevit had made a veritable plea against Europe and the Europeans. In the course of a speech on 6 October 1999, at the opening ceremony of the University of Baskent, Mr. Ecevit roundly declared that Western Europe was racist. "Membership of the European Union is our right. However, certain Europeans do not consider us European. As for us, we have realised that Europe is not the whole world. There are psychological reasons preventing Turkish membership of the European Union. Firstly, Turkey is a Moslem country. Secondly there is racial discrimination. Western Europe is racist! In fact an opinion poll taken two years ago by the European Commission showed that two thirds of the member countries were openly racist!" he declared. The European Parliament, on the same day, voted a resolution that simply recognised Turkey’s right to apply for membership.
THE Iraqi Kurdistan Democratic Party (KDP) held its 12th Congress from 6 to 14 October at Irbil. 1473 delegates took part in its work, which was carried out under the slogan of "Peace, Freedom and Democracy". representatives of UNO agencies and NGOs working in Kurdistan, Kurdish and Iraqi political Parties were also present at the Congress. Messages were received from many public figures, from American Vice-President Al Gore to Mrs.Mitterrand and Yasser Arafat, from the Socialist International and many European and Near Eastern political parties, expressing their sympathy and encouraging the delegates to remain faithful to the ideals of democracy and dialogue so as to consolidate the peace that has reigned in the region since November 1997.
In his inaugural speech, the KDP President Massoud Barzani himself stressed the need to develop the Kurdish democratic experiment taking place, to consolidate the peace process and preached "respect for pluralism, freedom and the law" while calling on the delegates to undertake a serious effort to renovate the party. In this connection he expressed the wish to resign and retire from politics. "After 37 years service in the ranks of the party, now that peace, freedom and a relative prosperity are reigning in our region, the time has come for me to retire" he declared. But his "wish" was rejected by the Congress delegates who, out of loyalty and a concern for continuity, unanimously re-elected him President, while the veteran Ali Abdullah, a founder member of the KDP in 1946, and a comrade in arms of General Barzani was also unanimously re-elected Vice-President of the Party,
Other party leaders were subjected to criticism, sometimes quite sharp, for their management of affairs, and the aspirations for, change was shown by a consi-derable number of new members on those elected to office. Voting was by secret ballot, checked by a commission of 12 assessors appointed by the Ministries of Justice and the Interior in a desire for complete transparency. The number of candidates (83 for 31 positions) allowed the delegates to give free rein to their aspirations. The new Central Committee of 31 members then elected a Political Committee of 9.
Amongst the resolutions passed by the Congress:
The delegates also, re-affirmed their commitment to the resolution voted by Parliament in favour of a federal system within a democratic and pluralist Iraq.
The Congresses orientation should, in the next few months, lead to important changes and in particular the reconstruction of the government in Irbil.
Finally, thanks to the local media and to the satellite television station Kurdistan TV, which is controlled by the KDP, the work of this semi-public Congress enjoyed wide media coverage. The KDP claims 200,000 members.
A top level KDP delegation led by Neçirvan Barzani and eight other members of the party’s Political Committee visited Qala Çolan, near Suleimaniah where it was "warmly welcomed" by Jalal Talabani, General Secretary of the Patriotic Union of Kurdistan (PUK) and all the members of the PUK Political Committee.
The two delegations discussed at length concrete measures for carrying out the peace agreement, signed between the two parties in Washington, in September 1998.
At the end of these discussions it was decided, in particular:
Finally, the thorny question of "sharing of customs revenue" was discussed. Some days after this meeting, the KDP controlled administration agreed to pay a sum of $3 million to the PUK controlled administration, in the context of this "sharing of revenues".
The principal questions regarding the forming of a united transition government with a view to holding elections to parliament were not tackled at this stage by the two delegation, who agreed to continue their dialogue and reinforce their bi-lateral relations.
In fact, everything took place as if the present situation suited both parties. Thus, immediately following the departure of the KDP delegation, the PUK Political Committee decided to "appoint" its General Secretary "President of the Kurdistan region" and set up a specific court of Appeals in Suleimaniah, separate from the Court of Appeals in Irbil, which hitherto had overseen all the courts of Iraqi Kurdistan. the KDP regretted "these incorrect unilateral actions, coming at a time when the Kurdish population is regaining hope of a united Kurdish Parliament and administration".
MR. Ahmet Taner Lislali who, in 1978/9 was Minister of Culture in an Ecevit cabinet, was killed in Ankara on 21 October by a car bomb.
A public figure of the centre left, Mr. Kislali was Professor at the Faculty of Political Science and a regular editorial writer or the Ataturkist daily Cumhurriyet (Republic). His nationalist and secularist stands were appreciated by the secular sections of Turkish opinion, including the younger officers.
The Turkish police immediately began to say they were on the track of a radical Islamic fundamentalist splinter group, the Islamic Front of Fighters of the Great East (IBDA-C) which is said to have claimed the attack in an anonymous call to a private TV network. The authorities promised rapidly to arrest the murderers.
But the victim’s family and friends, like a good number of observers of the political scene, have other ideas. Kislali’s assassination recalls some famous precedents, like that of Abdi Ipekçi, General Manager of the daily Milliyet and of Ugur Mumcu, a university lecturer and journalist, who are now known to have been assassinated at the instigation of certain State security organisations, in particular the Army’s Special War Bureau.
The strategy was identical in each case: pick as targets secular and Ataturkist public figures, their assassination then provokes widespread indignation in secular and nationalist sections of public opinion who close ranks and rally round the Army-Defender-of-the-Republic-in-Danger. The Enemies of the State (Islamists, Communists or Kurdish separatists depending on the political situation of the moment) are exposed on the pillory and the Army promises to ‘crush’ them and ‘defend the endangered country’.
The last public performance of this Turkish farce took place in 1993, at the time of the assassination of Ugur Mumcu, who was just, at that time, enquiring into the links between certain State organs, the Mafia and political violence. A crowd of a million people had gathered for his funeral with cries of "Never again!". Then, too, "Islamic fanatics" had been fingered. And then, to the stupefaction of the Mumcu family, the enquiry petered out. After several changes of personnel in the ranks of the judiciary and prosecution, and following revelations in the press, the last public prosecutor in charge of the case ended by saying to a stubborn Mrs. Mumcu "stop harassing me, the prosecution is stalled because its a State crime. I can do nothing". Finally, when the scandal had become public, the Turkish State proposed to pay damages to the Mumcu family for "the mistake made".
This time, the remake of this sinister farce failed to convince many people, the argument having worn pretty thin. Thus, at Kislali’s funeral, the famous journalist Ilhan Selçuk, a friend of both Ugur Mumcu and A. Taner Lislali, had exclaimed "That’s enough! There must be an end to State terrorism". The television broadcast pictures of Generals and high dignitaries of the regime who seemed put out by this unequivocal and unexpected outbreak. The crowd booed President Demirel shouting "we’re not proud of you". Cries of "Basbug Ecevit" were also heard and the Ecevit husband-and-wife team seemed shattered by this attack because the word "basbug", the Turkish equivalent of the ill-famed German "führer", was the title assumed by Colonel Türkes, late boss of the Turkish neo-fascist National Action Movement (MHP), which is the coalition partner of the Ecevit government.
A few weeks from the OSCE summit in Istanbul, while certain European leaders are straining themselves to detect some signs of democratisation in Turkey so as to enable them to make people swallow the idea of Turkey as candidate member of the European Union, this image of Turkey as a criminal police state has a bad effect…
IN an article in the Sunday Times of 31 October 1999, three journalists, David Leppard, Paul Nuki and Gareth Walsh reveal that a British company was advising Turkey on ways of irradiating Kurds. The armaments company, Aims Ltd. has been under investigation by Scotland Yard since the Sunday Times revealed that the company’s mercenaries were being readied to assassinate Abdullah Öcalan, boss of the Kurdistan Workers’ Party (PKK) for £ 5.75 million. Fresh proof has come to light to corroborate the relations between the Turkish authorities and the company involved, since the Sunday Times has succeeded in getting hold of a five-page document addressed to the Turkish Army, proving that Brian Smith, boss of Aims Ltd, had advised them to irradiate Kurdish fighters. In this document, Brian Smith wrote: "Detection by Radiation. This is a method whereby a radiation source is placed in the target and then traced, either by plane or by satellite. The only inconvenience is that the target dies of radiation poisoning after about 21 days". An officer involved in the negotiations stated that Aims Ltd. proposed irradiating prisoners with a source in a metal box hidden under the interrogation table. In another document Aims offered to supply former SAS agents to help the Turks "neutralise" suspected Kurdish bases in Southern Cyprus. For £ 57,500 a month, it was also prepared to gather information on Kurds in every country of the European Union.
The Sunday Times also revealed that Aims Ltd. has supplied arms and mercenaries to the "Kosovo Liberation Army" (UCK) through Turkish officers on duty in Kosovo, despite the UN ban on any arms supply or help to the UCK.
Still according to the Sunday Times, Aims Ltd. is one of two British firms that had been paid hundreds of thousands of pounds for supplying military equipment and training facilities to the members of the Turkish Special Forces that had captured A. Öcalan. Questioned on the subject, Scotland Yard had retorted: "this matter is being taken into account by our special operations department. The Ministry has been informed and we are awaiting its decision".
•KURDS ON TRIAL: IN FIVE YEARS, 79,489 PEOPLE HAVE BEEN TRIED BEFORE THE DIYARBEKIR STATE SECURITY COURTS. According to an investigation carried out by Sergin Tanrikulu, the official in charge of the Diyarbekir branch of the Turkish Foundation for Human Rights, in the course of five years 79,489 people have been tried in 21,347 cases by the Diyarbekir State Security Courts. Of the 12,061 verdicts handed down, 4,912 people were found guilty and 9,941 acquitted: 14,661 under Article 169 of the Turkish Penal Code for "support and assistance to an illegal organisation". 9,886 under Article125 of the Penal Code for "taking part in armed operations on behalf of an illegal organisation" and 1,216 under Article 168 of the Penal code for "membership of an armed organisation".
• 92 PEOPLE ARRESTED AT DIYARBEKIR FOR "COLLUSION WITHTHE HIZBULLAH MOVE-MENT". The Turkish authorities have launched a vast operation against the fundamentalist Hizbullah movement which, hitherto, had enjoyed many forms of help from the police, which had widely used it for the assassination of Kurdish nationalist activists. The Turkish daily Hürriyet announced, in its issue of 21 October, 1999 that, in the course of one week, 92 Hizbullah members had been arrested as a result of the assault carried out on 40 Diyarbekir mosques. The Regional Prefect, Cemil Serhadli, stated, on 20 October, that in two years over 1235 people had been detained and only 685 released to date. The authorities now attribute 48 crimes perpetrated in the region to them. However, some Hizbullah units fought in the Chechen ranks in liaison with the Turkish special services and extreme right units.
•"A MEMORIAL FOR THE GENOCIDE OF TURKS KILLED BY ARMENIANS" AT IGDIR! While the French National Assembly’s recognition of the Armenian genocide (by Turkey in 1915) had aroused a storm of protest in Turkey, the Turkish authorities celebrated, on 5 October 1999, the inauguration of a "monument commemorating the massacre, by Armenians at Igdir between 1915 and 1920". Erected in "memory of 90,0000 Turks massacred by Armenian bands", this 43.5 m high "genocide memorial" was built at the intersection of the roads leading to Nehcivan, in Armenia, and to Iran. The Turkish Secretary of State, Ramazan Mirzaoglu, expressed the hope that "the building be a memorial to brotherhood and friendship".
•THE MINISTERIAL COM-MITTEE OF THE COUNCIL OF EUROPE CALLS TURKEY TO ORDER. A few weeks before the Helsinki summit, a fresh crisis has arisen to disturb relations between the European Union and Turkey. On 6 October 1999, the Council of Ministers of the Council of Europe called Turkey to order over a case in which it had been found guilty by the European Court for Human Rights in July 1997. In this case Turkey had been found guilty of violation of the right to respect private property in the of Loizidou, whose property had been expropriated by the Turkish Army in 1974 following the invasion of Northern Cyprus. Sentenced to pay heavy damages to the victim – over $ 570,500 – Turkey has refused to fulfill its obligations on the grounds of the "independence" of the Turkish Republic of North Cyprus – which it is the only country in the world to recognise.
In theory, the non-application of a decision of the European Court by a member State should result in that State’s suspension, or even expulsion, from the Council of Europe.
•"EXTRA-JUDICIAL" EXECU-TIONS IN ADANA. On 6 October 1999, domestic servant living in Adana was executed by the police under the eyes of his wife and children. After bursting into the victims home "by mistake" the police fired at Murat Bektas who was speaking on the phone to his brother-in-law, who was doing his National Service. The victim’s wife stated that the police entered by breaking down the door and shot her husband at point-blank range, hitting him in the head. Herself wounded, she threw herself onto her son to protect him from the bullets and was then locked in another rooms while her husband bled to death. The Turkish authorities, obviously, tell another story, claiming that the victim was sheltering terrorists and that he was armed. The police also stormed the flat next door killing Erdinç Aslan and wounding Mustafa Köprü, both alleged members of the DHKP-C (People’s Revolutionary Front and Party).
Muzaffer Çetinkaya, Deputy Director of the Anti-terrorist section, stated that "nothing has proved that he (Murat Bektas) was member of a terrorist group, but the enquiry is continuing" adding "why should the police kill innocent citizens?" Some people have, rightly, understood this to imply that the police were free to carry out extra-judicial executions of people presumed to be guilty… Meanwhile the Public Prosecutor of Adana, Cemal Sahir Gürçay, has opened an inquiry and the family has filed a complaint. For all that, the police involved have in no way been bothered, have received no reprimand and are still carrying out the same duties in complete impunity.
The Turkish daily, Milliyet, in its issue of 7 October 1999, published a short and dismal list of the latest extra-judicial executions ascribed to the Turkish police under the heading "Our police record is dirtied". Amongst the cases listed is the murder, on 20 May 1991, or Hatice Dilek, accused of being a member of a terrorist organisation, the execution of Selma Çitlak and five other people on 13 August 1993 – one of the police accused was also questioned in the Susurluk scandal enquiry – the execution of a 14 year old boy on 11 February 1998 and of Irfan Agda, a news-vendor of extreme left papers on 13 May 1996, etc.
•FRESH CENSORSHIP OPERA-TIONS IN THE MEDIA. The RTUK, the official Audiovisual supervisory and regulatory body, handed out a series of penalties against the Turkish national radio and television operators. TV networks, such as NTV, Kanal 7, and Kanal 6 were sentenced to a days suspension of broadcasting while radio networks like MIHR, Radio FOREKS or MORAL FM, accused of separatist or reactionary (i.e. religious) broa-dcasts, were banned for a month.
Furthermore, a Bill regarding audiovisual programmes has aroused considerable discussion. While it makes the broadcasting of all Government or Presidential communiqués compulsory, it bans any enquiry, opinion poll or mini-referendum in the seven days before an election. Still worse, no news touching on State secrets may be broadcast until the government has been advised.
•ANKARA THREATENS TO PUT GERMANY ON ITS ‘RED LIST’. The Under Secretary of State for Defence Industries, Yalçin Burçak, has issued a final warning to Germany regarding the consequences of the German Government’s refusal to take part in the Turkish project for building tanks. He declared that, if the German Federal Security opposed the sale of Leopard II tanks to Turkey, Germany was in danger of being put on the "red List", which bans any country criticising Turkish policy. He also indicated that Italy, which had been competing for the contract with its Aricte tank had withdrawn from the market last week. The German Minister of Defence, Rudolph Scharping, announced that he would meet his Turkish opposite number soon, but the meeting has been arranged to take place during the OCDE meeting in Istanbul on 18/19 November 1999. German public opinion and the Greens, partners in the present coalition government, are strongly opposed to this sale.
However, on 20 October 1999, the German Federal Security Council, by 3 votes against 2, decided to deliver a Leopard 2A6 tank to Turkey for testing purposes. Triumphantly announced by the Turkish press, this decision raised a storm of protest among the German Greens, Chancellor Schöder’s coalition partners. The Turkish authorities didn’t miss the opportunity of stressing that German hesitations, hitherto due to "the South-Eastern question and human rights", had ceased. The Turkish international invitation to tender is very tempting since it involves the purchase of over 1000 tanks for a sum of DM 15 billion and could thus guarantee 6,000 jobs for the next 10 years, the German authorities argue.
•TURKEY IS THE LONELIEST COUNTRY IN THE WORLD. On the occasion of the ceremony opening the Turkish Officers Academy’s new year, General Nahit Senogul, Commander of the Turkish War Academies made a hair raising speech to the officer cadets. Addressing the assembly, the General declared "Here you will see the Truth. Here you will learn the historic enemies of our country. You will also learn the reasons why the European Union has not accepted us as one of its members. Here you will learn of the crudeness and of the hatred of the Arab world for the Turkish nation. Here you will learn that Turkey is the loneliest country in the world. Here you will learn that the country will so many internal and external enemies is none other than Turkey. You will here see the foul efforts of certain people, anxious to take their revenge on Atatürk’s Republic under the cover of democracy, Human Rights and the misuse of those great principles. On leaving here you will ask yourselves in bewilderment how Turkey still manages to save the integrity of its territory and nation. We are obliged to settle all our problems ourselves. War is the last and most powerful means we must use".
•1999 HAS BEEN THE WORST YEAR FOR TURKISH TOURISM. The Turkish tourist sector has experienced its worst year of the current decade. Whereas last year tourism had earned Turkey $ 8 billion, the figure for 1999 was only $5.5 billion – a shortfall of $4.5 billion. Hit by its negative image abroad because of its violations of human rights, but also by the 17 August earthquake which exposed the failures of the corrupt and inefficient Turkish adminis-tration, this sector of the economy has recorded its worst ever result. Observers talk of losses of $ 2.5 billion, of which $ 375 million in VAT alone, to the Turkish economy.
•ANKARA USES THE INTERNATIONAL AID FOR THE EARTHQUAKE VICTIMS TO PAY THE WAGES OF ITS CIVIL SERVANTS… Recep Önal, Turkish Minister of State for the Economy, openly stated, at the Antalya economic summit, that the dollars received from the International Monetary Fund (IMF) for the 17th August earthquake victims had been used to pay its civil servants’ salaries. Detailing the losses resulting from the damage caused by the earthquake, Recep Önal finally unveiled what had happened to the aid provided by the IMF: "We were in such difficulties that we could not even pay the civil servants wages. We resolved the problem with the help of the aid provided by the IMF for the earthquake. The Public Treasury is not an organisation for producing money. What could we do? We will pay the taxes recently collected back into the fund that was used and spend it on the earthquake". On coming out of the meeting, Mr. Önal realised his blunder and tried to pass it off as a slip of the tongue. Questioned on the matter, the Prime Minister, Bülent Ecevit, who had declared that the money in question would be used for the earthquake victims to the last cent, declared that he was not aware of his Minister’s statement.
•THE PUBLIC PROSECUTOR AT THE COURT OF APPEALS DEMANDS MORE RIGHTS FOR THE STATE AND LESS FOR INDIVIDUALS. In the course of a Press Conference on 26 October 1999, Vural Savas, Public Prosecutor before the Court of Appeals called on the Turkish institutions to seriously fight the dangers facing Turkey. In a plea against all the political actors in Turkey he sharply criticised those who "put the individual before the State, those who defend freedom of opinion" and called on the people to "protect themselves against religious and separatist terrorism". The Prosecutor thus put forward a few solutions. According to Mr. Savas, all those sentenced by the State Security Courts should be incarcerated in military prisons, not civil ones, that the legislation forbidding the use of religion for political ends should be restored. He once against called for the restoration of law 163 (abrogated by the late President Turgut Özal) which gives legal teeth to Article 24 of the Turkish Constitution forbidding the basing of the social, religious, economic, political or legal order on religious law, and prohibiting the use of religion, religious feelings or opinions, considered sacred, for personal ends. The Prosecutor was particularly virulent in his attacks on "those politicians and political party leaders, writers and Human Rights organi-sations" that "provoke separatism and reactionary feelings under the cover of defending freedom of thought". He also condemned "those who refrain from passing anti-terrorist laws" on the grounds that they would prevent Turkey from joining the European Union. To fight terrorism, Vural Savas suggested following the example of British censorship legislation and German police rules.
Vural Savas is the Public Prosecutor who demanded and secured the banning of the Prosperity Party (RP - Islamist) and tried in vain to prevent the People’s Democratic Party (HADEP – pro-Kurdish) from taking part in the General Elections of 18 April 1999.
The proposals made by the Public Prosecutor of Turk’s highest Court aroused many reactions in Turkey – all the papers put it on their front pages. Making a pun on his name (Savas means "war" in Turkish) many headlined it "A War Mentality". Others, rightly pointed out that Mr. Savas had not got the response that he had hoped. The political caste, severely attacked by the Prosecutor, reacted sharply. The spectre of the mini-coup d’état of 1997, fomented by the Turkish Army was remembered. Whereas Mr. Savas had wanted to pose as "the national hero" coming to the people’s rescue, a role so frequently adopted by the Army, he found himself faced with wide opposition. The only person to support him was the Public Prosecutor of the State Security Court, Nuh Mete Yuksel, who himself had been rebuked by the political caste the week before for having attempted to carry out a night-time search at the home of Islamic M.P. Mrs Merve Kavalçi (Editor’s Note: Mrs Kavakçi had been excluded from the Turkish Parliament for having wanted to take the oath of allegiance wearing the Islamic headscarf). This speech by the Public Prosecutor of the Court of Appeals seems to be a riposte to the statements last spring by the President of the Turkish Constitutional Court, Ahmet Necdet Sezer, and the President of the Court of Appeals, Sami Selçuk, who had both argued for more democracy and public freedom in Turkey. Mr. Savas seems to be defending the opposite thesis of total eradication of all opposition.
•THE STATE OF EMERGENCY LIFTED IN SIIRT PROVINCE. In the course of its monthly meeting, the National Security Council (MGK) decided , on 27 October 1999, to lift the state of emergency in Siirt (Ed. Note: a Kurdish Province). The extension of the state of emergency in the provinces of Tunceli, Diyarbekir, Hakkari, Sirnak and Van for a further four months was also decreed. The Turkish Parliament, which acts as a sort of rubber stamp for the MGK’s decisions will, as a matter of form, pass the necessary law to give this effect.
•SULEYMAN DEMIREL PLEADS FOR THE RIGHT TO DIFFE-RENCE FOR THE TURKISH MINORITY IN KOSOVO. Ismet Berkan, a journalist with the Turkish daily Hürriyet, related, in his column on 20 October, the Turkish President Süleyman Demirel’s visit to the Turkish minority in Kosovo on 15 October 1999. "Differences should be seen as sources of richness. For this one must be attached to democracy and democratic values. In reality, democracy is the only system enabling people having different languages, religions and ethnic origins to live together, free from oppression. Without democracy it is also difficult to preserve peace. It is possible to find common ground, while respecting differences, round a common goal. So long as this has not been achieved, tragedies like ethnic cleaning will continue to plague our region. (…) The importance you give to the teaching of Turkish, to the defence of your culture, to increasing the circulation of your publications form the undeniable elements of your existence. A people deprived of its language is condemned to disappear. Your efforts to defend your identity and develop your culture will always be supported by Turkey" declared Demirel who, nevertheless, speaks a completely different language about the right to difference, language and culture of the 15 to 20 million Kurds in Turkey…