The Prime Minister of the Irbil Kurdish Regional Government made a diplomatic visit to France between 11 and 14 June to inform French political leaders on the present situation in Iraqi Kurdistan and ask for French help in enquring the lasting character of this experiment in Kurdish self government.
The visit began with a working lunch in his honour organised by the Quai d’Orsay’s (i.e. the French Foreign Office’s) Director for the Near East and North Africa, which was attended by several high ranking diplomats from this Division. Then the Kurdish delegation was received jointly by the French Prime Minister’s diplomatic advisor and the Middle Eastern advisor of M. Vedrine, the Foreign Minister, for a more far reaching political discussion.
The Kurdish Prime Minister showed his French interlocuters that, thanks to the re-establishment of internal peace within the Kurdish region since November 1997, and thanks also to the 13% share of the UN’s "Food for Oil" programme alocated to the three provinces under Kurdish administration, the economic, health and educational situation has continuously improved in Iraqi Kurdistan. "The population, which is gradually regaining hope, still remains concerned at the absence of any guarantees for the future. The maintenance of the Kurdish region’s air cover and of the allocation of 13% of the income from the sale of Iraqi oil are indispensible for the survival of the present experiment in Kurdish self-administration. For the Kurds, it is of vital importance that any discussion, any arrangement, regarding the sanctions or future of Iraq take these two fundamental demands of the Kurdish population into account " added Mr. Barzani who recalled that it was France, at the time of Mr. Mitterrand’s Presidency, that had initiated the famous U.N. Resolution 688 on the right to intervention which had allowed the setting up of the Kurdish protection zone. "Paris must thus see to the contination of this protection until such time as a democratic regime is set up in Iraq that could guarantee a federal status to the Kurdish population ".
The French Prime Minister’s adviser indicated that Mr. Jospin, who has long been aware of the Kurdish problem, was very concerned about to the fate of the Kurdish people. "For the French government, which defends the protection of cultural diversity and of the rights of minorities, the Iraqi Kurds must enjoy all their legitimate rights in a democratic Kurdistan within a democratic Iraq. French diplomacy takes into account the legitimate demands of the Kurdish population that you have just voiced. You can reassure your people on this issue. We must seek, together with our friends and allies, means of improving the fate of the Iraqi civilian populations at the same time as assuring the protection of the Kurdish people " he continued, before calling for a regular dialogue between Kurdish and French leaders.
The Kurdish Prime Minister then visited Bernard Kouchner, Minister of Health and a long time supporter of the Kurdish cause. He informed him of recent developments in Kurdistan and asked for his help, in particular with respect to senior UN officials who he knew personally, to ensure that Kurdish requirements receive all the attention that they deserve in the discussions on sanctions and the future of Iraq. While promissing to do what he could, B. Kouchner reminded his listeners that the Kurds had, first of all, to help themselves by settling their differences by democratic dialogue and ensuring their unity. "Your friends abroad will be all the more keen to help you if you show yourselves capable of uniting amongst yourselves and governing your region with full respect for human rights and democratic principles "he added.
Before leaving Paris, Mr. N. Barzani was the guest of a dinner/debate, presided by Mrs. Mitterrand. About thirty Members of Parliament and public figures were present, including François Loncle, Chairman of the Foreign Affairs Commission of the french National Assembly, attended this dinner, at which Roland Dumas, former French Foreign Minister, was also present. The evening before, the Kurdish Prime Minister had taken part in another dinner/debate with Kurdish public figures and some longstanding friends of the Kurdish cause.
For his part, the Deputy Prime Minister of the Suleimaniah Kurdish Regional Government, Mr. Adnan Mufti, also visited Paris at the end of June, as part of a European tour. In the course of his visit he was received at the Quai d’Orsay by the Assistant Director for the Near East and North Africa. On 22 June he took part in a debate, organised by the Iraqi Forum, in a hall of the National Assembly on "The situation in Iraqi Kurdistan ". On 23 June he was received by Mrs. Mitterrand, President of the Fondation France-Libertés (see p. 92 of the Press review for a detailed account of this visit).
On 8 June, the Iranian President, Mohammed Khatami, won the Presidential election with the decisive majority of 77% of the votes. This victory was expected and predicted by the majority of observers of the Iranian political scene. The other candidates standing, approved by the Shiite clerical hierarchy, were essentially bit players, providing the regime with a "democratic " window dressing or acting as a foil to Mr. Khatami.
This unsurprising election was chatacterised by a record rate of abstention. Of the 42 million people on the electoral rolls, only 28 million thought it worth their while to go to the polls. One Iranian in three, consequently, boycotted the poll. This record abstention can be explained by the disillusion of part of the population that no longer believes Presient Khatami is capable of carrying out ht edemocratic reforms he promises during his election campaigns. Despite the overwhelming majority he has in the Majlis (Parliament) and on the local councils, the Iranian President has shown himself incapable of seriously opposing the control exercised over the main levers of power by non-elected boies packed with conservative clergy. He was not even able to prevent his most faithful supporters and even some of his Ministers, from being dragged in the mud and incarcereated for reformist "crimes of opinion " by the courts of a "judiciary authority " controled by the ultra-conservative Shiite clergy.
In the Islamic Republic’s theocratic regime, the Constitution give the Guide of the Revolution, Ayattollah Khemenei, absolute power for life of the legislature, the judiciary and the executive. Laws can only be passed after they have received the approval of an unelected Supervisory Council made up of members of the clergy. Under this system, the elected President and Parliament only have rights within limits set by the upper ranks of the Shiite clergy.
President Khatami, basing himself on his popular legitimacy, has certainly been trying to amke the system evolve since 1997, to inject a portion of democracy into the islamic Republic. His efforts have produced a certain easing in society, and some freedom of speach. However, a growing fraction of the population realises that the systemitself can neither be amended or reformed. It is they who avoided voting at the last Presidential elections.
President Khatami’s re-election co-incided with a period in which Iran is in the grip of a serious economic and social crisis. The regime seems at the end of its tether. Torn between the reforming aspirations of its electors (women, young people etc.) and the straight-jacket of a conservative clergy that considers the slightest reform as an attack on the founding principles of the Islamic Republic, President Khatami is in danger of finding himself on a razor’s edge all through his second term of office. The obstacle race will begin as of now with the formation of his cabinet which, even before being inducted into office by the Majlis, has to secure the approval of the Islamic Supervisory Council.
Turkey has decided to grant £2.5 million to 247 vicitims of the town of Lice, in Diyarbekir Province, who sued the Turkish Army, before the European Human Rights Court, of carrying out a massacre in that town on 22 October 1993. This is the first collective case against Turkey treated by the Strasbourg Court. The case had reached the last stages of the Court’s enquiry, but Turkey, to avoid a legal humiliation, had preferred an out of court settlement. It still remains that the sum conceded by Ankara is the largest sum ever paid out by Turkey in compensation.
On 22 October 1993, the Turkish Army had carried the town of Lice by assault – 15 civilians had been killed and 22 others wounded, 400 homes and 250 shops were burnt down and utterly destroyed. The Turkish authorities have always denied responsibility for these events, that they claimed were perpetrated by teh Kurdistan Workers’ Party (PKK). The town of Lice is still a forbidden town, closed to any visits by observers, Members of Parliament or Human Rights defenders. At the last municipal elections, the town was won by the People‘s Democratic Party (HADEP). But Weynel Bagir, the winnerm was declared personna non grate in the district and has not been able to enter the town of Lice.
Whereas, after eight years of legal procedures, Turkey has preferred an out of Court settlement at the level of the European Human Rights Court, at home the Turkish legal authorities have not advanced by a single step since the case is still ‘under investigation’ at the Diyarbekir State Security Court. Moreover, the European Human Rights Court still has before it the case of 250 other victims of the Lice massacre.
Syrian President, Bachar el-Assad, made a State Visit to France from 25 to 27 June. In the course of this three day visit, the Syrian President, surrounded by great pomp and circumstance, met his French opposite number, Jacques Chirac, and the Prime Minister as well as the new Mayor of Paris. On the agenda of these meetings: the situation in the Near East, Lebanon, the perspectives for the relauching of an Israelo-Arab dialogue, and the opening up of Syrian econopmy to the outside world. France says it wishes to accompany Syria on the road to reforms and to work for an association agreement between Syria and the European Union to enable this country, fossilised by thirty years of General Assad’s absolute dictatorship.
The Syrian President who, on assuming power, had made unfulfilled promises of democratisation, tried, during this very much publicised visit, to improve the deplorable image of his country and his regime. Setting aside the arrogant habits of his father, he agreed to be auditioned by the Foreign Affairs Commission of the French National Assembly and to holding a Press Conference where some distinctly hostile questions were put to him. His reception at the Hôtel de Ville de Paris (Paris City Hall) was disturbed by heckling from some Councillors, criticisng him for the occupation of the Lebanon and his recent anti-Jewish remarks.
The Jewish community, at the call of the CRIF (Jewish representative council) conducted a widespead campaign against this visit and organised a demonstration in front of the National Assembly which brought together several thousands of people. The Kurdish community was also mobilised to remind public opinion about the fate of the Kurds in Syria.
Indeed, the 1.5 million Kurds of Syria, who inhabit the areas of Gezirah, Koban (Aïn Arab) and Kurd Dagh continue to be refused the most elementary cultural or linguistic rights. They are still forbidden to publish books or newspapers in their language, has not a single Kurdish language school, nor Kurdish language broadcasts on radio or television – nor the right to form their own associations or political parties.
This situation of denial of rights is particularly tragic for some three hundred thousands of Kurds "without papers ". They are the inhabitants of 332 Kurdish villages in the Gezirah who, in the 60s, were arbitrarily stripped of their Syrian nationality in the context of a campaign of Arabisation aiming at creating a 10 to 12 Km wide "Arab belt "along the Turkish and Iraqi borders so as to cut off the Kurdish areas of Syria from the adjoining areas of Iraqi and Turkish Kurdistan.
These Kurds "without papers " , who can neither be expelled nor integrated, live as illegal foreigners in their own country. Barely tolerated, theyr cannot contract civil marriages, hold any public sector jobs, be admitted to public hospitals or schools, open a bank account or travel abroad. These Kurds had hoped that the new Syrian President would make some gesture towards re-inegrating them. Since no steps have been taken in this direction, the bulk of them, without any hope or future in their country, are trying to emigrate to Europe.
The Kurdish community in France and the Human Rights defence organisations, have called on the French authorities to put pressure on the Syrian President to re-integrate these Kurds and restore them their citizenship and for the recognition, by Damascus, of the basic cultural rights of its Kurdish minority.
On 22 June, the Constitutional Court dissolved the Virtue party (Fazilet), the country’s third largest party, with 102 Members of Parliament. This makes Fazilet the 23rd political party to be banned in Turkey since the Constitutional Court was set up in 1962. Fazilet is also the 4th Islamic party, linked with former Prime Minister Necmettin Erbakan, the boss of political Islamism, to be banned since 1972, following on the National Order (MNP), National Salvation (MSP) and Prosperity (Refah) parties.
The banning of the opposition Virtue Party, seriously compromises Ankara’s aspirations to join the European Union by tarnishing its image for respecting Human Rights and democracy, in the view of comentators. It shows that part of the Turkish establishment refuses to disarm in its struggle against political Islamism, that the Army puts forward as the principle threat to the secular Republic. Even though Prime Minister Bülent Ecevit in person had openly expressed his reticence at such a measure and his anxiety about its consequences on the stability of the country that is going through a serious economic crisis. The Austrian Chancellor, Wolfgang Schuessel, while visiting the country on 21 June, had warned that banning the party would not be "favourably " received by the European Union, adding that "one must be very cautious, in pluralist democracies " over this kind of decision. The dissolution of Fazilet will put Turkey in a difficult position at the Turkey - E.U. Association Council, the organ for maintaining political dialogue between the two. It will be meeting in Luxembourg next Tuesday to review the process of conformity for membership. "The problem is that the Turks ban political parties for what they might do, not for what they actually do " stressed a European political analyst.
Over ten Left parties have been banned, including the United Communist Party of Turkey (TBKP) and the Socialist Party (SP) have been dissolved since the 60s, in the grounds of communist activity, which were illegal in Turkey until 1990.
The Constitutional Court has also banned a series of pro-Kurdish parties. The most famous case was that of the Party for Democracy (DEP) on 15 June 1994. Four DEP Members of Parliament, including Mrs. Leyla Zana, winner of the 1995 Sakharov Prize, awarded by the European Parliament for Freedom of Thought, are at the moment serving 15 year prison sentences. Other pro-Kurdish parties, particularly the People’s Labour Party (HEP) and the Freedom and Democracy Party (OZDEP) were also dissolved for ‘separatism’. In February 1999 a very moderate pro-Kurdish party, teh Democratic Party of the Masses (DKP), led by a former Minister, Serafettin Elci, was banned for "attacking the unity of Turkey and advocating regional and ethnic differences in its programme ".
The pro-Kurdish People’s Democratic Party (HADEP), which succeeded the DEP and which argues in favour of a peacefulsolution to the Kurdish Question is at the moment facing legal proceedings aimed at its dissolution before the same Court, on the grounds of alleged links with the PKK – an accusation that it categorically rejects.
On 20 June Iraq declared that an Anglo-American air raid on a football field in Northern Iraq had caused 23 deaths and 11 injured, whereas the British and American authorities deny having made any attacks in the previous two days.
The Iraqi press agency INA reported that the allied planes had attacked the locality of Tall Afar, 440 Km North of Baghdad, without specifying the time of the attack. The victims have been buried, the agency added.
A spokesman for the American forces on the Incirlik base, in Southern Turkey, from which the allied flight take off, denied thet there had been any bombing. "We flew today (20 June), but didn’t (…) drop anything " stated Major Scott Vadnais. Major Ed Loomis, head of public relations of the US Command in Europe, based on Stuttgart (Germany) give his assurance that American forces had not carried out any air raid. "We flew yesterday (19 June) in the context of a routine mission over the air exclusion zone " he simply acknowledged, adding that the plane involved had "carried out its mission without releasing any bombs and returned to base undammaged. The Iraqi allegations are completely false ". INA had reported, on 20 June, that the allied forces had tried to bomb a civilian installation in Northern Iraq but had been deterred by the Iraqi anti-aircraft defences. Baghdad stated that one of the planes had been hit, which was denied by the U.S.
The British Defence Ministry also denied having attacked any Iraqi targets. "It’s untrue. Neither American nor our planes dropped any bombs yesterday or today ", stated a communiqué, "It’s just another attempt by the Iraqi authorities to disinform their public ".
U.S. and British planes carry out regular patrols over the air exclusion zones of North and South Iraq, created after the Gulf War in 1991. The Saddam Hussein regime does not recognise these zones and considers these flights to be violations of its air space. There have been practically daily clashes since 1998. Wednesday’s raid took place while the U.N. Security Council was preparing to examine a British-American proposal for lifting the embargo on all civilian consumer goods but a stricter banning of goods considered to have military applications.
The Parliamentary Assembly of the Council of Europe decided, on 28 June to keep Turkey under "democratic supervision " despite "substancial progress observed ". Amongst the reasons for satisfaction the members of Parliament noted the "National Programme for adopting the gains of the community" in order to be able to join the European Union, the cease fire announced by the Kurdistan Workers’ Party (PKK) and some constitutional and legal reforms, in particular the elimination of the Army judges from the State Security Courts.
But much progress remains to be made: the eradication of torture, improvement in the conditions of detention, abolition of the death sentence, amendment of the Anti-Terrorist legislation, which opens the way for arbitrary rule and "crimes of opinion", lifting the State of Emergency in the four South Eastern Provinces, ending the isolation of those detained in the so-called type F prisons which has caused the hunger strikes of the last few months. The reporter, Andras Barsony (Hungary, Socialist Party M.P.) even went so far as to state that the conditions of detention in Turkish prisons were better than in many other European prisons. What earthly reason can Turkish prisoners have for going on hunger strike!…
But the Assembly also condemned the banning of the Islamist Virtue Party, the main opposition party in the country and third largest in the Turkish Parliament until it was dissolved by court order, passing an amendment which had been drafted in agreement with the five main political groups. The decision of the Turkish Constitutional Court to ban this party is "contrary to the principles of democratic pluralism " and "liable to contribute to political instability at a time when Turkey is undertaking important reforms " according to the members of the Parliamentary Assembly. According to Andras Barsony "the Constitution must be changed to ensure that such things never happen again ". "Part of the Constitution, based on principles dating back to the setting up of the Turkish Republic in 1923 no longer conforms with the criteria current in the Council of Europe " stressed the report, which calls on Ankara to cooperate with the Venice Commission (Editor’s Note: a Commision set up to help the former communist countries to draw up constitutions that conform to Western criteria).
Further to this, the Turkish daily Hurriyet , on the front page of its 29 June issue, attacked Oya Akgonenç, an Islamist M.P. of the Virtue Party (FP – banned) and Turkey’s representative on the Council of Europe for having allowed, by her abstence from the vote, the phrase "the Kurdish people " to appear in the resolutions instead of the official Ankara formula "Turkish citizens of Kurdish origin ". "Since Oya Akgonemç, of the Fazilet Party, was in the corridors defending her dissolved party, the term "Kurdish people" was included in one of the reports of the Council of Europe " wrote Hurriyet. The M.P.s of the National Action Party (MHP – neo-fascist) rapidly leaped into the breach. Hussein Kalkan (MHP) declared "Is there any difference between her and Leyla Zana?… You go there at the State’s expense and criticise Turkey right and left. It’s immoral ".
The Parliamentary Assembly also criticises the Turkish government for refusing to execute some of the rulings of the European Human Rights Count, in particular the Loizidou ruling, named after a Greek Cypriot stripped of her property in the Northern part of the island at the time of the Turkish Army invasion in 1974.
There were, however, a few defenders of Turkey in the Assembly, such as the British Conservative M.P. John Taylor, who stated that he was not one of the who run that country down behind its back. However, the Assembly rejected most of the Turkish amendments aimed at softening criticism, in particular an amendment calling for an end to the "monitoring procedure ", the system of "democratic supervision " set up in countries considered unstable.
THE TURKISH MINISTER OF THE INTERIOR DISMISSED FROM OFFICE AFTER A QUARREL WITH MESUT YILMAZ. Minister Sadettin Tantan, considered to be the champion of the struggle against corruption in Turkey, was forced to resign on 6 June after being demoted from Minister of the Interior to Secretary of Customs.
This resignation raises questions about the future of the struggle he had been waging for two the last years against corruption, Turkey’s endemic plague, when the country has undertaken to put its economy in order through an austerity programme agreed with the International Monetary Fund (IMF) following a serious crisis in February. Mr. Tantan’s investigations had, on the other hand, deeply embarassed his own party.
"I resigned because I consider that the action of which I have been the subjected is incompatible with my principles and my approach to politics " declared the very popular politician in a written statement. he said he was "determined " to continue to struggle against "any form of injustice " and thanked public opinion for its "great support " of his work.
Mr. Tantan also resigned from his party, the Motherland Party (ANAP), third party in Prime Minister Bülent Ecevit’s tri-party coalition. He had had serious disagreements with the boss of ANAP, Mesut Yilmaz, on the subject of his unprecedented anti-corruption enquiries, which had provoked the resignation of the Minister for Fuel and Power, Cumhur Ersumer, a fellow member of ANAP.
Corruption, the country’s third most important economic problem (after that of inflation and unemployment) is perceived as a plague by the population. Certain affirm, however, that Turkey is passing through a major economic and political crisis and that Mr. Tantan is seen as the Mr. Clean by the population – and that it’s irrelevant whether he really is or not. In any case, ANAP has sent out a clear signal that it is not really infavour of the struggle against corruption in a country where the confidence in politicians is already at its lowest ebb. This resignation publicly displays, once again, the weakness of the Turkish party system, in which a boss has absolute control over his organisation.
The opposition, the True Path Party (DYP) and the Virtue Party (Fazilet – islamist) have come out in support of Mr. Tantan.
Mr. Yilmaz had recently let it be understood that he might fire his Minister, whom he accused of being too independent of the party, saying "It’s the people who chose the M.P.s, but it’s I who chose the Ministers " calling on the "traitors " to leave the party. The investigations carried out by Mr. Tantan (a former policeman with a reputation for honesty, who launched himself into politics by joining ANAP in 1994) into the mafia and his stuborness in struggling against corruption had made him a hero in the eyes of the Turkish public. Certain members of his former party, including Mr. Yilmaz, had accused Mr. Tantan of transforming Turkey into a veritable police state.
His successor, Rustu Kazim Yucelen, in a first declaration to the Press, assured the public that he would struggle against corruption just as stubbornly.
• MAY 2001 ASSESSMENT OF HUMAN RIGHTS VIOLATIONS IN KURDISTAN. On 13 June Osman Baydemir, leader of the Turkish Association for Human Rights (IHD) made public their assesment of the May 2001 Human Rights violations in Kurdistan. In the course of his Press Conference, Mr. Baydemir drew attention to the increase in the number of armed clashes in the region: "In January 7 people lost their lives, in February 1, in March 11, in April 13 and in May 23 in these clashes ". He was, moreover, very sceptical about official statements regarding 20 PKK fighters killed in the Yedisu district of Bingol Province in May 2001. Mr. Baydemir was not afraid of speaking of "extra-judicial executions " or of stressing that an enquiry is under way with a medical counter-report. Here, in any case, is the May 2001 report of Human Rights violations.
|Number of people placed in detention||111|
|Number of people tortured or beaten up||39|
|Number of arrests||23|
|Number of publications banned from the Sate of Emergency region (OHAL)||17|
|Number of plays and Press communiqués banned||4|
• KURDISH WOMEN ARE BEING PUT ON TRIAL BY THE TURKISH COURTS FOR HAVING DENOUNCED RAPE AND HARRASSMENT IN KURDISTAN. On 28 June, the Istanbul State Security Court heard five women who had spoken at a conference against rape and sexual harrassment. 19 other women, including Fatma Kara, Nahide Kilici, Zeynep Ovayola, Fatma Karakas and Kamile Cigci are also being charge before the Beyoglu criminal court for "separatism". The two courts accuse them of having used the terms "Kurdish provinces" and "Kurdish women" when speaking at this conference, which took place on 15 June 2000. In the course of the hearing, the defence lawyer, Gulizar Tuncer, challenged the validity of the charge, declaring "Kurdish women, like any others, are victims of rape. To describe this can, in no way, be considered an offence. The prosecutors of the Security Court may not recognise the Kurdish people – but it cannot deny the reality of Kurdish existence." A number of foreign observers were present at the hearings, which were postponed till 17 October 2001.
• A "HISTORY OF KURDISTAN " BANNED IN TURKEY. The Istanbul State Security Court has ordered the seizure of the book "History of Kurdistan", published by the Avesta publishing house. and prepared by a goup of academics from the Russian Oriental Institute. The court maintains that "from p.9 (the Preface) to the last page, i.e. p.359, the book is just a mass of propaganda against the Turkish State and people and attacks the integrity and indivisibility of the country ".
The publisher, in a Press communiqué dated 25 June attacked the seizure and expressed its astonishment that "a book of over 300 pages could be read right through in an hour and a half and then banned ".
• THE TURKISH PRESIDENT PUTS HIS VETO ON THE LAW TIGHTENING CONTROL OVER THE MEDIA. The Turkish President, Ahmet Nejdet Sezer, put his veto on the law regarding the Higher Radio and TV Council (RTUK) passed by the Turkish Parliament, considering that the law in question would lead to the monopolisation of the media, and that the fines imposed in the event of breaches were liable to endanger freedom of expression.
This new audiovisual law also subjects Turkish Internet to the same censorship rules as the printed press. The law has been sent back to the Turkish Parliament, and if the Members choose to pass another law, with exactly the same terms and wording, the President will have no other choice than to endorse it.
• THE TURKISH PARLIAMENT ADOPTS A LAW CENSORING INTERNET. On 7 June, the Turkish Parliament passed a law introduting penalties for spreading lying or defamatory information on Internet and toughening the penalties for radio and television. However, after a flood of criticism, in Turkey and abroad, the government removed a first highly controversal clause, demanding that Internet sites submit their pages to the authorities for checking before publication. In an open letter to the Prime Minister, the Vienna based International Press Institute (IPI) had, on 5 June, condemned this aspect of the law, seeing it as "a restriction of the freedom of the media and of expression ".
The law, which amends certain existing provisions, stipulates that the propagation of false or difamatory information and other acts of a like nature on the sites are liable to fines that could go up to 100 billion Turkish lire (about $ 85,000). The amendments ;ake it more difficult, in principle, the temporary suspension of radio and TV networks – a common practice in Turkey – for offenses against public decency, agaist privacy, or the family structure and moral rules in general, as well as for separatism. The Audiovisual High Council, (RTUK), the controversial control organisation, could in the first instance, suspend the programme concerned – and not the whole network – then impose a fine that can go up to $ 200,000 in the event of a repetition of the offence. In the event of a third offence, on the same grounds within a period of a year, the network involved could see its licence revoked for a period of up to a year. Moreover, the political parties, Trade Unions and civic associations will not be able to create TV or radio networks. Since its creation, in 1994, the RTUK has already suspended, for varying periods of time, 500 radio and TV networks, according to official figures. Apart from the five TV networks belonging to the State company TRT, Turkey boasts 13 national and over 200 local private networks. The number or radio stations is estimated at about 2,500.
• THE FIRST "POLICE BLUNDER " IN ONE OF THE TYPE F PRISONS – AS THE HUNGER STRIKE CLAIMS ITS 26TH VICTIM. According to the Turkish daily Milliyet of 25 June. the Sincar Public Prosecutor’s office has started procedings against seven prison wardens, accused of having beaten up Mehmet Günes, detained in the Sincan type F prison. The "blunder" was revealed when Mr. Günes, shortly after returning from meeting his lawyer, was rushed to the casualty department of Numane Hospital. On the pretext of a surprise search the seven wardens neat up the detainee in his cell safe from prying eyes. The doctors at the casualty department to which he was taken asked that he remain under observation a few daysm but a Gendarmerie major, who happened to be present considering that "there’s nothing the matter with him " sent him back to prison. The forensic doctor prescribed the detainee three days rest. The Public Prosecutor’s Office, while deciding to take proceedings against the seven wardens, concluded that the Gendarme officer was doing his duty in sending the detainee back to prison. On learning that proceedings were beinfg started agaisnt them, the seven wardens decided to sue the detainee, arguing that "it wasn’t we who beat him up – it was he who beat us "!
This is the first case that directly implicates the Type F prisons, whose creation remains highly controversial, as the prisoners fear being subjected to torture and ill treatment in their isolated cells. The hunger strike in the Turkish prisons, launched 253 days ago, continues – to date 26 people have lost their lives in this. The latest victim, Zehra Kulaksiz, died on 29 June at the end of 223 days of hunger strike. The prisoners are protesting against these new Type F jails, consisting of individual cells in which the prisoners can be isolated, demanding the maintainance of the older type, consiisting of dormitories where, being together, they have less to fear from the notoriously arbitrary behaviour of the penitentiary authorities.
• THE ASSYRO-CHALDEAN COMMUNITY BARRED FROM KURDISTAN. The Turkish daily Milliyet of 15 Junem under the headline "Hitler’s ideas persist " denounces the opression suffered by the Assuro-Chaldean community of Kurdistan, through the discretionary and arbitrary decisions of the Turkish Ministry of the Interior. According to the paper, the Turkish Ministry of the Interior has banned all access to the region till the end of the year 2001, particularly to foreigners wishing to go there for scientific research or tourism. One day after the Minister of the Interior’s dismissal from office, the regional authorities were informed that this decision had been amended in certain cases. Whereas Prime Minister Bülent Ecevit has promised that the Assuro-Chaldeans could return to their home region, the Ministry of the Interior remained deaf to this. In new decision, it is laid down that "foreigners should inform the authorities 48 hours in advance " and that "tour operators should be in direct relations with the gendarmerie " and that "it is forbidden to stay there overnight " as well as that "visits must be made accompanied by a guide ".
• FIVE KURDISH VICTIMS OF A MINE EXPLOSION IN KURDISTAN. Five Kurdistan Workers’ party (PKK), of whom three are of Syrian origin, were killed by the Turkish Army on 6 June, in the course of clashes in Hakkari Province. These clashes took place between an Army patrol in a rural area in this province bordering on Iran and Iraq.
Elsewhere, three civilians were killed and five others wounded when a mine exploded in Silopi, on the Iraqi border, on 12 June. A lorry, carrying workers going to do farm work in the fields of the little village of Derebasi, was blown up by a mine. The victims were killed outright.
On 27 June, three Kurdistan Workers’ Party (PKK) fighters were killed by Turkish Army units during clashes in Diyarbekir Province. Furthermore, two soldiers were woundedby a landmine in Sirnak province.
• THE HELLMANN-HAMMETT HUMAN RIGHTS PRIZE AWARDED TO SANAR YURDATAPAN. The Observers’ Committee for Human Rights, based on New York, has decided to award the 2001 Hellmann-Hammett Prize to Sanar Yurdatapan for his activity on behalf of Human Rights in Turkey.
Sanar Yurdatapan is President of the Campaign for Freedom of Expression in Turkey. A court martial is due to pass judgement on this campaign, in which 16 public figures have co-signed a book containing 60 articles written by prisonners of conscience, formerly sentenced by the Turkish courts. The 16 intellectuals are charged on the basis of Article 162 of the Turkish Penal Code, forbidding any reproduction of an article previously condemned by the authorities.
• 277 ILLEGAL MIGRANTS, MAINLY KURDISH, INTERCEPTED IN TURKEY. On 23 June, the Turkish coast guards intercepted, in the Sea of Marmora, 277 illegal migrants, mainly Kurdish, including 35 women and 22 children, on a Ukranian cargo ship going to Italy. The coast guards had received information that those trying to emmigrate were leaving fishing boats to board a cargo ship in the Sea of Marmora, off the coast of the North-Western Turkish province of Tekirdag.
• THE TURKISH ARMY PASSES THE BUCK TO THE GENDARMERIE. On 28 June, Fikret Bila, a journalist on the Turkish daily Milliyet, announced in his column "a new era for the South-East " on the ground that responsibility for controling the Kurdish region will be passing from the regular Army to the Gendarmerie. The journalist reported that, as from 1 September 2001, the responsibility for public order, hitherto vested in the Adana based 6th Army Corps in command of six Kurdish provinces, would pass to the Gendarmerie and that the region inder the control of the 9th Army Corps will follow suit in due course. The journalist stressed that the Turkish Minister of the Interior, Rüstü Kazim Yücelen announced this decision "in view of the successes gained in the struggle against terror " in the regions.