B u l l e t i n

c o m p l e t

Bulletin N° 198 | September 2001



The exceptional period of peace the Iraqi Kurdistan has experienced since the ending of the armed clashes between the forces of the Patriotic Union of Kurdistan (PUK) and the Kurdistan Democratic Party (KDP) has been shattered by bloody operations launched near the Iranian border by a new radical Islamist organisation that has adopted the name of Jund al-Islam (Soldiers of Islam) created with the financial and military backing of Ben Laden.

Attacking a PUK armed unit by surprise in the village of Kheli Haima on 23 September, the Jund al-Islam commando killed 37 soldiers who we beheaded and mutilated with pitiless savagery. The macabre pictures of this massacre were broadcast by the PUK’s TV chanel, KurdSat.

On 24 September the Patriotic Union launched a counter-attack which enabled it to take the martyred town of Halabja, on the Iranian border and controlled for the last six years by the Iranian-backed Movement for Islamic Unity (MIU).

On 30 September as the PUK forces approached the localities of Biyara and Tamela, near the Iranian border, they were met with heavy Iranian artillery fire. An Iranian delegation had visited the PUK leadership the day before to demand that it restore Halabja to its protegé, the MIU,. Faced with the PUK’s refusal Teheran ordered its artillery to remind them of its capacity for being a nuisance and destabilising the area.

Finally, after some tough negotiations, the leaders of the MIU amd PUK signed a new agreement on 15 October at Qasri Chirin, in Iranian Kurdistan, under Iranian patronage. According to United Press International, this agreement stipulates that the Movement for Islamic Unity recognises the PUK as the sole authority in the Kurdish region bordering Iran and submits to its laws. The mediation of the Kurdish Islamic movements thus resulted in a truce in the clashes with the Jund al-Islam.

Founded at the begining of September by the fusion of three tiny extremist Islamic groups, Jund al-Islam has about 400 men under arms, including some Arab “Afghans” whom according to the Arab language daily Al Sharq al-Awsat are 60 strong and have all had military training in Al Qa’ida camps in Afghanistan.

Immediately after its establishment, Jund al-Islam issued a Fatwa (Islamic edict) calling for a Jihad [holy war] against the Kurdish secular parties and the assassination of their leaders. According to the Iraqi Kurdistan press, Ben Laden is said to have sent them $ 300,000 of financial aid.

While moderate Islamism has a certain social base which is shown by its respectable score in the secent municipal elections, violent and extremist Islamism is massively rejected by the Kurdish population. Thus on 1 October 300,000 people demonstrated in the streets of Suleimaniah (whose population is about 1 million) to protest against Jund al-Islam. Mr. Barzani’s Kurdistan Democratic Party offered its rival a financial aid of $ 1.4 million as well as military aid in the form of arms. According to the daily paper Khabat of 13 October, the KDP President expressed his full “political and moral support ” for the PUK adding, however, “we will not be sending our troops to that region because the PUK has large enough armed forces to stop this group ”.

The threat of terrorist actions by groups of Islamist extremists supported or manipulated by regionalist powers has contributed to a clear inprovement in the relations between the two principle Kurdish political parties the run Iraqi Kurdistan. The assassination by Islamists, in February 2001, of the Christian governor of Irbil, Françoois Hariri, a very popular historic leader of the KDP, had provoked a wave of indignation in Kurdistan, the vast majority of whose population is very attached to religious tolerance. The PUK had arrested two of the authors of the attack who were trying to flee to Iran and handed them over to the KDP, which had greatly appreciated this sign of cooperation. Now the KDP is coming to the help of the PUK, in its turn facing fundamentalist attacks.

In this affair Iran’s role is, to say the least, equivocal — officially Iran rejects any accusations of supporting Jund al-Islam and other violent Islamist groups. It remains to be explained how these Arab “Afghans” managed to come and settle along its borders or why Iranian artillery came to their rescue…

On the other hand,Iraq has every reason to support these terrorist groups who, by their actions, could destabilise Kurdistan at a time when the terrorist actions hatched by its secret services are increasingly being foiled by the Kurdish security forces. Some cooperation between Baghdad and Ben Laden’s terrorist multinational seems quite probable.


The 11 September terrorist attacks on the New York World Trade Centre and on the Pentagon have been firmly condemned by the Kurdish political parties, including the PKK which, at Ankara’s request Washinton has long considered a terrorist organisation.

Unlike a number of Moslem countries where the man in the street often seems to sympathise with Ben Laden, in Kurdistan the population is very much opposed to the use of violence in the name of Islam. Consequently we have seen no demonstrations of sympathy for him, either in the street or in the Kurdish media.

In Iranian Kurdistan, the crimes of the State and the massacres committed in the name of political Islam has immunised the population against those who, in the name of a “return to the golden age of the Prophet ” cheerfully massacre all those who do not share their dogmas and points of view.

This was recalled by the KDP of Iran in a communiqué forcefully condemning “the terrorist actions committed against the American civillian population ”, expressingits condolences to the latter. Recalling that it has always rejected terrorism as a form of political action, the KDPI denounces the hypocrisy of the Islamic Republic that, while itself practicing State terrorism, seeks to make amends for its behaviour by condemning the 11 September attacks.

In Iraqi Kurdistan, in a speech delivered before the Kurdistan National Assembly, the President of the Iraqi KDP, Mr. Barzani, expressed himself at length on this issue. The following extracts are translated from the Kurdish daily Brayetî (Brotherhood) of 21 September: “The 11th of September has become a very important day in the history of the world. As we saw, a very grave event that nobody could imagine took place in the USA. It was a terrorist act. A large number of innocent people became the victims of the crime. We express our condolences to the [US] government and the families of the victims. This does not mean that we are adopting a new position. The KDP has always been against terrorism. The Kurds and the KDP have so often been victims of terrorism.

The United States entered World War II after the attack on Pearl Harbour, which is located thousands of kilometres away from the US capital. The USA also went to war in many other parts of the world when its interests came under threat. But this time, the attack was in the heart and capital of the USA. That is why a very strong US reaction is expected.

It is of utmost necessity that all of us follow the events very carefully and wait and see how things develop. Similar to the aftermath of the Gulf War, I think that a new situation will emerge.

Luckily - and I can say this with satisfaction - we, the Kurds and the KDP, have never, at any time, resorted to acts of terrorism and we have always been against it. Although we have been victims of terrorism so many times, our reaction never undermined the high values and morals of Kurdishness and humanity.

Quite often, wars do take place between countries, parties, people and governments; but wars have their rules. Those who do not observe these rules have no religious or human values. The killing of women and children anywhere in the world is a crime that should be condemned, and we condemn it.

The Islamic religion distances itself from such acts and crimes. Islam does not allow the killing of women and children. Those who carry out these acts in the name of Islam, are betraying Islam.

I think that a great duty is placed on the shoulders of the Islamic clergymen, the heads of the Islamic states, parties and political figures to protect Islam [as a religious belief]. Because it is a great injustice and sacrilege to label Muslims as terrorists, just because of the crimes of some confused terrorists who do not have any religion, scruples or humanity.

You all know that we have frequently been asked by journalists and other people whether we were worried by groups emerging in Kurdistan, similar to those in Algeria, and starting to carry out terrorist acts under the veil of Islam. I always said, we do have Islamic parties and organizations, but they are legitimate ones. They carry out their work within the framework of the law. We hope and believe that Kurdistan will never become Algeria or Afghanistan or other places about the situation of which we are all well aware.

Alas, we all saw last year that a group of confused people emerged in Arbil, the capital of Kurdistan, and started bombing places and humiliating the dignified women of this city. They started issuing fatwas as if they were acting of behalf of God and the Prophet. They declare whoever they want as apostates and shed their blood.

Now we hear that they are gathering in the areas of Tawela and Biyarah [on the border with Iran] in order to turn Kurdistan into a base for terrorism and terrorists.

We want to announce that the KDP is insistent on its stance and that we will do our utmost to cooperate with all Kurdistani parties, especially with the Patriotic Union of Kurdistan, to prevent Kurdistan from becoming a base for terrorists under any name or cover. ”

For his part, the PUK’s leader, Mr. J. Talabani, in the course of a meeting of leading public figures of the Halabja area, held in Suleimaniah on 21 September declared, according to the daily KurdistanNuwe :

(…). We believe that anyone can express his thoughts and beliefs freely. We also believe in the freedom of expression of religious beliefs. (…)

However this group [Soldiers of Islam] carries out its actions in the name of Islam. But in reality they are against Islam and are not related to Islamic. One of the proofs of this is that they consider all the secular political parties in Kurdistan as apostates and infidels. The religious scholars are here to judge that the one who accuses Muslims of being infidels is to be condemned and considered as apostate in Islam.

(…) They are a group expelled from cities and towns in the area between Irbil and Balakayati region, and who came and took position there in Biyarah and Tawelah townships in order to create trouble on behalf of foreigners and of a group of confused people against whom the whole world is now standing [a reference to Usama bin Laden’s Al-Qa’idah organization].

The PUK leader condemned “the terrorist actiosn perpetrated in the United States ” and sent his Prime Minister, Dr. Barham Salih, to Washington for discussions with the US political leaders.

In Turkish Kurdistan, where the Hizbullah Islamist movement, actively supported by the police and gendarmerie, assassinated over a thousand Kurdish secular public figures between 1992 and 1998, there are mixed feelings. While condemning the massacre of American civilians in New York and Washington, many people recall that at a time when the Turkish regime, allied to the United States, was bombing and destroying thousands of Kurdish villages with planes “Made in USA”, and deported three million Kurdish civilians, the United States remained strangely silent,showing Turkey the same indulgence as it does towards Israel. The Kurdish press has published a number of articles comparing the silence of the international community at the massacre, by chemical weapons, of 5,000 Kurds at Halabja and the reactions to the massacre in New York and Washington to deplore the fact that, apparently, the life of a Kurd or a Rwandan, clearly is not worth as much as that of an American.

On the political side, the leaders of the pro-Kurdish HADEP party condemned “the blind and barbarous Islamist terrorism ” which, through a boomerang effect, is now striking the United States. The PKK chief, from the depths of his Imrali prison, sent an article to the Kurdish daily Ozgur Politika, which is published in Germany, commenting on the 11 September events in these terms: “The green poker now burns the hands of its American sponsors ”. Ocalan recalled the “green belt ” policy evolved by Washington in Moslem countries, which consisted of promoting Islamic fundamentalist movements as a dam against nationalist or communist movements suspected of anti-Americanism.

The main organisations of the Kurdish diaspora also made a point of condemning the 11 September attacks and expressing their condolences to the American people and authorities.


On 3 October, the Turkish Parliament passed by 474 votes to 16 against a series of 34 amendments to the findamental law proclaimed by the Army in 1982 after its 1980 coup d’état .

Even though the adoption of these amendments is a significant democratic advance, a number of political analysts express their scepticism regarding the extent of the real changes that will follow. The Kurds, while officially authorised to broadcast in their language may see these broadcasts banned for “reasons of national security and for the protection of public order ”. Questioned on this point, the Turkish Armed Forces Chief of Staff, General Huseyin Kivrioglu, declared “the Constitution has been amended, but to my knowledge there remain clauses in the law regarding the organs of control of radio and television (RTUK) which lay down that the language of all broadcasts is the Turkish language. So long as these clauses exist, it would be inexact to think that Kurdish language broadcasts are free. Moreover the same restriction exists in Article 42 of the Constitution ”. Above all, education in Kurdish is still forbidden. The over 15 million Kurds continue to be deprived of the right to transmit their several thousand year old language and culture to their children while a country like Algeria, which is neither a member of NATO nor a candidate for membership of the European Union is preparing to recognise Berber as an official language and encourage its use in education.

As for the death sentence, it will be limited to “acts of terrorism and treason ”. However, the majority of prisoners in death row have been sentenced for ‘crimes’ related to terrorism amd treason i.e. the recent armed struggle. The reform, in principle, makes it harder to ban political parties and eliminates certain limitations on freedom of expression, increases the rights of Trade Unions and voluntary organisations. It also reduces the period of detention without charge from 15 to 4 days. But, contrary to what has been announced, the members of parliament did not want to alter the rigid law regarding their immunity and even voted themselves a generous increase in pay … The Turkish Parliament also rejected an amendment stipulating that, in cases of conflict between national and international law, the latter takes precedance, although this clause is indispensible for making Turkish legislation conform to that of the European democracies.

Because of this restriction, these reforms have had a very lukewarm reception, while being welcomed as a step forward on the way to Turkey’s membership of the European Union. It was not even dignified, the next day, by front page treatment in the press, which was more interested in the rejection of an amendment aiming at blocking the return to political life (despite the law) of Recep Tayyip Erdogan, leader of the islamist Justice and Development Party (AKP).

For Turkish liberals, it is absolutely insufficient. Whereas the government had widely insisted on the need for Parliament to adopt this reform reapidly, before the publication of the periodic European Commission report, due out in November, on the state of progress of Turkey’s applicationfor membership.

In the view of Husnu Ondul, President of the Turkish Human Rights Association (IHD), the reform is “an encouraging development ”, even if it does not go far enough.He also pointed out that the abolition of the death sentence “does not correspond to European standards ”. “Hitherto, Turkish constitutions have been drawn up following coups d’états and obeyed by civilians. This state of affairs is, henceorth, a matter of the past ” he neverhteless pointed out.

The Human Rights defence organisation, Human Rights Watch (HRW) is much more severe, considering that Turkey “has missed a great opportunity ” because “the whole reform package will retain the death sentence, restrictions on freedom of expression and continue to deprive detainees of any real protectionagainst torture ”.

Once these amendment have been approved by the President, the M.P.s will also be able to amend the Civil and Penal Codes — which may take another year…

The obstacle race began on 16 October, with the call by the Turkish President for a referendum on an amendment regarding an increase in the pay of Members of Parliament. Tension further increased when the Government decided, the next day, to send the question back to the President for “for second thoughts ” instead of revising the amendment or starting preparations for a referendum. Thus the Turkish Government has chosen temporaroly to suspend the publication, in the Official Gazette of the constitutional amendments that the President has already endorsed, although these is no legal ruling that provides for such action.

Article 175 of the Constitution, drawn up by the Army junta in 1982, empowers the President to accept the amendments as a whole, to veto them as a whole, to send it back to Parliament for another reading or, again, to accept some articles and sumit the others to a referendum. The Constitution only allows two outcomes to sucha situation: to accept the President’s decision by the Prime Minister ordering publication of the 33 Articles approved in the Official Gazette and so starting the 120 day procedure for holding a referendum on the disputed article or else to suspend publication while the amendment in question is readjusted, thus invlidating the President’s call for a referendum.

The Turkish government, by reinterpreting a clause of the Constitution, delares, for its part that the President can only call for a referendum on the Bill as a whole, and nor on a single clause. Analysts note, however, that by suspending publication and sending the disputed article back “for second thoughts ” the government is contradicting itself, since, if the constitutional amendments are to be regarded as indivisible, a referendum would have to be held on the package as a whole.

The Turkish executive has been in crisis since the election of Ahmet Nejet Sezer, former President of the Constitutional Court, to the `Turkish Presidency. In February 2001, the President and Prime Minister Bülent Ecevit had even openly and publicly clashed during a meeting of the National Security Council (MGK), The Turkish Government seems to be already launching an anti-Sezer campaign in this media that support the coalition. Some papers have started to highlight the Prsident’s salary. Thus the Turkish daily Hurriyet, on 17 October, wrote that Mr. Sezer had “increased his salary by 58% ”, others write that he M.P.s earn 3.2 billion LT ($2,000) while the president has increased his salary to 6.3 billion, but without specifying whether this is gross or net salary.


On Saturday 1st September, the police arrested hundreds of people in Turkey on the occasion of the annual rally, in Ankara, of the pro-Kurdish People’s Democratic Party (HADEP), held to celebrate World Peace Day.

The day before, across the whole country, thousands of Kurds had been talen in for questioning — in their homes or at bus stations, to prevent them from attending the Ankara rally. Clashes took place between HADEP members and the police as the former were getting ready to get on buses going to the capital from Istanbul and Diyarbekir. According to a HADEP spokes-person, the police “arrested the bus drivers, confiscated the vehicles’ papers and the driving licences. They told the companies (with which HADEP had contracted to organise its members’ journey) that they would not be going anywhere ”. The same spokes-person denounced this incident as a direct infringement of their right to freedom of movement.

After these incidents, major security measures were taken for 1st September. According to a Turkish daily, five thousand police were deployed in Ankara. Very early in the morning, all buses on the roads leading to Ankara were systematically stopped and checked, and any “suspicious ” passengers taken into detention. Similar identity checks and arrests took place in the streets of Ankara all through the day. Since the prisons in the capital were soon filled, the Turkish authorities had to send arrested demonstrators to gendarmerie stations in the surrounding countryside.

As in Ankara, Istanbul and South-Eastern towns with a mainly Kurdish population were the scene of clashes between the police and pro-Kurdish activists. At Batman the police went into action against HADEP members, claiming that the Press Conference that they planned to hold was illegal. Their action resulted in about twenty of the demonstrators being injured. Similarly the police acted massively against demonstrations in the near-by town or Siirt. As for Istanbul, some 1,000 sympathisers, including leading officials of the party, were incarcerated, according to a HADEP spokes-person. In the Topkapi distrtict of Istanbul, the riot police acted against a crowd oe 350 demonstrators who were shouting pro-Kurdish slogans and throwing stones at the polce. It responded by throwing tear gas bombs at the demonstrators, who sought refuge in adjacent streets.

Finally HADEP, which calls for cultural rights for the Kurds, was obliged to cancel its rally in the capital. The party refused to undertake any action liable to endanger civil peace.

The Ankara authorities had rejected the request for authorisation of HADEP’s rally, citing the possibility of serious public disorder, on the basis of Article 17 of the law regarding public meeting and protest marches.

Although the events of this World Peace Day were only briefly reported in the principal Turkish national papers (often relegated to the back pages) the consequences are serious: several injured and one death amongst the demonstrators. Zeynel Durmus, 19 years of age, died last Friday by falling from the 5th floor of the HADEP premises in Istanbul — a raid that resulted in several dozen arrests. Subsequently the gendarmerie interferred woith the Durmus’ funeral by stopping the procession at the entrance to his home town of Sanliurfa. “Out of some 500 people arrested in Istanbul, including regional leaders of the party, 300 remain in detention and one of our activists is in hospital in a serious condition ” declared Halil Salik, regional secretary of HADEP, at a Press Conference in Istanbul. “Just in the city of Ankara, over 2,700 people were detained ” Mehmet Emin, Ankara regional secretary, pointed our to the French News Agency, AFP, “and at least 3 of them are still in police hands ”.

In Diyarbekir, the capital of Turkish Kurdistan, last Friday, 31 August, the police fired into the air to disperse 3,000 people who were shouting slogans in support of the jailed PKK chief, Ocalan, despite warning from the security forces and HADEP representatives.

Interviewed by the daily paper Milliyet , on Monday 3 September, Murat Bozlak, General Secretary of HADEP, stressed that at no time since the party’s formation, in 1994, had members of their political movement considered themselves as belonging to a Kurdish party: “We are not an ethnic nationalist party (…) When our party was formed, the South-East was in the middle of an armed conflict. We spoke openly about the problems that our Kurdish compartiots faced ” , “We are not an extention of an illegal party (PKK) ” , “we are for the unity of the country ”.

World Peace Day, on 1st September, has become a traditional day of protest for Kurdish activists demanding cultural rights or autonomy, for the fifteen million Kurds in Turkey. Amongst their immediate demands are the free use of the Kurdish language in the educational system and the media (objectives with which the European, that Turkey is trying to join, agrees).

The day also represents the second anniversary of the PKK’s decision to abandon the armed struggle: in 1999, the Kurdish chief, Oclan, had orfered his PKK party members to abandon all armed action against the Turkish security forces by 1 September at the latest. Since that date, fighting between Turkish Army and PKK forces have died down, despite the fact that Turkey considers the unilateral withdrawal of the PKK as a plot and refuses to respect any cease fire. The PKK states that it has abandonned armed struggle for an independent Kurdistan and now only calls for cultural rights for the Kurds in Turkey.


On 10 October, the Turkish Parliament passed a Bill authorising the government to send special units to Afghanistan in the context of the US led anti-terrorist campaign in that country. Despite strong opposition from public opinion, the Turkish Parliament passed this measure by 319 for and 101 against. Two Members abstained.

Turkey, which is a member of NATO, has not offered regular troops but the authorities have announced that two regiments of the special units were ready to leave to train fighters of the Northern Alliance, the principle force fighting against the Talibani in Afghanistan. Turkey claims to have close ethnic links with the Usbak minority of Northern Afghanistan and also proposes to distribute humanitarian aid there.

A faithful ally of Washington, Turkey had sent a contingent to fight in Korea and, more recently in Somalia, Bosnia and Kosovo. The government has expressed its support, in general terms for “the international struggle ” against terrorism in a communiqué published after a crisis meeting just after the first strikes. But the government has also to take into account nationalist sentiments and also a feeling of Moslem solidarity in a section of the population, even if the Talibani regime enjoys very little sympathy. Thus the leader of one of the two islamist aprties in Parliament, Recai Kutan of the Happiness party (SP — 48 out of a total of 550 M.P.s) has questioned the legitimacy of the strikes.

The leader of the Justice and Development Party (AK — 52 M.P.s), the other Islamist party, which takes a resolutely modernist stand, remained cautious, abstaining from commenting directly on intervention in Afghanistan. “We are against all forms of terrorism. We are infavour of an international struggle against terrorism ” declared its President, Recep Tayyip Erdogan, the former Mayor of Istanbul.

As for the feelings of the man in the street in Istanbul, they oscillate between the cecessity for intervention against the Talibani and fear of a widening of the conflict to neighbouring countries, such as Iraq.


On Saturday 1 September,he harbour authorities of the port of Crotona announced the arrival of a boat with 292 illegal immigrants aboard, mainly Kurdish, at about 5 am GMT. The Italian authorities had spotted the vessel, in the evening of Friday 31 August, off the Calabrian coast. They had escorted it into port and arrested six people suspected of being part of the crew who had brought the immigrants to Italy. On inspection, they noticed that the boat was in good condition and clean, even inside it. This suggested that it had only been used for the last stage of the journey.

On 5 September, 215 illegal immigrants, mostly Kurds but also including Afghans, were picked up in the early hours on a beach of the island of Eubeia (North-Est of Athens). As for the crew of the boat, it was placed under arrest, an offical of the Merchant Marine Ministry specified to the French News Agency AFP. Amongst the immigrants disembarked at Mandoudi (in the North-East of the island) were 13 women and 12 children. They seemed in good health, though mostly famished on arrival in Greece. The Greek authorities arrested them and accomodated them in a Mandoudi gymnasium. They were then transferred to a training centre in the same village.

The three Turkish smugglers were also arrested. They acknowledged having “facilitated the departure of the emmigrants ” for a price of $1,500 per head, according to a Ministry official.

The port authorities are still hunting for other immigrants (the total number of immigrants on the Turkish boat is said to have been 350). Five bodies were also found last Tuesday and there is increasing fear of finding other drowned people. Contradictory evidence regarding these five bodies have been recorded by the Greek authorities. Some state that the five dead ilegals had died of suffocation and that the crew had thrown them overboard.

On 19 September, the bodies of four Kurds from Turkey were recovered from the sea after the survivors of some 75 Kurds landed at Lecce. These refugees, victims of the Albanian and Turkish mafia who abandonned them in the middle of the Mediterranean, declared: “We were made to board two boats in groups of 37 and 38, athough the boats’ capacities were only 20 persons each. Near the Vilore peninsula, one of them began to sink. Four men, armed with automatic weapons and walkie-talkieswere in charge of us. We think they were Albanian police in plain clothes. We drew close to the boat and two people climbed on board — we tried to save the others but these men prevented us. We were able to recover four bodies but seven others remain missing. The four armed men prevented the survivors from boarding with kicks, shouting: ‘They’ll make us sink as well’ ”.

The Italian police handed the Kurdish refugees back to the Albanian authorities, who sent them back to Turksy one by one, while the mafia networks are left undisturbed by either Turkish or Albanian authorities.


The Iraqi Government is continuing its policy of displacing Kurds and non-Arab minorities from the Kurdish regions under its control. The London based Arabic language paper Al-Zaman reports that, on 4 October, the Iraqi authorities warned 400 Kurdish and Turkoman families that they would be subjected to displacement orders in the course of the coming month.

Over the last three years, the Iraqi authorities, in order to Arabise the Kurdish regions that they control (particularly the oil-rich Kirkuk governorate), have intensified their policy of population displacement. Arab families from Southern Iraq and transferred and settled in the place of the expelled Kurds. The PUK’s Kurdish language daily, Kurdistani Nuwe , reports in its 5 september issue, that “the Iraqi Government has recently gathered 37 families of its Arab employees, coming from different towns, and transplanted them to Kirkuk, with several special privilages such as job promotion, cash grants etc. ”. Kurdistani Nuwe also reports that the Iraqi Government recently published new decrees regarding this policy. According to the paper “in the middle of August 2001, a directive issued by the (Iraqi) President’s Office, Reference N° 43107, addressed to the Ministry of the Interior, which forwarded it to the local authorities concerned for execution, demands that pressure be brought to bear on members of families that have changed their Kurdish ethnic identities for Arab ones, but retained either Kurdish names or names referring to Kurdish regions or mountains, to make them translate their names into Arabic or find themselves Islamic names ”.

Since the last census, four years ago, the Iraqi authorities have distributed, amongst the non-Arab communities of the Kurdish regions that they control, a special form entitled “Form for the correction of nationality (i.e. ethnic origin)”. Those who refused to change their origins were expelled, after having all their propoerty confiscated, to the either the autonomous Kurdish regions or to Central or Southern Iraq.

In August, the Centre for Resistance to Ethnic Cleaning and Forced Displacement, located at Suleimaniya, attacked this Iraqi policy in a memorandum addressed to the UN General Secretary, the UN Security Council, the President of the United States and international Human Rights organisations. This memorandum particularly stresses Iraq’s recent policy aimed at encouraging Palestinians to come and settle in the Kurdish regions under their control.

Over the last few years several Kurdish sources of information have reported the settlement of Palestinians, already living in Iraq, in the Baghdad contolled Kurdish regions. However, this information has not been confirmed by independent sources.

A decree of the Revolution Command Council, the highest political authority in Iraq, published on 7 September officialises the incitement of Iraqis to change their ethnic identity to to being Arab.

According to the secretary of the Iraqi Kurdistan National Assembly, the judge Farast Ahmed, quoted by the London-based Arabic language paper Al-Sharq al-Awsat “although the decree itself refers to voluntary change of national identity, the reality, in Iraq, is the complete opposite. The authorities take strict measures to force non-Arabs to change their national identity ”. He adds that the new decree “will deal a severe blow to fraternal relations between all the nationalities in Iraq ”.

The Iraqi Communist Party, which is opposed to the Baghdad regime, said it considered the decree to be part and parcel of present Iraqi policy of changing the ethnic character of the region adjoining the autonomous region of Iraqi Kurdistan. In a communiqué published on that occasion it denounced “the policy of ethnic purification and the forced deportation of Kurds, Turcomen and Assyrians ”

Moreover, a source close to the regional government of Kurdistan run by the KDP has confirmed a report dated 14 September in the above mentioned paper, Al-Sharq Al-Awsat, that Iraqi Army units had recently annexed Kurdish villages under the control of the Kurdish administration.

This source indicated that these Iraqi units, stationed along the line separating the region run by the Kurdish administration from the rest of Iraq, had annexed, the previous week, the village of Saadawa, located 17 Km South-East of Irbil. It said that the Iraqi authorities had brought 30 Arab families of the Hadaddin tribe and settled them in the village after avacuating the Kurdish inhabitants. It added that seven other villages had been warned by the Iraqi authorities that they would have to evacuate their village. According to Al-Sharq Al-Awsat, 30 villages have been annexed since the beginning of the year. The process of annexation consists of shelling the village, forcing the inhabitants to flee and then occupying them and expelling those villagers who still remained.

For its part, the Internet site of the PUK reported, on 14 October, that the Iraqi authorities “are building 500 houses in the regions of Kurdistan (under Baghdad’s control), 250 houses in the village of Gurgayee and 250 others in the village of Sheikhan and in the small town of Altun Kopri, which will be given free of charge to Arab colonists. The plan is to bring 2000 Arab families from Mossul to Kirkuk as part of the current Arabisation plan.


THE UNITED STATES PROMISE TO MAINTAIN THE PROTECTION OF THE IRAQI KURDS. In the course of a series of meetings in Washington between a joint delegation of Iraqi Kurds and American representatives, the latter “reaffirmed their promise to protect the Kurdish region against any agression, and their support for continuing (to devote) 13% of the revenues of the “Food for Oil” programme to food for the region ” according to the English language newsletter on the PUK’s Internet site on 10 October.

The Kurdish delegation, which included the head of the Suleimaniah regional government, Dr. Barham Salih, and a senior representative of the KDP, Mr. Hoshyar Zebari, had a series of meeting with White House officials and representatives of the State Department, : Ambassador Crocker, Assistant Secretary of State for Near Eastern Affairs; Ambassador Woods, Assistant Secretary of State for internations organisations; Ambassador Richard Haas, Assistant Secretary of State for political action planning; Dr. Zilmas Khalilzad, President George Bush’s assistant for Middle Eastern Affairs and John Hanna, Director of Middle Eastern Affairs of the Vice-President’s Office.

The Kurdish delegation also discussed the worries of the Kurds of Iraq regarding the present international situation, particularly if Iraq were to become a target in the war against terrorism and the emergence of Islamic radicalism in Iraqi Kurdistan, with the American officials.

SEPTEMBER’S ASSESSMENT OF HUMAN RIGHTS VIOLATIONS IN TURKEY. On 15 October, the Diyarbekir branch of the Human Rights Association (IHD) made public its report on Human Rights violations in September. The Association, through its spokesman osman Baydemir, denounced the increase in violations since the terrorist attacks of 11 September in the United States and declared that “violations of the right to life, to security and cases of torture have increased inan alarming manner ”. The report is summarised as follows:

Number of “unsolved” murders or of summary executions..........................7 Number of victims of land mines................................................2 Number of people taken into detention........................................200 Number of people tortured or subjected to degrading treatment.................37 Number of publications banned in the State of Emergency Regionm (OHAL)........29 Number of theatrical plays banned

AS FAR AS THE TURKISH AUTHORITIES ARE CONCERNED, THE TREATMENT AND REHABILITATION OF TORTURE VICTIMS IN TURKEY IS AN “ILLEGAL ACTIVITY ”. On 9 September, premises of the Diyarbekir branch of the Turkish Human Rights Foundation (IHV), that specialises in the treatment and rehabilitation of torture victims in Turkey, was stormed by the Turkish police. When the head of the organisation denounced the flagrant illegality of the operation, carried out with any search warrant, the police obtained one two hours later. The search warrant, issued by the Public Prosecutor’s Office, described the treatment of torture victims as an “illegal activity ”. In violation of all rules of professional secrecy, the files on all the patients and information on the doctors treating them were confiscated on the demand of the Public Prosecutor. The Foundation fears that the patients and medical staff will be exposed to harrassment, arrest or even yet more torture. The police also confiscated certain banned papers — although the posession of such material is not an offence in Turkey.

Created in 1990, the Foundation has been conducting, from its inception, a programme for the treatment and rehabilitation of torture victims. In the year 2000, over a thousand people attended on or other of the five existing treatment centres. The Diyarbekir branch, founded in 1998, plays a crucial role in the treatment and rehabilitation of torture victims in Kurdistan, where torture and ill-treatment are particularly endemic. In 1998, the Foundation received the Council of Europe’s Human Rights Prize for “its exeptional contribution to the protection of Human Rights in Turkey and its struggle for the abolition of torture ”. Amnesty International has attacked these proceedings against the Foundation and called for the mobilisation of public opinion on this question.

THE TURKISH HOUSING AND PUBLIC WORKS MINISTER RESIGNS. Koray Aydin, Turkish Minister for Housing and Public Works, announced his resignation — an fresh stage in the fight against corruption demanded by the International Monetary Fund (IMF) for helping Turkey in its economic crisis. Mr. Aydin, fromm the National Action Party (MHP — neo-fascist) which is a part of Bülent Ecevit’s government coalition, announced his resignation from both his position as Minister and as Member of Parliament following a vast police enquiry into corruption in his Ministry launched on 22 August last. He thus shares the fate of the Minister of Power, Cumhur Ersumer, forced to resign at the end of April 2001 after a similar enquiry and of Enis Oksuz and Yuksel Yalova, respectively Ministers of Transport and of Privatisation.

Mr. Aydin is thus the fifth Minister to leave the government since the acute economic crisis that hit the country at the end of February, with a drop in the value of the Turkish lira of about 50% and the upsetting of all the country’s economic objectives.

Mr. Aydin’s reputation was tarnished by an equiry that led to the arrest of several people in his Ministry, including an Under-Secretary of State. A network involved in irregularities to favour some 200 companies was thus said to have been broken up. Mr. Aydin is, in particular, suspected of having given public contracts to compaies that were not qualified to bid. The Turkish press accused Mr. Aydin, a former businessman, of having received commissions on several public contracts and directed the winning contractors to subcontract work to his father’s tile-making company.

The Islamic Happiness Party (Saader) had tabled a motion of censure to strip him of office. According to analysts, the economic crisis has provoked a change in Turkish political mores, at least in so far as the fact that, in the past, the resignation of Ministers was very rare. Prime Minister Bülent Ecevit hailed, before the Press his Minister’s “very honorable attitude ” and thanked him for his “good work ”.

ONE YEAR OF HUNGER STRIKES IN TURKEY’S PRISONS. A year after its was launched, on 20, October 2000, the movement of hunger strikes of detainees who are members of clandestine extreme Left Turkish organisations is continuing regardless. Seventy two prisoners or members of their families have died since a military operation against 20 prisons took place on 19 December last. An operation in which 30 detainees (and two gendarmes) were killed. Since then 41 prisoners or members of their families have died from their prolongued fasts, the latest having died on 18 October. And a hunger striker has burnt himself to death during a police attack on the funeral of one of them.

The movement, aiming at protesting against the setting up of isolation cells for between one and three detainees, the co-called “type F” cells, in place of the huge dormitories previously used, was intensified after the introduction of the systemin December and seems inextricable.

“The way out is to suppress the type F cells ”declared Mehmet Bekaroglu, member of the Parliamentary Human Rights Commission. He suggests, failing that, “to arrange premises amd alter the regulations so that the detainees could, in small numbers and for a limited period, have some activities together ”. But knowing that Ankara refuses any concessions, he hastens to criticise a “State obsessed by security and careless of human lives ”.

In the absence of any dialogue on the basic issues, since the Minister of Justice, Hikmet Sami Tuek, thunders that the ‘reform’ will be pushed through to the end, there only remains a debate, which is agitating the medical profession, on whether to act on those hunger strikers who have lost control of their faculties so as to prevent any more deaths. The Minister of Justice, moreover has started proceedings against the Medical Practitioners Union for “failing to assist people attempting to to commit suicide ” and has conditionally released hunger strikers for up to sic months in the most incurable cases.

There are nearly 300 detainees in this situation, according to the Turkish Human Rights Association, which calculates some 200 detainees are striking “to death ” in the prison. Twenty five are also fasting outside — prisoners or members of their families.

37 PERSONS IN THE HADEP OFFICES OF IZMIR TAKEN IN FOR QUESTIONING AND 3 DEATHS DURING CLASHES IN SILVAN. On 17 October, the Turkish police took 37 people in for questioning, mostly members of the People’s Democratic Party (HADEP) in the course of a raid on the party’s premises at Cigli, in Izmir province, during a political education seminar aimed at leadersof the youth branch of HADEP. The police gave no reason for this operation. According to HADEP, amongst those taken in were 30 leaders of the youth branch of HADEP as well as other pro-Kurdish activists and guests to the seminar.

HADEP is regularly the target of harassment by the authorities who accuse it of collusion with the Kurdistan Workers’ Party (PKK). HADEP, which argues in favour of more freedom and cultural liberties, reburrs this accusation. It is facing legal proceedings aomed at banning it for these alleged links with the PKK.

‘In another part of the forest’ three Kurdistan Workers’ Party fighters, including a woman, were killed and two soldiers wounded in a clash during the night od 16/17 October, in Diyarbekir Province.

THE TURKISH AUTHORITIES FEAR AN AMERICANO-BRITISH ACTION IN IRAQ. Speaking on the American news network CNN, Turkish Prime Minister Bülent Ecevit devlared, on 16 October, that he was definately opposed to any action against Iraq. Interviewed by Larry King, B. Ecevit said: “I hope that there will be no action because this would greatly destabilise our region, the Middle East, and could lead to the partition of Iraq which could create problems for Turkey, its independence and its territorial integrity ”.

Moreover, relations between the Turkish authorities and Massoud Barzani’s Kurdistan Democratic Party (KDP) have been going through a period of tension since the KDP refused to cooperate with the Turkish Army during their interventions in Iraqi Kurdistan. The Turkish authorities criticised the KDP for its lack of coordination which, according to Ankara, was responsible for the death, two weeks ago, of three members of the Turkish special forces from a land mine explosion in the region of Berwari. The KDP, for its part, retorted that there was no justifiable reason for the intervention of Turkish troops in their region, especially as the PKK presence is much more tangible near the Iranian borders, where the Turkish Army never intervenes.

TURKEY CLOSES ITS BORDERS WITH IRAQI KURDISTAN. The London-based independent Iraqi Press Agency, Iraq Press, reported on 3 October that the Turkish authorities had closed the border between Iraq nad Turkey, only letting Turkish citizens returning to their country through.

Since the end of the Gulf War, Iraqi oil has been exported through this border post, with the unofficial consent of the UN Sanctions Committee. Located in the region under Kurdish administration, this broder crossing is a vital financial resource for the working of the regional government of Kurdistan, run by the KDP, as it ensures payment of the wages of several tens of thousands of its personnel as well as reconstruction and development projects in the region.

The closing of this border crossing comes at a time when Iraqi Kurdistan faces, in any way, a substantial reduction in oil products following the decision of the Iraqi government to cut the oil trade with the autonomous region of Iraqi Kurdistan. According to Al-Zaman , a London=based Arabic language newspaper, and dated 4 October, the price of petrol had quadrupled in th Kurdish region following the application of the Iraqi decision, and the price of basic necessities is also likely to rise. Turkey has acquired a habit of closing this border post from time to time, as a means of putting pressure on theKDP every time the latter takes further measures to consolidate the autonomy of Iraqi Kurdistan.

According to a Kurdish source, one of the reasons of this measure by the Turkish authorities could be a retaliation against the KDP, following the latter’s action to stop the traffic in visas to enter Turkey organised by certain Turkoman parties and Turkish officials on the other side of the border, with whom they shared the profits, to encourage the flow of Iraqi Kurdish refugees to Europe.

AFTER DRUG TRAFFICKING TURKEY IS NOW TENDING TO BECOME THE CENTRE OF ILLEGAL DEALING IN NUCLEAR MATERIALS. According to the English Language paper Turkish Daily News of 12 September, which reproduced an item from the influential American paper New York Times , 104 attempts to smuggle nuclear material through Turkey have been recorded over the last eight years, according to an internal report by Turkish atomic energy authorities. The New York Times states that uranium is smuggled from Europe to the Caucasian and Central Asian countries and to Turkey. The paper adds that Washington has responded to the problem by sending detection equipment to the value of several millions of dollars to some countries in the region.

Furthermore, the International Atomic Energy Agency, on 7 September, published fresh figures showing that the number of confirmed cases of smuggling nuclear material has dropped everywhere in the world except for Turkey, the Caucasus and Central Qasia, where they are on the increase.

In September 1987, eight people were arrested for “smuggling nuclear material ”. The material came from Russia and was transisting through Turkey for an unknown destination. The police seized 6 Kg of Uranium 235 and 30 gr of a plutonium mixture. In May 1999, a Turk was arrested at the Bulgarian border with a small quantity of enriched uranium.


Ms. Nasreen M. Sideek is Minister of Reconstruction and Development in the Kurdistan Regional Government, led by the Kurdistan Democratic Party, KDP, based in Arbil. A graduate at Harvard University's Kennedy School of Government in public administration, with ten years of experience in relief operation in Iraqi Kurdistan, she is responsible for rural development, the reconstruction of hundreds of communities and resettlement of thousands of families.

Since the implementation of the UN Resolution 986, commonly known as oil for food programme, the humanitarian situation in Iraqi Kurdistan has been witnessing a significant improvement. In this interview, Nasreen M. Sideek gives an account of the process of reconstruction and development in Iraqi Kurdistan.

Having been involved in relief operation in Iraqi Kurdistan since 1991, how do you assess the achievements of international NGOs in Iraqi Kurdistan and what are the changes that occurred in their work since the implementation on UN resolution 986, oil-for-food programme, began in late 1996?

International NGOs, especially during the period 1991 up until the oil-for-food program began, have provided their valuable presence and significant assistance when we needed it the most. During this period the UN had a very limited presence compared to the twelve UN agencies and the tremendous resources that they administer in Iraqi Kurdistan today. During those less stable seven or so years, international NGOs are to be credited with saving lives through their food and health assistance to more vulnerable groups. They are to be strongly credited with the reconstruction of hundreds of village communities and the resettling of thousands of families. International NGOs formed the backbone of relief and rehabilitation efforts before the oil for food program began.

But since the oil-for-food program began, many international NGOs left the region largely because their funding has diminished, even though there are priority areas and important activities that the oil-for-food program is not addressing and there is still a very vital role for them to play. For one very important reason their presence is important. The UN is increasingly viewed as not only managing the 986 programme on behalf of the Iraqi government, but working FOR the Iraqi government, which does not have the best interests of the people as priority. Unlike the UN, the focus of international NGOs is more on the people and less on themselves.

What are the sectors that your ministry covers, and what is the percentage of projects, which are financed from your Ministry's budget, compared to those funded within the framework of the oil for food programme?

My ministry, the Ministry of Reconstruction and Development, focuses on rural reconstruction and development. With over 4,000 of some 5,000 villages destroyed throughout the region(1) and more than 23% of the population still internally displaced [800,000 persons among 3.5 million are displaced], even though the international NGOs have been very helpful and supportive in reconstructing many of them [before the implementation of the UN Resolution 986], there is still much work remaining to be done. The oil for food program is providing tens of millions of dollars to construct houses, water systems, schools, health centres, village access roads, municipal services, irrigation channels, veterinary centres, and many other activities that support families to return and remain in their original rural communities.

My ministry’s annual budget is not fixed but for the last two years it has been around 60 million Iraqi dinars, about $3.5 million, per year. The budget covers: projects direct implementation, administration cost which includes running costs and salaries for more than 1,600 staff members (300 engineers, 500 admin. staff, 800 technician, operators, drivers). More than 40% of my work force is women including engineers, computer operators, technician and administration staff.

For the past four years, more than $250 million (around $60 million per year) had been allocated for the settlement rehabilitation sector within the oil for food programme.

Does your ministry have any kind of cooperation with the Kurdish administration based in Suleimaniya?

There is increasing cooperation with the administration in Suleimaniya. For instance, last week I went to Suleimaniya to participate in a meeting with counterpart and UN officials on improving planning capabilities for the region. This is a very important issue in our programme and I believe that reaching a joint understanding and position on the planning of resources and on setting a joint policy on the reconstruction and rehabilitation programme is very crucial at this stage. I was accompanied by a deputy minister, and the Suleimaniya side were three ministers relevant to the sector. The atmosphere was very cordial and both sides where on the same front facing the UN. We presented common ideas and positions on the future of the sector and a new operational and management mechanism was presented where the role of the two administrations will be more active.

The Suleimaniya team will visit Arbil next week to further discuss the new plan and to meet the UN in Arbil this time.

Are the UN projects implemented on the basis of current requirements or according to medium or long-term planning?

It's been nearly five years since the oil-for-food program began and we are still functioning more according to current requirements than according to medium or long-term planning. But there is an effort going on now to move toward a forward-looking policy-making and planning process to replace the current ad hoc, shopping list approach. The UN is involved and supportive of this change and we look forward to establishing a sound basis on which to proceed and integrate activities across sectoral lines.

How has the implementation of the UN oil-for-food programme contributed in generating an economic development in the region?

Unemployment still remains high and family incomes remain low. But the oil-for-food program has definitely helped to arrest the desperate struggle of many families in the region for their daily bread. Much more food is being produced in the region, more variety and more quantity, and prices have been controlled and even reduced. For example, before the oil for food program began chicken cost about 40 dinars per kilo. As a result of assistance provided to poultry farms under the oil-for-food program the price of chicken has come down to a much more affordable 15 dinars per kilo.

There are extensive construction works being done with oil-for-food resources, and also with KRG resources. This is providing substantial work and income for engineers, skilled and unskilled labor, traders and transporters of building materials, and equipment operators. Most of the main road improvements and the recent installation of digital telephone exchanges have been completed with Kurdistan Regional Governmentís resources, not oil-for-food funds, and these have contributed significantly to reduction in transport costs and increased economic activities.

However, most important public services are provided by [regional] government civil staff who are inadequately compensated for their important services. The limited sources of revenue for the KRG are neither stable nor sufficient to offer adequate compensation to more than 100,000 civil service staff. Despite continuing attempt to persuade the UN to offer modest incentives from 986 funds, this goal has yet to be attained.

What would be the impact of an eventual suspension of the UN programme in Iraqi Kurdistan on the Kurdish administration and population? Would it create social instability that could lead to further mass emigration from the region to the West?

The impact of suspension/termination of the oil-for-food program without security guarantees, and a guarantee of a fair share of Iraqi income from the sale of oil, would be devastating. This fear is a key factor behind the current migration from the region, the fear that the growth and stability that the region currently enjoys will not continue.

State of reconstruction of villages in the region of Kurdistan

under Kurdish administration since 1991.
Governorate Initial Number of Villages Villages rebuilt Villages destroyed Villages to be rebuilt
Duhok 1123 809 470 339
Irbil 1497 1205 800 405
Suleimaniah 2035 1992 1353 640
Total 4655 4006 2623 1386
Source: Ministry of Reconstruction and Development

1. Rural society was destroyed by the campaign waged in 1988 by the Iraqi Government that displaced and caused the disappearence of 189,000 Kurdish civilians and destroyed their villages.

Projects financed by Security Council Resolution 986 (Food for Oil) 1997-2001.
Type of ProjectTotal Number
Housing Units 25,500
Schools 400
Medical Centres 150
Roads (in Km) 3,600
Hydraulic Projects 700
Miscellaneous 250
Total Value in US $ 250,000,000.


(1). The rural community was devastated by the Iraqi 1988 campaign of displacement and forced disappearance of more than 180000 Kurdish civilians and destruction of their villages. The campaign was named Anfal.


THE INCOMPETENCE OF THE GOVERNMENT IN THE FACE OF THE ECONOMIC CRISIS. Ilnur Çevik, editorial writer of the Turkish English language paper Turkish Daily News in an article dated 11 September, denounced the effects of the economic crisis striking Turkey and called on the Government to react or to resign. Here are extensive extracts from his article:

Here are scenes from Turkey:

A little blond girl identified as the daughter of a certain Kazim Alci cries as her dad fails to find TL 7 million to pay for a school book in the second hand market...

Five families get together to buy 10 kilos of rice...

Professor Ersan Bocutoglu reports that a professor has died in hospital but he could not be buried because his family could not come up with the money for a funeral. So other academicians had to collect money to lay him to rest...

Every 40 small or medium-sized establishments out of 100 had to close because of the economic crisis. Seven out of 10 establishments had to shrink in size and fire workers...

The current crisis has sparked a new wave of suicides. Suicides related to economic causes have increased by 50 percent in the year 2000 compared to 1999, and a study by Dr. Faruk Guclu of the Abant Izzettin Baysal University shows that the rate of suicides increased by 70 percent after austerity measures were implemented following the 1980 and 1994 crises...

It shows even some mainstream newspapers have started to abandon their policy of drawing rosy pictures and misleading the nation and have started to tell the bold truth.

What has been reported draws a picture of growing anger and apathy. But beyond that it shows a picture of total failure for the coalition government. What is really sad is that the government is completely aloof and hardly realises the disaster that millions of Turks are living through.

We do not feel the government will be able to face any of the challenges of easing the massive hardships in the country. All that the government is doing now is to act like the debt collector of the International Monetary Fund (IMF). They take the money from the Turkish people and pay up the loans. Nothing is left to fund production and exports.

So the other alternative is for the government to resign. Then you face the remarks of the Prime minister that this government has no alternative and the departure of this government will push Turkey into new turmoil and uncertainties.

The reply to that is simple: Can anything be any worse? "

THIS TURKISH CONSTITUTION IS AN EXCEPTION TO THE NORM. A Turkish, Can Dundar, in his column in the daily Milliyet of 25 September reflects, caustically, on the Turkish Parliament’s adoption of Constitutional amendments and remarks, rightly, that this is the first time that the course of history has not been imposed by a coup d’état.

“I can now die in peace: ‘A Constitution has been revised by civilians in Parliament’. We have taken exectly 40 years to reach this stage — a stage that seems to be so banal for the civilised world.…

For people of my generation, the Constitution is only another form of ‘convict uniform’, a testimony of guilt’. That we were forced to wear under the threat of tanks, at the point of a gun, by force. “If it’s too big” they didn’t wait for you to grow, but started to sew it up tighter: a bit off the shoulders, a bit off the arms, till they had shortened it so much that it was really tiny. It you ask our children “What is our Constitution? How would you describe it” they’d reply “First of all there was a big row, then some people came to collect and lock up the rowdies and then they gather Parliament together to draw up somthing to make it easier to arrest these rowdies or people likely to get into a row. And so they called this thing they’d written a Constitution”.

However, following the example of the West, the first Constitutions in Turkey were also drawn up to limit the powers of marcharchist regimes and declare rights and liberties. In fact, all the amendments adopted since the 1961 Constitution have rather limited freedom than the governments. In 1971 a tank came and carried away most of the things brought about by the tanks of 1961. Then, ten years later, the tanks returned and rubbed out the remaining liberties. Al that remained was the “March Constitution”. “All human being enjoy the right to live, but if a prisoner tries to escape he loses that right”. “{Private life is confidential, but in the event of legal proceedings, that confidentiality can be lost”. “The press is free, but in matters affecting national security it must keep silent”. These “buts” have acquired so much importance in the course of time that the simgle sentence regarding freedom has been dissolved in the volume of exceptions added. It is no accident that, faced with even the most concrete of situations, my generation still cannot take any firm and final decision without adding it “but“ to it.

At school we learnt the superiority of the Constitution over all other laws (…) In my opinion, the most important clause discussed yesterday in Parliament was the rule that “In the event of any conflict between national law and international conventions, it is the latter that take precedant”. This means that we cease to be the children of a “local law” to become children of “global law”. International standards are at the gates: equality between the sexes, a right to language, abolition of the death sentence, even to the demilitarisation of the MGK (National Security Council) — a whole series of long overdue reforms at last start to be applied. And no long thanks to tanks and bullets…

Are these alterations sufficient? Clearly not… (…) It is said that this Constitution, like the first one, has been amended under Western pressure … that the MHP (National Action Party — neo-fascist) has strongly resisted them … That it is insufficient and incomplete. Agreed — but I have at last been able to see the “buts” begin to disappear… I can at last die in peace”