The European Union's annual report for 2001, on "Progress achieved by Turkey along the road to membership " was made public on 13 November by the European Commission.
The report first of all notes that "the alteration to the Constitution adopted by the Turkish Parliament on 3 October constitute an appreciable progress towards the strengthening of guarantees in the areas of Human Rights and fundamental liberties and towards the abolition of the death sentence ". However, it points out that "despite these changes, basic freedom remains subject to a certain number of restrictions " and that "the improvement that individuals will really enjoy in the exercise of their fundamental liberties will depend on the way their are translated into legislation and applied in practice ".
The Commission also stresses that the Constitutional amendments to Articles 26 and 28 "could open the way to the use of other languages than Turkish ", is a positive point for Kurdish, but that the still remaining restrictive regulations and practices must also be altered in order for this Constitutional amendment to really work. It also notes that there was "no improvement in the possibility of members of ethnic groups having a cultural identity and shared traditions expressing their linguistic and cultural identity ".
With regard to torture and ill treatment, the report notes that these are used "in particular in the South-East, especially in cases of ‘detention in secret’ mainly used in the four provinces under State of Emergency and in cases connected with state security. According to the Turkish authorities, in 2000 and 2001 there were 1472 legal proceedings started against members of the security forces for ill treatment and 159 for torture. Of these, 36 people were sentenced to imprisonment while 50 others lost their jobs. " It is to be feared that sentences are still too lenient or often converted to fines or suspended “the report observes. In the area of civil and political rights, the Commission points out that "in the period covered by the report 17 people were sentenced to death in 2000 and 10 others between January and August 2001 ”. The report also stresses, in the chapter "democracy and the primacy of law " that last year courts martial “handled 22 cases concerning 38 civilians sued in violation of their right to freedom of expression ” and that "the real independence of the judiciary remains a source of concern ". As for the National Security Council (MGK), the Commission notes the alteration in the role and composition of the Council and stresses that “it will be necessary to check extent these alterations to the Constitution will, in fact, improve civilian control of military affairs ”.
Regarding the workings of the judicial machinery, “measures must be embodied into Turkish legislation that allow the remedying of the consequences of sentences that the European Human Rights Court has judged to be contrary to the European Convention on Human Rights ” specifies the report that rises here the problem of the direct effect of the European Court's rulings by stressing the ruling of 17 July 2001 which found Turkey guilty, amongst other things, of “an unfair trial ” in the case of the Kurdish Members of Parliament imprisoned in Turkey.
The report concludes by pointing out that “considerable efforts are still necessary to satisfy the short-term priorities of the 'partnership for membership' (adopted in March 2001) to be achieved ”. On 19 November, the Turkish President, Ahmet Necdet Sezer, declared that the report of the European Union was “objective ”. “Nevertheless, the European Union should not stipulate supplementary specific conditions for Turkey. We will achieve the criteria required of other candidate countries ” he added. The Deputy Prime Minister, Mesut Yilmaz, had declared, on 3 November, that he agreed with the European criticisms of Turkey regarding democracy and Human Rights. Devlet Bahçeli, another partner in the coalition government and leader of the National Action Party (MHP - neo-fascist) however, qualified Mesut Yilmaz's remarks by stressing, on 15 November, that “to justify the European report was to call to question the National Programme eight months after it had been drawn up by a consensus of all the parties of the three-Party coalition ”.
According to the Kurdish daily Brayati in its 11 November issue, the head of the Irbil based regional government of Iraqi Kurdistan, Mr. Nechirvan Barzani has called for the establishment of a specific, internationally recognised, Identity card for the citizens of the region of Iraqi Kurdistan that has been under Kurdish control since 1991.
In the course of a London banquet in his honour organised by Lady Olga Maitland, President of the Defence and Security Forum, Mr. Barzani stated that emigration from Kurdistan would last “so long as the region’s political future regains uncertain ”.
The forging of Iraqi passports and identity cards by the illegal immigration networks is considered one of the obstacles to immigration control. A large number of Iraqi Kurds have emigrated illegally to Europe or other developped countries in recent years. Despite the regions stability and relative economic development, uncertainty about the future political status of Iraqi Kurdistan and the persistant threat of the return of the Iraqi Army and paramilitary forces, despite the Anglo-American air protection, are perceived as the principle factors behind the mass emigration of Iraqi Kurds..
Mr. Nechirvan Barzani arrived in London after visiting Sweden, where he was received by the Prime Minister and Foreign Minister and Belgium, where he met senior Civil Servants. (Source: Iraqi Kurdistan Despatch, Weekly Information Bulletin, 18 Nov. 2001, www.ikurd.info)
Major Iraqi troop concentrations along the line dividing the Baghdad-controlled and autonomous regions of Kurdistan have been reported by the media in the last few days. According to the London-based Arabic paper, Al-Zaman of 13 November, units of the Iraqi Army, including a great number of tanks, heavy artillery and ground-air missiles have been massed South of Dohuk while Republican Guard units have been deployed around Kirkuk.
There have also been troop concentrations in the North-West of the country. Iraqi paramilitaries, like the “Saddam Fedayeen” and the “Jerusalem Army”, created early in 2001 to “join the Palestinian Intifada ” have taken up positions near the Mossul dam. Troops have also been sent to the South and South-West of Irbil, the Regional capital Iraqi Kurdistan while very rigorous security measures have been taken on the roads leading to Kurdistan.
The Arabic language services of Inited Press International, that interviewed travellers arriving from Kirkuk to the autonomous region reported, on 11 November, that the Iraqi authorities are meticulously checking all travellers going there. It reports that the Iraqi soldiers “do not allow anyone not resident in the region to travel there and that the roads are closed after 7.00 pm ”.
Al-Zaman considers that this military build up might have the object of “controling the roads linking Iraq to Turkey and Syria (whichn are at present under Kurdish control) against the eventuality of an open confrontation ”.
A senior official of the Kurdish administration, who confirmed the Iraqi troop concentrations, declared, off the record, to the Iraqi Kurdistan Despatch “that they seemed to have a defensive aim in preparation for an evential American attack on Iraq after the war in Afghanistan ”.He added that “ Iraq fears the intervention of the Turkish Army, as an ally of the United States ”.
Furthermore, according to the official Iraqi press agencym INA, and the London-based Arabic language papers, the Iraqi President, Saddam Hussein, declared to a delegation of pro-Baghdad Kurds that “it was possible to settle the Kurdish problem by direct negotiation ”. He stressed the fact that Iraq was capable of regaining control of the Kurdish autonomous region by force and that “the sword of Iraq will cup out the tongues of those who refuse to negotiate ”.
The independent Kurdish paper Hawlati, published in the Kurdish autonomous region, evealedon 12 November that the Iraqi President had sent that Mr. Mukarrem Talabani, former Iraqi Minister and Kurdish public figure to meet Messrs Jalal Talabani an Massoud Barzani, the leaders of the two main Kurdish political organisations. The aim was to sound their intentions in the event of an American attack on Iraq. According to some observers, Iraq believes that a joint attack by the Americans and the Iraqi opposition could come from the North of the country, aiming at destabilising the regime in power. (Source: Iraqi Kurdistan Despatch, Weekly Information Bulletin, 18 Nov. 2001, www.ikurd.info ).
The US Secretary of State, Colin Powell, arrived at Ankara on 4 December to discuss Turkish support of the coalition against international terrorism after the military campaign in Afghanistan. Turkey has made known its profound anxiety, fearing that, after Afghanistan, Washington will turn on Iraq, its neighbour to the South-East. Washington is worried by Iraqi aspirations to produce weapons of mass destruction and accuses Baghdad of being one of the States that support terrorism.
The hard liners in the Bush Administration want a large scale operation against Baghdad and the President himself, last month, made threatening remarks directed at the Iraqi leaders. Colin Powel stated, on 5 December, that President Bush had not yet decided whether the next phase of the struggle against terrorism should cover Iraq. "This continues to be one of our preoccupations but the President has not yet made any decision regarding the next phase of ourcampaign against terrorism " declared Colin Powell.
Turkey, the first Moslem country to commit troops to Afghanistan, is opposed to the United States extending the campaign it is waging against terrorism to Iraq. “We do not want an American operation against Iraq ” President Ahmet Necdet Sezer declared on 4 December.
However Faruk Logoglu, Turkish Ambassador to Washington, followed by Sabahattin Çakmakoglu, Turkish Minister of Defence (Editor's Note: coming straight from a meeting of the National Security Council) had, last week, given the impression of a more flexible Turkish policy on Iraq by declaring that Ankara would have no objection to an American military attack if “circumstances changed ” .
According to the Turkish press of 23 November, the Turkish President, Ahmet Necdet Sezer, denounced the closing down of a pro-Kurdish party by the Constitutional Court, considering it was simply based on "hypotheses". Mr. Sezer was commenting on the decision of the Court, taken in 1999 (when he still presided the Court) and published in the Official Gazette.
He regretted that the Democratic Party of the Masses (DKP) had been banned without any proven crimes or offences. “That verdict should have been different ” he considered as quoted by the Turkish daily Radikal. A former judge, noted for his democratic commitments, the president observed that, on the contrary, “the programme (of the DKP) advanced the idea of the equality of ethnic and religious groups and, instead of being opposed to the unity of the nation it distanced itself from separatist ideas ”. ”The opinions expressed by the DKP and its members were mot translated into actions, it is unsuitable for the law to close down a party by basing itself on the hypothesis that it might commit reprehensible actions ”. Mr. Sezer explained, as quoted by the Turkish paper Sabah.
The DKP was closed down in February 1999 for having mentioned, in the section of its programme headed "The Kurdish Question", the existence of a Kurdish nation "assimilated", "under pressure", that had its own "ethnic identity". Under pressure from its all-powerful Turkish Army, Turkey has, over the last few years, banned several pro-Kurdish parties, including the Party for Democracy (DEP), four of whose M.Ps, including Leyla Zana, have remained in jail since 1994, as well as marxist and islamist parties. At the end of July 2001, the European Human Rights Court had, by a narrow margin, found in favour of Ankara over the banning of the Prosperity Party (Refah), arguing, contrary to Mr. Sezer, that a State “can reasonably prevent the realisation of a political project incompatible with the standards of the European Convention before it has been put into practice by concrete actions ”.
The principle pro-Kurdish organisation in Turkey, the People's Democratic Party (HADEP) is also threatened with being banned for “organic links ” with the Kurdistan Workers' Party (PKK).
FOLLOWING ON THE AVAILABILITY OF MOBILE PHONES, PERSONAL INTERNET WILL SOON BE AVAILABLE IN KURDISTAN. According to the 14 November issue of the London Arabic paper Al-Zaman, the Transport and Communications Minister of the Irbil-based regional government told them that the inhabitants of Iraqi Kurdistan could soon have unlimited access to Internet from their homes.
Up to now, the the CyberCafes alone allowed the population to have access to Internet. The Minister specified that a foreign company, commissioned by the Government, was already working on the project, which would enable people to be connected either from their homes or offices nad that the project shouild reach fruition by January 2002.
This project was started after the regional government had completed another project, last Februarym of replacing the old telephone networks by a digital system. Telecommunications, in Iraqi Kurdistan, have enjoyed substantial development since the introduction of this network of digital and mobile phones, in Irbil and Suleimaniah, which has enabled the region to be more easily connected to the rest of the world.
The Iraqi authorities had cut the telephone lines between the Kurdish region and the rest of Iraq and the world since the greater part of Kurdistan passed under Kurdish control in 1991.
THE EUROPEAN HUMAN RIGHTS COURT: TURKEY ACCEPTS OUT OF COURT COMPENSATION FOR FOUR KURDISH FAMILIES FOR THE DISAPPEARANCE OF THEIR RELATIVES. On 6 November, the European Human Rights Court made it known that the Turkish Government had acknowledged its faults and agreed to compensate, out of court, four families for the disappearance of relatives during a police operation in 1994.
The four families, one of which had lost a brother, the others a son or husband, all from the village of Kirkagac, will each receive the sum of £ 34,000 sterling in damages.
The European Court, to which the families complaints had been referred, decided to remove the case from its rolls following the out of court settlement which includes a declaration by the Turkish Government deploring “the disappearance of certain close relatives of the petitioners and the pain caused to their families ”.
Ankara “recognises that unregistered deprivation of freedom and the insufficiency of the investigations carried out into alleged cases of disappearance constituted violations of Articles 2 (right to life) 5 and 13 (right of effective legal recourse) of the European Convention of Human Rights ”.
“The (Turkish) Government commits itself to decreeing suitable instructions and adopting all necessary measures to ensure, in future, a complete and detailed record by the authorities of all deprivations of freedom and the carrying out of effective investigations on all allegations of disappearance, in conformity with its obligations under, and in virtue of, the said Convention”.
Moreover, according to official Turkish data, 3,964 complaints against Turkey - 735 of which were declared admissible last year - have been filed with the European Human Rights Court. Hikmet Sami Turk, Minister of Justice, declared, on 14 November that, to date, Turkey had been found guilty in 115 cases and that the fines paid by the Turkish authorities were $13,557, FF 6,200,000 and £866,230.
Furthermore, the Minister specified that Turkey had also opted for out of court settlement in 343 cases and paid TL 489 billion. Turkey has not yet settled the sum of £ 4,663,668, $ 2,841,470, and FF 5,203,567 of damages and legal costs arising from these cases.
A RAID BY TURKISH POLICE ON TWO HOUSES IN ISTANBUL TO PUT AN END TO THE HUNGER STRIKE MOVEMENT RESULTS IN FOUR DEATHS. On 5 November, four activists of the Communist Revolutionary People’s Front-Party (DHKP-C) who were supporting the prisoners’ movement against their conditions of detention set themselves on fire when the police moved into two houses in Istanbul to dislodge the protesters.
According to the prisoner’s support movement, Ozgur Tayad, one of the victims, Arzu Guler, had been fasting for five months. The three others, Baris Kas, Sultan Yildiz, Bülent Durgaç were sympathisers of the hunger strikers. According to the Turkish authorities, the four activists died of their burns or of carbon monoxide poisoning and 14 people were injured during the police raid and sent to hospital.
Three other activists of the protest movement set themselves alight in their cell to protest against the police action. Eyup Samur died as a result of their injuries while two of their comrades, Kemal Aydin and Nail Çavus are in hospital in a serious condition.
The delegation from the Turkish Human Rights Association (IHD), which went to the scene, declared that “the deaths and injuries are the consequences of the extreme violence deployed in the course of the police operation”.
Furthermore, the Turkish Ministry of Justice has put before Parliament a Bill proposing sentences of up to 20 tears imprisonment for the organisers and instigators of hunger strikes.
A 30 year old detainee, Muharrem Cetinkaya, who set himself alight a week earlier, in protest at a police raid in which four of his companions were killed, died from his injuries on 12 November. According to the police and the first results of the enquiry, these four detainees died from fire, but their relatives state that they were killed.
Tulay Korkmaz, who died on 19 November following 193 days of hunger strike, is the latest victim of a protest movement launched by Turkish detainees a year ago. These prisoners, mostly activists of Left-wing movements, are protesting against the new type of high security jails where they are isolated and hence more exposed to being subjected to ill-treatment, as against older style of the large dormitory blocks containing up to 100 prisoners. 43 prisoners and their supporters have died as a result of their hunger strikes since the beginning of this movement.
THE LATE PRESIDENT OZAL’S WIDOW STATES THAT HER HUSBAND’S DEATH WAS “A POLITICAL MATTER”. The latest statements of former Turkish President Turgut Ozal’s widow come to confirm the mystery surrounding the circumstances of his death. Questioned on 4 November by the Turkish daily, Hurriyet, Semra Ozal replied to the question “Do you still have suspicions about Turgut Ozal’s death? ” by saying: “My suspicions are even greater. For the moment I have not completed collecting all the evidence to prove it. I have had information from outside and I am examining it now. One of your journalists has reported the remarks of Husamettin Cindoruk (Editors Note: former adviser to Suleyman Demirel, now a Member of Parliament) who had stated “Ozal will die within three months”. He was asked at the time where he had heard that and he had retorted “It was Mr. Suleyman who told me”. But of course that could have been just a coincidence”.
Mrs. Ozal continued by saying:“It is not a matter of suspecting him (i,e, Demirel). He could well have had this news from someone else. But why was there never an autopsy? It is said that he has been exhumed — it’s just not true. If he had been poisoned before hand there should have waited for his hair to grow to prove it. After his death blood samples were taken. My suspicions grew. Ahmet (N.B. Ozal’s son) went to the Hacettepe Hospital and claimed the blood samples. The laboratory assistant told him “We have the blood. As it was so interesting we kept it”. But when he returned the next day he was told that the flasks had been broken. These samples had been guarded all those years— why did they break just that day, after five years?
I think that it’s a political matter whose source is foreign ”maintained Mrs. Ozal. She continued by saying that the late President has written five letters before leaving, of which “one was for his grandchildren, one to me and one to his party. They were confided to the Director General of the Post Office, but all have vanished. Is it by chance? We have complained — I think all this is connected with his death”.
On the question of who might have profited by the death of Turgut Ozal, his widow stated that “If he had remained alive e the map of the world today would have been changed. He had prepared it all and locked it in his head ”.
UK FIRM ABANDONS ILLISU DAM PROJECT ON HUMANITARIAN, ENVIRONMENTAL GROUNDS. The British Building and Civil Engineering Group, Balfour Beatty, announced, on 13 November that it was pulling out of the very controversial project to build a dam in the Kurdish region of Turkey. The group decided to end its participation in the consortium to carry out the project because the humanitarian and environmental questions involved have not been settled, it stated in a communiqué. “As there is little likelihood of their being resolved soon the management considers that it is not in our shareholders' interest to continue to participate ” Balfour Beatty specified.
The Illisu dam is strongly criticised by a number of NGOs for its negative impact on the environment and the upheaval its construction would create for the Kurdish population living in the region. The Friends of the Earth immediately reacted by welcoming this decision. This dam is "disastrous from an environmental, political and social point of view " the NGO declared, estimating that 30,000 people would be made homeless by the construction of this dam.
However, Charles Secrett, Director of Friends of the Earth regretted that the group's decision also saves the British Government from having to take a clear stand on the issue. According to him, the granting of Export Credit Guarantees should be out of the question for cases which include “such a destruction of the environment and such violation of Human Rights ”..
44th EXTENSION OF STATE OF EMERGENCY IN FOUR KURDISH PROVINCES. On 27 November, the Turkish Parliament renewed the State of Emergency for the 44th time in the four Kurdish provinces of Tunceli, Diyarbekir, Hakkari and Sirnak, which have been suffering from this regime for the last 14 years. Prior to 1987 they had been under martial law which the Turkish authorities then "softened" to a "civilian" State of Emergency.
Rustu Kazim Yucelen, Turkish Minister of the Interior, declared that "in 2000, terrorist incidents had dropped by 83% compared with 1999 " and that this drop had continued in 2001 "with a 26% drop compared with the year before ". He also stated that the government was taking "steps for the return of villagers who had been evacuated during the terrorist campaign " with a 5.65 trillion TL project (about $4 million) and that, between 2000 and 2001, 35,227 villagers had been allowed to return and live in 393 villages and hamlets.
The Turkish Parliament decides every four months whether or not to maintain this extra-ordinary regime. Its lifting is amongst the political measures demanded by the European Union as a precondition for opening negotiations for membership.
IRAQ USES GAS CHAMBERS TO EXECUTE PRISONERS. According to the Iraqi Communist Party’s Human Rights Information Bureau, published in the November 2001 issue of the Party’s paper Tariq al-Shaab, The Iraqi authorities executed 15 prisoners on 10 August last, after collecting them in a room together and opening the valves of a deadly gas, installed for that purpose.
This execution is said to have been filmed and the cassette sent to Qusay, Saddam Hussein’s younger son, who is the country’s head of security.
The paper indicates that the gas chamber had been build last year on Qusat’s orders “ in the contewxt of the infamous prison cleaning campaign, which began at the end of 1998 and has, to date, resulted in the execution of 3,500 detainees ”. The paper publishes the names of three people who carried out the execution:
The paper also published the names of five of the victims:
50% INCREASE IN CASES OF TORTURE. In a report published on 22 November, the Turkish Association for Human Rights (IHD) denounced the 50% increases of cases of torture and a spectacular multiplication of obstacles to freedom of expression in the first 9 months of this year, as compared with the year before.
For the period January to September, the Association recorded "at least" 762 cases of torture in this country, that is applying for membership of the European Union, as against 508 for the same period in 2000, that in an increase of one half again. IHD recalls that, in 1999, the records showed 472 cases for the same period - 7% less than in 2000.
Moreover, the Association deplores the fact of a virtually eight-fold increase in the number of peoples facing charges because of their opinions in the first three-quarters of this year compared with 2000. Thus there were 1,921 people charged for "crimes of opinion" against 254 the year before, to be precise. The total of sentences passed have increased by 350% - 3,758 years imprisonment this year as against 1,098 the year before.
It is the Human Rights situation in Turkey that is the principle obstacle to Turkey's entry into the enlarged European Union, as is remarked in the report on the progress of the candidate countries, published on 13 November, which states that "the present situation and its repercussions on individuals needs to progress ". IHD, in commenting on its report, deplores the fact that the 12 other candidate countries had managed to fulfil the Copenhagen criteria in "between one and a half and two years " whereas Turkey, in two years, has only been able to "modify 34 articles of the Constitution ". Unlike the other 12 candidate countries, Turkey has not yet been able to even start negotiations for membership. In the opinion of Husnu Ondul, President of IHD, this in mainly due to the "lack of determination " of the politicians and bureaucrats in applying democratic reforms. "Legal, administrative, judicial and educational measures must be taken urgently " he considered. Deputy Prime Minister Mesut Yilmaz, responsible for negotiations with the European Union, has recognised that his country had not succeeded in meeting the criteria set by the Fifteen particularly with regard to process towards democracy, despite the 34 amendments passed in October 2001.
IHD, the principle organisation for the defence of Human Rights in Turkey and founded in 1986, points out that all its figures are based on written or verbal complaints received by its various regional branches - many of which have been closed down by the authorities.
NATIONAL ACTION PARTY'S (MHP) N°2 DECLARES ANKARA NOT READY TO GRANT CULTURAL RIGHTS TO KURDS, TORTURE "EMBEDDED IN PEOPLE'S SPIRITS". On 26 November, Sevket Bülent Yahnici, Vice-President of theNational Action Party (MHP), one of the three parties in the government coalition, stated that Turkey was "not ready " to grant cultural rights to the Kurds as this could "divide " the country. "Certainly it would divide (the country). Turkey is not ready at the present time for this kind of thing. It is not a country where the atmosphere is favourable to these arrangements " declared Sevket Bülent Yahnici to the daily paper Radikal".
Mr. Yahnici stated that "Turkey is not rushing to join the European Union". According to him "in any case the Fifteen has the same attitude" to the membership problem, he declared.
Regarding Turkey's negative record on Human Rights, Mr. Yahnici deplored the existence of torture in the country but stressed that even if it respected all the (Copenhagen) criteria in this respect, this practice would continue because it is "embedded in people's spirits".
Moreover Mr. Yahnici accused the E.U. of "ill will" on the subject of Cyprus, stressing that a solution to this problem lies with UNO. Cyprus is divided since 1974, following an invasion by the Turkish Army in response to an ultra-nationalist Greek Cypriot coup d'état aiming at uniting the island with Greece. Turkey has recently threatened to annex the Northern (Turkish occupied) part of Cyprus if South (essentially Greek) Cyprus joined the European Union with the first wave of its enlargement in 2004.
On 13 November the European Commission published its annual report on Turkey where it recognised that Ankara had made a step forward by adopting amendments to liberalise its Constitution but judged them insufficient for opening negotiations for membership. The E.U. demands more cultural rights for the Kurdish population, in particular teaching and Television in the Kurdish language.
GERMAN DAILY BILD: THE GERMAN GOVERNMENT AUTHORISED EXPORT OF 400 TANK CANNONS TO TURKEY. According to the 23 November issue of the German daily BILD, the German Government has authorised the export to Turkey of 400 cannons for tanks. This revelation risks provoking fresh discord in the government coalition between the Greens and the Social-Democrats. The sale of these canons, of joint German-South Korean manufacture, was authorised during a meeting of the Government's Security Council, BILD continues. Questioned on the ARD television channel, the under-secretary of State for Foreign Affairs, Ludger Volmer, refused to deny or confirm the news. According to him, it had been put about "with the aim of disrupting the Greens' Congress " which was being held in Rostock the following week-end. A government spokesman refused to comment on this news, stressing the confidential nature of all Security Council decisions (Editor's Note: The Security Council is a body than brings together, round Chancellor Gerhard Schroeder, the Ministers of Foreign Affairs, Defence, Finance, the Interior, Justice as well as of Cooperation and of the Economy).
The delivery of a Leopard II tank to Turkey in 1999, for testing purposes, had aroused a sharp controversy within the SPD-Green coalition, many Human Rights defenders arguing the danger of seeing the Turkish Army using it for the repression of the Kurdish minority. The Security Council, which also takes Human Rights criteria into account, has often opposed the sale of arms to Turkey, in the past, on the initiative of the Foreign Affairs Ministry.
In August, a similar affair had shaken Germany, when the press revealed that, under pressure of arms manufacturing firm, the Security Council had decided to lift the opposition it had maintained for the last year, to the sale of detonators to Turkey. Too late, however, the company having let it be known that it lost the contract. The German government had then insisted that its policy of arms sales to Turkey was "unchanged".
Moreover, according to the Turkish daily Hurriyet of 23 November, the Turkish Army has launched another series of arms contracts, despite the economic crisis. Thus, in collaboration with the Germans, it plans to modernise 162 Leopard I tanks for a sum of $130 million.
Moreover, $190 million will be devoted to fitting 80 type F-16 fighter planes with ALQ-178V (5) electronic jamming equipment made by Mikes.
For it part, the Turkish daily Milliyet of 23 November announces that the fresh credits granted by the IMF will primarily save Israeli firms since Turkey is preparing to conclude the biggest ever agreement between the two countries, for a sum of $700 million, for modernising 170 tanks. As Ankara had stated that the amount could not exceed $500 million, the agreement had, up to now, been suspended :
"THE CRISIS, AN OPPORTUNITY TO SEIZE": THE ARMY'S HOLDING COMPANY, OYAK, MARKS UP A RECORD PROFIT OF $430 MILLION FOR 2001. The economic crisis ravaging Turkey is decidedly profitable to the Turkish Army Thus the report of the Army's cooperative organisation (OYAK), one of the most prosperous companies in Turkey, published on 22 November, for the first time since its creation 40 years ago, shows that it enjoyed, during the crisis, a growth of 50% on a dollar basis and 250% to 300% on a Turkish lire basis.
Coskun Ulusoy, the General Manager of OYAK stated that they had reached about $430 million profits adding: "If there is a crisis, there are also opportunities, and if we did not take advantage of these opportunities we would be unfair to ourselves, for a company that reached 600 trillion TL ($430 million) in profits Where there is a crisis there are also opportunities to be seized, there will even be other windfalls of the crisis is not ended We have seen and we have seized " Mr. Ulusoy added: "Our profits are greater than the investment opportunities in Turkey so we must open out abroad ".
Created in 1961, OYAK is made up of 26 companies covering the areas of vehicles accessories, finance, cement, food, chemicals and services; it employs 12,572 people and has 180,000 members, officers in the Armed forces. Its Board of Directors is solely composed of regular Army officers, and its General Manager, the only civilian there stresses that his father was a regular Army officer.
On the same day as OYAK published its report, the Turkish economic crisis, that some unhesitatingly call "the most serious ever experienced to date " entered its first anniversary. According to the latest forecasts, the Turkish national income has dropped from $ 201 billion in the year 2000 to $130 billion in 2001, losing $ 71 billion. The per capita income has dropped from $3,060 to $2,200 - $860 less per capita. The foreign debt has risen to $112 billion. According to the Turkish Trade Union Federation, TURK-IS the poverty for a family of four living in Ankara is about $ 574 for the month of November. The minimum amount needed by such a family has increased by 64.2% in the last year.
REFORM OF CIVIL CODE: OFFICIAL END OF MALE SUPREMACY. On 22 November the Turkish Members of Parliament passed an important reform to the Civil code that, in particular, ends male supremacy in marriage. The new Code suppresses the clause that states: "the man is the head of the matrimonial union ".
Another significant change - all goods accumulated during marriage will be the common property of the couple whereas hitherto they had belonged to the person in whose name they had been registered. Women will no longer need their husband's authorisation to take up paid employment - on condition that it does not harm "the harmony of their alliance ". They can also retain their maiden name, adding to it their husband's surname. The latter can drop his own surname and adopt that of his wife. The legal age for marriage will be raised to 18 for all, as against 15 for women and 17 for men as at present. In the event of divorce, either partner can claim maintenance.
The Code, furthermore, eases the legal procedures for adoption and protects the rights of children born outside marriage. Couples already having children will also have the right to adopt.
The new Civil Code will come into force next year, once it has been endorsed by the President of the Republic.
The Minister of Justice, Hikmet Sami Turk, has who fiercely defended the project and been debating its clauses with various Parliamentary Commissions for two years, welcomed the vote in Parliament. "The great legal revolution of 1926 has been renewed in this 21st Century " he told journalists. The Turkish Civil Code was adopted in 1926, three years after the proclamation of the Republic by Mustafa Kemal Ataturk on the ruins of the theocratic regime of the Ottoman Empire.
Although women have been enjoying considerable rights in Turkey for several decades, particularly in the major cities, where they are to be found, though is small numbers, at all levels of social and government life, these rights are still often flouted in the rural areas.
KURDISH FORMER MP MAHMUT ALINAK FACES SIX YEARS IMPRISONMENT FOR HAVING "DESPISED MORAL PERSONALITY OF THE GOVERNMENT ". Charged on the basis of Article 159 of the Turkish Penal Code for “having insulted and despised the moral personality of the government ”, Mahmut Alinak, former independent M.P. for Sirnak, tried and sentenced in 1994 on the same charges as the M.P.s of the Party for Democracy (DEP - since banned) faces six years jail.
According to the Turkish daily Hurriyet of 4 December, the “social, economic and moral ” enquiry carried out by the Kars police, on the instructions of the Public Prosecutor, Sinan Tur, can be summed up as follows: the subject person "is still practicing as a barrister and has no economic difficulties although having no regular income ”. "he consumes alcoholic drinks without, for all that, being an alcoholic ”, “he doesn't keep his promises ” and he is "immoral ". The prosecution brief looks a bit thin
POLICE CLAIM TO CAPTURE MURDERER OF MEHMET SINCAR The Turkish authorities state (Hurriyet 6/12/2001) that the assassin of Mehmet Sincar (Kurdish M.P. for Mardin, member of the Party for Democracy (DEP - since banned), killed on 4 September 1993 at Batman) has been arrested in the course of police operations between Yalova and Istanbul, which were aimed at arresting the assassins of three Turkish police officers in October 2001, at Sefakoy (Istanbul).
Rifat Demir, described as the military chief of Ilim, one of the branches of the Hizbullah (God's Party ) organisation and a cousin of Huseyin Velioglu (Editor's Note: Head of Hizbullah, killed a short while ago in a clash with the Turkish police) is said to have confessed to the murder, saying: “The man we were really aiming at was Nizamettin Tokuç, M.P. for Siirt. We learnt later that the one we'd executed was Sincar and not Tokuç ”. R. Tokuç was arrested, along with a dozen of his comrades, for possession of arms and false identity papers.
Moreover, in the course of an operation against the Hizbullah at Idil, in Sirnak province, many of the weapons found, including 20 Kalashnikovs and three rocket launchers were revealed as belonging to the Turkish Army. A check on the registration numbers inconveniently disclosed the fact that these weapons had been registered as belonging to the Turkish Army. The assistant commander of the Sirnak gendarmerie, Albay Nevzat Alyanak, simply wrote to the Diyarbekir N° 3 State Security Court to demand that these weapons be returned: “These identified, numbered and inventoried weapns, seized following an operation carried out by the Sirnak command of the gendarmerie and lent for the period of the enquiry, belong to the Army. Please, therefore, restore these arms, originally registered by the Sirnak gendarmerie command, so that they can be returned to N° 173 Army accounts department ”.
This event confirms the long standing suspicion that The Turkish government has, for a long time, supported the Hizbullah and used its activists as hired hands in the death squads that have assassinated over 4,500 non-violent Kurdish public figures and political activists.
SCANDAL OVER WORD "KURDISTAN" IN FILM FESTIVAL BROCHURE. The English language version of a brochure describing a film festival in Ankara attracted the therunder bolts of wrath of the nationalists when they noticed that the Kurdish region was described as Kurdistan instead of the official term of "South-East Anatolia". In the face of these attacks, particularly by Emin Çölasan, influential columnist of the daily Hurriyet and close to the Army, Cetin Oner, President of the festival, hastened to beg for absolution “Following on your remarks, we have acted rapidly by stopping distribution of the brochure. We thank you for your warning ”
IN A SINGLE WEEK OVER A THOUSAND KURDS ILLEGALLY TRANSPORTED TO THE GREEK COASTS. On 5 November the Greek coastguards towed into the port of the Greek island of Zante a boat flying the Turkish flag, which was adrift with over 1,000 illegal immigrants on board, following a fire in the engine room.
All these illegal immigrants, mostly Kurds, remained on board the 150ft boat, what had been seen drifting about thirty Kms South-west of Zante. Furthermore, several women and children are being treated in the island’s local hospital for minor injuries.
Elsewhere, the Greek port police, on 1st November 2001, found and boarded a small Turkish trawler in the North East Ægean, piloted by two Turks and a Romanian, which they suspected of having unloaded 138 illegal immigrants from Iraqi Kurdistan, including seven women and five children. This boat, the “Baba Yusuf” was finally located off the island of Psaras, not far off the Turkish coast. It was taken to the nearby Island of Chios and impounded.
According to the Greek authorities, the coast and port police have arrested 5,242 illegal immigrants, 105 smugglers and impounded 83 boats.
THE TURRKISH PRIME MINISTER TALKS OF ANNEXING NORTHERN CYPRUS. In the course of an interview on 4 November granted to Fikret Bila, a journalist on the Turkish daily Milliyet, Prime Minister Bülent Ecevit declared that “if the Greek Cypriots were admitted into the European Union, Turkey would have only two options: complete annexation or a special status ”. Bülent Ecevit, who was himself responsible for the Turkish Army’s invasion of Cyprus in 1974 continued: “Southern Cyprus’s joining the E.U. would mean the North would have to capitulate to Southern Cyprus. In the face of such an eventuality, the Turkish Republic of North Cyprus (KKTC) could decide to join Turkey. As for the special status, it could allow it to be independent in domestic affairs and linked to Turkey for Foreign Affairs and Defence. Moreover I have already put a model of this sort on the agenda ”.
The Prime Minister’s remarks echo those of his Foreign Minister, Ismail Cem, who had declared regarding the Cyprus question: “We will do whatever in necessary even if we have to pay a heavy price ”. Deputy Premier Devlet Bahçeli (MHP) put in his overbid by thundering “Turkey will sacrifice everything for Cyprus ”.
Cyprus is one of the best placed of the candidate countries for membership of the European Union. The Turkish Army, that risks losing its privileges and power to intervene in civil life if Turkey were to join the E.U. is not too keen on democratisation. Which leads one to suppose that the shadow of the Turkish Generals has influenced the Prime Minister’s latest sally.
IS HADEP'S STRENGTH SUCH A SURPRISE? Ilnur Çevik, editorial writer on the English language paper Turkish Daily News , in his column of 27 November returns to the situation in Kurdistan through the development of the pro-Kurdish party, HADEP, whose strength worries the Turkish Army which demands the search for means of reducing its impact on the politico-media scene. In his editorial entitled "Is HADEP's strength such a surprise?" the journalist describes the real and much under-estimated strength of HADEP and, alongside it, the incompetence of the Turkish authorities in the region. Here are extensive extracts from the article:
" According to the banner headline in mass circulation daily Milliyet, the National Security Council (MGK) will convene today and may take up the fact that while the pro-Kurdish People's Democracy Party (HADEP) preserves its strength in southeastern Turkey, all the other parties lack any muscle in the region...
HADEP, or the views it represents, have received strong backing in the region for a very long time. HADEP has tried to enter Parliament several times but has failed because it could not pass the 10 percent threshold required to be able to win seats. However, HADEP has won huge votes in many southeastern provinces, many more than any of its rivals. That is why the party swept all the mayoral seats in the local elections in the Southeast and proved its strength.
If the HADEP deputies had run in the parliamentary elections on independent tickets they too would have easily won seats, irrespective of the regional thresholds, simply because they won much more votes than the regional thresholds. HADEP won a respectable 4.3 percent of the vote but could not pass 10 percent...
The people of the region feel the party caters for their needs and represents their aspirations. The only other party that made any impact in the region was the banned pro-Islamic Welfare Party (RP) of Necmettin Erbakan, but that party too could only win so many southeastern seats because HADEP could not enter Parliament. Now that the establishment has closed down RP and its successor the Virtue Party (FP), it seems HADEP enjoys more support than before.
So the authorities are concerned. They feel in the next elections HADEP deputies may find a way to enter Parliament, and they simply don't like this idea.
But what option has the establishment left for the local people? They could vote for Justice and Development Party (AKP), but even that party is threatened. No one wants to vote for the parties that have proven to be so nationalistic and have always looked upon the people of southeastern Turkey with suspicion...
Once the struggle against the separatist terrorist organization Kurdistan Workers' Party (PKK) died down, the authorities simply forgot southeastern Turkey. The economic crisis that has hit Turkey in general has had an even tougher impact on the already impoverished southeastern people
That is what the military is so concerned about. Those running Turkey have completely abandoned the people of the region, and will pay the price in the next elections. So it is inevitable that HADEP wins and the other loses.
The MGK may discuss this, but words will be empty so long as Turkey does not have a viable administration which is prepared to take on challenges and really boost the welfare of southeastern Turkey through animal husbandry and allowing the locals to do meaningful border trade with little or no bureaucratic obstructions.
Just like in any place in Turkey, you have to make the people realize that you really care for them and their problems, and that you do not treat them as third class citizens but as ‘one of us’. "