B u l l e t i n

c o m p l e t

Bulletin N° 205 | April 2002



While all eyes are focussed on the Israelo=Palestine conflict and an American military intervention in Iraq seems decreasingly probable, thye Kurds are preparing for the post-Saddam era and increasing their discussions with American leaders.

Thus, on 1st April, a US State Department delegation, led by Ryan Crocker, Under Secretary of State for Near Eastern Affairs, went to Kurdistan for a four day visit. The US delegati0on met the KDP chief, Massoud Barzani, at his headquarters in Salahuddin as well as the Patriotic Union of Kurdistan (PUK) chef in Suleimaniah. “The US delegation stressed (Washington’s) commitment to continuing its humanitarian support for the Iraqi people in Kurdistan”, the comminiqué added. The American delegation promised the Kurdistan regional government an improvement in the working of the UN agencies in Kurdistan and a better management of the 13% of the oil revenues the Kurdish region receives inder the Food for Oil programme. The delegation also reiterated its support for the process set up under the Washingrton agreement between the KDP and the PUK, stressing that the objective was the complete administrative unification of the two Kurdish regions and the meeting of a unified Kurdish Parliament following General Elections to be organised as soon as possible.

The Arab daily Asharq al-Awsat in its 20 April number reported that American representatives and the chiefs of the two Kurdish organisations that control Northern Iraq had met “secretly” this week near Berlin to prepare strikes against Iraq “before the end of the year”. According to this paper, Jalal Talabani, chief of the Patriotic Union of Kurdistan (PUK) and Massoud Barzani, chief of the Kurdistan Democratic Party (KDP) took part in this three day meeting which ended near Berlin with the participation of officials of the American Army, the State Department, and the Intelligence Services (CIA).

According to the London-based Al-Zaman newspaper in its 24 April, issue, the Kurdistan Democratic Party has prepared a draft constitution for Iraq to be circulated for approval by Kurdish and Iraqi opposition political parties. The newspaper said that the draft constitution proposes “the establishment of a federal, republican, pluralistic and parliamentary system in Iraq, that may be called the Federal Republic of Iraq”.

Quoting sources in Irbil, the newspaper said the KDP had circulated copies of the draft constitution to Kurdish and non-Kurdish parties in Iraqi Kurdistan.

According to the proposal, Iraq will comprise two federated regions: a Kurdish, in the North and an Arab region in the South. The future Constitution ensures “the national rights of minorities living in Iraq which should be enshrined in the constitution, within the framework of a federal union between both regions, which are to be delimited on a national and geographic basis” said Al-Zaman.

The Northern Federal region would comprise Dohuk, Arbil, Sulaymaniyah and Kirkuk Governorates, on the basis of the administrative boundaries of the governorates, as drawn up before 1968. It would also include Kurdish administrative and subadministrative districts which are now situated in Ninawa and Diyala Governorates, such as Sinjar, Shekhan, Zimmar, Mandali, Khanaqin, Jalawla and Miqdadiyah.

Quoting the source, Al-Zaman said that the KDP had submitted the proposal to the Patriotic Union of Kurdistan during their meetings, and that “the two parties' views are close regarding the general content of the draft proposal”.

The proposed draft also stresses the need for the Kurds’ participation in the central government in Baghdad as its main partner, on the basis of the ratio of the Kurdish population, said al-Zaman.

Meanwhile, the Iraqi regime is continuing, in a systematic manner, its policy of enforced Arabisation if Kurdish regions. According to the Kurdish daily Brayati (Brotherhood) of 22 April, the Iraqi authorities have desecrated graves in the cemetery of Dibaga Sub-administrative District, by engraving Arabic names on the graves instead of the Kurdish names. The newspaper reports that in order to hide this act, “the [Iraqi] regime has lately been preventing the Kurds from visiting the graves of their relatives.”

Dibaga, located South-West of the Kurdish capital of Irbil, was the scene of a campaign of population expulsion in 1988, in the course of the so-called Anfal campaign of mascacre and displacement of Kurdish civilian populations.

The Iraqi authorities, in the past few years, have intensified their policy of displacement of Kurds and other non Arab communities, with the view of Arabising the Kurdish region they control, particularly the oil-rich governorate of Kirkuk. In another development, the weekly Khabat said on 26 April that “140 villages in Kandinawa and Qaraj areas have been completely Arabized and all their original inhabitants have been deported”.

According to non official estimates, more than 200,000 Kurds have been expelled from the Iraqi-held Kurdish areas to the region under the Kurdish administration, in the past ten years. A campaign which the Kurds name Iraqi ethnic cleansing policy.


On 4 April, the Turkish Prime Minister, Bülent Ecevit, for the first time described the Israeli Army’s operastions as “genocide” by declaring “the Palestinian people is a victim of genocide under the eyes of the whole world”.

The Turkish opposition in Parliament had, on 2 April, sharply called on the government to cancel an arms contract of a value of $ 668 million signed a month earlier with Israel for the modernisation of 170 M-60 A1 heavy tanks. The Turkish press had also rallied to demand the suspension of this contract to show Ankara’s lively disapproval of Ariel Sharon’s policy.

Mr Ecevit’s statements have aroused an uproar in the US Jewish community which, up to now was very active in lobbying in support of this “Moslem country allied to Israel”. The many subsequent appologies of the Prime Minister were unable to softeen their indignant reactions, as demonstrations of solidarity with the Palestinian people have turned into a campaign of anti-Semitism in Turkey. On Saturday 13 April, over 5,000 people marched in Istanbul in response to the call of the Islamist Saadet (Happiness) Party, burning the Israeli flag and carrying banners reading “I understand Hitler better, now !”. The procession was led by a banner reading “Revivo go home !” (Editor’s note: Revivo is N° 10 in the Fernerbahçel Football team). No arrests were made even though the Turkish daily Hurriyet of 14 April headlined “The’ve over-stepped the mark !”.


On 2 April, Barham Saleh, Prime Minister of the Suleimaniah Kurdish regional government, controled by the Patriotic Union of Kurdistan (PUK), narrowly escaped an attassassination attempt that cost seven lives.

The driver of the car carrying the agressors, who opened fire on Mr. Saleh’s home, was arrested by the local authorities. The attackers opened fire with machine guns and assault rifles, provoking return fire from the Kurdish leader’s bodyguard, five of whom were killed in the attack. Two of the agressors were also killed in the shoot-out. In addition, explosives were found in the agressors’ vehicle.

Mr. Saleh discarded any possibility of involvement by the Kurdistan Democratic Party (KDP), which condemned the attack in the strongest possible terms. The authorities are more inclined to suspect fundamentalist circles such as the Jund-al-Islam the Ansar Al-Islam, commanded by Mala Ali Abdul-Aziz, linked to both the Al Qaida networks and certain Iranian secret services.

This attempt aroused a wave of indignation in Iraqi Kurdistan and abroad, where the young Prime Minister had long served, particularly in Washington, and been appreciated. Observers note that this attack took place during a stay by a high ranking American delegation, and that some of those involved were already being sought for having taken part, in February 2001, in the assassination of François Hariri, the Christian governor of Irbil, and one of the top men in the KDP.


On 3 April, the American journalist, Jonathan Randal, appeared before the Istanbul State Security Court, without being heard, for the trial of one of is books, banned in Turkey, whose publisher is being charged with “separatist propaganda”. “We are doing all we possibly can to avoid the imprisonment of the Turkish publisher” declared J. Randal, author of “After such Knowledge, what forgiveness ? — my encounters in Kurdistan”. He deplored the fact that the State Security Court had not daigned to hear his evidence as he was not, himself, being charged.

The book, translated into Turkish after having already been published in Kurdish, Arabic and Persian, was seized by the police in January 2002. The publisher, Abdullah Keski8n, who runs the Avesta publishing house, faces 3 years imprisonment and a fine of 3 billion Turkish lire (about 2,500 euros).

“What I have heard leads me to think that things will go all right, at a time when Turkey is trying to join the European Union” judged Jonathan Randal who travelled to Turkey to attend the hearing. “Censoring books and jailing publishers is quite unacceptable” the American jouirnalist further considered. The trial, to which the US Consul and the association for the defence of journalists, Reporters sans frontières, was adjourned to 7 June next.

The Turkish authorities accuse the book of using words that are tabooed in Turkey, such as “Kurdistan”, although the author does not denounce Turkish policy towards its Kurdish population as such, nor is he sparing in his criticisms of the Kurdistan Worker’s Party (PKK), which laid down its arms thirty months ago. The charge sheet states that “the book mentions the existence of a distinct Kurdish nation and of a Kurdistan within the Turkish Republic, thus conducting propaganda against the integrity of the country and nation”. Abdullah Keskin, questioned on 3 April by the English language Turkish paper Turkish Daily News declared that “(J.Randal) is a credible journalist to the whole world … For example, before coming to Istanbul … the International Criminal Court on ex-Yugoslavia, at the Hague, had asked to hear him as witness because of his reports on Bosnia and Kosovo. The writer who has just appeared before the State Security Court has still the dust of the Hague on his shoes”. “After the American intellectual Noam Chomsky, it is the turn of the American journalist Jonathan Randal find himself in the dock in Turkey” ironically remarked Gul Demir, staff journalist on Turkish Daily News.


On 9 April, Turkey was fined 40,000 euros by the European Human Rights Court for having banned the Working People’s Party (HEP — pro-Kurdish) accused of endangering the nation’s unity.

In July 1993, the Turkish Constitutional Court had ordered the dissolution of HEP on the grounds that its activities “endangered the territorial integrity of the State, and the unity of the nation”, Thje HEP was accused, in particular, of “seeking to divide the integrity of the Turkish nation into two parts, with the Turks on one side and the Kurds on the other, so as to found searate States” and to “seek to destroy the national and territorial integrity” of Turkey.

The European Court considered that Turkey, by deciding the dissolution of this party, had violated the rights to freedom of assembly and freedom of association, guaranteed by Clause 11 of the European Convention on Human Rights.

“Seeing the absence of any practical projects by HEP of a character to undermine the democratic regime in the country and/or the absence of any incitement or justification of the recourse to force for political ends, its dissolution cannot be reasonnably considered as responding to an “imperious social neecessity”” the Court considered.


Following its 8th Congress, the Kurdistan Workers’ Party (PKK) announced a change of name and strategy: the movement, henceforth called KADEK (Congress for Freedom and Democracy in Kurdistan) abandons violence in favour of peaceful struggle for more rights for the Kurdish minority. “Armed struggle is ended” declared Riza Erdogan, European spokesman for the new KADEK. “We have no intention of changing the borders of the countries in which live the Kurdish people” he added, explaining that KADEK does not intend to struggle for separation from Turkey, but for improving the rights of the Kurdish people in that country as well as in Iraq, Iran and Syria. KADEK will not be a political party as such, but will help parties and organisations supporting a “democratic solution to the Kurdish question”. The Kurdish rebel chief, Abdullah Ocalan, jailed on the Turkish island-prison of Imrali, was named President of KADEK, the spokeman specified. According to him, “KADEK is the sole legitimate heir of the PKK”. It does not want to “dethrone” those states but “to seek to make them undergo a democratic change” in the framework of a vast “Democratic Union of the Middle East”. “The 20th Century system” based on “nationalism, divisions and partitions” is “out of date” and is “the prime source of present day conflicts” in KADEK’s view.

The abandonning of armed struggle is confirmed and KADEK recommends “peaceful political uprisings”. The PKK armed activists will continue to form a “self-defence” force, belonging to KADEK and renamed “people’s defence units” — they will only act in the event of attacks on the Kurds the KADEK spokesman stressed. These activists “will join the civilian movement at the right time”, specifically when the Turkish State will have abolished the death sentence and recognised Kurdish cultural rights, he stressed.

Their transformation into a political force under a new name is unlikely, however, to chaqnge the situation or soften the position of the Turkish State regarding them. The powerful Turkish Army had already rejected their unilateral cease fire after Abdullah Oclan’s arrest, describing it as a “manœuvre”. The Turkish authorities immediately reacted by stating that these decisions changed nothing. The Turkish Foreign Minister, Ismail Cem, at a Press Conference at the end of a meeting of the Turkish-E.U. Association Council in Luxemburg, judged that the PKK’s change of name “does not alter its nature”. “I do not think that a change of name alters the PKK’s nature. For the moment, in my opinion, there is no change at all in the situation at all” he declared. “A change of name is not important … What counts is that the pay for what they have done in the past”, stressed Defence Minister Sabahattin Cakmakoglu. “Whether the PKK changes its name or its form, it still remains a terrorist organisation for us” said Industry Minister Ahmet Kenan Tanrikulu.

According to Professor Dogu Ergil of the Ankara University Faculty of Political Science, “the PKK is entering now into a new field. It will be a test for Turkish democracy”. “The Turkish government is very much afraid lest it become a political force. Its mentality is built round the struggle against terrorism. They do not know how to deal with a political organisation. So they try to block this attempt” he considered.

In the view of Nihat Ali Ozcan, expert on terrorism at the Centre for Eurasian Strategic Studies “the PKK realised as from the 1990s that it could not reach its aims by force and began searching for a new field, a trend accelerated by Oclan’s capture. And, since 11 September, continuing to pursue political ends by terrorism and violence has become very dangerous”. “They needed to move onto a fresh field where they could be recognised by the international system and where they could be stronger than the State and that is the political area” he continued. But, he considered that “Turkey will never accept them as interlocuters (for the settlement of the Kurdish question)”. Mr. Ozcan specified that “no one will make any concessions just because the PKK has taken these decisions. Turkey will, no doubt authorise publications and radio/TV broadcasts in Kurdish, but not because of the PKK but because of the evolution through which it is going, linked to its application for membership of the European Union”.

Furthermore the spokesman of the People’s Democratic Party (HADEP), that is struggling for Kurdish cultural rights, Mutlu Cdiviroglu, judged these decisions “positive” and hoped that the Turkish State would “take concrete measures and act for democratisation and for Kurdish rights”.

However, Danish Prime Minister Anders Fogh Rasmussen, heading a liberal government that will be presiding over the E.U. as from 1 July, stated, in Copenhagen on 17 April that the PKK’s change of name “in no way changed its nature”, maintaining his wish to have the ex-PKK placed on the E.U.’s list of terrorist organisations. “In my view, it is not the name bur the content that counts” he stressed. Mr. Rasmussen recently showed that he wanted the E.U.’s list to be aligned on that of the USA, provoking a controversy in the Centre/Left opposition in Parliament, critical of this will to align Copenhagen on Washington. The head of the Government reminded everyone, moreover, that he was on a special E.U. Committee to decide which organisations and individuals should be on these lists.


• ANKARA SENDS A AN EMISSARY TO SADDAM HUSSEIN. Anxious to avoid any US intervention in Iraq, a Turkish Secretary of State, Tunca Toskay, visited Baghdad on 2 April to meet Saddam Hussein and give him a personnal message from Prime Minister Bülent Ecevit, asking him to take “steps to avoid developments that might have an impact on us all”. 130 Turkish firms are in Baghdad to take part ina trade fair of Turkish products.

Elsewhere, the Kurdistan Democratic Party (KDP) announced on 4 April, that a US State Department delegation, led by Ryan Crocker, Under Secretary of State for Near Eastern Affairs had met Kurdish leaders in Iraqi Kurdistan. The US delegati0on met the KDP chief, Massoud Barzani, at his headquarters in Salahuddin as well as the Patriotic Union of Kurdistan (PUK) chjef in Suleimaniah. “The US delegation stressed (Washington’s) commitment to continuing its humanitarian support for the Iraqi people in Kurdistan”, the comminiqué added.

• LUXEMBURG: THE COUNCIL OF ASSOCIATION BETWEEN TURKEY AND THE E.U. On 16 April, the Council of Association between Turkey and the European Union (EU), meeting in Luxemburg, encouraged Turkey to develop freedom of expression. Gunter Verheugen, European Commissioner responsible for its enlargement, declared that negociations for membership could begin if Turkey conformed to the Copenhagen criteria. Mr. Verheugen also stressed the concern of the E.U. regarding Turkey’s Human Rights record, adding that Ankara ought to go further in the area of ethnic minority rights. The E.U. also asks for the abolition of the death sentence and limitations on the Turkish Army’s political influence.

Turkey, represented by its Foreign Minister, Ismail Cem, is trying to secure a date for the start of negotiations : it hopes for a signal from the Seville summet next June and an approximate or specific date at the Copenhagen summit in December.

• AMERICAN AIR RAID ON IRAQ FROM THE AMERICAN AIR BASE IN TURKEY. On 19 April, American and British planes patroling the air exclusion zone over Iraqi Kurdistan bombed Iraqi anti-aircraft batteries in response to shots from AA batteries, according to American officials. The bombs were dropped after Iraqi shots were fired at an air patrol East of Mossul, the American Command in Europe specified. American planes take off from the American base at Incirlik, in Turkey.

These are the first air raids in Northern Iraq since February and the third since the begining of the year, the American officials stated, as many were asking themselves if Iraq was going to be the USA’s next target in the context of ehat the Bush Administration describes as a struggle against terrorism.

Washington let it be understood that a military campaign couild be launched against Saddam Hussein if the latter persisted in refusing to allow the UNO disarmament inspectors to return. They nhave been kept out of Iraq since 1998. Discussions between Iraq and UNO on the return of the inspectors should have begun mid-April, butIraq asked for postponement of the meeting arguing that they would be dominated by the Israelo-Palestinians conflict if they took place at that date.

• 13 KURDS KILLED BY STARVING WOLVES IN VAN. According to the Kurdish daily Brayati of 17 April, 13 bodies left in the open country have been found at Noblen, in Van Province — all Iraqi Kurds trying to emmigrate. According to the Turkish authorities, 418 Iraqi Kurds who were trying to cross the Irano-Turkish border on 15 April were attacked by starving wolves who killed 13 people.

• THE CHINESE PRIME MINISTER’S VISIT TO ANKARA OVERSHADOWED BY THE UIGOUR QUESTION. Zhu Rongji, the first Chinese Prime Minister to make an official visit to Ankara for 16 years, was widely questioned about the Province of Xinjiang, mainly inhabited by Turkic speaking Moslems, like the Uigours, and which Turkey describes as “Eastern Turkistan”. Husnu Yusuf Gokalp, Minister of Agriculture and Tunca Toskay, Under-Secretary of State, both members of the National Action Party (MHP — neo-fascist) even arrived very late for the ceremonial signing of four bi-lateral Sino-Turkish agreements as a sign of protest against Chinese policy regarding the Uigours. In the course of a Press Conference on 16 April, the Chinese Prime Minister asked Turkey not to support groups carrying on separatist activities in Xinjiang — about a hundred yards from an anti-Chinese demonstration by a handful of Turkish Uigours.

Ankara, that prefers to ignore the 15 plus million Kurds and refuses to allow the word “Kurdistan” to be pronounced, feels no shame is trying to give lessons in minority rights and the right of peoples to self determination.

• THE FORMER PRESIDENT OF HADEP SENTENCED TO 10 MONTHS JAIL FOR ONE OF HIS SPEECHES. Ahmet Turan Demir, former President of the pro-Kurdish People’s Democratic HADEP party was sentenced to ten months jail for “endangering the unity of the country” by the Ankara State Security Court.

The sentence is linked to a speech he made during a Party Congress in November 2000 which, according to the charge sheet “aimed at attacking the unity and indivisability of the State”. The Turkish authorities regularly attack members of HADEP, accused of “separatism and organic links with the PKK”. HADEP , which argues in favour of a peaceful solution to the Kurdish question and for cultural rights for the Kurds, rejects these accusations. But it is being threatened with banning by the Constitutional Court.

• A KURDISH DRIVER SENTENCED TO 45 MONTHS JAIL FOR HAVING LISTENED TO A KURDISH CASSETTE IN HIS MINIBUS. On 9 April, a Kurdish driver was sentenced to 45 months jail, for having played out loud a cassette of Kurdish songs in his minibus. The State Security Court of the State of Diyarbekir considered that Selahaddin Onen was guilty of “helping an armed organisation” for having played that cassette in 1999 in his minibus while transporting passengers between Diyarbekir and the nearby town of Cinar.

The Court considered that playing songs in Kurdish amounted to supporting the Kurdistan Worker’s Party (PKK). “But the Court granted a stay of execution, taking into account the fact that my client had no previous record” added Mr. Sedat Yurttas. “The stay of execution means that Onen must not repeat the same crime again in the next five years or he will go to prison to serve this sentence”

This sentence comes at a time when Turkey, a candidate for membership of the European Union, is asking itself whether or not to allow radio and TV broadcasts in Kurdish — a cultural right that the EU is demanding of it. The authorities fear that broadcasts in Kurdish would revive the aspirations for independence of the Kurds, although the clashes in South-East have diminished since the PKK announced it was ending armed struggle in 1999.

• A TURKISH FARCE : KURDISH FIRST NAMES ON TRIAL — BY A JUDGE WHO, HIMSELF, HAS A KURDISH NAME. The first hearing before the High Court in the small town of Dicle, in Diyarbekir Province, of a case referred to it by the Dicle gendarmerie on 21 December 2001, demanding that 21 Kurdish children, of between 18 months and 15 years, be obliged to “Turkify” their first names, gave rise to a disconcerting and ludicrous spectacle. The Presiding Judge, who would have had to give a ruling on the question at issue, himself had an unquestionably Kurdish first name : Sirvan Ertekin. Sirvan means “milkman” in Kurdish … The Turkish daily Radikal, in its 19 April issue headlined the news “Sirvan tries Berivan” (i.e. “The milkman tries the milkmaid”).

The Public Prosecutor, Alpaslan Karabay, had demanded, despite repeated legal precedents to the contrary, (ruling on Berfin 1989/1520 and ruling on Rojda 1992/1351) that the following first names be disallowed and altered : Berivan, Zilan Rojda, Baver, Velat, Serhat, Kendal, Zilan, Hebun, Baran, Rojhat, Agit, Zelal, Zozan. Defence Lawyer Firat Anli, asked the Court, in view of the legal precedent of previous rulings, that the Court dismiss the case as inadmissible. The hearing was postponed pending a decision by the Academy of the Turkish Language, to which the Court had applied for a ruling as to whether these first names “conformed to the national culture, morals and customs” of Turkey.

• “63 MAJOR ARMAMENT PROJECTS BEING PROGRAMMED IN TURKEY” ACCORDING TO THE MINISTER OF DEFENCE. On 14 April, the Turkish Minister of Defence, Sabahattin Cakmakoglu declared that the Turkish Army had the ambition of taking part in 64 armament projects in the context of its restructuring. “Turkey must be equipped with the most modern systems existing in the world. This imcludes missiles, helicopers and tanks. At the moment, 64 projects are under way, coordinated by the Ministry of Defence” he added.

• THE DANISH PRIME MINISTER DESCRIBES THE PKK AS A TERRORIST ORGANISATION. On 9 April, the Danish Prime Minister, Anders Fogh Rasmussen, expressed the wish that the Kurdistan Workers’ Party (PKK) be placed on the E.U.’s list of terrorist organisations — because it is on the United States’ list… Answering the press after a Caqbinet meeting, Mr. Rasmussen also indicated that the Government did not intend closing the offices of the PKK political Branch, the “National Liberation Front of Kurdistan” (ERNK). “We have a tradition, in Denmark, of attacking the criminal actions of associations, but not freedom of association” he stressed.

The Danish Liberal/Conservative government wants the European list to be, as much as possible, in line with that of the United States so that “terrorist organisations” be unable to escape the economic vice that Europeans and Americans are trying to set up together, he explained. The Centre/Left opposition considers considers that the government has “no mandate to work to ensure that the E.U. list be identical to that of the U.S.”. The spokesperson of the Radical Party, Elisabeth Arnold, stressed, moreover, in a statement to the centre-left daily Politiken, that there were “doubts about the terrorist character of certain organisations on the American list, which, moreover, omits some Irish organisations that are on the E.U. list”.

Last December, the Fifteen adopted a list of 12 groups and 30 individuals, described as terrorist, whose properties have been frozen because of their actions or support for terrorism.

• A TURK8ISH GENERAL RECOMMENDS HANGING OF EXTRAVAGANT MEMBERS OF PARLIAMENT. Retired General Osman Ozbek, who had declared a week ago, in the course of a meeting of the Association for Kemalist Thought at Zonguldak that “Members of Parliament who have spent 70 billion Turkish lire for medical treatment should be hanged in the gardens of the National Assembly” has been openly criticised by some M.P.s including Mehmet Elkatmis, head of the Turkish parliament’s accounts control.

“Law N° 4375 of 1998 allows all public servents to have medical treatment abroad. This law was drawn up for one particular person. General Ozbek was then still on duty. If, instead of insulting the Prime Ministe,r he had spoken about the person for whose benefit the law had been drafted, I would have congratulated him. The law was drafted for one of his colleagues, a Gereral” (Editor’s Note : the law in question was drafted for the benefit of Admiral Guven Erkaya, former Commander in Chief of the Turkish Navy) stated Mr. Elkatmis, adding that “Parliament works under the control of the people. In Turkwey there are, unfortunately organs that are controlled by no one. In fact, it were better to control them”.

The Turkish General Staff riposted the next day by declaring that the Member of Parliament’s statement aimed at the Turkish Armed Forces had been examined closely and that “people who have such points of view will not be able to shake our nation’s confidence in the Turkish Army becaue they will never have the power to do so”.

• THE TURKISH PRESIDENT VETOES A SECOND LAW TO AMNESTY THE AUTHOR OF THE ATTEMPTED ASSASSINATION OF THE POPE — BUT EXCLUDING POLITICAL PRISONERS. On 27 April, Turkish President Ahmet Necdet Sezer vetoed an amnesty law which would benefit Mehmet Ali Agça, extreme Right activist who had attempted to kill Pope John-Paul II in Rome in 1981.

Ali Agça , who had spent nearly 20m years in jail in Italy for his action, is at present detained in Turkey, under a 17 year sentence for murdering a journalist and a burglary in 1979, for which he has been sentenced to 17 imprisonment. He has already served two years of this term and could be freed in five years time, if amnestied, according to his lawyer, Can Sevket Ozbay.

The amnesty law was approved by parliament on 25 February but the President criticises it, in particular for granting drastic reductions of sentence without taking into account the prisoner’s behaviour while in custody and because it was passed by a simple majority and not a 60% majority as should be the case for exceptional amnesties.

Under this law the majority for those serving sentences — except political prisoners or those sentenced for their opinions — could be freed ten years early.

Parliament must, therefore, review its position. If it passes the same Bill again, without alteration, the President is obligeed to sign it — but could ask the Constitutional Court to annul it.

• THE TURKISH CONTINGENT IN COMMAND IN AFGHANISTAN. The Turkish contingent will have to run the International Security and Assistance Force (ISAF) for the next six months. Washington “will strongly support Turkey’s directing role in the ISAF and will work closely with the Turkish government, the Interim Afghan authority and others to ensure the success of the force under Turkish command” declared the State Department’s spokesman, Richard Boucher.

Turkey has already sent 267 soldiers to Afghanistan and has announced that it could send more to join the ISAF, which totals 4,500 men. The only Moslem member of NATO, it takes over from Great Britain at the head of this force. Turkey has said it was ready to take command, provided it secured clarification on its composition, on the scope of its mandate and financial backing from the Allies. Discussions between Turkish, American and British military and civilian officials regarding Turkey’s direction of the ISAF took place in March in the Turkish capital.

Yilmaz Karakoyoglu, ministerial spokesman for the Turkish government, stated, after a cabinet meeting, that an aid of $ 228 million (260 million euros) that the Bush Administration intended to submit to Congress for approval, would be enough to help Turkey meet the cost of the operation. Ankara also demanded that the United States supply it with cargo transporter planes and that Great Britain, after its departure, leave behind certain installations that it had built near Kabul for the force’s use. The interim Afghan Prime Minister, Hamid Karzai, arrived in Ankara on 4 April to discuss the transfer and Turkish contribution to the reconstruction of Afghanistan.

• THE TURKISH CONTINGENT IN COMMAND IN AFGHANISTAN. The Turkish contingent will have to run the International Security and Assistance Force (ISAF) for the next six months. Washington “will strongly support Turkey’s directing role in the ISAF and will work closely with the Turkish government, the Interim Afghan authority and others to ensure the success of the force under Turkish command” declared the State Department’s spokesman, Richard Boucher.

Turkey has already sent 267 soldiers to Afghanistan and has announced that it could send more to join the ISAF, which totals 4,500 men. The only Moslem member of NATO, it takes over from Great Britain at the head of this force. Turkey has said it was ready to take command, provided it secured clarification on its composition, on the scope of its mandate an financial backing from the Allies. Discussions between Turkish, American and British military and civilian officials regarding Turkey’s direction of the ISAF took place in March in the Turkish capital.


THE KURDISH LANGUAGE’S TORTUOUS COURSE THROUGH MINEFIELDS. Can Dundar, a staff journalist on the Turkish daily Milliyet, returned, in his 7 April column to the vicissitudes of the Kurdish language, subjected to the whims of the Turkish authorities, but also to the ???? far from the realities of the Turkish politico-media circles. Here are extensive extracts from his article.

In 1980, two young men from Hakkari, taking a stroll in Aksary, met a fellow countryman, Frkat Baskale (Editor’s note : a Kurdish musician from the same region).

Baskale was a revolutionary musician whose voice was similar to that of Sivan Perwer (Editor’s note : the most popular of Kurdish musicians). At F. Baskale’s invitation they went to the hotel where he was working…

These young men had such a strong longing for Kurdish music that …

Firat, looked around suspiciously to see if there was anyone around … “If anyone hears us, we’ll be denounced and our lives won’t be worth a light” he warned them.

Then he led them to a dark and tiny room in the hotel cellars and picking up his guitar sang in Kurdish.

A few minutes later these two young men, certainlyn as frightened as if they had been taking part in an illegal demonstration, felt as happy as if they were back in their native mountains.

On of these youths was none other than Yilmaz Erdogan (Editor’s note : a popular Kurdish comedian). As for the other, he was Mohsin Kizilkaya, who, some years later mentioned this incident in his biography of Erdogan.

When this paper Milliyet (on 5 April 2002) carriet the front page headline “A Kurdish song in the barracks” this made Mohsin think back.

The news item said that the Bitlis gendarmerie had sung the song “Zeyno” in Kurdish and that the officers had joineed in and aplauded.

In Istanbul, there were posters advertising Sivan Perwer’s latest album.

And the National Security Council (MGK) had the question of broadcasting in Kurdish onits agenda.

Those who, for nearly a century had denied that such a language even existed, who persecuted those who spoke that language, who had arrogated to themselves the right to pedantically assert that “if we gave them the right to speak that language they wouldn’t understand it” now, whether pushed by an “outside dynamic” or thanks to the ending of terrorism, all of a sudden were recognising the “Kurdish reality”.

In fact it was seen that, of the 500,000people who danced at the Newroz celebrations in Diyarbekir, barely 500 bought books in Kurdish. Booksa in Kurdish by Mehmet Uzun sell 2,000 copies at most. But, nevertheless Kurdish-Turkish dictionaries are coming out … spelling books are beeing prepared … After the debate about Kurdish language broadcasts the question of teaching in Kurdish is now being discussed.

Last week Muhsin Kizilkaya raised another problem, in the course of a conference in Vienna : “Who will be put in charge of Kurdish broadcasting ? Who will teach Kurdish ? Are there any experts ? Are there any teachers or professors ? There is a Department of Sumerian at University, but not of Kurdish. A Turkish intellectual may be able to speak Russian, but has no interest in Kurdish, which is, nevedrtheless, spoken by millions of people in his own country”.

Ferhat Tunç (Editor’s note : a Kurdish musician) who has just brought out his latest album, tells how he was taken into detention for singing in Kurdish in Kayseri …

Where have we come from ? From being listened to secretly in the cellars of a hotel in Aksaray, Kurdish has passed through the interrogation chambers to barrak concerts …

Yilmaz, one of the two young men from Hakkari who listened in secret to Kurdish songs is today Turkey’s best loved humourist …

As for Mohsin, who learnt Turkish by having it beaten into him at school, and learnt his mother tongue in prison, during the defence of the Association of Revolutionary Clubs of Eastern Culture (DDKO), he is one of the most famous Turkish language writers …

If we want to live in real brotherhood, we must respect and understand one another’s language — there is no other solution”.