B u l l e t i n

c o m p l e t

Bulletin N° 208 | July 2002



At dawn, on 3 August, he Turkish members of Parliament passed a series of crucuial reforms, including the abolition of capital punishment, and the granting of certain cultural rights to the Kurds, in the hope of meeting the conditions laid down by the Fifteen for membership of the European Union. The demcratic reforms were adopted as a whole, on a show of hands, in the final vote that followed 16 hours of often stormy discussion. The ultra nationalists of the National Action Party (MHP — neo-fascist) arguing that the widening of rights for minorities created the danger of launching a renewal of the virtually extinguished Kurdish conflict that hasd caused 36,500 deaths, over fifteen years, in the Kurdish provinces.

The abolition of the death sentence — except in times of war or threat of war — had received unexpected support as of 2 August, thus causing otheer taboos to be also eliminated. This measures thus finally saveds the head of Abdullah Ocalan and about fifty others who had been sentenced to death.

The audiovisual broadcasting of Kurdish language programmes is now allowed as well as private teaching of Kurdish. The Bill on the Kurdish language was approved at the end of a preliminary vote in the course of a marathon parliamentary session that began on 2 August. “Programmes can be drawn up in the different languages and dialects that Turkish citizens use in everyday life” the law Bill down.

Parliament also extended freedom of expression and association, limited the repression of public demonstrations and widened the rights of non-Moslem organisations, which can , henceforth, own property and real estate. Legal proceedings for criticising State institutions, including the Army, have been eliminated and imprisonment for press offences abolished. On the other hand, the members of Parliament have introduced strict measures against illegal immigration.

The abolition of the death sentence, together with cultural rights for the Kurdish minority, were the principal political imperatives required by the European Union. “Parliament has abolished the death sentence — the greatest obstacle to Turkish membership of the European Union — a historic vote” rejoiced the popular daily Sabah, with a great “Thank you”. “We have not missed the train for the E.U. (…) Parliament has opened the door to the E.U. a little at a time when hopes were fading” wrote the daily Radikal.

The most recent evaluation report published by the European Commission, at the end of 2001, gave Ankara credit for “substantial efforts” to satisfy the criteria for membership of the Union, but considered that those remaining to be made were “considereable”.

The Turkish parliamentarians were subject to strong pressures to adopt the reforms. A clock was sysmbolically installed in front the the doors into Parliament by a pressure group supporting membership of the E.U. to show a count down of the number of minutes until the December European summit in Copenhagen 2002, which would be devoted to the enlarging of the Union. The members also, on 31 July last, expressed themselves in favour of an early general election on 3 November, after massive resignations within the government coalition had shaken its parliamentary majority and endangered the economic reforms and the International Monetary Fund’s $16 billion support loan.

“With this series of reforms, Turkey has met all the political criteria that we are going to carry out. No one can claim otherwise” declared Prime Minister Bülent Ecevit on 4 August. “Turkey now expects to be admitted as soon as possible” he added the day after the adoption of these democratic reforms. Mr. Ecevit appeared confident that these reforms would allow his country the best opportunities for the rapid opening of negotiations for membership. “We have no shortcoming regarding the political criteria for membership of the Union” Mr. Ecevit declared, adding “I do not doubt that our Western friends will notice this when they examine in detail the reforms adopted by Parliament”. “I do not even want to envisage this possibility, but if we fail to agree a date (for the negotiations) we will do whatever is necessary to get there” he added, without giving any other details.

The E.U. welcomed the adoption of these measures, but pointed out that it would “closely watch” the way in which they were applied. Ankara’s cooperation in the re-unification of Cyprus and its green light to the European rapid reaction force’s access to NATO’s military resources are also of prime importance, as well as Turkey’s sensitive reforms to reduce the political power of its Generals. But, even it this strategic member of NATO were to succeed in fulfilling all these conditions (which is not very likely in an election year) it is not certain that a date for opening negotiations on membership would be set, in view of the reservations of several member states of the E.U. The conservative candidate, Edmund Stoiber who is favourite to win the the German General Elections on 22 September, has declared his hostility to Turkey’s membership in May — a point of view shared, in private, by a number of Western European political leaders. The former Spanish Foreign Minister, Josep Piqué, encouraged Turkish hopes by declaring, at the last E.U. summit in Seville, that “new decisions” regarding Turkey’s application would be taken in Copenhagen. But other European leaders hastened to say that Turkey was still a long way from meeting European criteria with regards to democracy and Human Rights, to minority rights, freedom of expression and civilian control over the armed forces. A European leader has considered that Turkey remains “a military semi-dictatorhsip” — a point of view widely shared in Brussels.

Publicly, the European Commission described the adoption of reforms as a “courageous decision”, but it recalls that the application of these reforms was as important as their being passed. The European Commissioner for Enlargement, Gunter Verheugen, stressed that these reforms would not have been possible without “the European perspective developped for Turkey by the E.U.” when it officially accepted Ankara as a candidate for membership in 1999. But this attraction would only endure if Turkey noticed a sincere will on the part of the European Union for admitting it to membership. “We have succeeded — now it’s up to you !” headlined the Turkish daily Sabah on 4 August in addressing the E.U. Recep Tayyip Erdogan, head of the Justice and Development Party (AKP — Islamic) which is leading in the opinion polls, said much the same thing by declaring “We will judge the sincerity of the European Union by its next initiatives”.

As against this, the Turkish ultra-nationalists do not hide their opposition to these reforms, and Deputy-Prime Minister Devlet Bahceli, whose National Action Party is the largest group in Parliament, announced, in a statement broadcast on Television on 4 August, that he would ask the Constitutional Court to cancel these reforms. He considered that the vote in Parliament was “dangerous and unthinking”. “Those who were so zealous to spare him (i.e. Mr. Ocalan) from the punishment he deserves have struck a blow against our country” Mr. Bahceli declared to his supporters at a rally in the Anatolian province of Kayseri. These reforms will “pulverise the unity and the existence of the Turkish nation” he added.

The great majority of Kurds welcome these positive measures towards the recognition of their language, but remain very cautious. Firstly, it is not impossible that the nationalist-dominated Constitutional Court may cancel the new law. Secondly, no one knows how these rights will be applicable in practice since the Constitution and the Penal Code still contain many repessive clauses and institutions like the High Audiovisual Council will regulate this promised area of freedom. Nor can it be known what political majority will emerge from the General Elections on 3 November next. It should be recalled that already, in 1991, the then Prime Minister Demirel had declared that “Turkey henceforth recognises its Kurdish reality”. Everyone knows the consequences of this declaration, that had aroused so many hopes in Turkey and in Europe at the time.


The Kurdish people have just lost one of its most prestigious and faithful friends, Laurent Schwartz, who died in Paris on 4 July 2002, at the age of 87. An internationally famous scientist, Professor Schwartz was also a great activist for anti-colonial causes and a defender of oppressed minorities.

In the middle 70s he was one of the very first French intellectuals to take up the defence of the Kurdish people and of their right to self-determination. In 1974 he took part, with other French intellectuals, including Jean-Paul Sartre, Simone de Beauvoir, Maxime Rodinson, Pierre Vidal-Naquet, Edgar Morin, Bernard Dorin, and Gérard Chaliand, in the creation of an Association France-Kurdistan. This association, through its publications and its intervention in the media, contributed greatly to making the Kurdish question known in France. It remained active until the opening, in 1983, of the Kurdish Institute. The French intellectuals who, till then, had supported the Kurdish people through that association, agreed to continue their activity by becoming members of the sponsorship committe of the Institute. As such, Professor Schwartz closely followed our activities and was generous with advice and encouragement, remaining a very close supporter of the work for the Kurdish cause, the defence and spreading of information and of Kurdish culture carried our by the Institute.

A friend of the Kurds, he was also a defender of other anti-colonial causes, including, at least, that of Algerian independence, which led him into serious difficulties with the French authorities.

Born on 5 March 1915, Laurent Schwartz is one of the best known of contemporary French mathematicians. When barely 35 years of age, this graduate of the Ecole Normale, holder of a higher degree in mathematics and a Doctorate in Science, received the highest award for mathematicians, the Field Medal — the equivalent of a Nobel prize in mathematics — for his work. He also distinguished himself very early by his political commitments, being, for example, one of the signatories of the manifesto by 121 intellectuals proclaiming the right of conscripts to refuse to serve in the Algerian war, at a time when he was professor at the Ecole Polytechnique, France’s most prestigious higher education institute, which has military status. Dismissed by the Minister of War, Pierre Messmer, who considered that remaining in his post would be “contrary to common sense and honour” he had retorted “If I signed the declaration of the 121, it is partly for having seen, for several years, torture going unpunished and torturers being rewarded. My former pupil, Maurice Audin, was tortured and assassinated in June 1957 and it is you, Mr. Minister, who signed the decree promoting Captain Charbonnier to the rank of Officer of the Legion of Honour for exceptional services rendered … Coming from a Minister who has been responsible for such things, such conceptions of honour leave me cold”. Coming from a Right-wing family, Laurent Schwartz became, however, a convinced anti-colonialist and internationalist, disillusioned by the “non-intervention” policies carried out by France under Leon Blum’s government in the face of the rising power of Nazism, by the Stalinist purges and by the Spainish Civil War. Over and above his emblematic stature as an academic, Laurent Schwartz was to throw all his influence behind mobilising and fighting against colonial oppression and wars, firstly of Algeria, then of Vietnam, the intervention in Afghanistan and Chechenya, but also Kurdistan…


While the experts are churning out their analyses of a possible American invasion, and that his is provoking splits within the Administration, within Congress and more or less open objections from the European governments, the various components of the Iraqi opposition are multiplying meetings and “summits” to discuss the coordination of their efforts so as to contribute to the overthrow of the Iraqi regime and prepare a post-Saddam set up.

Thus, between 12 and 14 July 2002 the conference was held in London of some 200 members of the Iraqi opposition, some sixty former senior Army officers but also the Kurdish, Shiite and Sunni parties as we ll as a strong American delegation from the Pentagon and the State Department. “We are continuing our plans to bring down the oppressive regime” said General Tawfiq al-Yassiri, one of the organisaers of the meeting who is hoping to encourage defections in the Iraqi General Staff. A military Council to overthrow Saddam Hussein was, moreover, formed.

The meeting was also marked by the presence of Prince Hasan Bin Talal of Jordan, uncle of the present King Abdullah, who was excluded from the line of succession by his brother, the late King Hussein — but who is also cousin to Faiçal II, the last Iraqi monarch, overthrown and assassinated in 1958. Amman, that refuses officially to serve as a base for any attack on Iraqi, stated that the Prince was not mandated by the government.

But it was the Washington summit meeting of 9 August of leaders of the principal organisations of the Iraqi opposition that attracted the most interest. Organised by the American government, this meeting allowed exchanges, considered “substantial and serious”, between the most senior officials of the State Department and the Pentagon on the perspectives for change in Iraq. The american Vice-President, Dick Cheney, took part through in the discussion by video-conference, and re-iterated “the determination of the American administration to overthrow the Saddam Hussein dictatorship”. However, American strategy remains unknown, as are the means to effect a change of regime or its aims for the post-Saddam period. In any case, by bringing together the principal Iraqi leaders and welcoming them so ostentatiously, Washington wanted, at least, to give some credibility to its interventionist discourse.

The two principal Kurdish political organisations, the Kurdistan Democratic Party (KDP) and the Patriotic Union of Kurdistan PUK), were represented at these meetings by Hashyar Zibari and Mohsin Dizayee for the first and by Jalal Talabani and Barham Salih for the second. Before flying to Washington, Mr. Talabani, leader of the PUK, had made a point of spending two days in Ankara where he had discussion with the Under=secretary of State for Foreign Affairs and with Army leaders.

In addition to the Iraqi National Council (INC) represented by its President Ahmed Shalabi, the Supreme Council of the Iraqi Revolution (an important Tehran-based Shiite politico-military faction) also tookpart in the Washington summit — apparently with a green light from its Iranian protectors.

For its part, the U.S. Senate held a series of auditions of experts to assess the opportunity and consequences of an American military action in Iraq.

Furthermore, according to the 5 August issue of the American daily USA Today, quoting officials of the American intelligence services, Iraqi President Saddam Hussein is trying to persuade the Kurds to remain neutral in the event of a US attack on his country. “Over the last few weeks, Saddam has had recource to intermediaries in Northern Iraq to launch an appeal to the rebels whom he has terrorised for years” reports USA Today, on the strength of information supplied by these officials.

In order to ensure the neutrality of the Kurds, who make up about 28% of the Iraqi population and who are struggling for federal status, Saddam Hussein has assured them that they could continue to enjoy a cetain autonomy, to teach Kurdish to their children and raise taxes and secure a share of the country’s oil income.


The Turkish Parliament, meeting in plenary session to end a political crisis that was harming the efforts for the economic recovery of the country, decided to set a date for early General Elections and chose 3 November for them.

The members of Parliament passed the resolution setting this date by 449 votes, with 62 against and 2 abstentions. These elections will take place at a time when Ankara is trying to force a date for the begining of negotiations for its admission to European Union membership — and when the United States may demand its support in the event of a military campaign against its Iraqi neighbour.

Opposed to the holding opf an early election, but weakened by illness, Prime Minister Bülent Ecevit has lost the struggle agianst his coalition allies, and in particular against the National Action Party (MHP), who favour such a Bill. Twice taken to hospital since the begining of May, Ecevit has seen the divisions in his three-party coalition sharpen during his absence — particularly over the reforms required before any real negotiatins for membership of the European Union. After a series of resignations from his party of Ministers and Members of Parliament, amongst whom are Deputy Prime Minister, Husamettin Ozkan, and Foreign Minister, Ismail Cem, followed, after a while by then Turkish Minister of Economics, Kemal Dervis, the Prime Minister’s coalition has survived, but his “Left Democratic Party” (DSP) has lost its position as largest group in Parliament. Ismail Cem, putting himself forward as the spokesman of a “renovated” and resolutely European Turkey, launched a new “social democratic” political party on 12 July. As head of Turkish foreign policy for the last five years (a record in this country, governed by unstable coalitions) Ismail Cem has built himself a reputation of privilaged and much appreciated partner of the European governments. He had, in particular, succeeded in securing for Turkey the status of candidate for membership at the E.U.’s helsinki summit in December 1999.

In October the Fifteen are due to publish a report on Ankara’s progress towards strengthening its democratic institutions and Human Rights. The pro-Europeans hope pushing their refirms forward before this date so as to secure a favourable report and be given, in December, a firm date for the opening of negotiations for membership.


The Iranian regime, and particularly its hard line faction, was shaken by the resignation of Ayatollah Taheri, one of the late Imam Khomeiny’s closest companions, who has been leading the Friday prayers in Ispahan for the last thirty years. In a letter dated 11 July, Ayatollah Taheri explains his resignation by denouncing the “widespread corruption”, “the incompetance of the authorities and the short-comings of the political structures” of the ruling powers. The principal religious dignitary of the city of Ispahan also denounced “the stripping of Parliament of its powers to the benefit of unelected bodies”, “the worrying arrests and jailings and, behind all this a people and a country made ridiculous”.

In an unprecedented action, Ayatollah Taheri has openly come out in support of Ayatollah Montazeri, the former “heir apparent” of Ayatollah Khomeiny, disgraced and placed under house arrest since 1989 and has castigated “those in power who instrumentalise religion” describing them as “allies of fascist groups”.

Furthermore, for the first time in three years, the “Corps of Guardians of the Islamic Revolution”, the notorious Pasdarans, created in 1979, have openly intervened in the political field by publishing a communiqué against the reformers, less than two days after an anti-American demonstration on 19 July, saying they were “ready to defend the values of the revolution”.


Turkey will have to pay a total of 24,000 euros to Mrs. Ulku Ekinci whose husband, an Ankara lawyer suspected of Kurdish nationalist sympathies, was assassinated in 1994, the European Court for Human Rights indicated on 16 July.

The European Court considered that the Turkish authorities had not conducted “an adequatte and effective investigation” into the circumstances of this lawyer’s death. On the other hand, the court did not recognise that, as Mrs. Ekinci maintained, that the authorities were responsible for the circumstances in which he had been killed, because of “lack of sufficient proof”. His brother, Dr. Tarik Ziya Ekinci, had been Member of Parliament for Diyarbekir and General Secretary of the Worker’s Party of Turkey in the 60s.

Yusuf Ekinci, a member of a very well known Kurdish family, was found dead on 25 February 1994, on a motorway on the outskirts of Ankara, his body riddled by eleven bullets. According to his wife, this murder was one of obout 4000 assassinations, as established by Amnesty International and the Turkish Human Rights Foundation, that had been “perpetrated by unidentified persons” in that same year.

Yusuf Ekinci, who had been “to some extent politically active until 1990” was killed in circumstances similar to those of one of his clients assassinated a month earlier — Behçet Canturk, a businessman suspected of financing the Kurdistan Workers’ Party (PKK) and, for this reason, appearing on the infamour Çiller list of about a hundred Kurdish public figures to be eliminated without trial. According to the European Court, a report ordered by the Turkish Government and published in 1998 “gave reason to think that agents of the State had, indeed, been implicated in the murder” of this businessman. A report prepared in 1998 at the request of the then Prime Minister Mesut Yilmaz by the General Inspectorate of his services, had established that these murders had been approved by top authorities of the State and Mrs. Çiller had publicly welcomed these “patriotic actions”.

Moreover, on 9 July, the European Human Rights Court found Turkey guilty of “violations of freedom of the Press”. In July 1995, Seher Karatas, publisher and Chief Editor of the bi-monthly review Gençligin Sesi (The Voice of Youth) had been sentenced by the Istanbul State Security Court for an article headed “We must re-examine the system itself ” on the basis of Articel 312 of the Turkish Penal Code that punishes “inciting the people to hatred and hostility through distinctions based on belonging to a social class or religion”. The Turkish government maintaining that the tone of the article was not that of criticism but of verbal agression against the established regime.

The European Court “notes that the article in the case, ove all, is an appeal to the youth to join with the working class in struggling against unemployment and poverty and finds nothing in it that could pass for a call for violence, for an uprising or any other form of rejection of democratic principles”.

The Court stresses that “the fact that such a political appeal is considered incompatible with the repressive legislation of the Turkish State does not, however, make it contrary to democratic rules. From this point of view, this appeal, even if it includes a call for “strikes and general resistence” is no different from those made by political movements in other member countries of the Council of Europe”. No passage in the article in this case proposes the use of violence, stressed the Court, that found Turkey guilty of violating Article 10 of the European Convention on Human Rights.

Moreover, the Court concluded that Article 6 §1 of the Convention had also been violated, since the petitioner had been brought before a State Security Court which included a career officer belonging to the military judiciary.

Turkey was sentenced to paying the petitioner 4,500 € dammages and 2,000 € costs.

Turkey, regularly found guilty by the European Court for Human Rights of violations of the freedom of expression of Kurds, has once again promised to do more to ensure this right is respected. In a joint declaration following the out of court settlement of another case, the Turkish authorities committed themselves “to carrying out all the changes in the law and internal practices needed in this area”. In this case, the Turkish State accepted, in the context of an out of court settlement, to pay 7,000 € to a Turkish citizen who had been sentenced to one year’s imprisonment for having made “a speech on the problems of the Kurdish people and (…) possible solutions to them”. “The interference incriminated in this case (…) is an additional illustration” of the fact that “Turkish law and practices must urgently be brought into conformity with the requirements of Article 10 (on freedom of expression) of the Convention” explained the Turkish side.

Finally, on 16 July, the European Court for Human Rights stated in a communiqué that Turkey had recognised its responsibility for the ill-treatment suffered by an activist of the Kurdistan Workers’ Party (PKK) and by a Left wing activist — and had accepted to compensate them.

By the terms of the out of court settlement, a PKK activist, aged 37, will receive 32,000 euros dammages for having been tortured in 1994 at the premises of the Istanbul Police Directorate. A young woman of 29, a member of the illegal Dev-Sol (Revolutionary Left) organisation, who was a victim of ill-treatment during detention in Istanbul in April 1993, will receive a total of 30,000 euros dammages from the Turkish Government.

In virtually identical statements for the two cases, the government “regrets the survival, as in this case, of individual instances of ill-treatment by Turkish authorities of persons while in detention, despite existing Turkish legislation and the government’s determination to prevent such incidents”. The government “undertakes to publish appropriate instructions and to adopt all necessary measures to guarantee the banning of such forms of ill-treatment”.

For its part, the Ministerial Committe of the Council of Europe last week sharply criticised the persisting violations of Human Rights in Turkey, which is a candidate for membership of the European Union. The executive of the organisation regretted that the reform of police training undertaken over the last three years “has not yet produced any visible or concrete results”.


In the course of his visit to Ankara on 16/17 July, the US Assistant Secretary of State for Defence, Paul Wolfowitz, expressed the determination of his country to over-throw the Saddam Hussein regime in Iraq, seeking the support of its Turkish strategic ally, which is reserved about military strikes.

The American official nevertheless indicated, to the Turkish authorities that the US government had not yet taken any decisions regarding Iraq nor asked Ankara to take any. “I did not come with any precise ideas about what should be the role of Turkey (Editor’s Note : in the event of military operations against Iraq) nor with the decision on a operation, because we ourselves have not taken any decision” he declared at the end of his two days discussions with the Turkish civilian and military authorities. “We did not come to secure a decision by the Turkish government but to profit from the Turkish points of view” he added. “The Iraqi regime, hostile to the United States and and agent of terrorism, is a danger that we cannot allow to confront us indefinately. But resolving the problem implies a series of decisions tha the President (George W. Bush) has not yet taken” continued Mr. Wolfowitz.

For its part, Turkey explained to Mr. Wolfowitz, who was accompanied by the N°3 of the State Department, Marc Grossman, and General Joseph Ralston, Commander of the American Forces in Europe, why it wanted to avoid a military option — its nightmare of the creation of a Kurdish State in the event of a break-up of Iraq and the unfavourable repercussions on the crisis ridden Turkish economy. It also requested of its key ally some mechanism for closer consultation. “We don’t want any surprises. We asked them to consult us at every stage of their decision-making and not just to inform us on the eve of an eventual military operation” specified a leading Turkish official off the record. The same authoritiesd also asked the Pentagon’s N° 2 about the possibility of cancelling Turkey’s debt due to American arms sales — which amount to over $4 billion.

Cengiz Candar, an editorial writer on the Islamic daily Yeni Safak, revealed that Ankara’s position was now more a matter of “requesting economic and political guarantees from the United States rather than opposing the strikes”. According to him, The decision of Bülent Ecevit’s coalition government to call an early General Election could be to enable a stable government to take over in Ankara before the launching of any operations against Iraq early next year.

American threats against Iraq are becomming more precise whereas Turkey, over the last few years has increased its efforts to revive trade with its neighbour. The volume of trade between the two counties before the Gulf War had been $4 billion per year. At present it is $2 billion a year. Ankara estimates its trading losses due to the embargo on Iraq at $ 40 billion.


From 6 to 10 July 2002, over 300 members of Parliament from 55 different States met in the Berlin Bundestag for the 11th annual session of the Parliamentary Assembly of the Organisation for Security and Cooperation in Europe. The discussions were oriented around the political economic and humanitarian aspects of the international struggle against terrorism and was follwed by a final declaration. Moreover, a report drawn up by Svend J. Robinson, on behalf of the Commission on Democracy, Human Rights and humanitarian questions, entitled “Facing up to terrorism : a challenge on a planetary scale for the 21st Century” was adopted.

The Report deplored that “in Turkey HADEP mayors are victims of permanernt harrassment, like the Mayor of Hakkari, who was accused of subversion for having published a calender in English and Kurdish”. It also stressed that “the Kurdish language remains forbidden on the radio and in education and the former member of Parliament, Leyla Zana is still in prison”.

“In Van, the security forces have arrested about 500 students for having signed a petition in which they claimed the right to studying in Kurdish. As the Human Rights lawyer, Osman Baydemir, said in the weeks following 11 September, “the government thinks it can do whatever it likes now and that the West will let it get away with it” the report pointed out.

In his resolution, the reporter proposed to “encourage the participating States to contribute to international efforts to put an end to long standing injustices existing in the Middle East, including the full respect of the rights of Palestinians and Kurdish minorities and the right of all the states of the region to live in peace and security”.


• THE EUROPEAN UNION REFUSES TO SET A TIMETABLE FOR TURKEY — WHICH IS LAGGING BEHIND. On 1 July, Denmark began its the six month Chairmanship of the European Union, which is planned to end with agreement on the conditions for enlarging the E.U. at the Copenhagen summit in December 2002. On the same day Gunter Verheugen, European Commissioner responsible for enlargement stated to the German daily Frankfurter Allgemeine Zeitung that no timetable could be set for Turkey’s membership.

In welcoming Romano Prodi, President of the European Commission, and all the other Commissioners to Copenhagen, Mr. Rasmussen “expressed the hope that all ten of the candidates would be ready to enter the E.U.”. (Editor’s Note: Turkey is the eleventh candidate). Mr. Rasmussen once again warned “against the slightest delay in the negotiations, which would result in several years postponement of this enlargement” refering to the very full agenda of the E.U. over the coming years. He indicated that “the European Union will present its common position to the candidate countries very early in November and that there remained intense negotiations to be condicted until the Copenhagen summit” on 12/13 December. This summit might even be prolonged for one or two days if need be.

• 5 MONTHS JAIL FOR THE TURKISH VERSION OF A BOOK ON THE KURDS BY THE AMERICAN AUTHOR JONATHAN RANDAL. On 31 July, the Istanbul State Security Court (DGM) sentenced the publisher, Abdullah Keskin, director of the AVESTA publishing house, to 5 months jail, commuted to a fine of 830,466,000 Turkish Lire for publishing Jonathan Randal’s book “After such knowledge, what forgiveness? — My with Kurdistan”. The Court considered that the book was “aimed against the indivisible unity of the Turkish nation and State” by using the term Kurdistan.

The book in question has already been published in several languages — Persian, Kurdish, English, Arabic . The former Washington Post war correspondent, recognised for his professionalism and called as a witness by the International Criminal Court for ex-Yugoslavia, has thus been incriminated by Turkish law.

• A CAMPAIGN OF FORCED ARABISATION AT MOSSUL UNIVERSITY. The Iraqi campaign of forcible Arabisation has recently extended to include Kurdish university students, particularly at Mosul University.

According to the weekly Gulan, published in the Kurdish administered-area “Kurdish students from Mosul, Kirkuk and other Kurdish areas under the control of the Iraqi central government who enrolled at Mosul University for the 2001-2002 academic year, were obliged to pay large sums of money and did not receive any monthly allowances”.

The weekly added “the non-Arab students at Mosul University (…) were informed that they should all change their ethnic identity, change their names into Arabic names and fill out Ba’ath Party membership forms. They were threatened that otherwise they would not be given the right to study for the next academic year of 2002-2003.”

Gulan further wrote that “Palestinian and Yemeni students, who comprise 30 per cent of the students at Mosul university, have all the rights and are provided with all the facilities for studying (…) all Palestinian and Yemeni students who are accepted at the university receive an initial grant of 400 dollars and a monthly allowance of 100,000 Iraqi dinars each. ”

It added that “the non-Arab students, including Kurds and Turkomans, do not get accepted for higher education, such as studying for MSc or PhD degrees, no matter how high their marks, whereas the Arab students, especially the Palestinians and Yemenis, get accepted for graduate studies even if their marks are very low.”

According to unofficial estimates, more than 260,000 Kurds and 5,000 Turkomans have been expelled from the Iraqi-held Kurdish areas to the region under Kurdish control in the past ten years. As far as the number of Kurds displaced to Southern Iraq, no figure is available.

• DEATH OF ANOTHER TWO HUNGER STRIKERS. Miss Semra Basyigit, a 24 year old member of the People’s Revolutionary Liberation Front-Party (DHKP-C — Marxist-Leninist) died on 31 July from the sequels of a hunger strike, begun over a year ago to protest against the Type-F prisons.

On 10 August, the Turkish prisoners’ hunger strike in protest against the prison regime of solitary confinement claimed its fifty-third victim. Fatma Bilgin, 30 years of age, died in an Ankara hospital a yhear after having joined the hunger strike movement. The protesters take it in turns to fast and only swallow sweet or saline liquids and vitamins to keep alive.

Fatma Bilgin was serving a sentence of twelve years imprisonment for being a member of the People’s Revolutionary Liberation Front-Party (DHKP-C) which has taken the lead in the protest movement in the Turkish prisons. This movement was launched in October 2000 by several hundreds of far left detainees as a protest against the setting up of a new type of high security prison in which cells for one or two people replaced the former system of big dormitories containing several dozens. The protestors put forward the argument that the new system exposed the detainees to illtreatment by the security forces (endemic in Turkish prisons) and increased their isolation.

The list of victims also includes sympathisers outside prison who have joined the hunger strike out of solidarity with the detainees.

• AN AGREEMENT ON ELECTRICITY BETWEEN IRBIL AND SULEIMANIAH. Under an agreement signed on 3 July,he Irbil-based Kurdistan regional government will pay seven million dinars (17 dinars for a US dollar) per month to Suleimaniyah Electricity Department, for the purchase of 80 megawatts to ensure electricity for Irbil Governorate.

The electricity used by the city of Irbil — about 800,000 inhabitants — is principally generated by the two dams of Dokan and Darbandi Khan, which are under the control of the Suleimaniya administration, led by the Patriotic Union of Kurdistan, PUK.

• DESPITE THE COUNTRY’S ECONOMIC CRISIS, THE TURKISH ARMED FORCES WILL BUY 150 FIGHTER PLANES FOR A TOTAL SUM OF 6 BILLION DOLLARS. According to the Turkish daily Milliyet, of 5 July, Turkey is prepared to sign a contract with the US State Department on 11 July for 150 new generation F-35 fighter planes, of Americano-British manufacture, for a sum of $6 billion (i.e. $ 40 million each) payable by 2013 and to be delivered between 2015 and 2030.

The Turkish General Staff also intends to confirm its order for 30 new F-16 planes for a billion dollars, but is asking the United States to help it with the sales of its old F-16.

The F-35 programme, with a projected sale of 5,000 planes is the largest ever military project for jet planes.

Despite the injection of $16 billion dollars by the IMF, Turkey has the greatest difficulty in facing up to its unprecedented economic crisis, which is hitting all levels of Turkish society — except, apparently the Turkish Armed Forces.

Moreover the leaders of the three government coalition parties, including Prime Minister Bülent Ecevit, for the first time in two months, meeting on 4 July in a summit with the various Ministries responsible for economic affairs, failed to make any concrete advance on economic reforms…

• DESPITE THE COUNTRY’S ECONOMIC CRISIS, THE TURKISH ARMED FORCES WILL BUY 150 FIGHTER PLANES FOR A TOTAL SUM OF 6 BILLION DOLLARDS. According to the Turkish daily Milliyet, of 5 July, Turkey is prepared to sign a contract with the US State Department on 11 July for 150 new generation F-35 fighter planes, of Americano-British manufacture, for a sum of $ 6 billion (i.e. $ 40 million each) payable by 2013 and to be delivered between 2015 and 2030.

The Turkish General Staff also intends to confirm its order for 30 new F-16 planes for a billion dollars, but is asking the United States to help it with the sales of its old F-16.

The F-35 programme, with a projected sale of 5,000 planes is the largest ever military project for jet planes.

Despite the injection of $16 billion dollars by the IMF, Turkey has the greatest difficulty in facing up to its unprecedented economic crisis, which is hitting all levels of Turkish society — except, apparently the Turkish Armed Forces.

• TURKISH WRITER FIKRET BASKAYA RELEASED. The left-wing writer, academic and journalist, Fikret Baskaya, was released from prison on 27 June after having served a sentence of one yeqar for an article he’d written on the Kurdish problem. Mr. Baskaya, 62 years of age, was welcomed by Human Rights defenders on leaving Kalecik prison, near Ankara.

Mr. Baskaya, a university economics specialist, who had already served twenty months in prison between 1993 and 1995 for defending Kurdish rights, was sentenced to 16 months for “separatist propaganda” by the Istanbul State Security Court for an article published in 1999 in the paper Ozgur Bakis — which has since had to cease publication.

• CLASHES BETWEEN THE PUK AND ISLAMIST GROUPS. Forces of Patriotic Union of Kurdistan, PUK, repulsed a massive attack by forces of a Kurdish Islamic armed group, Ansar al-Islam, in the villages of Girda Drozna Tapi Kurra and Shahka, near the Iranian border according to a broadcast by PUK satellite TV channel, KurdSat on 4 July.

According to a PUK military communiqié, eight members of the PUK forces were killed and six injured in the course of the clash, while the pro-Islamic Arabic language web site, quoting Ansar al-Islam sources, reported that PUK forces had lost 40 fighters, and a large number were injured."

• THE STATE OF EMERGENCY IS LIFTED FROM THE PROVINCES OF TUNCELI AND HAKKARI— BUT ANOTHER SPECIAL REGIME IS SET UP. On 30 July, the Turkish authorities lifted the State of Emergency (OHAL) that has been in force for the last 23 years from the provinces of Tunceli (Dersim) and Hakkari. The decision became effective at 17.00 (5pm) local time. In law, the Kurdish population should then revert to normal regulations, after have been under special regimes since 26 April 1979 — that is 8 years under a state of seige and 15 years of a State of Emergency. On the spot, however, the two provinces are now declared “mucavir il” (preipheral provinces) and the State of Emergency Super-Prefecture still retains authority for another four months on matters of security.

The Turkish authorities have attributed to the Kurdistan Workers’ Party (PKK) the murder of 21 primary school teachers and the setting on fire of 35 village schools and stress that teaching has not been restored to the closed schools, even since the 1999 cease fire.

Moreover, according to official data, Tunceli Province saw the forced evacuation of 151 villages and 800 hamlets by the Turkish forces. During the exceptional regimes, a food embargo, organised by Prefectoral decree, was imposed on the region. All food-stuffs, in particular flour, were rationed by the local police stations, and all travelling was organised in convoys. This system was only lifted in 1999. Till now, any person of under 24 in Tunceli or Hakkari will never have known anything other than such a special regime.

Can Dundar, a journalist on the Turkish daily Milliyet, wrote on 1 August in its columns : “Last year I was told: a child of 8 years old who came originally from Hakkari, brought to Ankara for medical reasons asked his father in astonishment : “Where are the tanks, dad?” … A young teacher fom Izmi, teaching in Hakkari, also told that “here the children cannot organise a game in recreation time … They have grown up under laws that ban all meatings — so in fact they don’t play in groups”. Unut, a young man who grew up without ever knowing what it is to live under an “ordinary” regime, explained, with irritation, that the authorities had not even authorised celebrations for high school graduation …”

Still about Hakkari, the journalist added that “there is not a single specialist doctor in the town — the inhabitants badly need an opthalmologist or an ear, nose and throat specialist. There is neither a cinema nor a theatre … The town’s only bookshop was closed last year. The municipality is on the edge of bankruptcy … Because of debts contracted in previous years, 80% of its revenues are automatically sent off to repay them. For the last 13 months the local civil servants have not been paid … One example of the relations between the State and the municipality : last year the President went to Hakkari. The HADEP mayor, Huseyin Umit, wanted to welcome him. Invited by the Prefect, he went to an Army unit, where the Presidential plane should have landed. A lieutenant showed him the door, saying he couldn’t enter”.

“Hakkari, despite the ambient poverty, hoped a great deal from the ending of the State of Emergency. Despite the inscription on the mountain at the entrance to the town “One people, one language”, it is still waiting for a decision from Ankara on teaching and broadcasting in the mother tongue (Kurdish) …” concluded Can Dundar.


SORELY WOUNDED, BATMAN WANTS JOBS — AND CUTURAL RIGHTS. To feel the pulse of the population three months before the General Elections, the daily paper Milliyet decided to send some of its best known journalists on a tour of Turkey. On 13 August, they arrived in the Kurdish province of Batman. “The economy or identity?” “The inhabitants of Batman prefer the HADEP party and are being stifled by violence and bans?” were the paper’s headlines.

“In the course of conversations with the population of Batman we were told that plain clothes squads take in for questioning young men who distribute roses to shop-keepers. The young people were indignant, saying “You see — democracy is still just a matter of words” said journalist Derya Sazak in his article. “We would like to rejoice at the vote in favour of the reforms for joining the European Union. It appears that the the death sentence has been abolished and that teaching and broadcasting in Kurdish will bwe permitted. But how, concretely, will this be applied ? Will our votes be honestly counted in elections ?” the young people ask”.

The journalist continued saying “ In fact, HADEP also has problems. The mayors of Batman and Siirt had to resign at the request of the national leadership of HADEP … Elected at Batman in the last municipal elections, Abdullah Akin, a lawyer from Diyarbekir, didn’t succeed in getting integrated into the local population. But, in fact, the problem of nationally selected candidates is not just a HADEP problem but occurs in all the parties”. Derya Sazak also notes that the Islamist Justice and Development (AKP) and Happiness (SP) parties should also be taken into account. “In Batman, the SP is as often mentioned as AKP. The reason lies in the possibility of an alliance with HADEP … The local papers, in fact headlined “Salamaleykum Heval” (Editors note : “Greetings Friend” in Kurdish)“. The journalist concluded with the following observation “In Batman there are nearly 100,000 young people and several hundred internet cafés. Unfortuneately there is not a single cinema ! The young peple are hoping for a University at Batman. Unemplyment is the N° 1 problem. The TPAO (the Turkish National Oil Company) oil refinery is just under administration and the oil industry can no longer feed the population. Trading across the border is banned. The economic crisis has ruined the shopkeepers and the farmers. There is a quota imposed on tobacco growing and, in the villages evacuated in the anti-terrorist camapign, stock-rearing is dead. Cattle has to be imported from Iran … Terrorism has ended but poverty is ravaging Batman”.

Another journalist, Serpil Yilmaz, concentrated more on the economic situation in Batman, writing : “it’s the province most hard hit by the decline of the public sector of the economy … Whereas there were 11,000 people employed at the Batman refinery two months ago, today there are only 3,000 — paid 800 marks where, formerly, the average was 3,000 marks. Agriculture, in Batman, is concentrated on tobacco and cotton. With the quota imposed on tobacco, the 45,000 families that used to sell one or two tonnes of tobacco a year to the State can now only sell 200 Kg … According to official data, of the 600,000 inhabitants, 45,000 are unemployed …”

As for Taha Akyol, he remarks that “while discussing the economic problems and the crisis, one shopkeeper interjected “The economy is important, but our identity comes first”.

. “5,000 families have written to the Turkish Parliament to obtain permission to return to their village. The members of parliament have simply not replied. Is it forbidden? Can they return?” added S. Yilmaz. The most tragic aspect of the situation in Batman being the number of suicides amongst women. She notes that “in the year 2000 there were 33 suicides and, thanks (so to speak) to the opening of women’s support centres the number has fallen to 18”. Another journalist, Can Dundar, also deplored the suicide phenomena and remarked that the new 4 story shopping centre in Batman is fitted with safety nets to prevent suicides. “What can better illustrate the morale of the town than that ?” he remarks.