The summer of 2003 will be marked, in post-Saddam Iraq by a series of spectacular and bloody bomb attacks that mask some important progress achieved in the process of a political reconstruction of the country and in the neutralisation of the principal leaders of the old regime.
Whereas calm reigns over the greater part of the country (Kurdistan and the Shiite South) and institutions are being set up (local councils, governors); schools and hospitals being rehabilitated and infrastructures and public services are progressing, certain quarters of Baghdad and the so-called Sunni triangle (which includes the towns of Tikrit, Falluja and Ramadi) to the North of the Iraqi capital are the scene of violence and anti-Amerixcan bomb attacks. Agents of the special operations Section of the Moukhabarat (the banned Secret Service of the old regime) and members of the Special Republican Guards who remain loyal to Saddam Hussein as well as some “Islamists without borders” waging a jihad against the Westerners and agents of the Iranian intelligence services (Italaat) acting independently of in concert are considered responsible for these acdtions that are not just aimed at the Americans.
Indeed, the bombing campaign was launched early in August by the explosion of a lorry outside the Jordanian Embassy that caused 17 deaths and which was attributed to Baathist networks. Yet Jordan had just given political asylum to Saddam’s two daughters and their children. The latter, in their statements to the media, did not fail to praise their dictator father, saying that without him their uncles and other members of the family would, at best, have been unable to rise to anything betteer than taxi drivers and denouncing their scheming and treachery.
On 20 August, while people were still trying to work out the reasons for this attack on the Embassy of an Arab country that, for decades, has been a devoted ally of the Iraqi regime, there was another even more bloody bomb attack before the headquarters of the UN delegation in Baghdad. This explosion of a lorry, filled with shells, grenades and military explosives, caused twenty deaths, including that of Sergio Vieira de Mello, the special representative of the UN General Secretary and of his principal assisstants. The author of this attack apparently knew the exact location of the special representatives office and his timetable. So as not to cut itself off from the population, UNO had not judged it opportune to ask the Americano-British forces to set up a security perimiter. Even worse, it had continued to employ, as guards, the agents placed at its disposal by Saddam’s regime and still loyal to it. The hypothesis of internal accomplices was rapidly cited and the operation’s objective clearly identified — frighten Westerners wèorking for the UN and for NGOs to flee and give world opinion the picture of an Iraq being put to fire and sword.
The situation in Iraq, however, cannot be reduced to these spectacular events. It must be remembered that, during the same period, many high officials of the overthrown regime, authors of massacres and crimes against humanity, have been arrested or eliminated. Amongst them, the two fearsome sons of Saddam Hussein, Wadai and Qussai, who were killed by US forces during a raid on 22 July, in Mossul. The announcing of their death was greeted by the population with salvos of joy, fired in the air, from one end of the country the the other. They were not thrown into a hidden common grave, like thousands of their victims, but their bodies were handed over to the Iraqi Red Crescent who, with members of their family, gave them funerals in keeping with local traditions.
A few weeks later, the regime’s Vice-President, Taha Yassin Ramadan, was arrested by the Kurds and handed over to the american forces. Had it not been for the blundering of the latter, this arrest would, no doubt have led to the capture of Saddam Hussein himself. However, the latter’s cousin, Ali Hassan el Majid, known as Chemical Ali because of his massive use of chemical weapons during his genocidal campaigns against the Kurds (9188-89) was unable to escape the man-hunt and his arrest was announced on 21 August. It gave rise to scenes of joy in Kurdistan as well as in Kuwait, where he had been governor during the Iraqi occupation in 1990.
On a more political level was the formation of a transitional government Council, bringing together the principal political forces, ethnic and religious communities andcivil socierty. Composed of 25 members, it included 13 Shiites, 5 Sunni Arabs, 5 Kurds, I Christian and 1 Turcoman, the Council fully reflects the diversity of the Iraqi population. Operating as a provisional legislative body, it is responsible for setting up an interim government, of adopting abudget and the appointment of senior Civil Servants and Ambassadors as well as members of a constitutional convention.
The creation of this Council was welcomed by the United Nations. Europe, the United States and the Arab League as an important step towards the governing of Iraq by the Iraqi people themselves.
The first decision of this council was to abolish all the public holidays imposed by the old regime and to adopt the 9th of April, date of the fall of the Baathist dictatorship, as Iraqi Liberation Day and a public holiday.
After long debates, the Council decided, so as better to observe the equality of rights between the principal political forces that compose it, to set up a collective Presidency of 9 members. Each of these will will lead the council for a period of one month, in alphabetic order of their namess (in Arabic). Thus the first President is Dr. al-Jafari, who represents the Shiite Al-Dawa party, who will be succeeded in September by Ahmad Shalabi. The two Kurdish leaders, Barzani and Talabani, are also members of this collective presidency.
Amongst the very first decisions of the Council was the formation of an interim government of 25 members and the setting up of a commission to prepare a constututional Convention. This king pin of the political process, is the centre of heated debate. The Kurdish delegates called for the adoption of the principles adopted in the previous conferences of the opposition in the new Constitution. In line with these principles, the new Iraq would be a democratic, federal and secular State, observing the Universal Declaration of Human Rights and equality of rights for men and women. The question of secularism having been opposed by some Shiite delegates, the Kurdish delegates put their resolution to the vote and won 17 out of 25 votes in favour of the necessity for a separation of State and religion in the organisation of the future Iraq.
Despite the difficulties, the tensions and the frictions, we are seeing the emergence of a culture of dialogue and compromise, both in the government Council and in the local authorities. The new media, symposia and conferences being organised almost everywhere by NGOs, aim to inculcate a culture of peace and of settling conflicts of interest by dialogue in a society long dominated by violence. This Iraq, still in gestation, is evidently less interesting to media fed on dramatics, and so is less known to public opinion, particularly in Europe.
The Kurdish leaders intend to play a decisive role in the building of a democratic and federal Iraq, and they are busying themselves in trying to win the widest possible international support for this undertaqking. Kurdistan, which enjoys peace, stability, and democratic intstitutions, hopes to be both a model for the iraq of the future and a base for those companies that wish to invest in in Iraq. Already endowed with legislation encouraging investment, Kurdistan is equipping itself with an international airport at Irbil. Symbolically inaugurated in July for humanitarian flights, the airport should be capable of receiving civil flights by December.
To promote the cause of Kurdistan and of Iraq, Jalal Talabani , leader of the Patriotic Union of Kurdistan (PUK), and member of the presidency of the transitional government Council, successively visited Damascus, Moscow, Paris, Pekin, Tokyo and Canberra, where he was met, in particular, by the respective Foreign Ministers.
For his part, Nechirvan Barzani, Prime Minister of the Irbil based regional Government of Kurdistan, met Turkish leaders in Ankara to discuss questions of security on 2nd July. Mr. Barzani left Turkey the day after his discussions.
This visit comes after differences with the Iraqi Kurds in June 2003 which led to Turkey’s closing, for two days, its only frontier post with Iraq. Turkey had closed the border post of Habur after the Kurdistan Democratic Party (KDP) had prevented a group of Iraqi businessmen from going to Turkey because they had no travel documents. The KDP, in the end, allowed them to cross the border.
Mr. Barzani then visited Washington and, on 28 July, Tokyo, where he was met by the Foreign Minister, Yoriko Kawaguchi and the heads of Japanese firms who he invited to invest in Kurdistan. The Japanese are also interested in humanitarian projects for the Kurdish and Iraqi civilian population.
Meanwhile the leader of the Patriotic Union of Kurdistan (PUK), Jalal Talabani, had meetings on Iraq with several Syrian leaders in Damascus on 2 July. Mr. Talabani, who arrived at the Syrian capital the evening before, had separate meeting with Syrian Vice-President Abdel Halim Khaddam and the Baath Party N° 2, Abdallah al-Ahmar, about means of “strengthening relations” and “developments on the Iraqi and Kurdish scenes”. After several days in Damascus, Mr. Talabani went to Moscow where he was met by the Foreign Affairs Minister, Igor Ivanov, in particular. On this occasion, he invited Russia to turn over a new leaf by forgetting the past and playing a more important role in the political and economic reconstruction of Iraq.
In Paris, Mr. Talabani met the French Foreign Minister, Dominique de Villepin, in the context of “a regular and long standing dialogue that France has maintained with the Kurdish parties of Iraq, the PUK and the KDP ”. He also met François Holland, First Secretary of the French Socialist Party (SP) and they called for “the international community as a whole, and particularly UNO” to help the Iraqis build “a new Iraq based on democracy ”. “Mr. Talabni thanked the Socialists for the support they had given over several years to the Iraqi Kurds in the difficult and painful moments of their history under the Saddam Hussein dictatorship” stressed the SP in a communique at the end of the meeting, which took place at the Socialist Party offices
The Chinese stage of Mr. Talabani’s visit was, above all, of a diplomatic character and an exchange of information.
The Turkish Armed Forces Chief of Staff, General Hilmi Ozkok, said that the arrest by the US Army of 11 members of the Turkish Special Forces in Iraqi Kurdistan has provoked a veritable crisis between the two countries, long time NATO allies. “This affair has provoked the most serious crisis of confidence” between the two countries’ Armed Forces and a veritable “crisis” between the two countries the general affirmed on television while greeting the outgoing US Ambassador to Ankara, Robert Pearson, who had come to say farewell after three years in Turkey.
The Turkish Special Forces soldiers, arrested on 4 July in Suleymaniah in the course of a strong-arm raid on their Head quarters, were released in the evening of 6 July, after two days of intense contacts between Turkish and American leaders. They arrived in Suleymaniah by helicopter and resumed work after passing tow nights in a Baghdad hotel for security reasons. “find it hard to consider this simply a local incident! It has turned into a serious crisis of confidence between the American and Turkish Armed forces and then into a crisis full stop” the general said, adding “we attach great importance to Turco-American links (…) but our national honour and the honour of the Turkish Armed Forces are also important” recalling that the Turks had fought “shoulder to shoulder with the Americans during the Korean war and had always since been loyal allies”.
According to American official in Iraq the Turkish soldiers and several civilians had been arrested because they were preparing to carry out bomb attacks in Iraqi Kurdistan. According to the Turkish press, they were suspected of wanting to organise an attack on the Kurdish governor of the city of Kirkuk, an accusation described as “stupid” by the Turkish Foreign Minister Abdullah Gul. “The American soldiers acted on the basis of information that they (the Turkish soldiers) could have been implicated in suspicious activities” declared the American Foreign Affairs spokesman, Richard Boucher. Mr. Boucher did not want to give any other details on the nature of these activities, satisfying himself with the statement that this matter would be the subject of a joint Americano-Turkish enquiry. Another senior American official was content to remain allusive: “We had reliable intelligence to the effect that they might be implicated in activities regarding local leaders” he assured reporters off the record. According to diplomats stationed in the Near East, one of the detainees is a Turkish Colonel who has already been twice expelled by British or American forces for “suspicious activity”. Last April, the Americans had seized a large supply of arms in a “humanitarian” convoy of the Turkish Red Crescent bound for Kirkuk and expelled a commando of Turkish Special Forces disguised as civilians in this convoy. In the 1990s the Turkish secret services played as active a role as those of Iran in the destabilisation of Iraqi Kurdistan.
While the tempers rose in Ankara, Washington stressed that the country remained a “strong” ally within NATO and a crucial partner for maintaining stability in Iraqi Kurdistan. “NATO is still strong, as are our relations with all our allies, including Turkey” in that organisation, affirmed Mr. Boucher who refused to “speculate” on the possible consequences of this affair so long as the enquiry had not been concluded. He also suggested that this would not prevent Washington from continuing to work “in cooperation with Ankara” for “stability and security in (Iraqi Kurdistan)”. “We are in close contact with our Turkish ally to resolve this matter. The fact that, when an incident like this occurs, we have all sorts of channels for talking in confidence with our Turkish allies about our concerns and to seek to resolve them is a good and healthy sign” he insisted. Apart from contacts between the Armed Forces of the two countries, this issue was raised three times by ’phone by the US foreign affairs chief, Colin Powell, with his Turkish opposite number as well as by Vice-President Dick Cheney and the Turkish Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdogan, he stressed
The Turkish press, on 7 July considered that the release of the soldiers did not settle the “crisis” in the country, where nationalist passions are very close to the surface especially in matters affecting the Army. According to the daily Hurriyet “the United States have lost even their closest friends in Turkey” while the daily Radikal stated that it could not be simply a matter of a accident, and that this incident put an end to the “strategic relations” between the two countries. Even the pro-Islamic daily Yeni Safak, close to Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdogan’s Justice and Development Party government criticised the government’s management of the crisis, accusing it of not having been firm enough with the Americans.
The temporary detention of Turkish soldiers has given rise to demonstrations in the streets of Istanbul. Nationalists took part in a sit-in in front of the US Consulate and clashes took place between the police and other demonstrators who tried to enter the building. The Iraqi crisis has severely put relations between Washington and Ankara to the test, especially since Turkey, the only member of NATO sharing a border with Iraq, opposed the transit of American forces on its soil.
This serious crisis comes only a few weeks after the Kurdistan Parliament voted a resolution calling for the withdrawal of the several hundreds of Turkish troops still stationed in Iraqi Kurdistan, who no longer have any reason for remaining there other than to arm and organise a minute Turkmen faction, the Turkmen Front (a minority even in the Turkmen minority there) in an attempt to sow disorder and hinder the advance of the Kurds and Iraqis towards a federal regime. Furthermore, Washington and several European capitals have been active trying to persuade Ankara rapidly to decree an amnesty that would allow the bulk of the some 4,000 PKK fighters (at present based in refugee camps on the borders of Iraqi and Iranian Kurdistan) to return to Turkey and finally turn the page on armed struggle and engage in a political process for settling the Kurdish question in Turkey as well.
These developments worry the Turkish “hawks” who are multiplying their provocations and seem to be placing their hopes on the destabilisation of Kurdistan and Iraq to precipitate the departure of the Americans — an objective not only shared by those Iraqi Baath groups that have gone underground but also the Iranian secret services that are active amongst the Shiites of Southern Iraq.
The breach is thus deepening between the Turks and the Americans. The latter did not expect to see their “strategic allies” of yesterday bringing grist to the mill of their declared enemies of the “axis of evil”.
In the course of the fifth hearing, on 18 July, of the trial of the Kurdish former Members of Parliament for the Party for Democracy (DEP) — Leyla Zana, Orhan Dogan, Hatip Dicle and Selim Sadak — the Ankara N°1 State Security Court once again refused their release on bail and adjourned the hearing till 15 August.
The Court proceeded with hearing witnesses for the defence, including Dr, Ozden Ozdemir, an ophthalmologist who had treated a local leader of the PKK. She was thus able to show that she had never been contacted by Orhan Dogan to examine this patient, as the Turkish authorities had affirmed.
The State Security Court also heard a former president of the Diyarbekir Bar Association, Fethi Gumus, who declared that Leyla Zana and Selim Sedak, like other Kurdish public figures and Human Rights defenders, had indeed met clan chiefs to try and smooth out inter-tribal conflicts, but that “the PKK had never been mentioned ” during these encounters. Five other witnesses also bore witness to the same effect: Nevzat Kaya and Serif Gundug, respectively members of the Metina and Zirka tribes, Selahattin Acar, member of the Turkish Human Rights Association, Veysi Parilti, former President of the Mardin Section of the DEP party and yet two other witnesses. They all declared that they had been present at discussions that the members of parliament had had with Mehmet Serif Temelli, chief of the Mettina tribe. Nevzat Kaya, a member of that same tribe added that, although he had been a political opponent of Leyla Zana and Hatip Dicle, he had accompanied the former M.P.s to this meeting and that no reference to the PKK had been made at this meeting, contrary to the Prosecution’s claims.
The ex-M.P.s, who had not all had the opportunity of expressing themselves, through lack of time, gave the floor to Leyla Zana who declared in all their names that they had carried out activities in support of peace in the region and to stop the bloodshed. “Our only choice is the road that leads to light. A return to the past is never a real choice: this has cost too much in lives, energy and in money” declared L. Zana, adding that “this region can no longer bear the tears, the pain of mothers, the blood shed and the tombs”.
Many observers, Members of the European Parliament, officials of several embassies of European Countries and the United States as well as leaders of political parties and NGOs were present at the hearing. Ozan Ceyhun, a Member of the European Parliament, elected in Germany but of Turkish descent, sharply criticised the conduct of the trial and added “In a period when those charged for the Susurluk scandal are left free, when they have even been granted free pardon by President Sezer, the three judges who refuse bail to the DEP ex-M.P.s are a disgrace to Turkey. I am deeply shocked and disappointed … I would also like to say that the chances of Turkey joining the European Union are slim. Brussels is waiting for a report from me and the fact that it may be unfavourable is due to these judges”.
Following the hearing, the International Federation for Human Rights (FIDH), that had mandated an observer to the trial made public a communiqué : “The trial of the Kurdish former M.P.s is an illustration of violations of Human Rights which the Kurdish people of Turkey face … Freedom of expression and association remain extremely limited by the legal and public authorities … The trial also illustrates the non-application of the legal reforms adopted in Turkey…” stressed the organisation that demands “the immediate release of the Kurdish ex-M.P.s in the absence of any valid reasons for adjourning the trial” and described the retrial of the former M.P.s as a “parody of justice”.
The hearing of 15 August followed the same routine procedure. After hearing new witnesses the court postponed to 15 September the next hearing of this Kafkaian trial which continues to arousesindignant reactions in Turkey as well as in Europe. Thus the Movement against Racism and for Friendship between Peoples” (MRAP) has been collecting signatures, since April, for a petition for “Freedom for Leyla Zana, Hatip Dicle, Orhan Dogan and Selim Sadak” stressing that “the arrest and sentencing of elected representatives for political reasons is a serious attack on democracy”.
The under-signed demand: the unconditional liberation of the members of Parliament Leyla Zana, Hatip Dicle, Orhan Dogan, Selim Sadak, the freeing of all Kurdish and Turkish political prisoners and the recognition of the political and cultural rights of the Kurdish people.
The first signatories include:
Patricia Adam, Member of the French Parliament (MFP) ; Sylviane Ainardi, Member of the European Parliament (MEP) ; Mouloud Aounit, MRAP General Secretary; Barrier Michel County Councillor (76) ; Barth Noëlle Deputy Mayor of Tomblanne (54) Vice President of ANECR (Nat. Ass. of Communist and Republican Electer Representatives); Bathias Chantal Burdundy Regional Councillor ; Blanchard Alain County Councillor ; Alain Bocquet(MFP), President Communist in the National Assemble; Patrick Bloche, MFP (Paris, PS) ; Armonie Bordes, MEP LO ; Nicole Borvo, PCF, Senator ; Robert Bret, Senator PCF ; Yasmine Boudjenah, PCF, MEP ; Danielle Bousquet, MFP ; Jean Pierre Bouvet, County Councillor UMP ; Alain Callès, Hon. Member of the Forum Pour la Démocratie au Moyen-Orient; Carin Claudine Vice President North-Pas de Calais Regional council ; Marie Arlette Carlotti, PS, MEP ; Chantal Cauquil, MEP LO ; Jacques Chantre, Dachausurvivor, N° 73248 ; Antoine Chassin (FASTI) ; Janine Chene, academic; Philippe Chesneau, Regional Councillor PACA ; Jean-Marc Coppola, PCF, Vice-President of PACA Regional Council; Jean Cordillot, Burgondy Regional Councillor ; Jean-Pierre Dufau, MFP, PS); Frédéric Dutoit, MFP, PCF; Joël Dutto, PCF, Vice-President Dept. 13 County Councillor; Jean Ehrard, University Professor ; Elmalan Mireille Mayor of Pierre Benite (69); Patrick Farbiaz, Green Party transnational commission; Jean-Jacques de Félice, President of the Central Committee of the Ligue des Droits de l'Homme ; Jean Ferrat, song-writer/composer; Jacques Floch, MFP, Former State Secretary, Memberof the Convention on the future of Europe; Ida Friedmann, ex-deportee to Auschwitz ; Jacques Fontaine, academic; Frustie Guy , Mayord of Fontvieille; Dr Bernard Granjon, Honorary president of Médecins du Monde; Maxime Gremetz, MEP, PCF; Anne Hidalgo, 1st Deputy Mayor of Paris; Jean Huray, Regional Councillor; Sylvie Jan, Member of the PCF National Council; Jean-Jacques Kirkyacharian, President of MRAP; Alain Krivine, MEP, LCR ; Lacombe Alain Mayor of Fosses ; Arlette Laguiller, MEP, LO ; Lebrun Jean Claude, Regional Councillor and Maire of St. Laurent l'Abbaye (58); Emmanuelle Le Chevallier, President of the Paris Federation of MRAP ; Jean-Claude Lefort, MFP, PCF ; Gilles Le Maire, National Secretary the Greens; Renée Le Mignot, Assistant General Secretary of MRAP ; Martine Lignières Cassou, MFP and County Councillor ; Luby Yvon Mayor of Allones (72); Noël Mamère, MFP and Mayor, Member of the Foreign Affairs Commission of the National Assembly; Cécile Marin, lecturer, (Paris 3 University); Christophe Masse, MFP, PS; Stéphane McAdams, Researcher CNRS ; Mei Roger, Maire of Gardanne, PCF; Thérèse Menat, President of the Association of former deportees of Haute Vienne; André Métayer, President of the Delegation from Rennes to Kurdistan; Alain Olive, Gen. Sec of UMSA ; René Ometa Vice President of Dept 13 County Council, PS ; Aline Pailler, Journalist; Plassard Jean Paul Regional Councillor; Sophie Roudil, Gen. Sec. of Solidarité et Liberté, responsible for Turkey; Rosso Georges, Mayor of Rove (13); Sabine Salmon, Preident of Femmes Solidaires; Schiavetti Hervé, Mayor of Arles, County Councilor, PCF; Georges Sinibaldi, President of Solidarité et Liberté; Jean Suret-Canale, Lecturer at Paris VII University; Roseline Vachetta, MEP, LCR ; Alain Vidalies, MFP for Landes; Volpato Mirelle Regional Councillor; Francis Wurtz, MEP, PCF, President of the European Parliament United Left Group (GUE/NGL).
The leader of a Kurdish party in Syria stated that a Kurdish student had been arrested on 24 July within the campus of Damascus University while he was sitting his exams. Agents of the “political security” arrested Massud Hamed, a second year student at the Faculty of Journalism, while he was in the examination hall, pointed out the communiqué, signed by the Secretary of the Kurdish Yekiti Party, Abdel Baki al-Yussef.
The Kurdish leader revealed that this “violation of the University’s premises took place at a time when the Syrian regime was claiming to carry out a policy of democratic political openness and the granting of freedoms”. He stated that this measure was carried out “in the context of a series of arrests carried out this year amongst Kurdish students in Syrian universities”.
On 2 July, four Syrian Human Rights defence organisations had made public the arrest, in Damascus, of seven Kurds on 25 June during a demonstration to celebrate World Child Protection Day, in which the demanded Syrian nationality. Some 200 children and about 20 parents waved placards demanding “Syrian nationality as well as recognition of the cultural rights of the Kurdish people” had gathered near the premises of the UN Children’s Fund” (UNICFEF) in Damascus on the occasion of World Child Protection Day, 25 June, but weilding batons, the policehad prevented them from reaching the UNICEF Offices and had arrested seven adults. A communiqué was signed by the Committees for the Defence of the rights of Man in Syria (CDDS), the Committees for the Defence of Persons Stripped of their Nationality in Syria, the Association for the defence of Human Rights in Syria and Committees for the Reactivation of Civil Society in Syria which demanded the immediate freeing of persons arrested as well as that of “all the prisoners of opinion in Syria”.
Syria has about one and a half million Kurds, principally in the North, bordering on Iraqi and Turkish Kurdistan. Some of them — about 150,000 at the time, now probably 300,000 — were stripped of their Syrian nationality during the 1962 census and as part of a policy of creating a “Arab belt” aimed at Arabising the Kurdish areas of Syria and cutting them off from Turkish and Iraqi Kurdistan. These “stateless” Kurds and their descendents live like pariahs, veritable “illegal immigrants” in their own country.
On 24 July, the European Court for Human Rights found Turkey guilty of having deliberately set fire to the home of a sympathiser of the Kurdistan Worker’s Party (PKK). The court considered that in so doing Turkey had violated Articles 3 (banning torture and inhuman and degrading treatment), 8 (right to respect of a person’s home), 1 (protection of property) and 13 (the right to effective recourse) of the European Convention on Human Rights, and awarded 54,000 euros material and moral damages to Celattin Yöyler.
In September 1994, the gendarmes had set fire to his house in the village of Dirimpinar, attached to the Malazgirt Prefecture, after three young women, who were all distant relatives of the petitioner, had decided to join the PKK. The Court considered that “it is proven beyond reasonable doubt that the forces of order had deliberately set fire to Mr. Yöyler’s house, forcing his family to leave the village”. An enquiry open after the events soon got bogged down, the legal authorities failing to go on the scene for two years and three months after receiving M. Yöyler’s complaint. Mr. Yöyler, who has been imprisoned several times and threatened with death because of his political activities, was Imam of the Dirimpinar village from 1966 to 1994.
Furthermore, on 22 July, the European Court found Ankara guilty of “torture and inhuman and degrading treatment” in three other cases (Editors Note: Tepe v. Turkey, Esen v. Turkey and Taz v. Turkey) by people of Turkish origin detained for “membership of the PKK organisation”. The European Court decided to award damages and costs to the three plaintiffs — 21,780 euros to Ayse Tepe, 19,000 euros to Hakim Esen and 34,000 euros to Oya Yaz.
On the same day, Ankara decided to “settle out of court” two other cases brought by Ozgur Kilic and Mahmut Sunnetçi, who accused the Turkish police authorities of torture. Compensation of 27,000 euros will be paid to the first and 25,000 euros to Mr. Sunnetçi.
• PAUL WOLFOWITZ ON A VISIT TO IRAQI KURDISTAN. On 20 July, the Pentagon’s N°2, Paul Wolfowitz, the Pentagon’s N° 2 met leaders of the twoprincipal Kurdish parties in Iraq. Mr. Wolfowitz raised with the Kurdish leaders “the evolution of the situation in Iraq and the importance of the Kurdish role in the founding of democracy in the country”according to a leading member of the Kurdistan Democratic Party (KDP), Fadhel Mirani. The American official and his respondents “agreed on the importance of the signing, by the future Iraqi government of a mutual defence agreement with the United States to guarantee Iraq’s stability and preserve its sovereignty and territorial integrity” added Mr. Mirani. According to him, the agreement would be similar to that linking the United States to other countries such as Japan, Germany, Kuwait and Qatar.
The KDP leader, Massud Barzani, and leaders of the Patriotic Union of Kurdistan (PUK) — since Jalal Talabani himself was abroad — took part in the meeting, in the town of Salaheddin.
Moreover, on 23 July Massud Barzani rejected the idea of any dissolution of the Peshmergas (Kurdish militias) considering that no force could decide on their dissolution. “The Peshmergas forces will remain so longas there are Kurds. No force can decide on their dissolution” declared Mr. Barzani, as quoted in the daily paper al-Taakhi (Brotherhood), the KDP organ. “The Peshmergas are a source of pride for the Kurdish people” added Mr. Barzani, stressing that these forces “are at present defending Iraq and its government after having so long defended the existence of the Kurdish people” against Saddam Hussein’s regime.
• THE HECTIC ADOPTION OF A CONTROVERSIAL AND PARTIAL AMNESTY BILL. On 23 July, the Turkish Parliament failed to secure a two thirds majority needed to pass the one of the articles of the law foreseeing a partial amnesty for Kurdish fighters, and the law was returned to be examined in commission. This central clause of the law, provided for the total discharge of activists who had committed no crimes other than that of having been members of an illegal pro-Kurdish organisation. Of the 550 members of parliament, 313 voted for the law, but the People Republican Party (CHP) — the only opposition party in Parliament — argued that this clause virtually amounted to a total and unconditional amnesty and so needed a 60% majority for adoption. This vote is a setback for the Justice and Development Party (AKP) in office. Of its 365 M.P.s, five voted against the Bill and 53 others absented themselves when the vote was taken. Following this setback, the Justice Parliamentary Commission withdrew the Bill before the other clauses were discussed.
The debate begun in Parliament, on the evening of 22 July, of this amnesty Bill for activists who laid down their arms was intended to put an end to nearly two decades of conflict between Ankara and the Kurdistan workers’ Party (PKK).
Finally parliament adopted the so-called “return home” Bill on its second reading and, after being signed by President Sezer on 5 August, it is now in force. However, this amnesty has already been rejected by the leaders of the PKK, who have threatened to take up arms again. “The law imposes repentance” pointed out the PKK leader Murat Karayilan, according to the pro-Kurdish daily Ozgur Politika. According to him, the Bill envisages “killing off those who do not surrender and inform on others”. “If they want annihilation and renouncement we will have only one choice: a war for our honour” he had then affirmed.
The Turkish authorities hope that some 2,000 activists might apply for and receive this amnesty, which would accelerate the dismantling of the PKK. Sentences for activists implicated in political violence should be reduced to half or three quarters — provided they give information on their illegal activities. But senior leaders of the movement are excluded from this barely disguised “law of repentance”, which is the eighth one adopted to date by a Turkish government — with very limited results. Turkish and Kurdish civil society expect a real amnesty law allowing all the guerrillas and political prisoners to return home, thus turning the page on the terrible period of the State’s “dirty war" and the PKK blood-thirsty armed struggle.
Moreover the United States have warned the PKK fighters that have withdrawn to Iraqi Kurdistan that they must leave the region or be driven out by force. Robert Pearson, the American Ambassador to Ankara declared in an interview published in the Turkish daily Hurriyet : “We want no threat to Turkey to remain in Iraq”, stressing that the United States was determined to empty Iraqi Kurdistan of fighters from Turkey. “Either they surrender or they expose themselves to the consequences of their actions (…) The alternative is the use of military force. They are Turkish citizens, not Iraqis. They must return home to Turkey” added the American Ambassador.
Turkey has deployed troops in Iraqi Kurdistan since 1977, invoking its own security from the PKK. But, according to observers in Ankara, Washington now wants this military presence to end. Relations between Washington and Ankara, allies in NATO, have become more tense following several differences linked to the Iraqi war.
• SOME KURDISH MUSICIANS LOCKED UP FOR HAVING CALLED FOR A GENERAL AMNESTY ALTHOUGH THE CHARGES ARE BASED ON A CLAUSE ALREADY REPEALED BY THE TURKISH PARLIAMENT. A Kurdish singer, locked up for “separatist propaganda” after having called for a general amnesty for the Kurdish fighters on Turkey, has been released — but legal proceedings against him are being pursued. “The cassette of my concert that was analysed by the State Security Court that was suing me clearly shows that I did not make any appeal in favour of the PKK” explained Ferhat Tunc, charged for breach of Article 8 of the Anti-Terrorist Act. Freed on 16 July, the Kurdish singer must nevertheless face trial — in principle on 12 August, his lawyer , Erdinc Firat, indicated. He also pointed out that four other artists, who had performed at the same concert, were also being charged. Le latter are all free.
The singer had called for a general amnesty for the Kurdish fighters of the PKK (renamed KADEK) so “that the region might find some peace”. All this even as the government is preparing a partial amnesty Bill for repentant Kurdish activists, and as the People’s Democratic Party (DEHAP) has just published a petition with a million signatures calling for a general amnesty.
• SIX KILLED IN A CLASH BETWEEN THE PKK AND THE TURKISH ARMY AND FIGHTING BETWEEN THE PKK AND THE IRANIAN ARMY ACCORDING TO THE TURKISH PRESS. Separate clashes in Turkish Kurdistan, between the Turkish Army and Kurdish fighters of the Kurdistan Workers’ Party (PKK — renamed KADEK) resulted in 4 deaths, one of which was a Turkish soldier.
One of these operations, in the Tunceli region, caused the death of a conscript, and three other soldiers were seriously wounded, as against one PKK fighter killed. according to Hurriyet of 6 July. Near Bingol, two distinct operations each ended in the death of a Kurdish activist, according to the same paper. Hurriyet further reports that violent clashes between PKK members leaving Iraqi Kurdistan to settle in Iran resulted in 31 deaths amongst the Iranian security forces and 22 amongst the Kurdish fighters.
THE GENERAL SECRETARIAT OF THE NATIONAL SECURITY COUNCIL (NSC) A MILITARY INSPECTION CORP. The well known Turkish journalist, Mehmet Ali Birand reviews the powers of the Secretariat of the National Security Council (NSC), Turkey’s real executive body, in an article published in the English language daily Turkish Daily News. In this article, entitled “The General Secretariat of the NSC — a military inspection corps” the journalist presents some of the attributes of this post, held by a General and of which the European Union demands significant changes. The Turkish authorities are preparing, in the context of the 7th package of harmonisation with European standards, some reforms of this function. Here are some broad extracts from this article:
“Similar institutions also exist in other countries, however none of them have such imperial powers. In other countries, these institutions only exercise “advisory functions”.
The institution we have in our country operates entirely as an executive body…
Article 9 stipulating the “distribution and checking of decisions of the Council of Ministers following the decisions of the NSC” by the General Secretariat of the NSC should be modified. In the present system the General Secretariat of the NSC provides information on the application of Government decisions linked to NSC decisions to the President, the Prime Minister and the members of the NSC.
Article 13 defining the duties of the NSC General Secretariat should be entirely repealed. It should be replaced by a new article stipulating that the General Secretariat has the role of Secretariat of the NSC, which is to “execute the duties assigned to the NSC by the laws”.
Under the present system, the law enacts that the General Secretariat of the NSC co-ordinates all the defence departments that remain outside the jurisdiction of the Armed Forces.
Also, in the present system, the law says that the General Secretariat of the NSC works on the measures that must be taken in case of an emergency decreed following an escalation of acts of violence and of seriously disturbed public order, determines the duties and obligations that should fall to private establishments in the event of a state of emergency, war or a post-war situation.
He presents the Prime Minister his proposals to ensure the co-ordination in practice.
Still with the present system, the General Secretariat of the NSC is authorised to take measures in place of the President, the Prime Minister and the NSC to ensure that the duties cited in Article 13 are applied, inspect and establish the direction of these activities in conformity with the directions he will receive.
In the present system the Ministries, the public establishments and bodies are obliged to deliver to the General Secretariat of the NSC — regularly or on demand — information and documents including those that are classified at all levels.
Moreover there are a series of directives, dating to 1983 what’s more, regulations, which are stamped CONFIDENTIAL. With the reform proposals these CONFIDENTIAL regulations must be repealed.
If you say that, in present day Turkey the General Secretariat of the NSC does not need such wide powers, then let us cut down these powers.
If, on the other hand, you say that we do, indeed, need them, then let us invite the Army to rule us. We won’t, then need elections or anything else…