August 2008 Août
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Droits de l'Homme / Human Rights
Peace Meetings To Announce Non-Violent Solution Is Possible
“Turkey Is Meeting For Peace! Democratic Solution For The Kurdish Problem” meeting, arranged by the Turkish Peace Assembly, will meet in İstanbul, Diyarbakır and Adana on August 31, Sunday.
The September 1 Peace Day meetings defend the position that “All problems, including the Kurdish problem, can be solved with methods appropriate to the human rights and the principle of democracy and by predicating them on the idea of full equality of and freedom for all cultures and peoples.”
“The Kurdish problem has not been and will not be solved by violence”
One of the Turkish Peace Assembly spokespersons Necmiye Alpay, with whom bianet met, calls all those who “say peace instead of war, life instead of death, brotherhood instead of hostility” to the meeting and explains its primary purpose as “defending peace against the armed struggle of both sides, whether Kurdish and Turkish.”
“The recent clashes in the past one month and the violent atmosphere we have been experiencing actually show how much we need peace. Therefore, these meetings are even more meaningful; we defend peace exactly because the Kurdish problem have not been and will not be solved by violence. It is the principle of being against all forms of violence, regardless of who uses it, which forms the meaning of these peace meetings.”
Alpay says mainly the left wing political parties, feminists, the human rights defenders and mostly Kurds will come to the meeting that will take place in Kadıköy, Istanbul. She adds that peace is everyone’s concern and it will be very pleasing to see a wide participation.
“Society is hoping for peace in spite of government’s attitudes”
One of the Peace Assembly initiators Murat Çelikkan, too, says that the interest in the meetings arranged in three provinces indicates that there is a pro-peace and egalitarian expectation in the society in spite of the attitudes of the political parties and the government:
“It is necessary to let know the decision makers and public that it is possible to use equality, brotherhood and peace rather than violence in the Kurdish problem and it is not very difficult to implement this demand. The Peace meeting reminds everyone one more time that the Kurdish problem needs to be solved by peaceful means.” (BIA, Ceyda Ulukaya, August 27, 2008)
Publisher Tanrikulu reports murders with unknown perpetrators
Publisher Mehdi Tanrıkulu applied to Istanbul Chief Public Prosecution service arguing that if an investigation was launched many murders with unknown perpetrators could be solved.
Tanrıkulu argues that the actions reported in the book contains many crimes including “murder without trial, misconduct, neglect, destroying evidence, torture, violating the integrity of someone’s dead body, setting up illegal armed gang in the army.” Two of Çakan’s reports among many he compiled in the book are below:
Pushed off from a helicopter
In July 1992, I began my service in Mechanized Brigade Num.7, Mechanised Troops Num.1, Mechanised Section Num.1. in Kars-Kağızman. At noon hours of 04.04.1993 there were confrontations between the troops and PKK militants in the location between two Mounts Ararat. On the following day, military officials picked up a captured and wounded PKK militant whose name was Doğan and had left the second year of İnönü University in Malatya. He was to be taken to Erzurum by a helicopter. I learnt through both military and civilian sources that Doğan was pushed off from the helicopter over Tendürek Mountain for refusing to speak.
Raped a Dead Body
I was serving in Mechanised Brigade Num.7, Mechanised Troops Num.1. On 27 May 1994 at around 09.20 in the morning PKK ambushed a military patrol. Eight soldiers and a NCO lost their lives. One male and one female PKK members too had lost their lives and their bodies had remained in the valley. Special Operation Teams moved into confrontation region on the following day. Our troops followed them. When we arrived where they were two special team police officers were standing by the dead bodies. Male body were torn apart with bullets while female body had been shot on the head. Police officer named Ramazan who was from Adana was behind a big rock. Our section commander Captain Mehmet Özpolat asked; ‘what are you doing?’ Police Ramazan shouted ‘don’t come I am doing the dead terrorist’. Captain said “What! Don’t be stupid, how can you do it to a dead body.’ Captain said ‘This is not right, you lost your minds, this is too much.’ I lost my temper and swore at Ramazan. Ramazan pulled his gun at the captain. I fired twice in the air.” (Freedom of Expression Weekly Bulletin, 29 August 2008)
When a prosecutor confuses people who are supposed to be charged…
Former military non-commissioned officer Kasım Çakan compiled reports of murders with unknown perpetrators he witnessed as he was an officer in the East and the South East of Turkey. “They pushed off a PKK member from a helicopter... A special team police officer raped the dead body of a female PKK member...” are some of what Çakan wrote giving names of people, dates and names of places.
While his eyewitness reports should have been treated as report of crime, a prosecutor filed a case against writer Çakan and Publisher Mehdi Tanrıkulu charging them with ‘making propaganda for a terrorist organisation’ (ATL 7/2) in September 2007. The charges were based on the fact that Çakan referred PKK members as guerrillas in the book. His confessions were totally ignored in the indictment. (Freedom of Expression Weekly Bulletin, 29 August 2008)
Death due to Beating Left Uninvestigated
It was claimed that a prisoner in Mardin Prison Abdülaziz Ekinci died as a result of the beating by guards. Ekinci’s family reported crime against the guards however prosecutor decided that there was no need for investigation.
Ekinci’s mother applied to HRA Diyarbakır branch and said that her son had been beaten up since he went in to prison. Ekinci said, “My son would come to open visit with black eyes. He used to speak with me but then he stopped.”
Ekinci said that they sent 20 letters to Ministry of Justice with no reply. Ekinci said: “My son said during a visit the names of two guards. He was scared, he whispered. He said ‘they beat me up’. I cried.”
HRA branch chair Muharrem Erbey said that they applied to Justice Ministry, Prime Ministry HR Chair, Parliamentary HR Commission, Mardin Governor and Mardin Public Prosecutor. Erbey said that the family complained against chief guard Mehmet Zahir Aydın and guards Seyithan Tosun and Mehmet Şirin Bayık but Mardin Prosecution decided not to investigate the case. (antenna-tr.org, August 29, 2008)
Zero Tolerance To Torture Equals 4719 Complaints
Minister of Justice Mehmet Ali Şahin claimed that in Turkey, 4719 individuals, among whom 471 children, had faced “torture”, “excessive torture” and “excessive violence” just in 2006 and 2007.
Replying to the motion of question by Batman deputy Ayla Akad Ata for the Democratic Society Party (DTP), Şahin gave information about the investigation and prosecution statistics for the security and gendarmerie officials in accordance with articles of 94, 95 and 256 of the Turkish Penal Code (TCK) that regulate the excessive torture and use of disproportionate force by the public officials.
According to the information supplied, 3866 cases were filed, 9716 police officers, 616 gendarmerie officials and 554 other type of officials were accused. Adding the 796 files taken over from 2005, 2654 cases with 6397 officials resulted in “no need for prosecution” verdict. On the other hand, 1423 suspects in 614 investigations ended up facing criminal charges.
There were many applications to the human rights organizations for torture in 2007: to the Human Rights Association (İHD) 687, to the Organization of Human Rights and Solidarity with the Oppressed People (MAZLUMDER) 163, to the Human Rights Foundation of Turkey (TİHV) 452. There were 67 applications to MAZLUMDER and 112 to TİHV in the first five months of 2008.
While these numbers contradict the “Zero Tolerance to Torture” motto of the Justice and Development Party (AKP), the fact that the numbers given by Minister Şahin are much higher shows that there is actually no zero tolerance at all. This confirms the arguments by the human rights defenders and organizations that torture still goes unpunished. On the other hand, Şahin does not talk at all about the “deaths under custody” and “torture in open space”.
In 2007, there were 2 deaths under custody according to the records of the MAZLUMDER and 6 according to the TİHV.
According to the TİHV report, 54 people applying to the treatment centers stated that they had been tortured either out on the street or in open space, in a house or a vehicle, or in some other place. İHD’s 2006 records state that the number for “Torture and Bad Treatment in Places Other Than the Official Custody Places” was 261.
Moreover, why is the information about the identity of the officials who are punished and the type of the punishment they received not made public immediately?
The most pressing issue, as was stated by TİHV president Yavuz Önen on June 26 of this year, that is, on the Solidarity Day With Those Tortured, is the fact that torture goes unpunished.
Finally, it should be reminded that Turkey has not ratified the UN’s Optional Protocol Against Torture.
When Ata brought up the subject of torture in F Type prisons some time ago, Şahin had said, “If anyone says the prison where there is systematic torture is in Turkey, I will deny it completely.
*This report was prepared using material from gundemonline, Taraf and Radikal news organizations. (BIA, August 26, 2008)
JITEM’s illegal actions cost Turkey a fortune
Turkey ranks second after Russia in the list of countries with the largest number of human rights violation cases open at the European Court of Human Rights, with 9,000 cases currently pending. Two-thirds of the applications made to the European court regard violations of fair trial and property rights. There are currently 440 cases opened against Turkey regarding torture, ill treatment and violation of the right to live.
According to statistics from the Foreign Ministry, Turkey was sentenced to 33 million euros in 567 different cases between 1990 -- when Turkey allowed individual applications to the European court -- and 2006. A majority of these cases are related to events that took place in southeastern Anatolia when it was declared that the region was in a state of emergency. This label was officially applied to the Southeast between July 1987 and November 2002 due to terrorist activities perpetrated by the outlawed Kurdistan Worker's Party (PKK).
Turkey, which accounts for 9.5 percent of the cases at the European court, has been fined many times due to the violations of human rights that took place in the Southeast at that time, where JİTEM -- a secret and illicit military intelligence agency -- was active.
JİTEM has now come up again on Turkey's agenda after retired Col. Arif Doğan was detained in the investigation into Ergenekon, a criminal network suspected of plotting a coup against the government.
Doğan confessed during his interrogation that he was the founder and head of JİTEM. The Yüksekova Gang was an illegal organization formed in the Yüksekova district of Hakkari, headed by three high ranking military personnel and various politicians, that smuggled drugs and weapons. The gang's activities -- first revealed in 1996, causing the name of JİTEM to be mentioned in a court record for the first time -- are only one part of the JİTEM activities that have been sent to the European court, which in total have cost Turkey a fortune. Doğan was one of the suspects tried in the frame of the Yüksekova Gang, known by the public as "the gang with uniforms." Though local courts sentenced the members of the Yüksekova Gang to imprisonment many times, all of these punishments were cancelled by the Supreme Court of Appeals. The European court then fined Turkey 103,000 euros for its decisions about the Yüksekova Gang.
Doğan is also mentioned in the investigation of the murder of Kurdish writer Musa Anter, who was killed at the age of 72 in 1992 in Diyarbakır, where he had gone to participate in a festival. Abdulkadir Aygan, a defected PKK terrorist who was a JİTEM member for 10 years, explained many years after the Yüksekova case that one of the JİTEM teams, which were under control of Doğan and Cem Ersever (who was also later killed by the Ergenekon gang in 1993), killed Musa Anter in 1992 in his hotel room. Aygan was also with the team that killed Anter. Turkey was found guilty of this murder 14 years after it took place and was ordered by the European court to pay a total of 28,500 euros in 2006.
One of the most famous decisions of the European court against Turkey concerned an incident in which the resident's of the village of Yeşilyurt in the Cizde district of southeastern Anatolia province Mardin were forced to eat excrement during an operation administrated by Maj. Cafer Tayyar Çağlayan in 1989. Çağlayan was tried in Turkey after the villagers complained, and he was sentenced to three months of imprisonment. However, this punishment was delayed and later commuted to a monetary fine. The villagers then applied to the European court, which fined Turkey 300 French francs in 1994 for torture.
Hundreds of court cases from Turkey
Turkey, which ratified the European Convention of Human Rights in 1954, accepted the right to apply to the European court individually in 1987. Turkey agreed to accept the decisions of the European court and to pay the fines it was leveled in 1989, and this agreement became valid in 1990. The first individual application to the European court from Turkey was made in 1993, and the European court made its first decisions on Turkey in 1995. The number of decisions that the European court has made since then is as follows: three in 1995, five in 1996, eight in 1997, 18 in 1998, 19 in 1999, 39 in 2000, 218 in 2001, 99 in 2002, 123 in 2003, 171 in 2004, 290 in 2005 and 300 in 2006. (Today's Zaman, Melik Duvakli, 27 August 2008)
“Idle Environmentalists” Released From Custody, After Protest
The participants of the Ekotopya (Ecologic Utopias) Youth Park, who were raided by the Gendarmerie and told to shut down their camp by Sinop’s governor, held a protest meeting in front of the governorship.
Police took into custody the 33 activists who lay down on the street. One of the camp participants R.G., who declined to give his/her name, told bianet that those who were taken into custody were released early in the morning.
The Ekotopya Youth Camp was raided by the Gendarmerie on Friday (August 22). Following the raid, the governor had ordered the immediate shutdown of the camp.
R.G. said that the street where the Sinop City and Life Without Nuclear Association (SİNYAD) was under police blockade for two days and that they did not even give water to the environmentalists who were apprehended.
The co-chairpersons of the Greens Party, Bilge Contepe and Ümit Şahin said, “This has shown one more time how democratic the Justice and Development Party (AKP) is. It is clear that the Prime Minister supports this kind of behavior, as he attacked the environmentalist in Rize when the Sinop Police was putting pressure on them in Sinop.”
Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdoğan said in his speech in Rize, a city at the far eastern end of the Black Sea Coast of Turkey, that he was an environmentalist, his government was environmentalist, but they were not of those idle environmentalists. (BIA,August 25, 2008)
Ardahan Security Chief Confesses Torture
Former boxer and Ardahan Security Chief Kemal Sonunur said that before European Union integration laws he “beat up” many burglars and rapists, “I used to beat up the burglars. We plead them to confess their crime now. And they confess in order not to refuse our kind request.”
Kemal Sonunur was the bodyguard of former president Turgut Özal once and became controversial with pictures where he kissed the hand of Fethullah Gülen, the leader of a religious order. Sonunur began his job as the security chief of Ardahan by reminiscing over the old days.
"Integration laws took our beating of criminals from our hands. However I beat up many burglars and rapists before the laws. I am not denying. Our fists have fine adjusted. I used to adjust it to his built and in dosage. But now there is Penal Procedural Laws, integration laws.” (antenna-tr.org, August 25, 2008)
Racist murder campaign from Turkish Revenge Squads …
The website of Turkish Revenge Squads (TIT) which declares Kurds, AKP and Islamic movements as enemies now launched a campaign, ‘Hey Turk get armed and you shoot an enemy too.’ A declaration signed by the general president of TIT Savaşan Atsız published on the website defended Ergenekon and said:
“We keep our right to hold armed action against AKP leaders, their hired prosecutors, pens of imperialism… Taraf, Yeni Şafak, Zaman dailies and other writers and newspaper editors who encourage them!”
The website publishes a list of points where arms can be bought. (antenna-tr.org, August 25, 2008)
29 étrangers arrêtés lors d'une manifestation anti-nucléaire
Vingt-neuf ressortissants étrangers, dont plusieurs français, et trois Turcs ont été arrêtés samedi lors d'une manifestation contre un projet de construction d'une centrale nucléaire près de la ville turque de Sinop, sur les rives de la mer Noire, selon une organisation de défense de l'environnement.
La police a confirmé ces arrestations, affirmant que la manifestation n'avait pas été autorisée.
Les forces de l'ordre ont dispersé la manifestation devant le bureau du gouverneur local et interpellé 29 manifestants, selon Niklas Hartmann, de l'ONG European Youth for Action.
Parmi les interpellés figurent au moins deux ressortissants américains et plusieurs Allemands et Français, selon Niklas Hartmann. Les manifestants campaient près de Sinop depuis le 9 août.
Les autorités turques ont annoncé leur projet de construire une centrale nucléaire près de Sinop, après la construction de leur première centrale près de Mersin, sur les bords de la Méditerranée. (canadianpress.google.com, 23 août 2008)
Un attentat à la voiture piégée fait 16 blessés à Izmir
Seize personnes, pour la plupart des policiers et des militaires, ont été blessées par l'explosion d'une voiture piégée visant les forces de sécurité jeudi à Izmir, dans l'ouest de la Turquie, ont affirmé les autorités.
La police n'a pas fait de déclaration sur les instigateurs possibles de l'attentat, mais un ministre a émis l'hypothèse d'une implication des rebelles kurdes luttant pour l'indépendance du sud-est anatolien à la population en majorité kurde.
La voiture, garée au bord d'une route, a explosé vers 07H45 (04H45 GMT) au passage d'une voiture de l'armée et d'un bus de la police, ont affirmé les services du gouverneur d'Izmir.
"L'explosion s'est produite dans une voiture vide stationnée sur les lieux de la déflagration. Nous pensons que celle-ci a été provoquée par des explosifs déclenchés à distance", a déclaré le gouverneur d'Izmir Cahit Kiraç, cité par l'agence de presse Anatolie.
Un porte-parole du gouverneur a déclaré que l'explosion avait blessé sept policiers, trois soldats dont un colonel et six civils.
"Un des soldats blessés est dans une situation critique et est en train d'être opéré", a déclaré cette source, parlant sous le couvert de l'anonymat.
Une fumée noire s'échappait de la carcasse d'une voiture carbonisée, devant un minibus de la police, alors que les forces de l'ordre installaient un cordon de sécurité autour de la scène, selon des images diffusées par la télévision NTV.
Les vitres des bâtiments alentour ont été soufflées par la déflagration, décrite par les résidents comme puissante.
Le ministre des Transports Binali Yildirim a suggéré que l'explosion était l'oeuvre de "l'organisation terroriste", un terme habituellement employé pour désigner les rebelles kurdes du Parti des travailleurs du Kurdistan (PKK), a rapporté Anatolie.
L'agence a cité M. Yildirim affirmant que les rebelles s'étaient lancés dans une campagne d'attentats à la bombe visant les centres urbains depuis que les opérations militaires les empêchaient d'agir dans le sud-est anatolien.
L'attentat d'Izmir intervient deux jours après l'explosion d'une bombe à Mersin (sud). Le poseur de bombe supposé, poursuivi par la police, a déclenché la bombe, se tuant et blessant 12 policiers. (AFP, 21 août 2008)
12 policiers blessés dans un possible attentat suicide
Douze policiers ont été blessés dans l'explosion d'une voiture, vraisemblablement déclenchée par un kamikaze qui a trouvé la mort mardi près de Mersin, dans le sud de la Turquie, ont rapporté des responsables locaux et des médias.
"Nous envisageons la possibilité d'un attentat suicide", a déclaré à l'agence de presse Anatolie le gouverneur de Mersin, Huseyin Aksoy.
Selon lui, le conducteur, seul à bord du véhicule, a déclenché l'engin explosif qu'il transportait lorsque des policiers à sa poursuite ont tenté de l'arrêter dans la banlieue de la ville.
Douze policiers ont été blessés, dont deux étaient hospitalisés dans un état grave.
La police estime que la bombe comportait une trentaine de kilos d'explosif plastic C-4.
Les forces de l'ordre, prévenues qu'un attentat-suicide se préparait dans la ville, avaient commencé à suivre le véhicule mardi matin, après qu'il eut quitté la province voisine de l'Adana, où il était arrivé en provenance de Diyarbakir. Le conducteur ne s'est pas arrêté malgré les avertissements répétés de la police et a actionné la bombe après que les forces de l'ordre eurent ouvert le feu, a poursuivi Anatolie.
Selon les enquêteurs, le kamikaze, qu'ils tentent d'identifier, entendait frapper le siège de la police à Mersin dans l'après-midi, au moment où les personnes qui y travaillent quittent le bâtiment, a ajouté l'agence (AFP, 20 août 2008)
Police violence turned towards human rights defenders
Latest communiqué of the Human Rights Association of Turkey (IHD):
About 44 people, including administrators of Democratic Society Party (DTP) provincial and district organizations in Adana, Küçük Dikili Mayor Ms. Leyla Güven and Misis Mayor Mr. Burhan Ars were detained from their house in early morning on 14.08.2008. Within the framework of these detentions, police and gendarmerie forces planned to raid Adana DTP provincial organization. After an application via phone to Human Rights Association (İHD) Adana Branch, the president of the branch Mr. Ethem Açıkalın and an administrator Mr. Hüseyin Beyaz went to the scene to become observer and determine human rights violations at the scene immediately.
POLICE FORCES GO ON BREAKING ARM!
When the president Mr. Ethem Açıkalın and the administrator Mr. Hüseyin Beyaz enter into DTP building, they see police raid. After a while, police force members ask our administrators that why they did come there. The president and administrator say that they came because they got a call and getting information and preparing report about detentions and releasing these reports to the public part of their activities. After a short argument, police forces attacked against them and took the President Mr. Ethem Açıkalın and the Treasurer out. They take our administrators forcibly to door of DTP building, which is in the 3 floor, and throw them from DTP building to stairs. As a result of this attack, Mr. Beyaz’s arm is broken. Mr. Beyaz is taken to the State Hospital in Adana and broken arm is proved by doctors. He gets a medical report that states he will be disable for service for next two months.
ALTHOUGH POLICE FORCES ARE OFFENDER, THEY FILE A CRIMINAL COMPLAINT!
As Adana Police forces are aware their attack has serious outcomes against them, they immediately file a complaint against our administrators in regard to resisting against police forces. Prosecution office, which calls our administrators immediately, is surprised when they see situation of our administrators.
IHD Adana Branch is going to file a criminal complaint today (18.08.2008).
The Government is responsible for the action of the security forces that think it can apply any kind of violence and act in this way. Security forces have such an opinion with changes, which have been made in June 2007, in Law on the Duties and Competencies of Police. İHD condemns the attack against our administrator Mr. Hüseyin Beyaz who conducted determining and observing human rights violations that is in the nature of human rights defending and the basic mission of human rights defenders.
We invite the Government to conform to the UN Declaration on Human Rights Defenders, adopted by the General Assembly of the United Nations on December 9, 1998, and start all judicial and administrative investigation. (email@example.com, August 18, 2008)
Six Arrested In An Anti-Nuclear Protest
According to the announcement the Greens Party made today (August 20), the six people protesting the planned nuclear plant by having a sit-in in front of the Turkish Atomic Energy Institution (TAEK) in Sinop were taken into custody.
Four of those taken into custody are Ekotopya camp members and three among these four are foreign nationals. The other two are the members of Sinop’s City And Life Without Nuclear Association (SİNYAD). The six people are still at the police station.
Co-spokesperson of the Greens Party Ümit Şahin said, “As the Greens Party, we condemn the impatience shown to those who are trying to use their legitimate right to oppose. We ask the government to cancel the nuclear bidding that they are planning to get done with by September 24, instead of bothering those who are against nuclear plants. (BIA, August 20, 2008)
Three More Apprehended For Ergenekon With 280 Grenades
The special authority in Beşiktaş, which is attached to the investigation conducted by Istanbul’s Chief Prosecutor, organized an operation to two addresses in Beykoz/İstanbul and in Ankara.
In the Beykoz address, which is claimed to be retired Gendarmerie Colonel Arif Doğan’s real estate office, three long-barreled rifles, three guns, shells for these weapons, 280 hand grenades and many documents were found.
Retired colonel Arif Doğan and two unidentified individuals were apprehended in connection with the operation.
According to the cnnturk.com, retired colonel Arif Doğan is a close associate of retired brigadier general Veli Küçük, one of the major suspects in the Ergenekon case.
Former acting president of the intelligence office of the Head of the Police Department Bülent Orakoğlu had identified Arif Doğan in one of his comments as the founder of JİTEM, the Gendarmerie Intelligence and Anti Terror Unit.
Turan Çömez, who is in London for language education, and Levent Ersöz, who is thought to be in Russia, are to be arrested for the Ergenekon investigation.
The Ergenekon investigation had started when the police had found some weapons and hand grenades in a shack in Ümraniye in Istanbul on June 13 in 2007. (BIA - hurriyet.com.tr - cnnturk.com, August 15, 2008)
IHD Demands Investigation Of Human Rights Violations In Three Prisons
Diyarbakır Branch of the Human Rights Association (İHD) has announced that Ahmet Kırboğa, who has applied to them countless times for having been badly treated and tortured in Bitlis Prison, was insulted and threatened by the soldiers during his transfer to Erzurum H Type Prison on July 11, 2008.
According to the İHD, Kırboğa was undressed naked, subjected to bad treatment by the prison officials, kept in his cell for three days, not given sheet and blanket although he was cold, and his items of personal hygiene such as toothbrush, soap, detergent and towel were not returned to him although they were in his bag.
There were 174 applications to İHD’s Diyarbakır branch and all the other branches in the eastern and southeastern Turkey in the first six months of year 2004 for bad treatment. These applications were 191 in the first six months of 2005, 242 in the first six months of 2006, 172 in the first six months of 2007 and 434 in the first six months of 2008.
Emphasizing the increase in the figures about torture and bad treatment, the İHD says, “We, the human rights defenders, want an investigation especially about the increase in human rights violations in Bitlis, Siirt and Erzurum prisons in Eastern Turkey. However, they also add that they have so far gotten no results to their inquiries.
İHD’s Diyarbakır branch calls upon Bitlis, Siirt and Erzurum Chief Prosecutors, the government of the Justice and Development Party (AKP) who declares “zero tolerance to torture”, the Parliament and every institution and organization concerned with the subject to launch an investigation by sending inspectors to these prisons. (BIA, August 12, 2008)
Peace Assembly To Have Meetings In Diyarbakır, Adana and Istanbul
Turkish Peace Assembly has organized a press release named “Turkey Is Meeting For Peace! Democratic Solution For The Kurdish Problem” today (August 12) together with the Revolutionary Confederation of Labor Unions (DİSK) in its Istanbul branch building.
Necmiye Alpay emphasized that pushing the Kurdish problem towards no-solution by resorting to military operations and militaristic methods had been increasing the death toll.
“They prevent people from returning to their villages. In addition to the operations, they are forming new cadres for the paramilitaristic village defenders. The war economy is causing the poor to become poorer; our bread is getting smaller every day.”
The announcement pointed out to the effort to make enemies out of the peoples who have been living together for years by fomenting militarism, chauvinism and racism in the political atmosphere. They also added that all of the problems, including the Kurdish problem, could be solved by using methods appropriate to the principles of the human rights and democracy and basing them upon the understanding of full equality between peoples and cultures and their total freedom.
Peace Assembly promoters are inviting everyone who says peace against war, life against death, brotherhood against hostility to the meeting named “Turkey Is Meeting For Peace! Democratic Solution In The Kurdish Problem” that will take place in Diyarbakır, Adana and Istanbul Kadıköy simultaneously on August 31. (BIA, Nilay VARDAR- Zeynep GÜNER, August 12, 2008)
Blacklists seized in Ergenekon probe Special Forces' knack
Former Major Fikret Emek, who was detained as part the Ergenekon probe after incriminating documents together with some bombs, bullets and explosives were seized from his mother's house, said keeping records of people was one of the “routine tasks” of the Turkish Special Forces, a branch of the Land Forces Command.
Emek, alleged to have been a member of the military wing of the Ergenekon gang, is also a retired staff member of the Turkish Special Forces. The records, or “blacklists,” seized in his mother's house included names of hundreds of residents of Istanbul who were described as members of the PKK (Kurdistan Workers' Party), DHKP/C (Revolutionary People's Liberation Party/Front), extreme leftists, Süleymancı (member of a religious congregation called Süleymancılar) or Nakşibendi (member of a Sufi order called Nakşibendi). However, he reportedly said in his statement at the Security Directorate that the records were prepared by units working under his official assignment and was one of the Turkish Special Forces' routine tasks.
Emek's replied to questions asked of him at the Security Directorate about the records referred to in the Ergenekon indictment, saying the following:
“He said the documents shown to him were prepared in line with information acquired by intelligence units on terrorist organization PKK, DHKP/C, TİKKO (Turkish Workers Peasants Liberation Party), Nakşibendi and other similar groups of organizations, and were part of his tasks during his office at the special forces. Additionally, he said the documents shown to him were reports prepared by units under his official assignment and was one of their routine tasks.”
Emek reportedly said in his statement that he took the records -- which had been kept while he was still in office -- with him after he retired. Emek served in the Special Forces from 1986 to 2004.
According to press reports, three blacklists, two of which are made up of seven pages each and one of which had been written on 10 pages, cover all food factories, furniture stores, groceries, and barber shops in all neighborhoods of Istanbul. The records kept by intelligence units not only categorize people as members of this and that group but also various nongovernmental organizations and/or institutions as backers of organizations such as DHKP/C, Dev-Yol, PKK, MLKP (Marxist-Lenninist Liberation Party) and TİKKO, or religious groups such as Süleymancılar, Kadiriler, Nurcular, Milli Görüşçüler or Nakşibendiler.
Kurds blacklisted too
Some of the records seized at Emek's house include lists of a number of companies that belong to Kurdish businessmen. According to a document included in file No. 19 of the Ergenekon indictment, a file that was prepared by the intelligence units serving in the special forces' command that was titled “sponsors of the PKK terrorist organization” includes a list of 164 private companies. That such a list was seized at the house of a person detained under the Ergenekon probe gave rise to suspicions that the main aim was not simply limited to gathering intelligence.
One of the documents seized at the house of Ergenekon detainee Emek, also known as “Major Şamil,” includes information about an organization called the “New Kurdistan Movement.” The document, with a note marked “confidential” attached to it, reportedly describes the New Kurdistan Movement -- whose name is unheard of by the public -- as “an organization that seems to be more dangerous than the PKK.”
In the document, the intelligence units that serve in the special forces also describe the New Kurdistan Movement as “an organization whose members are also the accomplices of PKK and HADEP.” According to a scheme that is reportedly provided in an appendix to the document, two well-known deputies from central right parties serve as president and deputy president of the alleged “New Kurdistan Movement.” (Turkish Daily News, August 8, 2008)
Parliament Discusses The Special Forces For Keeping Files On People
Akın Birdal, Diyarbakır deputy for the Democratic Society Party (DTP), submitted a motion of question for keeping files on hundreds of people in Istanbul, which was described by retired major Fikret Emek, one of the accused in the Ergenekon case, as “a routine job of the Special Forces Command Post.”
Talking to bianet, Birdal says the government should show the necessary will to go against this unlawful practice and to uncover the perpetrators: “AKP should want this and we should support it.”
Did keeping files go on?
Birdal’s questions, which he wants to be replied by Interior Minister Beşir Atalay, are:
1. Is it true that the units responsible for the internal security kept files by subjecting individuals and institutions to political evaluation?
2. Which institution kept files on people?
3. Does keeping files cover only the period of 1999-2000? Or, is keeping files on people comes all the way to the present?
4. Is it legal according to the official regulations that an institution can keep files on individuals and institutions? If it is legal then which institutions can keep files on people? What is the purpose of keeping files?
5. Was your ministry aware of this procedure of keeping files on people?
6. Has the individual or the institution which keeps files on people ever been investigated because of keeping files? If there has, then what was the result?
7. Has there been an administrative or judicial investigation about the individuals or institutions that have been politically evaluated through keeping files on them?
8. Do you think keeping files is justifiable in the context of human rights and freedoms and personal safety and freedom, including the right to live?
9. Do you think there should be a parliamentary inquiry about this unlawful practice that is against democracy and human rights?
Birdal says there must be an investigative commission and the parliamentary group of the Democratic Society Party (DTP) told bianet that they were planning to form an investigative commission.
According to the documents uncovered in the Ergenekon investigation, individuals are filed with descriptions such as “PKK, DHKP/C, TİKKO, MLKP, radical left, reactionary religious, Nakşibendi, Süleymancı, Nurcu” across their names. The acronyms represent the radical leftist and Islamic congregations deemed dangerous.
Retired major Emek, in whose house these files were found, describes the whole thing as one of the routine duties of the Special Forces, which he had to do when he was assigned to this post. (BIA, Tolga KORKUT, August 7, 2008)
Former Governor Was Business Partners With A Major Ergenekon Accused
Adil Serdar Saçan, former Branch Director of Istanbul’s Fight Against Organized Crimes Department, who is accused of trying to cover up the Ergenekon investigation in 2001, praises Oktay Yıldırım in a letter he wrote to Bekir Öztürk: “My brother Oktay is a hero, a veteran master sergeant.
Hasan Özdemir, Gaziantep deputy from the Nationalist Movement Party (MHP), Istanbul’s police chief at the time, who, according to Saçan, knew about the investigation at the time, said, “I did not see that document. The prosecutor must have sent it directly to the Istanbul Intelligence Branch.”
Another person whom Saçan presented as a witness about the allegations in connection with the Ergenekon investigation, that is, Erol Çakır, Istanbul governor at the time, was business partners with Veli Küçük, one of the accused in the Ergenekon case.
According to the documents that were recovered in the Ergenekon investigation, the high-level commanders of the Turkish Armed Forces (TSK) had a meeting about the “problems of the country” on July 15 – 16, 2003.
The target was the government. The commanders were of the opinion that they had to make a decision or accept their fate. To accomplish this, they thought it was necessary to insult the prime minister in special meetings. They also thought that they needed a good media support.
As the communications between the chief prosecutor of Istanbul and the Gaziantep Prison were added to the Ergenekon indictment, the identity of one of the secret witnesses, the one who is a Kurdish Workers Party (PKK) informant, has been revealed.
The election zones and brief life stories, with additional notes, of the Justice and Development Party deputies for the 22nd term were found on a document among the files of accused Halil Behiç Gürcihan, owner of the internet site “acikistibahrat.com” (open intelligence), who was arrested in June 2008.
Keeping files encompassed the Adana, Adıyaman, Afyon, Ağrı, Aksaray, Amasya, Ankara, Antalya, Ardahan and Balıkesir deputies. (BIA, August 8, 2008)
Police Department Backs Another Trigger Happy Police Officer
Istanbul Police Department backs another trigger-happy police officer, who shot a youth for no police business whatsoever. According to the Police Department, police officer Mustafa Atasoy shot Cem İnci when his weapon misfired during a verbal argument between the two.
According to the explanation of the Police Department, the reason the police officer was not handcuffed was because he was an officer and there was no flight risk. The same explanation described the excessive hugging and kissing between the police officers while the accused was on his way to the prison as police solidarity.
The last paragraph of the explanation concluded by stating that a police officer was a human being, too, that they all had to wait for the result of the trial. The report did not fail to accuse the reporters for describing the police officer in negative terms.
No explanation for preventing the necessary medical aid to the victim
The Police Department did not say anything about the prevention of help to the victim by the accused. According to the witnesses and victim’s relatives, accused police officer prevented people in the scene who attempted to help the victim with his weapon.
“My son could not even call his mother when he was dying”
According to Elvan Ezber’s report from daily Milliyet, victim’s father Zihni İnci said, “According to the people there, the police officer did not let anyone approach his son, holding his gun against them. Instead of calling an ambulance, he called his police friends and told them that he shot someone. Only after other police officers arrived at the scene, they called an ambulance. When my son tried to call his mother, the officer did not let him.”
According to accused police officer Atasoy’s statement, victim İnci and his friends harassed him, he tried to get away first, but they did not let him, and when he got his gun out to scare them, it misfired. (BIA, August 8, 2008)
The Ergenekon documents: Big Ergenekon Watching Us
(Editor-in-chief of daily Radikal)
Since the day it was revealed, I have been reading the Ergenekon indictment. But sluggishly reading a 2,500-page document written in poor Turkish is not easy.
You don't have a chance to scan it through either. A word by word reading is necessary in order to catch the minute details.
The moment I finished reading it, I was presented another file filled with the documents from the additional indictment. I have been scanning them over the last two days, but I am just at the beginning.
Big Ergenekon watching us
Most of my colleagues feel free to share their opinions about the indictment. And I do have opinions on the piece too, but I share my evaluations in private conversations time to time.
I don't want to write them down here because we are talking about a case being processed in the Court for Serious Crimes, although the content is worthy to determine whether or not we will have democracy. Trials take place inside the courtroom, not on the pages of newspapers or in columns. No one should expect me to reinforce or disapprove the indictment. This is the prosecutors' and defense council's business.
The only thing I, or my newspaper, can do is publish pieces that we are convinced by, pieces that are newsworthy and pieces we can confirm through multiple sources. No one should expect us to use various letters of speculations or eyewitness depositions. For instance, daily Radikal's headline yesterday, concerning some documents. These documents were found in the house of an Ergenekon detainee, along with dozens of guns and explosives.
Unfortunately, they belong to a homeland security institution. We see in the documents that track records are kept on every single county in Istanbul, including barber shops, grocery stores, individuals who are suspected of links with some terror organizations and some religious sects.
But this is not the issue here. The issue is that such documents exist.
First of all, is it legal to keep track records on people who are neither arrested nor convicted of a crime to link them with such and such terror organization?
Secondly, what kind of legal procedures were launched by the officials or institutions holding such records on these people? If the bookstore X in Beyoğlu is owned by the terror organization DHKP-C and if security forces have this information in hand, why didn't they transfer it to the prosecutor's office? If they did, what was the end result?
Thirdly, why were these records, which were kept for intelligence reasons, found in the house of an Ergenekon suspect? What if a barber or a grocery man or an industrialist or an association head that is linked with the Kurdish Workers' Party, or PKK, or DHKP-C becomes a murder target? (As you may know, someone who perpetrated such a plot a decade ago is also among the Ergenekon suspects.)
And finally, who kept these track records? We have solid information beyond predictions by official confirmation of this document is more critical? Don't we have a parliamentary representative who believes in democracy and human rights and who can submit a motion for investigation and require information from the Interior Minister? Isn't there a parliamentary human rights committee to examine this from a human rights perspective? Come on! (Translated into English by TDN's staff - www.turkishdailynews.com.tr, August 7, 2008)
Trois explosions à Istanbul: trois blessés
Trois explosions ont eu lieu jeudi matin à Istanbul, faisant trois blessés légers, ont indiqué un responsable local et les médias turcs.
Une chaîne de télévision a affirmé que les explosions avaient été causées par des tirs de mortiers visant une caserne de l'armée, près d'un bâtiment de la mairie de quartier d'Üsküdar, sur la rive asiatique d'Istanbul.
L'une des explosions s'est produite dans un camion de ramassage d'ordures sur le parking du bâtiment municipal, les deux autres dans un cimetière proche de celui-ci, a indiqué à l'agence de presse Anatolie Mehmet Cakir, le maire d'Usküdar.
"Trois ouvriers ont été légèrement blessés", a affirmé sur les lieux le chef de la police d'Istanbul, Celalettin Cerrah, indiquant que des experts en explosifs menaient l'enquête mais qu'il était prématuré de conclure à une tentative d'attentat contre le bâtiment municipal.
La chaîne de télévision NTV, citant des sources policières, a rapporté que quatre obus de mortiers avaient été tirés depuis le cimetière et a suggéré que la cible de cette attaque pouvait être une caserne militaire située à quelques centaines de mètres de là.
Des témoins avaient auparavant déclaré que des explosifs avaient été jetés par des personnes cachées derrière des arbres du cimetière, selon Anatolie.
Des grenades ou des petites bombes destinées à provoquer du bruit plutôt qu'à tuer auraient été utilisées, a indiqué de son côté la télévision CNN-Türk.
CNN-Türk a précisé que deux personnes à motocyclette avaient été vues prenant la fuite. (AFP, 7 août 2008)
Directive to improve conditions in F type prisons remained on paper
Human Rights Association’s first half of 2008 report on the conditions of seven prisons in Marmara Region showed that the directive to improve conditions remained on paper. The directive named after Behiç Aşçı carried ‘10 convicts to spend 10 hours per week with other prisoners’ has not been implemented except in one prison. Ban on languages other than Turkish continues, violence is exerted during transfers to courts.
HRA Istanbul branch reports:
Tekirdağ Num 1 F Type
-Visits and telephones rights suspended.
-‘Conversation right’ reduced from 9 hours to six per week
-Cameras were placed in common room. Political prisoners do not use conversation room anymore.
-Water pets were seized, fresh water was not available.
-Books brought by German Consulate to Erdener Demirel was seized.
- periodical in Kurdish was seized.
-Agos paper’s pages in Armenian were seized.
-Speaking in other than Turkish banned
Tekirdağ Num 2 F Type
-Restriction on conversations and water problem,
-Naked body search and beatings.
-Neglect of medical needs.
Bolu F Type Prison
-naked body search.
-No medical service.
Similar problems prevail in Edirne F Type, Kandıra F Type, Gebze M Type and Maltepe Children’s prisons.
(antenna-tr.org, August 8, 2008)
Report States 833 Lost Children In Turkey
Prime Ministry’s Human Rights Directorship (İHB) stated that there were 7183 lost children reported in 2007. 6350 of these were found and 833 of them are still lost.
The provinces with the highest number of lost children were Istanbul, Balıkesir, Bursa, Ankara, Şanlıurfa and Mardin.
According to the figures of the Police Department, there were 1446 lost children as of January 15. The reason behind this discrepancy is the disagreement on the concept of lost children.
İHB defines the concept of “lost child” as the child between the ages of 0-18 who ran away or taken away form his/her family without their knowledge and thus is in danger and sends no information about his/her welfare. These figures do not include the “unrecorded children”, whose status is not communicated to the necessary public institutions.
According to the report, the reasons the children are lost are the following:
- Children born to early marriages may not get enough attention from their parents. Too many children may also lead to abuse.
- Excessive violence, poverty, unemployment may force children to leave their families.
- Migration, inability to adapt, and limited employment opportunities for young people.
- Kidnapping children for various reasons.
According to the report the children groups under risk are:
- Those under institutional care.
- Those lost because of accidents and natural disaster.
- Those forced to commit crimes.
The report indicates that the negative programs in the media may affect the children. Similarly, it places the negative use of the internet as one of the reasons.
The report recommends giving support to the children and the families under risk in the cities with high migration rates.
The report also recommends that the sexual abuse of children should be taken out of the category of crimes that require formal complaint first. It also recommends that the authorities fight against the employment of children. (BIA, August 6, 2008)
Human Rights Defender Ridvan Kizgin's Torment
Helmut Oberdiek, spokesman of the Democratic Turkey Forum (DTF), has released the following report about a series of unlawful legal proceedings against Ridvan Kizgin, former chair of the Bingöl branch of the Human Rights Association (IHD):
On 3 March 2008 Ridvan Kizgin was taken to Bingöl Prison to serve a sentence of 2 years and 6 months' imprisonment (see case 2). This may only be the start for a lengthy time in prison. In April 2008 the chief prosecutor at the Court of Cassation asked to confirm a sentence of five years' imprisonment against Ridvan Kizgin (see case 3). According to an article in the Internet Portal "AjansDogu" of 8 March 2008 a total of 107 investigations had been launched against him and 67 had ended in court cases. While some charges had been dropped or resulted in acquittal, others ended in convictions. In some of these cases Ridvan Kizgin was fined in others he was punished with imprisonment.
Samples cases against Ridvan Kizgin
Ridvan Kizgin has been targeted by the authorities since the foundation of a branch of the HRA in Bingöl province. In December 2001 Bingöl Governor Tamer Ersoy dismissed him as the chair of the branch, but in January 2002 realized that he was not entitled to do so. He stayed in pre-trial detention between 25 January and 8 March 2002 in connection with a press statement on the "disappearance" of two politicians in Silopi in January 2001. Further examples of the various cases against Ridvan Kizgin can be found in the daily bulletins of the Human Rights Foundation of Turkey (HRFT, download a collection of English reports as word-file). In a report of October 2005 (word-document in Turkish, 700 kB) the Bingöl branch of the HRA listed 86 cases against Ridvan Kizgin between 2001 and July 2005. In connection with the activities of the Bingöl branch a total of 209 cases had been launched. The cases that had resulted in conviction were listed as
- Defendants Ridvan Kizgin, Edip Senkozat, suspended fine of 142,360 TL (2001)
- Defendants Ridvan Kizgin, Edip Senkozat, S. Kayamolak, suspended fine of 218,103 TL each (2002)
- Defendants Ridvan Kizgin and board members, fine of 218,103 TL was lifted on appeal (2002)
- Defendant Ridvan Kizgin, fine of 2,831,550 TL (2003, appeal against the verdict pending)
- Defendant Ridvan Kizgin, suspended fine of 2,429,970 TL (2003)
The background to these cases were alleged violations of the Law on Association such as not providing required documents, accepting members with a criminal record or showing missing board members in minutes of meetings. The report also listed a trial in Elazig, where Ridvan Kizgin had been fined 1,112,000 TL for having used the Kurdish word "Cewlik" for Bingöl province in the multi-language letter head (also in English). This case is referred to in a report of Amnesty International of 1 March 2006. In a report of FIDH of 18 March 2008 two convictions of Ridvan Kizgin that are pending before the Appeal Court are listed as:
The first case is related to the denunciation by Mr. Kizgin of a case of rape in Bingöl through the publication of a press release. On May 22, 2007, Mr. Kizgin had already been sentenced to six months’ imprisonment and 570 YTL by the Bingol 2 Criminal Court. He had appealed this sentencing and the case is still pending.
The second case relates to the sentencing on November 14, 2006 of Mr. Kizgin and Ms. Kiraz Bicici, IHD Vice-president, to five months’ imprisonment, for “denigrating Turkish identity”. The sentence was later turned into a 1750 YTL fine. Both had appealed this sentencing, and the case is still pending.
Events leading to current imprisonment
- In mid-2003 the situation in Bingöl province was rather tense and the HRA felt obliged to comment on various kinds of atrocities including acts of killings that officially were attributed to the Kurdish Workers' Party PKK (at the time also operating under the name of KADEK), but for which KADEK had denied to be responsible. The chronology of incidents (as far as they are relevant to the subsequent proceedings against Ridvan Kizgin) includes
- 15 June 2003: two militants of the PKK are killed in Karakoc (Pul) hamlet, near Yumakli (Pakuni) village (names in brackets are the original Kurdish names of the villages). Villagers were ordered to get their mules to carry the corpses to the road.
- 2 July 2003: a villager (from that area) told Ridvan Kizgin that six armed men who had not been seen there before used to come to villages and ask for support. The villager said that he had informed the gendarmerie, but no measures had been taken.
- 3 (6) July 2003: Mr Kizgin made the complaint public calling on the authorities to take action. Reports appeared in the national press on 7 July 2003.
- 8 and 9 July 2003: Ridvan Kizgin received phone calls in the name of the gendarmerie. He was told to see the commander of the gendarmerie in Bingöl and retract his statements.
- 10 July 2003: Amnesty International intervened on behalf of RK (see UA 205/03, EUR 44/019/2003, 10 July 2003; for an earlier UA see Urgent Actions UA 57/02, EUR 44/014/2002, 21 February 2002 and follow-ups) and called for an investigation into the intimidation against him.
- 10 July 2003: Five villagers were killed in Karakoc (Pul) hamlet, near Yumakli (Pakuni) village. Officially the PKK was blaimed for it, but the PKK disclaimed responsibility.
- 12-14 July 2003: Ridvan Kizgin gave several interviews on the incident including a phone conversation on 14 July with the Kurdish TV station Med TV. He referred to the complaints of villagers as one reason that the PKK might not have committed the massacre.
- 15 July 2003: On demand of the HRA's HQ in Ankara and order of Bingöl Police HQ Ridvan Kizgin was provided private protection by four police officers (until 20 October 2003)
- 20 July 2003: The Democratic People's Party (DEHAP) sent a delegation to the village
- 22 July 2003: The HRA sent a delegation to the village. Its report was published on 29 July 2003 (the report as word-document in Turkish).
Assessment of the convictions
An expert of the German support group of the Human Rights Foundation of Turkey (HRFT), the Democratic Turkey Forum (DTF) has made an intense study of the court files and relating documents. The summary of the cases are a result of the study. His conclusions can be summarized like this:
Since the beginning the authorities have tried to hinder the work of the Bingöl branch of the HRA. In the beginning legal action focused on formalities (violation of the Law on Associations). Investigations were launched into almost all statements issued by the branch and its chairperson Ridvan Kizgin. When the authorities discovered that press statement could not be termed "illegal distribution of leaflets" the charges changed to "insult and denigration of the security forces", but only in very few cases the relevant courts would pass a guilty verdict. Therefore, additional (criminal) charges were presented.
In connection with the events of July 2003 the authorities were particularly disturbed that Ridvan Kizgin accused the security forces with intimidation and that he refused to blame the PKK for the killing of five civilians on 10 July 2003. Among the subsequent cases,
Case 1 is a good example of how objective investigations should be conducted. Had the prosecutors and judges involved in case 2 and case 3 been as unbiased as the prosecutor looking into case 1, Ridvan Kizgin most likely would not have been convicted.
Case 3 is an obvious example for an unjustified sentence. This means that Ridvan Kizgin was convicted without judicial evidence. In consequence, he was convicted for his non-violent activities as a human rights defender. The wrongful quotes from statements he made as a human rights activist back up this argument.
Case 2 may not be such a blant denial of justice, but in convicting Ridvan Kizgin and not even charging a prime suspect and acquitting another one this court as well showed its bias against Ridvan Kizgin. It used everything against the defendant, but ignored all elements in favour of the defendant. All this is a strong indication that the purpose was to target a human rights activist by using criminal charges as the pretext.
Short CV of Ridvan Kizgin
Ridvan Kizgin was born in Lice district (Diyarbakir) in 1953. The family later moved to Solhan district (Bingöl province) where Ridvan Kizgin finished primary education. In 1971 he graduated at Mus Agricultural Lyceum and started to work as a technician. He got married in 1973. After the military coup of 12 September 1980 he was taken into custody. Traces of the torture can still be seen at his feet. In 1982 Kizgin stayed in detention for 45 days, but there was not enough evidence to put him in pre-trial custody. After another detention in 1983 Ridvan Kizgin was suspended from duty.
Having lost his status as civil servant he engaged in politics and became active for the social-democratic party SODEP that later merged with the SHP. He later left the party and while he participated in the founding effort of the pro-Kurdish People's Labour Party (HEP) he won his case at the Supreme Administrative Court and could return to his job as an agricultural technician. He was appointed to Aksaray. In 1999 he asked to be transferred to his "home town" Bingöl, but worked there only for a short time. In 2000 he asked for retirement. After retirement he engaged in human rights work. He did not only chair the Bingöl branch of the HRA, but also became a member of the general board of the HRA HQ in Ankara. (firstname.lastname@example.org, August 5, 2008)
Prosecutor Says No Need For Special Laws To Protect Atatürk
Beyoğlu/Istanbul prosecutor Muzaffer Yalçın saw no need to try Nuray Canan Bezirgan and Kevser Çakır, who were accused of insulting Atatürk, founder of the Turkish Republic, because of their statement that “I do not like Atatürk, I like Humeyni.”
According to the report by ntvmsnbc, prosecutor’s reasoning was that there was no need for special laws to protect Atatürk’s value.
Although the prosecutor says this, the Law 5816 About Crimes Against Atatürk, which went into effect in 1951, is still in place. Many people, among them writer Mustafa İslamoğlu, journalist Hakan Albayrak, owner of Peri Publishing Ahmet Önal, Professor Atilla Yayla, journalist İpek Çalışlar, publishers Ragıp Zarakolu and Fatih Taş, translators Lütfi Taylan Tosun and Aysel Yıldırım, administrator of Özgür-Der Children’s Club Zehra Çomaklı Türkmen, journalists Mehmet Terzi and Oral Çalışlar, were tried because of this law. Some of these individuals received jail sentences.
In the television program she was interviewed, Bezirgan had asked if she had the right not to like Atatürk.
According to Prosecutor Yalçın’s reasoning:
“Mustafa Kemal Atatürk is a national hero. As a national hero and a revolutionary, he took his place in the histories of Turks and Turkish Republic as well as the World History. As Atatürk’s value will not diminish just because someone said a bad thing about him, there is no need for special laws to protect his value. It is true that there are those who do not like Atatürk. Liking someone is a matter of heart; it is inside one’s heart. (BIA, Erhan Ustundag, August 1st, 2008)
Pression sur les médias / Pressure on the Media
Author of the book "Language of Suffering: Woman" in prison
Two cases were filed over the book ‘Language of Suffering: Woman’ written by Murat Coşkun and published by Peri publishers in January 2002, one in Istanbul State Security Court Num. 4 (became high criminal court num 12); and the other in Beyoğlu Criminal Court Num.2. Istanbul High Criminal Court Num.12 condemned Coşkun to 12 months and 15 days of prison sentence for ‘inciting hatred and hostility among the people’ (TPC 216). Coşkun who was not aware of the trial was arrested in Adana on 22 August 2008 and put in prison.
The other case was under the charge of “insulting the military forces” (TPC 301). Murat Coşkun and the owner of Peri publishing house Ahmet Önal are charged together in that case which was sent to the Ministry of Justice for permission due to change in law.
Solidarity Platform for Journalists in Prison (SPJP) issued a statement and “protested writer Murat Çoşkun’s imprisonment for his ideas expressed in the book." SPJP demanded the immediate release of Coşkun, and called on everyone sensitive about freedom of expression to raise solidarity with Coşkun. According to the information provided by SPJP the number of writers and journalists in prison in Turkey is 21 including Coşkun. (Freedom of Expression Weekly Bulletin, 29 August 2008)
Last week’s trials of freedom of expression :
o Demirer is charged with “making propaganda for a terrorist organisation” under ATL article 7/2, over his speech at Tunceli 7th. Munzur Culture and Nature Festival on ¨Turkey’s Future, Political Crises and Democracy.
o A CD containing Demirer’s speech was sent to Criminal Medical Institute for transcription. As the Institution replied that it was not their field of expertise, court decided a new expert would examine the CD. The next hearing will be on 30 October 2008, at 10:00 am. (Freedom of Expression Weekly Bulletin, 29 August 2008)
No tolerance for Kurdish Music and Nazim Hikmet's Poem
Censorship on music in Turkey sometimes works through banning of melodies and sometimes in prosecuting and condemning the producers. System while supporting the pop songs in the lines of “I take my darling and take a walk on Bebek coast” puts on trial the ones like Ferhat Tunç for saying during his concert “My heart bleeds for every soldier and guerrilla who gets killed.” A children’s choir have been on trial for performing a Kurdish march ‘Ey Raqip’ in San Francisco’s World Music Festival.
Two more incident have been added this week:
Driver Fined for Kurdish song
Diyarbakır Chief Public Prosecutor demanded a five year prison sentence for the driver of a advertising lorry hired by DTP Diyarbakır MP Selahattin Demirtaş during 22 July general elections. Prosecutor accused the driver with making propaganda for an illegal organisation through playing the song "Le Amedê." The indictment argued that the song had been popular since the beginnings of ‘90s and Hozan Şemdin wrote the lyrics. Diyarbakır High Criminal Court N°5 gave driver Mustafa Tüzün 10 month’s prison sentence. Tüzün and not take it to appeal court since the lower court delays publishing the verdict.
Condemned for singing folksong
Folk music performer Hasan Sağlam has been given one year prison sentence for “making propaganda for an organisation” by singing the song ‘Vuruldu Sevdamız Kirvem’ at Munzur Festival last year. Malatya High Criminal Court N°3 condemned Sağlam. Sağlam noted that he was a folk singer and added “the only way for me to express myself is folk songs.”
Freemuse which started off with the slogan "Music is universal and cannot be censored" supports censored musicians on its website. For a list of censored musicians including Ferhat Tunç, Dixie Chicks and Madonna and why they suffered censorship see: www.freemuse.org
Last week’s trials of freedom of expression
7 of 13 members of Rights and Freedoms Platform (HOC) who are on trial over marching in Adana on 8 of March Women’s Day, chanting slogans "Revolutionary Martyrs live forever", "Women will win" and a press statement, and reading out Nazım Hikmet’s poem, were in prison.
13 HOC members are charged with "making propaganda for a terrorist organisation."
7 on remand have been released at the latest hearing. Adana High Criminal Court N° 7 will have the next hearing on 10 November 2008. (antenna-tr.org, August 25, 2008)
412 Internet Sites And Blogs Protest Internet Censorship
The number of internet sites and blogs protesting the internet censorship in Turkey, court orders banning the sites, has risen to 412.
The protest campaign launched by elmaaltshit.com, which had lost its video and information sources when the video sharing sites youtube.com and dailymotion were banned, received the support of the sites like http://www.odtununsesi.org/, the Voice of the Middle Eastern Technical University ODTÜ, and http://www.e-adalet.org/, the Law Workers Association (YARDER).
Those sites which are part of the campaign titled “The Access To This Site Is Denied By Its Own Decision” warn the authorities that if the Communications Ministry and the Turkish Courts go on with the current practice of banning the internet sites whose content they find offensive, the future of Internet Publishing will enter a very dark period. (BIA, Erol ÖNDEROĞLU, August 20, 2008)
Websites blocked and a newspaper confiscated
Another video-sharing website, Kliptube.com, has been blocked, as the YouTube.com and Dailymotion sites have been. YouTube.com, the biggest video-sharing website, has been blocked in Turkey for three months. Since the beginning of August 2008, access to Dailymotion.com has been blocked too. There is no information as to when and why the Kliptube site was ordered blocked. Users attempting to access Kliptube.com find a notice, "Access to this website has been blocked by court order." The same thing applies to the Dailymotion website.
In a separate development, on 13 August 2008 Ankara High Criminal Court Number 11 blocked the broadcasting of the website gundemonline.net, which focuses on Kurdish issues, for publishing a Kurdistan Workers Party (PKK) statement.
Website administrators said that the site had been blocked four times before and added, "We have not been informed (of the reasons that access was blocked), apart from the notice on the webpage. Lifting the ban through legal proceedings is too long a process for us. Hence, we continue our broadcasting under another extension."
In a second development related to coverage of the PKK, "Birgün" daily newspaper has been ordered confiscated. The Istanbul High Criminal Court Number 12 ordered the confiscation of "Birgün" newspaper over an interview done by Hakan Tahmaz with a leader of the PKK Murat Karayilan, in Mount Kandil. The report, entitled "Unilateral Ceasefire Aggravates the problem", was published on 9 August. The newspaper was ordered confiscated for "publishing a statement of the PKK", an offence under Anti-Terror Law article 6/2.
In a third development relating to Kurdish issues, the use of the Kurdish-language in the public sphere has again been blocked by the authorities. The Diyarbakir Kayapinar Council's initiative to give Kurdish flower names to five parks has been stopped by Diyarbakir Governor Hüseyin Avni Mutlu. Governor Mutlu based his refusal on an article on "separatist names" in the Directive on Addresses and Numbering and sent his decision to the council on 21 July. (Antenna-TR/IFEX, August 19, 2008)
Writer Ergün Sönmez' reaction against his publisher's condemnation in Turkey
The Heavy Penal Court N°14 of Istanbul condemned on June 23, 2008, the Director of the Tevn Publications, Mehdi Tanrıkulu, to a 18-month prison term for having Dr. Ergün Sönmez’ book entitled "The Kurdish Freedom Movement in the Imperialist Process of Capitalism and the PKK's Role". Sönmez too risks the same imprisonment if he returns to Turkey.
The court's verdict claims that there was in different chapters of the book the propaganda of an outlawed organization, for example by reproducing a declaration by Murat Karayilan, chairman of the PKK's Executive Council and that there was an evident misuse of the freedom of thought and expression recognized by Article 10 of the European Convention of Human Rights.
The author of the book, Dr. Ergün Sönmez who could not be tried because of his living abroad, has protested against the condemnation of his publisher Mehdi Tanrıkulu.
In a written declaration Dr. Sönmez said:
"The court's decision shows once again that the majority of the Turkish courts, with the exception of a little number, are not independent of the Turkish State's official ideology and of the Turkish militarism's war doctrine.
"Already many officials of the regime had to admit that Turkish tribunals are not independent. For example, the notorious prosecutor of the Ankara State Security Court, Nusret Demiral, had already said to the Turkish Daily News that "Since the terrorism puts in danger the very existence of the Turkish State, our tribunals and the Cassation Court see themselves in the obligation of pronouncing their judgment against the accused." (Özgür Ülke, 26.08.1994)
"For this reason the sentence of the Heavy Penal Court N°14 of Istanbul against Mehdi Tanrikulu, director of the Tevn Publications, is not a juridical decision. It is simply a political decision conforming to the State's official ideology and to the militarist war doctrine."
"My book analyses the two subjects of the fight carried out by the Kurdish Liberation Movement in Turkey: The Turkish State and the Turkish Militarism in the service of the former, on the one hand, and on the other, the PKK which carries out an armed fight in the name of the majority of the Kurdish People.
"My book, as a whole, is an academic work based on scientific studies. I already underlined in the preface that my work was carried out on the basis of dialectical and historical materialism method.
"The court's claim that the work was made for the propaganda of a terrorist organization is completely ridiculous and absurd since it is based on facts and extracts of the declarations of the two fighting sides.
"The court's decision also conforms to an earlier declaration of the new Chief Of Staff, General Ilker Basbug. He said 'Any pessimist evaluation of the situation is not other than a support to the [terrorist] organization.' ( www.milliyet.com.tr. April 12, 2008)
"This sentence also puts in evidence that this country which is candidate to the European Union still remains very far from adapting itself to the criteria such as the independence of tribunals and from respecting human rights as defined in the European Convention of Human Rights.
"By this sentence, not judicial but political, the tribunal condemns not only Mehdi Tanrikulu, director of the Tevn Publications, but also the democratization process and the future of Turkey." (Info-Türk, August 18, 2008)
Another Internet Site Is Banned in Turkey
After the internet sites youtube.com and dailymotion, the access to the site of kliptube.com is denied to the internet users in Turkey.
The biggest video sharing site of the internet, youtube.com, has been closed in Turkey for three months now. Dailymotion.com has just recently been added to the list.
The latest victim is another video sharing site, kliptube.com. However, it is not possible to find out how, when and why the access to this site is banned by going to the site itself.
Those who visit the site are greeted by the sentence that “The access to this site is barred by a court decision”. The same happened to the dailymotion in the beginning of August.
Ankara’s 11th High Criminal Court banned gundemonline.com, a site about the Kurdish problem, on August 7 without any justification. However, it is not known what particular page of the site led to the banning.
According to one of the site authorities, Ramazan Pekgöz, their site has been closed by court orders four times so far. He says that nobody gives them any explanation about the situation. Since it is a very long process to remove this court order, they simply continue their existence by changing names. (BIA, Erol ÖNDEROĞLU, August 14, 2008)
Copies Of Daily Birgün Seized For Interviewing A PKK Official
Istanbul’s 12th High Criminal Court seized the copies of daily Birgün for Hasan Tahmaz’s interview with Murat Karayılan, one of the Kurdish Workers Party (PKK) authorities.
The reason behind the seizing decision was based on interview’s “giving place to PKK explanations” under article 6/2 of the Law for Fight Against Terror (TMY). The title of the article that caused the seizing was “One Sided Ceasefire Makes The Problem Worse,” which appeared on August 9, 2008.
In the interview, Karayılan says although the person on the street does not want violence anymore, they will continue with their activities of “legitimate defensive war”.
Contrary to the desires of the peace activists in Turkey, Karayılan does not speak promisingly for ending the problem, underlining that it was not easy for the PKK any longer to declare a one-sided ceasefire. He states in the interview that this would make the problem worse.
Karayılan: We want to do politics as PKK
Karayılan stated in the same interview that they did not want to have a separate state, they were on the mountains because the Kurdish problem was denied, the Democratic Society Party was an intermediate step for them, they wanted to do politics as PKK and they did not see any contradiction in going to continue with their “legitimate defensive war.”
The newspaper was seized by the decision of Judge Necdet Ede of Istanbul’s 12th High Criminal Court on August 10.
It is not clear yet if a lawsuit will be filed against the newspaper, but according to article 6 of the TMY, those who publish the explanations or the announcements of terrorist organizations receive prison sentence from one to three years.
Istanbul’s Beyoğlu Chief Prosecutor had seized daily Birgün before, on December 29, 2005, for a news report about the Egyptian Bazaar case. (BIA, Erol ÖNDEROĞLU, August 11, 2008)
Bianet.org And NTV Sued For Reporting About Dink’s Murder
Police officer Muhittin Zenit filed a lawsuit for damages against bianet.org for reporting the telephone conversation between Zenit and Erhan Tuncel about Hrant Dink’s murder. Tuncel is on trial for instigating the murder of Hrant Dink.
Zenit is suing bianet.org for the news reports appeared on the site on September 30, 2007 under the title “Vurulacak Şekil Belliydi” (How he was going to be shot was known) and on April 28, 2008 under the title “Dink Cinayetinde Yeni Kanıt: Muhsin Başkan’la Yasin Konusunda Görüşeceğiz” (New evidence in Dink’s murder: We will converse with President Muhsin about Yasin). The amount Zenit is asking for damages is 25000 YTL (about 12500 Euro).
Zenit appears in these news reports as telling Tuncel during a phone conversation that “What, they shot him from the head…This is the only difference. He was not going to run away, but this one did.”
The case will be held at Ankara’s 25th Civil Court of First Instance on November 12.
Lawsuit against bianet for publishing the DHA and Btvmsnbc.com news reports
The source for the first news report that bianet is being sued for was Doğan News Agency (DHA) report by Murat Utku about one hour forty-seven minute long telephone conversation between police officer Zenit and one of the alleged conspirators of Dink’s murder, Erhan Tuncel.
While Zenit talks about the details of the murder and congratulates those who did it in the telephone conversation, Tuncel denies any responsibility for it.
The source for the second news was NTV report by Erdoğan Durna about the same telephone conversation, but this time the topic was how Tuncel told Zenit that he would discuss the situation of Yasin Hayal, who is on trial as an instigator of the murder, with President of the Great Union Party (BBP) Muhsin Yazıcıoğlu. Here Tuncel addreses Yazıcıoğlu as “President Muhsin” and gives Zenit his program of the Trabzon visit.
Zenit is suing the NTV, one of the major television channels in Turkey, and asking for 90000 YTL (about 45000 euro) in damages. The case will be heard by Ankara’s 1st Civil Court of First Instance in October.
Neither judiciary nor administrative investigation for Zenit
Denying the allegations about his involvement in Hrant Dink’s murder, Zenit indicates that the case against him was dismissed by Trabzon’s Chief Prosecutor and the objection to this decision was likewise denied by Rize’s High Criminal Court. The same process had repeated itself when Trabzon Governor had refused to give permission for Zenit’s investigation and the objection to the governor’s decision was rejected by Trabzon’s Regional Administrative Court. (BIA, August 11, 2008)
Le choix de recteurs par le président de la République provoque des remous
Un quinzaine d'enseignants turcs ont démissionné hier pour contester le choix par le président Abdullah Gül de recteurs d'université sympathisants de son parti islamo-conservateur AKP.
Ce nouveau front entre partisans de la laïcité et du parti au pouvoir s'ouvre quelques jours seulement après le renoncement de la Cour constitutionnelle à interdire pour «menées anti-laïques» la formation du président et du premier ministre Tayyip Erdogan, majoritaire au Parlement.
Gül a choisi les nouveaux recteurs de 21 universités, mardi, en écartant plusieurs candidats proposés par le Conseil supérieur de l'éducation (YOK), un organisme pro-laïque mis sur pied après le coup d'État militaire de 1980 pour coiffer l'enseignement supérieur.
Douze professeurs de l'Institut technique d'Istanbul ont démissionné pour protester contre la nomination de Muhammed Sahin, qui n'était pas le premier choix de l'établissement. Plusieurs autres enseignants ont démissionné, pour des raisons analogues, de l'université Gazi, à Ankara.
Neuf des 21 nouveaux recteurs, qui avaient été élus par leurs universités, ont été écartés par le président au profit de candidats arrivés en deuxième ou troisième place.
A ainsi été écarté Mustafa Akaydin, recteur de l'université d'Akdeniz, qui s'était élevé, en sa qualité de président du conseil inter-universitaire, contre la tentative avortée du gouvernement de lever l'interdiction du port du voile islamique pour les étudiantes.
Parmi les recteurs promus figurent nombre de partisans du rétablissement du port du voile islamique dans les universités, que la Cour constitutionnelle a jugé contraire à la loi fondamentale.
Les élites kémalistes laïques (armée, magistrature et monde universitaire notamment) soupçonnent l'AKP, parti issu de la mouvance islamiste, de vouloir procéder à une réislamisation rampante de la vie publique, ce qu'il nie farouchement.
Les analystes politiques ne se disent pas surpris des nominations de recteurs favorable à l'AKP, jugeant qu'elles résultent du système même de nomination politique mis en place par l'armée pour contrôler le système éducatif par l'entremise du YOK. Pour eux, les universités devraient être libres de choisir leurs propres dirigeants.(Reuters, 7 août 2008)
Another Internet Site Becomes Inaccessible
Following YouTube.com, the biggest video sharing site in the internet, which is still inaccessible in Turkey, another site, dailymotion.com, became inaccessible for insulting the memory of Atatürk, the founder of the Turkish Republic.
The dailymotion.com site is a video sharing site, too. The decision to ban the site came without any explanation.
Ankara’s 11th Criminal Court of Peace banned Youtube on April 24, 2008. Ankara’s 5th Criminal Court of Peace kept the site inaccessible with its April 30 decision. The banning was extended with another decision by Ankara’s 11th Criminal Court of Peace on June 6.
Speaking at the Abant meeting organized by the Ankara Bar and turk.internet.com, Press Prosecutor of the Office of Ankara Prosecutor Nadi Türkaslan said youtube.com removed the images only from the Turkish database and they would not open the site until they removed them from the rest of the world as well.
Answering the questions about the subject, Minister of the Communications Binali Yıldırım said youtube.com was closed because it refused to collaborate with the Internet Security Presidency.
According to Yıldırım, youtube.com refuses to open a tax paying agency in Turkey and get a document of authorization. Youtube.com says that they cannot accept these conditions since they do not operate in Turkey.
The courts banned the site for having videos that are insulting to the memory of Atatürk, the founder of the TurkishRepublic.
Although Turkey is among the few countries where youtube.com is not accessible, such as China, Iran, Thailand, the International Reporters Without Borders (RSF) did not include Turkey in the list of countries hostile to the internet.(BIA, Erol ÖNDEROĞLU, August 4, 2008)
15-year prison for the victim, 10 years for shooters!
A youngster who was shot while selling a left wing magazine faces 15 years and the police officers who shot him face 10 years in prison.
19 year old Ferhat Gerçek who was shot by the police while selling Yürüyüş (March) magazine got paralysed.
He was charged with “violating the law on assembly, resisting officers, insult, and damaging property” facing a possible 15.5 years in prison.
Seven police officers were charged with “intentional injury exceeding the power of using force.” The gun which fired the bullets which wounded Gerçek could not be determined hence police officers were asked to be imprisoned for 10 years each. (antenna-tr.org, August 4, 2008)
Last week’s trials of freedom of expression
o DHA reporter Mehmet Bal was prosecuted for failing to report the slogans chanted during a funeral of a PKK member. Bal had told the court that he did not hear the slogans. Bal was acquitted in the case, yet the prosecutor charged him with perjury in a second indictment. The next hearing is on 19 September 2008.
o Democratic Society Party’s Van city chairman Abdurrahman Doğar who was arrested following Newruz celebrations on 22 March 2008 was charged with “membership to a terrorist organisation, inciting crime, resisting public official, damaging property” in Van High Criminal Court Num.4. The court decided to keep Doğar on remand and the next hearing is on 17 October 2008 at 09:30.
o The owner of Gerger Fırat newspaper Hacı Boğatekin was charged with “insulting public official, slander, and attempting to influence the outcome of a trial” over his article “Feto and Apo” published on 4 January 2008. Boğatekin who had criticised the army for giving a free hand to religious orders was on remand. Journalist Cumali Badur who published the case on www.gergerim.com is charged with “attempting to influence the case” under TPC 288. The court acquitted Boğatekin who had been in Kahta Prison for 109 days. Trial will continue on 15 October 2008 at 10:30. (antenna-tr.org, August 4, 2008)
Breakdown of daily newspapers published in Turkey
The deadlock which derived from Kurdish problem has brought many human rights violations in recent times. While the Turkish Military and the Government preparing for military action towards the Northern Iraq, on the other hand they have increased the pressure on any civilians and organisations which believe the question should be solved peacefully and through dialogue rather than violent or military actions. Its almost came to an attention that anyone declaring against the Government and Turkish Military Forces has became target or criminalised.
The censorship upon opposition media groups should also be handled within this context. Censorship has taken practice without overlapping with any practices of law. Newspapers and their publications are closing down one after another, people left out of freedom of receiving news.
Freedom of press and freedom of expression are main priorities of democracy. The practices and violent against press and broadcasting organisations highlights heavy wound that democracy has received.
Between the dates of 4th August 2006 and 25th May 2008, 14 newspaper has been stopped 33 times. The peak times were March 2007, October 2007 and November 2007. In March 2007 4 newspapers was closed, 3 newspapers in October 2007, 4 newspapers in November 2007. In addition the Alternatif newspaper which started its publication in 19th May 2005 has stopped for 1 month on 25th May 2005 and the Gelecek newspaper which started publication 28 May has stopped for 1 month in 30th June. This situation shows clearly the current state of censorship and anti-democratic practices level.
Balance sheet in this subject as follows:
GUNDEM NEWSPAPER HAS BEEN CLOSED 6 TIMES
• The Gundem newspaper which started publishing in 17 January 2007 has been closed 6 times:
• The 13. High Criminal Court ruled out on 6 March 2007 with two different sentences on same day stopped for 30 days. The reason was “propaganda of the organisation”.
• Gundem newspaper which stopped for 1 month has stopped for another 15 days after 2 days of press by 11. High Criminal Court. The court has ordered all the articles, adverts and columns of the 7th and 8th April about the Kurdish question for the reason of stopping.
• Gundem newspaper was closed for 3rd time in 12 July 2007 for 15 days. The reason was again “propaganda of the organisation”. It is significant that these practices taken place immediately before 22 July 2007 elections.
• On 8 September 2007 Gundem newspaper was closed 4th time. The articles of “lets become nation and win” and “self-critism in practice not in words” was the reason for closing for another 30 days.
• The Gundem Newspaper which was closed on 8 September 2007 for 4th time was again closed on for another 30 days on grounds of “propaganda of the organisation” one day after started publishing on 9 October 2007.
• On 14 November 2007 Gundem newspaper was closed for 6th time. Istanbul 9th High Criminal Court has ordered the closure of the Gundem newspaper for 30 days on grounds of “propaganda of the organisation”.
• Gundem newspaper which was closed for 6 times in one year has also been blocked from internet. The www.ozgurgundem.net website was blocked by court order on 23 October 2007, which had daily view over a 60 thousand people.
GUNCEL NEWSPAPER WAS CLOSED 3 TIMES
• Guncel newspaper which started publication on 19th March 2007 has closed for 3 times:
• The Guncel newspaper which started publishing on 19 March 2007 was closed on 30 March 2007 just after 12 days. The reason for closure was “propaganda of the organisation”.
• Guncel newspaper was closed for second time on 17 July 2007 for 12 days. The reason for closure was “it was a follow-up of Gundem newspaper”. Similar to Gundem, Guncel was closed just before 22 July elections.
• The Guncel newspaper was started publishing on 17 October after closing twice. The newspaper was closed on same day by Istanbul 10. High Criminal Court which viewed as justice scandal. The justification grounds of “all news headings was a propaganda of the organisation and it was follow-up of other newspapers” which was not concrete and complete inexplicable.
JET CENSORSHIP TO YASAMDA GUNDEM NEWSPAPER
• Istanbul Public Prosecutor Zekeriya Ay has ordered withdrawal circulation of Yasamda Gundem newspaper on 9 March 2007 the day of starting publishing in Istanbul Police Headquarters Security Branch. The Prosecutor Ay has also ordered a seizure of unpublished editions of newspaper making another justice scandal. Prosecutor claimed the Yasamda Gundem newspaper was follow-up of Gundem newspaper which was closed for 1 month on 6 March 2007.
GERCEK DEMOKRASI NEWSPAPER CLOSED
• Gercek Demokrasi newspaper was also closed when other closures took place one after another in October 20007. Istanbul 10. High Criminal Court has ordered to close paper on grounds of “propaganda of organisation” on 17th October 2007.
• When Gercek Demokrasi newspaper started publishing again on 17 November it was closed for one month in same grounds on 21st November 2007.
RECORD NUMBER OF CASES AND CLOSURE ORDERS TO ULKEDE OZGUR GUNDEM NEWSPAPER
• In between the dates of 1 March 2004 – 16 November 2006 there was a record number of 600 cases opened against Ulkede Ozgur Gundem Newspaper owner, editor publishers, certain writers and reporters on different grounds. The seizure order was given 17 times and 106 cases resulted with conviction was given penalty of 464 thousands 694 YTL and editor publisher Hasan Bayar was given prison sentence for 15 year 11 months and 10 days. On 4 August and 16 November newspaper was closed for 15 days each time. It is also important to realize that second closure order was given after 6 days of Chief of General Staff statement of “publication should not be allowed”.
AZADIYA WELAT NEWSPAPER CLOSED
• The first daily Kurdish newspaper in Turkey Azadiya Welat which started publishing on 15 August 2006 was closed for 20 days by Diyarbakir 5. High Criminal Court on 23rd March 2007 on grounds of “propagating of the organisation”
• Azadiya Welat newspaper licensee Vedat Kursun was arrested for articles published on different dates on grounds of “propagating of the organisation” and “setting activity in behalf of organisation”.
WEEKLY PUBLISHED YEDINCI GUN NEWSPAPER
• Yedincigun newspaper which started publishing on 5 November was closed after its second edition on 12 November by Istanbul 13. High Criminal Court on grounds of “propagating for the organisation”
• On 27 November after starting its publishing the Yedincigun newspaper was closed within same day for another 1 month on same grounds by Istanbul 10. High Criminal Court.
• When its started printing on 12 January 2008 was closed again on same day by Istanbul 12. High Criminal Court for another 1 month.
• On 3 March 2008 was closed again for another 1 month, on same day of publishing by Istanbul Sentinel 9. High Criminal Court.
• The articles on pages 1, 2, 4, 5, 6, 8, 10, 11, 13 and 14 of Yedincigun newspaper’s 7-13 April 2008 edition was justified for reason of closing for 1 month on 7 April 2008 by Istanbul 9. High Criminal Court.
• The articles on pages 1, 2, 6, 7, 8, 9, 10, 12, 13, 14 and 15 of Yedincigun newspaper’s 12- 18 May 2008 edition was justified as reason for closing for 1 month on 13 May 2008 by Istanbul 9. High Criminal Court.
WEEKLY PUBLISHING OF HAFTAYA BAKIS NEWSPAPER
• Haftaya Bakis newspaper which started publishing on 1st December 2007 has closed for one month after its second edition (8-14 December) on 8 December by Istanbul 11. High Criminal Court on grounds of “propagating for the organisation”.
• On 19th January 2008 Haftaya Bakis newspaper has closed for one month on 2nd February 2008 by Istanbul 12. High Criminal Court.
• The news headings of “I am calling to Erdogan” and “the Newroz of Gaining Freedom” in Haftaya Bakis newspaper’s 17-23 March 2008 edition was closed for 1 month on 18 March 2008 by Istanbul 11. High Criminal Court in accordance with code 3713 6/last article.
WEEKLY PUBLISHING YASAMDA DEMOKRASI NEWSPAPER
• Yasamda Demokrasi newspaper which started publishing on 15th December 2007 has closed for one month in its first edition (15-21 December) on 15 December by Istanbul 9. High Criminal Court on grounds of “propagating for the organisation”.
• On article headings of “Conspiracy critized heavily”, “Ocalan: America plays bad”, Selahattin Erdem’s article “Edi Bes e” (Enough is Enough), “Mustafa Karasu’s “We are criticising conspiracy” and “up until gaining success with Edi Bes e” articles were found as “propagating for the organisation” and therefore newspaper was closed for 1 month by 17-24 February 2008 edition by Istanbul 9. High Criminal Court on 17 February in accordance with 3713 code and 6/last article.
• The 24-30 March 2008 edition of Yasamda Gundem newspaper’s article “First Newroz fire was on page lit up in Serhat” on page 8 has become the ground for closure on 4 April 2008 for one month by Istanbul 13. High Criminal Court.
WEEKLY PUBLISHED TOPLUMSAL DEMOKRASI NEWSPAPER
• Toplumsal Demokrasi weekly newspaper which started publishing on 22nd December 2007 has closed for one month in its third edition (5-11 January 2008) on 5 January 2008 by Istanbul 11. High Criminal Court on grounds of “propagating for the organisation”.
• On 25 February 2008 after starting its publishing the Toplumsal Demokrasi newspaper was closed within same day for another 1 month on same grounds by Istanbul 11. High Criminal Court.
WEEKLY PUBLISHED OTEKI BAKIS NEWSPAPER
• The 31st March – 6th April 2008 edition of Oteki Bakis newspaper’s article “Clear Message From Newroz lands” on page 7 has become the ground for closure on 4 April 2008 for one month by Istanbul 13. High Criminal Court.
WEEKLY PUBLISHED YENI BAKIS NEWSPAPER
• Yeni Bakis weekly newspaper which started publishing on 14th April 2008 has closed for one month (5-11 May 2008 edition) on 8 May 2008 by Istanbul 13. High Criminal Court for article of “Buyukanit and Basbug has become unsuccessful” on pages 10 and 11.
• Yeni Bakis newspaper which started publishing on 19th May 2008 has closed for one month on 25 May 2008 for various article headings and columns which was “propagating the organisation” in 24-25 May 2008 publications by Istanbul 10. High Criminal Court.
• Gelecek newspaper which started publishing on 28th May 2008 has closed for one month for various article headings and contents which was propagating the PKK-Kongra Gel on 30 June 2008 publication by Istanbul 11. High Criminal Court.
THE AUTHORITIES POINT OUT TARGET
• While from August 2006 till October 2007 7 newspaper was closing the newspaper for 15 times and in same time state authorities were openly targeting and threatening via illegal powers.
• The Chief General Staff Yasar Buyukanit was openly targeting Gundem Newspaper on 12 April 2007 by calling its name out directly. Buyukanit whom was openly targeting Gundem Newspaper by saying “ As you are all aware PKK has a newspaper, Gundem. Will it be acceptable for its reporter to join us here? They are supporters of PKK”.
• July 2005: General Staff Seconf Chief Ilker Basbug was targeting Ulkede Ozgur Gundem newspaper in its 3 hour briefing. In the meeting Basbug has announced newspaper as “supportive of separatist terror organisation” and “its circulation should be obstructed”.
• 11 June 2006: Justice Minister of a time Cemil Cicek has made Ulkede Ozgur Gundem a open target in Newspaper Association General Meeting. Cicek has pointed out “This newspaper should be stopped”.
• 10 November 2006: Chief General Staff Yasar Buyukanit was answering reporters questions in “Media Cocktail” given by General Staff Secretary Majorgeneral Zeki Colak in Gazi Army House. Buyukanit has remarked “ PKK’s magazines and daily newspapers are published. These should not be allowed.” (Kurdish Info, August 3, 2008)
Pressures on the DIHA News Agency
The Dicle News Agency DIHA was dstablished on the 4th April 2002 with the headquarters situated in Istanbul, and subsequent offices located in Van, Diyarbakır, Cizre, Tunceli and Hewlêr. DIHA has correspondents on duty and positioned in Adana, Ankara, İzmir, Mersin, Batman, Siirt, Muş, Kars, Gaziantep, Şanlıurfa, Kocaeli, Çanakkale, Malatya, Hakkari, Yüksekova, Şırnak, Elazığ and Bingöl.
Along with the executive director Mustafa PEKTAŞ, the editor Devrim Göktaş and two legal advisors Özcan KILIÇ and Servet Özen, there are 80 staff members that also work for the agency.
DIHA offers an internet based news service on www.diclehaber.com in Turkish, Kurdish and English. Having been set up under the principles of bestowing fast, reliable and objective journalism, the agency provides a news service in written, visual and audio form, on account of the fact that it has established a vast news network in the Middle East.
Possessing a universal value for human rights and freedom, irrespective of any race, religion, creed, language or sexuality, and with respect to the diversity of communities, we are committed to the belief in people’s right to be informed of the truth. The staff of young editors, reporters, photographers, cameramen and administrators, who reject any form of censorship, make no concessions with the ethics of the press, are completely funded by the subscribers.
PRESSURES ON THE AGENCY
Since the beginning, the agency has faced a number of obstructions whilst attempting to carry out duties. Many numbers of staff have been taken into custody, prevented from reporting news, been manhandled, news reports have been seized; cameras and recording equipment have also been destroyed. There are 9 colleagues currently being held in prison, and 8 trials in relation with meetings with news sources, news materials and subjects, that are ongoing.
The pressures and obstacles we have faced since beginning broadcasting and publication are as follows: the agency headquarters in Sisli, Istanbul was raided in September 2004 under the guise of the NATO summit. The 16 policemen that carried out the raid, used there own equipment to record the raid and the agency, and also seized the identification cards of the staff members. We were prevented from providing a news service to our subscribers. The agency’s technical department’s central server and hard drive was seized along with the hard discs of 9 separate computers. The journalists that got news of the raid and tried to get in were prevented from doing so. As a result of the raid the following staff members were taken into custody: Beyhan Sekman, Müjde Arslan, Mazlum Özdemir, Evin Katurman, Özlem Kasa, Berivan Tapan, Cevdet Deniz, Medine Yiğit, Mehmet Ali Çelebi, Emine Çelebi, Mehmet Sami Aksoy, Davut Özalp, Kenan Kırıkkaya, Aysel Bakıray, Meryem Yılmaz and Timur Ubeydullah.
• On his way to the Yedisu district of Bingol to investigate reports that the Gendarme Commander in Chief, A.Y., had planted Jute with some villagers, our Diyarbakir correspondent, Birol Duru, was Taken into custody on the 10th August 2005 in the Karliova district’s Dinarbey village, and arrested on the 12th August by the soldiers under the chief’s command, under the guise that he was “carrying a cassette that praised HPG militants”. Following his release on the 29th December 2005, Duru, under article 314/3 and 220/7 of the Turkish Penal Code (TCK), stating that it is a crime to, “to be aware of an organisation’s capacity and circumstance, hence knowingly and willingly aid and harbour”, was sentenced to 6 years and 3 months in prison on the 28th September 2006. The case is now in Supreme Court.
• In February 2006, in the Akdeniz town of Mersin, our correspondents, Nesrin Yazar and Evrim Dengiz, whilst following up on a news report, were taken into custody at gunpoint. After being arrested under article 125 of the Turkish Penal Code (TCK), Yazar and Dengiz were charged for alleged possession of Molotov cocktail in their cars. Our correspondents were held in Mersin and Adana for 9 months. The trial is ongoing.
• After reporting on the forest fires in Tunceli and Bingol, and the speech made by the head of the Bingol office of Turkeys largest human rights organisation (The IHD). Ridvan Kizgin, our correspondents, Serdar Altan and Birol Duru were charged under article 159/1 of the Turkish Penal Code. Ridvan Kizgin, who made the statement, and Sami Tan, the DIHA editor, were also charged under article 283/1 of the Turkish Penal Code. The trials are continuing in the Bingol Supreme Court.
• Our Correspondent, Hikmet Erden, has been put on trial following his report on the 22nd July general elections and the Gendarme commanders’ alleged pressure on the villagers of the Karacadag district of Diyarbakir not to vote for the DTP’s ‘a thousand hopes’ candidates. The prosecution are asking for 1 to four years imprisonment for the crime of ‘broadcasting fabricated news’.
• Our correspondent, Mehmet Cevizci, was taken into custody due to an order of arrest by default judgement, whilst on his way to a journalism workshop. The workshop was set up by the Independent Communications Network (BIA Net) and Press Now, to be held at the Mavi Gol hotel in the sivrice district of Elazig. Cevizci was taken to the gendarme police station where he was held for 1 day before being released.
• Our Gaziantep correspondent, Bahattin Toren, was attacked on his way to the agency office by an as yet unidentified group. The attack was unprovoked and came about when the group passed by the bus stop Toren was waiting at and said, “Don’t make me cut you so early in the morning”, and then proceeded to attack him and cut him on the face. Police where called to the incident, but did not turn up, at which point, the surrounding people aided Toren to a nearby Polyclinic.
• On the 7th July Belguzar Oruc joined the ROJ TV news bulletin broadcast of the day, and reported on the developments in Mardin leading up to the July 22nd elections, in Kurdish. Following her contribution to the broadcast, a case was opened against her in the Diyarbakir criminal court, under the pretext that she was creating “propaganda for support of the militant organisation”. A sentence of up to 5 years has been requested under article 7/2 of the Contestation against Terror Act.
• Our Correspondent Mehmet Ali Ertas was prevented by police from attending a meeting organized by the Prime minister, Recep Tayyip Erdogan in Sanliurfa, under the justification that it was a ‘private decision’. Not only was Ertas prevented from observing the meeting, but also from being in the vicinity of where the meeting was being held.
• Within the two years as our Siirt correspondent, Musa Aksara, has been; taken into custody 15 times, his house raided once, and beaten, assaulted and threatened in the street many times. Aksara has submitted complaints to the IHD approximately 10 times, and brought prosecution claims against the police and JITEM approximately 5 times.
• Our Correspondent Rustu Demirkaya was taken into custody and held for one day before being released, after observing a press release held by the Democratic Peoples Platform to protest the killing of 2 TIKKO members in the rural regions of Tunceli.
Demirkaya was arrested in June 2006 following the surrender and confession on Engin Korumcu in the rural regions of Geyiksuyu. He was held in an E-type prison in Malatya for almost 7 months before being discharged. He is currently on trial in the Malatya Criminal Court and awaiting a sentencing of 5-10 years in prison, for the alleged crime of ‘aiding and harbouring militants’.
Additionally, our correspondents, Rustu Demirkaya and Kadir Ozbek were taken into custody after following the committee that took Er Coskun Kirandi after his capture by the HPG in 2005. Demirkaya and Ozbek were released after 2 days, but were prosecuted for ‘militant propaganda’. The trial was acquitted.
The other case brought against Demirkaya was following his news report on an alleged defrauding of a bus company by the Tunceli Gendarme Regiment Colonel Namik Dursun. Demirkaya was held in custody for one day and fined 1,500YTL for ‘insulting through the presses. The decision has been adjourned due to an appeal.
Another case was opened against Demirkaya under the pretext that he had ‘insulted the authority of the military’, following his report of the seizing of the Tunceli Sutluce villgers’ housing by the military in 2005. Demirkaya was taken into custody following his contribution to a ROJ TV broadcast via telephone in 2007. He was released after one day, and a case opened up against him for the crimes of ‘militant propaganda’ and ‘activity in the name of militant groups’.
In February 2008, Demirkaya was threatened by police because he was taking pictures of the views of the city centre. He has previously received numerous threats whilst trying to carry out his duties as a journalist.
Demirkaya became the victim of an attack by the Il Gendarme Commander Chief of Staff, Colonel Namik Dursun, after an incident broke out following the raiding of the Tunceli Fundamental Rights and Freedoms Association in 2006. Nothing has been investigated or officially processed in regards to the matter despite the crime reports that has been issued. Demirkaya has been prevented from news investigations by Namik Dursun many times within that year, and other police officers and journalists have been threatened for merely talking to him.
• Police prevented the Izmir Kadifekale region’s Newroz celebrations. Our correspondent, Ayse Oyman, was assaulted during this prevention. She was also prevented from recording the incident.
• The Varto region’s gendarme commander, leitenant G.G and seargeant, A.S., visited the offices of the owner of GimGim newspaper and our correspondent Murat Aydin. They were told to “watch out at night” as a threat by the commanders.
• Our correspondent, Metin Inan was assaulted by police after watching news reports on a group who were protesting the health condition of the PKK leader Abdullah Ocalan, in Gulbahce the Seyhan region of Adana.
• A case has been filed against reporter, Rojda Kizgin, under article 301 of the Turkish Penal Code (TCK), following the publication of the headline; “the protectors are fishing with government bombs”.
• Another case was filed against Rojda Kizgin following her report about the rape victim, N.S, in Bingol.
• Our Izmir correspondent, Mustafa Aydin, was taken into custody on the 21st March 2008 after investigating a news report. He was released after 2 daysfollowing a decision by the Izmir Criminal Court.
• Ozlem Akin and Metin Inan were taken into custody following their observation of a number of mayors visiting a demonstation tent, set up to protest the arrest of the Adana Yakapinar region Mayor, Osman Keser.
• Our correspondents were removed from the vicinity of an AK party election meeting held in Diyarnakir.
• Our Batman and Siirt correspondents were not allowed to join the official governorship programs that included the prime minister or anyone of ministerial positions.
• Our Izmir correspondent, Ayse Oyman, was teken into custody in February 2007, following a news investigation. A case has been filed against her, which is still pending.
• An investigation has begun on our correspondent, Erdogan Altan, following his news reports.
• The Van Republic Attorney has begun an investigation on our Van correspondents, Oktay Candemir and Ercan Oksuz, following a report they published in the Azadiya Welat newspaper on the 22nd September 2007 titled; “the Zilan genocide lives on”.
• In 2005, our correspondent, Vedat Kursun, was taken into custody and arrested after watching the human shield created in the Kato mountain in Hakkari, in order to stop the TSK covert operations against the HPG.
• After attending the funeral of the HPG member Mehmet Haymen, who died in the 3rd February clash that took place in the rural regions of Bingol, our correspondents; Veli Ay, Rüştü Demirkaya, Volkan Bora and Kerem Çelik were returning to the office when they were taken into custody on the 18th February. They were later released.
• Our correspondents, Asmin Deniz and Ubeydullah Hakan were taken into custody following “a complaint having been made” about them, upon their return from a news investigation in Bingol on the 28th November 2007. Copies of their recordings along with their statements, were taken, upon which they were released.
OUR IMPRISONED CORRESPONDENTS
Following the 19th of April 2007 raid on the Mersin office of the Gundem newspaper, our corrspondents, Ali Bulus and Mehmet Karaaslan were taken into custody and arrested. They were not brought before a judge for 8 months. They were held in an E-type prison after being accused of being ‘members of a militant group’, and ‘producing militant propaganda’. The prosecutor in the trial requested a sentence of ten years for each of them, and were charged for being members of a militant group.
Our correspondent, Faysal Tunc, was taken into custody following an ID control at a checkpoint on his way to Sirnak from the Eruh region of Siirt. Whereas our correspondent, Behdin Tunc, was taken into custody on his way to Sirnak following and ID control in Idil, after returning from amarch that had taken place in the village of Omerli (Amara). Our correspondents are currently being held in Diyarbakir, and are on trial at the Diyarbakir criminal court for ‘knowingly and willingly aiding an illegal organization’.
They could face up to ten years in prison.
• A warrant of arrest was issued against our correspondent, Murat Kolca, by default for not giving a statement for a case against him in the Izmir criminal court. Kolca was arrested in Sanliurfa by the Asliye Criminal Court on thw 20th January 2008, and is sill in prison in Izmir.
• *Our Malatya correspondent, Ersin Celik, was taken into custody and later arrested, after statements made by a confessor, in Diyarbakir on the 2nd April 2008. Celik is still in Malatya E-type prison.
• Our Corrsepondent, Mehmet Ali Ertas was taken into custody after watching the demonstrations against the Newroz incidents in Van, Hakkari and Yuksekova. Ertas was arrested in Mersin Criminal Court following the charges of ‘falsifying evidence’and danger of escape, being brought against him.
• Our Van correspondent, Siddik Guler was taken into custody on the 4th April 2008 because of an investigation against her, following her presence in Hakkari for a news investigation. An arrest decision was made under articles 250, 94 and 98 in the Hakkari Republic attorney generalship.
• Our Sirnak correspondent, Haydar Haykir, was taken into custody on the 8th January 2008 in the Cizre region of Sirnak. On the 12th January, he was arrested and sent to the Batman H-type prison.
EQUIPMENT THAT WAS SEIZED AND NOT RETURNED
MERSİN 4 computers, 2 cameras, 2 video cameras
DİYARBAKIR 1 video camera, 1 camera
ŞIRNAK 1 computer hard rive, camera and video camera
BATMAN 1 video camera
MALATYA 1 laptop, 1 camera
VAN 1 video camera,1 camera
(Kurdish Info-DIHA, August 3, 2008)
Kurdish Question / Question kurde
Tortures, actes de barbarie et exécution
Suite aux accrochages survenus il y a quelques jours dans le district de Derik de la région de Mardin, un membre de la guérilla tombé aux mains forces militaires turques, Mehmet Mustafa Tangüner alias Kawa Kalan dont le corps a été inhumé à Diyarbakir, a été torturé et exécuté d'une balle en pleine tête : les rapports médicaux mentionnent une oreille coupée, des traces de brûlure de cigarette et des entailles au couteau sur différents endroits du corps.
Les membres de la guérilla Mehmet Dölek alias Latif Gap et Mehmet Mustafa Tangüner alias Kawa Kalan ont été arrêtés vivants, le 23 août 2008, sur le territoire de Tepedag, district de Derik, par les forces militaires turques qui, néanmoins, les ont sauvagement abattus.
C'est suite à une dénonciation que les membres de la guérilla du HPG, Mehmet Dölek et Mehmet Mustafa Tangüner ont été arrêtés vivants et assassinés ; c'est bien dans le cadre d'une opération de la brigade des forces spéciales, renseignée par un indicateur, que les deux membres de la guérilla ont été arrêtés vivant et abattus, et non pas, comme l'affirme la déclaration mensongère du préfet de la région de Mardin, au cours d'un affrontement armé ; ces deux membres du HPG ont bien été arrêter vivants, torturés et finalement exécutés par la Brigade des forces spéciales de la région de Mardin qui a regagné ses quartiers en chantant des chants de joie (les chants de Merter). Les 2 membres de la guérilla ont été inhumés dans les régions de Mardin et Diyarbakir en présence de milliers de citoyens. (Kurdish Info - DIHA, Proposé par Tsiatsan, 29 Août 2008)
Civil Disobedience of saying ‘Mr Öcalan’ keeps pace
DTP members gathering in Van’s Erciş district made a mass public statement protesting the cases against people over them saying 'Mr Öcalan.'
Council member Sait Köke said that in a democratic country charging people because they used the word Mr. was a violation of rights. Köke said they collected petitions carrying the statement “Mr Ocalan” and reported crime.
A delegation of 5, posted 1800 letters to the prosecution service. This civil disobedience action had previously been launched in Diyarbakır and Şırnak. (Freedom of Expression Weekly Bulletin, 29 August 2008)
14 rebelles kurdes tués lors de combats avec l'armée
Quatorze rebelles kurdes ont été tués mardi lors de violents combats avec l'armée dans le sud-est de la Turquie, a rapporté l'agence de presse Anatolie.
Les rebelles du PKK ont été abattus dans la province de Bitlis lors d'une vaste opération de l'armée au cours de laquelle trois "gardiens de village", membres d'une milice supplétive kurde de l'armée turque luttant contre le PKK, ont aussi trouvé la mort.
Un autre milicien a été blessé, a ajouté Anatolie, indiquant que les combats se poursuivaient.
Selon les chaînes de télévision, des renforts ont été dépêchés dans la zone de combat où des hélicoptères de l'armée sont engagés. (AFP, 26 août 2008)
“Cola Kurda” found against Public Morals
The brand name “Cola Kurda” was refused by the Turkish Patents Institute on the grounds that Cola Kurda was against 'public order and morals.' In 2003 Akıl Food Company applied for a brand name, which has been repeated twice since.
The institute answered one of the applicants Hacı Ramazan Aslan that the colours red, green and yellow used in the brand “Cola Kurda” was separatist and the colours of PKK.
Another application for a Kurdish beer “Roj Beer” was refused in recent years on the grounds that the brand name included a Kurdish word, and it had the suspected colours, and the slogan on the beer “one gulp of freedom” was suggesting. (antenna-tr.org, August 25, 2008)
Striking examples of language ban:
o Law 2932 introduced by 12 September 1980 Military regime, regulating “The use of Languages other than Turkish” has become a concrete example of how trying to protect the “indivisibility of a nation’ in the context of languages would cripple democracies. Article 2 of the law banned Kurdish: “Expressing and disseminating ideas in a language other than the first official languages of the states recognised by Turkish state is banned (At the time Kurdish was the second official language in Iraq).
o Article 16 of the Statue 1587 on Registration of Births (… But…, names improper for our national culture … cannot be used) prevented parents from naming their children as they liked. Article 16 of this 1972 dated law was amended under the sixth EU harmonisation package introduced in June 2003. The new article said “but immoral names or names which would offend the public cannot be used”.
o Article 43/3 of the present Law on Political Parties reads “Candidate nominees can not make nationwide, regionwide or professionwide promises outside the decisions of their party program, the decisions of the executice boards of their party and the decisions of their party conference and they can not use any other language than Turkish in speaking or in wrtiting.” Article 81 of the same law reads “They can not use any language other than Turkish in writing or publishing their constitution and program, in their congresses, in outdoor or indoor meetings, rallies, in propaganda; they can not use or distribute placards, banners, albums, audio or visual boards, pamphlets or declarations in any language other than Turkish; they can not remain apathetic if others do such actions. However it is possible to get a party’s constitutions or program translated into foreign languagaes except the ones banned by the law.” This law shows that the ban on languages prevail in political activities.
o The new Turkish Penal Code’s article 222 carries a prison sentence of between 2 months and 6 months for those who violate 1925 dated Hat Law and 1928 dated Turkish Letters Law. Article 2 of Turkish Letters Law bans the use of any letter outside the Turkish alphabet in official and private affairs, it states “From the date that this law is published it is compulsory to admit and proceed the documents written in Turkish letters in all public offices and institutions, in all companies, societies and private institutions.” (Freedom of Expression Weekly Bulletin, 29 August 2008)
"Not Only The PKK, But The Armed Forces Should End The Violence Too"
In the bomb attacks in Güngören, Üsküdar, Mersin and Izmir 17 people were killed and more than 150 were injured.
Although the Kurdish Workers Party (PKK) did not take the responsibility for any of the attacks, there has been a fast and extensive campaign in the media connecting these attacks with the PKK. The authorities have been helping this campaign with their announcements as well.
We asked former Turkish Worker Party (TİP) deputy and Kurdish intellectual doctor Tarık Ziya Ekinci about this process.
Ekinci, who thinks the PKK did not plan these attacks, said the following:
“If the PKK had done the attacks they would have made this obvious. After all, the PKK has been conducting a war since 1984, a low intensity war according to the General Staff. It is very natural that they would have used these incidents as propaganda material for their struggle. However, on the other hand, that it does not take any responsibility for these events should mean something. I personally do not think that the PKK planned these attacks.”
Thinking that every step, every activity for peace is meaningful, Ekinci says violence will not stop just because one side lays down its arms:
“Demanding that only the PKK lay down its arms is not a solution. The final solution will come when both the PKK and the Turkish Armed Forces end the violence and the rights that are demanded [by the Kurdish people] are given. Otherwise, it is unrealistic to expect that an organization that has been conducting an armed struggle for years will simply give up this. Violence will end only when both sides lay down their arms.
According to Ekinci, the answer to the question “what is to be done” requires one to look at the countries with more experience in these matters.
“For example, how did the IRA and England end the violence between them that lasted for years? Or, how the BASK and Spain arrived at today? Insisting on a chauvinistic attitude will bring no solution, but a deadlock. The State of the Turkish Republic should take into consideration the IRA and ETA processes.”
“Moreover, the comments of the PKK administrators should be taken seriously, too. They demand laying down arms and continuing the attempts to solve the problem in the political arena. Turkey should not close its ears to these proposals.
Ekinci thinks both the Turkish and Kurdish sides are uncomfortable with the dead and the bloodshed.
“One should see this. If one cannot see this then there is a very serious problem. Only the public pressure can end the violence. Public should voice its discomfort; there should be campaigns about laying down the arms, ending the bloodshed; they should take their problems to the people and institutions that can solve them and move them to action.”
“We should not give credit to chauvinistic news, not be influenced by them. After all, there exists a kind of media policy that affects the thoughts of the people by feeding them chauvinistic news. The job of the public demanding peace and end to violence should raise its voice without being influenced by this chauvinistic media policy. (BIA, Bawer ÇAKIR, August 22, 2008)
Un groupe radical kurde revendique deux attentats à la bombe
Un groupe radical kurde a revendiqué samedi la responsabilité de deux attentats contre les forces de sécurité en Turquie mardi et jeudi, blessant 28 personnes, dans un communiqué.
Les Faucons de la liberté du Kurdistan (TAK), qui ont déjà revendiqué des attentats meurtriers, se sont déclarés les auteurs de l'attentat suicide qui a blessé 12 policiers mardi dans la ville de Mersin (sud) et de l'attaque d'un bus de la police qui a blessé 16 personnes jeudi à Izmir (Ouest).
Dans ce texte publié sur leur site internet, les TAK ont précisé qu'ils avaient commis "des actes de revanche" contre les mauvais traitements, selon eux, infligés par Ankara à la population kurde tout en menaçant le pays de nouvelles attaques.
"Nous luttons et continuerons de lutter en demandant un prix élevé pour les attaques commises contre notre peuple et nos valeurs nationales", lit-on dans le communiqué.
En février, les TAK avaient menacé Ankara de nouveaux attentats contre les forces de sécurité et centres touristiques et économiques, après les bombardements de l'aviation turque des bases du Parti des travailleurs du Kurdistan (PKK) dans le nord de l'Irak.
Pour les autorités turques, "ce groupuscule sert de prête-nom au PKK quand celui-ci s'attaque aux civils". Le PKK rétorque que les TAK sont des éléments incontrôlés sortis de ses rangs.
La police a annoncé l'arrestation de six suspects de l'attentat à la bombe perpétré jeudi à Izmir, dans l'ouest de la Turquie, a annoncé samedi l'agence Anatolie.
Trois suspects ont été appréhendés à Diyarbakir, principale ville du sud-est turc à population kurde, à l'intérieur d'une voiture qui avait été louée pour l'attentat de jeudi, selon l'agence nationale turque. Les trois autres suspects ont été détenus à Izmir.
Jeudi, deux militants du PKK ont été abattus lors d'un accrochage dans la province de Hakkari, aux confins de l'Iran et de l'Irak, ont affirmé dans un communiqué les services du gouverneur de Hakkari, précisant que les opérations de l'armée se poursuivaient.(AFP, 23 août 2008)
Suspects For The Güngören Explosions Are In Silivri Prison
Istanbul’s 23rd High Criminal Court refused the objection to the arrest of the eight suspects after the Güngören explosions in Istanbul, which killed 17 and injured more than 150.
The eight suspects, Hüseyin Türeli, Abdurrahman Oral, Ziya Kıraç, Şerafettin Kara, Aydın Ağlar, Cevat Aydın, Mehmet Salih Yanak ve Nusret Tebiş, were taken into custody after İstanbul governor Muammer Güler and Interior Minister Beşir Atalay had claimed that this was done by the Kurdish Workers Party (PKK). The PKK did not assume any responsibility for the explosions.
The eight suspect whose release was denied by the court have been transferred to the Silivri prison
Defense lawyers Hüseyin Çalışçı and Mehmet Sani Kızılkaya had said that not a single question had been asked to their clients about the Güngören explosions and they had objected the media’s calling one of the suspects the “Güngören Bomber.”
Türeli’s lawyer Çalışçı told bianet that they had received court’s denial three or four days after they had filed the objection. Now, their next step will be to wait for the indictment and in the meantime, their clients, who are charged with “being a member in a [terrorist] organization” and “helping and harboring a [terrorist] organization”, have been transferred to the Silivri Prison. (BIA, August 22, 2008)
Un soldat tué, huit blessés dans l'explosion d'une mine
Un soldat turc a été tué et huit ont été blessés lundi dans l'explosion d'une mine dans la province de Sirnak (sud-est), une attaque imputée par l'armée aux rébelles kurdes, a rapporté l'agence de presse Anatolie.
La mine a explosé sur la route reliant les villes de Cizre et Sirnak, près de la frontière avec l'Irak, au passage d'un convoi militaire, selon la même source.
Suite à cette attaque, l'armée a lancé une offensive contre eux dans la région. (AFP, 18 août 2008)
After 24 Years Of Violence, The Kurdish Problem Is Still Not Solved
Bianet interviews figures of different opinion regarding Kurdish problem on the 24th year of PKK's declaration of war. CHP deputy Serter advises sticking to the same method, while writer Orhan Miroğlu urges for recognition of Kursih identity, and human rights activist Ayhan Bilen insists on facing up the past.
“If Ergenekon will provide a real facing up the past, we will have to go back to those years, to the years not even a popgun was fired.”
Looking back to the beginning of the Kurdish armed struggle at its 24th year, Kurdish writer and “Thousand Hope”s Mersin deputy candidate Orhan Miroğlu observes that the breaking point had taken place at Diyarbakır Prison in the eastern Turkey after the military coup of 1980. He says that the state did everything in its power to have the Kurdish movement take on a violent character.
August 15, 1984
30 Kurdish Workers Party (PKK) militants under the command of Mahsun Korkmaz had simultaneously raided the southeast towns of Eruh in Siirt province and Şemdinli in Hakkari province and attacked the government buildings and the military units on August 1984. In these raids private soldier Süleyman Aydın was killed and 13 others were injured.
These raids, which had signaled the founding of PKK’s military wing Hêzên Rizgarîya Kurdistan (HRK – Kurdistan Liberation Forces), changed the course of Turkey’s Kurdish problem completely. In the clashes that have intensified at times and died down at other times, 30 thousand people have lost their lives, 25 thousand of them PKK militants.
What has changed in 24 years?
In the 24th year of PKK’s declaration of war, bianet interviewed three figures from different shades of Turkey's political spectrum of what they thought about a solution to the Kurdish problem today: Republican People’s Party (CHP) deputy Nur Serter, who insists on the necessity of the military operations, Ayhan Bilgen, spokesperson for the Peace Assembly, which campaigns for the peaceful solution to the problem, and Orhan Miroğlu, one of the former administrators of the pro-Kurdish Democratic Society Party (DTP) . Unfortunately, we could not get in touch with anyone from the ruling Justice and Development Party to get the perspective of the government.
Ayhan Bilgen: “Attempts based on solving the problem through killing others are not giving results”
The events of the last 25 years necessitate facing up the past. To establish peace permanently, there is need for justice; facing the past is the only alternative. Attempts based on solving the problem through killing others are not giving results. Tens of years have passed since the days of “3 to 5 bandits” or “We will finish them in 72 hours” and we have lost thousands of our people and wasted millions of dollars on weapons instead of education and health. Today everyone should take a step to open a new page by resorting to self-criticism. To shift the problem by hiding behind the discourse of the dignity of the state is to take the biggest swing at both the state and the society. ”
Nur Serter: “Continue with the same method that has been in use up until today”
“It is not possible to propose anything new. A certain method of dealing with the terror organization has been in practice. It is very important to cut the internal and external connections of the terror organization in order to get results. There is need for the state to make very serious investments in the social and economic fields in the southeastern Anatolia in order to cut the internal support, to stop PKK from finding new recruits, either by force or by scare tactics. It is also very important to cut the external support. To accomplish this, Turkey needs to develop a strong and decisive foreign policy.”
Orhan Miroğlu: The turning point was the tortures in the Diyarbakır Prison
“A people whose ethno-cultural demands are repressed rebels every time the political conditions are ripe. August 15 was the last uprising. Of course, the opportunities the global world presented have been helpful. This uprising has had continuity. We cannot say Turkey has understood this well.
“When the clashes had begun, Turgut Özal, the prime minister at the time, later the president, had said these were just a few bandits. On the contrary, this was a new beginning in the Kurdish movement. It is not possible to create a consensus about peace without understanding the conditions of this war, the reasons for its beginning. In my opinion, this war no more determines only the political relations between Kurds and Turks in Turkey; it has become part of the international conjuncture.
“In 1980’s in places like Diyarbakır, Urfa and Yüksekova, Kurds were becoming mayors without even a single person having a nosebleed, let alone bloodshed. There was a democratic atmosphere. The state has sabotaged this in a planned manner. The Diyarbakır prison is one of the components that led to this process. There occurred very interesting things in the lives of those friends of ours who were elected mayors at that time. Some of them were killed at the border. Some were in jail for twenty years.
“Kurdish society was lead to violence. If there will be a real facing up the past, then we will have to go back to those years, to the years not even a popgun was fired within the Kurdish movement. We will have to face the Diyarbakır prison. The Ergenekon investigation is proceeding without this. The state did everything in its power to have the Kurdish movement take on a violent character.
One could have only thought of the Kurdish and Turkish political elites when someone had mentioned the Kurdish movement ten years ago, but today we have to add the USA and the EU to them. We have to see the powers that created the new political field for the Kurds in Northern Iraq. Turkey was closer to solving the problem in the beginning of the 2000’s, if it could only have understood the real reasons behind the conflict. This cannot be called terrorism, because this is a political program demanding a right [to exist]. The Kurds are keeping this struggle up in the mountains is because this is a demand for rights. The state resorts to violence in order not to give these rights. We have to get out of this vicious circle.” (BIA , Nilüfer ZENGİN, August 17, 2008)
L'aviation turque bombarde des rebelles kurdes dans le nord de l'Irak
L'aviation turque a bombardé dans la nuit de samedi à dimanche un repaire de rebelles kurdes dans le nord de l'Irak, a annoncé l'armée.
Le raid aérien visait une caverne dans la région d'Avasin-Basyan servant de base à un "grand groupe" de membres du PKK qui se préparait à lancer une offensive en Turquie, indique le communiqué de l'armée.
Le repaire "a été atteint avec succès" et les avions sont retournés à leurs bases, précise le document, sans préciser si les frappes ont fait des victimes. (AFP, 17 août 2008)
Trois rebelles, un soldat tués dans le sud-est de la Turquie
Trois rebelles kurdes ont été tués vendredi lors de combats et un membre des forces de sécurité a péri dans l'explosion d'une mine dans le sud-est de la Turquie, a affirmé l'état-major de l'armée turque.
Les trois rebelles du PKK ont été abattus lors d'un accrochage dans la région montagneuse de Sason, dans la province de Batman, a indiqué l'état-major sur son site internet.
Un membre des forces de sécurité a perdu la vie et un autre a été blessé par l'explosion d'une mine dans une zone montagneuse proche de la ville de Semdinli, dans la province de Hakkari, aux confins de l'Iran et de l'Irak, selon le communiqué.
Jeudi, une patrouille militaire a mis en fuite un groupe de six rebelles qui tentaient de pénétrer illégalement en Turquie depuis la Syrie et ont abandonné dans leur fuite 144 kilos d'explosifs, déclare encore l'armée. (AFP, 15 août 2008)
Alınak went to prison refusing to pay fine for his ideas
Kurdish politician Mahmut Alınak who was condemned for asking the council to name some streets after Deniz Gezmiş, Vedat Aydın and Musa Anter and demanding that the prison conditions of PKK leader Abdullah Ocalan to be improved, went to prison.
Alınak held a press meeting in Democratic Society Party offices on 12 August and went to submit himself to prison accompanied by 200 supporters.
Kars Criminal Court of Peace gave Alınak time until 11 August to pay a fine of 1000 lira commuted from 50 days in prison. Alınak refused to pay the fine saying he would not pay fine for his ideas.
Alınak said before going to prison, "As you read this statement I will have been in Kars prison. I believe that this will be a first of a kind of civil disobedience."
Alınak said that he first knew prison in 1973 for his ideas as a young man and added, "Year 2008, I am again a suspect and on the way to prison. Decades passed but nothing changed... Going into prison is a duty in Turkey. You do not have freedoms and rights in any other way... I am going to prison with my free will to protest unlawfulness, and expose antidemocratic laws restricting freedom of expression."
Court condemned Alınak for “praising crime and criminal” for wanting to name streets after Deniz Gezmiş who was hanged by military regime in 1972 and Kurdish politician Vedat Aydın who was assassinated. (antenna-tr.org, August 13, 2008)
Ordu Governor denies visa to seasonal Kurdish workers
Many Kurdish workers who want to enter Ordu to pick nuts are not admitted to the city under the orders of Ordu Governor. Ordu governor’s office issued a directive before the season began stating measures against Kurdish workers who would arrive, and ordered a ban on ‘camping in the city.’ Police officers patrol 24 hours preventing workers from entering the city, while gendarme patrols the second entrance of the city. Gendarme pulled off the tents of workers who are not even allowed into mosques.
Governor Kaban who said that the measures were for health purposes made a written statement: “There is no ban for workers from outside the city to enter the city. A gathering site will not be allocated like previous years. Increasing Crimean Congo cases and the lack of suitable places for settlements played role in the decision. There is no reason regarding terrorism as it was claimed. It would be a great ignorance to show our people as part of terror who themselves suffered from terrorism."
In the meanwhile DTP MP for Diyarbakır Aysel Tuğluk put a parliamentary motion to be answered by Home Minister Beşir Atalay. Tuğluk asked "Does the Home Ministry know of the directive reported in the media? If yes have they launched an investigation on Ordu governor?” (antenna-tr.org, August 11, 2008)
Les guérillas kurdes déclarent avoir saboté l'oléoduc BTC
Les guérillas kurdes ont déclaré vendredi avoir saboté l'oléoduc Bakou-Tbilissi-Ceyhan (BTC), coupé mardi par une explosion dans la station de pompage de Refahiye (est de la Turquie), dans un communiqué publié sur le site de l'agence Firat, proche des rebelles.
Selon un communiqué du PKK, l'explosion intervenue dans la station de pompage de la province d'Erzincan est "un acte de sabotage" dont les détails seront révélés ultérieurement.
Un dirigeant du PKK a ensuite prévenu que son mouvement poursuivrait ce type d'action tant que l'Etat turc lui fera la guerre.
"Les attaques contre les intérêts économiques ont un effet de dissuasion (sur la Turquie) (...) Tant que l'Etat turc mettra l'accent sur la guerre, de telles actions seront naturellement poursuivies", a déclaré à l'agence Firat Bahoz Erdal, un commandant du PKK.
M. Erdal a affirmé que le sabotage de l'oléoduc et d'autres attentats commis par le PKK au cours des dernières semaines constituaient une riposte aux opérations militaires turques contre les rebelles aussi bien sur le territoire turc que dans le nord de l'Irak où sont retranchés des combattants séparatistes.
Les opérations militaires turques "nous ont incités à renforcer notre résistance par l'auto-défense", a-t-il déclaré à Firat.
Un responsable de la compagnie d'Etat BOTAS, qui gère l'oléoduc, a déclaré à l'agence Anatolie qu'à ce jour il n'y avait pas d'indices permettant de conclure à un sabotage, mais qu'on ne pourrait pas être fixé avant que l'incendie qui s'est déclaré à la suite de l'explosion n'ait été complètement éteint.
Le gouverneur adjoint de Refahiye avait écarté l'hypothèse d'un sabotage, affirmant qu'un défaut dans le système de pompage avait été détecté avant l'explosion.
BOTAS a indiqué que l'acheminement du pétrole serait interrompu pendant une quinzaine de jours. L'annonce de cette interruption a poussé les prix à la hausse sur les marchés du pétrole.
Inauguré en 2006, long de 1.774 km, le BTC achemine le pétrole des champs pétrolifères azerbaïdjanais de la mer Caspienne vers le port turc de Ceyhan sur la Méditerranée. Il a une capacité de 1,2 million de barils/jour.
Selon les analystes, la fermeture pourrait être plus longue que ce qu'annoncent les autorités turques. Le géant BP (British Petroleum) a déjà annoncé qu'il cherchait des sources alternatives pour approvisionner ses clients occidentaux.
L'aviation turque a mené depuis décembre des raids contre les bases du PKK dans le nord de l'Irak, avec l'aide des services de renseignement américains surveillant les mouvements des rebelles dans la région. (AFP, 8 août 2008)
Petitioners in trouble for protest letter
Six people in the southeastern province of Diyarbakır who submitted a petition saying that they also referred to the jailed leader of the outlawed Kurdistan Workers' Party, or PKK, as “sayın” -- a word that denotes respect in Turkish, similar to the English “sir” – in protest of the prosecution of several members of the pro-Kurdish Democratic Society Party, or DTP, now face prosecution themselves.
The Diyarbakır prosecutor's office filed charges of membership in a terrorist organization against the six, each of whom now faces 10 years in prison. The group had sent their petition to the prosecutor's office.
The indictment said the PKK had initiated a campaign to support PKK leader Abdullah Öcalan last year after the bombing campaign of Turkey in northern Iraq, and the petition was seen as part of this campaign.
The group sent the petition to the prosecutor's office by mail and in a statement they read in front of the post office said hundreds were prosecuted for referring to Özalan as sayın.
Their trial will begin in the coming days. (Turkish Daily News, August 8, 2008)
Kurdish Politician Alınak Refuses To Buy His Freedom
Kurdish politician Mahmut Alınak, who proposed to use the names of Deniz Gezmiş, Vedat Aydın and Musa Anter, left wing and pro-Kurdish figures who were killed, for streets and parks and who protested the prison conditions of Abdullah Öcalan, leader of the Kurdish Workers Party (PKK), who is in jail for life, will be sent to jail since he refuses to pay the fine the court ordered for the above crimes.
Mahmut Alınak is supposed to pay a fine of 1000 YTL (about 500 euro), which he received instead of 50 days in jail, until 17.00 on August 11 (Monday). Alınak, spokesperson for the Kars People’s Assembly, will surrender to the Kars prosecutor after the press release he will have in the morning of August 12 at 10:00.
Alınak: I am entering the prison with my free will
Alınak, who will stay in jail about fifty days, describes entering prison as one’s duty in Turkey in the fight against the existing anti-democratic practices.
The court punished him for the crime of praising the crime and the criminal when he proposed to give the names of Deniz Gezmiş, Vedat Aydın and Musa Anter to various streets and parks. While Deniz Gezmiş, one of the leaders of Turkish People’s Liberation Army, was hanged in 1972 for his political activities, Vedat Aydın and Musa Anter were murdered for their political activities conducted in the name of the Kurdish people.
Alınak was also fined for his speeches about the prison conditions of PKK leader Abdullah Öcalan.
He says he refuses to buy his freedom. That is why he chooses to go to prison instead.
According to Alınak, while he is punished for proposing to give the names of Deniz Geçmiş, Vedat Aydın and Musa Anter to streets and parks, the names of Mustafa Muğlalı, a four-star general sentenced to life in prison in 1944 for executing 33 peasants by shooting, and politicians Adnan Menderes and Celal Bayar, who were found guilty by the courts, are given to many facilities and places. (BIA, Erol ÖNDEROĞLU, August 6, 2008)
Lawyers Object Formally To The Arrests After The Güngören Explosions
Lawyers of those arrested for the Güngören explosions filed a formal objection to the arrest of Hüseyin Türeli, the so-called “Güngören bomber”, and the four other individuals with him.
Lawyers Hüseyin Çalışçı and Mehmet Sani Kızılkaya, who filed the objections with Istanbul’s 13th High Criminal Court today (August 7), said that their arrest was unlawful.
The objection may be resolved next week
The lawyers stated that their clients were not questioned as the perpetrators of the Güngören explosions that resulted in 17 dead and more than 150 injured.
Çalışçı told bianet that their objection may be resolved next week.
Türeli was undressed and beaten up
Lawyers Hüseyin Çalışçı and Mehmet Sani Kızılkaya said in the press release held at the Istanbul branch of the Human Rights Association (İHD) yesterday (August 6) that their clients were taken to the Metris Prison in Istanbul after they were arrested, undressed and were beaten up by about 15 to 20 gendarmerie soldiers and guardians with sticks, kicks and punches.
Eight of the ten suspects are in Metris Prison
The eight of the ten suspects were sent to Istanbul’s Beşiktaş High Criminal Court on August 2 and are accused with “being members in an organization” and “harboring and helping an organization.”
Suspects Hüseyin Türeli, Abdurrahman Oral, Ziya Kıraç, Şerafettin Kara, Aydın Çağlar, Cevat Aydın, Mehmet Salih Yanak and Nusret Tebiş were sent to the Metris Prison in Istanbul.
The PKK, which the authorities blame for the explosions, had not assumed the responsibility for the incident. (BIA, August 7, 2008)
Media Invents A Güngören Bomber, But He Denies The Allegations
Lawyers of Hüseyin Türeli, one of the suspects in the case of the Güngören explosions, who was presented by the media as the “Güngören bomber,” held a pres release at the Human Rights Association (İHD) today (August 6) in order to fix the misunderstandings in the media and to point out to the torture that their clients had been subjected to in prison.
Lawyers Hüseyin Çalışçı and Mehmet Sani Kızılkaya said in the press release that their clients were taken to the Metris Prison in Istanbul after they were arrested, undressed and were beaten up by about 15 to 20 gendarmerie soldiers and guardians with sticks, kicks and punches.
According to the lawyers, they are now in single-person cells with constant threats and insults. They are afraid the attacks may repeat.
The media presented Türeli, one of the suspects, as confessing to his crime by having him saying that he did it because the Kurdish Workers Party (PKK) told him that the casualties would be low and that he was sorry.
Rejecting these claims that appeared in the media with a strong tone, lawyer Çalışçı said that his client used his right to keep silent when he was interrogated in the Police Department. He also said that his client did not change houses before he was arrested, but was caught in his house.
Çalışçı also added that the families of their clients were also victimized. He said although they sent the necessary corrections to the newspapers, they did not publish them. They are planning to take the necessary measures to take these newspapers to the court. (BIA, Ruşen Fırat GÜLLÜOĞLU , August 6, 2008)
Güngören Explosions: Solved Or Not Solved?
Minister of Interior Beşir Atalay announced that the case of the Güngören explosions in Istanbul, which resulted in 17 deaths, was solved completely and those arrested were the bombers. However, Hüseyin Çalışçı, lawyer of Hüseyin Türeli, one of those who were arrested for the bombings, said their clients had nothing to do with the explosions, but were arrested for “harboring and helping the organization.”
On August 2, Minister of Interior had declared that all the suspects behind the explosions were caught and the Kurdish Workers Party (PKK) was responsible for the both explosions.
“Those arrested are not the perpetrators of Güngören”
Planning to file a lawsuit against the newspapers who presented his client and the other suspects as “PKK bombers”, Çalışçı criticized the minister by stating that these people were not arrested as the perpetrators of the Güngören explosions.
The lawyer said his client had been working in a textile firm in Istanbul for the last seven years. He added that they were planning to confute the reports published in the newspapers Hürriyet, Milliyet, Sabah and Star.
Eight of the ten suspects are in Metris Prison
The eight of the ten suspects were sent to Istanbul’s Beşiktaş High Criminal Court on August 2 and are accused with “being members in an organization” and “harboring and helping an organization.”
Suspects Hüseyin Türeli, Abdurrahman Oral, Ziya Kıraç, Şerafettin Kara, Aydın Çağlar, Cevat Aydın, Mehmet Salih Yanak and Nusret Tebiş were sent to Metris Prison in Istanbul.
The PKK, which the authorities blame for the explosions, had not assumed the responsibility for the incident. (BIA, August 4, 2008)
Cinq miliciens pro-gouvernementaux tués par des rebelles kurdes
Cinq Kurdes, membres d'une milice pro-gouvernementale, ont été tués par balles lors d'affrontements avec des militants kurdes dans la nuit de vendredi à samedi dans le sud-est de la Turquie, a rapporté samedi l'agence Anatolie.
Les combats ont eu lieu dans la région montagneuse de Bestler, dans la province de Sirnak, près de la frontière avec l'Irak, lors d'une opération militaire contre le PKK, a précisé l'agence.
Les cinq hommes étaient membres d'une milice locale kurde, armée par le gouvernement pour venir en aide à l'armée turque dans sa lutte contre le PKK. (AFP, 2 août 2008)
Minorités / Minorities
Ergenekon document reveals assassination plans against Asala and PKK
Ergenekon is a shadowy criminal network with links to the bureaucracy, state security forces and other agencies whose members are accused of orchestrating various murders and attacks so as to create chaos and trigger a coup d’état against the government.
The information about MİT has been suspected for a long time, but this is the first time a document will appear in court that exposes the details of an episode in which some members of the Nationalist Movement Party’s (MHP) extreme nationalist groups, also known as the Grey Wolves, were armed and funded by the state to carry out political murders.
The document, found in Ergenekon archives and presented to a civil court of law last month along with the indictment against the group’s suspected members, revealed a deal made between various ultranationalists who had fled the country as fugitives after being involved in a number of acts of political violence in the prelude to the violent coup on Sept. 12, 1980, most significantly the murder of Milliyet newspaper Editor-in-Chief Abdi İpekçi (1977) and the brutal killings of seven left-wing university students (1978).
These nationalists -- including Abdullah Çatlı, Oral Çelik and Mehmet Şener, who are all publicly associated with such activities as the drug trade, extortion, and the kidnappings and murders of southeastern businessmen -- were hired to assassinate targets, mostly members of Armenian terrorist organization the Armenian Secret Army for the Liberation of Armenia (ASALA), which frequently attacked Turkish diplomatic targets abroad in those days. Later, some of them were brought back to Turkey to stage illegal operations against the terrorist Kurdistan Workers’ Party (PKK).
An earlier record of evidence of shadowy MİT operations only included the names of Çatlı and Haluk Kırcı. The secret archive document from the Ergenekon investigation was found at the office of the Workers’ Party (İP), a small neo-nationalist party whose leader is currently in jail over alleged Ergenekon membership. It lists the names of everyone on the assassination team and reveals that Çatlı acted as the group’s leader, or “reis” in Grey Wolf jargon.
According to the Ergenekon document titled “The Armenian Question 2000-2002,” the administrators in power in 1982 -- the generals who staged the Sept. 12 coup -- decided to retaliate against ASALA’s terrorist attacks. MİT’s Deputy Regional Director Metin Günyol was assigned to lead the operation. He quit his position at MİT in order not to expose his true identity and flew to Europe under the name Veli Özpınar. Once in Europe, Günyol contacted former Grey Wolf Cengiz Cömert.
Cömert was later mentioned in a parliamentary commission report prepared after the Susurluk affair of 1996 -- a car accident that exposed for the first time the shadowy relations between state security forces and the criminals they were employing for operations outside the law -- as being linked to the murder of southeastern businessman Mehmet Ali Yaprak, who was kidnapped and then killed.
Günyol, after his initial contact with Cömert, set up a team of 12 individuals, including Abdullah Çatlı (using the name Mehmet Sarol), Oral Çelik (Atilla Çelik) and Mehmet Şener (Durmuş Unutmaz); others included former nationalist club leaders Ramiz Ongun, Enver Tortaş, Tevfik Esensoy, Bedri Ateş (Uğur Özgöbek), Rıfat Yıldırım, Türkmen Onur and Üzeyir Bayraklı.
MİT initially allocated $320 monthly to this group from the state’s discretionary funds for fighting terrorism; later they increased the amount to $4,700. The group was supplied with five 7.65 mm Belgian Brownings, five nine mm Brownings, two Kalashnikovs, nine blocks of TNT, five blocks of plastic explosive and other ammunitions delivered by couriers.
The group bombed the Armenian genocide memorial in Alfortville, Paris, on May 3, 1984. The French police soon discovered that the operation was commanded by the Turkish MİT.
The indictment against Ergenekon argues that based on information from the group’s archive, the network planned to “learn” from MİT’s “experience against ASALA.” Ergenekon’s plan was to turn Turkey’s economy into a narcotics-based industry, which would erode American support for Turkey and at the same time “end peace and stability in Armenia completely and until the end of time.” (Today's Zaman, 19 August 2008)
Osman Hayal, Instigator’s Brother In Dink’s Murder, Is In Custody
Osman Hayal, the brother of Yasin Hayal, has been taken into custody in Istanbul. Yasin Hayal is accused by Istanbul’s 14th High Criminal Court for instigating the murder of Hrant Dink
The telephone records had already showed that Osman Hayal was in Istanbul on January 19, 2007, the day of the murder, but he had been denying the allegation, claiming he was in Trabzon, a town by the Black Sea Coast.
Osman Hayal had reacted, in the statement he had given to the Trabzon newspaper İlkbahar on January 2008, to the reports that had appeared in the media that he was in Istanbul on the day of the murder by defendeding himself using Rakel Dink’s words “Those who turn the babies into murderers”.
“Enough, I wish they do not mess with us anymore. They are trying to distort the events. The real perpetrators are outside. Have them find the real perpetrator who tun the babies into murderers.”
According to the NTV, the teams from the Anti Terror Unit are questioning Osman Hayal.(BIA, August 20, 2008)
Coups de feu contre l’église arménienne Sourp Garabéd à Istanbul
Lundi 4 août dans la matinée, des inconnus ont tiré quatre coups de feu en direction de l’église arménienne Sourp Garabed dans le quartier Suctari d’Istanbul. Les coups de feu visaient l’habitation du père Barkév Nalbandian dans l’enceinte de l’église arménienne.
Fort heureusement, lors de cet attentat, le père Barkév ainsi que sa famille ne se trouvaient pas dans cette maison. La police turque mène l’enquête. Ce n’est pas la première fois qu’un lieu de culte est ainsi attaqué en Turquie. (collectifvan.org, 6 août 2008)
Ogün Samast Was With Two Other People When He Killed Hrant Dink
News reports in connection with the Ergenekon case claim that Ogün Samast came to the murder scene with two other people when he killed Hrant Dink, Armenian journalist, founder of Agos, Armenian-Turkish weekly, on January 19, 2007.
The claims confirm the Show TV images about two individuals who observe the shooter and then disappear in a construction site after the murder.
In Mustafa Kınalı’s report named “Two people took Ogün to Hrant”, which appeared in the newspaper Hurriyet, Associate Doctor Emin Gürses, who was arrested in connection with the Ergenekon case, tells that there were two individuals with Samast when he went to kill Dink and he learned this from a university student, a woman who witnessed the incident.
This explanation, which appears on the 159th page of the 137th folder in the appendices of the Ergenekon indictment, is based on the telephone communication Gürses had with an individual who he called “Paşam”.
These statements in Gürses’ telephone interview appeared in the media: “Now the kid (Ogün Samast) who went to kill Hrant Dink went there with two other individuals. The father of the girl who saw this comes to us and told, ‘My daughter saw them. They were speaking about the event and my daughter was behind them.’ The girl is a first-year student in a university. These men and this kid went and killed Hrant Dink. These men are not around. These men took this kid to Hrant Dink’s door. Their identities are not known.”
It is not known how effective this new evidence will be, but the images that appeared during the Show TV news seem to confirm this allegation.
The images show an individual taking on his phone with his back turned to the Agos building and looking occasionally at someone near the building. Later, the same person watches, with another individual, Ogün Samast’s running away from the scene and they too disappear in a construction site.
According to another report published in Radikal by İsmail Saymaz, Ogün Samast was met with commotion at the Istanbul Branch of the Fight Against Terror Department like in the Samsun branch and two very friendly pictures taken with him were put in his file.
Another allegation was that Yasin Hayal, who is on trial as the instigator of the murder, was a member of the Great Union Party (BBP) until the day of the murder and that a document was fabricated to show that his membership was terminated on December 4, 2006, that is, a month and a half before the murder.
Police Cannot Humor The Murderer
Istanbul Police Department announced that they were planning to file a lawsuit against the newspaper Radikal for publishing in the headline an article titled “Did you have no shame?” by İsmail Saymaz about another set of friendly Ogün Samast photographs that the police officers had taken.
The police department construed the report as an insult.
The Radikal report criticized the fact that Ogün Samast was smiling in the pictures, looking very happy. This, the article claims, casts a shadow on the objectivity of the police.
Answering bianet’s questions regarding the article, Saymaz emphasized that he was doing his job when he took these pictures as the police officers too when they took Ogün Samast’s pictures. However, he could not help mentioning that one of them was not doing his job right.
He also stated that while he, as a journalist, could use his initiative to critique, the police did not have a similar right when it came to taking the pictures of a murderer. Saymaz concluded by stating that he would be honored to be sued in this case.
The lawsuit will probably be filed under article 301/2 of the Turkish Penal Code (TCK), which is about “denigrating the police organization publicly.”
The Police Department claims that they were doing their job when they took Ogün Samast’s pictures in accordance with the Law on the Duties and Responsibilities of the Police and placed them in his file. The department insists that the reporter insulted the department by intentionally misrepresenting the procedure. (BIA, August 6, 2008)
“Ergenekon And Dink’s Murder Case Must Be Combined”
Ergin Cinmen, one of the lawyers of the Dink family in Hrant Dink’s murder case, demanded that the testimony of the Associate Doctor Emin Gürses about the two people with Ogün Samast at the time of the murder should be investigated. Gürses was arrested for his connection with the Ergenekon organization.
Gürses stated in his testimony that he heard from a girl who witnessed the whole thing that there were two more people with Ogün Samast when he was on his way to murder Hrant Dink.
“The prosecutor for the Dink murder case should deepen the investigation”
Cinmen told bianet that in order to better understand the incidents like Hrant Dink’s murder and the flag burning in Mersin, it was necessary to deepen the investigation to identify those two people with Samast.
“Additional investigation will show the purpose of the organization better”
Cinmen indicated that considering that some of the people who are on trial organized the demonstrations, investigating every incident in more detail and collecting more proof would show the purpose of the organization better.
Cinmen also added that they were planning to go to the European Human Rights Court (EHRC) since they could not have the Turkish judiciary prosecute the authorities of the Istanbul Police Department for failing to protect a journalist and process the intelligence sent from Trabzon. (BIA, August 6, 2008)
Politique intérieure/Interior Politics
The Turkish Crisis: An Emergent Third Pole?
Such Herculean tasks can only be undertaken by a force that is not the accomplice of any bourgeois government, and that has no tolerance for oppression either by the political Islamists or by the ultra-nationalists. This task can only be assumed by those political forces that fight for a Social Republic.
Turkey's recent politics appears to revolve around two court cases. In the one case, the ruling AKP (Adalet ve Kalkinma Partisi – Justice and Development Party) stands behind the bar in order to defend themselves in the Constitutional Court closure case against charges by the Head Prosecutor of the Turkish Republic of “having become a focus of fundamentalist Islamist threat against the secular republic.”
In the other, the defendants are headed up by former army commanders, who during duty may have mobilized the power they exercised within the state security and intelligence services for crushing the ruling Islamist-rooted AKP government. The complex web, built up under the leadership of a retired four star general, comprises of a vast array of figures from Turkey's broad political spectrum including covert killers, fanatic ultra-nationalist agitators, former-Maoist political figures, solemn academics, retired paramilitaries, and others.
Struggle for Power
The involvement of courts, judges and prosecutors in the ongoing strife may surprise an onlooker who is unfamiliar with the particularities of Turkey's political background. What unfolds before our eyes is not simply a legal process as such, yet a war for power ‘pursued by other means.’ Seen through the eyes of European or U.S. media, Turkey appears to being torn apart between secularists and Islamists.
But this ideological approach misses the real nature of the ongoing strife in the country: the warring parties' programs are related to the restructuring of Turkey's socio-economic relation in a globalized world economy, rather than particular worldviews toward secularism or Islam, though the latter has indeed had a considerable impact on the course of the conflict.
In the one camp stands a contradictory alliance of Turkey's big capitalist class – who strive to ascend a higher level for competition in the global market through membership in the European Union (EU) – and the ‘Anatolian Tigers’. The Anatolian group is made up of middle scale businesses generally owned by the conservative local bourgeoisie of central Turkey of an Islamic background.
They have been competing in the global market since the 1980s when Turkey adopted export oriented development strategies to replace the statist and import substitution approach of the previous two decades. The ruling AKP has had an eye to further influence in the Middle East as a NATO member with a 'strategic alliance' with Washington, contrary to neo-conservative paranoia of Turkey adopting the ‘Taliban model.’ In the last six years in government, it has been able to coalesce with the interests of the big capital from its Islamist power base, although there have also been at times fierce frictions between the allies.
In the other camp is a complex political and social network of Turkey's bureaucratic and military elites in alliance with certain sections of the bourgeoisie whose domestic interests are endangered by the influx of international finance-capital in the Turkish markets. They derive their power from their manipulative capacity over Turkey's powerful state apparatuses – from the military to judiciary, from the academy to administrative bureaucracy – rather than from their role in social production.
The recent crackdown on the secret special organization 'Ergenekon', however, has apparently inflicted a heavy blow on the most criminal elements of this network. This group, with their extensive network across Turkey among staunch secularist-republicans, and with their control over the military-industrial complex, still represents an attractive – even if irrational from the standpoint of the globalization – perspective particularly among white collar occupations, who comprise the urban base of Turkey's political landscape. They have argued for a future for Turkish capitalism in Eurasia – the giant political-geographical space between Russia and China.
The influential generals who have inspired this new direction had already in 2002 stated that “instead of bidding for membership in the unreliable EU, Turkey should turn towards cooperation with Russia and Iran.” The following years would prove that these were more than mere words.
Between November 2002 (the first year of the pro-Islamist AKP in power) and July 2007 (the general elections which gained the AKP even broader victory for power in the parliament), a huge counter-current against Turkey's EU membership bid and against Turkey's military alliance with the U.S. swept across the country. The movement, in spite of its 'anti-imperialist' rhetoric, said very little against Turkey's NATO membership.
It mainly targeted democratic reforms for freedom of speech and organization, broader rights for Turkey's Kurds and non-Muslim minorities (believing that these made Turkey more vulnerable to Western influences and open to Islamic fundamentalism) and agitated against a peaceful solution in Cyprus for the fear of what might result from the withdrawal of Turkish troops from the divided island.
On the eve of the July 22, 2007 general elections, when they seemed to have the full backing of Turkey's armed forces, the national and international media image of the 'Eurasian' camp (labeled as 'secularists') was so bright and powerful that political analysts could not have predicted their present collapse. Indeed, the media they control or influence – including TV channels, dailies, magazines – and the main opposition CHP (Cumhuriyet Halk Partisi – The Republican People's Party) have converged around the opinion that the defeat is caused by AKP-backed persecution of the “patriots” through “slanders” and “false accusations.”
A more coolheaded analysis, however, shows that their initial rise and dramatic collapse as was directly related to a major shift in the balance of power, particularly with the political stand of the armed forces high command. The unexpected consensus reached between the present Chief of Staff General Yasar Buyukanit and Prime Minister Tayyip Erdogan on May 5, 2007, marked the beginning of the withdrawal of the support of the armed forces for the ‘Eurasianists.’
In spite of baseless arguments by the liberal supporters of the AKP, the Turkish armed forces' interventions in daily political life have not stemmed from an anti-EU reflex inherent in the army mentality. It has stemmed from their 'perception of threat' that Turkey's territorial integrity is at risk as long as Iraq's prospective dismemberment remains on the agenda in the aftermath of the U.S. occupation of Iraq.
EU Membership: A National Security Policy Principle
Indeed, the National Security Policy Document – a 'top secret' strategy document jointly drafted by the government and the armed forces which was leaked to the press in 1997 – posed, among others, several strategic aims: Turkey's westward orientation should not be modified by any means; Turkey's bid for full EU membership in the EU should be kept (although the negative attitudes of some EU countries should not be underestimated); and efforts directed at integrating Turkey into the world market, including via privatization of state assets, should be increased. This has framed Turkish state policy before and after the AKP government came to power.
In spite of Turkey's favorable strategic approach towards economic integration with global capitalism, Ankara-Washington relations worsened over this period, as the U.S. occupation reinforced the drive toward Kurdish autonomy in Iraq. Due to the fragility of Iraq's territorial control of its borders, the Turkish military perceived a growing threat from the prospective of Kurdish independence in Northern Iraq. For the Turkish military and ruling classes, this was a negative example for Turkey's own 12 million Kurds. The U.S. presence in Iraq, Ankara's military elite believed, also gave the insurgent guerrilla PKK (Partiya Karkerên Kurdistan –Kurdistan Workers' Party) a relatively greater sphere of action on the other side of Turkey-Iraq border.
Having missed the 'chance' to enter into Iraqi territory as part of 'Allied Forces' after a 'no' vote in the Turkish Parliament in 2002, the Turkish military continued its de facto military presence in Northern Iraq to prevent the area from becoming a safe-haven for the insurgent Kurdish guerrillas. Yet, the breaking point was reached when Turkish 'special forces' were embarrassingly arrested by the local U.S. occupation forces in their bases in Suleimania. Turkey was forced to accept a U.S. ban on its covert actions against the Kurds of Iraq and the insurgent Kurdish guerrilla PKK.
The Turkish army responded to the ban from its 'greatest ally' with a mobilization of its political influence against the interests of United States of America in Turkey. From 2002 to 2007, an anti-American and anti-Kurd 'nationalist' psychology and political effort swept across the country. Turkey's NATO trained generals praised “the popular support for the indivisible unity of Turkish Republic.”
The campaign peaked in 2007 when Turkish Armed Forces regained their right to launch cross-border air and land force operations inside Iraqi territory against PKK guerrillas with intelligence support from the U.S. occupation forces. With their security position regained and Washington's recognition of the PKK as an 'enemy', the Turkish Armed Forces consented to a new approach in handling Turkey's ‘Kurdish question.’ In order to balance the PKK influence in Turkey's mostly Kurdish populated provinces, the Turkish army (even as a stronghold of secularism) adopted the ruling AKP's perspective of forging an 'Islamic Brotherhood', with the aim of ideologically integrating the Kurds into the Turkish state. The strategy would be completed by Turkey's recognition of the Northern Iraqi Kurdish administration, whose support Ankara desperately needed to block PKK infiltration into Turkish territory.
The start of the massive Turkish air forces operation over PKK-controlled areas of Northern Iraq in the spring of 2007 marked the end of the 'nationalist campaign' against U.S. interests under the auspices of Turkish Armed Forces. There was no more need for 'anti-U.S.' agitation. The 'subversive organizations' mobilized to campaign against Kurds had to be removed from the scene. The sabotages, arsons, lynching attempts and assassinations directed at Kurds and pro-Western liberals were to be persecuted. The nationalist NGOs and manipulations within political parties, trade unions and the media were not as useful and they should be ended. The eccentric organizations formed during the five years campaign were denied former support and/or tolerance by the Turkish armed forces and by its 'special security apparatuses.'
The road to the 'Ergenekon' operation was wide open. It was revealed during the prosecution that an aborted military coup was in the making from 2002-04. It failed to develop for the fear of international isolation as well as the lack of full support of the army high command. The Turkish Armed Forces Chief of Staff General Buyukanit, in his last public statement bluntly said: “Those who are guilty will pay for it. The Armed Forces is not a criminal organization!” The crackdown on the Ergenekon organization halted at the gates of Turkey's Chief of Staff's military campus, with the police having to suffice with the handcuffing of retired generals.
To the surprise of the once all-powerful 'secularist' camp, the Armed Forces also refrained from publicly backing the charges of anti-secularism against the AKP. Deniz Baykal, the leader of the main opposition CHP, sharply reacted against the Chief of Staff's silence as the AKP moved to lift the ban on wearing the veil in the universities: “We have been left only with the judiciary to rely on.”
The Head Prosecutor of the Republic charged the AKP with “attempting at establishing an Islamic state,” and this indictment was indeed a call for action in legal terms for the armed forces to play its historic role. It was not an ordinary legal document as such. It is highly unlikely that this indictment will retain its initial weight as the political forces are realigned amidst military operations in the southeast, police operations in the capital Ankara that are handcuffing the once almighty generals, and the deadly blasts in an Istanbul suburb which have claimed the lives of innocent civilians.
There Exists a Third Pole!
Although the two parties to the ongoing conflict would like to ally these social forces to their respective individual camps, there is a third party in the social struggle. This is the party of the labour, the oppressed, the poor, the Kurds, the Alevites, the women, the youth, and others.
Those who have marched towards the banned Taksim Square and paid the price of police brutality in May 1st; those who have poured out to the streets to protest against the neoliberal Social Security Law that deprives the workers of the last gains of the social welfare state; those who challenge the ecologically hazardous mining industries and nuclear power plants; and those who for decades have fought for the brotherhood of Turkey's peoples and for a peaceful solution to the 'Kurdish question' comprise the bulk of this camp.
Taking sides with one of the parties to the present conflict who strive for articulating Turkey with one or the other pole of capitalist globalization will not promote – and will actively be against – their social, political, economic and cultural interests. This third force is fighting to build its own capacities to address the people, and oppose playing one of the tunes in either of the bourgeois choruses.
The present situation throws up discussion of mainly two options. On the one hand, the restoration of a 'military guardianship' regime, which may or may not get along with the AKP government, is posited. Turkey, however, is not faced with an imminent military takeover as there exists no real social-economic pretext for such an extraordinary regime, in terms of the present balance of class forces.
On the other hand, the AKP is often posed as deepening Islamic solution to the impasse. But while the AKP pursues a social-cultural policy of pushing Islamist values in daily life as an instrument of its ideological-cultural hegemony, it is highly skeptical that they are aiming at an Islamic state, simply for the concrete reason that this would inflict more harm on their power base than their secularist opponents. An Islamist Turkey would inevitably be ousted from the negotiations table for EU membership (a major guarantee for the free circulation of Turkish capital and goods within the Euro zone, Turkey's major foreign trade partner).
That is why a 'third pole' is necessary to widen political options in Turkey. It is also necessary to bring to justice the Turkish political and military authorities responsible over the last decade for encouraging the secret Ergenekon organization. The military and political elites did so either through tolerance for extra-legal forces or by abusing their power to assist such forces for the sake of the survival of the military 'guardianship' regime. They did so at the expense of the lives of hundreds of people and the uncountable waste of human and material resources.
Such Herculean tasks can only be undertaken by a force that is not the accomplice of any bourgeois government, and that has no tolerance for oppression either by the political Islamists or by the ultra-nationalists. This task can only be assumed by those political forces that fight for a Social Republic. Such a pole in Turkey is emerging.
* This article first appeared in Socialist Project's e-bulletin no 130 in Quebec
Republican People’s Party Still Sees A Secularism Crisis
Following the decision of the Constitutional Court not to close the Justice and Development Party (AKP), President of the Republican People’s Party (CHP) Deniz Baykal said that the court did not solve the crisis, but described a “secularity” problem.
Chief of General Staff Yaşar Büyükanıt said he could not comment about the decision since he was a soldier. President of the Nationalist Movement Party (MHP) Devlet Bahçeli was pleased with the decision in the name of democracy, but added that the AKP needed to take lessons from this incident. President of the Freedom and Solidarity Party (ÖDP) and Istanbul deputy Ufuk Uras interpreted the decision as an important chance for Turkey’s democratization and normalization.
The Constitutional Court decided not to close the AKP, but fine it by cutting its share of the Treasury Aid by half.
Baykal: The Constitutional Court made an important determination
According to Baykal, ten members of the court determined that the AKP was the center of the anti secular acts. He said that since the AKP was a majority party in the Parliament, this was very important; the court showed that there was a crisis.
Bahçeli: The Prime Minister should take the necessary lessons
MHP’s president Bahçeli said, “everyone should respect this decision, but the AKP administration should take lessons from this incident, too; they should realize that fighting with the founding principles of the Republic jeopardizes the democratic regime.”
Uras: The decision gave a chance to strengthen the democratic politics
Pointing out to the words of Haşim Kılıç, president of the Constitutional Court, ÖDP’s president Uras said that it was now time to take the necessary democratization steps for the future. He stated that the Constitution, the election law and the political parties law, which are the remnants of the September 12 military dictatorship, must be replaced with a libertarian, democratic and social mentality. “The necessary steps should be taken without losing any time.”
DTP: The decision reflects people’s will
President of the Democratic Society Party (DTP) Ahmet Türk said the decision was pleasing from the perspective of the democratic politics. (BIA, August 1st, 2008)
Greens Say Keep The Democratic Society Party Open Too
The Greens Party was pleased that the Constitutional Court did not close the Justice and Development Party (AKP). They say it is now time to support the Democratic Society Party (DTP), which is going through the same ordeal.
The party co-chairperson Ümit Şahin said that party closings were basically antidemocratic practices that are obstacles for social dynamics and make impossible legitimate political struggle.
Şahin said not closing the DTP would also be a strong message in the direction of solving the Kurdish problem democratically and without violence. He furthermore added that AKP’s responsibility was to take the right steps and make the political arena in Turkey more democratic and open. Otherwise, he said, these crises were liable to repeat themselves.
Şahin asked the government to take the following steps:
- Closing parties must be made difficult by making the necessary constitutional changes. The Venice Criterion, which limits the reasons for party closing to racism and openly using violence, must be accepted. The concept of banning must be eliminated from politics.
- All the restrictions in the Political Parties Law must be removed.
- The existing in equalities between the political parties (such as the unjust treasury aid) must be eliminated.
- The Election Law must be democratized, the existing obligations regarding the party obligations to enter the elections must be changed and the practice of the ten percent election barrage must be discontinued.
- All the deputy immunities other than the freedom of expressing one's opinions must be removed. The deputies and the state officials could be tried for human rights violations and fraud.
- Every legal regulation and political obstacle that turns politics to a professional job, to something that only those with enough money can do, must removed and the rule of the party leaders must be ended. (BIA, August 1st, 2008)
Forces armées/Armed Forces
New Head Of The Land Forces Worries Human Rights Defenders
The speech of Four-Star General Işık Koşaner, the newly promoted head of the Land Forces, receives the reaction of the human rights defenders. The cause of the reaction was Koşaner’s approach phrased as “If the terrorist activities are threatening the human rights, then there is need to reevaluate the balance between the freedoms and the precautions need to be taken."
While head of the Human Rights Foundation of Turkey (TİHV) Yavuz Önen, one of those with whom bianet has talked about Koşaner’s unique approach, says, “This is one way of saying let us go back to security, not to freedoms”, head of Diyarbakır Bar Sezgin Tanrıkulu says, “The Armed Forces overlap with unlawfulness during their activities conducted in the name of fight against terrorism overlap with unlawfulness.” He adds that “Koşaner wishes to legalize this unlawfulness.”
Tanrıkulu says, “Which law prevents what, they do not say. Which article is the problem? Is it that they do not want the caught organization member receive a lawyer? There is no concrete example. This is an attempt to legalize the unlawfulness that comes with their activites…”
About the allegations of throwing people from the helicopters, which has just been brought up again, Tanrıkulu says, “As far as I know, the Gendarmerie has so far never investigated the allegations about them” and he describes Gen. Koşaner’s demand as an attempt to eliminate this possibility.
Yavuz Önen interprets Koşaner’s approach as a search for a new channel: “Both the Turkish Armed Forces and the Police Force have been voicing these opinions since the improvements in personal rights in 2005. It worked and their powers were increased.”
Önen reminded that in 2008 alone there were 22 extrajudicial killings (“disobeying the stop warning” deaths, as phrased in the media).
“We are under war conditions and we witness that such violations are very common in regions where guns are being fired. This discourse really indicates that there will be a stricter policy in the future and the freedoms will be restricted even more.”
Some notes from Gen. Koşaner’s speech:
- These laws that are passed as if there is no terrorism in our country are simply inadequate in helping the situation.
- The bills that will provide the authorities in certain regions with measures to be applied when needed and for predetermined time periods should be passed as soon as possible.
- Isolated cases are presented as if they represent the whole organization; this hurts the eminent members of our Gendarmerie organization.
(BIA, Nilufer Zengin, August 28, 2008)
New Chief Of Staff Insists On Not Recognizing The Kurdish Identity
Former Chief of General Staff Gen. Yaşar Büyükanıt handed over his duty to the new Chief of General Staff Gen. İlker Başbuğ.
Each general gave a speech during the ceremony before guests like President Abdullah Gül, Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdoğan and President of the Northern Cyprus Turkish Republic (KKTC) Mehmet Ali Talat.
While Büyükanıt concentrated on the practical difficulties the new European Union Adaptation Laws have introduced in the fight against terrorism, Başbuğ dealt with more theoretical issues such as the subjects of ethnic identities and secularism.
Başbuğ said in the ceremony that “Super-Identity is the Turkish nation. The reservations people have about saying ‘What happiness it is for one to be able to say I am a Turk’ should be eliminated.
“To be able to make intellectual discussion within the state does not mean that the components of state which hold it together are open to discussion.”
Başbuğ also emphasized that the concept of nation-state was not open to discussion, either. “Ethnically, there cannot be new rights under constitutional rule.”
Regarding the issue of secularism, Başbuğ said the concern in the society about secularism should be dispelled. He pointed out to the religious communities trying to direct the social life. (BIA, August 29, 2008)
Human Rights Activists Advise Silence To Army’s New Commander
Four-Star General Işık Koşaner, who became the new commander of the Ground Forces (KKK) attacked the non-governmental organizations, the media and the academic circles in his speech during the handover ceremony.
Bianet asked Şanar Yurdatapan, spokesperson for the Initiative against Thought Crime, Volkan Aytar of Turkish Economic and Social Studies Foundation (TESEV), Prof. Dr. Tahsin Yeşildere, head of the University Faculties Association, and Doğan Tılıç, a faculty of the Middle East Technical University and a columnist in daily Birgün, about their opinions regarding Koşaner’s speech.
Yurdatapan says, “everyone can express an opinion, except those with guns.”
“They usually say that they are the ones who determine the major policies of Turkey and if anyone is against these choices then he/she is a traitor or helping the foreign powers or terrorists. I want them to remain silent.”
According to Yeşildere, universities are autonomous and should stay as such; they cannot be under the monopoly of any political and armed institution.
“Politicians should not use the universities for their agendas. For example, the President assigns the rectors. The Justice and Development Party (AKP) is continuing the same system. The universities should be able to express their opinions about anything; they should be free. Otherwise, they will not be called universities, but become government offices.”
Tılıç says, “I do not find appropriate the type of speeches that may bring the media under either the control of civil or military bureaucracy or the business circles and capital. Koşaner’s wish is the same. He wants to bring the media under their control. That is why this speech cannot be accepted.”
“This speech gives an idea about how much political influence the Turkish Armed Forces has in Turkey. Normally, armed forces of the democratic countries stay within the limits defined by the Constitution; they do not talk about subject outside of their field.”
“Turkey is trying to become part of the contemporary world. It is trying to be a member of the European Union (EU), but the Armed Forces is making speeches that may sabotage this process” (BIA, Bawer ÇAKIR, August 28, 2008)
“If Worried About Globalization, Then Question NATO And The US Base”
Ufuk Uras, president of the Freedom and Solidarity Party (ÖDP), who is also the Istanbul deputy for the same party, has reminded Işık Koşaner, new head of the Ground Forces, that the way to taking a position against globalization goes through questioning the relationship with the NATO. Koşaner had stated in his speech that the global forces were trying to weaken Turkey’s national unity.
“The nation-state has become the neoliberal-state. Presenting the neoliberal-state as nation-state shows that the military bureaucracy is still class blind. They are trying to hide the hegemony of the state behind the expression of nation-state.”
Uras told bianet that Koşaner can prove his sensitivity regarding the globalization by revealing the secret agreements with the United States about the İncirlik Base. “They should make these agreements public. The rest is rhetoric and rhetoric is not the truth.”
According to Uras, it is obvious that homogenizing Turkish mosaic, which is multicultural and based on multiple identities, will not solve Turkey’s problems in the 21st century.
Uras says that concrete steps should be taken to reveal the shady relationships, starting with the Gendarmerie and the Gendarmerie Intelligence and Anti Terror Unit (JİTEM).
“As the nation-state has transformed into the neoliberal state, it has also become what is called the security state. What we need is the social state, the state governed by the rule of law. Where there is such a state, the military bureaucracy cannot share its political convictions.”
“The commanders are still expressing their political opinions during the handover ceremonies and this shows fighting against the military bureaucracy is very important for making politics the business of civilians only.”
What did Koşaner say?
New commander of the Ground Forces, the four star general Işık Koşaner said the following about Turkey and globalization:
“Looking at the situation from the geopolitical and geo-strategic perspectives, Turkey is one of the important and key countries of the global power balance. It is forced to play the role of the model golabal-izable country in the international arena. They are trying to destroy the nation-state structure through initiatives that bring to the fore sub-identities by using ideas such as ethnic identities, religious communities, cultural differences.”
“A propaganda and influence net, which is formed by postmodern groups in non-governmental organizations, some academic and business circles and the media controlled by the global forces, is working towards weakening and dissolving the national unity, the national values and the security parameters.” (BIA, Nilkufer Zengin, August 28, 2008)
Küçük’s Personal Notes: Iraq Trade, Weapons, Intelligence
It is claimed that a personal organizer showing the monies taken from the semi trucks going to the Northern Iraq from the entry point of Habur in the southeastern Turkey was found in the house of the retired Brigadier General Veli Küçük, who was arrested on January 26 for the charge of being a member in the Ergenekon Organization and “provoking people against government.”
It is stated in the appendices of the Ergenekon Indictment penned on July 10 that the black personal organizer with the title of BM Firms Group did not include what was transferred, but the monies that were to be collected from the semi trucks.
According to the allegation, a person named “Hüsam” was to be paid 1200-1500 US dollars to accompany the convoys to Baghdad, 1500-1700 US dollars to the Southern Iraq and 1600 – 1800 US dollars to Ramadiye-Felluce-Tikrit.
In the organizer there is a passage that says, “200 trucks will arrive in Mersin harbor from Britain. They will go to Basra, passing from the Habur entry point. They will be transferred in groups of twenties. Hüsam wants 1500 dollars. We agreed on 1750 dollars, 250 being for the company” (262nd page of the 51st file). There is also a telephone number in the organizer about a person named Cüneyt Yüksel.
The notes also say the convoys were to be 8 to 10 semi trucks long and that they were supposed to add their profit to this price.
In a gray colored organizer belonging to the year 1991, which was found in Küçük’s house, there is a note on its July 23rd page regarding whereabouts of Abdullah Öcalan, the leader of the Kurdish Workers Party (PKK), who is in prison for life at the moment: “Abdullah Öcalan is in Cemil Esat’s house in the town of Kardaha in Lazkiye January 7, 1993).”
It is thought that Cemal Esat is the brother of Syrian President Hafız Esad and the uncle of Beşar Esad.
Moreover, the 142nd page of the 47th file points out to a need list found in Küçük’s organizer and there is a “gun with a silencer” in this list.
Küçük states his needs on the page dated October 21, 1987 of his organizer under the title of “the orders of the Law and Order Commander”. (BIA, August 21, 2008)
Conscientious Objector May Be Sued For Insulting Military
Istanbul’s Office of the Hasdal Military Prosecutor decided there was no need for trial regarding the complaint made by conscientious objector Mehmet Bal about the bad treatment and torture he was subjected to in the military prison.
At the end of the investigations about the private soldiers and officers and the three prisoners in Istanbul’s the 3rd Army Corps Military Prison that was launched between the dates of June 8 and 9, the Military Prosecutor decided on July 30 that there was no need for prosecution.
When released on June 8, after sixteen days in prison, for the reason that he was not fit to be a soldier, conscientious objector Bal was taken through a medical examination, during which various bruises were found on his body.
Although no lawsuit was filed against the officers, a lawsuit was filed against those three soldiers in Hasdal prison at the moment for “knowingly injuring others.” The Military Prosecutor also demanded reduced sentences for the three soldiers on the grounds that they were provoked.
Those three prisoners who are on trial and the other prisoners in the same prison claimed in their statements that Bal had used sentences that included insults to the Turkish Armed Forces.
Therefore, the Military Prosecutor decided to file a criminal report about Bal’s insults with the Office of the Eyüp Public Prosecutor, since Bal is considered a civilian and a permission is needed to file a lawsuit under article 301 of the Turkish Penal Code.
Anti-war activists claim that the authorities are trying to put the blame on three prisoners, while not touching the private soldiers and their officers who were actually responsible for Bal’s safety. It is stated that the provocation was not done by Bal, but the internal security officers who told the prisoners “you know what to do, do what is necessary.” The announcement criticized Military Prosecutor’s interpretation that this meant “Assist Bal”.
Bal’s lawyers will object the decision in fifteen days. The Office of the Eyüp Public Chief Prosecutor will wait for the permission to file an article 301 case from the Ministry of Justice. (BIA, Erol ÖNDEROĞLU, August 20, 2008)
Another Person Refuses Military Service
Today (August 15) twenty-three year old Mehmet Ali Avcı announced at the Istanbul Branch of the Human Rights Association (İHD) his conscientious objection to military service. İHD members and Ümit Şahin from the Greens Party support Avcı’s action.
According to Avcı, his decision, as a Kurd, is based on his refusal to take part in the army of a state that takes away and even ignores the existence of his social, political, economic rights and his language.
He also refuses to carry arms for the reason that it is the violation of the right to life and does not want to be the guard of the war profiteers.
Avcı invites everyone with a conscience to question this unjust system and to take a stand against Turkish Armed Forces' insistence on perpetuating this system by refusing to do military service and declaring conscientious objection.
Supporting Avcı’s conscientious objection, Ümit Şahin of the Greens Party pointed out to the war in Georgia and how important conscientious objection was in this regard, repeating their demand for the removal of article 318 of the Turkish Penal Code, which punishes “alienating people from military service”.
President of İHD’s Istanbul Branch Gülseren Yoleri said that they would support Avcı in every way possible.
Those who announced their support for Avcı are:
January 19 Collective, Amargi Women Cooperative, Anarchy Collective Ankara, Antimilitaristic Initiative, We Are Not Men Initiative - Bedi, Young Civilians, Rainbow Women’s Association, İHD Istanbul Branch, Kurdish Conscientious Objection Initiative, LambdaIstanbul LGBTT Association, Mesopotamia Culture Center – MKM, Van Women’s Association, The Greens Party, Van Antimilitaristic Initiative.
The number of the conscientious objectors has become 69 with Avcı’s announcement.(BIA, Ceyda ULUKAYA, August 15, 2008)
Un lieutenant-colonel et huit soldats tués par l'explosion d'une mine
Un lieutenant-colonel et huit soldats de l'Armée turque ont été tués et deux autres blessés lundi par l'explosion d'une mine dans l'est de la Turquie, a annoncé l'agence Anatolie citant le gouverneur de la province d'Erzincan.
Huit soldats sont morts sur le coup, un neuvième soldat est décédé à l'hôpital des suites de ses blessures, deux autres continuant de recevoir des soins.
L'explosion, qui s'est produite sur une route de campagne, a été déclenchée au passage du véhicule qui transportait les militaires. Elle n'a pas été revendiquée pour le moment.
Les autorités turques ont annoncé par ailleurs que la police a abattu lundi matin un poseur de bombes présumé dont l'identité n'a pas été révélée. L'homme a été appréhendé alors qu'il déposait un sac d'explosifs à proximité d'un poste de police de la ville d'Antakya (sud) frontalière de la Syrie.
Le sac saisi par la police contenait 12 kilogrammes de plastic ainsi qu'un dispositif de commande à distance, précise-t-on de même source. (AFP, 11 août 2008)
Generals discussed overthrowing gov’t, documents show
The minutes of a meeting of top Turkish Armed Forces (TSK) generals, held on July 15-16, 2003, were saved on a CD and found among documents tagged “highly confidential.” These documents were seized in the home of former army Capt. Muzaffer Tekin, who is currently in jail as an Ergenekon suspect, and clearly show that the generals sat down and discussed possible ways to induce a change of government. The minutes also confirm the existence of a journal allegedly belonging to retired Navy Commander Adm. Özden Örnek, excerpts of which were published last year in April in the Nokta newsweekly.
The excerpts date from 2003 and 2004 and show detailed plans of senior military officers to stage a coup against the Justice and Development Party (AK Party) government, led by Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdoğan. No legal action was taken regarding the coup allegations, but Nokta's owner shut the journal down after police raided its offices upon an order from a state prosecutor.
The minutes of the meeting, believed to have been put together by then-Land Forces Commander Aytaç Yalman, detail the conversations of the first, second and third Aegean army commanders, the NATO southeast joint commander, the War Academies commander and the Naval Forces commander. They are labeled with "the points emphasized during the meeting about the country's problems."
Air Forces Commander Gen. İbrahim Fırtına is identified as "F"; Naval Forces Commander Adm. Özden Örnek as "Ö"; Land Forces Commander Gen. Fevzi Türkeri as "T"; Gen. Hurşit Tolon, currently in custody as part of the Ergenekon investigation, as "H"; Gen. Tamer Akbaş as "A"; and Gen. Çetin Doğan as "Ç." The minutes are organized under the subtitles "Wining the People," "The General State of the Armed Forces," "Relations with the Government," "Protection of the Fundamental Characteristics of the Republic," "The Press," "The European Union and the National Security Council [MGK]," "Developments in Iraq" and "Our Relations with the US."
Some of the highlights Radikal selected from the document include the following:
"We are obliged to either make very radical decisions in the next one to one-and-a-half years or succumb to our fate. We should make the people have nothing to hope for from this government. Media bosses should be taken under control." (F)
"The aim here is to take over the state. We should fight in the harshest way possible, with no compromises. We need a good press." (Ö)
"It is a must to insult the prime minister in private meetings. We should pay visits to the prime figures of the secular front such as the Higher Education Board [YÖK] president and the rector of İstanbul University." (Ç)
"The issues we want to talk about should not be brought to the National Security Council's [chaired by the prime minister] agenda, but be talked over by inviting the prime minister to the General Staff headquarters." (T)
In other quotes from the minutes, Gen. Fırtına is quoted as saying the generals don't have much time left to win over the public and that they should hurry with the process. Gen. Türkeri is quoted as saying the army should communicate in a timely fashion with then-President Ahmet Necdet Sezer, known for his staunch secularism, to seek his support when necessary. He also expresses during this meeting the opinion that the EU and the US are constantly acting as mentors to the AK Party in the pacification of the armed forces. Other quotes from the minutes include Gen. Tolon complaining that the government has been very passive about some incidents in the international arena that were humiliating for Turkey. Gen. Akbaş is quoted as saying, "The Turkish Armed Forces have to make their intelligence system more effective."
Again in these minutes, Gen. Çetin makes the following observation: "The disruption of the fundamental characteristics of the Republic of Turkey cannot be compensated for with economic gains." Gen Türkeri says the TSK should restructure its public relations strategy and proactively address reactions coming from the press and the public. (TODAY'S ZAMAN, August 9, 2008)
There are at least 25 crime gangs like Ergenekon, says Yarbay
Speaking with the Cihan news agency yesterday, Yarbay, who is also a Justice and Development Party (AK Party) Ankara deputy, stressed that the Ergenekon gang was only one part of the deep state. “I believe there are more than 25 illegal organizations like Ergenekon within the deep state. Such organizations are controlled by a center within the deep state. Ergenekon was uncovered after it intensified its activities so that this center fell short of controlling it,” he said.
Ergenekon’s existence was exposed in July 2007 following a police raid on a house in İstanbul’s Ümraniye district that was used as an arms depot. A detailed investigation into the explosives and suspects detained in the raid revealed that the gang was readying to topple the AK Party government.
Yarbay also stated that armed organizations carry out their activities under the control of the state. “If an organization is engaged in an armed fight, it means it is under surveillance by state intelligence. The outlawed Kurdistan Workers’ Party [PKK] is an armed organization. Related intelligence agencies know who the high-ranking PKK officials are,” he said.
Yarbay claimed that the state establishes such illegal organizations to control various ideologies within society. “There are ideologies of Kurdishness, Islamism and Turkishness in our society. It has been claimed since 1984 that the PKK was established by the state. The same is true of Hizbullah. Giving voice to such claims is important in terms of freedom of speech, but these allegations should be proven in a state governed by the rule of law,” he added.
Yarbay also stated that journalist Mumcu was assassinated by secularists and that Islamists were accused of the murder to foment tension within society. “The reason was to foment tension between society and anti-secularists, which resulted in a non-armed military intervention in 1997, commonly referred to as ‘the Feb. 28 process’,” he said.
Cumhuriyet daily columnist Mumcu, a leading figure in investigative journalism, was killed after a remote-controlled bomb placed under his car exploded on Jan. 24, 1993. He was long believed to have been assassinated by Muslim extremists.
Yarbay stressed that recently voiced claims of Mumcu having been killed by an Israeli group were not based on sound evidence. “The Ergenekon indictment argues that an Israeli group was behind the Mumcu murder, but this allegation is not supported by sound evidence,” he said.
The Ergenekon indictment stated that a document found during a search of a house on a ranch belonging to retired Brig. Gen. Veli Küçük, arrested in the Ergenekon operation in January, showed that a six-member Israeli group, under the direction of the US Central Intelligence Agency (CIA), infiltrated Turkey to assassinate Mumcu to prevent Turkey from being ruled by a religious administration. The said document was signed by an official from the National Intelligence Organization (MİT). (TODAY'S ZAMAN, August 9, 2008)
Another Hawkish General to the Turkish Army's Command
After General Yasar Büyükanit, another hawkish general will take over as the chief of staff of Turkey’s armed forces, the army announced on Monday after a meeting of the Higher Military Council (YAS), chaired by Prime Minister Tayyip Erdogan. General Ilker Basbug, the current head of Turkey’s Land Forces, will replace General Yasar Buyukanit who at the age of 65 is retiring. The 63-year-old Basbug will serve for two years in the top military post.
Gendarmerie General Commander Gen. Isik Kosaner will replace Basbug, as the lands forces commander, while Gen. Atila Isik will command the gendarmerie forces.
Adm. Metin Atac, the Commander of Naval Forces, and Gen. Aydogan Babaoglu, the Commander of the Air Forces will continue to serve for one more year.
President Abdullah Gul approved Basbug’s nomination to the post.
Below are few informations extracted from earlier Info-Turk issues which give an idea about the new Army Chief's stand on some current questions of the country:
January 16, 2004
The Turkish military warned that establishing an ethnic-based federation in post-war Iraq would lead to bloodshed in the already turbulent country.
"We have to say that if a federation is established in Iraq, particularly a federation based on ethnic roots, the future of Iraq will be very difficult and very bloody," deputy chief of staff Ilker Basbug told reporters.
His remarks echoed an earlier warning by Ankara, which fears that the Iraqi Kurds, strong proponents of a federation, could expand their self-rule in northern Iraq, setting an example for their restive cousins in neighboring Turkey.
November 4, 2004
Deputy Chief of Staff Gen. Ilker Basbug said some important things about the EU Commission's recent report on Turkey, giving key clues into the TSK's stance on Ankara's EU aspirations.
'In the EU Commission's recommendation, the word 'minority' is used fully 69 times,' said Gen. Basbug, implying that the EU encourages separatist groups. 'Yes to individual cultural rights, but group rights aren't acceptable,' he added. Basbug called on European diplomats, who contend that Ankara misinterprets the provisions of the Treaty of Lausanne, to examine the deliberations leading to the pact. 'If you look at these, you can clearly see how Turkey defines minorities,' he remarked.
Basbug's second reservation is on the TSK's position within the state hierarchy. In his opinion, the reason why the TSK is affiliated with the Office of the Prime Minister instead of the Defense Ministry is Turkey's unique geopolitical location. 'Europe should understand why this is so; every country has its own specific regulations on security matters in line with its national interests,' he said.
His third reservation concerns the definition of the TSK's mission. Gen. Basbug underlined that most EU countries have provisions defining the mission of their armed forces as 'protecting the country against any and all threats.' 'Therefore, our armed forces will take necessary action if the nation feels threatened,' he added.
Another important issue for our generals is the latest developments in the Iraqi province of Kirkuk. 'Turkey favors diplomatic attempts to resolve Kirkuk's problems,' the general stated.
The last issue he underlined was that the TSK currently has no plans to either shorten the period of obligatory military service or introduce a paid military service system.
September 29, 2006
Land Forces Commander Gen. Ilker Basbug has once more emphasized that the Turkish Armed Forces (TSK) isn't like its counterparts in other countries.
Gen. Basbug said those who try to come to reach conclusions by comparing the TSK to armies of other countries are mistaken. "The TSK has always been and will always defend the nation-state, the country's unitary structure and secularism," said Basbug.
Referring to debates over a possible cease-fire by tthe PKK, Basbug said the security forces will continue its fight until the terrorist organization has been completely eradicated.
In a commentary he wrote for political magazine Barem, published in Konya, Gen. Basbug commented on Turkey's threat assessment and the measures to be taken against those threats.
Gen. Basbug said separatist terrorism and movements, fundamentalism and international terrorism are asymmetrical risks faced by Turkey. The main points in Gen. Basbug's commentary are:
"We live in a difficult region. Existing and possible asymmetrical and symmetrical threats require Turkey to have a strong armed forces. A deterrent force is vital to ensure peace," wrote Gen. Basbug.
"The unitary structure of the state is the guarantor of the preservation of the equality principle, and it's also the guarantee of not creating regionalism, racism or minorities. Secularism is the basis for the fundamental principles of the republic and constitutional order.
"Secularism, in a larger context, is accepting the supremacy of reason and science. Secularism is the cornerstone of all the values of the republic. It's natural that those who are not pleased with Turkey's unitary structure, with it being a secular and contemporary country, attack the nation-state structure of the country," said the Land Forces commander.
Arguing that there are both internal and external plots aiming to transform Turkey, Gen. Basbug said the people behind those projects see the TSK as their greatest obstacle.
"They argue that the TSK intervenes in politics and want the military to remain indifferent to attacks on the secular and unitary structure of the state," added Gen. Basbug.
"Those people are mistaken. People who compare the TSK to the armies of other countries know neither the history nor the facts of Turkish society. Some of those countries have never seen enemies' boots on their soil, and some are in regions which are strategically unimportant. The borders of some of those countries weren't drawn with the blood of people and soldiers," he also said.
The Land Forces commander also said the terrorist group is using freedoms given by democracy. "The separatist terrorist organization is based on ethnic nationalism. Their aim is to abolish the nation state and the unitary structure of the state. It shouldn't be forgotten that their next aim would be to divide the country," argued Gen. Basbug.
"A country is responsible for its security. However regional and international cooperation is vital in the fight against terrorism and the terrorist group. Otherwise that fight will continue longer than expected and claim more lives. All civil and state institutions with a role to play in this fight should have a common understanding of the terrorist group and terrorism," said Gen. Basbug, adding that winning the support of local people is also of vital importance.
September 26, 2007
General Ilker Basbug, commander of the Turkish Ground Forces, has said: "It is one matter to accept and respect the wish of some ethnic groups to learn their own languages in addition to Turkish; accepting education and teaching in these languages is a different matter altogether."
Speaking at the opening of the academic year for military schools, Basbug has thus added his voice to the debate on a civil constitution.
His comments strike one as hypocritical if one examines the website of the Turkish Armed Forces, which describes the military highschool syllabus:
"Military Highschools comprise four years, including a year of [language] preparatory classes and the education is mostly in a foreign language."
For instance, pupils in the first year of Maltepe Military Highschool have 14 hours of English a week. This drops to nine hours a week in second and third grade, and seven hours in twelfth grade. In the same school, Turkish Literature and Language classes are taught five hours a week in the first three grades and is incrased by one hour in the last grade.
According to the Turkish Armed Forces website, the aim of the education at military schools is "to educate officer candidates who can adapt to the social, cultural, technological and academic conditions of the Science Age, who have a developed awareness of the law, who respect human rights and freedoms, who know at least one, but preferably two foreign languages, and who have been educated in different branches of engineering."
This is not the first time the General Staff has interfered in this issue. In 2004, following a complaint by the army, the Ankara Governor's Office filed a suit to close the Trade Union for Education and Science Employers (Egitim-Sen) because it supported mothertongue education in its statute. The case was only closed when the trade union changed its statute.
Democratic Organizations: The Coup Makers Must Be Tried
Various organizations and political parties made a press release regarding the escalation of violence in Turkey. Among them were the Democratic Turkey Party (DTP), the Independent Revolutionary Class Platform (BDSP), People’s Culture Centers (HKM), the Freedom and Solidarity Party (ÖDP), the Labor Party (EMEP), Workers Movement Party (EHP), the Socialist Solidarity Platform (SODAP), the Socialist Democracy Party (SDP), the Socialist Party Initiative (SPG), Focus People Front and the Socialist Freedom Platform (TÖP).
The common demand of the press release, which was titled “Our Laborer and Oppressed Peoples Will Call To Account The Counter-Guerilla Rule”, is to take to the court the coup makers of the September 12.
Tuncay Yılmaz, a member of TÖP, read the press release.
Pointing out to the sixth wave of the recent arrests, Yılmaz emphasized how every time the intention was to eliminate all the gangs, but at the end some were always left behind, which multiplied later.
Reminding Susurluk accident, Çorum and Sivas massacres, and the September 12 military coup, Yılmaz said that they were trying to close these cases by arresting a few generals and not very important figures.
He also claimed that the Justice and Development Party (AKP) was interested in having its own counter-guerilla, adding that the latest incidents in Güngören and Kerkük were internal bloody score-setting between different counter-guerilla groups.
He concluded by saying that “Trying only Ergenekon is not enough, individuals like Tansu Çiller, Mehmet Ağar and Yaşar Büyükanıt should be tried, too.”
These organizations will gather in front of Galatasaray High School in Istanbul tomorrow (August 3) at 14:00.(BIA, Bawer Cakir, August 1st, 2008)
Affaires religieuses/Religious Affairs
Moda Residents Protest The Alcohol Ban
Residents of Moda district in Istanbul meet at the Moda Pier every Friday night at 21.00 with their alcoholic drinks to protest the ending of alcohol sales at their pier since the new management.
The residents who encountered the Riot Police on August 1 for their activity say that on August 15 they were banned from the street that goes to the Moda Pier on August 15 as well.
The manifesto of the Moda residents describes the development in following terms:
“The management in the Moda Pier changed in July. The Istanbul Metropolitan Municipality’s Bel-Tur A.Ş. started running the place. Since that time those who used to go to the place, the locals and the Kadiköy resident, have been facing an alcohol ban when they ask for beer, wine and rakı (the national drink of Turkey, similar to Ouzo) with their meals. They simply do not want to get used to this.”
“The new arrangement is used as ‘Trojan Horse’. This is the first step of the strategy against our district that was presented by the ruling party as one of the targets in the past local elections. This cannot be accepted; we are aware of it. We are also aware of that this mentality of imposition and bans that restricts the choices and divides our living spaces as the-others-and-us is translated into the ‘body symbolism’ of the ruling party.”
The demands of the Moda residents who condemn this prohibitory mentality are the following:
“We demand, against the revanchist mentality that takes advantage of its own people, the end of interference in our living spaces, in our free choices”
“We are decalaring to those who pretend that they are against uniform life but are in fact trying to impose their own way with the same mandating tone that “we renounce your guardianship, your patronage, your ‘doors’. Even if alcohol was a symbol, so what?” (allusion to Prime Minister’s statement that what would it matter if the headscarf was a symbol). (BIA, August 28, 2008)
Alevi Organizations Urge for Lifting Mandatory Religion Courses
More than hundred people, members of the Pir Sultan Abdal Culture Association (PSAKD) and the Alevi Bektashi Federation (ABF), demanded removal of the mandatory religion courses in schools by having a sit-in activity in Taksim Square of Istanbul. They called upon the government to implement the decisions of the European Human Rights Court (EHRC) and the State Council.
ABF President Ali Balkız, who read the press release, said, “Mandatory religion courses are a human rights violation. It is against the right to education and the freedom of religion and conscience.”
Balkız says that although there are the decisions of the EHRC and the State Council and hundreds of cases in the local courts, the government is still not taking any steps.
“Because of this, we had to take this to the European Council’s (EC) Committee of the Ministers. This is a committee that checks to see if the EHRC decisions are implemented or not. Both the government and we are waiting to see what the decision of the committee will be.”
The announcement in the ABF site says they can wait no more.
“This course, the official name of which is ‘Religion Culture and Knowledge of Ethics’, is the product of the September 12 Military Coup of 1980 and it prepared the way to the rule of the Justice and Development Party (AKP). The AKP is the result of the conditions created by this climate. The coup-makers should also be tried for this.”
The practical demands of the Alevi organizations are:
- The curriculum for the subject of ‘Religion Culture and Knowledge of Ethics’ should be rewritten, it should be contemporary and scientific, it should include the topics of the History of Religions, the Sociology of Religion and the Culture of Religion.
- Alevi belief should definitely must be taught and the preparation of this section should be left to the Alevi educators.
- At any rate, the course should be an elective.
Balkız says they will continue their activity every Sunday until the first day of the schools, until their demands are met.
Ali Abbas Coskun for the Youth Commission Hubyar Sultan Alevi Culture Association and Ceyhun Günal for the Illuminated Youth Assembly Initiative have made announcements supporting the sit-in activities.
The ERHC had stated in its November 2007 decision that the mandatory religion courses were a violation of “the right of education.”
In Hasan Zengin and his daughter Eylem’s application, the court had emphasized that the content of these courses were based on Islam’s sunni interpretation. Moreover, the court had claimed that keeping the non-muslim students exempt from these classes was not enough for “the freedom of belief.”
Minister of Education (MEB) Hüseyin Çelik had stated previously that this decision was about the old curriculum. Since Alevi belief was included in the new curriculum, according to the minister, this decision by the ERHC was inapplicable. (BIA, Erhan ÜSTÜNDAĞ, August 25, 2008)
The Trial for The Murder of Three Protestants in Malatya Restarted
Today was the 10th hearing of the case at Malatya’s 3rd High Criminal Court regarding the murder of the three Protestants, Necati Aydın, Uğur Yüksel and Tilman Ekkehart Geske, also the Zirve Publication workers, who were killed brutally for supposedly doing missionary work.
The five accused, Emre Günaydın, Salih Gürler, Cuma Özdemir, Hamit Çeker and Abuzer Yıldırım, were brought to the court under high security from the Malatya E Type Prison, where they have been for sixteen months.
In addition to the accused and their lawyers, an eight person lawyer team representing the Geske, Aydın and Yüksel families, among them Nalan Erkem, Erdal Doğan, Hafize Çobanoğlu and Murat Dinçer, were present at the court as well.
In the morning session of the hearing, the court heard Hüseyin Yelki as a witness and the defenses prepared against the “qualified plunder” charge of the additional indictment.
Up until today, the accused had denied all the charges, refused tying up and using knives against anyone, claiming that they had gone to the office of the Zirve Publications because they were afraid of Günaydın.
The five suspects tried to pass over the questions regarding the blood stains on their clothes with answers such as “I do not know” or “they got on them while passing.” The accused also denied the charge of “qualified plunder.”
In the afternoon session, the images that were recorded during the murder were watched. Realizing that one of the weapons did not fit the weapon boxes at the trunk of the Clio type car and the marks on the weapons did not give the impression that they were new, one of the joint lawyers Murat Dinçer demanded an investigation to confirm if the weapons in the images were the same weapons that were in custody.
The court decided to ask for experts about the guns from the list of the Justice Commission.
The court decided to write to the office of the prosecutor to determine the address of Varol Bülent Aral, with whom Emre Günaydın might have had a work relationship at a local newspaper.
Günaydın describes Aral as a person who saw a connection between the missionary work and the Kurdish Workers Party (PKK). In his statement that appeared in daily Star, Günaydın says, “We together went to some house in those days. This was a house of single men. We were alone. I saw a piece of paper on the table by the entrance that was titled PKK’s European Council Report. I said, brother, what is this? He told me that it was the report the PKK had presented to the European Council. Once again he told me that Christianity and the missionary work done in its name had the goal of destroying then the motherland. I asked him if someone should not stop this? He told me to then get up and stop this. I asked him how it could be done. He said they would provide us with the state support.”
Agreeing with the demand made by public prosecutors Ömer Tetik and ŞerefGürkan, head of the court judge Eray Gürtekin decided to ask from Istanbul’s 13th High Criminal Court for a copy of the Ergenekon indictment.
Aral’s name had been mentioned previously in the harassment and threat of one of the joint lawyers Orhan Kemal Cengiz. After the threats, the authorities had provided lawyer Cengiz with protection in Ankara and in Malatya on his trial dates.
The court decided to send invitations, one more time, to Angus William Reid, Abdullah Mahmut Kudaş and Mehmet Uludağ to bring them to the trial as witnesses.
The court also granted to the joint lawyers until the next hearing day, September 12, to present to the court the list of the witnesses and the subjects about which they will be talking. The court will consider the demand to see the stuff in custody in the next hearing. (BIA, Erol ÖNDEROĞLU, August 21, 2008)
Socio-économique / Socio-economic
Demolitions Continue In The “Gypsy” Neighborhood Of Istanbul
There was demolition in the Sulukule district of Istanbul today. Sulukule is where Roma People (who are commonly known as Gypsies, but some Roma consider the term pejorative) have been in Istanbul for centuries. The Fatih municipality in İstanbul has been trying to remove them as part of its Urban Transformation Project. Today it was the turn of the Neslişah and Hatice Sultan neighborhoods; the demolition in these neighborhoods lasted until the evening.
Viki Ciprut from the Sulukule Platform says that the demolition done without any notices and necessary precautions cause much damage.
“Demolishing a five-story building resulted in the collapse of the building next to it. Those who used to live there have no idea what they are going to do.”
Ciprut says that the municipality stops the work of demolishing when the media comes, and they resume it after they leave.
Neşe Ozan from the Sulukule Platform says they demolished ten buildings in three streets.
“Kuruçınar Street is covered with rubble. The electricity and telephones are gone. They did their work without taking any precautions, when there were people and children around. If an emergency comes up, we are unable to call for an ambulance.”
In spite of the June 11, 2008, report of the Human Rights Committee of the Governorship that utilities, water, food and health services need to be given to the area, nobody sends any aid to the area, says Ciprut.
“What we experienced here today shows that they did not take into consideration the report at all.” (BIA, Ceyda Ulukaya, Auguqst 28, 2008)
Invisible Problem Of Sexual Harassment On The Streets
Zozan Özgökçe from Van Women’s Association (VAKAD) tells the story of how she was verbally abused while leaving her house in the morning by the men working at the construction site across the street. She says when she looked around to identify those responsible, she saw three men laughing at her mockingly. So, she went to the police station to file a complaint.
At first, the officers in the station told him that they would take care of it by warning them, but when she insisted that the problem should be solved, they asked her if she was complaining. Following her acknowledgment, they all went to the construction site, Özgökçe identified the men who harassed her and the police brought the suspects to the station.
“They were smiling”
Özgökçe says they were still smiling at the police station, as if proud of what they had done. A little while later, the police asked Özgökçe if she would like to come to a mutual understanding with the perpetrators. Naturally, Özgökçe’s reply was a simple no.
“The kids made a mistake, forgive them”
Özgökçe did not know which one of them was the person who had actually done the harassing.
“The people at the construction site know, but they protect each other.”
Meanwhile, she also mentions how the people who run the construction site told him that the kids had made a mistake and she should have forgiven them.
“They pretend that there is no harassment on the street”
Özgökçe says there is much sexual harassment out on the streets, but it is invisible, most of the people pretend that it does not take place, because most women do not file complaints.
“They teach us women one thing: ‘Do not talk back when you are harassed.’ This is actually telling women not to answer back whatever the men may do.”
“The women should complain so that the problem will become visible”
“But the women should complain about the sexual harassment on the streets. They should be persistent. So that the authorities will see that this is a problem and they will act.” Özgökçe is now waiting for the investigation of the prosecutor. (BIA, Tolga KORKUT, August 28, 2008)
Explosions dans une fabrique de poudre en Turquie: trois morts
Deux violentes explosions se sont produites vendredi dans une usine de fabrication de poudre du centre de la Turquie, faisant trois morts et 26 blessés graves, a annoncé le ministre de la Défense Vecdi Gonul cité par l'agence de presse Anatolie.
Une première explosion a été suivie par une seconde beaucoup plus puissante dans une partie de l'usine, dans laquelle étaient stockées 2,5 tonnes de poudre, a déclaré M. Gonul en précisant qu'il n'y avait pas d'ouvriers dans l'usine au moment des explosions.
Les déflagrations, qui ont provoqué un incendie et soufflé les vitres des immeubles avoisinants, se sont produites vers 14H50 heure locale (11H50 GMT) dans un atelier de séchage de l'usine, dans la banlieue de Kirikkale, à environ 70 km à l'est d'Ankara, selon l'agence.
Deux des victimes sont le propriétaire d'une société de peinture, qui devait repeindre le bâtiment, et l'un de ses ouvriers, a ajouté le ministre.
Selon Anatolie, les pompiers sont parvenus à maîtriser l'incendie causé par les explosions qui ont provoqué la panique parmi les résidents du quartier.
Trois autres usines fabriquant de l'armement lourd, des pistolets et des munitions se trouvent à Kirikkale.
Un incendie dans l'usine de munitions en 1997 avait duré plusieurs jours et conduit à l'évacuation d'une partie de la ville. (AFP, 29 août 2008)
L'or noir en mer Noire : un nouveau Grand Jeu ?
La région de la mer Noire est la deuxième au monde pour sa richesse en hydrocarbures, après le Golfe. Constituant une véritable « route de la soie du XXIe siècle », plusieurs gazoducs et oléoducs traversent cette zone pour approvisionner l'Europe. Leur tracé fait l'enjeu d'une bataille entre Etats-Unis et Russie, dans laquelle l'UE est restée jusqu'à maintenant relativement à l'écart.
Etat des lieux
« L'importance stratégique de la mer Noire, lieu de passage du gaz et du pétrole de la mer Caspienne et moyen d'accès à la Méditerranée par les détroits du Bosphore et des Dardanelles, n'est plus à démontrer. Elle explique les convoitises dont cette zone est l'objet depuis longtemps », écrit Thomas Ferenczi.
La mer Noire est en effet un point de passage devenu incontournable sur la route des évacuations des hydrocarbures caspiens entre Russie et Turquie, entre Europe et Caucase.
L'essentiel des hydrocarbures qui transitent par la mer Noire proviennent ainsi de la Russie (Sibérie orientale, Volga, Oural) et de la mer Caspienne, dont les réserves de pétrole pourraient atteindre 3 milliards de tonnes, et celles de gaz, 6000 milliards m3 par jour selon certaines estimations. La Caspienne étant une mer enclavée, la mer Noire fait office d'une voie de sortie idéale pour exporter les ressources kazakhes, turkmènes et surtout azéries, jusqu'à acheminer près de 2,4 millions de barils/jour en 2015 selon certaines estimations. Et la gourmandise des pays de transit riverains (Géorgie, Russie, Turquie) devant une source de revenus juteuse ne fait que s'accroître. Ces pays sont en train de vivre une transformation économique importante avec le développement considérable des échanges de pétrole et de gaz soutenu à la fois par l'UE et les Etats-Unis.
Car le gaz et le pétrole caspiens sont aussi un instrument politique, tant du côté de Moscou qui cherche à conserver le monopole d'influence qu'elle avait dans cette région depuis le XIXe siècle que pour les Occidentaux qui contestent ce monopole et voudraient intégrer ce nouveau sud, si proche du « grand Moyen-Orient » que les Etats-Unis tentent de recomposer.
Les nerfs de la guerre d'influence que se livrent, pour l'essentiel, Russes et Américains, sont les oléoducs. Il existe des dizaines de projets de pipelines, complémentaires et/ou concurrents, tous destinés à acheminer les produits pétroliers vers les principaux pays consommateurs d'Europe ou d'Asie. La route traditionnelle de l'époque soviétique « Nord-Sud », qui partait de la Caspienne pour aller vers la mer Noire, puis vers la Russie centrale, se voit opposer aujourd'hui une route « Est-Ouest » qui passerait tout entière par le Caucase, à destination des marchés occidentaux via la mer Noire. Deux conceptions s'affrontent radicalement. La variante russe traduit l'aspiration à conserver le contrôle de l'évacuation des hydrocarbures de la Caspienne et d'Asie centrale, afin de ne pas perdre d'influence dans une zone stratégique pour ses intérêts et qu'elle contrôlait jusqu'en 1991. La préférence occidentale, elle, vise à mettre hors jeu la Russie en promouvant une nouvelle route du pétrole qui passerait par les pays pro-occidentaux, comme la Turquie, ou devenus hostiles à la Russie, comme l'Azerbaïdjan et la Géorgie.
Cette bataille des oléoducs a au moins le mérite de contribuer à désenclaver le Caucase. Ce dernier se retrouve coincé entre une Russie offensive dans sa volonté de reprendre le contrôle de la région, et un Occident désireux d'empêcher tout retour des Russes dans une zone stratégique majeure, carrefour entre la Turquie, le Proche-Orient et l'Asie centrale. L'axe Etats-Unis/Géorgie/Turquie/Azerbaidjan s'oppose à celui qui rapproche Russie et Iran.
Les grands gagnants de cette bataille sont les pays exportateurs, qui ont désormais le choix entre plusieurs offres de transit, qui tentent de les attirer par des prix plus avantageux : par le Nord et les réseaux russes, ou par le Sud, la Géorgie et la Turquie. Un autre critère de choix est le fait que la Russie favorise le mélange entre des pétroles de différentes origines afin d'utiliser au mieux la capacité de son système d'évacuation.
Pipelines « russes »
* Le Bakou-Groznyi-Novorossisk
L'un des plus anciens oléoducs de la région ; il transporte près de 2 millions T par an de pétrole azéri, et contourne la Tchétchénie depuis 1999. Moscou veut le promouvoir auprès des acteurs pétroliers locaux, bien que la situation locale ne soit pas des plus stables.
* South Stream
South Stream est un projet de gazoduc russo-italien de 900 km qui devrait transporter jusqu'à 30 milliards de m3 de gaz caucasien sous la mer Noire vers la Bulgarie, où il se divisera en 2 branches : l'une allant vers l'Autriche et l'autre vers la Grèce puis vers Otrante (Italie du sud). Il devrait entrer en exploitation en 2013. Le co-développement de ce projet par l'Italie prouve une fois encore que les Européens ne parlent toujours pas d'une seule voix face à Moscou sur l'énergie. Le groupe gazier russe Gazprom négocie par ailleurs avec le gouvernement grec sur une possible participation de la Grèce au projet.
South Stream reliera ainsi la Russie à l'Europe via la mer Noire. «Il répond à nos intérêts économiques nationaux et à ceux de nos partenaires », selon V. Poutine.
* Blue Stream
Le gazoduc Blue stream, long de 1270 km, traverse la mer Noire et livre la Turquie à Ceyhan en gaz russe (4 milliards m3/an). Il a été officiellement inauguré en novembre 2005 par MM. Poutine, Berlusconi et Erdogan, trois ans après sa mise en fonction. A l'heure actuelle, il est le seul à être opérationnel. Sa prolongation vers l'Italie, la Grèce et Israël est en cours d'étude, ce qui donnerait à la Turquie un rôle de « pont énergétique entre l'Orient et l'Occident », et serait une ébauche d'élaboration d'un espace énergétique en Europe du Sud est sous domination russo-turque.
Le Président russe devrait par ailleurs finaliser l'accord de la construction d'un oléoduc, long de 280 km et reliant le port de Bourgas, en Bulgarie, à celui d'Alexandroupolis, en Grèce, afin d'acheminer le pétrole de la Caspienne vers l'Europe de l'Ouest en contournant les détroits turcs saturés. L'oléoduc permettra à la Russie de conserver le contrôle de l'acheminement d'une partie du brut de la Caspienne. Le brut sera transporté depuis les ports de la mer Noire jusqu'aux marchés de l'Europe, des Etats-Unis et de la région Asie-Pacifique via la Bulgarie et la Grèce. La conduite aura 280 km de long, son débit annuel sera de 35 millions de tonnes et pourra être porté à 50 millions de tonnes. Le coût du projet est évalué à environ 783 millions d'euros.
* Le CPC (Caspian Pipeline Consortium)
Conçu par les Russes, il permet d'évacuer le pétrole du champ de Tenguiz du Kazakhstan (pourtant exploité par une compagnie américaine) vers Novorossisk, avec une capacité de 60 millions T/an (1,34 millions de barils en 2015). Le Kazakhstan n'est pas enthousiaste de ce projet, qui renforcerait sa dépendance vis-à-vis de la voie d'évacuation russe. La capacité de transport du CPC est supérieure aux capacités combinées actuelles des différents terminaux pétroliers de la mer Noire.
Pipelines « américains »
* « Bakou Soupsa »
Conçu comme une alternative au Bakou-Groznyi-Novorossisk, il pouvait acheminer jusqu'à 145 000 barils par jour, mais il a perdu de son influence compte tenu du fait que la poursuite de la route du pétrole passait par voie maritime à travers les détroits surchargés du Bosphore et des Dardanelles.
L'oléoduc Bakou-Tiblissi-Ceyhan, long de 1760 km, assure depuis 2005 l'exportation du pétrole de la Caspienne vers la Turquie sans passer par la Russie (1 million de barils/jour). Le BTC traverse l'une des régions les plus explosives et les plus fragiles d'un point de vue environnemental du pourtour de la mer Noire, le Sud caucase, mais a l'avantage de déboucher directement en Méditerrannée, ce qui limite la circulation de tankers sur la mer Noire. Sa construction a longtemps été retardée par son coût : 3 milliards de dollars. Le tracé du BTC répond davantage à des préoccupations stratégiques qu'à des logiques géographiques ou économiques. La Turquie, l'Azerbaïdjan et la Géorgie ont, dès 1999, déclaré leur enthousiasme pour un tel projet, perçu comme le fondement d'une nouvelle alliance régionale. La Turquie y trouve par ailleurs un moyen de rester une porte de sortie privilégiée de la Caspienne vers la Méditerranée, tout en évitant le transit par le Bosphore et l'évacuation de ce pétrole via les voies russes. Les Etats-Unis, qui cherchent à renforcer le poids de la Turquie dans la région, au détriment de la Russie et de l'Iran, soutiennent activement ce projet. Un gazoduc Bakou-Erzerum (Turquie) a également été construit sur le même trajet.
Le gazoduc Nabucco relie l'énorme champ de Shah Deniz, en Azerbaïdjan, à la Hongrie, en passant par la Géorgie, la Turquie, la Bulgarie et la Roumanie, en évitant la Russie. En juin 2006, les Européens approuvent le projet, en concurrence directe avec la société russe Gazprom. Nabucco, qui doit permettre d'ici 2012-2013 d'approvisionner les Européens en gaz de la mer Caspienne sans passer par la Russie, est au cœur de la stratégie européenne de diversification.
Le projet a connu des difficultés d'avancement, étant donné le manque de garantie sur le fait qu'il y aura assez de gaz pour l'alimenter. Le Turkménistan aurait toutefois promis à l'UE de lui livrer 10 milliards de m3 de gaz dès 2009 pour alimenter Nabucco. De plus, les réserves de Shah Deni seraient également plus élevées que prévu.
La société russe Gazprom aimerait neutraliser cette concurrence potentielle en obtenant que le gazoduc Blue Stream, reliant la Russie à la Turquie sous la mer Noire, soit à terme branché sur Nabucco. Ce projet, qui permettrait d'assurer l'alimentation de ce dernier, renierait sa raison d'être initiale : contourner la Russie. Le choix des Européens aura d'importantes répercussions. Le financement de Nabucco, de l'ordre de 4 milliards d'euros, dépend des compagnies pétrolières, et il n'est pas assuré à ce stade.
En juin 2007, la Géorgie, l'Ukraine, l'Azerbaïdjan et la Moldavie se sont réunies à Bakou pour discuter du projet de livraison de pétrole d'Azerbaïdjan via la Géorgie par la mer Noire vers un oléoduc ukrainien Odessa-Brody, qui passe près de la frontière polonaise.
Le commissaire chargé de l'énergie, Andris Piebalgs, a signé lors d'un forum sur l'énergie une déclaration ministérielle portant sur les prochaines étapes de construction d'un oléoduc qui acheminera directement du pétrole de la mer Noire aux marchés d'Europe centrale. Du point de vue environnemental, « l'oléoduc paneuropéen permettrait de réduire considérablement les risques d'accidents graves dans le Bosphore, en mer Noire, en mer Egée et en Adriatique », note la Commission. Le nouvel oléduc a pour but de relier le port roumain de Constanta, sur la mer Noire, au réseau pétrolier de Trieste en Italie, lui-même relié aux pipelines en direction de l'Autriche, de l'Allemagne et de la République tchèque.
Cette surenchère des voies d'évacuation a contribué à la forte croissance des ports de la mer Noire : le terminal pétrolier de Novorossisk peut désormais accueillir plus de 800 000 barils/jour, celui de Batoumi, en Géorgie, 136 000 barils/jour. Ce développement spectaculaire a largement bénéficié aux pays riverains, qui ont pu y puiser un dynamisme économique à même de leur faire passer le cap d'une transition post-soviétique difficile. Toutefois, l'impact environnemental de plus en plus négatif pour l'écosystème de la mer Noire de cette augmentation du trafic lié aux hydrocarbures pourrait désormais davantage bénéficier aux ports de la Méditerranée comme Ceyhan qu'à ceux de la mer Noire. Cette dernière est en tout cas devenue une véritable plateforme d'échanges entre l'Asie centrale, la Russie et l'Europe.
Le coût environnemental du transport des hydrocarbures en mer Noire
La surexploitation de cette voie de transit se fait au détriment d'impacts environnementaux très lourds.
Les 3000 tonnes de fioul échappées du pétrolier Volgoneft-139 après son naufrage le 11 novembre 2007 en mer Noire ont provoqué la mort de près de 15 000 oiseaux et causé des dégâts à l'environnement qui auraient atteint près de 170 millions d'euros. Naufrage qui met en évidence les dysfonctionnements de la route du pétrole en Europe.
Le transport par voie maritime des hydrocarbures pose également problème. La plupart des routes d'exportation du pétrole de la Caspienne passent par la mer Noire et le détroit turc du Bosphore, vers la Méditerranée. Depuis la chute de l'URSS, les exportations de pétrole transitant par la mer Noire ne cessent d'augmenter, alors que le trafic via le Bosphore approche de son seuil critique (143 millions de T transportées en 2005, 28 navires par jour). Avec les nouvelles capacités apportées par le CPC, les volumes venant de la Caspienne pourraient bientôt excéder les capacités de transit du Bosphore. L'inquiétude de la Turquie est vive, ce sur-trafic posant des problèmes de sécurité et de menace pour l'environnement. Le pays a pris des mesures en novembre 1998 pour limiter le trafic, en menaçant par exemple de multiplier par cinq les tarifs de transit. Il a également installé de nouveaux systèmes de radars et de navigation, et a interdit le passage de navires sans double coque et des supertankers de plus de 150 000 tonnes. Cette décision va dans l'intérêt de préserver la mer Noire, dotée d'un écosystème particulièrement fragile, de même que la très touristique mer Egée. D'où la nécessité, différemment prise en compte par les Etats riverains, de développer les voies alternatives de transit.
Le positionnement de la Russie
Pour reprendre du terrain sur l'enjeu de l'approvisionnement énergétique de l'UE, la Russie négocie avec l'Algérie, la Libye et le Nigeria, pour des projets gaziers tournés vers les marchés européens. Par ailleurs, Vladimir Poutine a récemment rappelé son désir de coordonner les stratégies des Etats riverains de la mer Noire en matière énergétique et de les rapprocher en bâtissant un véritable réseau en la matière.
La Russie n'hésite également pas à recourir à l'« arme énergétique » envers des pays de transit rebelles à son influence. L'Ukraine et plus récemment, la Géorgie, ont ainsi fait les frais d'une véritable « guerre du gaz », Gazprom les menaçant à plusieurs reprises de relever son tarif d'exportation de gaz (230 dollars pour 1000 m3 contre 50 dollars auparavant pour l'Ukraine), voire de suspendre l'approvisionnement, au grand dam de l'UE.
Le positionnement des Etats-Unis
Les Etats-Unis ont mis tout leur poids dans la balance, depuis le milieu des années 1990, pour faire de la mer Noire une zone importante d'évacuation des hydrocarbures d'Asie centrale, contournant la Russie. L'oléoduc BTC et le gazoduc entre Bakou et Erzerum (Turquie) résultent de cette politique. Les Etats-Unis ont ainsi fait de pays comme la Géorgie et l'Ukraine, en plein balbutiement démocratique, des pierres angulaires de leur stratégie dans la région.
Par ailleurs, ils s'investissent dans la mise en valeur des ressources ukrainiennes en hydrocarbures localisées en mer Noire. En effet, face aux démonstrations de force de Gazprom, l'Ukraine cherche à exploiter les champs de pétrole (3 millions de tonnes) et de gaz (4 milliards de m3), qui suffiraient à couvrir ses besoins. C'est de la mise en valeur de cette zone que s'occupe la firme Vanco Energy. Elle a obtenu une licence pour l'exploration et la mise en valeur industrielle de la zone de Kertch pour une durée de 30 ans et ont promis d'y investir 20 milliards de dollars. Les experts sont d'avis que les projets semblables à la mise en valeur de la zone de Kertch seront à l'avenir activement soutenus pas les autorités américaines.
Une dépendance croissante de l'Europe envers les hydrocarbures russes et caspiens ...
Des projections actuelles indiquent que les Européens n'échapperont pas d'ici 2030 à une augmentation de leur dépendance envers le gaz russe. L'Union européenne importe plus de 40% de sa consommation de gaz naturel et près de la moitié (46%) de cette quantité provient de Russie. Selon des études récentes, plus de la moitié des importations énergétiques de l'Union passeront par la mer Noire dans les années à venir.
Or les Européens, malgré tous leurs efforts depuis 18 mois pour se rapprocher d'autres pays producteurs, ont bien du mal à réduire leur dépendance énergétique envers une Russie qui ne cesse de leur couper l'herbe sous le pied.
... explique l'intérêt grandissant de l'UE pour la mer Noire
L'énergie, en l'absence de politique commune dans ce domaine, est l'un des tests majeurs de la capacité de l'Union à sécuriser ses liens avec la Russie en la dissuadant d'utiliser ses ressources énergétiques comme d'une arme pour s'imposer en tant que super-puissance. Avec la flambée des prix des hydrocarbures, les conflits gaziers à répétition entre la Russie et l'Ukraine, principal pays de transit actuellement, et le refus de la Russie de signer la Charte européenne sur l'énergie, l'Union européenne a fait de la réduction de sa dépendance envers le gaz et le pétrole russes une obsession de sa politique étrangère. L'Europe cherche ainsi à s'assurer des approvisionnements ne provenant pas de la Russie, et essaie de nouer depuis 2003 des contacts avec de nombreux grands pays producteurs, notamment l'Irak, l'Azerbaïdjan, le Kazakhstan, la Libye, l'Algérie... Par ailleurs, l'UE s'efforce de diversifier les routes d'approvisionnement, en soutenant les projets de construction de pipelines qui ne passent pas par la Russie (BTC).
Le problème de l'UE sur ce dossier vient en partie des divergences entre Etats membres sur l'orientation à donner à cette question énergétique, certains choisissant un partenariat renforcé avec la Russie, d'autres l'inverse, faute d'une réelle politique énergétique commune. Ainsi, avant que la politique étrangère européenne ne s'affirme dans le domaine énergétique, la route est longue et elle passera nécessairement par la mer Noire. C'est cette prise de conscience qui pousse depuis quelques années l'UE à s'impliquer davantage dans la stabilisation économique et politique des Etats fragiles de la mer Noire, qui est devenue, depuis 2007, une composante de ses nouvelles frontières.
L'UE avance ainsi laborieusement ses pions face à Moscou et Gazprom, qui jouent une partie subtile, utilisant leur puissance financière pour attaquer en divers points de l'échiquier. Face aux enjeux qui se profilent, les Européens déploient relativement peu de moyens et peinent à formuler une vision stratégique claire qui regarderait au-delà de l'élargissement qui vient d'avoir lieu.
Une implication encore limitée et confuse
Les récentes initiatives destinées aux voisins orientaux de l'UE comme la stratégie européenne pour l'Asie centrale et l'initiative « PEV + » semblent toutefois montrer la construction d'une réponse à des inquiétudes croissantes au sujet de la sécurité des approvisionnements énergétiques et de la fiabilité de la Russie en tant que partenaire énergétique. L'UE ne veut pas voir la mer Noire, avec laquelle elle entretient déjà divers liens bilatéraux de coopération, passer sous domination russe. Le Commissaire pour les relations extérieures, Benita Ferrero-Waldner, a clairement indiqué que la coopération énergétique se trouverait au cœur du nouveau positionnement de l'UE dans la région, présenté dans la note « synergie mer Noire », datée de 2007. Un des principaux objectifs de la stratégie pour la mer Noire est de développer la coopération entre l'UE et les pays de la région sur les questions énergétiques : « La région de la Mer Noire est d'une importance stratégique pour la sécurité énergétique de l'Union », dit la communication. Il est donc nécessaire de mieux coordonner les relations, jusqu'ici surtout bilatérales, entre l'UE et la dizaine de pays concernés : la Roumanie, la Bulgarie la Grèce, la Turquie, la Russie, l'Ukraine, la Géorgie, l'Arménie, l'Azerbaïdjan et la Moldavie.
Pour renforcer son engagement dans la région, la Commission entend développer ses contacts avec des organisations régionales, comme le groupe de «Coopération économique de la mer Noire» (BSEC, Black Sea Economic Cooperation), dont elle est membre observateur, ou le Forum de la Mer Noire (BS Forum).
La Synergie avec la mer Noire sera centrée sur les secteurs de coopération où la présence de l'UE est déjà significative, comme l'énergie, les transports et l'environnement. Toutefois, l'impact de ce programme est freiné par la profusion ou les contradictions entre ses politiques thématiques (énergie, environnement, transports...), ses programmes d'aide (TRACECA, PHARE...), et surtout la diversité de statut des pays de la mer Noire : membres de l'UE, candidats, membres de la PEV, ou simples partenaires. (www.nouvelle-europe.eu - Marine Michault, 4 mai 2008)
Workers Used Instead Of Sandbags To Test Lifeboats
A lifeboat with workers fell into the sea in Tuzla shipyard, three died and thirteen injured according to the initial reports.
The sixteen workers were in the lifeboat to help test it, instead of sand bags or any other means.
Emrah Varol, Ramazan Aygün and Ramazan Çetinkaya were killed in the lifeboat test.
According to Kamber Saygılı from the The Port, Shipyard, Ship Construction and Repair Workers Trade Union (Limter-İş), who was interviewed by bianet:
“They were testing a newly produced lifeboat, but they had sixteen workers in the lifeboat instead of sandbags. In the process the lifeboat turns over and falls into the sea.”
“Death of the workers is not a coincidence, but their still being alive is.”
Saygılı continues about the accident:
“Here the employers attitude is ‘I am the state, I rule, I am everything’. Therefore, workers die in the dockyards that are in the middle of one of the largest cities in the world and the state just watches this. The employer gets his strength from the government. This is why they are so reckless.”
“On the other hand, they force the families of those workers who die shut their mouths by paying them. So far, there has not been a single employer punished for these deaths. Should we say it is a coincidence if a few of our friends die in a blast next week? None of the deaths in Tuzla shipyards is coincidence, staying alive in these shipyards is coincidence.”
Saygılı says the new regulations do not help, since it is difficult to enforce the regulations where not even the laws are enforced. He repeats his call to form an independent commission, although the Prime Minister does not even consider LİMTER-İş as one of the sides of the problem.
In Tuzla shipyards eighteen workers have died in eight months. Overall 104 workers have died in Turkish shipyards. (BIA, Bawer Cakir, August 12, 2008)
Turkish business interests at stake in Russia-Georgia war
Fearful of sustaining damage in the war, Turkish trucks avoid passing to the other side of the Sarp gate, located at Turkey’s border with Georgia. Turkish business circles are becoming increasingly alarmed by the ongoing conflict between Russia and Georgia, both of which have important trade relations with Turkey.
More than 100 Turkish companies are operating in Georgia, with investments amounting to $600 million.
On the other hand, Russia, being Turkey’s foremost trading partner with a trade volume of $28 billion, is home to many leading Turkish companies, which have invested $6 billion in the area. Many analysts caution that Turkey needs to take a very balanced approach to protect its interests in both countries. Turkish Airlines (THY) flights, cargo transportation and oil flow through the Baku-Tbilisi-Ceyhan (BTC) pipeline all stopped yesterday.
Long lines of semis waited on the Turkish side of the Turkish-Georgian border, awaiting news that the fighting was over and that it was safe to transit Georgia.
At risk are gas and oil pipelines traversing Georgia and Turkey, with the infrastructure of which Turkey hopes to become an energy hub for Europe. Turkey fears the instability might deter potential investors from sponsoring pipelines. Georgia's importance as a transit state will increase if Western companies invest in Turkmenistan's gas fields and look for an export route across the Caspian Sea by bypassing Russia.
The BTC oil pipeline, led by BP, opened in 2006 and can pump up to 1 million barrels a day of Azerbaijani crude oil to the Turkish port of Ceyhan. The BTC, last week, was allegedly targeted by the terrorist Kurdistan Workers' Party (PKK), and nearly 70,000 tons of oil burned. Russian officials said yesterday they do not intend to damage the BTC pipeline crossing Georgia. Russian Ambassador to Azerbaijan Vasili Istratov said at a press conference that Russia knows the strategic importance of the pipeline for neighboring countries and that it wanted to protect the pipeline.
The Baku-Tbilisi-Erzurum gas pipeline takes gas from the Shah Deniz gas field in the Caspian Sea to Erzurum in Turkey. The pipeline, jointly operated by BP and Statoil, began exports to Turkey in 2007.
Following various disagreements with Russia, Turkey has looked to diversify its import sources and has ambitions to be an energy hub rather than a transit nation for Russia. State-owned Turkish Pipeline Corporation (BOTAŞ) is part of a consortium led by Austria's OMV to build the Nabucco pipeline, which would transport gas from the Caspian in Central Asia, reducing dependence on Russia.
The Blue Stream natural gas pipeline connects the Russian system to Turkey. Russia, together with Italian oil company Eni, has a project to extend Blue Stream to southern Europe through Turkey, which has also started construction work on the Baku-Tbilisi-Kars (BTK) railway project to connect transit routes from East to West.
According to Levent Metinoğlu, deputy director of the TÜYAP Exhibition Group, the amount of trade between Georgia and Turkey was about $945 million last year. Speaking to Today's Zaman, Metinoğlu said that there indeed was a huge development in trade relations between Georgia and Turkey and that it had peaked during Georgian President Mikhail Saakashvili's tenure. "Georgia is also important since it is a gateway for Turkey to Azerbaijan and the Central Asian countries, so that our investments play a crucial role there," he said.
Metinoğlu noted that the recent crisis between Georgia and Russia will not significantly affect Turkish economic relations in Georgia. "I don't think that the war in Georgia will push Turkish companies to close their businesses there. Businesses are concerned about the domestic politics of Georgia. I don't think Turkish companies will be affected by the war as it is primarily limited to South Ossetia," he said. "I don't think any bad scenarios could be drawn from this situation. Turkish companies will continue to operate in Georgia as before," he added.
Turkish-Georgian Business Council Chairman Tuğrul Erkin says, "Turkey needs Georgia as a gateway to open up to Asian markets, and Turkey also plays an important role as Georgia's window to Europe." Speaking to Today's Zaman, Erkin pointed out that every day 500 trucks cross the border heading into Georgia. "We have significant investments in Georgia -- the large airports in Batumi and Tbilisi being two of them."
Erkin said the conflict might greatly damage economic relations. "Trade, investment and business require a stable and secure environment. Now, thousands of trucks are waiting at the Sarp border gate to cross into Georgia. Flights to Batumi and Tbilisi have been suspended. Turks in Georgia are returning to Turkey," he said.
Erkin is also cautious about Russia. "Turkish-Russian relations should be kept friendly," he says. "The trade volume between Turkey and Russia is expected to reach $38 billion this year. Any kind of indication showing Turkey favors Georgia may easily harm Turkish-Russian relations," he warned. He suggested that Turkey remain neutral in this conflict. "If Turkey wants to help Georgia, this can be done by providing humanitarian aid to Abkhazia and South Ossetia; otherwise, Russian-Turkish relations could suffer significantly," he added.
Giorgi Chelidze, the general secretary of the Georgian Embassy in Ankara, tried to play down the damage the conflict could inflict on trade relations between Turkey and Georgia. Speaking to Today's Zaman via phone, he said, "This will not negatively affect Turkish businesses in Georgia." He went on to say: "Because our president is an optimist, he has suggested a cease-fire agreement to Russia. He wants to end this conflict as soon as possible. Not many things have changed, and the conflict is going to end soon, I think." (Zaman, Mahir Zeynalov, 12 August 2008)
300 passagers bloqués à l'aéroport en Turquie
Quelque 300 passagers, dont plusieurs belges, sont bloqués lundi à l'aéroport d'Antalya, en Turquie. Ils étaient censés rentrer à Bruxelles dans la nuit de dimanche à lundi avec la compagnie turque Corendon, mais leur vol a été annulé en raison d'un problème technique de l'avion.
Guy De Wilde fait partie de ces passagers. "Notre contrat de voyage stipule que nous devions quitter la Turquie lundi à 15h30 locales pour rentrer en Belgique. Dimanche soir, une note nous attendait dans notre chambre d'hôtel nous avertissant que nous devions déjà partir dans la nuit de dimanche à lundi à 3h30. Arrivés à l'aéroport, nous avons appris que l'avion avait un problème technique et que nous ne pouvions décoller. Le vol de 15h30 est également annulé", explique-t-il.
D'après leurs propres dires, les passagers n'auraient quasi pas été informés de la situation. "Nous ne pouvions joindre personne de Corendon en Turquie et la prise en charge à l'aéroport laisse à désirer. Après de multiples demandes, nous avons enfin reçu une tasse de café et un petit pain. Nous ignorons combien de temps nous resterons ici", poursuit-il.
Personne n'était joignable lundi matin chez Corendon Belgique pour commenter l'information. Il y a trois semaines, 300 passagers étaient déjà bloqués à Brussels Airport en raison d'une panne de moteur d'un charter Corendon. (belga/7sur7, 11 août 2008)
L'incendie de forêts dans la zone d'Antalya maîtrisé après six jours
L'incendie qui a ravagé environ 5.000 hectares de forêts à proximité d'Antalya, l'une des principales destinations touristiques du sud de la Turquie, a été totalement maîtrisé au bout de six jours, a déclaré mardi Osman Kahveci, le chef de la direction des forêts.
Les pompiers sont arrivés à bout de l'incendie qui a ravagé près de 5.000 hectares de terrain boisé, a-t-il dit à Antalya lors d'une conférence de presse retransmise par les chaînes de télévision.
Plus de 2.500 personnes, dont de nombreux villageois et soldats, ont travaillé "jour et nuit" pour éteindre les flammes sur un front de 160 km et ont été soutenus par une quinzaine d'avions citernes et d'hélicoptères, a souligné le responsable.
Le terrain brûlé est un espace reboisé dans son ensemble après un précédent incendie, a-t-il ajouté.
Le Premier ministre Recep Tayyip Erdogan devait se rendre mardi après-midi dans la province sinistrée. Dotée de stations balnéaires de luxe et abritant des sites archéologiques célèbres, la province d'Antalya située sur le littoral méditerranéen attire chaque année quelque 7 millions de touristes, notamment pendant la période estivale.
L'incendie, qui a fait deux morts a surtout affecté une zone située entre les petites villes de Serik et Manavgat. Il a commencé jeudi et a échappé à tout contrôle le lendemain, attisé par des vents pouvant atteindre jusqu'à 70 km/h.
Selon les autorités, il a probablement été déclenché par une rupture de lignes à haute tension sous l'effet du vent.
L'incendie a laissé des dizaines de sans-abri et tué deux habitants du village de Karatas où une soixantaine de maisons ont été détruites.
Plusieurs autres villages ont été évacués mais les autorités affirment que les stations balnéaires de la côte méditerranéenne n'ont subi aucun dégât.
Samedi, l'incendie avait atteint les bois bordant la plage d'Olympos, très fréquentée par les jeunes. (AFP, 5 août 2008)
27 nouveaux-nés morts en quinze jours dans un hôpital d'Ankara
Vingt-sept nouveaux nés sont décédés au cours des quinze derniers jours dans un hôpital public d'Ankara, a annoncé dimanche la direction de l'établissement, les médecins attribuant ces morts à diverses causes alors qu'un syndicat dénonce de mauvaises conditions d'hygiène.
Les responsables de l'hôpital, qui avaient auparavant annoncé qu'un tiers de ces décès était dû à des maladies infectieuses, ont annoncé à une conférence de presse que les résultats de tests ne montraient pas de signes d'infection.
Les nouveaux-nés, tous prématurés, sont morts pour d'autres raisons comme l'hypertension, l'insuffisance cardiaque ou des complications à la naissance, selon le chef du service de maternité, cité par l'agence Anatolie.
"Les tests n'indiquent rien d'anormal", a dit Ugur Dilmen, soulignant que 47 des 504 bébés traités à l'hôpital en juillet étaient décédés. Il a exclu que la négligence de médecins puisse être à l'origine des décès.
L'hôpital est un des plus fréquentés d'Ankara et traitent des cas difficiles avec des nouveaux-nés venant de tout le pays, a souligné M. Dilmen.
Le syndicat des travailleurs des professions médicales SES, qui dit avoir été informé par certains de ses membres employés de l'hôpital, a assuré que les décès avaient eu lieu en trois jours seulement, entre jeudi et samedi de la semaine écoulée.
La section d'Ankara du SES a estimé qu'une propagation d'infections due à de mauvaises conditions d'hygiène à l'intérieur de l'hôpital pouvait être à l'origine des décès.
"La salle d'accouchement a été déplacée dans un bâtiment qui ne satisfait pas aux conditions d'hygiène, ce qui favorise les contaminations", a affirmé à l'AFP un responsable du SES, Ibrahim Kara.
Le syndicat met aussi en cause un nombre trop élevé de patients dans l'établissement. "Il arrive que deux ou trois femmes attendent sur le même brancard avant d'accoucher et que trois nouveaux-nés soient placés dans le même incubateur", a assuré M. Kara. (AFP, 3 août 2008)
18 filles tuées dans l'effondrement du dortoir d'une école coranique
Le dortoir d'une école coranique pour filles s'est effondré vendredi dans le centre de la Turquie à la suite d'une explosion de gaz, faisant 18 morts parmi les élèves et 26 blessés.
L'effondrement du dortoir, dirigé par une fondation appartenant à la confrérie Süleymanci et utilisé en été pour enseigner le Coran à des jeunes filles âgées de 8 à 16 ans, est survenu vers 02H00 GMT dans la localité montagneuse de Balcilar, près de Taskent, ville de la province de Konya, située à quelque 350 km au sud d'Ankara.
Cet établissement était censé accueillir des garçons et une annexe a été construite sans l'autorisation nécessaire.
Une fuite de gaz, utilisé pour le chauffage, serait à l'origine du désastre, selon les médias et les témoignages des rescapées.
Selon une association locale d'ingénieurs, l'examen initial des gravats a indiqué que la construction du bâtiment était de mauvaise qualité.
Il semblerait que le pensionnat n'avait pas été inspecté conformément à la législation et que la fondation avait organisé ces classes d'été sans autorisation.
Selon le quotidien libéral Radikal, la plus haute autorité religieuse à Taskent, Mehmet Ak, a déclaré qu'il était réticent à mener des inspections dans l'école car elle appartenait à une communauté islamique influente, le Suleymancilar.
Radikal mettait aussi en cause le Parti de la justice et du développement (AKP), la formation au pouvoir issue de la mouvance islamiste, qui a insisté en 2005 pour faire passer une loi punissant les responsables d'institutions éducatives non autorisées d'une simple amende au lieu d'une peine de prison.
"Ma petite-fille m'a dit que l'explosion s'était produite quand quelqu'un a allumé la lumière", a déclaré à Anatolie Dudu Gunes, dont la petite-fille est atteinte de graves brûlures.
L'une des jeunes filles a décrit le sinistre comme un mur de feu qui a traversé le dortoir.
"Du rez-de-chaussée venait un fort sifflement. Je suis entrée dans la cuisine avec deux professeurs. L'un d'eux a dit: +un tuyau de gaz s'est débranché+", a raconté Merve Avci, 13 ans à l'agence Anatolie.
"Je suis remontée et cinq minutes plus tard une forte odeur de gaz est arrivée dans les dortoirs, immédiatement suivie par une forte explosion", a poursuivi la jeune fille, qui n'a été que légèrement blessée.
En 2004, l'effondrement d'un immeuble d'habitations de onze étages dans cette même province, dû à des défauts de construction, avait coûté la vie à 92 personnes.
3 personnes inculpées
Trois personnes ont été inculpées dimanche après l'effondrement d'un pensionnat de jeunes filles, dans le centre de la Turquie qui avait fait 18 morts vendredi, annonce l'agence Anatolie.
Les trois personnes -- les directeur et directeur adjoint du pensionnat ainsi que le président d'une fondation religieuse gérant l'établissement -- sont poursuivies par un tribunal de la province de Konya pour "meurtre par négligence" et ont été placées en détention dans l'attente de leur jugement, a précisé l'agence Anatolie.
Les procureurs doivent maintenant établir un acte d'accusation détaillé pour que le procès puisse avoir lieu.
La presse d'opposition a critiqué le parti au pouvoir AKP, issu de la mouvance islamiste, pour avoir fait adopter en 2005 une législation supprimant la peine de prison prévue pour les responsables d'écoles fonctionnant sans autorisation, remplacée par une simple amende.
Le président turc de l'époque avait opposé son veto au projet de loi, perçu comme une concession aux écoles coraniques, qui fonctionnent souvent sans autorisation, mais le gouvernement avait insisté et était parvenu à faire voter la loi par le parlement. (Reuters-AFP, 2-3 août 2008)
Un mort et des dizaines de sans abri après un incendie de forêt
Un villageois est mort brûlé et des dizaines se sont retrouvés sans abri dans la province côtière d'Antalya, l'une des principales destinations touristiques de la Turquie, où faisait rage samedi un important incendie de forêt, a annoncé un ministre turc.
L'incendie, qui a éclaté vendredi, a été attisé par des vents violents pouvant atteindre 70 km/h qui ont endommagé des lignes à haute tension, et a détruit une soixantaine de maisons dans le village de Karatas, a indiqué le ministre de l'Environnement Veysel Eroglu.
Les secouristes ont découvert le cadavre d'un homme dans les décombres d'une maison brûlée, a ajouté M. Eroglu, cité par l'agence de presse Anatolie. Il pourrait s'agir de l'un des deux villageois âgés portés disparues depuis vendredi.
Près de 1.300 pompiers et secouristes assistés d'hélicoptères et d'avions luttent contre l'incendie, qui a détruit environ 4.000 hectares de forêts et s'étend du district de Serik à la ville côtière de Manavgat où se trouvent de nombreux villages de vacances.
Selon le ministre, l'incendie pourrait être maîtrisé dans l'après-midi de samedi si, comme le prévoit la météo, les vents s'affaiblissent.
Les villageois sinistrés se sont plaints de la lenteur des secours affirmant qu'ils avaient été abandonnés à eux-mêmes alors que les flammes ravageaient leurs maisons, leurs granges et leurs champs.
M. Eroglu a affirmé que le gouvernement indemniserait les villageois et indiqué que le Croissant Rouge turc et d'autres organisations humanitaires avaient envoyé des aides dans la région.
L'incendie a menacé un moment un site archéologique majeur, l'ancien amphithéâtre grec d'Aspendos, mais les autorités ont déclaré qu'il était désormais hors de danger, les vents ayant changé de direction.
Toujours, selon les autorités, les villages de vacances de la côte méditerranéenne sont également hors de danger.
La province d'Antalya qui abrite certains des plus célèbres sites archéologiques de Turquie reçoit en moyenne chaque année 7 millions de touristes. (AFP, 2 août 2008)
Relations turco-européennes / Turkey-Europe Relations
Waters heating up in Black Sea
The US announcement has been widely interpreted as a direct challenge to Russia. "At the request of the Georgian government, these ships will be delivering humanitarian aid to Poti," a spokesperson for the US Embassy in Tbilisi said. "The USS McFaul and another US ship will dock in Poti on Wednesday," the spokesperson added.
USS McFaul and USS Dallas have crossed through the Turkish Straits, the only sea outlet to the Black Sea, to deliver humanitarian aid to Georgia following its brief war with Russia. Another US Navy ship, the USS Taylor, passed through the straits on Monday within the scope of an earlier scheduled NATO military exercise, not as part of the humanitarian mission, Kathy Schalow, the spokesperson for the US Embassy in Ankara said yesterday.
The passage of US and NATO ships has been a delicate matter for Turkey, which insists that all ships passing through the straits must meet criteria set by the 1936 international Montreux Convention. Schalow said all US ships passing through the straits met Montreux standards.
Turkey is a member of NATO and has its own warships in the Black Sea that will take part in the NATO exercises. It has also authorized the passages of warships from NATO members Spain, Poland and Germany in recent days so that they can take part in the exercises. But Ankara is reluctant to antagonize Russia, the main natural gas supplier to the Turkish market and a major trade partner.
"The heightened activity of NATO ships in the Black Sea perplexes us," Col. Gen. Anatoly Nogovitsyn, deputy chief of the Russian General Staff, said in Moscow. Nogovitsyn told reporters that 10 ships from NATO nations were currently in the Black Sea and that eight more are to join them soon. "The fact that there are Western warships in the Black Sea cannot but be a cause for concern. They include two US warships, one each from Spain and Poland and four from Turkey," he said.
But despite the Russian uneasiness over NATO and US aid ships in the Black Sea, ties between Turkey, which controls the straits, and Russia appear to have no problem at the moment. A Russian diplomat based in Ankara has reportedly said Russia appreciates Ankara's firmness with regard to the appropriate implementation of the international convention, which regulates passages through the Turkish Straits, during this recent process.
"Russia is not blaming Turkey for the situation in the Black Sea. The situation is not related to Turkey. We are asking why the US wants to deliver humanitarian aid via warships and why it doesn't prefer an airlift, which is shorter; we've been worried about this," yesterday's Radikal daily quoted the senior Ankara-based Russian diplomat as saying. "We find Turkey's manner compatible with the Montreux Convention and appreciate it," the same diplomat also said, while urging countries which are not party to the convention to comply with terms of the convention -- in an apparent reference to the United States.
Tension in the Black Sea
Many of the Russian forces that drove deep into Georgia after fighting broke out Aug. 7 in the separatist region of South Ossetia have pulled back, but hundreds at least are estimated to still be manning checkpoints that Russia calls "security zones" inside Georgia proper. Two of those checkpoints are near the edge of Poti, one of Georgia's most important Black Sea ports. The Russian military is also claiming the right to patrol in the city.
In a move that angered Russia, the United States sent missile destroyer USS McFaul to the southern Georgian port of Batumi, well away from the conflict zone, to deliver 34 tons of humanitarian aid on Sunday. The McFaul left Batumi on Tuesday but will remain in the Black Sea area, said Commander Scott Miller, a spokesman for the US Navy's 6th Fleet in Naples, Italy.
"We can confirm that US ship-borne humanitarian aid will be delivered to Poti tomorrow," US Embassy spokesperson Stephen Guice said on Tuesday, without elaborating which of the ships will dock at Poti.
In Moscow, the deputy head of the Russian military's general staff lashed out at the US naval operation. "We are worried" about aid, the way aid is delivered on warships, Nogovitsyn said. "This is devilish." He added, "This aid could be bought at any flea market."
While he did not link it with the US ships, Nogovitsyn said a unit of Russian naval ships was off Sukhumi -- the capital of another separatist Georgian region, Abkhazia, on the Black Sea north of Poti. He said the ships were observing the pullout of Russian troops from Georgia.
The United States says its ships are carrying humanitarian aid but suspicion persists in Russia that they are delivering military materiel clandestinely.
On Sunday, the US guided-missile destroyer USS McFaul arrived with aid, including camp beds, bedding, tents and mobile kitchen units, US Defense Department spokesman Bryan Whitman said. Separately, the US Coast Guard cutter Dallas was dispatched with aid, while a third vessel, the Navy command ship USS Mount Whitney, is being loaded in Italy with humanitarian supplies for Georgia, he said.
The NATO ships in the Black Sea are carrying more than 100 "Tomahawk" cruise missiles, with more than 50 onboard the USS McFaul alone that could hit ground targets, reported RIA news agency, quoting unnamed sources in Russian military intelligence. (Today's Zaman, 27 August 2008)
La Turquie autorise le transit de navires de guerre US dans la mer Noire
La Turquie a approuvé le passage dans la mer Noire de deux navires de guerre américains transportant du matériel humanitaire destiné à la Géorgie, a indiqué mercredi le département d'Etat.
"La Turquie a approuvé le transit de trois navires dans la mer Noire pour acheminer du matériel humanitaire vers la Géorgie -- il s'agit de deux navires de l'US Navy (marine militaire américaine, ndlr) et un des garde-côtes", a dit un porte-parole du département d'Etat Robert Wood.
Selon le porte-parole du département d'Etat, l'aide -- des milliers de couvertures, de la nourriture pour bébé ainsi que des produits d'hygiène et de soins -- sera acheminée ensuite par autoroute via un corridor humanitaire reliant le port de Poti, au bord de la mer Noire, dans l'ouest de la Géorgie, à Gori, dans l'est.
"Nous travaillons avec la Turquie pour faciliter le passage de l'aide humanitaire de la manière la plus rapide possible dans le respect de la Convention de Montreux", qui régit le passage des détroits du Bosphore et des Dardanelles, a-t-il expliqué.
Selon un responsable américain de la défense s'exprimant sous couvert d'anonymat, le destroyer américain USS McFaul est parti de Crète ce mercredi.
"Il va rejoindre la mer Noire en vue de pouvoir livrer de l'aide humanitaire la semaine prochaine", a-t-il déclaré.
L'envoi d'un navire de guerre en mer Noire pour une mission humanitaire constitue la première mission humanitaire américaine par mer et la première projection d'une force militaire américaine dans la région depuis le début du conflit entre Russie et Géorgie le 7 août.
Le USS McFaul sera rejoint par le Dallas, un navire des garde-côtes, qui s'approvisionne actuellement en Crète et partira dans deux jours vers la mer Noire, selon ce responsable.
Le USS Mount Whitney, navire amiral de la 6ème Flotte américaine, est également prêt à partir mais n'en a pas encore reçu l'ordre, a-t-il précisé.
Dix avions militaires américains ont déjà été envoyés en Géorgie ces derniers jours pour y acheminer de l'aide humanitaire, avait indiqué lundi le département d'Etat, selon lequel le gouvernement américain a fourni depuis plus d'une semaine pour plus de 4,2 millions de dollars d'aide humanitaire à la Géorgie, en raison du conflit en Géorgie. (AFP, 20 août 2008)
Moscou riposte à l’Otan et évoque des conséquences
La Russie a riposté immédiatement mardi soir à la déclaration de l’Otan sur la Géorgie, affirmant que la prise de position de l’Alliance allait avoir "des conséquences" dans ses relations avec Moscou.
La Russie va tirer "les conclusions qui s’imposent", a déclaré le chef de la diplomatie russe, Sergueï Lavrov, sans préciser davantage cette menace.
"La Russie n’occupe aucun pays et n’a pas l’intention d’occuper qui que ce soit", a encore dit M. Lavrov.
La déclaration de Bruxelles, a-t-il jugé, n’est "pas objective et reflète un parti pris", tandis que l’appui offert à la candidature géorgienne à l’Otan revêt un caractère "antirusse".
Il a dénoncé le manque d’objectivité du texte de l’Otan en relevant qu’il "ne dit mot sur comment tout cela a commencé, pourquoi c’est arrivé, qui a commencé l’agression et qui a armé la Géorgie". Cette dernière allusion visait directement les Etats-Unis.
Dans sa déclaration, l’Otan estime qu’elle ne peut continuer ses relations avec la Russie comme si de rien n’était ("business as usual") en raison des actions de Moscou en Géorgie.
"L’Alliance examine sérieusement les conséquences des actions de la Russie pour la relation Otan-Russie", précise cette déclaration adoptée lors d’une réunion extraordinaire des chefs de la diplomatie de l’Otan à Bruxelles.
De son côté, le représentant russe auprès de l’Otan Dmitri Rogozine, a dénoncé le "ton vicieux" du document atlantique, tout en jugeant que "la montagne a accouché d’une souris".
"En réalité, toutes les menaces déversées jusqu’à présent contre la Russie se sont révélées être des paroles creuses", a-t-il dit sur une chaîne d’information en continu russe, Vesti-24.
Pour M. Lavrov, "l’Alliance a en réalité pris (le président géorgien Mikheïl) Saakachvili sous sa protection".
Le ministre russe a accusé l’Otan de se diriger "vers un réarmement" de la Géorgie. "On essaie à l’Otan de faire des agresseurs des victimes (...), de blanchir le régime géorgien", a-t-il affirmé, qualifiant ce dernier de "criminel".
"La politique consistant à attirer la Géorgie à l’Otan n’a rien à voir avec la satisfaction par la Géorgie des critères d’adhésion, mais elle est dictée par des objectifs qui ne sont rien d’autre qu’anti-russes", a-t-il dit.
Cependant, il a estimé que le Conseil Russie-Otan "a été créé non pas pour apprendre à la Russie comment elle doit se conduire avec les autorités géorgiennes, mais pour régler des questions globales et maintenir la stabilité et la sécurité en Europe et dans la zone euro-atlantique. Nous continuons à estimer que ces objectifs sont d’actualité et qu’on peut les réaliser seulement en unissant nos efforts", a dit M. Lavrov.
Répondant indirectement aux doutes occidentaux sur la réalité du retrait des forces russes de Géorgie, officiellement commencé ce mardi, il a affirmé qu’il prendrait "trois ou quatre jours".
"Le retrait se fera au fur et à mesure du retour effectif des forces géorgiennes à leurs bases permanentes et du renforcement des positions des forces de maintien de la paix. Je pense que cela prendra trois ou quatre jours", a dit M. Lavrov.
La Russie a annulé mardi sa participation à des manoeuvres prévues en mer Baltique dans le cadre du partenariat avec l’Otan et a signifié qu’elle ne pourrait accueillir comme prévu une frégate américaine en septembre en Extrême-Orient. (AFP, 19 août 2008)
An American View on Georgia's Relations with Turkey, USA and NATO
The following article entitled "Georgia's rail link to NATO passes through Turkey" was published on January 15, 2008 bu the Turkish Daily News. The author, David J. Smith, is a senior fellow at the Potomac Institute for Policy Studies, Washington and Director of the Georgian Security Analysis Center, Tbilisi. According to the TDN, this article is an abbreviated version of the one published in Turkish Policy Quarterly's Fall 2007 edition.
On Nov. 21 in the Georgian town of Marabda, the presidents of Turkey, Georgia and Azerbaijan inaugurated construction of the Kars-Tbilisi-Baku railway that by 2010 " coupled with the Marmaray Tunnel beneath the Bosporus " will enable rail travel between Edinburgh and Shanghai.
The Turkish-Georgian border is now the fulcrum of an East-West highway of immense geopolitical importance to the West. Consequently, the steel rails must be reinforced with stability and security ties of equal strength. Bringing Georgia into NATO as soon as possible will be one of the most significant steps we can take in this regard.
Georgia was part of the Greco-Roman trading system, but these days it has achieved more fame for the oil and gas pipelines that lead from the landlocked Caspian Sea, through Turkey, to markets in Western Europe.
In the spring of 2006, a BP-led consortium celebrated the first oil shipment to travel through the Baku-Tbilisi-Ceyhan (BTC) pipeline to Turkey's Mediterranean coast, quietly oozing onto a westbound tanker.
Georgia is a key to the kind of regional stability needed to underpin a broad East-West corridor that hastens commerce in much more than just oil. Of course, the BTC pipeline's scale " 1,776 kilometers and a million barrels per day capacity " sets it in a class of its own. But its real significance is geopolitical.
The BTC pipeline bypasses Russia and Iran, affording Western access to Caspian Sea and Central Asian energy and offering a choice of customers to the landlocked producing states. It also bypasses the very congested Turkish Straits, a key Turkish interest.
The BTC pipeline augments the much smaller Western Route Export Pipeline that has been transporting so-called "early oil" from Baku to Supsa, near the Georgian port of Poti, since 1998. And rail cars continue to transport Caspian oil to Batumi, insuring its role as an international oil port.
Parallel to the BTC, natural gas flows from the Caspian Sea's Shah Deniz field through the South Caucasus Pipeline (SCP) to the Turkish city of Erzurum. There it merges with the Turkish gas distribution system, bound for Turkish and other European consumers through the Southern Europe Gas Ring.
On Nov. 18, Turkish Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdoğan and Greek counterpart Kostas Karamanlis met on a bridge spanning the Meriç River that divides their countries to inaugurate the ring's next segment. A 285-kilometer pipeline that will carry Caspian Sea gas from Karacabey in western Turkey to Komotini in northeastern Greece.
In 2008, construction will begin on the Poseidon Greece-Italy pipeline. By 2011, it will carry Caspian gas from Igoumenitsa to Otranto. If the European Union's Turkey to Austria Nabucco pipeline is realized, it could be supplied with gas from the SCP or from new parallel pipelines. "The Silk Road will also become an energy route linking East and West through Turkey," said Erdoğan at the Meriç River Bridge. Together, all these energy conduits will form the critical mass required to promote and sustain a broad East-West commercial corridor. In this regard, the Kars-Tbilisi-Baku railroad stands out as a multi-purpose carrier, promising not only temporary construction jobs and transit fees, but commercial development along its route and beyond.
"It has the strong power to change history," said Turkish President Abdullah Gül at the ceremony marking the start of work on the rail link.
Whether by road or rail, through the Turkish Straits to Naples or via the Danube and Rhine rivers to Rotterdam, we now have the prospect of firmly linking Asia and the Caspian to a North Atlantic trading system that extends from Batumi and Ceyhan in the east to Houston in the west. And with commerce come people, so the East-West corridor will also become a pathway for ideas, perhaps the most important prospect of all.
Seen in this way, the agreement to develop Caspian Sea hydrocarbon resources will indeed turn out to be, as Azerbaijan's late President Heidar Aliyev dubbed it at the 1994 signing ceremony, "the deal of the century!" Turkey is transforming itself not just into a European energy hub but into the nexus of East-West communication. This historic opportunity requires Turkey to be a leader in building a solid foundation of security and stability from the Black Sea to the Caspian.
Georgia in NATO
Georgia in NATO is not, of course, the only brick required to build this foundation. However, it is an important one because it will stabilize Georgia itself and enhance security in the eastern Black Sea and southwestern Caucasus. Still, for too many westerners, Georgia is a far away country that can involve them in quarrels between people of whom they know nothing.
Of course, NATO is not a club or another diplomatic forum. It is a military alliance whose linchpin is Article 5 of the North Atlantic Treaty, which says that an attack upon one of us shall be considered an attack upon us all. With this solemn commitment, the West Europeans are bound to each other, to North America, Turkey and now to eastern Europe.
Article 5 was invoked for the first time in the aftermath of the Sept. 11, 2001 al-Qaeda attacks on New York and Washington. Just as millions of young American men and women served in Europe during the Cold War, servicemen and women from 11 countries were deployed to Oklahoma City, from where NATO aircraft patrolled American skies. The NATO commitment proved every bit as strong as it was throughout the Cold War, so extending it to a new ally must be considered carefully.
It is easy to see why Georgia would want the 26 NATO allies on its side. But why would the current NATO countries want to make such a weighty commitment to Georgia? The answer is because it is in NATO's interest to have Georgia as an ally.
Looking East, Georgia's geographical position will afford NATO reach toward the Caspian Sea, Central Asia and beyond, outflanking potential trouble spots. This kind of reach is crucial not only for military operations, but also for combating trafficking in drugs, people and arms of who knows what sort. As a NATO ally, Georgia can receive all the technical assistance it needs to become a full player in these efforts. Time-sensitive information will flow more easily among allies. The net effects will be NATO security projection and safer streets in Rome and Milan.
Looking West, Black Sea security is now firmly on the NATO agenda. This reflects the alliance's post Cold War reorientation toward South and East, so-called "out-of-area" operations such as Kosovo and Afghanistan, and alliance enlargement. Bulgaria and Romania joined NATO in 2004. Then, in 2005, the United States signed an agreement with Romania for rotational use of its Kogalniceanu, Babadağ, Cincu and Smardan bases. Last year, a similar agreement was concluded with Bulgaria for use of Bezmer and Graf Ignatievo Airfields and the Novo Selo Training Area.
Bulgaria and Romania should now become NATO windows on a stable lake, not its fortresses on a sea of instability. Turkey, on the Black Sea's southern shore, should be part of the Euro-Atlantic mainstream, not its last outpost in a troubled world. Now that the road to Sarp, Turkey's easternmost Black Sea town, is no longer a dead end, extending the alliance's hand further East to Georgia makes sense. Georgia offers a unique geo-strategic position on the eastern shore of the Black Sea. Sensors placed in Georgia, use of its air and seaports, and cooperation with its small but capable Coast Guard will be strong complements to NATO air and sea surveillance.
The benefits to the alliance will be a clear picture of Black Sea air and maritime traffic, timely information, forward protection for Bulgaria, Romania and Turkey, and enhanced capability to react when necessary. Again, these will be a boon not only to military operations, but also to the fight against contraband and terrorism.
Georgia's military contributions
With regard to the military obligations that alliance membership will impose, Georgia already behaves as an ally with major contributions to NATO operations. A company plus a platoon of Georgian peacekeepers serve under Turkish command in Kosovo. Georgia also contributed to the surge in NATO troops required for the 2004 presidential election in Afghanistan and recently announced that about 100 to 200 Georgian soldiers will soon deploy in the Mazar-i-Sharif area.
Further, though Iraq is not a NATO operation, and Ankara and Washington have disagreed over this conflict, Georgia's contribution of 2,000 soldiers to the coalition demonstrates that it is willing and able to participate in collective security operations. These Georgian soldiers now serve in Baghdad, Baquba and Wasit Province, along the Iranian border.
Turkey was quick to grasp the importance of a security relationship with Georgia. Anyone familiar with the Georgian Armed Forces has seen the discrete little plaques marking the many buildings refurbished with Turkish help. Of particular importance is the upgrade of Marneuli military airport to NATO standards. Turkey supports the Georgian National Defense Academy and has trained the Kojori Special Forces Brigade. Nearly 1,000 Georgian military personnel have attended courses in Turkey.
Turkey provides pre-deployment training to the Georgian soldiers bound for KFOR, NATO's force in Kosovo. In theater, Georgia's military contingent is part of the Multi-national Task Force-South, which is now under Turkish command.
Reforms at home
Of course, NATO membership also requires real progress on challenging reforms at home. Although there is much yet to do, much has been accomplished because of the November 2003 Rose Revolution. Foremost is the Rose Revolution itself, in which the Georgian people peacefully showed that they share NATO's democratic values. Free and fair presidential and parliamentary elections followed in January 2004.
In the national security sector, Georgia has published its unequivocally western oriented National Security Concept. It has abolished the Soviet style Interior Army, and firmly subordinated the National Guard as the reserve training and mobilization arm of the Georgian Armed Forces (GAF).
The minister of defense is a civilian. The civilian Defense Ministry is distinct from the military staff. The Soviet-style General Staff is being transformed into a Western-style Joint Staff. A Land Forces Headquarters is distinct from the Joint Staff. The American Army and Marines have trained three GAF brigades and a number of other units and staff organizations.
Once Georgia proceeds to work on a NATO MAP, the major political obstacle to its NATO Membership will continue to be Russia.
Just after NATO granted Georgia so-called Intensified Dialog status in the fall of 2006, the Russian Foreign Ministry rejoined, "our negative attitude toward this is well known." That much is true, but Moscow has never clearly articulated its concerns. The statement proceeds, "Georgia's entry into NATO will seriously affect Russian political, military and economic interests."
Western countries are left to guess at Moscow's reasons, creating an environment in which anxiety grows. Some European countries fret over their perceived dependence on Russian energy. In this, it is as much in Turkey's interest as Georgia's to explain that, though oil and gas routes through the South Caucasus and Turkey are not directed against any third country, the diversification they provide will insulate Europe against the sort of energy blackmail that the Kremlin tried in January 2006.
As Europe, particularly downstream companies, grows accustomed to using oil and gas transited through Turkey, this anxiety should subside.
But Moscow's major lever against Georgia " and against Georgia's accession to NATO " is its support for breakaway regimes in Abkhazia and South Ossetia. If NATO signals that conflict resolution is a precondition for Georgia's membership, it will preclude resolution. Instead NATO should press for resolution now because Abkhazia and South Ossetia today are hotbeds of criminality, the effects of which are felt throughout the region. New diplomatic forums are required to address both conflicts, and Turkey, as the major Western power in the region, could claim major influence in forging new ways ahead.
Make no mistake " the certainty of Georgia's impending NATO membership will hasten the day that these conflicts will be resolved.
Looking to 2010: Georgia, NATO and the East-West Corridor
Impending NATO membership and territorial conflict resolution will bring instant benefits to Georgia by removing any tinge of doubt in the minds of potential investors. With a big leap in investment, the government will be able to address social, economic and infrastructure problems more quickly, in turn, accelerating reforms. Essentially, NATO will be a stronger guarantor, though an indirect one, than any financial institution could be.
An economically and socially healthy Georgia, cooperating with its new allies on all aspects of security, will stabilize the Black Sea and provide a solid beachhead for the East-West corridor. In sum, Georgia in NATO is the best way to maximize the potential of that first train engine that will make its way from Kars to Baku in 2010, and Turkey should lead its NATO partners to this realization.
Certaines bases arrières du réseau Ergenekon sont à Washington
L’enquête sur les marionnettistes derrière la déstabilisation de la Turquie a permis de mettre en lumière l’implication d’un certain nombre de « temples » de la pensée néo-conservatrice aux Etats-Unis, dont l’Institut Hudson, l’American Enterprise Institute (AEI) ainsi que le Center for Security Policy de Frank Gaffney.
Ces think-tanks ont joués un rôle clef dans la campagne visant à dénigrer le Parti au pouvoir en Turquie depuis 2002, le parti de la Justice et du développement (AKP ou Adalet ve Kalkinma Partisi).
Ils ont ainsi servi de base arrière pour le réseau Ergenekon, un réseau d’extrême droite impliquant les « Loups gris » actuellement en voie de démantèlement par les autorités turques car soupçonné de fomenter un coup d’Etat militaire, selon une nouvelle « stratégie de la tension », dans le sillage du réseau notoire des stay-behind, Gladio.
Au centre de cette opération se trouve une certaine Zeyno Baran, citoyenne américaine d’origine turque à l’Institut Hudson, où l’on trouve également David Wurmser et le néo-con « frenchy » Laurent Murawiec.
Le 2 août, Mme Baran a presque ouvertement défendu Ergenekon dans un article publié par le Wall Street Journal sous le titre « Les Islamistes turcs inspirent un nouveau climat de peur ».
Déçue du fait que les Etats-Unis et l’UE aient accueilli favorablement la décision de la Cour constitutionnelle de ne pas déclarer l’AKP anti-constitutionnel, elle qualifie l’enquête de la justice turque de campagne d’harcèlement contre l’opposition.
On ne s’étonnera pas qu’elle se soit scandalisé du fait que le nom du vice-président américain Dick Cheney ait été évoqué dans ce contexte.
« Le journal le plus important de l’opposition turque, Cumhuyiyet semble une cible clef. Les lignes téléphoniques de ces rédacteurs furent mises sous écoute, et quelques conversations supposément contre le parti AKP ont été révélées par la grande presse » (ceci est un mensonge, car la presse les a découvert dans un rapport sur l’enquête rendu public.) – notamment une transcription d’une conversation privée entre le correspondant américain du journal turc et des membres du staff de Dick Cheney ».
Mme Baran se plaint ensuite qu’Illan Selcuk, un des éditorialistes principaux du journal, ait été inculpé car soupçonné dans l’affaire Ergenekon.
Mme Baran est l’épouse de Matthew J. Bryza, le sous-secrétaire d’Etat américain pour les Affaires européennes et eurasiatiques depuis juin 2005. Diplomate de carrière, Bryza passe sa vie entre la Turquie, le Caucase et l’Asie centrale, et s’occupe des points chauds comme l’Ossétie du Sud, l’Abkhazie ainsi que des gazoducs qui ont provoqué tant de tensions depuis l’effondrement de l’URSS. On ne sera pas surpris du fait que M. Bryza est fréquemment invité comme orateur à l’Institut Hudson.
Il faut signaler ici le fait que le général Suka Tanyeri, directeur général du Strategic Research and Study Center de l’état major américain, vient d’être mis à la retraite.
La presse américaine suggère qu’une des raisons pour cette décision peut provenir de sa présence à des sessions spéciales, organisées derrière portes closes par l’Institut Hudson en juin 2007, où des scénarios délirants sur une déstabilisation éventuelle de la Turquie furent débattus.
A l’époque, cette conférence, à laquelle Baran avait assisté, avait créé un certain bruit car elle se déroulait pendant les élections. Un des scénarios étudiés envisageait l’explosion de deux bombes, dont une dans la plus grande ville du pays Istanbul, tuant une cinquantaine de personnes qui serait attribué aux agissements des extrémistes kurdes du PKK et servirait à justifier une invasion de l’Irak.
N’est-il pas étonnant qu’aujourd’hui, en pleine enquête judiciaire sur Ergenekon, et au moment même où la Cour constitutionnelle examinait la légalité de l’AKP, deux bombes aient explosé ? Une bombe a explosé à Istanbul et l’autre le lendemain à Kirkuk, une ville du nord de l’Irak. Les experts y voient une manipulation visant à empoisonner les relations qui s’étaient récemment améliorées. (LPAC — http://www.solidariteetprogres.org/article4398.html, 7 août 2008)
Relations régionales / Regional Relations
La Turquie menace de riposter aux restrictions commerciales de la Russie
Le ministre turc du Commerce Extérieur Kürsad Tüzmen a prévenu vendredi que son pays allait mettre en oeuvre des mesures de restrictions contre les exportations russes en riposte à des mesures similaires appliquées par la Russie aux produits turcs.
"Nous allons mettre en place notre propre paquet de mesures contre la Russie à partir de lundi (...) Nous allons appliquer par étapes les mêmes mesures aux exportations russes selon un principe de réciprocité", a déclaré M. Tüzmen à la télévision.
Ankara s'est plaint cette semaine de délais d'attente excessifs et non motivés aux postes douaniers russes pour les transporteurs turcs.
Les journaux turcs ont rapporté que, depuis un mois, les douaniers russes soumettent les camions turcs à des fouilles intensives, les immobilisant pendant plusieurs jours.
Interrogé sur un éventuel lien entre ces mesures et la position d'Ankara dans le conflit russo-géorgien, M. Tüzmen a déclaré: "Je ne veux pas décrire ce qui se passe comme des représailles. Ce n'est pas comme cela que je veux voir les choses".
La Turquie a multiplié les appels au respect de l'intégrité territoriale de son voisin géorgien depuis que l'armée russe est intervenue dans ce pays en riposte à une offensive lancée le 8 août par les troupes de Tbilissi pour prendre le contrôle de la région sécessionniste d'Ossétie du Sud.
Ankara n'a cependant pas ouvertement condamné l'intervention russe.
La Russie est le premier partenaire commercial de la Turquie en terme de volume d'échanges (18,9 milliards d'euros, soit 28,2 milliards de dollars en 2007), la Russie exportant principalement des hydrocarbures vers la Turquie. (AFP, 29 août 2008)
Les ministre des Affaires étrangères russe et géorgien attendus en Turquie
Les ministres des Affaires étrangères de Géorgie et de Russie sont attendus dans les prochains jours en Turquie pour des entretiens séparés avec les autorités turques sur la crise dans le Caucase, a affirmé vendredi un haut fonctionnaire du gouvernement turc.
Le chef de la diplomatie turque Ali Babacan rencontrera son homologue géorgienne Eka Tkechelachvili dimanche à Istanbul, puis deux jours plus tard dans la même ville le Russe Sergueï Lavrov, a indiqué cette source, parlant sous le couvert de l'anonymat.
Aucune rencontre à trois n'était prévue, selon le fonctionnaire.
La Turquie a multiplié les appels au calme et au respect de l'intégrité territoriale de son voisin géorgien depuis que l'armée russe est intervenue dans ce pays en riposte à une offensive lancée le 8 août par les troupes de Tbilissi pour prendre le contrôle de la région sécessionniste d'Ossétie du Sud.
Les tensions se sont accrues avec la reconnaissance mardi par Moscou de l'indépendance de l'Ossétie du Sud et de l'Abkhazie -une autre province sécessionniste géorgienne.
Ankara entretient d'étroites relations avec son voisin géorgien depuis que celui-ci a proclamé son indépendance après la disparition de l'URSS et le soutient dans sa demande d'adhésion à l'Otan.
La Russie s'est plainte du passage de plusieurs navire de guerre de l'Otan, notamment américains, en Mer noire via les détroits turcs des Dardanelles et du Bosphore, Moscou prévenant qu'il prendrait des "mesures de précaution".
L'Otan a démenti vouloir renforcer sa présence navale en mer Noire, justifiant l'arrivée de cinq de ses navires au large de la Roumanie par la tenue d'exercices planifiés de longue date.
Deux navires américains ont par ailleurs pénétré en Mer noire pour acheminer de l'aide humanitaire à la Géorgie.
L'Otan comme la Turquie ont souligné que tous ces bâtiments avaient franchi les détroits dans le respect de la Convention de Montreux, régissant depuis 1936 la circulation maritime dans cette unique voie de passage entre la Méditerranée et la Mer noire. (AFP, 29 août 2008)
Le Soudan défie la justice internationale lors d'un forum en Turquie
Un diplomate soudanais de haut rang a affirmé mardi que son pays continuerait à défier la Cour pénale internationale (CPI) alors que le président Omar el-Béchir, menacé de poursuites pour génocide au Darfour, participait à Istanbul à un sommet sur la coopération Turquie-Afrique.
La visite du président Béchir à Istanbul est son premier voyage à l'étranger depuis qu'un procureur de la Cour pénale internationale a demandé en juillet aux juges d'émettre contre lui un mandat d'arrêt international pour génocide crimes de guerre et crimes contre l'humanité dans la province du Darfour.
"Le président peut aller n'importe où et nous n'avons peur de rien (...) Cette CPI est ridicule", a affirmé à des journalistes Abdalmahmood Abdalhaleem, l'ambassadeur du Soudan auprès de l'ONU, alors que débutait le sommet dans un palais ottoman d'Istanbul.
Interrogé sur l'attitude qu'adoptera le Soudan si la Cour répond favorablement à la demande du procureur, le diplomate a répondu : "Nous ne montrerons aucun respect pour cela. Nous l'ignorerons et le désavouerons".
Plus tôt dans la journée, le président turc Abdullah Gül a appelé le dirigeant soudanais au cours d'une rencontre bilatérale à mettre fin à la crise du Darfour
"Lors de notre entretien bilatéral, nous avons parlé du Darfour. J'ai dit qu'il fallait absolument (...) que les larmes et le sang cessent de couler, que les gens cessent de souffrir quelle que soit leur appartenance religieuse ou ethnique, qu'il fallait que le gouvernement soudanais face preuve à ce sujet de la plus grande détermination", a déclaré M. Gül lors d'une conférence de presse.
Béchir a repondu que son gouvernement n'était par la seule partie responsable pour le conflit, a affirmé à l'AFP un diplomate turc parlant sous le couvert de l'anonymat.
M. Abdalhaleem a pour sa part indiqué que les deux présidents n'avaient pas discuté de la procédure lancé contre M. Béchir, expliquant que "les présidents discutent d'habitude des questions importantes, et celle-ci est des plus triviales".
Le régime soudanais, qui rejette les accusations de la CPI, s'efforce de convaincre le Conseil de sécurité de l'ONU de geler de possibles poursuites si la CPI lançait un mandat d'arrêt contre Béchir, arguant que cela ne ferait qu'entraver le processus de paix au Darfour.
Beaucoup de pays arabes et africains ont appelé la Cour à ne pas interférer dans la question du Darfour.
Dans une déclaration commune, la Turquie et les 50 Etats africains représentés au sommet d'Istanbul, qui s'achève mercredi, ont affirmé que leurs relations de partenariat seraient notamment fondées sur "la nécessité d'éviter l'abus de l'application du principe de la juridiction universelle".
Cette résolution s'appliquera aussi à la CPI, a indiqué à l'AFP la source diplomatique turque.
L'organisation Human Right Watch (HWR) a appelé la semaine dernière les autorités turques à ne pas soutenir le régime soudanais dans ses efforts pour obtenir une suspension des poursuites.
"Suspendre l'enquête de la CPI en réponse aux menaces scandaleuses et aux promesses creuses de Khartoum serait trahir les victimes du Darfour", a affirmé l'organisation.
Le conflit au Darfour, où s'affrontent forces gouvernementales appuyées par des milices arabes et mouvements rebelles, a fait jusqu'à 300.000 morts, selon l'ONU, quelque 10.000 selon Khartoum.
Ankara avait déjà accueilli le président Béchir en janvier, s'attirant les critiques des militants de la défense des droits de l'Homme. (AFP, 19 août 2008)
Cinquante pays africains invités à Istanbul pour un sommet Turquie-Afrique
Les représentants de 50 pays africains convergeaient lundi vers Istanbul pour un sommet sur la coopération entre l'Afrique et la Turquie, qui souhaite développer ses liens économiques avec ce continent et obtenir son soutien pour un siège au Conseil de sécurité de l'Onu.
Le sommet, prévu mardi et mercredi, est marqué par la participation controversée du président soudanais Omar el-Béchir, qui effectue là son premier voyage à l'étranger depuis qu'un procureur de la Cour pénale internationale a demandé aux juges d'émettre contre lui un mandat d'arrêt international pour génocide au Darfour.
L'organisation Human Right Watch (HWR) a dit avoir adressé une lettre aux autorités turques dans laquelle elle leur demande de ne pas soutenir le régime soudanais dans ses efforts pour obtenir une suspension des poursuites qui pourraient survenir si la CPI lançait un tel mandat d'arrêt.
"Suspendre l'enquête de la CPI en réponse aux menaces scandaleuses et aux promesses creuses de Khartoum serait trahir les victimes du Darfour", affirme l'organisation.
La Turquie, qui a adopté en 1998 un plan d'action pour s'ouvrir aux pays africains, souhaite mettre à profit ce sommet pour renforcer sa présence sur les marchés de ce continent.
Le volume des échanges entre la Turquie et l'Afrique est passé de neuf à 13 milliards de dollars (8,8 milliards d'euros) entre 2005 et 2007.
"Nous avons pour but d'augmenter le volumes des échanges à 30 milliards de dollars en 2010", a déclaré Ünal Ceviköz, vice-sous-secrétaire au ministère turc des Affaires étrangères, cité par l'agence de presse Anatolie.
Les participants au sommet doivent présenter mardi soir une déclaration commune insistant sur la volonté de développer leur coopération dans certains secteurs comme l'agriculture, l'eau ou encore les infrastructures.
Le sommet s'inscrit par ailleurs dans une campagne intensive menée depuis deux ans par la Turquie pour l'obtention d'un siège non-permanent au Conseil de sécurité de l'Onu, Ankara développant des liens avec de nombreux pays africains et du Pacifique avec lesquels elle n'avait jusque là que peu de contacts.
Deux nouveaux membres non-permanents du Conseil de sécurité doivent être élus en octobre pour 2009-2010. (AFP, 18 août 2008)
Creating Caucasian Pact of Stability Unreal
Azerbaijan, Baku, 15 August /corr. Trend News S.Ilhamgizi, V.Zhavoronkova /
Because of different positions of the Caucasus countries regarding conflicts, creating platform “Caucasian pact of stability”, proposed by Turkish Prime Minister Erdogan during his recent visit to Moscow, is impossible within the next years.
“I do not think that this proposal will yield results in short period because the countries of Caucasus demonstrate different positions on conflicts,” Head of the Center for International Relations and Strategic Researches ‘Turksam’, Sinan Ogan, told TrendNews.
In order to resolve the conflict in Georgia peacefully and ensure peace in the region, the Prime Minister of Turkey, Rajab Tayyip Erdogan, proposes creating platform “Pact of stability” (Caucasian Union) with the participation of the Caucasus countries. “I shared this idea with my Russian and Georgian counterparts and obtained positive response from them in this regard,” Erdogan said to a joint press conference with the President of Georgia Mikhail Saakashvili on 14 August.
Head of Turksam noted that the proposal of Turkey to create “Caucasian pact of stability” is not new. Earlier this initiative was made by the 9th President of Turkey Suleyman Demirel and former President of Azerbaijan, late Heydar Aliyev. However, other countries did not express positive opinion in this regard. According to Ogana, if this proposal would be realized at that time, now there would not be the current centers of conflicts in Caucasus.
“The idea of realizing Caucasian Union appears already very difficult precisely now because the equilibrium, which ruled in Caucasus over decades, was broken in favor of Russia after the conflict in Georgia,” said politician.
In his opinion, the role of Russia in Caucasus further strengthened. If the Caucasian Union, proposed by Turkey, will be created, then the role and position of Turkey in the region will strengthen: “But Russia will never wish strengthening the position of Turkey in this region,” said Ogan.
According to the Turkish politician, Russia can appear as supporter of discussions regarding the Union, but later will not make it possible to realize this because the positions of Turkey and Russia concerning Georgia are different. Erdogan said that the territorial integrity of Georgia is very important for Turkey. The Foreign Minister of Russia Lavrov noted that there is not any more the question of territorial integrity of Georgia.
“Azerbaijan, Georgia and Turkey support the territorial integrity of the countries. But Armenia and Russia act against these principles. This is very serious differences in the positions,” said the politician scientist.
Currently the basic goal Russia is to replace power in Georgia and bring the leader to power, who will carry out his policy in favor of Russia.
“Because of the contradiction of position and interests, unification of the Caucasus countries in the pact is not possible,” the politician said.
The chairman of the Islamic Committee of Russia, Heydar Jamal, considers that the realization of Turkey’s proposal is impossible.
“Creating this Union is till impossible from the practical point of view. Because Georgian, Armenian factors will not make it possible to reach consensus here,” Heydar Jamal told TrendNews.
According to the Russian politician, creating this structure, on the level of ensuring stability in Caucasus, is aimed at extruding the USA from the region.
Jamal considers that North Caucasus also should join the initiative of Caucasian union. However, the realization of this idea must pass specific way.
“At present, Armenia and Georgia is not completely ready to accept the proposal by Erdogan. Therefore, this proposal still takes a sign character, and its realization does not appear real,” Russian politician said. (news.trendaz.com, August 15, 2008)
Ahmedinejad se dit prêt au dialogue sur le nucléaire iranien
Le président iranien Mahmoud Ahmadinejad s'est déclaré jeudi ouvert au dialogue et optimiste sur la question du nucléaire iranien au premier jour d'une visite de travail à Istanbul.
"Nous sommes ouverts au dialogue dans le respect du droit et de la justice", a déclaré M. Ahmadinejad, selon la traduction en turc de ses propos, lors d'une conférence de presse avec son homologue turc Abdullah Gül.
Le président iranien, qui effectuait sa première visite bilatérale dans un pays membre de l'Otan, a considéré comme positives les retombées de la réunion de Genève, le 19 juillet, au cours de laquelle les représentants de l'Iran et de six grandes puissances ont échangé leurs vues sur la question du nucléaire.
"Les pourparlers à Genève étaient positifs (...) et je pense qu'une direction positive a été trouvée", a-t-il estimé.
"Nous avons présenté un paquet de propositions et ils ont proposé leur paquet. Nous pensons qu'il sera raisonnable de discuter des points communs dans ces paquets pour parvenir à un compromis. Cela pourrait ouvrir la voie à une résolution des points de divergence", a-t-il poursuivi.
A Genève, les Six (Etats-Unis, Grande-Bretagne, France, Russie, Chine et Allemagne) ont offert une alternative à l'Iran: ou Téhéran accepte la coopération et suspend ses activités d'enrichissement de l'uranium, ou ce pays fait face à des sanctions croissantes de la communauté internationale.
Les grandes puissances, qui craignent que le programme nucléaire iranien soit destiné à acquérir l'arme nucléaire, ont depuis estimé que la réponse de Téhéran relevait d'une manoeuvre dilatoire et envisagé de nouvelles sanctions.
Le diplomate en chef de l'Union européenne (UE) Javier Solana, qui participe aux négociations, et le négociateur du dossier nucléaire iranien Saïd Jalili se sont toutefois mis d'accord lundi pour poursuivre leurs contacts.
M. Gül a pour sa part estimé que le paquet de propositions proposé à l'Iran constituait "une importante fenêtre d'opportunité" pour une résolution pacifique de la crise.
"Nous espérons que le processus (de négociations) se poursuivra avec la bonne volonté et une attitude responsable et constructive de toutes les parties et parviendra à un résultat positif en peu de temps", a-t-il ajouté.
Membre de l'Otan et candidate à l'adhésion à l'UE, la Turquie entretient aussi de bonnes relations depuis plusieurs années avec son voisin iranien, une situation qu'Ankara entend utiliser pour favoriser le dialogue entre l'Iran et les Six.
Le chef de la diplomatie turque Ali Babacan a affirmé en juillet que la Turquie assumait, à la demande des parties, un rôle informel "de consolidation et de facilitation" des pourparlers entre l'Iran et les grandes puissances.
Les deux présidents ont par ailleurs exprimé leur détermination à renforcer les relations économiques bilatérales, avec pour opbjectif de faire passer leurs échanges de 10 à 20 milliards de dollars entre la fin 2008 et 2012.
Les ministres de l'Energie des deux pays ont signé jeudi une déclaration commune affirmant leur désir de développer la coopération énergétique à travers une série de projets concernant l'exploitation et le transport de gaz naturel et la production d'électricité, sans fixer d'échéances.
La Turquie et l'Iran ont déja signé en novembre une entente pour des projets communs de production d'énergie.
M. Ahmadinejad devait participer vendredi à un forum d'affaires et rencontrer le Premier ministre Recep Tayyip Erdogan avant de regagner l'Iran. (AFP, 14 août 2008)
Un rapprochement controversé entre la Turquie et l'Iran
La visite du président iranien Mahmoud Ahmadinejad le 14 août 2008 revêt une importance particulière écrit Nuray Mert dans un éditorial de Radikal intitulé "une amitié difficile". En effet, l'Iran n'est pas un voisin ordinaire. Il s'agit d'un pays qui est aujourd'hui sous les feux de l'actualité mondiale. "Ce n'est pas la nature théocratique du régime en tant que tel, mais plutôt la puissance qu'il incarne désormais qui pose problème aux Etats-Unis. Depuis l'invasion de l'Irak, la puissance qu'incarne l'Iran est devenue une source de tracas pour les Occidentaux et les Etats-Unis en particulier. Les projets nucléaires iraniens ont ainsi débouché sur des scénarios d'attaque militaire contre l'Iran. Face à un régime devenu très populaire dans le monde musulman, y compris non chiite, la perspective d'une attaque directe contre l'Iran semble difficile. L'idée actuellement serait plutôt d'étouffer l'Iran par un large éventail de sanctions.
C'est dans ce contexte que la Turquie est soumise à d'énormes pressions afin qu'elle prenne part sans discuter à cette politique de sanctions contre l'Iran. Ankara essaie tant bien que mal de résister à ces pressions. Il serait à ce propos injuste de penser que l'attitude turque ne s'explique que par les intérêts communs des deux parties concernant la question kurde [Ankara et Téhéran coopèrent de plus en plus étroitement sur le dossier des séparatistes kurdes]. En tant que puissance régionale moyenne, la Turquie serait forcément affectée par l'affaiblissement de ce voisin direct. Outre les liens historiques et la proximité culturelle, c'est donc cette perspective d'affaiblissement et ses conséquences qui expliquent les réserves de la Turquie dans ce dossier. Plus la crise entre l'Iran et l'Occident s'accentue et plus les relations turco-iraniennes se transforment en une amitié difficile. Espérons que cette amitié ne devienne pas impossible."
Mehmet Y. Yilmaz dans Hürriyet critique très sévèrement le gouvernement AKP [islamo-conservateur] qui, "en accueillant Ahmadinejad, apporte un soutien indirect à l'attitude intransigeante du président iranien sur le dossier nucléaire. L'AKP semble ne pas avoir compris que les deux pays qui ont tout à perdre d'une nucléarisation de l'Iran sont Israël et la Turquie. Les responsables du parti au pouvoir affirment vouloir que la Turquie devienne un acteur politique régional majeur et prétendent que cette visite va y contribuer. Ils ne se rendent pas compte qu'à côté d'un Iran doté d'une force de frappe nucléaire, la Turquie n'aura plus grand-chose à dire dans la région."
A la suite des critiques de Mümtaz Soysal, éditorialiste du très kémaliste quotidien Cumhuriyet, qui fustigeait le fait qu'Ahmadinejad ne visite pas le mausolée d'Atatürk à Ankara, traditionnellement visité par les chefs d'Etats étrangers, et que cela soit qualifié de "détail" par le ministre des Affaires étrangères turc, Ali Babacan, Taha Akyol réagit dans Milliyet par une leçon de realpolitik en écrivant que cette polémique ne doit pas masquer l'essentiel. "C'est parce qu'Ankara et Téhéran ont développé leurs relations qu'il existe aujourd'hui une collaboration très étroite entre la Turquie et l'Iran dans la lutte contre le terrorisme, sur le dossier irakien ainsi qu'en matière d'énergie [les ministres de l'Energie des deux pays ont signé récemment un accord sur le transfert du gaz naturel iranien à travers le territoire turc et autorisant des compagnies turques à développer trois champs de gaz naturel dans le sud de l'Iran]. Il ne sortira certainement rien de concret de la rencontre entre Gül et Ahmadinejad. Mais montrer à la communauté internationale que la Turquie est "dans le coup" sur ce dossier, voilà qui, à long terme, est une attitude intelligente." (Pierre Vanrie, courrierinternational.com, 14 août 2008)
La Turquie inquiète pour la stabilité dans le Caucase
Le ministre turc des Affaires étrangères Ali Babacan a appelé dimanche ses homologues géorgien Eka Tkechelachvili et russe Sergueï Lavrov pour leur faire part des inquiétudes de la Turquie au regard du conflit opposant leurs deux pays, selon un communiqué officiel.
Au téléphone, M. Babacan a "exprimé son inquiétude face à l'escalade du conflit dans la région géorgienne d'Ossétie du sud et a souligné que les affrontements (...) posent une menace sérieuse à la paix et à la stabilité dans le Caucase Sud", affirme le document du ministère des Affaires étrangères.
Le chef de la diplomatie turque a également réitéré ses appels à un arrêt des hostilités, à la modération et à l'utilisation de la voie diplomatique pour résoudre le conflit, tout en soulignant la nécessité de préserver l'intégrité territoriale de la Géorgie.
Il a par ailleurs "confirmé que la Turquie est prête à fournir une assistance humanitaire à ceux qui sont affectés par les affrontements armés en cours".
La Turquie entretient d'étroites relations avec son voisin géorgien depuis que celui-ci a proclamé son indépendance après la disparition de l'URSS et le soutient dans sa demande d'adhésion à l'Otan.
Alors que la Géorgie ne produit pas de pétrole, les compagnies énergétiques occidentales avaient misé sur ce pays pro-occidental, situé entre l'Iran et les oléoducs et gazoducs sous monopole russe, pour développer les exportations d'hydrocarbures extraits d'Azerbaïdjan, au bord de la mer Caspienne.
Depuis l'arrivée au pouvoir du président géorgien Mikheïl Saakachvili en 2004, qui a encouragé le rapprochement de Tbilissi avec Washington et l'Europe, deux nouveaux pipelines ont été mis en fonctionnement, mais le conflit avec la Russie pourrait mettre en danger le transit par ce pays.
L'Azerbaïdjan a annoncé samedi la suspension de ses exportations de pétrole via les ports géorgiens de Koulevi et Batoumi, sur la mer Noire en raison du conflit.
Et le Premier ministre géorgien, Lado Gourgenidze, a déclaré de son côté que l'aviation russe avait effectué samedi des bombardements à proximité de l'oléoduc Bakou-Tbilissi-Ceyhan (BTC), qui n'a cependant pas été endommagé.
L'opérateur du pipeline, la compagnie pétrolière britannique BP, interrogée par l'AFP a mis en doute les informations sur ces bombardements. "Nous ne sommes pas au courant, et je pense que nous le serions si cela était vrai", a déclaré un porte-parole de la compagnie.
BP possède 30% de cette infrastructure dont la construction a coûté plus de 3 milliards de dollars aux côtés d'une dizaine d'autres partenaires, dont les groupes américains Chevron et ConocoPhillips.
Inauguré en 2006, le BTC, long de 1.774 km, achemine le pétrole des gisements azerbaïdjanais de la mer Caspienne vers le port turc de Ceyhan sur la Méditerranée avec une capacité de 1,2 million de barils/jour.
Mais Paul Stevens, analyste pétrolier pour l'institut Chatham House, estime que le sort du BTC ne devrait pas affoler immédiatement les marchés alors que le transit est déjà interrompu depuis mercredi après un incendie en Turquie dû à une explosion.
"Même si le tube est mis hors service pour une semaine ou deux il est très peu probable que cela ait beaucoup d'effet sur l'offre mondiale de pétrole", a-t-il souligné sur la chaîne Sky News.
BP est également l'opérateur de l'oléoduc Bakou-Soupsa, un pipeline soviétique rénové, qui débouche sur la côté géorgienne de la mer Noire ainsi que du nouveau gazoduc du Sud Caucase (Bakou-Tbilissi-Erzurum).
Cette infrastructure de 692km transporte quelque 8 milliards de m3 de gaz par an du vaste champ offshore azerbaïdjanais Shah Deniz via la Géorgie jusqu'à la frontière entre la Turquie et la Géorgie.
Pour Natalia Leschenko, analyste de Global Insight, les pipelines géorgiens ne devraient pas être touché par l'actuelle offensive russe contre la Géorgie.
"La tâche des forces russes à présent est de s'assurer le contrôle de l'Ossétie du Sud (...) les pipelines ne seraient en danger que s'il y avait une escalade et que la Russie décidait d'un blocus économique", observe-t-elle.
Michael Denison, membre associé de Chatham House considère cette éventualité comme peu probable.
Des frappes ou "des tentatives de la Russie de prendre contrôle des pipelines seraient extrêmes car alors l'Otan pourrait conclure à une menace existentielle pour sa sécurité et cela impliquerait une réponse militaire", observe-t-il.
Les analystes s'accordent à dire cependant que les combats en Géorgie devraient décourager à long terme les investissements dans les hydrocarbures de la Caspienne, perçus jusqu'à récemment comme une alternative aux ressources contrôlées par les pays du Proche-Orient et par la Russie. (AFP, 10 août 2008)
Caspian conflict raises energy transit worries
"Russia has a very clear strategy and would prefer Europe's gas to go via Russia and not via independent countries," said Dieter Helm of Oxford University. "There is no definite attempt to disrupt supplies ... but it is not unhelpful to Russia that there is unrest."
The greatest disruption in the region happened before conflict erupted last Thursday when Georgia sent forces to retake South Ossetia, a pro-Russian province that threw off Georgian rule in the 1990s.
Around 850,000 barrels per day (bpd) of crude oil stopped flowing through the Baku-Tbilisi-Ceyhan (BTC) pipeline last week after an explosion on Turkish territory. The pipeline, which ships high quality crude from the Azeri section of the Caspian and is expected to have a capacity of 1.2 million bpd next year, could be closed for two weeks, sources have said.
Industry sources said on Monday Azerbaijan had used rail and oil tankers to re-route some crude that would have been pumped through the BTC pipeline to the Turkish Mediterranean port of Ceyhan, but other options were limited. Following the bombing campaign over Georgia, small amounts of shipments through the Black Sea ports of Poti and Batumi have been suspended.
The ports are used for exporting oil products by other Caspian Sea exporters, such as Kazakhstan or Turkmenistan, as well as for Azeri crude. Exports of Azeri, Kazakh and Turkmen crude and oil products from and through Azerbaijan stood at around 1.3 million barrels per day in early August. They had fallen to 350,000 bpd at the end of last week, according to data from traders and government officials. The disruption has given some support to bearish international oil markets.
But the price reaction was subdued as evidence of slowing international oil demand offset supply outages and analysts waited to assess the full impact. "The shine hasn't quite come off the Azeri star just yet, as it is unclear quite how severe or long-lasting the interruption in supplies through this corridor will be," UBS bank said in a note. "Nor is it clear yet what risks now hang over this pipeline."
The European Union is so keen to avoid over-reliance on Russian supplies, which have also proved unreliable in the past, that Caspian supplies retain appeal. The European Union relies on Russia for about 25 percent of its gas needs. It has thrown its weight behind the Nabucco pipeline, which is expected to be operational in 2013 and would transport Caspian gas to Turkey and then into Western Europe. Helm said the current conflict underlined the need for governments to take a tougher line.
"For Europe the lesson is clear. Nabucco and related projects cannot be left entirely to the private companies. Caspian resources need protection from governments," Helm said.
Other analysts said the chances conflict would disrupt the main gas and oil pipelines flowing through Georgia remained low. "We put a really low probability on the pipelines being affected. It would require a significant escalation of the conflict," said Ana Jelenkovic of Eurasia Group. A trader with a Western major, a shareholder in the Baku-Ceyhan pipeline, also said it was premature to come to pessimistic conclusions about Azeri oil export prospects. "I would not get too hysterical about it. If the pipeline to Ceyhan does not resume work within two weeks, it will happen within three weeks. The Turks will raise security, the Russians are unlikely to intervene and all will be fine again," he said. (Zaman-Reuters, 12 August 2008)
Ankara appelle au dialogue pour arrêter les hostilités en Ossétie du Sud
Le Premier ministre turc Recep Tayyip Erdogan a appelé vendredi le président géorgien Mikheïl Saakachvili et recommandé instamment l'ouverture d'un dialogue pour mettre fin aux hostilités en Ossétie du Sud, selon un communiqué officiel.
M. Erdogan a déclaré au président Saakachvili que la Turquie "suit avec inquiétude le développement de la situation" et il a souligné "l'importance d'une résolution du conflit par des pourparlers directs", selon le communiqué officiel.
Il a également réitéré le soutien de la Turquie à l'intégrité territoriale de la Géorgie, pays voisin, ajoute le texte.
Auparavant, M. Erdogan a indiqué qu'il avait l'intention de téléphoner également à son homologue russe Vladimir Poutine.
Le ministère turc des Affaires étrangères a appelé "les parties à cesser les actions militaires et à négocier directement l'une avec l'autre".
Les "graves" développements en Ossétie du Sud constituent "un environnement de conflit qui pourrait menacer la paix et la sécurité régionales", a souligné le ministère.
De violents affrontements ont opposé vendredi forces russes et géorgiennes après une offensive de l'armée géorgienne afin de reprendre le contrôle de la région séparatiste pro-russe d'Ossétie du Sud. Les combats, qui auraient fait des centaines de morts, étaient toujours en cours.
La Turquie entretient d'étroites relations avec son voisin géorgien depuis que celui-ci a proclamé son indépendance après la disparition de l'URSS et le soutient dans sa demande d'adhésion à l'Otan.
Le Croissant rouge turc a placé son personnel en situation d'alerte et entamé des préparatifs en vue d'une éventuelle opération humanitaire en faveur de la Géorgie.
Un camion chargé de tentes, couvertures et eau potable était en route vers la frontière géorgienne, a indiqué le Croissant rouge turc, précisant être en contact avec ses homologues géorgiens pour évaluer les besoins urgents. (Le Monde, 8 août 2008)
Vives critiques des Kurdes irakiens contre la Turquie
Un des plus influents députés kurdes au Parlement irakien a accusé samedi la Turquie de chercher à réduire l'influence acquise par sa communauté depuis la chute du régime de Saddam Hussein en 2003.
"La Turquie a manoeuvré pour faire adopter une loi anti-kurde au Parlement. Elle est derrière l'adoption de l'article 24 de la loi électorale car elle essaie par tous les moyens de réduire les acquis obtenus par le Kurdes après la chute de Saddam Hussein", a affirmé Mahmoud Othmane, lors d'une conférence de presse dans la ville kurde de Souleimaniyeh.
L'article 24 du projet de loi devant régir les scrutins provinciaux proposait une répartition à part égale du pouvoir au conseil provincial de Kirkouk entre Arabes, Kurdes et Turcomans. S'estimant majoritaires, les Kurdes sont totalement opposés à cet article et souhaitent que leur prépondérance soit reconnue, ce que refusent les Arabes et les Turcomans.
Le projet avait été approuvé le 22 juillet par le Parlement, dans un contexte tendu: seuls 140 députés sur 275 étaient présents lors du vote et de nombreux parlementaires avaient dénoncé des irrégularités dans la procédure. Le vote a été boycotté par les 54 députés kurdes et d'autres législateurs hostiles à la loi.
En réaction, le Conseil présidentiel, composé du chef de l'Etat, Jalal Talabani, et de ses deux adjoints, avait décidé d'opposer son veto au texte.
M. Othmane a également critiqué les Etats-unis "qui ont joué un rôle négatif en ne réagissant pas aux manoeuvres turques pour faire passer cet article 24". Il s'en est également pris à la Grande-Bretagne qui "a fait pression sur les Kurdes pour qu'ils acceptent les demandes des Arabes et des Turcomans". (AFP, 9 août 2008)
Barzani affirme le caractère kurde de Kirkouk lors de sa première visite
Le président de la région autonome du Kurdistan irakien, Massoud Barzani, a affirmé vendredi le caractère "kurde" de Kirkouk lors de sa première visite dans cette ville depuis la chute du régime de Saddam Hussein en 2003.
"Je suis venu transmettre un message de paix à Kirkouk qui est à la fois une ville du Kurdistan et d'Irak", a-t-il affirmé aux journalistes lors de sa visite de quelques heures qui a été boycottée par les représentants du Front turcoman irakien et du "Bloc arabe uni" .
"J'ai invité à cette réunion des personnalités qui ne sont pas d'accord avec nous mais elles ne sont pas venues. En tout cas, ils ne représentent pas tous les Arabes et les Turcomans de la ville et quand ils seront prêts au dialogue nous le serons aussi", a-t-il dit aux journalistes.
Située à 250 kilomètres au nord de Bagdad, Kirkouk avait été placée par l'ancien président Saddam Hussein hors du Kurdistan irakien, une région indépendante de facto depuis 1991. Alors que les Kurdes ont aujourd'hui consolidé leur pouvoir au sein du nouvel Irak, ils exigent son rattachement à leur région autonome, située à une cinquantaine de km plus au nord.
M. Barzani a insisté sur le fait que la solution au problème de cette ville doit se faire selon l'article 140 de la constitution irakienne. Elle prévoit la tenue d'un référendum après que des mesures auront été prises pour annuler les conséquences de l'arabisation forcée menée par Saddam Hussein dans cette région riche en pétrole.
"Toutes les composantes de cette ville doivent vivre ensemble car est fini le temps où le fort pouvait manger le faible. Je suis venu ici pour dissiper la peur et assainir l'atmosphère entre les différentes composantes", a-t-il encore dit.
C'est le problème posé par Kirkouk qui a empêché le vote de la loi électorale permettant la tenue des élections provinciales initialement prévue le 1er octobre. (AFP, 8 août 2008)
Kurdish President Barzani Says Iraq Vote Bill a 'Conspiracy'
The president of Iraq's autonomous Kurdish region Massud Barzani has sharply criticised a provincial election bill as a "conspiracy," deepening a political rift over the oil-rich Kirkuk province.
"After the long talks we held it was clear for us that what happened on July 22 was a big conspiracy and very dangerous for the democratic and constitutional process of Iraq, in particular against the Kurds," Barzani said.
Barzani's comments late on Monday came as the Iraqi national parliament was meeting on Tuesday to try to resolve disputes over the controversial election bill, eagerly awaited by the United States.
The legislation aims to govern a provincial poll scheduled for October 1, but it has hit a major snag over how the council governing the multi-ethnic region of Kirkuk -- claimed by both Kurds and Arabs -- should be constituted.
Iraq's 275-member parliament on July 22 adopted a bill which would have allowed the provincial polls to go ahead.
But the draft faced strong opposition from major blocs in parliament -- mainly Kurds and some Shiite ministers -- who stormed out in protest, leaving only about 140 MPs to vote.
The vote forced the three-member presidency council, headed by President Jalal Talabani, himself a Kurd, to send the legislation back to MPs for reworking, where it remains stalled.
The United States, which is involved in trying to resolve the standoff, sees the provincial poll as a key step to healing the sectarianism violence that has torn the nation apart since the 2003 American-led invasion.
Since the bill came before the house last month, Kurds in Arbil have staged a series of angry protest demonstrations, while Arabs have countered with their own rallies in Baghdad and in the northern city of Hawija, near Kirkuk.
In the latest protest, several hundred people in a Sunni Arab neighbourhood of Baghdad took to the streets on Monday to protest at what they see as moves by Kurds to incorporate Kirkuk into the autonomous Kurdish region.
The legal wrangle centres on article 24 of the draft legislation that aims to evenly divide power in the regional council among Kirkuk's three main groups -- Arabs, Kurds and Turkmen.
The Kurds, who currently constitute a majority, are vigorously opposed.
"Kurds are for the distribution of authority in Kirkuk but not equally dividing it," Barzani said. "The division should come from the election results."
Under the Iraqi constitution, a referendum had been due to be held by last year on longstanding Kurdish claims for Kirkuk and its oil wealth.
But in December, Kurdish leaders agreed to a six-month postponement of the vote at the recommendation of the United Nations, and it has yet to be held.
Arab and Turkmen residents are fearful they would be marginalised if the city were handed over to the Kurds, who make up the majority of the population.
Ethnic tension has dogged Kirkuk since the US-led invasion of 2003 that ousted now executed dictator Saddam Hussein.
In parliament on Tuesday, an AFP correspondent said that one proposal put forward by the United Nations calls for the election in Kirkuk to be delayed until December 2009, allowing polls in other provinces to go ahead.
The issue of redistributing political power in Kirkuk would then be postponed, and a special parliamentary commission to monitor demographic changes in the province established.
Under Saddam's regime, Kirkuk was the scene of a massive population upheaval with tens of thousands of Kurdish residents expelled to make way for Arab settlers.
Since 2003, Kurdish politicians have stoked tensions by encouraging Kurds to return. (AFP, 5 août 2008)
Bachar al-Assad en Turquie, évoque avec Erdogan les négociations avec Israël
Le président syrien Bachar al-Assad est arrivé mardi en Turquie pour quelques jours de vacances et a évoqué les discussions indirectes, sous médiation turque, entre son pays et Israël lors d'un déjeuner avec le Premier ministre turc Recep Tayyip Erdogan, ont rapporté les médias.
Le président syrien, accompagné de son épouse Asma, a été accueilli par le couple Erdogan à l'aéroport de Bodrum (sud-ouest), ville où sont situés d'importants complexes touristiques, ont indiqué les chaînes de télévisions NTV et CNN-Türk.
Lors d'un déjeuner de travail, les deux dirigeants ont ensuite évoqué les négociations israélo-syriennes, ainsi que la situation au Proche-Orient, selon ces chaînes.
Selon l'édition en ligne du journal Hürriyet, le couple al-Assad devrait passer près d'une semaine de vacances dans un hôtel de luxe de Bodrum, fréquenté par des centaines de milliers de touristes étrangers chaque année.
Israël et la Syrie ont tenu depuis mai quatre séries de discussions indirectes à Istanbul sous l'égide de la Turquie afin de trouver un règlement à leurs différends.
Un prochain round de négociations par l'intermédiaire de diplomates turcs est attendu courant d'août.
Israël et la Syrie sont formellement en état de guerre depuis 1948 mais ont signé des accords d'armistice ou de cessez-le-feu. (AFP, 5 août 2008)
Chypre et la Grèce / Cyprus and Greece
Turkey 'indirectly' seeks the extradition of a DHKP-C official from Cyprus
While Turkey is trying to speed up the extradition of a leading member of an outlawed group through international mechanisms, the country's non-recognition of Greek Cyprus is weakening the hand of Ankara.
Aslan Tayfun Özkök of the Revolutionary People's Liberation Party/Front, or DHKP-C, was captured in Greek Cyprus on his way to the Netherlands, where he was to attend the funeral ceremony of another member of the organization, it was revealed yesterday.
Özkök is wanted by Interpol on a red bulletin, but his extradition to Turkey is a matter of debate as Ankara does not recognize the Greek Cypriot administration and it is unclear how official procedures can start. A Turkish diplomat told the Turkish Daily News that Ankara was seeking extradition through “indirect” channels, namely Interpol.
“We only have a demand and hope to get positive consequences,” he said, without referring to the Greek Cypriot leadership. So far allegations circulating have revealed that criminals and terrorists wanted by Turkey would rather flee to the south of the Mediterranean island due to Ankara's lack of diplomatic ties with the Greek Cypriots.
Many believed Özkök would replace Dursun Karataş as the leader of DHKP-C after the death of the latter from cancer in the Netherlands. News reports said yesterday that Özkök was readying for the leadership of the outlawed group, but there was friction between him and group members Musa Asoğlu and Zerrin Sarı -- a lawyer who it is claimed had an affair with Karataş.
Bearing a number of nicknames -- including Musa, Adem, Ziya, Barbaros and Özcan-- Özkök ran away from Turkey, where he stood trial on charges of assassinating former Prime Minister Nihat Erim and a former deputy police chief, Mahmut Dikler, and faced capital punishment.
According to intelligence reports, Özkök recently turned out to be very influential in the DHKP-C and was making decisions on behalf of Karataş, whose health had deteriorated due to cancer. Before his capture, another DHKP-C member, Mustafa Uyar, one of the suspects in the assassination of prominent Turkish businessman Özdemir Sabancı, had said he stayed in the house of Özkök when the latter was in charge of the DHKP-C's Syria office. (Turkish Daily News, August 16, 2008)
Immigration / Migration
La famille kurde Kocamer a été expulsée en Turquie
Elif Kocamer et ses deux enfants ont été reconduits dans leur pays d’origine, la Turquie. Après 14 jours passés au centre de rétention de Rouen, la famille kurde a été conduite à l’aéroport de Roissy Charles-de-Gaulle ce matin, à 5h45. L’avion est parti à 9 heures. La manifestation, prévue à 18h30 devant la préfecture, à l’initiative du réseau éducation sans-frontière est maintenue.
Les membres du Comité de parents d’élèves et de RESF ont publié la protestation suivante contre l’expulsion de Madame kocamer et de ses deux enfants.
"Nous sommes scandalisés du fait que la préfète n’ait tenu aucun compte de la forte mobilisation organisée lundi soir dernier en soutien à la famille Kocamer.
"Nous sommesindignés de la violence psychique faite aux enfants que l’on a tiré de leur sommeil ce mercredi 27 Août à 5 heures du matin au prétexte de les conduire dans un autre "centre familiale de rétention" pour finalement les jeter dans l’avion : nous dénonçons ce mensonge et cette duperie exercée à l’encontre d’enfants de 5 et 12 ans.
"Nous sommes indignés, encore, devant l’ironie faite à Elif d’être reconduite en Turquie au motif d’un regroupement familiale au déni absolu de sa liberté de femme.
"Nous affirmons que la préfète est la seule responsable de cette procédure et qu’elle est prise en défaut d’humanité ; elle qui à l’heure où nous écrivons refuse encore de tenir compte d’un nouveau référé liberté déposé par l’avocate de la famille.
"Cette issue dramatique, loin de nous démobiliser renforce notre détermination pour continuer à informer la population et à nous battre pour Elif, Ahmet et Eren ainsi que por toutes les autres familles de sans papiers de la Mayenne. Madame la préfète viendra-t-elle expliquer aux enfants de l’école Pauline Kergomar et du collège Alain Gerbault pourquoi les chaises de leurs deux camarades qui comme eux se réjouissaient de la rentrée qui approche sont vides ?" (ouest-france.fr, 27 août 2008)
L'expulsion de la famille kurde confirmée par le juge des libertés de Rouen
Le juge des libertés de Rouen a confirmé en appel l'expulsion de la famille kurde qui était installée à Laval, estimant que les problèmes de santé de la mère n'entravaient en rien son retour en Turquie. Celle-ci a été hospitalisée à la suite d'un malaise pendant l'audience. Elle était hier soir de retour au centre de rétention de Rouen avec ses deux enfants de 5 et 12 ans.
Une soixantaine de personnes se sont réunies lundi soir devant la préfecture en soutien à la famille Kocemar. Eliph Kocamer et ses deux enfants de 5 et 12 ans sont toujours détenus au centre de rétention de Rouen, menacés d'expulsion vers la Turquie.
Lundi matin, la mère a passé des examens médicaux à l'hôpital à la demande du médecin du centre de rétention. D'après le Réseau éducation sans frontières (RESF), tous deux estiment que « son état de santé ne permet ni un maintien en rétention, ni une expulsion vers la Turquie ».
Jean-Marc Bédue, porte-parole de RESF sur ce dossier dénonce également « les conditions ignobles de détention de la famille Kocemar. » La directrice de l'écolePauline-Kergomard, où est scolarisé Erem, 5 ans, a pu les voir jeudi dernier. « J'ai vu Ahmet arriver, en basket, mais sans lacet ni ceinture à son survêtement ! s'indigne-t-elle. Il passe du désespoir à l'indignation. »
Mardi matin, la famille Kocamer passe devant le juge des libertés qui décidera de leur sort. Les militants ont décidé de se retrouver tous les soirs, vers 18 h, devant la préfecture. Et ce, jusqu'à la libération. (Ouest-France, 19 août 2008)
Obsèques à Istanbul du leader du DHKP-C Dursun Karatas
Des milliers de sympathisants du Front-Parti de libération du peuple révolutionnaire (DHKP-C) ont investi vendredi le quartier stambouliote de Gazi avec des drapeaux rouges pour rendre un dernier hommage à leur leader défunt Dursun Karatas.
Un long cortège a accompagné jusqu'au cimetière de Gazi le cercueil de Karatas, décédé à 55 ans des suites d'un cancer et dont le corps a été rapatrié jeudi des Pays-Bas.
"Les héros sont immortels, le peuple est invincible", "Mort au fascisme, longue vie à notre combat", ont clamé les participants à la procession, qui a arpenté durant trois heures le quartier de Gazi, bastion des groupes de gauche radicale et théâtre en 1995 d'émeutes sanglantes (20 morts, plus de 250 blessés).
La manifestation s'est dispersée dans le calme, en l'absence totale de policiers, barricadés dans le commissariat de Gazi.
Membre du mouvement Dev-Sol, sur les cendres duquel il fondera en 1994 le DHKP-C, Karatas a été arrêté en 1980 et condamné à mort pour avoir commandité les meurtres d'un ancien Premier ministre, Nihat Erim, d'un leader d'extrême-droite, de deux généraux à la retraite et d'un procureur.
Sa peine a été commuée en détention à perpétuité et en 1989, il s'est évadé de prison avant de trouver réfuge en Europe. (AFP, 15 août 2008)
La question de service militaire du Secrétaire d'Etat belge Emir Kir
Cet article intitulé "Il faut sauver le soldat Kir" a été publié par Le Pan (hebdo satirique belge) le 15 août 2008:
Il y a quelques mois, Kadir Kir, le frère aîné du secrétaire d'Etat socialiste, fait part à un ami de son inquiétude par rapport aux obligations militaires turques de son ministre de petit frère : « Emir a déjà rencontré à plusieurs reprises Abdullah Gül [le Président turc] pour lui faire rapport sur son problème de service militaire. Il est dans une situation très difficile car en tant que ministre belge, il lui est évidemment difficile d'enfiler l'uniforme des forces armées turques et depuis qu'il a atteint ses 38 ans, il n'ose plus se rendre en Turquie. Malgré sa relation privilégiée avec Gül et les correspondants de Hürriyet, ils n'ont toujours pas trouvé une solution à son problème… ».
En effet, comme le notait déjà la DH en juillet 2007, à l'instar de tout citoyen turc, le turco-belge Emir Kir est prié soit de servir sous les drapeaux pendant 15 mois avant son 39ème anniversaire, soit de faire un service réduit à 21 jours en payant la coquette somme de 5 112 €.
Né à Charleroi le 17 octobre 1968, Emir Kir n'avait donc pas de possibilité d'échapper, pendant son mandat de secrétaire d'Etat bruxellois, au serment pour « défendre l'honneur de l'armée et la fierté du drapeau turc ». Mais depuis, il semble que le lobbying intensif de l'élu PS ait porté ses fruits puisque le soldat Kir est reparti cet été 2008 à Emirdag, en compagnie de trois autres conseillers schaerbeekois, pour prendre part (et la parole) aux festivités annuelles de la région.
Conclusion : soit Emir Kir a bel et bien effectué secrètement son service militaire réduit, soit il bénéficie d'une exonération spéciale qui fera que la Turquie n'est plus un Etat de droit mais de passe-droits.
Un recours judiciaire de tout candidat soldat belgo-turc peut toujours être introduit pour inégalité devant la loi républicaine mais d'aucuns se demandent plutôt si, pour échapper à l'obligation de service militaire, il ne faudra pas plutôt prendre la carte de membre du PS belge…
Rétroactes indiqués par http://fr.groups.yahoo.com/group/suffrage-universel/messages :
DHKP/C Leader Dursun Karatas Died in Holland
Dursun Karataş, leader of the Revolutionary People’s Liberation Party/Front (DHKP/C) died on August 11, 2008 at a hospital in the Netherlands. At a press conference in İstanbul, Karataş family attorney Taylan Tanay said: “My client died on Aug. 11 at 5 a.m. This is conclusive information.”
Karataş had been undergoing treatment for cancer in a clinic in the Netherlands for a prolonged period. Some news reports in previous weeks claimed Karataş had died but such reports were later denied.
While confirming Karataş’ death, Tanay said officials in the Netherlands said the reason for his death was cancer and that he had been undergoing treatment for the last 10 years. Tanay noted that Karataş will be buried in İstanbul.
Karataş, born in 1953 in the eastern Turkish province of Elazığ, founded in 1974 The Cultural Association of Higher Education Students of Istanbul (IYOKD) and in 1978 the Revolutionary Left (Devrimci Sol) in Istanbul, following the political line of the People’s Liberation Party/Front of Turkey (THKP/C). The organization was accused of having murdered former Prime Minister Nihat Erim and former Nationalist Movement Party deputy leader Gün Sazak.
Karataş was caught on Sept. 30, 1980, following the Sept. 12 military coup. Karataş was sentenced to death, but after the trial his sentence was commuted to life in prison. He escaped from İstanbul’s Bayrampaşa Prison in 1989. After having left Turkey he lived first in Syria and later in various countries of Europe.
In 1994, in fighting within Dev Sol resulted in the formation of two factions: the main group led by Karataş was renamed Revolutionary People’s Liberation Party/Front (DHKP/C), while the other faction created the new People’s Liberation Party/Front of Turkey (THKP/C).
Karataş was arrested in France in 1994 and was released after spending four months in prison. Later on he lived in clandestinity until his death.
In 2006, at a trial against seven persons accused of DHKP-C activities, a Belgian Court sentenced him in absentia to a 6-year prison for DHKP-C activities. The Appeals Court of Antwerpen annuled this sentence. However, after the Prosecutor's appeal, the Cassation Court ordered retrial of Karatas and six other persons by the Appeals Court of Brussels.
The retrial will start soon.