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Media Watch 2004

07 December 2004
Source: Info Turk
Author:
Comment: The following is an article of Info Turk of 7 December 2004.
11 days before the summit of December 17... and yet, repression reigns in Turkey
"Ankara does not show any intention to recognize the injustices and atrocities committed in the Turkish history and follows an absolutely policy of negation. According to the statement of reasons for Article 306 of the new Turkish Penal Code, a citizen who demands the withdrawal of Turkish soldiers from Cyprus or declares that the Armenian genocide actually took place during the First World War, can be pursued by Justice."

371 years ago, in 1633, Galileo Galilei said: "And yet, it does move!"

The European governments are preparing the opening of the negotiations on Turkey's adhesion by applauding "the process of political reform in Turkey and the adopted constitutional and legislative changes." As for Ankara, it seems sure that "a clear date for launching the negotiations of adhesion will be announced on December 17, without any condition and the necessity of revaluation."

However, in spite of this Turkish-European optimism, the violations or the non-respect of humans right always continue in this country candidate to the European Union.

Info-Türk, which has fought for 29 years for a real democratization in Turkey, will remind the alarming facts until the European Summit of December 17 the 2004.

1. In Turkish prisons, there are still thousands of political detainees. Even the Minister for Justice Cemil Cicek, in answer to a parliamentary question, announced on November 27 that the number of the prisoners for " offences of terror" climbs currently to 5,557 and that they are kept in 73 grand prisons of the country including 11 prisons of type-F. He added that still two other prisons of type-F are in construction in Van and Kirikkale. These prisons are the cause of the death of 117 people on hunger strike. The new law on the execution of punishments, adopted on December 4 by the Parliament, still maintains this carceral system. The ill-treatment of political prisoners, particularly in the prisons of type-F continues in spite of the alarming affidavits of the prisoners or their parents. (See: the reports of the NGOs such as AI, IHD, TIHV, Mazlum-Der and FIDH in the issues 316, 315, 314 of Info-Türk in last three months)

2. The summary execution and torture under arrest are always being practiced. Very recently, a 12-year-old Kurdish child was killed by forces of security under pretext of "hunting for the terrorists". Torturers are not pursued in many cases in spite of the complaint of the victims or of human rights associations. As detailed by a report of the Human Rights Foundation of Turkey (TIHV) on November 25, rare lawsuits started against these criminals do not lead to an exemplary judgment.

3. As it is often recalled by the press associations, the new Turkish Penal Code, so applauded by the European Union, always constitutes a threat against the freedom of press. Journalists are always judged for insult to the Army, the government or the security forces because of their criticisms, under the terms of article 302 (old article 159) of the TPC. For example, an arrest warrant against the chief editor of Info-Türk, Dogan Özgüden, is still in force within the framework of a lawsuit relating to one of his articles criticizing the military junta of the Seventies, and this in spite of the intervention of the international press organizations and the Belgian ministry of the Foreign Affairs. December 2, popular singer Ferhat Tunc was again tried by a penal court for insulting the judiciary. November 26, journalist Halit Ertas sentenced to eleven months for separatist propaganda by means of Internet. (See: the reports of the NGOs such as RSF, IFEX, IPI, NABA, WAN, WPFC, BIA and TGCin the issues 316, 315, 314 of Info-Türk in last three months)

4. In spite of some cosmetic reforms, the equal rights (teaching, audio-visual expression, association) are still not recognized as well for the Kurdish people as for the ethnic or religious minorities of the country, in particular Armenians, Assyrians, Greeks and Alevis. All the pacific initiatives of the Kurdish national movement in order to arrive at a peaceful solution is systematically declined and the military operations continue in order to satisfy the voracity of the Army and the industry of war.

5. Ankara does not show any intention to recognize the injustices and atrocities committed in the Turkish history and follows an absolutely policy of negation. According to the statement of reasons for Article 306 of the new Turkish Penal Code, a citizen who demands the withdrawal of Turkish soldiers from Cyprus or declares that the Armenian genocide actually took place during the First World War, can be pursued by Justice. Moreover, the diplomatic missions of Ankara often instigate the Turkish nationals and even the deputies or candidates of Turkish origin of the European political parties (Socialists, Liberals, Ecologists or Christians) to take part in the demonstrations of negation.

6. In spite of the so-called "demilitarization" of the National Security Council (MGK), the military continue to dictate their militarist choices by well publicized declarations of the Chief of the General Staff or the commanders of the land, air and naval forces. Moreover, the Higher Military Council (YAS), charged to manage the interne work procedure of the Army, continues to dismiss certain officers considered "anti-secular" in spite of the opposition of the government. Moreover, at the end of its last meeting on December 1st, 2004, the YAS released a completely political statement on the relations with Europe and the neighbor countries. The commentators estimate that the YAS thus gives the sign that it is rapidly replacing the "demilitarized" MGK to ensure the military's control over the political life of the country.

7. Lastly, an undemocratic constitution preaching the superiority of the Turkish race, imposed in 1982 by the military junta, is always in force. Moreover, an electoral system imposing a national threshold of 10% is always maintained with the detriment of the political parties representing the different political opinions, in particular pro-Kurdish or left-wing ones, so that the Islamist party remains in power with an absolute majority in the Parliament in spite of its electoral score less than 50%.

So, the European leaders should not yield to Ankara's manipulations or blackmails... Even if they are obliged to announce a date for the opening of the negotiations, this opening must absolutely be conditioned with the total suppression of all these failures incompatible with the European Convention of Human Rights and with the new European Constitution."