Sunday, 31 July 2011

UK immigration analysis needed on Turkish legal migration, say MPs

Home Office ministers need to order an official assessment of the likely scale of legal migration to Britain should Turkey join the European Union, a Commons committee has urged.

The home affairs select committee also says that much more must be done to improve security on Turkey's borders before it should be allowed to join the EU. The land border with Greece is now the main loophole for irregular migration into Europe with 350 migrants trying to cross it every day in 2010 and more than 75% of trafficked heroin into the EU also flows across its borders.

The MPs' report says that the available forecasts for the likely flow of Turkish nationals to other European countries should it join the EU range from 500,000 to 4.4 million up until 2030. One estimate by Oxford University suggests that the figure could be as low as 60,000 to 70,000 a year to Europe as a whole.

"Current migration of Turkish nationals to the EU has declined to below 50,000 a year but population trends and the gap in living standards could make easier migration within the EU an attractive option for Turkish citizens," says the report published on Monday.

"Given the UK's experience after the 2004 enlargement, when many thousands more migrants arrived than expected, the committee is cautious about allowing Turkish citizens full freedom of movement and supports the government's commitment to applying 'effective transitional controls as a matter of course' for all new member states," says the report.

The Home Office says that there are about 150,000 Turkish nationals living in Britain at present, with about 500,000 people of Turkish origin living in the country altogether. But Germany, Austria, the Netherlands and France all have larger Turkish communities which are more likely to attract a new wave of legal migration.

Current discussions in Brussels assume that Turkey could join the EU in 2020 but no final decisions have been made and there is significant opposition among some member states.

Home Office immigration minister Damian Green, giving evidence to the committee's inquiry, said it was impossible to make any kind of realistic assessment at the moment on the impact of Turkish accession to the EU on likely migration patterns.

He said that "we don't know any of the basic facts", including whether a transitional period under which Britain could restrict the flow of Turkish migrant workers will be put in place. Green also pointed out that Turkey traditionally had much stronger links with Germany than Britain and had an economy which was growing at a faster rate than India, meaning many Turks might well stay at home.

However, the MPs say that, while the Home Office was no doubt wary of attracting criticism for producing inaccurate estimates in the future, they were concerned that no official impact analysis has yet been carried out: "Accordingly we recommend that the Home Office undertakes this piece of work now and updates it as circumstances change."

Ministers do not want to repeat the experience of 2004 when Poland and other east European states joined and an annual net migration prediction of 13,000 proved well wide of the mark.
Source: Guardian

Friday, 29 July 2011

Turkish Generals Resign En Masse

Turkey’s top four generals stepped down today, the first such mass resignation in the country’s history, amid tensions with Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdogan over alleged military plots to undermine his government.

Chief of General Staff Isik Kosaner asked to leave because he “deemed it necessary,” the state news agency Anatolia reported from Ankara, citing no one. The chiefs of the army, air force and navy announced their resignations soon after, the NTV news channel reported.

Erdogan, re-elected to a third term in office in June, has reduced the secularist armed forces’ power over Turkish politics since he came to power in 2002. His party was formed after the closure of an Islamist party. More than 40 generals are under arrest after prosecutors alleged that they planned bomb attacks to undermine Erdogan’s administration.

The resignations are “unprecedented” and “the situation is extremely fluid,” Inan Demir, chief economist at Finansbank AS in Istanbul, said in an e-mailed comment. “The balance of power has shifted decidedly in favor of the government over the recent years, which could limit the fallout from the resignations.”

Turkey’s lira currency weakened as much as 1.3 percent to 1.6991 per dollar in Istanbul, heading for its biggest drop in a week. Bond and stock markets were closed.

”Things look chaotic,” Suha Yaygin, deputy chief of emerging markets at Toronto-Dominion Bank in London, said in e- mailed comments. “There’s never been such a thing in the history of Turkey. The lira could fall below 1.70 again.”

Members of Erdogan’s Justice and Development Party contacted by telephone declined to comment.

Today’s resignations followed a meeting in Ankara between Kosaner, Erdogan and President Abdullah Gul to discuss promotions of senior military staff, Anatolia said. Erdogan was pushing to force the retirement of the generals and admirals who are jailed as part of the trials, according to a report in Cumhuriyet newspaper on July 5. None of them have been convicted.
Source: Businessweek

Wednesday, 27 July 2011

NATO Tells Turkey Not to Purchase Third-Party Antimissile Tech

NATO has warned Turkey not to purchase antimissile technology from Russia or China if Ankara wants to have access to ballistic missile threat information from radar stations in alliance member states, the Hürriyet Daily News reported on Monday (see GSN, July 13).

The military alliance has agreed to establish a missile shield covering all of Europe. As part of that effort, member states are to augment and connect their individual antimissile capabilities (see GSN, July 22).

U.S. defense contractors Lockheed Martin and Raytheon are competing as a team to have their Patriot interceptor technology selected for Turkish air and missile defense acquisitions. Their competitors include China Precision Machinery Export-Import's HQ-9 and the S-300 air defense system manufactured by Russian state firm Rosoboronexport. The Italian-French team of Eurosam is also marketing its SAMP/T Aster 30 to Ankara. A decision is expected in late 2011 or early 2012.

A number of analysts and officials from Western nations noted that the Chinese and Russian air defense technologies could not work with alliance systems. Awarding missile defense contracts to firms from either country could give them a window into secret NATO intelligence and might jeopardize the integrity of the alliance's operations, they said.
"If, say, the Chinese win the competition, their systems will be in interaction, directly or indirectly, with NATO’s intelligence systems, and this may lead to the leak of critical NATO information to the Chinese, albeit inadvertently. So this is dangerous," said one Western specialist.

"NATO won’t let that happen," a different Western official said to the Turkish newspaper. "If the Chinese or the Russians win the Turkish contest, their systems will have to work separately. They won’t be linked to NATO information systems."

Ankara, however, has yet to take off the table the possibility of purchasing Russian and Chinese missile defense systems, arguing there is no rationale for removing them from consideration.

"One explanation is that Turkey itself doesn’t plan to (ultimately) select the Chinese or Russian alternatives, but still is retaining them among their options to put pressure on the Americans and the Europeans to (lower) their prices," the Western analyst speculated.

Turkey's T-Loramids system was developed to defeat both hostile aircraft and missiles. The program exists entirely apart from the alliance's initiative to establish continent-wide missile protection.

The military bloc is in discussions with Ankara on installing an advanced X-band radar system on Turkish land. High-ranking Turkish and U.S. officials conferred on the issue earlier this month in Istanbul when U.S. Secretary of State Hillary Clinton traveled to the country. Officials said the talks were productive on reaching a radar agreement.

The X-band radar is envisioned as providing early warning should any ballistic missile be fired from the Middle East toward NATO territory. Standard Missile 3 interceptors deployed on U.S. Aegis warships stationed in the Mediterranean and eventually from a base in Romania could be launched to eliminate the threat (Ümit Enginsoy, Hürriyet Daily News, July 25).
Source: Global Security Newswire

Tuesday, 26 July 2011

Turkey Still Shamefully Instrumentalising Palestinian Issue for Petty Diplomatic Gains


Turkey is preparing to harden its attitude towards Israel for its refusal to apologise over last year's deadly raid on a Gaza-bound aid flotilla, official sources said on Tuesday.

The Israeli government has to date failed to either say sorry or compensate families of the nine activists who were killed in May last year in a commando raid on the Mavi Marmara, a Turkish-owned ferry which was leading the convoy.

Speaking after it emerged a UN report into the incident had been delayed yet again, a senior source in Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdogan's government said that Turkey was ready to toughen its line towards its former ally.

"The ball is in the Israeli court. If it decides to apologise, then everything's fine. If not, then we will have to resort to Plan B," the Turkish diplomat told AFP on condition of anonymity.

Among the measures under consideration are moves to bring legal action against the Israeli commandos who took part in the raid or further chill already frosty diplomatic ties.

Turkey, which recalled its ambassador to Tel Aviv after the raid and still only has a charge d'affaires in place, could further downgrade its diplomatic representation and withhold agreement when Israel wants to name a new envoy to Ankara, the source added.
Turkey would strive to have "the Palestinian voice" heard more in international organisations, particularly at the United Nations where Palestinians are pushing for full membership.

The Turkish government would also try to take a more active role in efforts to reconcile the two main Palestinian factions, Hamas and Fatah. Hamas, which rules the Gaza Strip, has been behind dozens of anti-Israeli attacks and refuses to recognise the Jewish state's right to exist.

Erdogan has also recently raised the idea of paying a visit to Gaza -- in a move press reports suggested would take place if Israel continues to refuse to apologise.
Visiting the Hamas-run Gaza Strip would most likely further exacerbate tensions with the Jewish state.

Israel's cabinet is understood to be split over the issue of an apology with Foreign Minister Avigdor Lieberman dead set against, while Defence Minister Ehud Barak and Intelligence Minister Dan Meridor are in favour.
Source: AFP

Monday, 25 July 2011

Hrant Dink's Killer Sentenced to 22 Years

A Turkish man was sentenced to 22 years and 10 months in jail for the murder of ethnic-Armenian journalist Hrant Dink.

Ogun Samast was found guilty of homicide and possessing arms without a license, according to the state-run Anatolia news agency, which cited an Istanbul juvenile court decision.

Dink was shot three times in the head and neck outside the offices of his Agos newspaper on Jan. 19, 2007. Scores of people have been arrested in connection with his assassination, including six gendarmerie officers. Prosecutors also questioned police officers and a former governor of Istanbul.

Samast was tried by a juvenile court because he was under 18 when he committed the murder. Dink’s family is charging that security forces in the northern province of Trabzon, where Samast came from, and in Istanbul failed to act on intelligence that Dink would be assassinated.
Source: Bloomberg

Saturday, 23 July 2011

American Politicians Call for Greater Rights for Christians in Turkey

After years of religious discrimination, the United States House Committee on Foreign Affairs voted to adopt a Berman-Cicilline Amendment which aims to end the oppression of Turkey’s Christian minority.

The 43-1 house vote that added a “return of churches” passage to H.R. 2583, a State Department-Foreign Relation Authorization Act, called for the protection of Christian citizens. Armenian, Greek and Assyrian-Chaldean appear to be the groups most affected by the amendment that recognizes the mistreatment of their people practicing Christianity in Turkey.

The driving force behind the passage of the amendment was Republican California Representative Ed Royce, who said it is important to recognize the wrongs being committed against Christians in Turkey.

“Religious minorities are under grave threat in today's Turkey," said Royce, a Republican from California. "Rather than enjoying protection, very vulnerable religious minority groups including the Ecumenical Patriarchate of the Greek Orthodox Church are denied full legal status.”

Ken Hachikian, chairman of the Armenian National Committee of America, said the congressional committee vote was a step in the right direction for Christians in Turkey.

“We won this landmark victory in the face of years of Turkey’s lies about its supposed tolerance, and despite its token conversion of a few ancient churches,” said Hachikian, according to CNN-Turkey.

Archbishop Vicken Aykazian, Legate of the Eastern Diocese of the Armenian Church, was in attendance when the congressional committee voted in favor of the bipartisan amendment. He expressed the importance of the vote.

“This is a vote of justice against injustice,” said Aykazian. “I hope that this will be the first of many steps towards preserving Armenian Christian heritage in Turkey.”

The United States House Committee on Foreign Affairs is responsible for overseeing and creating legislation regarding foreign assistance. This type of assistance includes security and health issues taking place overseas, according to the U.S. House of Representatives website.

The Berman-Cicilline Amendment recently passed by the committee encourages the Turkish government to honor international treaties and human rights laws.

The amendment encourages the Turkish government to "allow the rightful church and lay owners of Christian church properties, without hindrance or restriction, to organize and administer prayer services, religious education, clerical training, appointments, and succession, religious community gatherings, social services, including ministry to the needs of the poor and infirm, and other religious activities.”
Source: Christian Post

Thursday, 21 July 2011

Attila '74: the Turkish Invasion of Cyprus




Yesterday was the 37th anniversary of the Turkish invasion of Cyprus. To commemorate the occasion, here is the documentary film Attila '74, which is about the invasion and was made in its immediate aftermath.

Wednesday, 20 July 2011

Erdogan Using the Threat of Inflammatory Gaza Visit as Diplomatic Bargaining Chip



Is this the kind of statesmanship we expect from a serious country? Do the European leaders who talk glowingly of what a valuable diplomatic asset would be to the EU ever reflect soberly on the child-like petulance that seems to be the guiding animus of Turkish diplomacy?

From the Jerusalem Post:
Turkish Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdogan said that he will travel to Gaza if Israel does not apologize to Turkey for last year's Gaza flotilla raid, Turkish daily Hurriyet reported Wednesday.

From Debka:
According to DEBKAfile's Middle East sources, Erdogan's ill will and proneness to provocative gestures may be partly rooted in his frustration at being snubbed by Washington on a completely separate issue: Up until recently, he was certain President Barack Obama had tabbed him as mediator in the dispute between Muammar Qaddafi and the Libyan rebels. Last week, he suddenly discovered that Obama had asked Moscow to step up to broker an end to the Libyan war, cutting Ankara out of the lead role.
His Gaza visit may therefore be seen as a loud cry of protest.

Tuesday, 19 July 2011

Turkey Promises to Freeze Relations with EU During Cyprus Presidency

Turkish Prime Minister Erdogan has said emphatically that his country will have no relations with the EU when Cyprus holds the EU's rotating presidency for six months next year.
The Turkish prime minister has reiterated that Turkish-European Union relations will be suspended if the Republic of Cyprus takes over the 27-nation bloc's rotating presidency in the second half of 2012 without a settlement on the island.

“We will never have dialogue with them [Greek Cyprus] during their presidency. Relations with the EU will freeze, meaning there will be no Turkey-EU relations for that six-month period,” he said.
Source

He also indicated that Turkey will no longer abide by some of the proposed terms of 2004 Annan plan intended to bring about the re-unification of Cyprus.
The Turkish prime minister said Turkey no longer agrees to the return of Morphou) and Karpas to the Greek Cypriots, as envisioned in the failed Annan plan
Erdogan, who arrives in Cyprus later today, said 2012 was a final deadline for a settlement on the island.

“We will see if this is resolved by 2012 or not. If it is not, we will have to find solutions ourselves,” Erdoğan was quoted as saying by the Anatolia news agency on Tuesday.

The Turkish side has long warned that talks to reunite Cyprus will not continue forever and that Ankara might seek international recognition for the north.

...Erdoğan dismissed once again withdrawing troops from the island. “We had agreed to withdraw troops under the Annan plan. They [the Greek Cypriots] did not accept it. So, they lost [their chance].”

Responding to Mr. Erdogans remarks, President Christofias expressed hope the Turkish side would “change (their) behavior in order to have progress”, noting that today’s statements by Erdogan “are absolutely condemnable and cynical and if this is the line that the Turkish side will pursue, there will be no prospect for any progress”.

Christofias said that he senses that the UN are also offended by Erdogan’s statements, noting that the UN also wish for genuine progress during the talks.

Invited to comment on the information for a unilateral proposal on behalf of the Turkish side regarding the opening of Famagusta, President said that “upon Erdogan’s illegal visit to the occupied areas, the UN and others in the international scene, would have expect a positive move on his behalf rather than incendiary statements”.

He added that “if this is Turkey’s official stance, it means they want recognition of the pseudostate”.
Source: Famagusta Gazette

This really ought to spell the end of Turkey's EU aspirations. If the EU is willing to put up with open discrimination against a member state, what are they not willing to put up with? The only reasonable conclusion would be that their spinelessness has no limit.

Monday, 18 July 2011

Turkey must curb policies ‘inconsistent’ with progress, Clinton says

ISTANBUL - Secretary of State Hillary Rodham Clinton, chiding a NATO ally whose support is critical to American goals in the Mideast, said yesterday that Turkey must act on concerns about backsliding on human rights and its secular traditions

Speaking politely but firmly about the moderate Muslim nation, Clinton said the recent arrests of dozens of journalists and limits placed on religious freedom were “inconsistent’’ with Turkey’s economic and political progress.

She said Turkey should recommit itself to the course of modernization and embrace the democratic institutions of statehood. By doing so, Turkey could serve as a model for Arab nations now in the midst of revolt or transition, Clinton said.

“Across the region, people in the Middle East and North Africa are seeking to draw lessons from Turkey’s experience,’’ she told reporters at a news conference with Turkey’s foreign minister, Ahmet Davutoglu. “Turkey’s history serves as a reminder that democratic development also depends on responsible leadership.’’

She called on the Turkish people to use their constitutional reform process to “address concerns … about recent restrictions on freedom of expression and religion’’ and boost protection for the rights of minorities.

Those concerns have stalled Turkey’s bid to join the European Union and further cement ties with the West.

Clinton noted that the United States has long backed Turkey’s EU membership.

At an earlier town hall event where she took questions from young Turks, Clinton criticized the arrests of journalists. She said the detentions have fed fears about threats to press freedom in the majority Muslim nation.

“I do not think it is necessary or in Turkey’s interests to be cracking down. It seems to me inconsistent with all the other advances Turkey has made,’’ she said.

Turkey’s institutions should be able to withstand the scrutiny and debate that a free press brings, Clinton said.

Turkish media groups say more than 60 journalists are in jail. The groups accuse authorities of using flimsy evidence to bring the charges.

Government officials said in April there were 26 journalists jail in Turkey for activities unrelated to journalism.

The Organization for Security and Cooperation in Europe, of which Turkey is a member, says 57 journalists are in jail in Turkey, mostly on antiterror charges.

Clinton’s comments were likely to encourage more liberal Turks but irritate Turkey’s leaders, including Davutoglu and Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdogan.

Erdogan, long seen as a vital bridge between East and West, has worried some by taking steps at odds with US and Western policies.

He insists that his ruling party, which has Islamist roots, is committed to a secular government. But since President Obama took office, Erdogan has clashed with Israel and opposed UN sanctions on Iran over its nuclear program.
Source: Boston Globe

Sunday, 17 July 2011

Connections Between the IHH and the Muslim Association of Greece

In March 2011, I wrote an article (1) about the Muslim Brotherhood (MB) and the Muslim organizations in Greece which are affiliated or connected in one way or another to the global network of the MB. The Muslim Association of Greece (MAG) and its President Naim El Ghandour was one of these organizations. In this article I am going to examine the connections between the MAG and the Turkish NGO IHH.

The IHH, is a Turkish humanitarian relief fund which played a central role in organizing the flotilla to the Gaza Strip in May 2010.(2) The IHH, apart from conducting its legitimate philanthropic activities, it supports radical Islamic networks, including Hamas (the Palestinian branch of the MB). IHH was established in 1992 and formally registered in Istanbul in 1995. The head of the organization is Bulent Yildirim. IHH’s orientation is Islamist and anti-American and it is close to the MB. IHH actively supports Hamas. Since June 2007, when Hamas took over the Gaza Strip, IHH organized public support conferences in Turkey.

Furthermore, IHH is a member of the Union of Good, an umbrella organization of more than 50 Islamic funds and foundations around the world, which channels money to Hamas. In 2006 the Danish Institute for international Studies conducted a research which revealed that in the past IHH had connections with Al-Qaeda and global jihad. (3) The study quotes a French intelligence report stating that in the mid-1990s IHH leader Bulent Yildirim, was directly involved in recruiting “veteran soldiers” to organize jihad activities.

The IHH has also ties with the ruling Turkish Islamist part AKP. (4) So, how is the MAG connected to the IHH? As I mentioned in my article the “MB and Greece”, the President of the MAG Naim El Ghandour participated in the Gaza flotilla in May 2010. In May 2011 he also participated in the rally organized by the leader of the IHH Bulent Yildirim in Istanbul to honor the memory of the nine Turkish “martyrs” who died in the Gaza Flotilla the previous year. (5)

In this recent event Naim El Ghandour participated as a representative of the MAG. It is clear that the MAG is publicly supporting the activities of this Turkish Islamist organization (IHH) which has close ties to the Turkish government and the terrorist organization Hamas.
Source: Radical Islam Monitor in South-East Europe

Friday, 15 July 2011

Turkish Police Say 15 Suspects Plotted Attacks

ISTANBUL, Turkey — The police have detained 15 suspected Al Qaeda militants on evidence that they had plotted to attack foreign diplomatic targets including the United States Embassy in Ankara, Turkey, the Anatolian News Agency reported on Wednesday.

Security operations leading to the arrests were conducted in Ankara, the capital, and in Yalova and Bursa, two religiously conservative towns in western Turkey. The operations were based on the statements of a leading suspect who was captured in Ankara after being watched by the authorities for six months, the report said.

According to the report, the Ankara police seized more than 1,500 pounds of chemicals used to make bombs, along with two assault rifles, bullets, documents and maps at the two-story house belonging to the suspect, who they said had received military training in explosives and arms outside the country.

His statements to the police led to the arrests of nine other suspects in Ankara, three in Bursa and two in Yalova in raids on Tuesday, the news agency said.

The Interior Ministry declined to comment. A spokesman for the United States Consulate in Istanbul said it had received no information from the Turkish authorities about any plot.

Violent extremist groups with various ideological affiliations have been active in Turkey for years. Among the most shocking attacks they have mounted were the November 2003 bombings by a Qaeda-affiliated group in Istanbul that killed 60 people. Dozens were convicted for those bombings, which were aimed at Jewish and British targets.

An attack in 2008 on the United States Consulate in Istanbul by a group of Qaeda suspects left three policemen and three assailants dead.

In June, the Turkish police arrested 10 suspected Qaeda militants in Adana, in southern Turkey, based on information that they were plotting attacks on Incirlik Air Base, used by the United States Army to transfer supplies to Iraq and Afghanistan.
Source: New York Times

Wednesday, 13 July 2011

Turkey Threatens to Freeze EU Ties



Note Davutoğlu's absurd notion of creating a unified Cypriot state within the next year then having it assume the EU Presidency in 2012. Turkey would then have a Trojan horse within the innermost councils of the EU.
Turkey and the EU ‘cannot continue relations’ if Greek Cyprus takes over the bloc’s presidency on its own in 2012, Turkish Foreign Minister Ahmet Davutoğlu says

Foreign Minister Ahmet Davutoğlu (R) says he has conveyed his concerns over the Cyprus issue to visiting European Union Enlargement Commissioner Stefan Fuele. AA photo
Allowing Greek Cyprus to take over the rotating EU presidency in July 2012 without a unification deal for the divided island would “freeze” relations between Turkey and the European bloc, the Turkish foreign minister said Wednesday.

“If the Greek Cypriot administration delays negotiations and assumes the EU term presidency on its own, Turkish-EU relations would freeze,” said Foreign Minister Ahmet Davutoğlu, speaking at a joint press conference with Ukrainian Foreign Minister Kostyantyn Hryschenko.

If this were to happen, it would be out of the question for Turkey to accept the Greek Cypriot administration as its EU interlocutor, Davutoğlu said. “We do not believe that Turkey and the EU can continue relations in a case where the Greek Cypriot side assumes the EU term presidency before a solution is found in Cyprus. I told [EU Commissioner Stefan] Fuele that we should therefore take measures [to solve the Cyprus issue] from now on,” the Turkish foreign minister said. According to Davutoğlu, such measures should be aimed at finding a solution to the Cyprus dispute by 2012, allowing a new, unified state to assume the EU Presidency. “The EU and the Greek administration are facing a choice between two visions,” he said. It is time to make strategic decisions in Turkey-EU relations, Davutoğlu said, adding that Ankara displayed its determination by setting up a European Union Ministry in the new government. “The same determination should be shown by the EU as well,” he said.

Responding to Davutoğlu’s remarks later in the day, EU Commissioner Fuele said it was “not the right time to make these sorts of statements.”
Source: Hurriyet

Tuesday, 12 July 2011

Honour Killings, the Scourge of Turkey

International Business Times spoke with Bingul Durbas, a doctoral researcher in Sociology/ Gender Studies at the University of Sussex in England, about honor killings in Turkey.

She has been researching honor crimes in Turkey. She is also affiliated with the Humboldt University zu Berlin in the Diversity and Social Conflict department, working as a PhD researcher for the United Nations Research Institute for Social Development-supported project on honor crimes.
She has also acted as an “honor killing advisor” to Scotland Yard during the high-profile Tulay Goren case in the UK in 2009.

IBTIMES: Can you estimate how many honor killings occur each year in Turkey? Is this figure declining, given the increased attention to the problem?
DURBAS: Due to the lack of reliable data and precise statistics, it is difficult to estimate the prevalence of honor crimes in Turkey. This is because violence against women and honor crimes are seen as a “private matter” and most honor-related killings go unreported or are usually recorded as an “accident” or “suicide.”
However, according to a study done by the General Directorate of National Security, between 2000 and 2005, 1,091 honor crimes were committed in Turkey.
But rural areas were not covered by this study and some cities such as Trabzon [a city in northern Turkey] have no record of honor crimes.
According to the recent government figures (February 2011) the murders of women in Turkey have increased fourteen-fold in seven years -- from 66 in 2002, to 953 in the first seven months of 2009.
Again, it has been reported in the media that “in the past seven months, one [human] rights organization has compiled more than 264 cases -- nearly one per day -- reported in the press, in which a woman was killed by a family member, husband, ex-husband, or partner”.
The Human Rights Association (IHD) stated that in 2010, 46 women were killed by men for reasons of "honor". This report said that at least 281 women and children reverted to the judiciary and the courts on grounds of sexual harassment and 182 women and children were raped.
Also, in Turkey there has been an increase in suicides among women and girls as families force them to kill themselves in order for the perpetrators to escape punishment, like going to prison.. It would not be surprising that women committed suicide to escape the abuse at the hands of their families and the state.

IBTIMES: Is it fair to say that the majority of honor killings in Turkey occur in the rural southeast, where Kurds dominate?
DURBAS: No, through the interviews I have conducted and the court cases I collected during my field-work, I can confirm that honor crimes occur across all regions in Turkey.
Honor crimes are not unique to the Kurdish communities. Linking honor crimes to Kurdish culture leads to the stigmatization of entire Kurdish communities and it “ethnicizes” honor crimes.
Such stigmatization disregards the fact that honor crimes take place in all regions, across all ethnic groups, social classes, professions and among all age groups in Turkey.
It is important to note that honor crimes are a particular manifestation of universal patriarchal violence against women and are used as a means of controlling women's lives and thereby maintaining male control over women.

IBTIMES: Do Turkish penal laws specifically refer to honor killings? If so, what is the punishment prescribed?

DURBAS: The new Turkish Penal Code was accepted in 2004 by Parliament to incorporate two provisions. Article 29 was called the Unjust Provocation Article (it is now called the Unjust Acts Article), which states that sentence reductions for unjust provocation do not apply to honor crimes.
However, it also states that this may not be the case in all honor killings, making it possible for granting room to “legitimize” honor crimes.
Secondly, Article 82, which deals with aggravating circumstances for homicide, now cover “killings in the name of custom” only. The provision's applicability is restricted by the use of the word “custom” instead of “honor,” as different types of honor crimes are not covered, leaving honor as a mitigating factor. This limits the scope of the crime and fails to include different kinds of honor killings.
Article 82 also allows for the “unjust act” provocation defense to be used in a case where a “killing in the name of custom” has occurred.
Moreover, Article 82 still allows for sentence reductions in customary killings as judges often require evidence of a family council. However, family council is not a necessary condition for such crimes and this practice of the judges makes it very difficult to prove in an honor crime case.
This limits the extent of the crime and fails to include different sorts of honor killings which are widespread throughout the country.
To summarize, the new Turkish Penal Code still allows leniency for the perpetrators of honor crimes. The prosecutions of honor crimes are suspended; and women's rights are denied. [The victims are often blamed for the crime and the judiciary, society, perpetrators and families “approve” of the crime.]

IBTIMES: What steps, if any, has Turkey's government taken to stamp out honor killing?
DURBAS: Certain reforms in the new Turkish Civil Code (2001) and Penal Code (2004) were met with conservative resistance from the Turkish parliament and some members of the government.
Before the Penal Code reforms were established, a working group was set up to work on the Reform of the Penal Code from a gender perspective with the participation of representatives of non-governmental organizations (NGOs) and bar associations, as well as academics from various regions of Turkey.
As Pinar Ilkkaracan of Women for Women′s Human Rights (WWHR)/New Ways [a Turkish women's and human rights NGO] who led the campaign explained: “after analyzing both the Turkish Penal Code in effect and the 2000 Penal Code Draft Law, the group concluded that both the law in effect and the draft law embodied the same discriminatory, patriarchal outlook and contained numerous provisions legitimizing the violation of women's human rights”.
However, when the Islamist Justice and Development Party (AK party) won the 2002 general election and came to power, it was obvious that the new government was not interested in working together with the working group and they ignored the draft of the law prepared prior to the election and formed their own commission to produce their own proposals.
All articles regarding women were taken verbatim from the old Turkish Penal Code into the government's proposed law excluding women from the Penal Code.
Then, the working group decided to launch a massive national campaign by including more than 120 NGOs from all around the country that supported its demands.
WWHR/New Ways has coordinated the Campaign for the Reform of the Penal Code from a Gender Perspective, which has resulted in over 35 amendments towards the safeguarding of women's sexual and bodily rights.
In May 2011, the Turkish Foreign Ministry signed an international treaty designed to prevent and combat violence against women, including honor crimes, during a meeting of the Council of Europe Ministers. As member states of the council ratify the treaty, they become obliged to take legislative or other measures to ensure that acts such as domestic violence, violence in public places, sexual harassment, forced marriage, honor crimes, rape and genital mutilation are criminalized.
Despite these major achievements, honor killing is still absent from the law. The denial of legal rights to women is still a major problem.
In the new Penal Code the clause on honor killings should explicitly refer to 'honor,' but honor is still absent and it refers to 'custom' only.

IBTIMES: Has Turkey's Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdogan addressed the honor killing issue? If so, what are his views on it?
DURBAS: For his AK party, honor crimes are related to particular ethnic groups and regions in Turkey.
According to Erdogan, men and women are not equal. A couple of years ago, in fact, at conference in Istanbul he stated that he "did not believe" in gender equality. In September 2004, he proposed to recriminalize adultery and he called on Turkish women to have at least three children. For him and his party, women are defined as wives and mothers and their role is to produce healthy generations.
The AK party has been in power since 2002. Since that time, violence against women in Turkey has been on the increase.

IBTIMES: Have Kurdish politicians committed themselves to wiping out the practice of honor killing in their regions?
DURBAS: They do not have a policy on honor crimes.
For Kurdish politicians the most important issue is the Kurdish question (i.e., nationalism, culture, language, etc.).
It is within this perspective that Kurdish politicians deal with gender equality.
However, the Kurdish-dominated Democratic Society Party has implemented new policies in some municipalities of southeastern Turkey to prevent violence against women.
For example, if a municipal staff-member mistreats his wife and children, half of his salary will be paid to his wife. Also, if an employee resigned, any pension and payments will be paid to his officially married wife, in case he has polygamous marriage.

IBTIMES: Who, if anyone, in Turkey, “supports” the practice of honor killing?
DURBAS: These dishonourable crimes are widespread in Turkey. Perpetrators of honor crimes are rarely prosecuted. Protective measures are minimal.
Honor crimes are planned and premeditated and tend to be committed demonstratively in public. And the crime is in a collective nature with the perpetrator(s) including fathers, brothers, uncles, cousins, sisters and mothers and by the community through gossiping.
The perpetrators are often regarded very highly in prison; their feet are washed by their fellow inmates. Perpetrators are often looked after financially by the victims' own families.

IBTIMES: Has the European Union demanded the eradication of honor killings as a requirement for Turkey joining the EU?
DURBAS: In order to become a member of the EU, Turkey must comply with the entire body of EU legislation.
The EU deals with honor crimes through the section on Human Rights and the Protection of Minority Rights and it encourages its members to comply with the European Convention for the Protection of Human Rights and Fundamental freedoms.
However, it seems that the EU was satisfied with the Turkish state's approach to address honor crimes even though the women's movement in Turkey campaigned during the Penal Code reform that the clause should refer to 'honor', not to 'custom'.
I would also like to add that through the expert witness statements I have written and through my networks in Europe, I find that since the modification of the new Turkish Penal Code, a high number of asylum claims for women seeking asylum due to potential honor killings are now refused. This is very worrying as women are being abandoned to violence.

IBTIMES: Are there any male victims of honor killings in Turkey?
DURBAS: Yes, through the court cases I have collected I can confirm that there are male victims of honor killings, too.
As Professor Yakin Erturk, the former UN Special Rapporteur on Violence against Women and Professor of the Department of Sociology at the Middle East Technical University, Ankara, explains: “These crimes may not be exclusively committed against females, but they are almost exclusively committed to maintain a rigid, heterosexual, patriarchal gender order that [enforce] female subordination to and male compliance with the prevailing norms. The first case occurred in July 2008: Ahmet Yildiz was the first gay honor killing victim.”

IBTIMES: There have been incidents of honor killings in Germany, which has a large Turkish immigrant population. What is the penalty upon conviction there?
DURBAS: According to a recent news report, a German court gave a Kurdish man a life sentence for the honor killing of his daughter Gulsum Semin in January 2010.
The news report goes on to state that: “The state court at Kleve [in northern Germany] sentenced Gulsum's brother, 20, to nine and a half years in youth prison, just short of the maximum youth sentence of 10 years. He and the victim were two out of three triplets. He had confessed to the killing after he was arrested. His helper, 37, was jailed for seven and a half years.”
“Judges said they were convinced the only motive to murder Gulsum had been that she was no longer a virgin and had secretly undergone an abortion.”
However, according to a recent study that I have been working on as a researcher, titled 'Religion, Culture and the Politicization of Honor-Related Violence: A Critical Analysis of Media and Policy Debates in Western Europe and North America'; German discourse in media and parliamentary debates stigmatizes Islam and “backward” immigrant communities as being responsible for honor crimes.
This is the current trend in immigrant-receiving countries in Europe and North America and it is extremely dangerous.
In Germany, honor killing is often discussed in connection with forced marriage. Recently, Germany criminalized force marriages – in which children are pressured to marry against their will – and it is now a crime punishable by five years in prison. However, policy development on honor killings remains limited.

IBTIMES: I understand abortion is legal in Turkey. If an unmarried woman becomes pregnant, can she take that route to avoid being killed?
DURBAS: This is yet another face of the discrimination against women in Turkey.
According to the law, women in Turkey are legally entitled to have an abortion until the tenth week. If the woman is married, consent of the husband is required. But the law and regulations are not implemented.
I must stress again that the non-application of the laws and women's lack of access to health care and legal measures are major problems in Turkey.
First of all, there are no safe and legal abortion services available especially in rural health centers. And some of these facilities refuse to carry out legal abortions unless the patient presents a marriage certificate.
Secondly and more importantly, in Turkey, honor is applied to control women and women's sexuality and virginity: thus, if an unmarried or divorced woman gets pregnant (sex outside marriage, including rape) or if she is not virgin before or at the time of her marriage (which are unacceptable), the woman might be killed to prevent her from shaming her family in order to “cleanse” their honor.
A woman might also be forced to go through a virginity examination to find out whether she is virgin or not if she is suspected of immoral behavior.
The practice of virginity examinations are widespread and performed by the family and state institutions such as the police and judges to determine whether or not the woman or girl in question is indeed a virgin.

IBTIMES: When Kemal Ataturk sought to “modernize” Turkey, did he address the subject of honor killing?
DURBAS: As Profesor Deniz Kandiyoti [School of Oriental and African Studies, University of London] puts it: “Turkish women are emancipated but unliberated.”
According to the Kemalists, modernization was equal to “Westernization.” Thus, representing the “ideal Turkish woman” as modern and secular was a significant component of Turkey's modernization project and nation-building process.
The “ideal woman” image has been used as an instrument to move the society to the level of Western societies. These reforms were aimed to make women a better wife and mother and instead of liberating them, these reforms required women to remain asexual and chaste beings in public. Women were presented as the honorable representatives of the state. More importantly, the modernizing policies did not aim to tackle the patriarchy and its role in perpetuating and maintaining violence against women and honor crimes.
Secondly, the Kemalist modernization project was mainly centered on the urban areas and failed to reach rural areas.

IBTIMES: Do you think we will see fewer honor killings going forward as Turkey's economy keeps improving and the country becomes a regional power?

DURBAS: In order to eliminate violence against women in general and so called honour crimes in particular we first need to recognize the issue and frame honour crimes as a particular manifestation of an universal patriarchal gender regime without “essentializing” the culture and “stigmatizing” any specific ethnic group.
And we need to directly confront patriarchy in all its forms.
Source: International Business Times

Sunday, 10 July 2011

50 Turkish Forum Members Arrested for Insulting 'Prophet'

Around fifty members of a Turkish internet forum have been arrested for insulting the desert bandit who founded the Islamic religion, the so-called prophet Mohammed.

A discussion about Mohammed developed on the popular Turkish internet forum, Ekşi Sözlük, which has about 30,000 registered users who post anonymously on the site, using pseudonyms. Someone who viewed the discussion objected to something that was said about Mohammed and reported the matter to the police. Astonishingly, the police then raided the home of the forum operator and arrested him. When they demanded that he hand over the IP addresses of the forum participants he did so, as to do otherwise would have been a criminal offence.

The police then arrested about fifty of the forum members and charged them with insulting religion.

Source: Deutsch-Tuerkische Nachrichten

Via: Kybeline

Saturday, 9 July 2011

Turkish comic shuts down after fine for being 'obscene'

Harakiri, a monthly comic, literature and caricature magazine in Turkey, shut itself down before releasing its third issue, stating that a government fine had made continued publication impossible.

The Prime Minister's Board for Protecting the Youth from Obscene Publications, a government organ for reviewing print press, ruled that the magazine's content -- going back to its first issue -- was harmful to minors. It fined the magazine about 65,000 euros and ordered it to be sold in a black bag.

The board accused the magazine of "encouraging the youth to laziness, adventurousness and relations outside of wedlock".

"Societies have built social norms in order to protect their existence and maintain social order. Tools and organs of press and broadcast have to abide to these norms themselves and they also have the duty and responsibility to lead, warn and remind the society accordingly," it said.

The decision, adopted by a vote of seven to three, has set off another widespread debate over censorship in Turkey.

Harakiri graphic artist Can Baytak says he was taken by surprise."We are people with self-control. We never had the intention of disturbing people as they say," he told SETimes.

Fellow Harakiri artist Kutlukhan Perker said the accusations had a chilling effect.

"When the decision on the first issue was made, we checked the second issue in panic, wondering if there was something objectionable in it as well."

"Then we realised, whoops, we started self-censoring," Perker recalls.

Perker questions whether the work published in the magazine is obscene, arguing that comics and caricatures are reflections and interpretations of what happens in real life. The work accused of "encouraging relations outside of wedlock", he says, was simply a tale about a love affair.

"Now, can we not produce a story that features murder?" he asked, "Would that be encouraging people to commit murder?"

Perker stated Harakiri's lawyers would file a complaint against the board's decision and may go to the European Court of Human Rights (ECHR), to which Turkey is a signatory.

Colleagues from other magazines also express worry for themselves after the board's decision, he added.

Lawyers Mehveş Bingöllü and Hürrem Sönmez spoke to SETimes about the legal ramifications.

According to Bingöllü, the magazine is unlikely to win a favourable ruling in Turkey's courts, but may have a chance if it takes its case to the ECHR.

"I believe it would not be possible that the ECHR would accept the mentality that grounds public morals on marriage," she said, adding that the fine was "disproportional" since it caused the publication to be shut down.

According to Sönmez, meanwhile, the board is not impartial. "The members of the board act within the boundaries of their own worldview and are conscious that the board is subject to political power," he said.

Source: SETimes

Thursday, 7 July 2011

Turkish Government Websites Hacked in Protest at Internet Censorship

Hacker group Anonymous has hacked and defaced Turkish government websites in protest against internet filtering rules to be introduced in Turkey in August.

In a posting on piratebay.org, Anonymous claims to have stolen data from more than 100 websites in Turkey and replaced 74 government websites with protest messages.

The group indicated the action was part of a campaign by hackers, called Anti Security (AntiSec), to steal and leak classified government and company information to expose security flaws.


"Accessing and participating in the free flow of information is a basic human right. Anonymous will not stand by while the Turkish government violates this right. We will bring our support to circumvent censorship and retaliate against organisations imposing censorship," the message said.

Source

Wednesday, 6 July 2011

Erdogan Intensifies Turkish Effort to Join EU

Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdogan reshuffled his cabinet yesterday, retaining Finance Minister Mehmet Simsek to manage the overheating economy and creating a new ministry to press Turkey's campaign to join the EU.

Under Mr Erdogan, whose AK Party won an unprecedented third term in office in elections last month, Turkey has been transformed into one of the world's fastest-growing economies, but there are calls for his government to tighten fiscal and monetary policy.

Egemen Bagis, Turkey's chief negotiator for EU membership, was appointed head of the newly created European Union ministry.

Mr Erdogan has also said he wants to work with the opposition to write a new constitution. There is speculation that he wants to move Turkey towards a more presidential system of government, with the ultimate aim of becoming president himself.

Source: Reuters

Tuesday, 5 July 2011

Turkey’s ambitious Erdogan not a tolerant man

Turkish Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdogan’s apparent political ambitions to become president with increased powers are not in the country’s interests because of his “dangerous intolerance of criticism,” The Economist’s European editor told a London audience on Tuesday.

The editor, John Peet, described Mr. Erdogan as possibly the most important Turk since the founder of the republic, Kemal Ataturk, but said his goal of creating a strong presidency, apparently with himself at the helm, are “somewhat worrying.”

He said Mr. Erdogan appeared determined to stay in power for a long time, hinting during the recent national election campaign that he hoped to be president in 2023, the 100th anniversary of the republic.
“His party and he have shown they are intolerant of criticism. They don’t like opposition,” Mr. Peet told a meeting of the Royal Institute of International Affairs. He noted that Turkey ranks 138th in the world in the international press freedom index. The Turkish Journalists Association says 58 journalists are in jail, more than in China.

Mr. Peet ranked constitutional reform as one of four principal challenges facing Turkey after Mr. Erdogan’s Justice and Development Party won last month’s elections, gaining 327 seats in the 500-member National Assembly. The other challenges are: keeping its fast-growing economy from overheating, finding an accommodation with the Kurdish minority and maintaining its foreign policy goal of zero problems with its neighbors.

The Economist has come under heavy criticism from Mr. Erdogan’s supporters because it endorsed the country’s main opposition party, the Republican People’s Party, in the recent election. Mr. Peet said he was surprised anyone in Turkey even noticed.

He noted that the Turkish economy has enjoyed “fantastic success” since the 2001 meltdown in which the government had to call in the International Monetary Fund. It now has the world’s 16th largest economy and could become one of the top 10, he said, moving from basket case to what he called the China of Europe.

But he said Turkey has a worryingly large current account deficit, the economy is overheating, unemployment remains just under 10 per cent and the country has been reluctant to embrace reforms in such areas as labor markets and minimum wages.

He acknowledged that the Constitution, a military-dictated document dating from 1982, needs updating but questioned Mr. Erdogan’s goal of a presidency based on the French model.

“The problem I have with Turkey is autocracy and intolerance of criticism,” he said. He noted that, after the election, Mr. Erdogan promised to work with the opposition on writing a new Constitution but has since become involved in controversy with opposition parties that refuse to take their parliamentary seats because some of their members have been jailed.

As for the Kurds, he suggested the government is better at conflict than conflict resolution. It has taken some helpful steps in appeasing the Kurds, he said, but Mr. Erdogan’s opposition to centralization is “worrying.”

Mr. Peet was largely complimentary of Turkey’s performance in foreign policy. After initial hesitation about how to deal with the Arab spring, he said, the Turks have recognized that the Arab world needs political change. “They are doing some good in Syria and other countries in the region,” he said.

The Turkish government’s traditional friendly relations with Israel soured after Israeli commandos stormed ships in the so-called Gaza Freedom Flotilla in 2010 and killed nine activists aboard the ship Marmara. Earlier, at the time of the Israeli attack on Gaza in 2008-09, Turkey was involved as an interlocutor between Israel and Syria, yet Israel gave the Turks no warning of the Gaza invasion.

Mr. Peet said that caused deep resentment in Turkey, but its current hostility to Israel has made its relations with the European Union more difficult.

Turkey and Israel will never go back to their relationship of 10 years ago, he said, but it would be helpful if Turkey could play a mediating role between Israel and its Arab neighbors.

He said Turks recognize that their future is with the European Union, but their country’s prospects of joining the EU look “pretty remote” because of opposition from French President Nicolas Sarkozy and some other EU leaders. He expressed hope that Mr. Sarkozy would be toppled in French elections next year.

Turkey’s EU prospects might be improved by movement in resolving the Cyprus impasse, he said, but noted there is little sign of concessions by either Greek Cypriots or Turkish Cypriots. The United Nations may be tempted to give up trying to resolve the conflict, he said.

Source

Monday, 4 July 2011

Guardian Covers Up Repression of Kurds in Turkey

An array of British human rights activists have complained about the failure of the Guardian newspaper, traditional standard-bearer of the left in Britain, to cover the repression of the Kurds in Turkey. This really ought to come as no surprise to them. The Guardian has been acting as a Turkish propaganda agent for years, and will no doubt develop this role even further thanks to its recent hook-up with Today's Zaman.

In all reports of the recent Turkish elections (Report, 13 June), why has there been so little coverage in the UK media about the significant success of the Kurds or of their continued repression by the Turkish authorities?

Because of a rigged electoral system, the pro-Kurdish Peace and Democracy party did not field candidates but stood as independents. Despite widespread "dirty tricks" by the authorities, including intimidation, threats, bribery and fraud, 36 Kurdish politicians were elected, nearly doubling the number of Kurdish representatives in parliament since the previous election.

There has also been little coverage in the UK media of the imprisonment of 151 peace-seeking Kurdish politicians, human rights activists, elected mayors and lawyers, nor of Turkey's denial of the use of the Kurdish mother tongue in education.

It is heartening to see Leyla Zana elected and back in the parliament. Following her election 20 years ago, when she made her oath in Turkish and then repeated it in Kurdish, she was arrested and detained for 10 years in prison. The Turkish prime minister, Recep Erdogan, would do well to read carefully her thoughtful court defences to all the charges that today she still faces.

The UK government has welcomed Turkey's role as a negotiator in any Middle East peace process, and supported its aspiration to join the European Union. It is time our government reminded Mr Erdogan that he needs first to make peace in his own backyard, and that if he continues to deny some 15 million Kurds their basic democratic rights, Turkey will never be accepted in the EU.

John Austin Former Labour MP

Bruce Kent

Lord Rea

Hywel Williams MP

Margaret Owen Barrister and director of Widows for Peace through Democracy

Prof Bill Bowring Barrister and research fellow, Human Rights Centre, Essex University

Christine Blower General secretary, National Union of Teachers

Jonathan Fryer Journalist and broadcaster

Dr Vicki Sentas Research fellow, school of law, Kings College London

Alastair Lyon Human rights lawyer

Joe Ryan Chair of Peace and Justice Commission, Westminster diocese

Dr Felix Padel Anthropologist and author

Nick Hildyard Policy analyst

Stephen Smellie Secretary, South Lanarkshire branch, Unison

Source

Saturday, 2 July 2011

Turkey has a bad record with books, says report by publishers

Law suits surrounding more than 100 books were filed in Turkey between 2008 and 2011, while around 30 writers and translators went to court during the first half of this year, according to reports published by the Turkish Publishers Association.

Comic magazines and websites have also been sued in court, some for “hurting people’s moral feelings,” and others in connection with anti-terror laws.

“I cannot believe what I am going through, but I am determined to keep treading on this path insistently. Fancy a mindset, such that it brought even the Appolinare, a milestone of world literature, before the court,” İrfan Sancı, owner of Sel Publishing House, told Hürriyet Daily News in a phone interview.

A lawsuit was filed against Sancı when his publishing house began issuing copies of “The Exploits of a Young Don Juan” by the 20th century French literary figure Appolinare. Sancı, however, continued publishing books under the title “the Erotic Series,” which only intensified the legal pressure on him, as he was forced to face one trial after another.

“I sat before court in the morning and received an award in the evening. I was punished by my country and I was granted an award from abroad. That is a great irony,” said Sancı, who received the Freedom to Publish Prize Special Award from the Geneva-based International Publishing Association, or IPA, last November.

“I could not believe my ears when the prosecutor asked me whether I read these books with my family; I could not muster up any response,” he added.

Regarding the freedom of thought and expression, the year 2011 has turned out to be even grimmer than 1980 when the military delivered Turkey’s infamous coup d’état, according to Metin Celal, the president of the Turkish Publishers Association.

“Writers and translators are being sued, journalists are being jailed, statues are being demolished... As if all this was not enough, world-renowned director Emir Kusturica was invited to the Antalya Film Festival as a member of the jury, [only to be] protested against. Our Nobel laureate author Orhan Pamuk was almost sentenced to paying indemnities to each Turkish citizen [just] because he expressed his thoughts. Another Nobel laureate writer, Naipul, was invited to an organization in Istanbul and made into a pariah on the grounds that he insulted Islam,” Celal told Hürriyet Daily News in a phone interview.

“Each year we hope we do not [have to] grant this award, but unfortunately we cannot make any progress regarding the freedom of thought and expression,” said Celal, in reference to the Freedom of Thought and Expression awards annually granted by the Turkish Publishers Association.

“We are still far from the democracy we need. Turkey is not secular enough and it is getting worse. I need a term such as ‘debrainization’ to name the antidemocratic operations in our history,” Tarık Günersel, president of the Turkey branch for the PEN World Association of Writers, told Hürriyet Daily News by e-mail.

“As a society, to what extent are we adults? Only when we legally punish the generals who unlawfully abolished the parliament and when we make a democratic constitution, only then we can have the right to consider ourselves [as] adults. I think we are not even citizens yet,” Günersel said.

Even fictional novels are being put on trial despite all the talk about democracy, Mehmet Güler, a Kurdish writer, told Hürriyet Daily News by e-mail.

Güler was accused of making terrorist propaganda because of the fictional characters in his book “Decisions Tougher Than Death” (Ölümden Zor Kararlar), which was published last year by the International Belge Publishing House, only to be banned and confiscated soon after.

The book tells the stories of clashes between the right and left in Turkey during the 1970s, Kurdish youth who head for the mountains to join the ranks of the Kurdistan Workers’ Party, PKK, and the prison torture experiences of characters Siti, Sadri and Hayri. The novel also features the autobiographical traces of Güler’s Kurdish origins and his arrest in 1990 while still a student at Ankara University for having contact with illegal organizations.

Source: Hurriyet