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Can Turkey Learn Tolerance?

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  • #21
    Former lawmakers form new pro-Kurdish party in Turkey

    .c The Associated Press

    ANKARA, Turkey (AP) - A group of Kurdish activists on Wednesday formed
    a new party to advance the rights of the country's estimated 12
    million Kurds, the party said.

    The new party, the Democratic Society Movement, or DTH, was formed
    after its two joint leaders, Ahmet Turk and Aysel Tugluk, submitted
    legal documents to the Interior Ministry.

    The party includes several activists and members of the dissolved
    pro-Kurdish People's Democracy Party, or DEHAP.

    The DTH was first established as a movement, and not a party, by
    prominent Kurdish activist Leyla Zana and three other former lawmakers
    shortly after their release from prison last year, with the aim of
    mediating between autonomy-seeking Kurdish guerrillas and the
    government. But Zana and the other three - Orhan Dogan, Hatip Dicle
    and Selim Sadak - are legally barred from joining political parties
    because of their ongoing retrial.

    Turk is a former legislator and leader of another Kurdish party,
    Democracy Party or DEP, that was closed down by the courts in 1994 for
    alleged ties to the rebels.

    Tugluk is a lawyer, who was part of a legal team that defended rebel
    leader Abdullah Ocalan during his trial in 1999.

    ``The DTH attaches importance to resolution of the Kurdish issue
    through dialogue,'' Turk told reporters as he left the Interior
    Ministry. ``It will aim to end the environment of conflict. It will
    not allow hatred and enmity between the people.''

    The conflict between autonomy-seeking Kurdish guerrillas and the
    government has claimed the lives of 37,000 people since the guerrillas
    took up arms for autonomy in 1984.

    DEHAP dissolved itself in August to join Zana's DTH.

    Prosecutors, meanwhile, have been trying to close down DEHAP, accusing
    it of being a focal point for separatist activities and having ties to
    Kurdish guerrillas. The constitutional court has closed down four
    previous pro-Kurdish parties, including DEHAP's predecessor, in 2003.

    Kurds are not recognized as an official minority in Turkey and are
    denied rights granted to other minority groups. Under EU pressure,
    Turkey recently granted Kurds limited rights for broadcasts and
    education in the Kurdish language, but critics say the measures do not
    meet expectations.

    Zana, Dogan, Dicle and Sadak served 10 years in prison for links to
    the rebels. A retrial is underway.

    11/09/05 11:47 EST
    Leyla Zana
    Attached Files
    "All truth passes through three stages:
    First, it is ridiculed;
    Second, it is violently opposed; and
    Third, it is accepted as self-evident."

    Arthur Schopenhauer (1788-1860)


    • #22
      VIEW: Updating Ataturk’s legacy —Ahmad Faruqui

      Sunday, November 13, 2005

      When Ataturk sought to Europeanise Turkey by making the military the guardian of its national identity, it is unlikely that he intended that the military would play this role indefinitely. In its annual progress report, the European Commission has granted the status of a market economy to Turkey but noted that the political role of the military needs to be curtailed

      Every year, Turkey observes the death anniversary of Mustafa Kemal Ataturk on November 10 with a nationwide salute at 9:05 am, the time of his death in 1938. The veneration of Ataturk, whose image is captured throughout the country in statues and photographs, is pandemic.

      Thus, as EU parliamentarian Andrew Duff found out, a call to update Ataturk’s legacy for the 21st century can cause controversy. Duff, a proponent of Turkey’s accession to the EU, had simply called for the removal of Ataturk’s memorabilia from public buildings. Responding to the uproar, Duff said, “Rigid Kemalist orthodoxy is sometimes used in Turkey today as a conservative brake upon reform, and even as an excuse to disregard the criteria of EU membership — including freedom of thought and speech, reform of the judiciary, and the adoption of a more modest role for the armed forces in political life.”

      Duff reminded Ataturk’s adherents that modern Europe placed its commitment to liberal democracy above that of nationalism and regarded the state as subservient to the citizen and not vice versa. He suggested that portions of Turkey’s polity were mired in the 1920s.

      This archaic orientation has created multiple fault lines in modern Turkey. The most serious one involves the continued intrusion of the military in politics. Other nations, such as Chile, have instituted new constitutional amendments to reduce the role of the National Security Council. The civilian president now has the power to dismiss the military chiefs after consulting the Congress. In a democracy, the military is accountable to the civilians.

      The second fault line deals with the country’s 14 million Kurds. Anyone who calls for the restoration of Kurdish human rights is labelled a terrorist by the military. It is waging war on the Kurds in the same heavy-handed fashion as the Russians have waged against the Chechens, with similarly poor results. When the EU condemned Turkish military actions against the Kurds, Gen Yasar Buyukanit, who commands Turkey’s land forces, shot back in Pavlovian fashion that the military was “responsible for protecting the Turkish republic”.

      Ataturk’s nationalistic vision led the Turkish foreign minister in 1927 to assure the British ambassador that Kurds would disappear like the “Red Hindus” in North America. In due course, the Kurdish language would be discouraged and broadcasting and publication in it would be outlawed. Anyone who violated this policy could be imprisoned for “propaganda against the indivisible unity of country, nation and the republic of Turkey”. At one point, the publisher of Noam Chomsky’s American Interventionism was arrested because the book discussed the Kurdish question.

      Back in 1999, when the Kurdish guerrilla leader Abdullah Ocalan was arrested, Harold Pinter wrote about “the despair of a people who have been degraded, humiliated and treated as an inferior race for decades. State terror is systematic, savage, merciless. All efforts on the part of the Kurds to bring about a political rather than a military resolution to the conflict have failed.” Ocalan’s life was saved by Turkey’s decision to abolish the death penalty, taken in anticipation of accession talks with the EU. However, he continues to languish in solitary confinement at a military prison on the island of Imrali.

      The third fault line deals with the question of what happened to a million Armenians between 1915 and 1923. The Armenians says it was genocide while Turkey’s official line is that the deaths took place during a war. The Armenians assert that the trouble began when Turkish Ottoman authorities arrested and deported 250 Armenian leaders in 1915. Subsequently, Turkish nationalists launched an ethnic-cleansing campaign that went on for eight years. Hundreds of thousands of Armenians were forcibly marched through the Mesopotamian desert where they died of dehydration and starvation.

      The first-ever conference on this issue was held after much difficulty at Istanbul’s Bilgi University in September. However, the organisers had to contend with angry protesters who opposed a debate on this issue. Edinburgh University’s Donald Bloxham argues that the Armenian genocide issue is not just a historical footnote but also a living issue, since Turkish nationalism is the common ideology behind the Armenian genocide and the Kurdish suppression.

      There is much evidence that diehard defenders of the old order, the Deep State, are becoming paranoid as Turkey seeks to legalise free speech. The Deep State is attempting to muzzle an icon of modern Turkey, internationally acclaimed novelist Orhan Pamuk. He is charged with “explicitly insulting” the Turkish state by saying that 30,000 Kurds and a million Armenians were killed in Turkey. For this crime, Pamuk can be sentenced to a prison term of up to three years.

      The final fault line is created by a clash between the secularists and those seeking religious freedom. Gen Hilmi Ozkok, Turkey’s chief of general staff, has said that nobody should expect the Turkish Armed Forces (TSK) to be impartial on secularism and modernity. Speaking in coded language, he has criticised “certain circles” for depicting the TSK as the main obstacle to reform in Turkey.

      Ozkok, a moderate, has welcomed constructive criticism provided it was based on “correct” information. On November 1, lawyer Eren Keskin, head of the Istanbul Human Rights Association, was taken into custody on returning from Germany. She was surprised to find that she had been tried in absentia for having insulted the Turkish military in a speech. Apparently, she had used “incorrect” information.

      Eighty-two years after the Republic’s founding, Ataturk’s attempts to divorce Turks from their rich history have to be re-evaluated. The call to prayer draws large numbers of fourth generation Turks to the mosques, like it did during the six Ottoman centuries. The ruling AKP party favours easing restrictions on women wearing Islamic headscarves in public places. In its drive to open up Turkish society and bring it closer to European norms, it is also seeking to scale back the TSK’s power and influence.

      When Ataturk sought to Europeanise Turkey by making the military the guardian of its national identity, it is unlikely that he intended that the military would play this role indefinitely. In its annual progress report, the European Commission has granted the status of a market economy to Turkey but noted that the political role of the military needs to be curtailed. It also noted that human rights violations, mistreatment of minorities and torture have to stop.

      Ironically, as Turkey moves closer to Europe, it will have to distance itself from the regimentation aspect of Ataturk’s legacy. It will need to craft a new vision based on the free will of its people.

      Dr Ahmad Faruqui is director of research at the American Institute of International Studies and can be reached at [email protected]
      Attached Files
      "All truth passes through three stages:
      First, it is ridiculed;
      Second, it is violently opposed; and
      Third, it is accepted as self-evident."

      Arthur Schopenhauer (1788-1860)


      • #23
        Message from Paris to Brussels

        Message from Paris to Brussels.

        In the heated discussions about Turkey before October the 3rd, a group of countries had the view that saying "no" to the Turks would send a negative message to the Muslim world, confirm the view that the European Union (EU) is a Christian club, support the thesis of clash of civilizations and that Osama bin Laden would enormously exploit this opportunity.

        Against this group of countries that "produced a strategic vision," there were members – led by France- that had become "victims of the daily policy". As the Brits, Swedes and Italians argued that, "we cannot pay the price of saying “no” to the Turks”, the French state, the media and intellectuals claimed that Turkey cannot serve as a model for the Islamic world because of its militant secularism, that Muslims give no importance to Turkey-EU relations and that this issue was exaggerated by the Anglo-Saxons (should be read as the Americans and the British) which support Turkey's membership to dilute the EU.

        Though the Turkish state was secular, the government that made the revolution-like reforms was respectful towards religion and attached importance to religious values. For this very reason, the Muslim world was following Brussels-Ankara relations even more closely.

        The number of Muslim reporters who covered the October 3 discussions in Luxembourg together with us vindicated the wrongness of the French views. The Muslim reporters I talked to personally said that Turkey was treated unfairly in these discussions and some EU member countries had a completely unethical and unprincipled attitude towards Turkey. One of them was hooked on the allegations of the Armenian genocide and said, "If they ask Turkey to admit the genocide, then France must start from Algeria and Belgium from Congo."

        That was the issue what some member countries insistently refused to understand. Turkey-EU relations acquired a global dimension that went beyond these two actors. Muslims followed the Turkey-EU process very closely and though negotiations started on October 3, they believed Turkey was discriminated on the basis of its identity. As a matter of fact, most of them have already convinced themselves that it is not possible for the process to culminate in full membership due to the tough conditions attached. Those who claimed that the discussions carried on by some European politicians in a foolish and irresponsible manner on Turkey had no effect over Muslims are now trying to understand the reasons for the small-scale riots in France.

        The leader of the French Muslim Council Khalil Abubakr has reportedly said, "Every word has a weight at such difficult times," alluding to [Nicholas] Sarkozy's bullying statements. It is not possible to approve of the acts but it is evident that France's Muslims believe they are really being discriminated. I do not claim that the events in France originated from the EU's attitude towards Turkey. All I am saying is, Muslims in France, before the referendum on the constitution followed the debates -- some of which were extremely vicious -- on Turkey that were held in the country day and night. They witnessed that the focus of these discussions was the Turks' religion and identity.

        It is evident that the feeling of being subjected to discrimination is not limited to Muslims in France but Muslims all over Europe started to think they were being treated differently after 9/11. The EU did not take seriously the common judgment of human rights organizations in the wake of 9/11 that "Every Muslim in Europe feels obliged to prove that he/she is not a terrorist after 9/11”.

        It is true that every word carries a weight at such difficult times. To expect from the EU that started negotiations with Turkey to have this consciousness is a reasonable demand. Would not a fair membership process with Turkey be a good answer to the worries of European Muslims?

        November 7, 2005


        • #24
          Novelist denies 'genocide' claim.

          Novelist denies 'genocide' claim

          Agencies in Ankara
          Monday October 17, 2005
          The Guardian

          Orhan Pamuk, a best-selling Turkish novelist facing trial for speaking out about the 1915 mass killings of Armenians, moved at the weekend to soften his controversial remarks, insisting that he did not describe the episode as genocide.

          Pamuk could face up to three years in prison for reportedly telling a Swiss newspaper that "30,000 Kurds and 1 million Armenians were killed in these lands and nobody but me dares to talk about it". But on Saturday night, he went on CNN-Turk television to say: "I did not say, we Turks killed this many Armenians. I did not use the word 'genocide'."

          Armenians say that 1.5 million Armenians were killed by Ottoman Turks, which Armenia and several other countries recognise as a genocide. Turkey denies the genocide claim, saying that the death toll is inflated and that Armenians were killed in civil unrest as the Ottoman empire collapsed. Asked about the numbers of deaths he referred to in his newspaper interview, Pamuk said that they were "spontaneous remarks".

          His comments on the Kurds were no less controversial, referring to Turkey's 20-year conflict with Kurdish guerrillas seeking autonomy, branded a terrorist group by the US and EU. "There are martyred Turkish soldiers among those 30,000 to 35,000 killed people. Let's express our respect to them," Pamuk said, complaining that he had become a victim of a "defamation campaign".

          The case could embarrass Turkey as it seeks to demonstrate to Europe that its laws and practices are capable of meeting European standards. The EU has said it will be watching when the case starts on December 16.

          Pamuk's books, which include the internationally acclaimed Snow and My Name is Red, have been translated into more than 20 languages and the novelist has received many international awards.


          • #25
            Originally posted by Gavur
            Neutral-I support a US withdrawal and I urge everyone else to.

            Yeah but your goverment obviously doesn't,infact they're trying to escalate the situation by pressuring U.S. to interfere by force the Kurdish issue they can't/wont solve within their borders.Turkey has to tolarate justice if they are going to the join the western democracys.
            Thats because Kurdish terrorists are using Northern Iraq as a base. Turkey needs to neutralise the threat in northern Iraq to ensure that the terrorists are soundly and swiftly defeated within Turkeys borders.

            Turkey will not hessitate to intervene if US forces remain in Iraq, that wont stop the Turkish millitary eliminating the Kurdish threat in Northern Iraq.


            • #26
              Thats old
              You suck keeping up with news old or new

              All you seem to know is to DENY!

              You DENY Genocide
              You DENY Jesus Christ
              You DENY the blood on your hands
              You DENY your own genes
              You DENY Human rights
              You DENY thats all ,just deny,just deny keep on....
              "All truth passes through three stages:
              First, it is ridiculed;
              Second, it is violently opposed; and
              Third, it is accepted as self-evident."

              Arthur Schopenhauer (1788-1860)


              • #27
                Thats old
                You suck keeping up with news old or new

                All you seem to know is to DENY!

                You DENY Genocide
                You DENY Jesus Christ
                You DENY the blood on your hands
                You DENY your own genes
                You DENY Human rights
                You DENY thats all ,just deny,just deny keep on....
                Calm down mate. Your anger blinds your reasoning, you are speaking nonsense...
                It is wrong to be French- Al Bundy


                • #28
                  I'm calm
                  This is not about sense
                  Its about right and wrong
                  Just tell me if im wrong
                  "All truth passes through three stages:
                  First, it is ridiculed;
                  Second, it is violently opposed; and
                  Third, it is accepted as self-evident."

                  Arthur Schopenhauer (1788-1860)


                  • #29
                    Ofcourse you are wrong
                    First, All muslims in the world rever Jesus Christ as a rightful prophet of God, so there is nothing as denying Jesus..
                    Second, Denying genes? I suppose this would mean that we are not fully of Turkish blood, which is true however it is hardly genes in the world form the understanding of a nation but its culture and heritage...
                    Third, Do you have any idea about why our flag is red? Who is denying blood_
                    Fourth, Denying human rights, Turkey has a bad record of it but we are trying to settlethings as best we can....
                    Fifth, We deny genocide claims it is true.....
                    It is wrong to be French- Al Bundy


                    • #30
                      Ok lets see
                      1)I'm wrong :Of course you cant deny the most undeniable truth,I'll give you creditfor that much.
                      2)Culture and Heritage is what you make with the genes that you have .The DENIAL you project is telling me your culture and heritage is based on false pride in the genes you started with therefore it negates and will continue to negate any progress in that culture.
                      3)Yes your flag that gives glory to the pagan svmbols of the moon and the star on top of the innocent blood of believers,is that what you don't DENY?
                      4)You DENY,Settle things in human rights issues like you have in the past ?Until one admits honestly to wrongs done one continues denial .no excuses ,It"s that simple.
                      5)We agree you DENY (for now)
                      "All truth passes through three stages:
                      First, it is ridiculed;
                      Second, it is violently opposed; and
                      Third, it is accepted as self-evident."

                      Arthur Schopenhauer (1788-1860)