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Can Turkey Learn Tolerance?

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  • Re: Can Turkey Learn Tolerance?

    Last year's Alevi rally in Sıhhiye Square in Ankara attracted 100,000 people.

    Alevis plan huge rights rally in Istanbul

    Thursday, September 24, 2009


    ANKARA – Radikal

    Alevi groups plan to hold a massive rally in Istanbul in November to protest against the fact that religious education is still compulsory and that the Madımak Hotel, site of the Sivas massacre, is still not a museum

    Alevi groups have decided to hold a massive rally in Istanbul on Nov. 8 because their rights and demands have not been addressed, according to leaders of the community.

    Alevis, a liberal Muslim sect, have previously called for the elimination of compulsory religious-education classes, recognition of Alevi houses of worship, or cemevis, abolishment of the Religious Affairs Directorate and the transformation of the Madımak Hotel in Sivas, where 33 Alevi intellectuals were killed by a fundamentalist mob, into a museum.

    Ali Kenanoğlu, deputy leader of the Alevi Bektaşi Federation and the head of the Hubnar Sultan Alevi Culture Association, said the rally in Istanbul would aim to attract up to a million people.

    The Sunni dominance in the country is reflected by the fact that only mosques are recognized as Islamic houses of worship, while cemevis survive on local donations. The opposition to compulsory religious-education classes at high schools stems from the fact that until last year, the Alevi community was ignored in the curriculum. Last year, the Education Ministry included some passages about the community in textbooks but failed to placate Alevis.

    Kenanoğlu said last year’s first-ever rally in Ankara’s Sıhhiye Square, which drew 100,000 demonstrators, has raised some eyebrows and forced the government to focus on problems faced by Alevis.

    He also said the workshops organized by the government to resolve the Alevi community’s problems have failed to inspire confidence, because people who had no links to Alevis or Alevi organizations were introduced as experts.

    “We want to turn our demands into a mass movement and create public awareness about Alevi issues,” he said, adding that the rally would attract a million people.

    Pir Sultan Abdal Association President Fevzi Gümüş also said the government’s Alevi workshops had led nowhere, adding that the lack of any advancement on Alevi grievances left them with the sole option of holding a rally.

    He said the government’s initiatives on Kurds, Alevis and Armenians may appear as positive developments, but noted that the country is still governed by the constitution drafted following the 1980 military coup.



    • Re: Can Turkey Learn Tolerance?

      Read Amnesty Internationals reports on Azerbaijan and Turkey, they are much more informative and try to tell the truth


      • Re: Can Turkey Learn Tolerance?

        ECHR makes landmark ruling on Greek property in Istanbul

        Wednesday, September 30, 2009

        By Charles Charalambous

        THE EUROPEAN Court of Human Rights (ECHR) yesterday upheld the right of Greek nationals to inherit property in Istanbul, which is denied under Turkish law.

        The ruling on a case brought in 2002 by Ioannis and Evangelos Fokas – two brothers from Katerini in Macedonia, Greece – relates to three apartment blocks left to them by their sister, Polyxeni Pistika, who lived in Istanbul.

        The court found that current Turkish law, which denies any person not holding Turkish nationality the right to inherit property in Turkey, violated the plaintiffs’ right to “peaceful enjoyment of their property”. The ECHR also found Turkey guilty of racial discrimination on the grounds of the plaintiffs’ ethnic origin and religion.

        The plaintiffs were represented by three lawyers: one Greek, one Turkish, and Greek Cypriot, human rights lawyer Achilleas Demetriades.

        Since Pistika had herself inherited the three apartment blocks from her parents, Demetriades said yesterday that “this ruling essentially opens the way for anyone with inheritance rights in Istanbul, at least, to register a claim on property previously owned by their parents or grandparents.”

        The two plaintiffs are also claiming €19 million in damages from the Turkish state for being deprived of use of their property. If the Turkish government refuses to pay this amount, there is a second claim for €5.5 million, equivalent to the estimated value of the property.

        A crucial component of the plaintiffs’ case was the argument made in the successful application to the ECHR made by Greek Cypriot Titina Loizidou, which clearly established the inalienable right of refugee property.

        Demetriades said that the Loizidou ruling established the notion of continued violation. “Despite the fact that a state in its own opinion takes possession of a property, this seizure is not legal; and since it is not legal, and the court confirms this, then the plaintiff is entitled to be compensated for income he has been deprived of.”

        If Turkey does not appeal against the ECHR ruling within three months, then the court will award damages.



        • Re: Can Turkey Learn Tolerance?

          Lets see how that one shapes out. I got a feeling the government is not gona pay xxxx. In another show of turckish hospitality the Armenia-Turckey football game has been moved from a stadium which was going to "be covered with roses" to a runned down stadium in a city full of azeris and turckish nationalists. Lets see how much tolorance they will display. To be honest if i was one of our players, i would wory about my safety in this match (thats probably why turckey relocated it).
          Hayastan or Bust.


          • Re: Can Turkey Learn Tolerance?

            Student oath is ‘ethnic discrimination,’ says human rights commissioner

            Thursday, October 1, 2009

            Zeynel Lüle

            Hürriyet: Brussels

            Thomas Hammarberg, head of the Council of Europe Human Rights Commission, has criticized the phrase “Happy is he who calls himself a Turk,” which is part of the morning oath recited by Turkish primary school students.

            In his report on minority rights in Turkey, which Hammarberg wrote after holding meetings in Turkey between June 28 and July 3, the commissioner said the famous phrase amounts to “ethnic discrimination.” The Turkish government responded quickly, saying: “The word ‘Turk’ does not represent an ethnic, linguistic or religious origin; it expresses Turkish citizenship.”

            Hammarberg said in his report that there are various oaths students are made to chant every day, including another with the line, “I am a Turk and I am proud to be a Turk,” which elevate the ethnic identity over all others. The report said there are 12 to 15 million Kurds in Turkey, alongside 3 million Caucasus pupils, nearly 3 million Roma and around a million Laz, and made the recommendation that Turkey should accept these demographics as “richness.”

            The Turkish government’s 11-page response refused to consider the line “Happy is he who calls himself a Turk” to be “ethnic discrimination.” The government said the phrase, commonly attributed to Atatürk, expresses the loyalty of Turkish citizens to the country. The government also said the term “minority” is defined by the Treaty of Lausanne.



            • Re: Can Turkey Learn Tolerance?

              Human rights chief urges Turkey to broaden definition of minorities

              Thursday, October 1, 2009

              FULYA ÖZERKAN

              ANKARA – Hürriyet Daily News

              The Turkish interpretation of the Luasanne Treaty regarding the status of minorities is very restrictive, according to a new report from Council of Europe’s Human Rights Commissioner Thomas Hammarberg. He says the situation raises concerns over Turkey’s refusal to recognize the existence of minorities other than Greeks, xxxs and Armenians

              The Strasbourg-based Council of Europe’s human rights report has urged Turkey to broaden the definition of minorities set out in the Lausanne Treaty of 1923, underlining that the interpretation of the treaty is “over-restrictive.”

              Thomas Hammarberg, commissioner for human rights of the Council of Europe, drafted the report after a fact-finding mission in Turkey from June 28 to July 3 and meetings with representatives of various communities as well as government officials.

              “Whilst the Commissioner appreciated the positive signs of goodwill shown by the Turkish authorities for resolving a number of issues concerning human rights of minority groups, he remains concerned by the authorities’ refusal to recognize the existence of any other minorities except for the tripartite non-Muslim one (Armenians, Greeks and xxxs), following an over-restrictive interpretation of the 1923 Lausanne Treaty,” read the report on minorities.

              The commissioner said there was quite a bit of progress over the recent years in the government’s approach toward religious and cultural groups as he spoke with the Hürriyet Daily News & Economic Review in a telephone interview. He gave examples such as the prime minister’s visit to the Greek Orthodox Church and meetings with the deputies of the pro-Kurdish Democratic Society Party, or DTP.

              “I welcome the increased contacts between the government and some of the minority groups but we’d like to recommend more thorough discussions on minorities in Turkey,” Hammarberg told the Daily News.

              “Today only three religious groups are recognized in Turkey as minorities. Other groups are treated as if they don’t have rights as minorities. We think that the interpretation of the Lausanne Treaty is very restrictive and the time has come to look at the situation for the other people in the country,” he said.

              The commissioner said there were groups in Turkey that should be recognized as minorities, listing the Roma people, Alevis and Kurds among them.

              “They are clearly a minority. Kurds have their own language. This is implicitly recognized by the fact that the Turkish Radio and Television makes 24-hour broadcasts in Kurdish,” said Hammarberg.

              He said how the issue would be resolved is a political decision and called for more open discussions to deal with minorities and their language and property rights. His report said Turkey should become a party to the Framework Convention for the Protection of National Minorities and to the European Charter for Regional or Minority Languages.

              Insecurity of minority groups noted

              The commissioner expressed concerns in the report about the uneasiness and insecurity that still seems to surround religious minority groups.

              “Widely reported threats against religious leaders, such as the Ecumenical Patriarch or the Armenian Patriarch, call for the Turkish authorities’ alert and the adoption of measures that will effectively prevent and eliminate the causes of such serious manifestations of intolerance towards minorities,” said the report.

              “During his discussion with representatives of the xxxish community in Istanbul the Commissioner also noted that even though members of this community appear to encounter no major problem in their daily lives, they are occasionally affected by anti-Semitic manifestations through citizens’ demonstrations, including hate speech, or press publications, especially in the context of the political developments in the Middle East,” it read.

              A recent survey published in daily Radikal showed that lack of knowledge and prejudices were the main influences on the Turks’ perceptions of minorities in Turkey.

              The commissioner, in his report, urged the authorities in particular to develop awareness-raising activities to alert the general public of the benefits of a multicultural society and to create an efficient, specialized body to combat racial and religious discrimination.

              Besides the report on minorities, Hammarberg drafted another document on immigration. He told the Daily News that the matter of immigrants is an issue that needs to be resolved in cooperation between the European Union and Turkey, adding that he asked Brussels to include Turkish officials in discussions about migration.



              • Re: Can Turkey Learn Tolerance?

                Photo: Nikos Manginas

                Christian tombs desecrated in an historic Istanbul cemetery



                by NAT da Polis

                About 90 tombstones are broken. Incidents of this nature are not rate in the city but the local press failed to report it. Only recently and through a movie, have young Turks begun to learn about past anti-Christian pogroms. Ecumenical patriarch Bartholomew visits the cemetery in question.

                Istanbul (AsiaNews) – A Christian cemetery was desecrated in Istanbul. Unknown person or persons broke 90 tombstones that bore the sign of the cross and the name of the deceased. The incident occurred a few days ago in the historic cemetery of Valukli near the ancient Valukli Monastery, the only monastery dedicated to Our Lady still open in Istanbul, located outside the ancient walls of Theodosius, and which five non-resident nuns care for.

                Istanbul’s Christian cemeteries have been desecrated on a number of occasions in the past 20 years. The latest outrage brought back memories of the tragic events of September 1955 when churches, cemeteries and properties owned by Istanbul’s Orthodox community were desecrated and destroyed in a pogrom. Eventually dubbed the September pogrom, the event was the brainchild of Turkey’s political-bureaucratic-military establishment, known here as Derin Devlet or ‘deep state’.

                The pogrom has remained engraved in the memories of Istanbul’s Christians who at that moment realised that their survival in the city would be difficult, if not impossible.

                Young Turks have learnt about such tragic episodes only recently, when Guz Sancisi, a movie by young Turkish woman director Tomris Giritlioglu, was screened in local theatres to great review and box office success.

                It is also important to keep in mind that Christian cemeteries are very large and serve as a reminder of the small Christian presence in this country.

                Given Istanbul’s huge urban development, Christian cemeteries have become surrounded by human habitation and are coveted by developers.

                A law adopted in the 1930s transferred title to cemeteries to municipalities; hitherto, they had belonged to religious foundations

                Outraged and grieved by what happened, the Ecumenical Patriarch Bartholomew (pictured) went to see the desecrated cemetery, asking why such acts continue to strike Christian graveyards.

                Despite the seriousness of the incident, the local press did not report it.



                • Re: Can Turkey Learn Tolerance?

                  From Farmville to Gayville, Internet censorship continues in Turkey

                  October 4th, 2009

                  On 22 September 2009 I estimated that access to at least 6000 websites are blocked from Turkey. That was followed by the infamous blocking decisions involving both and from Turkey. During this weekend we had further cases of access blocking from Turkey.

                  (Article by Doç. Dr. Yaman AKdeniz, 04.10.2009)

                  First, yesterday morning (Saturday, 03 October, 2009) Internet users from Turkey were unable to access their virtual farms in Farmville, a popular game offered by through Facebook. Those who tried to access Farmville and other online community based games offered by Zynga through Facebook were greeted with the following message:

                  After technical analysis and legal evaluation based on the catalog crimes of the Law no 5651, Administrative measure has been taken for this website ( according to decision no 421.02.02.2009-272446 dated 02/10/2009 of ‘Telekomünikasyon İletişim Başkanlığı’.

                  The blocking decision was an administrative (rather than court issued) one issued by the Presidency which was obviously not available for comments during the weekend but it was soon discovered that Zynga and its games were blocked because Zynga promoted gambling through some of its social games such as ZyngaPoker and Live Poker. The ban triggered protests and heated discussions through Facebook groups and FriendFeed threads.

                  However, the ban did not last long and later in the evening happy Turkish Farmville users were back in their farms. It is not clear why the ban lasted so short or what triggered the removal of the ban but news reports suggest that the Presidency simply changed its mind. Perhaps they realized that they reacted too strongly and that their decision was disproportionate. Apparently further investigations will take place with regards to the gambling issue…

                  On the same day, access to two further websites were blocked from Turkey. These are and which in combination form the largest online gay community in Turkey with approximately 225000 users. The users of these two sites were greeted with a similar message to that of

                  After technical analysis and legal evaluation based on the catalog crimes of the Law no 5651, Administrative measure has been taken for this website ( according to decision no 421.02.02.2009-272446 dated 02/10/2009 of ‘Telekomünikasyon İletişim Başkanlığı’.

                  I was told by the site operators that the two sites are planning to challenge the administrative blocking order as soon as possible, and they allege that homophobia rather than obscene content on the websites triggered the blocking decision.

                  I will update the story as further information is made available.



                  • Re: Can Turkey Learn Tolerance?

                    So the answer to the question in the title of this thread is no.
                    "Nobody can give you freedom. Nobody can give you equality or justice or anything. If you're a man, you take it." ~Malcolm X


                    • Re: Can Turkey Learn Tolerance?

                      That commission often bans porn, piracy and gambling websites.