Tuesday, March 27, 2007


"There are no magic answers, no miraculous methods to overcome the problems we face, just the familiar ones: honest search for understanding, education, organization, action that raises the cost of state violence for its perpetrators or that lays the basis for institutional change -- and the kind of commitment that will persist despite the temptations of disillusionment, despite many failures and only limited successes, inspired by the hope of a brighter future."
~ Noam Chomsky.

From Peace in Kurdistan Campaign, here's the report referenced in Osman Baydemir's letter. In this first part, the letter itself, the discussion centers around the democratization of the Kurdish areas at the local level and the role of the DTP. The report highlights the Ankara regime's discriminatory efforts against the Kurdish people at the local level and DTP in particular, and the role of this official state discrimination, in practice, as far a the democratization process goes.

The fact that there is even a mention of a "democratization process" in Turkey implies that the existence of democracy is a questionable notion that is quite contrary to the usual PR campaign which holds Turkey as a "model" of democracy.

This report and the appendices, which will be published here in the upcoming days, should be read in contrast with the usual propaganda that is presented in the Western press in general, and the American press in particular. Such an example can be found in today's Washington Times by resident Turkish PR expert, Tulin Daloglu.

Report on Local Government and Local Democracy Dynamics concerning the DTP Municipalities in Turkey

1 Introduction and Report Framework

On the road to EU membership, Turkey has made a strong commitment to meet European democratic standards guided by the acquis communautaire, and initiated a legal process in which EU common principles were translated into national policies. Consequently, significant legislative reforms at the level of local government (Law on Metropolitan Municipalities, Law on Municipalities, Law on the Special Provincial Administration, Law on Public Administration and Law on Unions of Local Administrations) and constitutional reforms lifting restrictions on human rights and cultural freedoms (e.g. on political expression, the use of languages other than Turkish in public media) were drafted. Accompanied by critical constitutional reforms, genuine local and regional governmental reform promised to carve up new spaces for enhancing the dynamics of local and regional democracy. Also as the Congress Report of 19961 noted, this reform trend seemed capable, “even if applied in the same manner to the whole of the country” of “contribut[ing] to create conditions for better exercise of democratic rights, including the Kurdish-speaking population in the South-East of the country”.

Turkey’s historic “tradition of a highly-centralised unitary state”, already predicted and repeatedly affirmed to “stand in the way of reforms needed by the modern Turkish state and society” by the Congress Rapporteurs2, proved to be a major obstacle to Turkey’s full commitment to a broader reform package of measures needed for the realization of effective and efficient democratic changes at the level of local governments.3 Given the delicate political nature of the reform process, Turkey’s willingness to establish a viable link between these reforms, and its ability to render them effective in practice were particularly important for the development of real democratic governance at the local and regional levels.

This report aims to give an up-to-date account of the actual implementation of the decentralization process and the interrelated promotion of self-improvement, subsidiarity, and effective local governance for the fifty-six DTP (Democratic Society Party) municipalities in Turkey. Ethnically marked as “Kurdish” and thus historically relegated to the periphery of highly centralized governmental practices, DTP municipalities are a crucial window through which the functioning of local government in Turkey can be interpreted. Yet, in terms of local democratic dynamics, the political, cultural and economic situation in the provinces where most of the DTP municipalities are located4 poses a much more intricate and fragile picture, due to the presence of a long term socio-political conflict that is only partially shaped by, but hardly limited to, the highly centralized state tradition of Turkey. The fact that, despite their significant base of local support, no DTP members could become a member of the Turkish National Assembly during the 2002 elections—representation is contingent on a 10 percent election threshold—further highlights the critical role of the DTP municipalities as crucial actors/interlocutors for the development of local democracy in these areas.5 Furthermore, as shown by the socio-economic development index prepared by the State Planning Organization, almost all of the DTP municipalities are at the same time located in the socially and economically least developed provinces of the South-Eastern and Eastern Anatolian Regions of Turkey. Ridden by social and political conflict for the last 20 years, these two regions have historically been at the periphery of national socio-economic formations and development policies.

The intense legal, administrative and financial difficulties currently faced by these 56 municipalities provide a starting point for examining the challenges and trends of the actualization of local democratic and governmental reforms, because they highlight the relationship between DTP municipalities and central governmental institutions in Turkey. This report, part of a larger report concerning DTP municipalities, will focus on the legal issues (i.e. investigations and court cases) faced by the DTP municipalities.

2 Findings, Issues and Concerns

As noted in the 2005 Report on Local and Regional Democracy in Turkey, despite the strong wish for decentralisation in Turkey and the ambitious reform programme, still, the “actual practice of decentralized government on the ground” remains highly unsatisfactory, particularly when “measured by reference to legislation actually passed and implemented” (para. 8). Concerns and recommendations laid out by the Congress6 are definitely shared by all municipalities in Turkey, and are experienced acutely by smaller municipalities with more restricted access to financial resources. Yet, it is the contention of this report that this arduous process of decentralization in Turkey is more heavily felt and has effects different in kind and degree for the DTP municipalities, which are ethnically marked as “Kurdish” and thus are accordingly subjected to interrelated yet different discriminatory legal, political, cultural and economic governmental practices on the ground. Such policies are justified on the basis of a regnant perception that the interests and democratic demands of the Kurdish-speaking local people are also an imminent threat to national security. A content analysis of the legal, social and economic problems currently faced by these municipalities provides insights into the degree to which the principles of good local governance and self-improvement are ensured by the central government in these municipalities.

Legal Issues:

Currently, there are hundreds of investigations and legal cases filed against the DTP Municipalities. While the sheer number of the cases is an alerting fact on its own, the content and arguments of the cases themselves have a greater bearing on local democracy in the region.

First of all, to put into practice a form of law enforcement that is fair and impartial and respectful of basic human rights, and a form of law that observes the prevalent values of a society—in short, a form that promotes the rule of law—is one of the basic tenets of good local governance. A very important issue for local democracy is the “principle of proportionality for any administrative regulation or act imposing a limit on self-government”, stipulated in the Article 8 of Charter.7 As noted previously by the Congress, it is very important to make sure “that a proper procedure exists, including the rights of the defence,and that careful provision is made in legislation concerning ancillary or principal penalties affecting the actual exercise of elected office”.

However, the frequency of the official investigations into the DTP mayors especially in the provinces that were until very recently governed by the State Emergency Rule—which is to say, the provinces most effective in the politics of the region, is remarkable. For example, within the span of a three year term at the office (2004-2006), a total of 53 investigations and 7 courtcases were opened against Osman Baydemir, the mayor of the Diyarbakir Metropolitan Municipality (DMM, hereafter). The frequency of such investigations filed by the Ministry of Interior is perceived in the region, in one mayor’s words, as part of “an effort to reduce elected local representatives’ status to that of the officials appointed by the central government in Ankara”. Within this context, it should also be kept in mind that these perceptions are grounded in a regional history of previously abolished political parties and dismissed mayors.

The grounds on which these investigations are filed and justified are particularly effective in creating such an impression of the arbitrary and unproportionate use of supervisonary powers over elected mayors in the region. The most problematic aspect of these files is not simply having the existence of a legal basis for such cases, but the lack of constructive and positive reference to the existing laws. The obstructive and negative use of existing laws is most significant for the investigations and cases grounded on accusations directly related to freedom of speech and thought, and, thus, which are filed through a separate court system (CMUK, Code of Criminal Procedures). Overall, the investigations and cases filed at the CMUK points to the neglect of the principles such as democratization as well as respect to human rights and cultural freedoms that are promoted not only by the Congress but also officially approved by the Turkish government through the European documents such as the Charter of Local Self Government. An example well to the point is provided by the case filed against Abdullah Demirbas, the mayor of Sur municipality of Diyarbakir, on the grounds of “making propoganda to promote the aims of the terrorist organization PKK” due to his speech titled, “Municipal Services and Local Governments in the light of Multilingualism”, which was delivered at the European Social Forum in January 2006.8 Although the content of the speech, very well summarized by its title, does not include any single direct or indirect reference to the PKK, the very fact that the speech aimed to explore the relations between multilanguagism and local democracy and that it was delivered by a DTP Mayor was enough to render it as a form of ‘PKK propaganda’ in the eyes of central government authorities. Mayor Demirbas was acquitted on all charges on 19.09.2006.

The indictment of the Roj TV letter case (2006/350) was also written through a similar centralist point of view, which immediately criminalizes DTP Mayors’ legal and democratic demands by associating them with the PKK and separatist tendencies but never contextualizes them in relation to Turkey’s ongoing process of democratization and negotiations with the EU.9 In the indictment, 56 DTP Mayors were charged with “abetting and aiding an armed organization” due to their joint letter sent to the Danish Prime Minister Rasmussen concerning the possible closing of Roj TV. The first court hearing was held on September 26, 2006.10 In his defense for the case, the DMM Mayor Osman Baydemir stated, ‘The fact that a Kurdish channel broadcasts from outside of Turkey disturbs us, too. We believe that it is more appropriate to consider the possibility of a Kurdish TV broadcasting from within the borders of Turkey and in accordance with the legal legislations within the context of EU-Turkey relations. The letter was written to point to the fact that for democratic life and culture to flourish in Turkey the public media and press institutions should not be silenced, that the ban of Roj TV will not contribute to democratic life in Turkey.’ The next hearing for this case will be held on November 21, 2006. While there are many ongoing cases at the CMUK—almost all regarding mayors—the mayor of Cizre has recently been found guilty and sentenced to a prison term due to his speech on Roj TV, and this being the result of a case handled through the CMUK.

The “misuse of municipal office and resources” is a frequent theme/accusation directly aiming to question the providing of municipal services in these investigations. For example, in the case filed on the grounds of “misuse of municipal office and resources” (2006/15), Sur Mayor Abdullah Demirbas was indicted on charge of “unlawfully” building a memorial statue. The statue, named “Statue for the Children of the World” and dedicated to stopping the violence against the children, was built after twelve-year-old Ugur Kaymaz had been killed by 13 bullets by the police in 2005, in Kiziltepe, Mardin. While providing cultural services and, included therein, building statues is among the lawful duties of a municipality, Mayor Demirbas, a teacher himself, is furthermore widely known among the local people by his sensitivity and sincere efforts towards protecting and improving the rights and lives of children in Diyarbakir.11 The file was dismissed as of the last week of May.

In a similar vein, in an investigation filed on July 8th, 2006, Viransehir Mayor Emrullah Cin was indicted on charge of “misuse of municipal resources” due to the publication of bulletins about municipal services both in Turkish and Kurdish. Mayor Cin stated that Kurdish was the mother tongue of the majority of the Viransehir’s population (app. 120.000), thus in publishing bulletins also in Kurdish, the municipality aimed to better communicate municipal services to the public. Mayor Cin further noted that publication of municipal bulletins was not considered a crime anywhere in Turkey, and that the decision for publication was made by the municipal council and in accordance with the municipal law, and, furthermore, that the RTUK (Radio and Television Supreme Council of Turkey) laws also did not consider publication of such bulletins as a criminal activity, thus municipality acted fully in accordance with and in the limits of existing laws.

A recurrent theme in the investigations filed on grounds of “misuse of municipal office and resources” is the providing of ambulance or burial services for the PKK militants. This particular issue is very important for ensuring that local governments can provide social services to their local citizens based on the promotion of principles of equality and responsiveness. Although militants families’ are among the inhabitants of these cities, and although municipalities are obliged to provide such services once requested by a local citizen, with every such incident a new case is filed against the municipalities. In his defense for a relevant case, DMM Mayor Osman Baydemir noted, ‘This responsibility, this duty [of ] providing ambulance services when requested by a local citizen] legally belongs to us within the borders of Diyarbakir. First and foremost, once met with such a request [coming from a local citizen], we are obliged to comply with the provisions of the relevant law. Furthermore, once met with such a request, under no condition it is our duty to do a search on the identity of the person who has lost his life, of the dead person. This is a humane obligation, a duty relating to conscience.’ So far, 16 such investigations have been filed against the mayors and/or municipal personnel of 9 DTP municipalities. It should be noted that the previous dismissal of similar cases (e.g. DMM/2004, Gokcebag Municipality/2005) does not prevent new such cases (e.g. DMM/2006) from being opened. At the hearing of September 27, 2006, the DMM Mayor was acquitted from charges of misuse of municipal resources by the act of paying 16.5 YTL for the ambulance service. In a similar vein, despite the fact that condolence visits are well known to be a crucial component of the cultural traditions in the region, the condolence visits of DTP Mayors to the families of local citizens killed by security forces are also always subject to official investigation. The fact that Mayors’ visits are always accompanied by visits to the families of local security forces injured or killed during the events as well is effective in the dismissal of such investigations (e.g. 2005/915, opened against Diyarbakir Metropolitan, Sur, Baglar, Yenisehir, Kayapinar and Dicle Mayors), yet this does not prevent new investigations with every such visit.

The indictments grounded on ‘misuse of municipal office and resources’ are further effective in creating a sense of misuse of supervisionary powers as a means of exerting undue political and administrative pressure over local governments, particularly when cases are opened in spite of investigation files that already includes expert/inspector’s reports or official documents suggesting that there is no ground for the accusations outlined in the indictments. For example, in an investigation (2006/8747) opened against the DMM Municipality, DMM personnel, including the Mayor, were charged on “misuse of office” by unlawfully disqualifying a lower cost proposal during the tendering process of a DISKI (Diyarbakir Drinking Water and Sewage Directorate) Project. Although the inspector sent by the Ministry of Interior stated in his report that the decision to disqualify the aforementioned proposal was taken in line with the legal procedures and in profit of the municipality, that the price proposed by the company was much lower than the actual cost of the project application procedures (the difference between the winning proposal and the disqualified one was about 1 billion TL); the investigation was finalized into a court case.

Ensuring equality and responsiveness to the local people’s aspirations in providing social services and developing the region based on a clear vision and strategy with participation of the citizenry in all the processes of development so that they can acquire a sense of ownership and responsibility for the progress of their region are very critical issues in terms of local democracy dynamics and good governance. The investigations filed against the DTP mayors—on grounds of the use of Kurdish language while they are doing their public duties such as heading marriage ceremonies, or in official letters such as new year celebrations—frame the existing insensitivity to the principles aforementioned, completely ignoring the fact that both these mayors’ and the majority of the local people’s mother tongue is Kurdish in these cities. Even though Kurdish has been officially recognized as a spoken language in Turkey since 1991, and although with certain restrictions, it can be used in public media as well, nevertheless, the use of Kurdish language by the mayors in public speeches or in public services remains a very ‘sensitive’ issue, often subject to some form of restriction or investigation by the central government authorities. While there are investigations opened solely for the use of Kurdish language in public speeches (e.g. DMM, Kiziltepe, Sur, Silvan Municipalities) or for use of Kurdish in municipal services (e.g. Viransehir Municipality example above), the use of Kurdish language in municipal services is sometimes directly restricted by the governorships. For example, Kayapinar City Council’s efforts to give culturally significant Kurdish names to the parks and streets of Diyarbakir were obstructed by the Diyarbakir Governorship because these names were said to either include letters that did not exist in the Turkish alphabet (e.g. ‘w’) or showed parallelism with PKK discourses. The court case filed by the Kayapinar City Council against the Diyarbakir Governorship is still in process.

The Diyarbakir Metropolitan Municipality is the only metropolitan municipality governed by a DTP Mayor. It carries a further symbolic and visible importance due to Diyarbakir’s strategic cultural place in the historical, geographical and political landscape in the region and in Turkey. DMM is at the same time the DTP municipality that is subjected to the greatest number of investigations and cases, as also noted above. The mayor of Diyarbakir has been experiencing severe pressure with regard to freedom of speech.

The Public Prosecutor of Diyarbakir opened a case against Mr. Osman Baydemir in the 6th Heavy Criminal Court because of some of the content of his speeches during the incidents in March 2006 in the city center of Diyarbakir.12 In the indictment (no. 2006/417) dated 22.06.2006, the mayor is accused of “aiding and abetting the terrorist organization PKK” and the prosecutor demands the mayor to be sentenced according to Article 250 of the Code of Criminal Procedure. During the March events, despite all the efforts of the mayor in bringing calm to the events, which were all realized in constant coordination with the provincial governor as also stated in the indictment, nevertheless, parts of his public statements were distorted, and consequently he was turned into a target for state officials and the national media. Furthermore, the mayor was physically attacked by the security forces on his way to the location of incidents, where, in dialogue with the Governor of Diyarbakir, he was going to try to persuade the demonstrating people to go back to their homes. The police officers, who assaulted the mayor’s bodyguard with batons, also threatened to kill him. Again during the events, the municipal ambulance was attacked by the police officers, and the driver of ambulance was heavily assaulted. Add to these, the Ministry of Interior launched three different investigations about Mr. Baydemir because of his public speeches during the incident, and these investigations have been already finalized into a court case the first hearing of which was held on October 3, 2006. The second hearing of the case will be held on December 26, 2006. On the other hand, the 35 investigations opened against “public officials” on torture and killings of the civilians during the incident are still at the preparation stage. Furthermore, these investigation files include no specific names for these public officials, that is, they are filed against “unknown perpatrators”, and there has been no known official effort to find the perpatrators of these torture and killing incidents as well. Thus, unfortunately, it has been expected that the preparatory stage of these investigation files will indeed never be completed, such that the files will either be dismissed or dropped due to prescription.

Another case was opened against Mr. Baydemir because of his interview with the journalist Cemal Subasi of the weekly Tempo—a very popular and well established mainstream magazine, with an audience of millions in Turkey. The interview was published on 16 January, 2006. In the interview, Baydemir expressed his various ideas about the Kurdish problem in Turkey. 15 sentences of this 2 pages long interview13 were interpreted by the Public Prosecutor as evidence of his aim to denigrate a particular group of people through the press by perpetuating divisions among citizens on the basis of social class, racial, religious and regional differences. The Public Prosecutor accuses Osman Baydemir of transgressing the limits of the right to criticize and freedom of expression granted by the Turkish Constitution, and be punished with the Article 216 of the Turkish Penal Code due to his “baseless criticisms” which gives the impression “as if” the Turkish Republic carries out a policy of pressure and violence on Kurds and the values that represent these people. The public prosecutor wants Baydemir get sentenced in accordance with Articles 216/2 and 218 of the Turkish Penal Code.

Simply, the number of the investigations and cases opened both on grounds of municipal services and of freedom of thought and speech are greater in Eastern and Southeastern Anatolia regions as compared both to the DTP municipalities located in the other regions of Turkey and to the non-DTP municipalities nationwide. Furthermore, the frequency of investigations is joined by the lack of constructive use or interpretation of the existing laws, especially in reference to principles such as democratization and respect for human rights and cultural freedoms —a situation indeed valid for every citizen in Turkey in varying degrees, and very much due to an administrative and legal system that has recently gone through a major and rapid change in terms of content and in theory, but is not accompanied by a matching pace of change in terms of official mentality on actual ground. These two facts, united in the investigations and cases opened against the DTP mayors, form a legal and political context which translates into a ‘psychological pressure’ and a sense of ‘discriminatory, unfair centralist attitude’—in the mayors’ own words—in the official and private lives of the DTP mayors. The situation is expected to detoriate significantly with the new Anti-terror Laws, after which “DTP Mayors will not even be able to speak or move for fear of an investigation”, as a DTP mayor states.

3 Conclusion:

The present peace process and the concurrently ongoing social conflict affect the operation of the DTP municipalities in ways not decipherable through a simple analysis of the decentralization process in Turkey. Investigations and cases filed against the DTP Mayors in Eastern and Southeasterm Anatolia form only a part of a broader picture that points to a sense of discriminatory and unfair centralist attitudes towards the DTP municipalities in the region. There are financial and administrative difficulties such as procedural difficulties posed by the State Planning Organization on access to international funds.14 There are daily tensions between the municipal, military and other public officials such as the local military troops’ marching with slogans and collecting trash in the city center of Hakkari with banners reading “Instead of separatist politics, do your own job”. These too require detailed analysis. However, as noted before, this report is specifically written to highlight the political and administrative pressure exerted through the legal proceedings which have recently become extremely frequent and regular and thus have been almost normalized for the DTP municipalities in the region. It is the contention of this report that the present adverse situation with regards to the investigations and court cases launched against the DTP mayors in the region, on the other hand, can be overcome with proper, effective, efficient and immediate implementation of the local democracy and local good governance concepts on ground in Eastern and Southeastern Anatolia.

Epilogue, written on March 15, 2007

After the conclusion of this report in October 2006, and especially after the National Security Council meeting in December 2006, pressures over Democratic Society Party (DTP) have systematically and radically increased; investigations, arrests and penalties against the DTP executives reached to unbearable levels. Many executive members of the DTP were sentenced, including the chair Mr. Ahmet Turk and the vice-chairs Aysel Tugluk and Sedat Yurtdas. Tens of DTP province offices were raided by the police, and over seventy members of DTP were taken under custody. More than 30 of these were arrested, including the branch chairs of DTP in the largest cities in the region such as Diyarbakir, Van, Batman and Mardin. Human rights activists are also under heavy pressure in the region. The Urfa and Diyarbakir branch chairs of the Human Rights Association (HRA) as well as Bingol’s former branch chair of HRA were sentenced. Several new investigations were launched and court cases opened against the mayors who are members of the DTP. Mayor of Kayapinar District of Diyarbakir was sentenced. The mayor of Diyarbakir Metropolitan Municipality Osman Baydemir will have at least 5 different court cases in March and April 2007. Finally, the Ministry of Interior appealed to the State Council to dismiss the mayor of Sur district of Diyarbakir, Mr. Abdullah Demirbas, and dissolve the Sur Municipal Council, claiming that by taking the decision to use multiple languages in delivering municipal services Mr. Demirbas and the Sur Municipal Council exceeded the bounds and limits of their duties and authorities, and violated the 3rd and 2nd articles of the Constitution. We worry that such developments are indicators of increasing pressure over the DTP mayors in the coming months of 2007, which would narrow down the sphere of democratic local politics in Turkey in general and in the region in particular.

1 Report on the State of Local and Regional Democracy in Turkey - CG (4) 3 Part II, Rapporteur: Halvdan SKARD, 1996: para.8.
2 ibid: para. 9; Follow up to Recommendation 29 (1997) CG/INST (8) 27: Information Report on Local and Regional Democracy in Turkey, Rapporteurs: Anders KNAPE, Hans-Ulrich STÖCKLING, 2001: para. 3.4 and 4.10; Local and Regional Democracy in Turkey - CG (12) 25 Part II, Rapporteurs: Anders KNAPE, Hans-Ulrich STÖCKLING, 2005: para. 3.9, 4.3, 8.4 and 10.2.
3 As also highlighted in the Congress Report of 2005 (para. 9.2), devolution reforms were subjected to criticisms on the grounds of their “potential of distorting the unity and the integrity of the State as well as consistency and complementarity of public services”. As pointed to also in the same report, the President of the Republic voiced these views in his vetoes, for example in case of the draft Law on the Special Provincial Administration, by noting that “changing the present system of public administration would be incompatible with such constitutional principles as unity of the State, integral unity of administration, administrative tutelage and public interest”. Such concerns were already translated into significant obstacles for the reform process, when they resulted in specific reservations made on the European Charter of Local Self-Government, in reluctance to ratify the Framework Charter for the Protection of and the European Charter for Regional or Minority Languages, or in inability to formulate a specific law draft on local finance deemed absolutely necessary for local autonomy (2005: para. 6a).
4 Most of the DTP Municipalities are located in and around the provinces that were considered to pose a “threat to national security” and thus were governed by the Emergency State Rule until 2002. These provinces are Elazig, Bingöl, Tunceli, Van, Diyarbakir, Mardin, Siirt, Hakkâri, Batman, Sirnak.
5 For example, during the 2003 elections, 8 of the 10 parliamentary seats in Diyarbakir were won by the DTP.
6 The report highlights the following as critical areas/issues for the local democracy in Turkey: the transfer of powers in accordance with newly adopted legislation; insufficient resources to ensure “effective management” locally; heavy state tutelage over local authorities; the lack of a law regarding local finances and heavy dependence of smaller municipalities upon central government grants due to lack of independent resources; and need for greater decentralisation at the provincial level.
7 Congress Report on Monitoring the Implementation of the European Charter of Local Self-Government, By Alain DELCAMP, European Local Government Association For Research (ELGAR)Paris
8 A translated copy of the original speech is provided in Appendix 1.
9 A copy of the original letter presented to the Prime Minister Rasmussen is provided in the Appendix 2.
10 A translated (in English) copy of the joint legal defense prepared and signed by the DTP mayors and submitted to the court is provided in the Appendix 3.
11 During Mayor’s time in office, one children’s library, an education center, a plastic arts workshop and eight open air parks were opened for children. A municipal children’s council was founded. All the primary schools in the district were given financial support to improve their libraries (4 of such libraries are finished). The local Children Festival of Sur Municipality was turned into an International one. Municipality also started to publish magazines and tale books for children.
12 A partial and selective transcription of these speeches were submitted as evidence in the indictment. A literal translation of these transcriptions in the indictment, as well as two press releases by Osman Baydemir which were used by the public prosecutor to support the indictment are attached in Appendices 4, 5 and 6. The incidents started when a large crowd of mourners refused to disperse after the funeral ceremonies of 4 of the 14 members of the PKK in Diyarbakir, who were reportedly killed by chemical weapons by the Turkish security forces on March 24th during a military operation in the rural area between Mus and Bingol provinces. The police attacked the crowd who refused to disperse after the funeral ceremony in Diyarbakir city center. Dozens of people were injured in the ensuing clash between the police and the demonstrators who wanted to march to the city center. On March 29th, the security build up reached immense dimensions with the transfer of the gendarmerie, special police teams and army units located in neighboring provinces into the city. While immense amounts of tear gas and pepper spray were used to disperse the crowds, 3 people were killed on the same day. This was the background on which the street clashes spread all over the city, also including the Dicle University Campus, and the confrontation/polarization between the state security forces and the demonstrators was transformed into unforeseen levels of violence. In the following days, the protests spread to the provinces of Batman, Mardin (Kiziltepe and Nusaybin districts), Urfa (Viransehir district), Siirt, Sirnak (Silopi District) and eventually to Istanbul. According to the data provided by the Human Rights Association of Turkey, as of April 6th, 563 people (200 of them under 18) were detained in Diyarbakir; 554 of the cases were referred to the Public Prosecutor and 382 of those (91 of them under 18) were arrested. 13 people, 10 of them in Dioyarbakir, were killed all throughout the incidents. 4 of the killed were under 18. From the very first day the events started on, the mayor of Diyarbakir Metropolitan Municipality put forth much effort to ensure prudence and steadiness in the city together with district mayors, executive members of Diyarbakir Branch of Democratic Society Party, NGO representatives and the Diyarbakir Democracy Platform. To this end, the mayor had two press releases. (Appendix). While pointing to the fact that the events stemmed from the inability to find a democratic solution to the Kurdish problem, he invited the security forces to steadiness and not use fire-arms when dispersing the demonstrators. Similarly, while inviting the demonstrators and the people of Diyarbakir to prudence and steadiness, he asked the demonstrators stop the protests; not to involve in violent activities under any conditions, and not to damage public property and stores. Besides, the mayor met with the demonstrators in more than ten different locations throughout the city and tried to persuade them return to their homes. Especially on the first day, March 28th, his efforts proved to be successful, even if partially. However, it was not possible to prevent the events that occurred on March 30th after the funeral ceremony of the three civilians who were killed on the 28th and 29th. Seven people more were killed on that day.
13 Sentences quoted from the interview, literally translated and presented as provided in the indictment, are as follows: “ Each ethnic identity should be able to join public life with their own identity… Common denominator could be the supra identity of being from Turkey on a geographical basis... Isolation of Abdullah Ocalan is unacceptable... Isolation will cause further deepening of the violence… Our region has been subjected to a policy of impoverishment… The victim of this will of course not be a single side. If we cannot overcome the ethnic identity conflict, eyes may be looking outward. Our region is not disturbed about the recent developments in Northern Iraq. Ocalan’s effect cannot be denied. When Ocalan was brought to Turkey in 1999, some armed people left borders of Turkey in line with hi announcements. It should be accepted that he has an influential place in a certain circle. This cannot be overlooked. Osman Baydemir wants Roj TV not be closed-off, wants the isolation policy on Abdullah Ocalan to be lifted. It is not possible to accept the current isolation policy towards Ocalan. Its continuatigon will deepen the violence.”
14 See Appendix 7 for further information.

Appendices to this report will be published on Rastî in the upcoming days.


Frank Partisan said...

Really good blog.

Good luck in your struggle.

I think the Turkish government has a visceral opposition to giving democratic rights to the Kurdish, It is naive to think the US is more loyal to Kurdistan than Turkey.

Mizgîn said...

Thanks, Renegade Eye.

Not only is it naive to think that the US will abandon, or remain loyal to, Kurds over Turkey, it is also foolish.

The iron triangle of Turkey-US-Israel is an extremely lucrative relationship for the elites in the military-industrial-government complex that create and enforce foreign policy. Anyone who ignores the many recent signs that point to an intensification of the status quo must be deliberately sticking his or her head in the sand.

Military Keynesianism contains within itself the seeds of the destruction of Empire. Keep your eyes on China. It may not be long now before those seeds begin to sprout.