Sunday, March 11, 2007


"In my country, the murderers are on the streets and the intellectuals are behind bars."
~ Akin Birdal.

It would appear that there have been threats of assassination directed against Amed's wildly popular mayor, Osman Baydemir, as well as against DTP co-chairman, Ahmet Turk. At the end of February, Ahmet Turk, along with Aysel Tugluk, was sentenced to a year an a half of prison time for distributing materials in Kurdish language and for "praising" Ocalan. Last week, Ahmet Turk was sentenced to another six months prison time for referring to Apo as "Mister."

Almost a year ago, during the Amed Serhildan, Osman Baydemir's convoy was attacked as it was returning from a meeting with the Diyarbakir governor. More on that from KHRP's fact-finding mission on Turkey's indiscriminate use of force during the serhildan:

En-route from meeting the Governor to discuss taking steps to calm the people, the convoy in which the Mayor of Diyarbakir, Osman Baydemir was travelling was attacked by armed police. Police held a pistol to the head of one of the Mayor’s guards, and threatened to kill Baydemir, while another of his guards was cut on the forehead. The Mayor perceived this as a ‘serious threat’. As noted by a member of İnsan Hakları Derneği (Human Rights Association of Turkey, İHD) who was travelling in the same group, ‘If they can behave this way with the Mayor, imagine how they behave with ordinary people in the street’. İHD reported that police also racked and pointed their weapons at them from a distance of just one metre, and damaged the cars in which they were travelling by throwing stones.

More on the assassination threats, from Zaman:

Turkey's Security Directorate has put the police departments of 81 provinces into a state of high alert, focusing on provocations attempting to fuel Kurdish-Turkish conflict following the receipt of intelligence reports -- which came through a former member of Turkey's anti-terror unit -- on assassination plans for Diyarbakır Mayor Osman Baydemir and leader of the pro-Kurdish Democratic Society Party (DTP) Ahmet Türk.

Consequently, both the Diyarbakır and Ankrara security administrations, through internal notification, were warned to increase their security measures.

[ . . . ]

Police sources indicated that plans for an attack on Baydemir in previous months were discovered and prevented by the police. The discovery was not made public and those planning the attack were arrested and sentenced to prison.

It was also found out that Baydemir did not want police protection and preferred to provide security for himself by his own means. A few days ago Baydemir installed a "jammer" device on his vehicle to protect him from possible bomb attacks; however, he was forced to remove this device, the use of which was said to be illegal.

Intelligence sources say there are plans for a long-lasting Turkish-Kurdish conflict and their source, a person known for his nationalist identity who left the anti-terror unit, reported that the plans to assassinate Baydemir and Türk were hatched by a desire to increase Turkish-Kurdish conflict.

Obviously there is something odd going on here. First of all, since when do those who plan assassinations against Kurdish politicians, or even against ordinary Kurds, get arrested and sentenced to prison? According to the US State Department's recent human rights report on Turkey, security forces who have tortured people are rarely convicted. Why would there be an arrest and conviction when the would-be assassin(s) hadn't done anything?

Secondly, it's difficult to believe that the polarization within the Turkish-Kurdish conflict could get much worse, now that the Turkish state must answer for its poisoning of Abdullah Ocalan, and given that DTP has warned of the serious consequences Turkey will face if it doesn't come clean about the poisoning, but assassinations of DTP politicians would be a good step toward all hell breaking loose. Recent arrests of DTP politicians and now, this current threat by an ultra-nationalist from an "anti-terror" unit, are inspired by Kurdish reaction to Ocalan's poisoning.

Thirdly, if the Turkish state is so solicitous for the welfare of Osman Baydemir, why do they forbid him to use a jamming device on his vehicle? Bomb jamming devices generally work by saturating an area with electronic signals in order to neutralize bombs--such as IED's--that are detonated through remote control. There's more on bomb jammers at Global Security. Since bomb jammers are not usually available for commercial use, but are used by state security forces to protect dignitaries, one would think the use of such a jammer by a mayor who is under threat of assassination would be appropriate.

Unless it is the state itself which is really planning the assassination--a scenario that is not outside the realm of possibility given Turkey's brutal history of state-sponsored assassinations and extrajudicial murders during it's Dirty War. The decision to use "extra-legal" means of fighting the Kurdish people was made in 1992 and implemented after the mysterious death of Turgut Ozal. From Covert Action Quarterly:

"The first organization to be set up on this guideline was the JITEM (Gendarme Intelligence and Counter Terrorism) which was first established in the southeast. ... JITEM was effectively controlled by now Lt. Gen. Veli Kucuk. Alongside JITEM, two other units were carved out of the body of the MIT [Turkish Intelligence Organization] and Special Police Teams and henchmen were co-opted from among former PKK guerrillas who had turned informer."

Veli Kucuk's name should ring a bell. Veli Kucuk was not only involved with the control of JITEM, but he was also deeply involved with the Susurluk Affair yet walked free of that scandal. Then he was associated with Alparslan Aslan, who assassinated a Turkish judge last May. Nothing came of his association with Aslan. More recently Kucuk was found to be one of those behind the Hrant Dink murder. So the question is whether the Turkish state is unable or unwilling to rid itself of Deep State vermin like Kucuk.

My bet is that it is unwilling to do so since it is not a civilian government that rules Turkey, but the Paşas. In fact, last Friday it was revealed that the Turkish general staff has divided Turkish media into two groups according to the way they view the military. From TDN:

A new saga has begun in the relationship between the Turkish military and the press after Nokta magazine reported on a document that shows the military has divided the Turkish media and journalists into two groups in accordance with the way they viewed the military.

The document, dated November 2006, was prepared by the Office of the Chief of General Staff Public and Press Relations Bureau and is called, A reassessment of accredited press and media organs. Journalists and media organs that want to follow the activities of the Office of the Chief of General Staff need to be accredited by the office.

According to reports, the document also gave (+) or (-) marks for reports that appeared in the media.

There is more on this fascist revelation at Bianet, while Aksam has named names of some of the journalists that made it onto the Paşas' black list:

From Radikal: Hasan Celal Guzel, Murat Belge, Yildirim Turker, Nuray Mert

From Haberturk'ten 2: Ufuk Guldemir, Erol Mutercimler

From Takvim: Nazli Ilicak

From SKY Turk: Nihat Genc

From Jane's Defense Weekly: Lale Sariibrahimoglu

Aksam also reminds us of the "memorandum" that became known as the Turkish general staff's Strong Action Plan, and which led to the assassination attempt on Akin Birdal:

A secret military document, popularly known as the "memorandum" (andic), was disclosed by Nazli Ilicak, a journalist and a Member of Parliament, in her column in the Yeni Safak daily on 21 October 2000. This document, entitled Strong Action Plan, had been prepared at the directive of the Office of the Chief General in 21 April 1998, and was subsequently published by approval of Cevik Bir, the then-President of the Chief Staff. Strong Action Plan contained instructions by the military to major daily newspapers and their chief columnists to initiate a smear campaign against certain journalists, politicians, and human rights activists and organisations in order to discredit them publicly by associating them with the Kurdish Workers' Party (PKK). The list of targeted people included Akin Birdal, a lawyer and ex-chairman of the Human Rights Association, journalists Mehmet Ali Brand, Cengiz Candar, Mahir Kaynak, Yalcin Kucuk and Mahir Sayin, and the political parties Virtue Party and HADEP. As an alleged consequence of the ensuing media campaign, journalists such as Cengiz Candar and Mehmet Ali Birand lost their columns in their newspapers, and an assassination attempt was carried out against Akin Birdal (see Cases). The Office of the Chief Staff affirmed the existence of that document in a press statement of 3 November 2000, claiming that the program proposed in the document had not in fact been implemented. Subsequently, Nazli Ilicak, Akin Birdal, Hasan Celal Guzel (former Education Minister and leader of the Rebirth Party), Sanar Yurdatapan (a human rights defender) and Mazlum-Der filed complaints in November 2000 against the former General Staff Cevik Bir on grounds of abuse of authority.

But the Strong Action Plan was implemented, at least in the case of Akin Birdal, based on certain "accusations" by notorious PKK traitor, Semdin Sakik. It was later found that Sakik's accusations had been "doctored" to achieve the desired propaganda frenzy that was used as a pretext for the attempted murder of Akin.

After this, let us not fool ourselves by believing that there is a free press in Turkey while a sword of Damocles is dangled by the military over the head of every journalist in the country. Neither let us fool ourselves by believing that the international supporters of military rule in Turkey have any sincere desire to spread democracy in the Middle East.

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