Tuesday, April 24, 2007


"During interviews Landmine Monitor conducted with people living in the Diyarbakır and Mardin provinces of the region of southeastern Anatolia, they said they had the impression that security forces sometimes purposefully leave unexploded debris in areas endangering civilians."
~ Landmine Monitor, 2006 Report, Turkey.

Abdullah Gul has been selected by AKP to compete for the Turkish presidency this year, and to hear the NYTimes tell it, you'd think the biggest problems facing the TC were non-segregated swimming pools. But what a fantastic legacy for AKP, eh?

Then there's Reuters, which tries to sell an Islamist as a "reformist." Well, at least it's an original idea.

Unexploded TSK ordnance in Şirnex killed one child and injured three others (two of which were also children). Bianet notes that local media failed to mention Turkey's status as signatory to the Ottawa Mine Ban Treaty, its obligations under the treaty, as well as local media's failure to take a critical approach in covering the incident in Şirnex.

What a shock.

There's more on that subject from Landmine Monitor's 2006 report on Turkey. Back in 2005, AKP cooked up a rather unconventional scheme to demine "The Southeast," as described by Reuters last month:

To clear explosives in heavily mined areas of the South and Southeast, Turkey's Finance Ministry has opened two tenders since 2005. Both were part of an effort to conform to the Ottowa Convention which gave signatories like Turkey 10 years to de-mine its interiors.

But both tenders were called off.

While most de-mining contracts are based on cash payments for land cleared, the Turkish ones were set up so the winning bidder would win the right to establish an organic farm on the cleaned land for 49 years after clearing it, in a kind of 'rehabilitate and operate' system.

"The government is trying to get the land cleared without spending any money," said de-mining consultant Ali Koknar, who heads Washington-based AMK Risk Management.

"The winning bid has to agree to farm the land for 49 years. That's not the way the de-mining industry works," he said.

No kidding.

But there were also problems with the real ruling elite, the Paşas:

In 2003, Turkey pledged to clear the land of mines, in a process to be completed by 2014. However the mine clearance business has turned into another controversial issue, since the question of how the land will be used after being cleared led to fierce debate between the government and the opposition. The ruling Justice and Development (AK) Party government launched a tender, but then it was canceled since the TSK said it has both capacity and means to clear the border of mines.

TSK may have the "capacity and means" to clear mines from the "border," but it doesn't have the will. And if it doesn't have the will to clear mines from the border, it certainly doesn't have the will to clear them from Kurdish lands. Although a 1998 directive from the Turkish General Staff forbade the use of landmines, there was a report from FIDH that as late as 2003, TSK was laying more landmines along the border with South Kurdistan. Naturally the TSK failed to inform the local population of these new minefields because they weren't supposed to be laying them, according to the Genelkurmay Baskanligi.

So much for reform; so much for substance. It's all about image. For the sake of the image of the TC, Kurdish kids will continue to be blown to bits.

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