Friday, July 20, 2007


"Anarchists know that a long period of education must precede any great fundamental change in society, hence they do not believe in vote begging, nor political campaigns, but rather in the development of self-thinking individuals."
~ Lucy Parsons.

The elections take place this Sunday, and for that reason, consider this post as a homework assignment to prepare yourself even if you're not voting. After all, you'll have to unwind the spin that's bound to come from the media on Monday. And, yes, it does have a test, as a matter of fact.

Do you know where you stand on the political spectrum? If not, take the test at The Political Compass. You'll find out whether you're right or left, fascist/authoritarian or anarchist/libertarian. You'll find out if you're standing on the spectrum next to Nelson Mandela, Robert Mugabe, or George W. Bush. Then you can check out the reading list to learn more about your position on the compass.

Then go over to KHRP and check out their briefing for the Turkish elections--thanks to Hevallo for the head's up on that. The briefing is in .pdf on KHRP's homepage. It's a backgrounder in a nutshell:

The means deployed to prevent the Kurds in the Southeast from electing a pro-Kurdish representative for the national parliament distorts Turkey’s proportional electoral system and denies the Kurdish population the right to have their free will expressed and heard.

Obviously, there's no democracy here.

Some have said that the current "State of Emergency" in Sêrt, Culemêrg, and Şirnex is not really an OHAL as in the 1990s, but it is a de facto OHAL and that's the conclusion that KHRP has reached:

The security situation has deteriorated and the military has declared the south-eastern areas of Siirt, Hakkâri and Şırnak a High Security Zone since 9 June.

[ . . . ]

At the same time, KHRP has received reports of security forces intimidating villagers in the area which has been declared a High Security Zone, in order to make them abstain from voting for independent candidates. These reports must be taken very seriously as intimidation by security forces constitutes a flagrant violation of the principle that the people through elections should be able to freely express their will.

[ . . . ]

Targeted security cautions in the form of roadblocks and identity checks by armed officials frustrate the efforts of pro-Kurdish parties like the DTP to function freely. While Prime Minister Erdoğan has denied that the declaration of a High Security Zone in the provinces of Siirt, Hakkâri and Şırnak meant that the so called Emergency Rule Region (OHAL) was in place again, in practice access to the area by civilians has been heavily restricted. Reports of security forces intimidating voters in the region add to the concern that voters in the area will be prevented from expressing their will freely in the elections.

There you have it--a virtual OHAL--and it's only a matter of time before atrocities similar to those committed against the Kurdish people in the 1990s are widespread again. It's interesting to note that no one from the EU has condemned Turkey for the de facto OHAL, especially since it went into effect during the campaign period.

In addition to a description of the 10% threshold, the threat the main Turkish parties feel from the independent candidates, and the regime's response to that perceived threat, there's also a short discussion of the language issue with regard to campaigning:

According to Article 58 of the Law on Basic Provisions on Elections and Voter Registers it is strictly forbidden to use any other language than Turkish in “electioneering”. As part of its reform process, prohibitions on the use of other languages than Turkish have been loosened up, and in August 2002 laws were changed to allow limited broadcasting and education in languages other than Turkish. However, the prohibition on the use of any other language than Turkish in electioneering remains in force. Before the 2002 elections, several candidates and supporters in the Southeast had cases filed against them or were detained for speaking Kurdish at rallies or for playing Kurdish music.

If anyone still believes that things have changed since 2002 or before, with regard to the use of Kurdish language in politics, read about some of the recent incidents to the contrary, from the hevals at KurdishInfo.

With KHRP's short description of the facts on the ground regarding the language issue and campaigning, and with the list of abuses at KurdishInfo, take a look at this piece of information from The Economist:

In the Kurds' unofficial capital, Diyarbakir, Kurdish women were recently ululating appreciatively as Mehdi Eker, the farm minister, reeled off the government's achievements and goals: average annual growth of 7.3% (nearly four times the EU figure), a record $20 billion in foreign direct investment, $40 billion in tourism earnings by 2013. “We gave your children free textbooks, brought the internet to their schools, and water to all your villages,” said Mr Eker. He was speaking the most common Kurdish dialect, Kurmanji. Until the AK Party passed a raft of constitutional and judicial changes, he might have been jailed on separatism charges for doing so.

Sayın Eker failed to mention that AKP gave the green light for TSK to murder Kurdish children during the Amed Serhildan in March 2006, or to torture them in the aftermath. Naturally The Economist is lying about constitutional or judicial changes that allow the honorable Sayın Eker to speak Kurmancî while campaigning. The reason for the lack of jailing on "separatism charges" in the case of Mehdi Eker is that he is not one of the DTP candidates. This is the same kind of reality that convicts Ahmed Türk and Aysel Tüğlük for referring to Öcalan as "Sayın" but lets Erdoğan get away unpunished for doing the same thing.

Or compare the situation of DTP's Selahattin Demirtaş to that of Mehdi Eker:

"The fact that we were forced to stand as independents is in itself a manifestation of undemocratic practice," said Selahattin Demirtas, one of about 20 to 30 Kurds expected to make it into the 550-seat parliament.

His woes do not end there: Demirtas cannot address his electorate in Kurdish because Turkish is the only legal language of the election campaign.

"It is so hard to have a real dialogue with the people. Sometimes I feel I fail to get my message through," he said as he toured impoverished villages near Diyarbakir.

The 34-year-old lawyer still greets the villagers in Kurdish before switching to Turkish for his speech.

But the questions come in Kurdish: one man asks Demirtas whether he would help the jobless relatives of a local party activist if elected. One woman complains that their only source of water is the fountain on the village square.

Demirtas answers patiently -- in Turkish.

To compensate where his message may fail, a Kurdish-speaking imam steps in.

Read on and see what the Kurdish imam has to say about Islamist AKP.

Yesterday, Human Rights Watch issued its own press release and backgrounder on the Paşas' meddling in the months before Sunday's elections and the civilian Ankara regime's total failure to maintain momentum on human rights reforms--no problem there, actually, since the reforms are all cosmetic anyway. The HRW report contains more detail than KHRP's briefing, but the examples given are more of the same and it makes for very good pre-election reading.

Just so everyone can remember what is what and who is really who within the Model of Democracy.

On Sunday, vote the pomegranate to help guarantee the fulfilment of a thousand hopes for millions of the oppressed.

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