Friday, March 30, 2007


“If I could be anything in the world I would want to be a teardrop because I would be born in your eyes, live on your cheeks, and die on your lips.”

~ Unknown.

Enes Ata, age 8, murdered by the Turkish state on March 30, 2006 as he walked to his aunt's home in Amed.

From the Turkish Human Rights Association report:

Mehmet Akbulut (18): "He was heavily wounded as result of injury by firearm when security forces opened fire in the centre of the province on 28 March 2006. He lost his life on 31.03.2006 at the Dicle University Faculty of Medicine where he was being treated. According to the autopsy report, his death was result of liver damage, internal haemorrhage and shock due to haemorrhage, related to injury by firearm bullet."

Halit Sogut (78): "Halit Sogut, who was heavily injured due to a blow delivered to his head by security forces with a hard object at around 14.30 on 28 March 2006, lost his life on 2 April 2006 at the State Hospital where he was placed under treatment."

Tarik Ataykaya (22): "Furniture worker. On 29 March 2006 between 13:30 and 14:00 he was wounded when security forces opened fire near Hayat 2 apartment on Baglar Medine Boulevard (beside the Metin Furniture facility behind the Rice Factory) and died the same day at the State hospital. According to the autopsy report, he died as result of brain damage and haemorrhage related to injury by firearm bullet (gas cartridge).

A section of what witnesses told IHD: " Security forces wearing Special Team uniforms and carrying firearms appeared across us. They numbered about 6-7. They were haphazardly shooting. They were kneeling on the ground and aiming at the crowd; they were not firing into the air. At that moment there was a big commotion. Everyone started to run away. While we ran off scared, I heard a gunshot behind me. When I turned to look, I saw Tarik on the ground and went to him. Tarik had lost consciousness at that point. (...) We took Tarik into the building right beside us. We rang the door of one of the flats there and told them to phone for an ambulance. While we were inside the building we washed his face and at that time we realised he had received a blow to his head.

Mehmet Isikci (19): "Furniture builder. He was taken to the State Hospital after receiving a concussion from a blow with a hard object used by security forces on Emek High Street at around 17:30-18.00 on 29.03.2006 and died there shortly after. Those who witnessed the incident were relatives living in the building opposite to where the incident took place. According to the autopsy report, he died as result of head, chest and inner trauma, fracture of skull, brain hemorrhage, internal hemorrhage due to right lung and liver rupture and shock from hemorrhage."

Abdullah Duran (9): "Elementary school student. Abdullah Duran lost his life as result of security forces opening fire at around 17:30 on 29.03.2006 while, together with his family, he was watching the incidents in the streets from the balcony of the house they lived in. His uncle Mehmet Duran has stated that bullets had also passed through the jacket his other nephew Eyup Duran was wearing while on the balcony. According to the autopsy report, he died as result of internal hemorrhage and hemorrhage shock related to injuries of the heart and both lungs by firearm bullet."

Enez Ata (8): "Elementary school student. He lost his life as result of being hit by a bullet when security forces opened fire again in Kurucesme district during the incidents that erupted on 30 March 2006 while the funeral ceremony of 3 civilian citizens whose rights to life was violated by security forces on 28 and 29 March was being held."

From Enez Ata's father's account: "At around mid-day on 30 March 2006, my son Enez Ata came home earlier than usual saying they did not allow them entry into the school. It was around 13:20. After taking off his uniform apron, he said he would go to his aunt who lives very close to our house and left the house. As I thought he had gone to his aunt, I was initially at ease. Later, at about 15.00, I phoned his aunt. But she told me Enez had not gone there. Upon this our family started to look for him, we went to our relatives, we went to the school. But the school was totally empty. After looking for him for several hours I returned home where I received a phone call from my aunt who said some people had seen Enez wounded and in someone's lap on the television. Whereon I went to the Children's Hospital Emergency Service but he was not there. After that I went to the State Hospital. When I saw the dead body of my son at the Emergency Service, I lost myself. The prosecutor who arrived for the autopsy showed me the bullet that had lodged in his body (between his heart and stomach). I recall they forced me into a car; the police sent us to the Cinar district Asagikonak Village where our birth registry is held; they did not allow us to bury my son in the cemetery in Diyarbakir."

Mahsun Mizrak (17):"PVC foreman, glazier. Although witnesses have seen him being detained on 30.03.2006 by the 10 Nisan Police Station, his family received no result from applications made to the police stations, bar association, IHD, Security Directorates and hospitals. Finally, on 03.04.2006 at 18:00 the family went to the State Hospital and learned that his body had been held at the morgue since 30.03.2006 as an unidentified corpse. According to the autopsy report, he died as result of brain damage and haemorrhage caused by firearm bullet (gas cartridge)."

Emrah Fidan (17): "High school 3rd grade student. As result of injury due to security forces opening fire in the provincial center on the afternoon of 29.03.2006, he was placed under treatment at the intensive care unit of the Dicle University Faculty of Medicine and lost his life at around 08:00 on 03.04.2006. According to the autopsy report, he died as result of firearm pellets and brain hemorrhage."

From Emrah Fidan's father's account: "My son Emrah Fidan left the house at around 15:00 on 29.03.2006 and when he did not come back home towards the evening we got concerned. Because of this we went to the hospitals and asked. At the State Hospital Emergency Service they showed me a document in which the name 'Emrah Fidan' was written. We looked into the rooms with the nurses but could not find him. Upon this we went to the police stations and asked. I went to the Security Directorate to ask and a policeman there shouted at me saying '.... off and ask Osman Baydemir about your son!.." and threw me out. That night I couldn't find a trace of my son anywhere. The next day I went back to the State Hospital. The police there told me that my son had been lightly injured in the foot. On 30.03.2006 we went to the D.U. Faculty of Medicine and asked. They first showed us his clothes.; he had his identification document in the back pocket of his trousers; despite this he was entered in hospital records as Nursin Dogansahin. He remained in intensive care and at about 08:00 on the morning of 03.04.2006 he lost his life.

Ismail Erkek (8): "Elementary school student. He lost his life as result of being hit by a bullet when security forces opened fire again in Kurucesme district during the incidents that erupted on 30 March 2006 while the funeral ceremony of 3 civilian citizens whose rights to life was violated by security forces on 28 and 29 March was being held."

Mustafa Eryilmaz (26): "As result of security forces using disproportionate and excessive force and using firearms on 29 March 2006 he was heavily wounded after which on 31 March 2006 he lost his life. Because his family was not allowed to bury the body in Diyarbakir, it was buried in Silvan."

From YEK-KOM (scroll down):

Responding to the recent events, Erdogan issued a statement in which there was not a single word lost about the murdered children and adolescents. The police and military forces responsible for the murders do not have to fear any legal or disciplinary consequences. On the contrary, the Turkish minister president said the following: "Our security forces will use the necessary force and intervene against anybody who agrees to be a tool of terror, including children and women. I want this to be clearly understood.‚ This statement amounts to a licence to kill, the green light for more massacres on the Kurdish civilian population. According to Erdogan's reasoning, murdering children is part of necessary intervention by the state in agreement with Turkish political authorities. With his words and actions Erdogan makes himself personally and politically fully responsible for the massacres of Kurdish civilians.

To date, no prosecutions have been brought against any official of the Turkish state for the crimes committed against the Kurdish people during the Amed Serhildan.

We don't forget.

Thursday, March 29, 2007


"One faces the future with one's past."
~ Pearl S. Buck.

One year ago, at the end of March 2006, began the Amed Serhildan. After attending the funerals of four HPG gerîlas buried in Amed--out of 14 killed by chemical weapons utilized by the Turkish state--the state began provocations against the crowd of mourners. The serhildan quickly spread throughout Turkish-occupied Kurdistan, "including Batman, Siirt, Mardin, Kiziltepe, Nusaybin, Hakkari, Agri, Van, Ergani, Kars," and even to the large Kurdish population of Istanbul.

Fatih Tas reported the events:

The clashes started with the killing of 14 HPG (People’s Defensive Forces of Kurdish Liberation Movement (KLM)) guerrilla fighters. The HPG claimed that chemical weapons had been used against the guerrillas and demanded that NGOs should investigate the incidence. The families of the guerrillas said that they saw burns and other signs of chemical weapons on their corpses. This information triggered large-scale demonstrations in Diyarbakir during the funeral. The police attacked the funeral using firearms. The demonstrations to protest the attack and the use of chemical weapons spread to other cities. During the demonstrations 13 people, including three children aged three to six, were killed by bullets and several people were hospitalised. Hundreds were arrested and tortured.

[ . . . ]

The mainstream media were in harmony with the government and gave full support to the state policy of demonising the Kurdish people. The broken glass of some shops was the main issue on mainstream TV channels while people were losing their lives to the bullets fired by security forces. The mainstream media was actually provoking an ethnic civil war.

By 12th of Apri, 18 guerrillas, 34 soldiers and 1 policeman had lost their lives. The Turkish state tried every possible means to “solve” the Kurdish problem, the origins of which can be dated back to 1978: dirty war, paramilitary forces, death squads, forced evictions, torture, economic sanctions, summary executions, chemical weapons etc. There is only one approach which has not yet been tried: peaceful dialog. The key to peaceful dialog is the model tried in South Africa: “Truth and Reconciliation Commissions”. That model is proposed by the leader of the KLM, Abdullah Öcalan and it seems to be the only possible way to uncover the human rights violations for which both parties are responsible and to heal the suffering from the prolonged civil war.

As of 20th April 250,000 Turkish troops are said will be deployed in southeastern Kurdish region of Turkey to organize operations against Kurdish guerillas and according to mainstream media the operation could include a cross-border attack to the Northern Iraq where there are guerilla bases.

Those forces are still deployed in Turkish-occupied Kurdistan and the Ankara regime still threatens an invasion of South Kurdistan.

What follows are the fourth and fifth appendices to the "Report on Local Government and Local Democracy Dynamics concerning the DTP Municipalities in Turkey," specifically in reference to the Amed Serhildan. All emphasis is in the original translation.


The original speech transcriptions submitted as evidence by the Public Prosecutor in the Indictment (literally transcribed)

Transcription of the CD of the Kurdish and Turkish speeches of the mayor of Diyarbakir Metropolitan Municipality Osman Baydemir to the Crowd in the Baglar District on the 29th and 30th of March, 2006

02: 28 minute of the CD-- BAYDEMIR (Speaking in Turkish): Friends! The pain that our city went through is very big. We are aware of this. The mayors, our province organization (meaning the Democratic Society Party-DTP), our province chair (of the DTP), our executives, friends, all of us! We share your pain deep in heart. From now on, from this minute on, the continuation of tension will harm our people, our city. That is why we demand you please disperse and go back to your home from now on. Please you all go back to your homes. All security forces will retreat to their stations. And all our people will go back to their homes easily and safely. Any activity you will involve in from now on will harm our city, your demands for democracy and freedom.

03: 26 minute of the CD—A person who is not seen on the screen is speaking in Turkish: My Mayor, everybody wants them to retreat, driving the panzers fast towards the citizens…

03: 31 minute of the CD--BAYDEMIR (Speaking in Turkish): We had the necessary meetings. We had the necessary meetings. We talked with the Governorship, with other institutions, we talked with the Vice Governor, there will be no intervention in any sense, we received guarantee. No intervention will happen. My request from you is that please go back to your homes in a peaceful way, thank you.

03: 31 minute of the CD—BAYDEMIR (Speaking in Kurdish): Friends, friends, kids do not come with us; go back to your homes. Listen to me, our heart pain was 14, today it became 17. No more, let not it be 18. Let not it be 18. I beg you please go back to your homes, go back, go back.

04: 42 minute of the CD—Slogan Shouted by the Crowd: Long Live President Apo, Long Live President Apo, Long Live President Apo, Long Live President Apo, Long Live President Apo, Long Live President Apo, Revenge, revenge, revenge, revenge, revenge, revenge, revenge, revenge, Long Live President Apo, Long Live President Apo, Long Live President Apo, Long Live President Apo.

05: 49 minute of the CD--BAYDEMIR (Speaking in Kurdish): Friends, please be quiet. Please be quiet and listen to me, friends please listen to me, I beg from you. I beg from you, please sit down, please sit down and be quiet, be quiet, be quiet, be quiet, be quiet, friends.

06: 27 minute of the CD—The mayor of Diyarbakir Metropolitan Municipality Osman Baydemir is talking to the crowd under a piece of garment named as the flag of the so-called confederalism, the flag being tied to the edge of a wooden stick, as seen on the upper-left corner of the screen.

06: 30 minute of the CD –Slogan Shouted by the Crowd: Teeth to Teeth, Blood to Blood, We are with you OCALAN!

06: 38 minute of the CD-- BAYDEMIR (Speaking in Kurdish): Friends, please listen to me for two minutes, please listen for two minutes. If we do not listen to each other, we will not have progress. Please…Today we had a meeting with all our civil society organizations, our party, our mayors. We very much thank you for your demands and courage so far.

07: 20 minute of the CD—Slogan Shouted by the Crowd: Long Live President Apo, Long Live President Apo.

07: 26 minute of the CD-- BAYDEMIR (Speaking in Kurdish): You claimed your identity; you claimed your people with burnt hearts, and your pain. We are also with you. Be sure of this. For the priority of peace, for the priority of your success, we have to listen to each other under the leadership of the Party. We fear that this mobilization from now on will harm our nation and our people. From now on, we all will go back to our home quietly. We had a meeting with them. According to our talks, nobody will intervene into the people. Nobody will intervene.

08: 42 minute of the CD—Slogan Shouted by the Crowd: Long Live President Apo, Long Live President Apo, Long Live President Apo, Long Live President Apo, Revenge, revenge, revenge, revenge, revenge, revenge, revenge, revenge, revenge, revenge. Regards, regards, A thousand Regards to Imrali, Regards, Regards, A thousand Regards to Imrali, Regards, Regards, A thousand Regards to Imrali, Regards, Regards, A thousand Regards to Imrali, Regards, Regards, A thousand Regards to Imrali.

Transcription of the Turkish-Kurdish Speech of Osman Baydemir to the Crowd who Gathered in the Yenikoy Cemetery on 30th March, 2006.

00: 02 minute of the CD-- Slogan Shouted by the Crowd: Long Live President Apo, Long Live President Apo, Long Live President Apo, Long Live President Apo, Long Live President Apo, Long Live President Apo.

00: 17 minute of the CD—Slogan Shouted by the Crown in Turkish: Each and every Kurd is born as a guerilla, Each and every Kurd is born as a guerilla, Each and every Kurd is born as a guerilla, Each and every Kurd is born as a guerilla, Each and every Kurd is born as a guerilla, Each and every Kurd is born as a guerilla.

01: 01 minute of the CD-- Slogan Shouted by the Crowd: Long Live President Apo, Long Live President Apo, Long Live President Apo, long Live President Apo, Long Live President Apo.

02: 02 minute of the CD— The bus owned by the DTP is moving with the crowd. The 10 Nisan Police Station is attacked heavily with stones,

02: 15 minute of the CD-- Shouted by the Crowd: Long Live President Apo, Long Live President Apo, Long Live President Apo, Long Live President Apo, Long Live President Apo.

02: 25 minute of the CD—Slogan Shouted by the Crowd: Martyrs do not die, Martyrs do not die, Martyrs do not die, Martyrs do not die,

02: 32 minute of the CD—Osman BAYDEMIR (Speaking in Kurdish): Please wait for a moment. First of all, I bend respectfully in front of my friends. The night is evident to the owner of the daytime. My people have gone through great suffering for the last 3 days. We have to take this problem to the very end. Because of this we have to listen to our friends with avidity, with reason, with brain. We have to know each other’s thoughts. You should know well, all the world should know well, the people of Diyarbakir should know well. The wish of my heart, the wish in my heart is: “IF ONLY I WOULD BE IN THEIR PLACE. IF ONLY THEY HAD NOT DIED TODAY”. Friends, my dear people, my honorable people, we have to listen to each other. The wish of my heart, of the friends and allies around me, is only if the poison in the bomb would come into my eyes, not into those of my people. I wish no stone would touch your nails, but they come to my head.

04: 28 minute of the CD: Slogan shouted by the Crowd: Revenge, revenge, revenge, revenge, revenge, revenge,

That is why friends, brothers and sisters, my brothers and sisters. We are with you in all hardships. We are with you with all my friends and allies. We know that you, we know that you no matter… (not understood). The pain of our people, of our city is very big from this day on… (not understood). According to our beliefs, our point of view, in our religion there is mourning for 3 days. (A short interruption happened here.) Let’s share the pain of our families in this three-day mourning. They should also know that this pain is not their pain alone; this pain belongs to all the people.

29.03. 2006—Press Release by Mr. Osman Baydemir

Dear Press Members,

Dear People of Diyarbakir,

The incidents that has taken place in the region during the last week and in our city for the last two days reached to a point that would seriously harm both the future of democracy and the will and demand of our people to live together. The city is tense, and worries are high. In the current situation, a democratic and prudent approach is what we need urgently more than ever before.

We believe that all of these stem from the inability to find a sustainable and peaceful solution for the Kurdish problem. Unfortunately, the current oppressive approaches heavily marked with a security perspective are drawing the chance for democratization and peaceful solution of the Kurdish problem into a big politics of solution-less-ness. Many people were injured by fire-arms, and, as of now, two people lost their lives because of the intervention of security forces into the protests. There are some injured who still have death risk. Again, many offices, shops and public areas were destroyed. First and foremost the government, all should approach to the problem in a civilian and prudent manner, and take responsibility urgently in this regard.

It is necessary to carry out an inclusive, widespread and civilian democratic struggle against this politics of solution-less-ness that we are exposed to. However, the methods to be used in raising demands for democratic rights and freedoms and in struggling to frustrate the increasing oppressive wave should also be democratic. Each and every activity to be carried out in this regard should have the quality to contribute to the democratic and peaceful solution of the problems.

As the city our pain is big, and we are face in face with risks that may increase this pain every passing second. We understand the worries of our people and share their pain and suffering. In the current situation, we invite once again everybody to act with prudence and steadiness and contribute to the normalization of life in order to prevent further pain and destruction.


One year later and the repression has only intensified while those who feed the monster of Turkish fascism continue to do so with impunity. The only democracy in Turkey--perhaps the only democracy in the Middle East--exists among those like the DTP politicians and the individuals at the local level who work with them and stand fast with them, and with those who are real Turkish heroes, as Vahe Balabanian has posted at Hyelog.

The Ankara regime itself, all of its institutions, and all of its foreign backers are the enemies of democratization in the Middle East. I've said it before and I'll say it again: No more cooperation.

Wednesday, March 28, 2007


"As long as the differences and diversities of mankind exist, democracy must allow for compromise, for accommodation, and for the recognition of differences."
~ Eugene McCarthy.

The following is a translated copy of the speech that DTP Mayor Abdullah Demirbas gave at the European Social Forum in January 2006, and for which a charge was filed against him in Turkey for "making propoganda to promote the aims of the terrorist organization PKK." It comprises Appendix 1 of the "Report on Local Government and Local Democracy Dynamics concerning the DTP Municipalities in Turkey."

Mayor Demirbas was subsequently acquitted of all charges in September 2006, but the fact that such a charge was brought against a Kurdish and DTP mayor is indicative of the harassment these mayors face from the Ankara regime.

Municipal Services and Local Governments in the Light of Multilingualism

By Abdullah DEMİRBAS, Mayor, Sur Municipality
Diyarbakir, 2005

1. Democracy and Multiculturalism

There is a widespread consensus that social life and forms of human thought have been undergoing a fundamental process of change and transformation. All the values of the project of modernity, which has developed since the 18th century, have been scrutinized; many components of modern life, ranging from the Enlightenment philosophy to traditional positivism, have been exposed to severe criticism. The boundaries of the nation-states, the emblematic outcomes of the French Revolution, have been blurred in the face of contemporary human realities. There is an ongoing process of transition from industrial to “information societies”. These fundamental transformations have repercussions in the institutional and political realms of human life. The importance of democracy is being re-surfaced within the framework of such transformations. Indeed, democracy has been proving itself to be the most proper and realistic system that can reflect and represent social realities in the political field.

The current debates carried out on the concept of democracy are not to suggest different ideas and practices in its stead. Rather, they aim to contribute to its effectiveness in order to make it function in a much better and satisfying way. Of course, the criticisms of democracy should not be carried out at a superficial and eclectical plane of discussion; the debates should involve a deeper scrutiny. The democratic theory has proved its reliability and feasibility by taking different forms to adapt to changing historical conditions. It should be noted right here that the democratic theory does not point to an already complete situation, rather, it is an ongoing process. This idea invalidates the claims that this or that country is proper for democracy. Rather, it backs the argument that a country improves and becomes proper through democracy.

Grounded in the idea that a people should have a determining influence on the political power, democracy is a system in which citizens could participate fully and effectively in the decision making processes that affect them, and this participation, at all levels, should be realized by means of a well functioning decentralization. It is important to note at this point the dependence of democracy on local governments. The citizens, who do not have an influence on the central government except for the election time, can express themselves through local governments. This argument also acknowledges that local governments are also a “democracy school”. The most important feature of democracy is its ability to enable the citizens become “active agents” in the process of meeting their needs at the local level. The most important element in the relation between local government and democracy is local cultures.

Taking culture as a set values and preferences meaningful to a people, a frame that offers a form of life to them, the harmoniousness of local democracy and culture appears as a must. This harmony is possible to the extent that all elements of a culture, which is a totality of normative values, principles and ideals, can express and maintain themselves within a democratic life.

In the process of the formation of nation-states, it was assumed that all cultures have a similar essence. Creating the illusion that internally homogenous societies exist, such an understanding has brought about the denial of different cultures that are located within territories of the nation-states. Authoritarian modern regimes have been inspired by this very illusion of homogeneity. However, today there is a trend that defends the local in its relation to the central authority, and, relationally, heterogeneity against homogeneity. Fed up by the dynamics of local cultures, local governments have a more democratic nature than the central authorities. In this regard, we have to note the significance of multiculturalism, which, relying on the idea of “unity in diversity”, foregrounds three fundamental principles.

1. People cannot be thought of independent of their cultures, since individuals produce and live with specific meanings, values and symbols in their interaction with social environment.

2. Differences are not a mistake. Each and every culture is “unique” and “valuable”.

3. As a part of a pluralistic structure, each and every culture can contribute to an understanding of democracy that does not exclude or discriminate against "the other”.

Confounding the monolithic and homogenizing cultural formations, multiculturalism both acknowledges and supports diversity. Enabling a rich democratic opening, this principle contributes to the flourishing of a citizen-centered democratic life. To attempt solely at creating democratic openings at the level of the central authority may result in a system that is still alien to local cultures. However, to defend and support the local may help to put into practice the principle of “unity in diversity” by foregrounding and realizing a free and citizen-centered approach.

2. Cultures and Language

Living in specific cultural contexts, human beings think and express what they think through the medium of language. In this sense, language is the main symbol of human life. Besides, it is only through language that other symbolic systems of human life can be interpreted. Any object which cannot be expressed in language is not able to have a meaning. Language is a human creation, and a historical phenomenon, in the exact sense of the words. It relies on a process of becoming, including all the meanings of human thought and practices. The boundaries of a people’s world of meanings are at the same time the boundaries of the language they speak. Language is not a simple means of communication; on the contrary, it involves all the meanings of human existence. It is definitely not possible to talk about human life beyond and without language.

Delivering services from a citizen-centered approach, local governments should be aware of the fact that the language a people use forms at the same time the spiritual world of those people. Language cannot be relegated to a simple medium of thought and communication between the people and governments. Language is what exists; it cannot be accepted as if it does not exist. Language, as a system of specific sounds, words or signs in order for people to express, in written or oral forms, their ideas, feelings, expectations and imaginations, is an active being living and developing according to principles unique to itself; and, as such, it is one of the most important components of any cultural formation. That is why most contemporary democratic societies have reflected their sensitivity to the issue of language on governmental systems in both theoretical and practical senses.

3. Conclusion and Suggestions

The monolithic logic of the nation-state has ignored the fact of cultural diversity in the process of the formation of the nation-states. In order to form a national unity, nation-states have aimed to produce a nation-form that aimed to secure some homogeneity with regard to linguistic, religious, sectarian, etc. differences that were sources of cultural diversity. This has led to the formation of a dominant and core cultural group within each territorially bound nation- state and the subjection of other cultures to this dominant group accordingly. With its current monolithic structure, however, the nation state is not able to keep together, in harmony and equality, the different forms of life within its territories.

Turkey has accepted a policy (Every one living within its borders is Turkish!) that intends to homogenize all peoples within its territories for years. Contradicting with the principle of multiculturalism, this policy has amounted to a despotic understanding aiming at denial and assimilation of cultural difference. However, cultural diversity could pave the way to refuse approaches relying on violence and conflict by opening space for intercultural dialogue and social peace. Since the declaration of the Turkish Republic and best concretized in the “Turkish History Thesis” and “Sun-Language Theory”, the approach that denies cultural difference has been the main frame of Turkey’s cultural and (national) identity politics, which was most obviously maintained in the 1982 Constitution. This understanding, which can be summarized as to characterize all people living within the national territories as Turkish regardless of their ethnic origins, has brought about the denial of many languages in Turkey such as Kurdish, Abkhaz, Arabic, Albanian, Circassian, Armenian, Georgian, Kıpti, Laz, Pomak, Greek, Syriac, Tatar and Hebrew languages. The people who claimed cultural diversity and difference have always been viewed as dangerous vis-à-vis the “monolithic” cultural politics of the Turkish Republic; they have been punished on the accusations of “infidelity” and “separatism” on the one hand, and exposed in society to various policies of “devaluation”, on the other.

Although the arrangements that were devised recently as part of the process of Turkey’s accession to the European Union has brought some changes in the Turkish Republic’s traditional pro-status-quo approach, these arrangements fall short of establishing a truly multicultural society. For example, arrangements such as the Regulation on Education in Different Languages and Dialects Used Traditionally by Turkish Citizens in Daily Life and the Regulation on Radio and TV Broadcasting in Different Languages and Dialects Used Traditionally by Turkish Citizens in Daily Life have immediately put limits on the reform process.

The reforms that have been implemented so far and those that are planned to be implemented are far from meeting popular expectations. The core of the problem is very much about mentality change. It should be noted that a mentality change towards higher democracy standards would help to create internal peace and a harmonious social and moral climate. In this regard, specific policies should be devised and implemented in order to create equality among diverse ethnic and linguistic communities. Although the reforms that target democratization at the level of central authority are a positive step, local governments should be made autonomous so that democracy could permeate into the social fabric fully. The importance of municipalities, which are service institutions that come to power through democratic mechanisms, becomes clearer at this point. As the institutions closest to the people, municipalities are crucial with regard to the promotion of democracy and the improvement of the citizens’ democratic culture. While delivering services to meet local needs, municipalities involve in direct communication with the people. Therefore, they have to take into account all cultural and linguistic groups in the locality. The differences in the areas where municipalities deliver services are a natural situation and cultural richness. Social and cultural diversity should be included in politics as “colorfulness” and on the basis of a culture of tolerance that democratic pluralism produces. To this end, specific measures should be devised in order for all kinds of linguistic, cultural, religious and belief groups to express themselves fully and freely. “One-nation - one language” approach should be abandoned, and a pluralistic and participatory democratic process should be initiated.

In contemporary modern democracies the principle of “unity in diversity” has been put into practice by means of pluralistic and multilingual mechanisms. Multilingualism is guaranteed constitutionally in many states, and is being practiced by various municipalities. The states who have accepted the principle of multilingual municipal services can be counted as follows: Belgium, Switzerland, Canada, Israel, Sweden, Spain, Basque Country, India, China, Indonesia, England, Wales, Scotland, North Ireland, France, Bulgaria, etc.

Meeting the needs of people, municipalities detect those needs by communicating with local people. The necessity of face-to-face dialogue of municipalities with people in the locality brings about the problem of understanding local languages. Delivering municipal services in a multilingual framework is a necessity because of both the very reason and meaning of the existence of municipalities and the principle of democratic pluralism. We suggest the following with regard to application of multilingualism in delivering municipal services.

1. Before applications in specific localities, macro constitutional and legal arrangements should be made at the level of state administration. Specific measures should be taken so that citizens could participate with their own identities and languages into the processes that affect them directly or indirectly. The identity of “Türkiyelilik” [which literally means to be from Turkey] could be included in the Constitution as a roof term, and constitutional norms should be taken into account accordingly.

2. The ability of the municipalities to receive the demands and complaints of the local people properly and produce solutions in the light of these relies on whether the municipal officials and local people can express themselves clearly and understand each other. Because of this, before any specific application of multilingualism the municipalities should undertake preparatory activities. In this context, first of all, the rooms and desks, titles and duties should be defined in a multilingual way (written in Turkish, Kurdish, Zazaic, English, etc.)

3. Because it is not very possible that all units in the municipalities could understand and communicate through all of the local languages and dialects, the municipalities should hire interpreters as an institutional responsibility.

4. Within the framework of the law that regulates “The Right to Obtain Information”, the municipalities should be able to respond to the local demands for information in the local language through which the demand was raised in the first place.

5. Within the framework of multilingual municipal services, another suggestion can be that each and every linguistic community could form their own “People’s Assembly”. The assemblies could speak in their own languages in the meetings, and the points over which they have consensus should be taken as recommendations to the municipalities.

6. Municipalities should communicate with the people about declarations, announcements and campaigns in multiple languages.

7. Municipalities should prepare and publish their annual activity reports in multiple languages.

8. The era we live in is called the “Age of Information”. Most means of communication are based on information technologies. The spread of Internet technology has been directing the municipalities in new ways. While preparing their web sites, municipalities should take into account multilingual applications, and arrange the sites in all the languages and dialects that are used or can possibly be used.

9. Local languages should be used sufficiently in the local bulletins and publications that aim to inform people.

10. The names of roads, streets and parks in the residential areas where municipalities deliver services should be written in multiple languages.

11. One of the most common means of communication with the municipality is telephone. With the application of multilingualism in services, municipalities should be able to communicate with the citizens and deliver services in multiple languages. For this reason, the municipal personnel who receive phone calls could speak Kurdish, Arabic, Syriac, etc. as much as s/he can speak Turkish and English.

12. Besides, in order to contribute to the protection and preservation of the local languages used by citizens, municipalities should support studies on spelling and dictionaries. Also, municipalities could support studies on translation of World’s Classics into local languages as well as participate in activities that target children such as collecting and publishing stories and tales, educational brochures and child literature.

13. To know the local language should be a pre-condition for employment in the municipality.

14. In the delivery of local services, urban development plans as well as the projects prepared by engineers should be publicized in other languages besides the official language.

15. Official documents could be in other languages.

16. In the body of municipalities there should be libraries that have materials in different languages.


Urgent call for an independent investigation into the alleged poisoning of Abdullah Ocalan

Fears that Abdullah Ocalan is slowly being poisoned in his Turkish prison cell are now being voiced with emergence of alarming evidence derived from independent laboratory tests made on samples of his hair.

The hair sample, obtained by his visiting lawyers, was sent to independent scientific analytical experts acting impartially with no knowledge as to whom the hair samples had belonged. Their analysis conclusively shows higher than normal levels of the elements strontium and chromium were present. This has confirmed the fears of Kurds that Mr Öcalan may be suffering from contamination with toxic chemicals while in prison.

An independent investigation - incidentally, also called for by the respected Turkish Human Rights Association (IHD), the Organization for Human Rights & Solidarity for Oppressed People (MAZLUMDER), and the Human Rights Foundation of Turkey (TIHV) - is the only way to allay fears that there is no organized plot to poison the Kurdish leader, who has now been in jail for 9 years and who reaches the age of 60 in 2008.

EU parliamentarian Feleknas Uca has also called upon EU states to take action: "Europe must send an independent doctors' committee to Imrali, and this is urgent". At the same time, the European Committee for the Prevention of Torture (CPT) must visit Ocalan with Uca noting the following: "European states that criticize Guantanamo risk credibility by closing their eyes to Ocalan, who is [also] deprived of his legal rights in isolation at Imrali Island".

We wish to remind you that Turkey has an obligation under the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights not to subject anyone to torture or to cruel, inhuman or degrading treatment or punishment. An independent investigation will not only establish the true facts but will also act to ensure that the Turkish state, if found guilty of charges that have been levelled, will be held accountable to them. We urge EU member states that are currently involved in monitoring the EU-Turkey 'accession process' to also endorse the call for an independent investigation into the matter.

Many Kurds are rightly concerned over the results obtained by the tests that have been undertaken. As Aysel Tugluk, deputy chairwoman of the Democratic Society Party (DTP), the main constitutional Kurdish supported political party in Turkey, told reporters, "If the allegations are true, it means that a planned murder is being consciously committed". Such an illegal act, if true, clearly represents a 'provocation' that must be condemned by all western leaders who claim to promote democratic and peaceful 'values', for it appears to be designed to stimulate conflict between Kurds and Turks at a time when peaceful initiatives, surely, must be supported.

Turkey appears to be embarking on a dangerous trajectory with now a real danger of the country descending into civil unrest and instability should the worst fears of many Kurds be allowed to go unheeded. Ocalan - who "was extraordinarily rendered by the US, Israel, and Turkey, in 1999, with the same wink-and-nod complicity of the EU" (Yilmaz, 2007) - remains a key player in any peace process that Turkey needs to engage with if it wishes to resolve the 'Kurdish Question', a move essential for it to become a fully fledged democratic state.

Recognising your keen interest in international affairs, we have hopes that you can give this matter your urgent attention.

Signed by


Prof Noam Chomsky

Mark Thomas, comedian/journalist

Lord Dholakia

Lord Rea

Hywel Williams MP

Elfyn Llwyd MP

Rudi Vis MP

Prof Bill Bowring, Barrister, Professor of Law, Birkbeck College, University of London School of Law

Margaret Owen, Barrister, Member of the Bar Human Rights Committee. Adviser to the Kurdish Human Rights Project. Director of Widows for Peace through Democracy.

Richard McKane, Poet, Translator and Human Rights Interpreter

Professor Ken Coates, Chair of Bertrand Russell Peace Foundation

Stan Newens, President of “Liberation”

Stewart Hemsley, Chair Pax Christi

Nick Hildyard, policy analyst

Ben Hayes, Statewatch

David Morgan, journalist

Desmond Fernandes, political analyst, author of 'The Kurdish Genocide in Turkey' (Apec, 2007, forthcoming), Peace in Kurdistan Campaign

Frances Webber, barrister Garden Court Chambers

Smita Shah, barrister Garden Court Chambers

Jo Wilding, barrister Garden Court Chambers

Hugo Charlton, barrister

Professor HI Pilikian, Historian

Khatchatur I. Pilikian, Professor of Music & Art

Les Levidow, Campaign Against Criminalising Communities (CAMPACC)

Tom Frost, CAMPACC

Kofi Mawuli Klu, Chair Pan-Arikan Task Force for Internationalist Dialogue (PATFID)

Rachel Bird, human rights campaigner

Pete Weatherby, barrister at Garden Court North, Manchester

Jonathan Bloch, Liberal Democrat Councillor for Muswell Hill

Dr G Siddiqui, Leader of The Muslim Parliament

Ann Rossiter, writer

Sarah Parker, translator

Arzu Pesmen, Chair of Kurdish Federation UK

Ibrahim Dogus, Chair Halkevi Kurdish Turkish Community Centre

Alex Fitch, Peace in Kurdistan Campaign

Estella Schmid, Peace in Kurdistan Campaign

Copies of the letter will be sent to:

Terry Davis, Secretary General of the Council of Europe
Tony Lloyd MP, Leader of British delegation to CoE
Mr Murat Mercan (Justice & Development Party), President of Turkish delegation to CoE
Mr Abdul Kadir Ates(Republican People's Party), Chairperson of Political Affairs Committee of CoE

Contact: Peace in Kurdistan Campaign

Tel 020 7586 5892

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.

Monday, March 26, 2007


"How many legs does a dog have if you call the tail a leg? Four; calling a tail a leg doesn't make it a leg."
~ Abraham Lincoln.

Hmm. . . Khalilzad admits the US negotiates with "terrorists," from Lebanon's Daily Star:

Khalilzad said US Embassy officials and military commanders as well as Iraqi officials had met representatives of insurgent-linked groups several times for talks.

"They have taken place and they are continuing to take place," he said, while declining to give any specifics because "people's lives are at stake."

That's interesting because I've been told hundreds of times, maybe even thousands of times, that the US does not negotiate with "terrorists."

It's kind of funny too, to see that Khalilzad is suffering delusions of grandeur by presuming to speak for the American people when he was elected by nobody.

Hmm . . . I guess Ian Paisley talks to "terrorists" too. From the NYTimes:

After years of mutual hostility and recrimination, the leaders of Northern Ireland’s dominant rival groups, Sinn Fein’s Gerry Adams and the Protestant leader, the Rev. Ian Paisley, met today for their first face-to-face talks and agreed to form a joint administration for the province on May 8.

[ . . . ]

“The word ‘historic’ has to be used,” said Brian Feeny, a historian at St. Mary’s University College in Belfast, “It was the only way it was ever going to work. The two leaders of the two traditions had to do the deal.”

[ . . . ]

“We are very conscious of the many people who have suffered,” Mr. Adams said. “We owe it to them to build the best possible future. It is a time for generosity, a time to be mindful of the common good and of the future of all our people.

A few minutes earlier, Mr. Paisley, who had insisted on the delay until May 8, had said: “We must not allow our justified loathing of the horrors and tragedies of the past to become a barrier to creating a better and more stable future. In looking to the future we must never forget those who have suffered during the dark period from which we are, please God, emerging.”

Well, I guess it helped that the British government stopped its false flag operations designed to lay the blame on the IRA. It's too bad Turkey is still so far behind the power curve when it comes to the PKK.

Speaking of the PKK, Zaman has a confusing article about Ocalan and the PKK today. Serafettin Elci, the only Kurd in Turkey who can get away with talking about dividing the "unitary" state through federalism without having several thousand investigations opened on him thinks Ocalan has betrayed the Kurds by abandoning the idea of an independent Kurdistan. That's a bit ironic since Celal Talabanî denies any desire for an independent Kurdistan in the South and Barzanî has not pressed for independence:

The ultimate goal of both men is an independent Kurdistan. But they realize that, for now, they must work within a federal structure under a central Iraqi government.

Although Masûd Barzanî has spoken of independence in a more positive way, and although the straw poll on independence taken in the January 2005 elections shows that 98% of Kurds in South Kurdistan desired independence, Barzanî continues to cooperate with Baghdad, most likely at the behest of the Americans. Does Elci complain about this?

Funny that part about "Ocalan distancing himself from the Kurdish leaders of Iraq." Really? Whoever wrote that must have been vacationing on Neptune during the 1990s.

Elci is concerned that Ocalan warns Northern Kurds not to trust the US nor to rely on South Kurdistan to solve the situation of Kurds under Turkish occupation. When did Kurds trust the US? In 1975? In 1991? Or more recently when the US bombed Salahaddin University, or ran roughshod over the Iranian consulate in Hewlêr, or demanded that the Iraqi flag be flown in Kurdistan? Where was the US during Anfal and Helebçe? Where was it when Turkish aircraft were dropping bombs on South Kurdistan's villages during the "safe haven?"

Then the US has assisted with the genocide of Kurds under Turkish occupation, giving Turkey all the weapons and military training it needed to carry out the slaughter, covering up all the atrocities good NATO member Turkey perpetrated against the Kurdish people. More recently, the US assisted with the assault on Kurdish leaders and intellectuals in Europe, appointed a member of the US war industry to "coordinate" the PKK for Turkey, rejected PKK's moves for a political solution to the situation in Turkey as well as rejecting out of hand the fifth unilateral ceasefire. Yet the US claims no option is off the table when it comes to PKK and it continues to propogate Turkish lies about the Kurdish refugees at Maxmur Camp.

Additionally, there have been no moves to include Kurds under Turkish occupation in the trilateral group formed to "coordinate" the PKK. The only members of that club are Turkey, Iraq, and the US. Why then should Northern Kurds expect a resolution to Turkish repression from Hewlêr? And hasn't Barzanî said that Turkey must solve it's problems with Kurds of the North on its own and politically?

What was it that Reagan used to say? "Trust, but verify?" That's the only way to trust the Americans, and anyone who simply trusts is a fool . . . or worse.

By the way, I like the way Zaman censored Layla Zana's Newroz speech:

Kurdish sources who wished to remain anonymous told Today's Zaman. Zana said in a recent speech that she considered Iraqi Kurdish leaders Massoud Barzani and Jalal Talabani as guides for the Kurdish nation . . .

Uh, Zana said Talabanî, Barzanî, and Ocalan were the leaders of Kurds, and a complaint has been filed against her for saying it.

As for amnesty and a truth commission, they are both absolute necessities. Zaman fails to say from whom the idea of a truth commission "attracts the strongest anger," but if there's any truth to that claim, then the anger is coming from the ones who stand to lose from it. Since both Ocalan and the PKK insist on this issue, they must not be the ones who will lose when the truth is revealed.

If you don't want to see Shari'a considered as a major source of law in South Kurdistan, there's a petition you can sign at PetitionOnline against Article 7 of the proposed South Kurdistan constitution. A teaser:

An appointed committee to prepare a draft constitution for Kurdistan Region has suggested the following formulation in article No 7: “This Constitution stresses the identification of the majority of Kurdish people as Muslims, thus the fundamental tenets of Islamic Sharia law will be considered as one of the major sources for legislation making”.

This campaign declares that such an article prepares the ground for forced Islamisation of law in Kurdistan in the future. This poses a grave threat. We consider it a major attack on the basic rights and liberties of the people of this region. In particular, it will have worrying consequences for the rights of women and for the space for secular and progressive opinion in Kurdistan to find a voice. We want to make the world aware of this threat and mobilise to counter it.

There is no question that making Islamic Sharia Law a base for law making in Kurdistan will inevitably produce attacks on freedom of thought and expression and restrictions on civil rights. Gender apartheid will be practiced. We have seen the consequences of Sharia law in countries like Iran, Saudi Arabia, and Afghanistan. We need only to look to the south of Iraq where the Islamic Shitte parties are in power and are forcing through Islamisation with an inevitable rise of bloody sectarianism, attacks on modernity and civilisation itself as consequences.

Apparently, one of the initiators of the campaign, Houzan Mahmoud, has already received death threats for her work, the most recent coming from Ansar al-Islam. As a result, she has increased her work on behalf of Kurdish and Iraqi women.