Friday, January 30, 2009


"The events are under control... Security forces will intervene with every possible means indiscriminately, including against women and children."
~ R. Tayyip Erdoğan during the Amed Serhildan.

The big show yesterday was at the international meeting of all the world's leading terrorists at Davos, Switzerland:

Turkish Prime Minister Tayyip Erdogan stormed out of an angry debate on the Gaza war with Israel's President Shimon Peres at the Davos forum on Thursday.

[ . . . ]

Erdogan criticised the audience for applauding Peress emotional defense of Israel's war in Gaza, before the moderator, insisted that the debate had gone overtime.

Erdogan said Israel had carried out "barbarian" actions in Gaza. "I find it very sad that people applaud what you have said because you know how to kill people," shouted Erdogan before he left. There was more applause when he left the stage.

"I do not think I will be coming back to Davos after this because you do not let me speak," Erdogan shouted before marching off the stage in front of the attendance and the audience.

But this isn't the first time Katil Erdoğan has behaved like a jackass in public or overseas. He did the same in Brussels recently, over Cyprus:

In a speech organized by the think tank group called "Europe's Friends", the argument between Erdoğan and Matsakis, who is a parliamentarian in South Cypress and had stolen Turkey's flag at the Green Line in November, 2005. While Erdoğan was talking, Matsakis happened to shake his head and Erdoğan became furious and said, "You shake your head, you shake your head. There is a word in Turkish which will fit perfectly in this situation, but it's not all right to say it here."

In that case, Erdoğan was referring to a crude idiom in Turkish. Of course, this statement comes from a guy who, as a friend said, "speaks Turkish like Bush speaks English."

A Turkish writer at Forbes also noted that Katil Erdoğan's behavior is nothing new:

Those who watched the Turkish Prime Minister Tayyip Erdogan storm out of a Davos panel on Thursday after a loud exchange with Israeli President Shimon Peres may have witnessed one of the biggest diplomatic brawls of their lifetime.

One Turkish diplomat said, "Not since Nikita Khrushchev's banging of his shoe at the United Nations [1960] have I seen anything like this on the world stage," referring to the Soviet leader's outrage during a U.N. discussion.

But for us Turks, watching Erdogan "lose it" at the World Economic Forum's meeting in Davos, Switzerland, was nothing new. It was, rather, an Erdogan classic--charismatic yet boorish; ardent but intimidating.

Today the psychological analysis was in at Hürriyet:

Psychology Professor Acar Baltaş said there was a thin line between Erdoğan’s gestures of self-control and aggression. Erdoğan’s anger developed spontaneously, crossing this thin line, he said, adding that Erdoğan could have demonstrated his reactions in a more appropriate way and within a frame of courtesy.

"Erdoğan couldn’t overcome his anger. He believes in what he said, hitting his left hand on his heart. He made gestures and pointed fingers, which can be acceptable. But rushing off the stage by saying what he had in his mind has no use for a prime minister of a country. What is important is not to be right, but to maintain the right position," he said.

"He can’t bear any criticism. He charged Peres, the 1994 Nobel Peace Prize winner, for being a murderer and criticized the audience. He likewise shouts at the media here, in his own country, and has control over almost all processes. But he spins out of control once he can’t control a situation, like in Davos."

[ . . . ]

Psychiatrist Özlem Mestçioğlu, meanwhile, said Erdoğan’s reactions were harsh and what he demonstrated at the end was a sign of desperation.

"He can’t control his feelings. His departure, which attracted criticism in the Western media for childishness, is actually a sign of helplessness. He left because he thought otherwise it might lead to a worse situation. In personal relations, there can be such words but on a political stage, you can’t do that as a prime minister," he said.

While Abdullah Gül was foreign minister, he was able to control Katil Erdoğan's outbursts to an extent, by pinching or kicking his leg under the table as a reminder for Erdoğan to control himself. Unfortunately for Katil Erdoğan, Gül wasn't sitting next to him at Davos and there was no table to hide the reminders.

In one account, Katil Erdoğan indicated his anger was directed at Katil Peres and the moderator, the WaPo's David Ignatius. In another, he says he was angry with the moderator but not with Peres, the Israeli people, or the Jewish people. In addition, he claims that he believes anti-Semitism is a crime against humanity. Too bad his words in recent weeks have had the opposite effect in Turkey, a country whose best-seller a couple of years ago was Mein Kampf. Check this from a recent edition of Radikal:

Signs read: "It is free for dogs to enter" and "Jews and Armenians cannot enter through this door".

Here's one of Katil Erdoğan's quotes, again from the Forbes piece:

Erdogan said, red-faced and turning angrily to Peres, "When it comes to killing, you know very well how to kill. I know well how you hit and kill children on beaches."

But Erdoğan seriously lacks the same heartfelt compassion for Kurdish children in his own country, as he proved during the Amed Serhildan almost three years ago, according to his own words:

"The events are under control... Security forces will intervene with every possible means indiscriminately, including against women and children."

At the moment, there are a number of children who've been in prison in Amed (Diyarbakır) for a year:

MP [Malik Ecder] Özdemir [CHP] summarised the conditions of the children in prison thus:

“There are 20 children staying in a cell made for 5-6 people. They have been separated from their families and their education has been interrupted. They have been taken to court 2 to 3 times, their statements have been taken, their identities were verified, and then they were sent back to prison. As this trial is taking so long, it is difficult for these children to believe in justice.”

The MP demanded an immediate end to the prosecution of the children:

“Their psychological condition is precarious; they seem remorseful. They said, ‘We only wanted to take our friend’s body; we did not know this would be punished as severely.’”

There are other Kurdish children in adult prisons throughout Turkey:

Currently dozens of children in Diyarbakır, Adana and other provinces are being tried not in children’s courts but in Special Authority Heavy Penal Courts. They stand accused of membership in an terrorist organisation after taking part in protests against alleged maltreatment of Abdullah Öcalan in prison, or protests at the visit of Prime Minister Erdoğan to the city.

Following a change in the Anti-Terrorism Law in 2006, 15- to 18-year-olds can now be tried in such courts.

Recently, two children in Adana were sentenced to 21 years imprisonment after taking part in pro-Kurdish Newroz events in Gaziantep.

In addition, the case of a 15-year-old boy who was run over by a tank of the security forces last year in Cizre is not being prosecuted, but forty of the boy's friends, who attended his funeral, were put on trial. In another case, Turkey has been found guilty of violating a child's rights by the ECHR.

Some of us also remember the case of Ahmet and Uğur Kaymaz, who were murdered by Katil Erdoğan's security forces almost five years ago. The state terrorists who killed them were acquitted at trial.

Nor can we forget the treatment AKP's police thugs handed out to Kurdish children during Newroz last year, nor it's treatment of Kurdish women during the same holiday.

So, for Katil Erdoğan to tell Katil Peres that he "know[s] very well how to kill" and then to refer to children, is a serious case of the pot calling the kettle black.

The truth of the matter is that this little Davos stunt was nothing more than an AKP campaign tactic.

After watching the reruns of video footage on Turkish TV, particularly on Haber 24, it was clear that after Katil Erdoğan read a statement to reporters from prepared index cards that he was holding in his hands. In other words, the outburst was planned. Secondly, thousands welcomed Katil Erdoğan when he arrived in Istanbul after the incident. Thirdly, Katil Erdoğan was again pimping his wife as part of this campaign stunt, who also made remarks to reporters at Davos. A view of a video of her remarks indicated no index cards but she did manage to start blubbering again as she did a few weeks ago.

Now, bear in mind that this is the same bitch who's never spent so much as five minutes to try to squeeze out a single tear for dead Kurds . . . the majority of whom are Muslim.

Repeat after me: "This was an AKP campaign stunt."

For the cost of his campaign, it looks like Erdoğan will suffer a setback in becoming a regional big-shot, something he's been working at for a few years now, from TIME:

But the outburst may have pulled the plug on Ankara's efforts to position itself as a mediator between Israel and the Arab world. Since last May, Turkey has hosted five rounds of Israeli-Syrian peace talks — currently suspended as Israel prepares for a general election — and recently acted as a mediator between the Palestinian Hamas leadership and Egyptian officials seeking a cease-fire in Gaza.

"The most important quality of a mediator is to be able to maintain an equal distance to all parties involved," says Cuneyt Ulsever, a columnist for Turkish newspaper Hurriyet. "Erdogan's inability to control his anger is a problem. I think even Erdogan realizes that he overstepped the mark. After this outburst, it will take six months to a year for him to regain credibility as a mediator [between Israel and the Arab world]."

In addition:

Erdogan may have responded with a view to boosting his domestic political position ahead of Turkey's local elections, coming up in March. Even though polls show his Justice and Development Party (AKP), in power since 2002, comfortably ahead, the Prime Minister needs to expand his support base. "The stakes are high for him," says Ulsever. "Erdogan is afraid that if the AKP gets below 47%, people will see it as the beginning of the end."

Deutsche Welle came to a similar conclusion:

Recep Tayyip Erdogan's performance at the World Economic Forum in Davos has destroyed any hopes that had been pinned on him to act a mediator in the Middle East conflict.

[ . . . ]

But his verbal attacks against Peres and the moderator as well as his announcement to skip Davos next year show that Erdogan can't be taken seriously as a Mideast mediator anymore.

[ . . . ]

Still, Erdogan should have shown more diplomatic tact. He's the leader of a large country which is an important player regarding regional peace. Erdogan is not going to earn respect or prizes as a peacemaker and mediator on the world stage if he acts like a center-forward from a Istanbul district football team -- which he once was.

Erdogan's attempts to reiterate his friendship with Israel and the Jewish people after the spat can no longer limit the damage done to his image and to Turkey's.

Late today, Obama's new Mideast envoy removed Ankara from his itinerary.

In spite of everything, there will be no damage to the Turkish-Israeli relationship, as Hürriyet noted yesterday and the paşas confirmed today. After all, Turkey still needs Israel's help in repressing the Kurdish people, just as it needed Israel to capture Öcalan for it.

If Katil Erdoğan were serious about his concern for Palestinians, why has there been no end to the relationship, particularly the military relationship, between Turkey and Israel?

Wednesday, January 28, 2009


"For years and years, information and evidence being collected by the counterintelligence operations of certain U.S. intelligence and law enforcement agencies has been prevented from being transferred to criminal and narcotics divisions, and from being shared with the Drug Enforcement Agency and others with prosecutorial power. Those with direct knowledge have been prevented from making this information available and public by various gag orders and invocation of the State Secrets Privilege. Why?"
~ Sibel Edmonds.

Well, well, well . . . it looks like drug money is being used to bail out banks in the global financial crisis, from Reuters:

The United Nations' crime and drug watchdog has indications that money made in illicit drug trade has been used to keep banks afloat in the global financial crisis, its head was quoted as saying on Sunday.

Vienna-based UNODC Executive Director Antonio Maria Costa said in an interview released by Austrian weekly Profil that drug money often became the only available capital when the crisis spiralled out of control last year.

"In many instances, drug money is currently the only liquid investment capital," Costa was quoted as saying by Profil. "In the second half of 2008, liquidity was the banking system's main problem and hence liquid capital became an important factor."

The United Nations Office on Drugs and Crime had found evidence that "interbank loans were funded by money that originated from drug trade and other illegal activities," Costa was quoted as saying. There were "signs that some banks were rescued in that way."

Profil said Costa declined to identify countries or banks which may have received drug money and gave no indication how much cash might be involved. He only said Austria was not on top of his list, Profil said.

Why does this make me think "Susurluk"?

In a report published on 28 January 1997, the Turkish government’s chief inspector described how, in the juridical no-man’s land of Kurdish south-eastern Turkey, the army’s "special war" units were not just killing with impunity, but had also become involved in protection rackets, blackmail, rape and drug trafficking (1). The report also describes how the Turkish government handed over the security of a huge area - around the towns of Siverek and Hilvan - to the private army of tribal chief Sedat Bucak, a member of parliament close to the former prime minister, Tansu Çiller, who thus acquired the power of life and death over the area’s inhabitants.

This warlord politician was, incidentally, the sole survivor of a road accident in November 1996 near Susurluk on the road from Izmir to Istanbul (2). He had been travelling together with a chief of police and a well-known far-right Turkish mafia boss, Abdullah Çatli, who had been implicated in the attempted assassination of the Pope, was sought by Interpol for drug trafficking, and was wanted by the Turkish state for the murder of seven left-wing militants.

[ . . . ]

After the Gulf War in 1991, Turkey found itself deprived of the all-important Iraqi market and, since it lacked significant oil reserves of its own, it decided to make up for the loss by turning more massively to drugs. The trafficking increased in intensity with the arrival of the "hawks" in power, after the death in suspicious circumstances of President Turgut Özal in April 1993. According to the minister of interior, the war in Kurdistan had cost the Turkish exchequer upwards of $12.5 billion (7). Whereas, according to the daily Hürriyet, Turkey’s heroin trafficking brought in $25 billion in 1995 and $37.5 billion in 1996 (8).

Only criminal networks working in close cooperation with the police and the army could possibly organise trafficking on such a scale. Drug barons such as Huseyin Baybasin have stated publicly, on Turkish television and in the West, that they have been working under the protection of the Turkish government and to its financial benefit (9). The traffickers themselves travel on diplomatic passports. According to witnesses at the Parliamentary Commission inquiring into the Susurluk accident, the drugs are even transported by military helicopter from the Iranian border. The president of the commission himself, deputy Mehmet Erkatmis, has protested against the fact that these damning allegations have been censured out of the commission’s official report...

And only criminal networks working in close cooperation with governments could possibly be controlling drug-trafficking profits in order to bail out their own, worthless banks, headed and run by a pack of greedy parasites known collectively as CEOs.

Tansu Çiller was well-known for publicly broadcasting her claim that Turkey lost billions during the Gulf War:

Well, what we--we were never asked whether the United States should be bombing North Iraq, but our concern was the following. We have a neighborhood. That neighborhood is Syria and Iran and Iraq, and North of us is Russia, and West of us Greece, and each time a crisis occurs, everybody goes back home and forgets about it, but we are left with the neighborhood. And it has cost us $27 billion during the last five years, and our allies don't turn around and recognize the need for that compensation.

Hence the need for the Çiller government to become an even bigger player in the international drug trade. It has been this "black money" that has helped to keep Turkey afloat ever since.

According to the minister of interior, the war in Kurdistan had cost the Turkish exchequer upwards of $12.5 billion (7). Whereas, according to the daily Hürriyet, Turkey’s heroin trafficking brought in $25 billion in 1995 and $37.5 billion in 1996 (8).

The Italians investigated and exposed part of the narco-trafficking beast that Abdullah Çatlı was involved in:

Catli's thugs crisscrossed the infamous smugglers' route passing through Bulgaria. Those routes were the ones favored by smugglers who reportedly carried NATO military equipment to the Middle East and returned with loads of heroin.

Judge Carlo Palermo, an Italian magistrate based in Trento, discovered these smuggling operations while investigating arms-and-drug trafficking from Eastern Europe to Sicily.

Judge Palermo disclosed that large quantities of sophisticated NATO weaponry -- including machine guns, Leopard tanks and U.S.-built Cobra assault helicopters -- were smuggled from Western Europe to countries in the Middle East during the 1970s and early 1980s.

According to Palermo's investigation, the weapon delivers were often made in exchange for consignments of heroin that filtered back, courtesy of the Grey Wolves and other smugglers, through Bulgaria to northern Italy.

And the Vatican was involved (and probably still is):

Italian magistrates described the network they had uncovered as the "world's biggest illegal arms trafficking organization." They linked it to Middle Eastern drug empires and to prestigious banking circles in Italy and Europe.

At the center of this operation, it appeared, was an obscure import-export firm in Milan called Stibam International Transport. The head of Stibam, a Syrian businessman named Henri Arsan, also functioned as an informant for the U.S. Drug Enforcement Administration, according to several Italian news outlets.

With satellite offices in New York, London, Zurich, and Sofia, Bulgaria, Stibam officials recycled their profits through Banco Ambrosiano, Italy's largest private bank which had close ties to the Vatican until its sensational collapse in 1982.

The collapse of Banco Ambrosiano came on the heels of the still unsolved death of its furtive president, Roberto Calvi, whose body was found hanging underneath Blackfriar's Bridge in London in June 1982. While running Ambrosiano, Calvi, nicknamed "God's banker," served as adviser to the Vatican's extensive fiscal portfolio.

At the same time in the mid- and late 1970s, Calvi's bank handled most of Stibam's foreign currency transactions and owned the building that housed Stibam's Milanese headquarters.

In effect, the Vatican Bank -- by virtue of its interlocking relationship with Banco Ambrosiano -- was fronting for a gigantic contraband operation that specialized in guns and heroin.

Also involved with Çatlı and the Gray Wolves was the CIA. But all of this is old news and very familiar to those who know about Susurluk. It's also well-known that narcotics were transported through Turkey with official escorts, meaning the Ankara regime was helping to protect the transports. Perhaps not so well-known are the links from Susurluk and Turkey's financing of itself with drug profits to today's news that the narcotics industry is acting as a life preserver for the world's banks. Sibel Edmonds shows us those links:

Taking Turkey as the focal point and with a start date of 1998, it is easy to speculate why Sibel Edmonds indicated that there was a convergence of US and foreign counter-narcotics, counter-terrorism and US national security and economic interests all of which were too preoccupied to surface critical information warning Americans of the attacks of September 11, 2001. After all, who would have believed drug runners operating in Central Asia? And besides, President Clinton was promoting Turkey, one of the world’s top drug transit points, as a model for Muslim-Western cooperation and a country necessary to reshape the Middle East.

The FBI’s Office of International Operations, in conjunction with the CIA and the US State Department counter-narcotics section, the United Kingdom’s MI6, Israel’s Mossad, Pakistan’s ISI, the US DEA, Turkey’s MIT, and the governments and intelligence agencies of dozens of nations, were in one way or another involved in the illicit drug trade either trying to stop it or benefit from it. What can be surmised from the public record is that from 1998 to September 10, 2001, the War on Drugs kept bumping into the nascent War on Terror and new directions in US foreign policy.

More, from Sibel herself:

Curiously enough, despite these highly publicized reports and acknowledgements of Turkey’s role in these activities, Turkey continues to receive billions of dollars of aid and assistance annually from the United States. With its highly placed co-conspirators and connections within the Pentagon, State Department and U.S. Congress, Turkey never has to fear potential sanctions or meaningful scrutiny; just like Saudi Arabia and Pakistan. The criminal Turkish networks continue their global criminal activities right under the nose of their protector, the United States, and neither the catastrophe falling upon the U.S. on September Eleven, nor their direct and indirect role and ties to this terrorist attack, diminish their role and participation in the shady worlds of narcotics, money laundering and illegal arms transfer.

The ‘respectable’ Turkish companies established and operate bases in Azerbaijan, Uzbekistan and other similar former soviet states. Many of these front companies, disguised under construction and tourism entities, have received millions of dollars in grants from the U.S. government, allocated to them by the U.S. congress, to establish and operate criminal networks throughout the region; among their networking partners are Al Qaeda, the Taliban, and the Albanian Mafia. While the U.S. government painted Islamic charity organizations as the main financial source for Al Qaeda terrorists, it was hard at work trying to cover up the terrorists’ main financial source: narcotics and illegal arms sales. Why?

For years and years, information and evidence being collected by the counterintelligence operations of certain U.S. intelligence and law enforcement agencies has been prevented from being transferred to criminal and narcotics divisions, and from being shared with the Drug Enforcement Agency and others with prosecutorial power. Those with direct knowledge have been prevented from making this information available and public by various gag orders and invocation of the State Secrets Privilege. Why?

Is this due to the fact that the existence and survival of many U.S. allies; Turkey, almost all Central Asian nations, and after the September Eleven attack, Afghanistan; greatly depend on cultivating, processing, transporting, and distributing these illegal substances? Is it caused by the fact that a major source of income for those who procure U.S. weapons and technology, our military industrial complex’s bread and butter, is being generated from this illegal production and illegal dealings? Or, is it the fear of exposing our own financial institutions, lobbying firms, and certain elected and appointed officials, as beneficiaries?

The need for the profits of the narcotics industry is another reason for the war in the Balkans. While the American investment banks were beginning their meltdown, Turkish heroin was moving through Albania.

Now it's all spun wildly out of control and narco-profits are no longer enough to keep The System running. That's why, in the US at least, trillions of tax dollars are going to the Wall Street parasites. It seems to me that the The System is going to need a hell of a lot more addicts in order to save itself.

Tuesday, January 27, 2009


"The U.S. has done more to assist Turkey in its fight against the PKK than any other country. In full coordination with the Turkish government, we have used our diplomatic, military, and intelligence resources to combat PKK operations, logistics, and fundraising. This cooperation continues today, and has saved Turkish lives."
~ Joseph Ralston, Lockheed Martin lobbyist.

A bad sign for Ker Kurê Kerdoğan:

From KorucuTV (TRT 6) and Bugün. And the fake Kurds at the Bugün article complain in the comments about how embarrassed they are to see such a sign because Bugün explains what "ker" means.

Where in the hell have the fake Kurds been all this time? People have been referring to Kerdoğan for some time now.

Turkish journalism awards for 2008 have been announced and SURPRISE, SURPRISE, nothing for Taraf. I do notice, however, that there's an award for a charicature of Hüseyin Üzmez, the Fethullahçı septuagenarian who recently made news for sexual abuse of his 14-year-old "bride" and AKP attempts to lower the age of marriage to 14 for girls. How convenient. Remember, these are the people the US supports. More on that child-bride bullshit, here.

A Turkish "humanitarian delegation" was finally allowed to enter Gaza. For some reason, the Ankara regime can't understand why there was a "brutal" hold-up with their aid:

We cannot understand why the Turkish delegation faced an almost brute force approach and wasn’t let in, although a lot of foreign delegations, including French, German and Irish ones, were let in. We cannot understand this harsh stance by the Egyptian authorities. We are going to that region only for humanitarian purposes, and most of the delegation members are doctors anyway,” a member of the delegation, who spoke on condition of anonymity, told the Anatolia news agency on Saturday.

Well, maybe everyone was a little nervous because much of the aid was transported by the Turkish Red Crescent, and Turkish Red Crescent is well known for carrying arms shipments. There's no reason why a rational person should not believe that the Islamist Ankara regime would not be trying to ship arms to Islamist HAMAS.

In the meantime, Turkish families are sponsoring Palestinian orphans, something they've never done for the Kurdish orphans they've created in both North and South Kurdistan for more than 80 years now. In fact, they applaud the murder of Kurdish infants and children by TSK because it's helping to get rid of their "terrorist" problem.

I continue to find the Ankara regime's attitude towards HAMAS to be highly hypocritical, according to Babacan:

They have made mistakes, too. On the other hand it is impossible to ensure peace by ignoring Hamas.

On the other hand, it's impossible to ensure peace by ignoring PKK, no matter what Lockheed Martin or Babacan say.

In other news, Turkey, the US, Iraq, and the Southern Kurds are setting up a "joint command center" in Hewlêr to combat the big, bad PKK. This is going to be an intelligence dispersal point so that the Americans can continue to give intel to the Ankara regime so it can continue to bomb civilian areas in South Kurdistan, with the blessing of Baghdad and the Southern Kurds. They'll probably move the Israelis from Batman to Hewlêr to help with the effort as well.

Good luck with that. These same groups have been fighting against PKK since the 1990s and have failed miserably. Besides, this move should be seen for what it is: a piss-poor excuse to avoid doing what they are afraid of doing. And what all of them--Turkey, the US, Israel, Iraq, and the KRG--are afraid of doing is growing a pair and actually going to the mountains to fight. But, then, it's so much easier to simply blast away at Kurdish civilians with targets provided by the US and Israel. . .

Sunday, January 25, 2009


"I have been in this job for 27 years, I started from the bottom and climbed to the top. I can say that the Turkish press is coward: it comes out to hide the truth."
~ Ahmet Altan.

Last week I criticized a recent article in the neoconservatives' The Middle East Quarterly particularly for its claim--parroted from the paşas--that Taraf was a Fethullahçı paper. I cited the financial troubles Taraf has recently had and asked why, if Taraf were Fethullahçı, it wasn't able to secure funds from a Fethullahçı bank.

Another reason for doubting the paşas' and the neocons' claim that Taraf is Fethullahçı is the fact that Taraf's editor-in-chief is Ahmet Altan, whose father was a leftist politician. Ahmet Altan may be more familiar to Kurds for his famous article, "Atakurd", written in 1995 and for which he was fired from Milliyet.

A month ago, it was brought to my attention that Ahmet Altan appeared to have gone missing. I chalked it up to vacation time but now it appears that Ahmet Altan has not been on vacation. After "long adventures" he has returned and here's what he has to say on the state of affairs at Taraf:

After Long Adventures . . .

In 19th century adventure novels, there is a cliche ending that my father really loved about their heroes: "After long adventures, he returned to his home."

It is not being mentioned what the poor novel hero went through in those "long adventures", what he had lived through, what he had suffered for. No one cares anyway.

I also returned after "long adventures".

I must admit I went through a lot.

All the troubles of attempting to found a real newspaper which opposes the system in a place like Turkey, where the system is poor and based on corruption, robbery, murder, and gangs, and criticizing both the political rulers and the army's hidden rule were directly on our shoulders.

I am not even counting the fact that everyone, from the boss to the tea-deliverer, was sued.

This was expected in our country anyway.

However, wrestling with merciless financial seizures which would even be surprising to the system itself, gave us a difficult time.

We have lived through times where we came to the brink of closure.

I have talked to as many people as I have never talked before; while being proud of not asking anything from anyone, I have asked for something from almost anyone in order to let this newspaper live.

I undertook the shame of asking due to the belief that such a newspaper is a necessity; I have been through nights where I never slept until mornings, suffering and smoking.

There have been times when I was angry for seeing the burden of making a democratic newspaper that tells the truth in a country of 75 million, left on the shoulders of two young men, Başar and Savaş Arslan. There have been moments when I felt angry for not being able to do anything while seeing this heavy burden on their shoulders. There have been times when I was hurt by emotional confusion when these two young people entered my office always with a smile, even during the hardest days.

I have been through days from waking up and saying, "Damn it, just shut it down," to "No, we will resist to the end, we will fight."

Especially seeing those inferior publications of newspapers which are pro-coup and pro-army regarding "Ergenekon"; witnessing the nerve of those who define the capture of coup-makers and coup-instigators as the "silencing of the opposition of political government", increased my resistance and perseverance.

Every time I read them, I believed in the necessity of this newspaper.

Not only I but also everyone at this newspaper believed that.

They worked without pay for two-and-a-half months, with great self-sacrifice.

They couldn't take money home; they couldn't pay their rent; there have been some whose electric meter was dismantled; and there have been times when they couldn't find money for transportation to get to work.

Başar and Savaş encountered hardships that they have never seen in their entire lives.

Our readers shared their little bit of money with us; in order to let us live, they joined the fight.

All of them endured, all of them resisted.

Then Mehmet Betil came.

We did all our accounting.

First of all we saw that, in order to maintain a newspaper like this, an amount of money which would be equal to the two-week's rent of a super luxury yacht would be enough for us.

Not being able to find that much cash money suffocates us.

Mehmet put more than enough fresh money.

We breathed.

We set the strategy for the next ten years.

We all know that a newspaper which brings foreigners and even enemy groups together, introducing themselves to each other, bringing them closer to each other, and making them gather under a common belief, "democracy", is a nominee of being this country's greatest newspaper.

Knowing this empowers us.

However, we aren't satisfied with this.

In order to keep this newspaper strong in this country where there are revenge-seeking politicians, angry generals, slick bankers, cowardly rich, friends who break their promises, we decided to open up to the world.

We have kept in touch with the establishments which open funds for the world's democratic newspapers. We have agreed with some of them; there are some with whom we are still talking. We came to the last stage for an agreement with Europe's most prestigious newspaper for a publication partnership.

Finally, with the support of our readers in our most difficult time, with the confidence of being a global newspaper, we came to a point where the shaky situation in Turkey no longer affects us.

We are solid and comfortable now.

Turkey's efendis, who say, "If I want, I create; if I want, I destroy," can try their best now.

We will explain all the truths as we promised when we first began this publication.

Our readers long ago became our friends. We have embraced each other with unprecedented power and we will increase the number of our "friends" when we walk together.

After "long adventures" I returned.

But I'm very tired.

Now I'm at a point that I can't bear a bird's song let alone a human voice.

I want to be buried in absolute silence and remain there for a few days without moving, without speaking. without telling, and without listening.

One week from now I'll be here.

We have left the pains behind but I want to live by myself the happiness and gratitude in the struggle that was given and created by the resistance of the people, our readers, newspaper staff, columnists, adminstrators, and the newspaper's owners.

I generally try to be solid in hard times but now when I think of those people and how they struggled in the hardest time, maybe sometimes tears come to my eyes and I don't want anyone else to witness this. After all, I am a man.

You can find more backgrounder on Ahmet Altan here and here.

Although I don't agree with everything Taraf writes, even if I do present translations of some of the Taraf staff's work here, I think that they would be a bit offended if I did agree with everything. I do, however, happen to agree with Altan's assessment of Taraf as Turkey's "greatest newspaper". Taraf has written stuff that I never thought I would see in print in a Turkish paper and, what's more, the journalists at Taraf have forced discussions of some of their most controversial reporting into the pages of every other Turkish daily.

Can you imagine how much more improved the state of the lapdog American media would be if there were an American Taraf that would force a discussion of its most controversial reporting through the journalistic wilderness of the US? Such an American paper might actually report the truth. Such an American paper would have taken up Sibel Edmonds on her offer to go public with everything she knows.

Besides, I'm all for feeding frenzies, especially when the paşas are the main course with the Fethullahçı as appetizer.

Wednesday, January 21, 2009


"I put a dollar in one of those change machines. Nothing changed."
~ George Carlin.

Speaking of change, here's what might be required as a basis of convincing the world that change has really arrived:

The USA has a history of crimes, but also of positive change. It has the potential for changing the world, both for the worse or for the better. One of the greatest achievements of the American people, if not the greatest, has been the abolition of slavery. This liberated the black people and gave hope for millions of others under oppression. One wonders if there will be real change with the new American administration, with President Obama. The USA has still the power and the potential to abolish slavery in the Middle East.

However, any real change must address the injustice camouflaged under the name “US foreign policy”. The policy of change needs to be concrete and clear. It must end the support for despotic and fascist regimes, even if they are "US allies" or NATO members. The USA must abolish its system of client states, which is a modern and global form of slavery. It must not accept and allow pseudo democracies and racist regimes to continue committing crimes against humanity. It must stop applying the term “terrorism” to liberation movements of indigenous peoples; but instead openly support their rights, including the right for self-determination.

Cooperation with puppet regimes and parasitical elites that prevent progress, freedom and democracy in the region must end. In a new US foreign policy, trust and friendship with other nations should come before profits. A new strategy must be developed that does not divide the world into spheres of influence and leads to more wars for territory or resources. In that new strategy, principles of justice should dominate rather than military power.

One of the main obstacles for global justice and peace has historically been the fight for resources between groups or states. It is high time that the raw materials and energy sources of the world should belong to everyone instead of being in the hands of a few or prey to corporate competitors. A new American policy should lead to an international agreement that will manage our depleting resources in the name of and for the benefit of mankind alone.

The first test of change may be coming up soon:

Amidst reports that Turkey has been negotiating with Russia for the purchase of around 32 Mi-28 attack helicopters as a stop-gap measure to meet its urgent needs in the fight against the outlawed Kurdistan Workers' Party (PKK), the Pentagon has developed a formula that will allow it to sell four or five Cobra attack helicopters to Ankara.

Under this new formula, the US-based Bell Helicopter firm will interrupt the Cobra production currently under way for the US Marine Corps and instead use the production line to manufacture helicopters for Turkey, according to well-informed Turkish defense industry sources in Ankara.

Top Pentagon officials will submit this plan for approval by the new administration under Barack Obama, who took office yesterday as the 44th US president, Today’s Zaman has learned.

The US had turned down a Turkish request made early last year for the purchase of AH-1W “Whiskey” Super Cobra attack helicopters as a stop-gap measure for the Turkish Armed Forces (TSK), which has a shortage of Cobras in its inventory. The US had cited the unavailability of Cobras and offered instead Boeing-made Apache attack helicopters, which were turned down by Ankara.

Turkey has six AH-1W Super Cobra attack helicopters ready for combat from its original 12, while the remaining six either crashed or are no longer in service.

Yeah, six Cobras "crashed or are no longer in service",but there's no mention of why they "crashed or "are no longer in service". I can give you the answer in one short abbreviation: PKK.

There's something else here, too, from the I-Told-You-So Department:

Turkey expects its relations with Israel, which strained due to the Gaza operations, will return to its normal course shortly as Ankara continues to play an active role in the Middle East. The Turkish president could soon pay a visit to Israel.

. . . Turkey had considered cutting diplomatic relations with Israel and suspending a defense deal. Still it is very unlikely Turkey will take any of these steps.

. . . Turkish President Abdullah Gul may pay a visit to Israel in the near term.

The Turkish foreign ministry says [i.e. claims] it has made a major contribution to the peace process and will continue its pro-active foreign policy strategy. Therefore relations with Israel are expected to normalize in the short term.

And one other, from the same Department:

Diplomatic sources denied and slammed reports that the political spat between Israel and Turkey has been deepening despite the ceasefire in Gaza.

An Israeli newspaper reported on Tuesday that a request by the Turkish prime minister's special representatives to meet the head of the political-security bureau at the Israeli Defense Ministry, Amos Gilad, was rejected and that Egypt also refused to have Turkey present during the ceasefire talks with Hamas.

Turkey played an active role, led by the prime minister's special representative, Ahmet Davutoglu, during the crisis that erupted after Israel's aggression against Gaza that has left more than 1,100 dead, mostly civilians.

"The story in the Israeli newspaper is incorrect and it is a mistake. A meeting was scheduled with the Israeli officials to discuss the course of the ceasefire process. But the meeting could not be held due to a lack of time and the Israeli official apologized for the situation," a source said on Tuesday.

On Monday, Davutoglu had said that Turkey convinced Hamas to agree to a ceasefire during Turkish officials’ shuttle diplomacy. The Turkish diplomats held talks with Hamas officials in Cairo and with the group’s exiled leader in Syria.

And a former JITEM dirtbag gets his due:

An alleged member of JİTEM, a clandestine and illegal gendarmerie intelligence unit whose existence has thus far been officially denied, was found dead yesterday afternoon in his Ankara home.

Maj. Abdülkerim Kırca, believed to be a higher up in JİTEM, had replaced Maj. Cem Ersever, a former major who left the army after Gendarmerie Commander Gen. Eşref Bitlis was killed in a suspicious plane crash. Ersever, in a confession made to the press after he left the army in 1993, provided accounts of JİTEM activities. Ersever's confessions were later compiled in a number of books by author Soner Yalçın. Before his assassination, the major also said he was in charge of JİTEM's operations in the Southeast.

Ersever's body was found in Ankara on Nov. 4, 1993. His girlfriend and right-hand man were also killed, and his archive disappeared.

Numerous allegations from families of the victims of hundreds of unresolved murders accused Kırca of being behind most of the murders committed in Turkey's East and Southeast in the '90s. An upsurge in the number of unresolved deaths in the region does coincide with the term he served in the region.

[ . . . ]

In a report prepared by the Prime Ministry on the 1996 Susurluk affair, Kutlu Savaş, the author of the report, had referred to Kırca as the "planner and executor" of most of the incidents.

The paşas claim it was suicide. Oh, right, I know I believe them. It's ridiculous, naturally, especially since, in Turkey, particularly in The Southeast, women are more likely to "commit suicide". But you know that if the paşas stick their big, fat noses in it, it's going to be hilarious, and it is:

The Turkish army slammed some media organs, saying their coverage relating to former military officers violates basic human rights, and urged them to act responsibly.


Violates basic human rights?!! That's rich! Notice how the issue of basic human rights only applies to TSK. My only complaint is that PKK only managed to put Kırca in a wheelchair and not in his grave, and may this son-of-a-bitch burn in hell.

There, I hope I've sufficiently violated his "basic human rights".

Tuesday, January 20, 2009


For those who forgot or are willfully ignorant:

"Certainly on the PKK issue, I do not think Turkey will have any problem with the Obama administration, I think there is a good recognition of Turkey’s problems. I do not really expect any problems," [Ian] Lesser [of the German Marshall Fund] said.


Monday, January 19, 2009


"The Ergenekon gang is a deep organization and as long as the true leaders remain free, the real instigators of Dink’s murder will never be captured."
~ Fethiye Çetin, Hrant Dink's lawyer.

When you talk about history in the US many people will say, if they're old enough, "I remember where I was when Kennedy was shot," or "I remember where I was when the World Trade Center was attacked". Not only do people remember these kinds of things and where they were when they heard the news, they also remember what they were doing and how they felt.

I remember where I was and what I was doing two years ago today. I remember how I felt. I remember opening a page of news and seeing the photo of Hrant Dink covered with paper, yellow crime scene tape holding back onlookers, and the police standing nearby. I remember how I felt. I was shocked, horrified, dismayed, disgusted. I wanted what I was seeing not to be true. But I knew it was true and I didn't have to read the article to know what had happened, who was behind it, and how it would eventually go down.

When I think about all this now, I still have the same feelings I had two years ago today. I remember the photos of Rakel Dink and her family releasing snow-white doves into the air after the funeral of her husband, and I think Hrant Dink was like one of those doves. Peaceful. Good. Innocent.


Turkey recently gave citizenship back to Nazim Hikmet, the communist and Turkey's greatest modern poet who had been disowned by the regime for decades. Ahmet Kaya became the victim of a hate campaign after announcing he would record a song and its video in Kurdish. He made the announcement at an awards dinner, at which he received an award. He was booed and forks and spoons were thrown at his table after making the announcement. Hürriyet published a photo of Kaya in front of a map of Kurdistan and labeled him "honorless". An investigation was started and then put on hold while the authorities waited for Hürriyet to provide them with the original photo of Kaya in front of the Kurdistan map. There was no photo. The photo had been photoshopped by Hürriyet itself. The investigation was dropped.

A Turkish TV documentary on Ahmet Kaya recently commented that he only wanted to sing in Kurdish. Why is that "honorless", especially now that the regime has its own Kurdish-language channel . . . for election purposes? Is the regime attempting to give Kaya's "honor" back?

Can the regime give Hrant Dink's life back?

No, it cannot, but when will we see justice in Dink's case? There have been well over 100 arrests in the Ergenekon case yet in two years' time we still have no convictions for those who were behind Dink's murder. The Istanbul police, the Trabzon police and jandarma, the Samsun police and jandarma, the BBP and other nationalists--everyone who knew beforehand of the plot to murder Hrant Dink--are free, with no concerns, no worries, no threat of justice hanging over their heads.

The three-ring circus which is Ergenekon has not touched the Deep State. The Deep State continues to enjoy its tradition of impunity. Nothing has been learned at all.

Gordon Taylor at The Pasha and the Gypsy has more two years on, here and here.

Sunday, January 18, 2009


"Turkey, a country of about 70 million Muslims, most of whom are religious, is ruled today by a conservative party with an Islamic pedigree and a humane, tolerant, and democratic track record."
~ Thomas Patrick Carroll.

The neocons are upset with Turkey again and particularly with Fethullah Gülen's AKP. This month's edition of The Middle East Quarterly, a publication of the neoconservative Middle East Forum and whose editor is the extremely anti-Kurdish Michael Rubin--also of the American Enterprise Institute (AEI)--has an article on Gülen that was most likely dictated by the paşas. The author is the director of the Turkish Media Project at MEMRI.

Here's something on MEMRI from Sourcewatch:

According to its website, founded in February 1998 "to inform the debate over U.S. policy in the Middle East, MEMRI is an independent, nonpartisan, nonprofit, 501(c)(3) organization. MEMRI's headquarters is located in Washington, DC with branch offices in Berlin, London, and Jerusalem, where MEMRI also maintains its Media Center. MEMRI research is translated to English, German, Hebrew, Italian, French, Spanish, Turkish, and Russian."

MEMRI's stance is that it is opposed to Islamic fundamentalism, not Islam itself, although the integrity of this position may be questioned because of links on MEMRI's website to certain evangelical Christian organizations who take a harder line on Islam. Yigal Carmon, MEMRI's founder, is a former advisor on terrorism to the Israeli Prime Ministers, Yitzhak Shamir and Yitzhak Rabin, so he actually worked for both Labor and Likud governments. Praise for MEMRI should be taken with a grain of salt since it is almost always motivated by politics, not the quantity or quality of MEMRI's work.

MEMRI has gained currency with most pro-Israel writers, as well as right-wing publications. For example, New York Times writer Thomas Friedman, a influential foreign affairs columnist, has used MEMRI translations a number of times in his columns. MEMRI is cited in several publications, such as The Times, The Washington Times, The Weekly Standard, The Jerusalem Post, The National Review, The Toronto Sun, Wall Street Journal, Libertad, FrontPageMagazine, Columbia Journalism Review, Associated Press, etc.

Also, from Rightweb:

According to MEMRI—which maintains offices in Washington, Berlin, London, Tokyo, and Jerusalem—its main subjects of interest include jihad and terrorism, U.S. and Mideast politics, reform in the Arab and Muslim world, Arab-Israeli conflict, inter-Arab relations, economic studies, and Arab antisemitism. MEMRI's slogan, "Bridging the Language Gap Between the Middle East and the West," does not convey the institute's stridently pro-Israel and anti-Arab political bias. MEMRI was previously more forthcoming about its political orientation in its self-description and in staff profiles on its website. But its website now offers no information about its staff, board of directors, or funding.

[ . . . ]

The background of MEMRI's founders illuminates its political orientation. Yigal Carmon is a reserve colonel in the Israel Defense Forces (IDF), having served in the IDF/Intelligence Branch from 1968 to 1988. In that capacity, Carmon, who was born in Romania, was acting head of the civil administration in the West Bank from 1977 to 1982. He served as counterterrorism adviser to premiers Shamir and Menachem Begin from 1988 to 1993. In 1991 and 1992 Carmon was a senior member of the Israeli delegation to peace negotiations with Syria in Madrid and Washington.

Meyrav Wurmser, an Israeli-born analyst of Mideast affairs, received her doctorate from George Washington University in Washington, DC, where she wrote on Zeev (Vladimir) Jabotinsky and the Revisionist Movement. According to Arab Media Watch , Jabotinsky "brokered the marriage between Zionism and fascism." Wurmser, who has taught at Johns Hopkins University and the U.S. Naval Academy, is a central figure in the right-wing's web of Middle East policy institutes, as is her husband, David Wurmser. According to the Hudson Institute, "Through her work at MEMRI [she] helped to educate policymakers about the Palestinian Authority two-track approach to 'negotiating peace' with Israel: calling for peace in the English press and with Western policymakers while inciting hatred and violence through official Arab language media." Before joining the George W. Bush administration as a State Department policy adviser under John Bolton, her husband was an American Enterprise Institute scholar and associate of the Middle East Forum.

Just as during the last few years Michael Rubin has written paşa-inspired anti-AKP articles at The Middle East Forum and the AEI, so the current anti-Fethullahçı piece at The Middle East Forum is an interesting work of propaganda and, like all good propaganda, it uses truth to weave together a number of whoppers. For example, on the number of mosques and imams in Turkey:

Today, Turkey has over 85,000 active mosques, one for every 350 citizens—compared to one hospital for every 60,000 citizens—the highest number per capita in the world and, with 90,000 imams, more imams than doctors or teachers. It has thousands of madrasa-like Imam-Hatip schools and about four thousand more official state-run Qur'an courses, not counting the unofficial Qur'an schools, which may expand the total number tenfold.

On Fethullahçı education:

Nurettin Veren, Gülen's right-hand man for thirty-five years, estimated that some 75 percent of Turkey's two million preparatory school students are enrolled in Gülen institutions.[12] He controls thousands of top-tier secondary schools, colleges, and student dormitories throughout Turkey, as well as private universities, the largest being Fatih University in Istanbul. Outside Turkey, his movement runs hundreds of secondary schools and dozens of universities in 110 countries worldwide. Gülen's aim is not altruistic: His followers target youth in the eighth through twelfth grades, mentor and indoctrinate them in the ışıkevi, educate them in the Fethullah schools, and prepare them for future careers in legal, political, and educational professions in order to create the ruling classes of the future Islamist, Turkish state. Taking their orders from Fethullah Gülen, wealthy followers continue to open schools and ışıkevi in what Sabah columnist Emre Aköz called "the education jihad."[13]

The overt network of schools is only one part of a larger strategy. In a 2006 interview, Veren said, "These schools are like shop windows. Recruitment and Islamization activities are carried out through night classes ... Children whom we educated in Turkey are now in the highest positions. There are governors, judges, military officers. There are ministers in the government. They consult Gülen before doing anything."[14]

Just remember that whenever you think about the new Fethullahçı university that's recently opened in Hewlêr and don't be shocked when the next generation of Southern Kurdish leaders "consult Gülen before doing anything."

On the Turkish police, no surprise here:

Fethullahists have also made inroads into Turkey's 200,000-strong police force. Their infiltration has had a compounding effect, as Fethullahist officials have purged officials more loyal to the republic than the hocaefendi. According to Veren, "There are imam security directors; imams wearing police uniforms. Many police commissioners get their orders from imams."[21] Adil Serdar Saçan, former director of the organized crimes unit within the Istanbul Directorate of Security, confirmed these statements in reports he prepared on the Fethullahist organization within the security apparatus. In a 2006 interview, he said . . . At present, over 80 percent of the officers at supervisory level in the general security organization are members of the [Gülen] cemaat.[22]

Now you know why the police were beating the shit out of Kurdish women and children last Newroz and why I blamed it on AKP--the Fethullahçı.

On the TSK and its Islamists:

According to Veren, Gülen has argued that the military expels no more than one in forty Islamist officers; the rest remain in undercover cells. While such allegations may seem the stuff of conspiracy theory, recent leaks to pro-AKP media suggest a number of Islamist sources within the military ranks, creating speculation that followers of Gülen now populate the senior infrastructure of the Turkish General Staff. Such speculation gained additional credence after the August 2008 Supreme Military Council (Yüksek Askeri Şura, YAŞ), which, for the first time, declined to expel suspected Islamists from military ranks.

Just like you read here in August.

There's much more at the article, here, at The Middle East Quarterly.

Of course, I have a really difficult time believing the paşas propaganda which says, as it does in the article, that Taraf is a Fethullahçı paper. If that's true, then why has Taraf had trouble getting advertising revenue? Why couldn't Taraf just get funding from a Fethullahçı bank? Simple answer: Taraf is not Fethullahçı. Why is this neoconservative author complaining about the severe police crackdown against Turkish leftists at Taksim Square last May Day? Since when have neoconservatives ever cared about Leftists or trade unions? Where were the neoconservatives or the extreme right-wing fascist Americans when Leftists were massacred in Taksim Square on May Day in 1977? Well, they don't bitch about that because at the time the paşas were in full control.

The fact also remains that Gülen is a resident of the US, recognized as an educator of "extraordinary ability" even though his only formal education consists of five years of elementary school.

But this article is an expression of frustration between the neoconservatives and the Israeli lobby against the Fethullahçı government's anti-Israel statements over Gaza. They needn't be alarmed, however; in spite of Vecdi Gonul's lie that the AKP government has never signed an arms deal with Israel, Cemil Çiçek, and others, assures everyone to the contrary. In fact, the AKP government did sign a deal with Israel in 2005 for Israeli Heron UAVs, with a pricetag of at least $150 million.

At one time the neoconservatives did support the AKP, with Bush giving his blessing for Erdoğan's takeover of the Prime Ministry, when he was not in any position to take that job due to his conviction for crimes against laiklik.

The US thought it could control the Islamists it backed in Afghanistan and it thought it could control the Islamists it imported into Bosnia. That's just like both the US and Israel thought they could control HAMAS and the paşas thought they could control Turkish Hezbollah. These idiots have always thought this way and they've always been dead wrong.

Well, there's one thing the neoconservatives, the Israel lobby, Gülen, and the paşas all have in common--none of them have ever shed a tear over the Ankara regime's severe repression of the Kurdish people.

Thursday, January 15, 2009


"If society will not admit of woman's free development, then society must be remodeled."
~ Elizabeth Blackwell.

WOW! I am stupefied. A Turkish court finally did something right:

Full family jailed for honor killing act

DİYARBAKIR - A court has sentenced five members of the same family to life imprisonment for the honor killing of Naile Erdaş, 16, who fell pregnant as a result of rape, activists said Monday.

In its verdict Friday, a court in the eastern city of Van sentenced the murder victim's brother to life in jail for the 2006 murder said to have been committed to cleanse the family honor, the Van Women's Association said.

The girl's father, mother and two uncles were also given life sentences for instigating the murder, while a third uncle was jailed for 16 years and eight months for failing to report the murder in one of the heaviest sentences handed down in Turkey for such a killing.

"We can say this verdict is a first in terms of the harshness of the sentences and the fact that the entire family was convicted," Mazlum Bağlı, a researcher into honor killings at Dicle University in Diyarbakır, told AFP.

Zelal Özgökçe of the Van Women's Association welcomed the sentence as an appropriate deterrent. "It is very good that the entire family was punished for the crime," she said. "It will serve as a deterrent. People will become aware that they will face the consequences of an honor killing."

Erdaş fell pregnant as a result of rape but concealed her condition until she was hospitalized for a severe headache during which time doctors discovered she was pregnant.

When the family made threats and offered bribes to get the girl back, doctors decided to keep her in the hospital and informed police and the prosecutor's office. One week after Erdaş gave birth, the prosecutor agreed to send her home after the girl's father promised she would not be harmed. But she was shot dead by her brother a few hours after returning home.

In honor killings, generally prevalent among Turkey's Kurdish community, a so-called family council names a member to murder a female relative who is considered to have sullied the family’s honor. In most cases this is because of an extra-marital affair. In recent years, the government has stepped up efforts to stamp out honor killings.

I have never heard of such a severe sentence before and it comes non too soon. I agree with spokesperson for the Wan Women's Association, Zelal Özgökçe, and hope, too, that this punishment will serve as a deterrent to honor murder.

Now if they'd find a way to go after those who order "honor" suicides:

Among the hundreds of honor killings in Turkey, it is impossible to quantify the forced suicides. A special U.N. rapporteur, Yakin Erturk, was dispatched to the country’s south last year to investigate a rash of suicides. She concluded that some probably had been “instigated” and cited a host of contributing factors: forced and early marriages, denial of reproductive rights, poverty, migration and displacement, among others.

Victims say they’ve been ordered by relatives to kill themselves, locked in rooms with a gun or rope, watched over while they were expected to slit their wrists. The infraction can be as slight as a desire to work or the wearing of jeans, the sentence often decided in a family council.

Handan Coskun, a former journalist, started a women’s center in Diyarbakir in response to suicides she began investigating several years ago, when the rate in southeastern Turkey was two to three times the national rate. There were dozens of cases, many not related to honor issues. One consistency was that far more females committed or attempted suicide than males, which is the opposite of the worldwide pattern.

Those families who do save their daughters from conditions that would be considered "dishonorable" are often ostracized by their own communities, as in this case:

When a Turkish man rescued his daughter after she was abducted by a gang that forced her into prostitution, he was hailed a hero by many in the country. But people in his own home region of south-eastern Anatolia turned against him, because he refused to do what traditional laws of family honour say must be done in a case like this: kill the girl.

My daughter did not go voluntarily,” the man, who did not want to be identified in order to protect his 18-year-old daughter, told Turkish newspapers last month. “Why should I kill her?”

The idea that a girl or a woman has to pay with her life if she sullies her family’s honour by her conduct is still powerful in some areas of Turkey, especially in the poor Kurdish region in the south-east. In some cases, it is enough if a woman talks to a stranger to seal her fate. Underage boys of the family are often selected to commit so-called honour killings because they can expect lighter prison sentences if convicted.

Almost 300 women have been murdered by family members in Turkey since 2001, according to a new study based on court cases that was published this month.

Osman Celbis, a researcher from the Inonu University in the eastern city of Malatya, told the Anatolian news agency that 288 women and 56 men were killed. Male victims of honour crimes are often killed after cases of rape.

It is a problem of mentality,” said Remziye Tanrikulu, a lawyer in Diyarbakir, the main city of Turkey’s Kurdish area, and an expert on honour killings.

Yeah, it's a problem of mentality, a mentality that must change. I hope that the court system will continue to crack down on this disgraceful mentality so that change is forced. And if the force necessary to make change happen is harsh, so be it.

Wednesday, January 14, 2009


"Hypocrisy is the most difficult and nerve-racking vice that any man can pursue; it needs an unceasing vigilance and a rare detachment of spirit. It cannot, like adultery or gluttony, be practiced at spare moments; it is a whole-time job."
~ W. Somerset Maugham.

More Kurdish language repression in Turkey, from Özgür Gündem:

3-month-old Welat Is Not Being Admitted to the Hospital

In Diyarbakır the three-month-old baby Welat cannot take advantage of medical services because he cannot receive an identity card in order to receive services, due to the first initial of his name, "W", which is in the banned Kurdish alphabet.

The couple, Muhsin and Laima Başer, who reside in Diyarbakır, wanted to name their newborn baby "Welat", which means "Homeland". However the Diyarbakır Registration Department refused the name because the letter "W" does not exist in the Turkish alphabet. Based on the Başer couple's legal demand to the IHD, IHD made a petition to the Interior Ministry to stop banning Kurdish names. After the petition submitted on 21 August 2008 received no response, the father Muhsin Başer said they sued the [Diyarbakır] registration department through the Diyarbakır Civil Court. The case is still ongoing.

Welat is not being admitted to the hospital

Saying that their child was not treated in the hospital because of the lack of his identity card, Başer pointed out that if he [Welat] were treated, a large amount of money would be asked from him. Mentioning that it is discrimination not to have his son's treatment due to a lack of an identity card, Başer said: "For this reason we are being wronged by this matter. I have insurance from my workplace, however they are not taking care of my child because he doesn't have an identity card. This is unlawful." For resolving the problem, Başer said he applied to Diyarbakır Social Security Department and he asked for a temporary health card. Başer said, "In my application to the Social Security Department I asked for a temporary health card to be issued and the health costs to be compensated by them. However, I received a negative response."

"Kurdish is banned for the Kurds"

Pointing out the government's hypocrisy, Başer underscored that Kurdish was free for PM Erdoğan whereas it is banned for Kurds. Condemning with hatred the government's approach, Başer said that this is a contradiction that the government, on the one hand, says it freed Kurdish; on the other hand, it has such restrictions [on Kurdish]. Pointing out that the government wants to create its own Kurds through TRT 6, Başer said,"This action is a great injustice, hypocrisy, and contradiction. It is free for the state but is banned for us, the Kurds. I will do whatever I can in order to remove this unlawfulness."

Social Security Department: There is nothing we can do

The Social Security Department, which had a negative response to Başer's application, mentioned that without having a Turkish Republic identity number (similar to a social security number in the US), there is nothing much that they can do. Saying that if the registration takes place the required processes will be done, the official said, "There is no action that our department can take. For this reason the demand that you made for obtaining a temporary health card is impossible to fulfill."

This article from Bloomberg was published on the same day as the news about little Welat:

State broadcaster TRT on Dec. 31 started its first channel in Kurdish, a language once banned outright and still forbidden in schools and government offices. The new channel, TRT6, shows films, news, chat shows and soap operas via satellite. Pitt’s “Spy Game,” among the foreign movies dubbed into Kurdish, will be aired in coming weeks.

“I got home last night and my mom, who doesn’t speak Turkish, was watching TRT6 and laughing,” said Osman Ciftci, who sells satellite dishes and digital receivers in Diyarbakir, the main city in Turkey’s largely Kurdish southeast. “She said, ‘Look, son, now I have a channel too.’”

Well, that's a patent lie because Roj TV is viewed all over Turkish-occupied Kurdistan. The article continues:

Until now, Turkey refused to grant cultural rights to its 15 million Kurds, even after the European Union backed their demands to broadcast and teach in Kurdish. Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdogan is seeking to convince Kurds that he’s willing to break those taboos, and also trying to counter EU criticism that his bid to join the bloc is losing direction.

Turkey may also soon loosen the ban on Kurdish-language teaching. The Higher Education Board said this month that departments of Kurdish studies may be permitted in Istanbul and the capital Ankara, although not at universities in Kurdish regions.

The only problem with loosening "the ban on Kurdish-language teaching" is that only Turks will be allowed to teach it and only Turks will be allowed to study it because Kurdish is banned for Kurds. Well, maybe the fake Kurds like Diyarbakir's AKP parliamentarian, Abdurrahman Kurt, will also be allowed to teach or learn Kurdish; but for everyone else, including adorable baby Welat, it's forbidden!

The Bloomberg article also notes the hypocrisy of the AKP's use of Kurdish for election purposes:

Diyarbakir Mayor Osman Baydemir, for example, faces more than 30 lawsuits from Justice Ministry prosecutors, almost half sparked by use of Kurdish in brochures, posters or municipal services, according to his office.

Diyarbakir’s top lawyers are due in court next month as defendants. Their alleged crime: distributing the local bar association’s calendar, which names the days, months and holidays in Kurdish as well as Turkish. Prosecutors say that’s abuse of office, an offense carrying a three-year jail sentence.

It’s good that a state TV channel is using Kurdish, “but let other people do it too,” said Mehmet Emin Aktar, head of the bar association. “The problem is that in Turkey the law works differently depending on who you are.

No shit.

Monday, January 12, 2009


"Every time they asked me about my ethnicity, I answered, "Kurdish," and they beat me with a whip that looked like some kind of a hose."
~ Farhad Kamangar, Kurdish prisoner of the Islamic Republic of Iran.

Last Friday, HRW issued its recent report on repression in East Kurdistan by the Islamic Republic of Iran. Not that I agree with HRW's pacifist stance on everything particularly since, if you're a Kurd, the political avenue in the Islamic Republic is identical to that in Turkey--closed. But at least this is more documentation, more fuel for the fire. You can read the entire 42-page report here and here's something from the press release:

"Iranian authorities show little tolerance of political dissent anywhere in the country, but they are particularly hostile to dissent in minority areas where there has been any history of separatist activities," said Joe Stork, deputy director of Human Rights Watch's Middle East and North Africa Division.

Kurds account for 4.5 million of the 69 million people in Iran, and live mainly in the country's northwest regions. Political movements there have frequently campaigned for greater regional autonomy. The main Iranian Kurdish parties with a long history of activism deny that they engage in armed activity and the government has not accused these groups of any such activity since the early 1990s.

"No one would contest a government's right to suppress violence," Stork said. "But this is not the case here. What is going on in the Kurdish areas of Iran is the routine suppression of legitimate peaceful opposition."

The new report documents how the government has closed Persian- and Kurdish-language newspapers and journals, banned books, and punished publishers, journalists, and writers for opposing and criticizing government policies. Authorities also suppress legitimate activities of nongovernmental organizations by denying registration permits or charging individuals working with such organizations with spurious security offenses.

One victim of the government's repression is Farazad Kamangar, a superintendent of high schools in the city of Kamayaran and an activist with the Organization for the Defense of Human Rights in Kurdistan. He has been in detention since his arrest in July 2006. The new report reproduces a letter Kamangar smuggled out of prison describing how officials subjected him to torture during interrogation.

On February 25, 2008, Branch 30 of Iran's Revolutionary Court sentenced him to death on charges of "endangering national security." Prosecutors charged that he was a member of the Turkey-based Kurdistan Workers Party (PKK), but provided no evidence to support the allegation. In July, the Supreme Court upheld the sentence. Kamangar's lawyer has appealed to the head of the judiciary to intervene, the only remaining option for challenging the sentence.

The report notes that the recent round of repression began in August 2005 with the murder of Kurdish activist Şîrvan Qaderî, who was shot by the mullah's flying monkey security forces and then tied to the back of their vehicle and dragged through the streets until dead in the venerable Kurdish city of Mahabad.

What is also interesting in the report is the discussion of the Islamic Republic's constitution and that it is interpreted in ways similar to that in Turkey:

Iranian laws ostensibly protect freedom of expression and thought . . .

Article 15 of Iran's Constitution designates Persian as the "official and shared language of Iran" but allows for the "use of local and ethnic languages in groups' press and media and teaching of their literature in schools alongside Persian."[96] Article 19 of the Constitution states that "the people of Iran, no matter what ethnicity or tribe, have equal rights, and attributes such as color or race or language will not be a reason for privilege."[97] Despite these provisions, the cases covered in this report show that the editors and writers of Kurdish publications face violations of rights guaranteed by Iran's constitution and Press Law.

Article 9 of the constitution contains two seemingly contradictory provisions. On the one hand, it endorses prima facie violations of international human rights law and allows no option for balancing individual rights of freedom of expression or association with legitimate security considerations when it states, "No individual, group, or authority, has the right to infringe in the slightest way upon the political, cultural, economic, and military independence or the territorial integrity of Iran under the pretext of exercising freedom." The article goes on to state that "no authority has the right to abrogate legitimate freedoms, not even by enacting laws and regulations for that purpose, under the pretext of preserving the independence and territorial integrity of the country."[98] The authorities often rely on the first part of Article 9 to justify restricting freedom of speech in the Kurdish regions, while disregarding the same article's prohibition on undue restrictions.

[ . . . ]

The scope of Article 6 gives authorities broad legal cover to suppress freedom of expression. Section 1 prohibits publication of material that is "atheistic or contrary to Islamic codes, or promote subjects which might damage the foundation of the Islamic Republic."[101] Section 4 outlaws material that "creates discord between and among social walks of life, especially by raising racial issues."[102] Section 9 outlaws "quoting articles from the deviant press, parties, and groups which oppose Islam (inside and outside the country) in such a manner as to propagate such ideas."[103] Section 12 prohibits publishing anything critical of the constitution.

The Islamic Republic's constitution is also supposed to protect minority rights but, as in Turkey, this is merely cosmetics. Take this, for example and notice how Turkish it sounds:

Article 15 states that Persian is the official language of the country but stipulates that "the use of regional and tribal languages in the press and mass media, as well as for teaching of their literature in schools, is allowed in addition to Persian."[124]

Article 19 states that "all people of Iran, whatever the ethnic group or tribe to which they belong, enjoy equal rights; color, race, language, and the like, do not bestow any privilege." [125] Article 20 confirms equal protection under the law by stating that "all citizens of the country, both men and women, equally enjoy the protection of the law and enjoy all human, political, economic, social, and cultural rights, in conformity with Islamic criteria."

Yeah, right everybody's equal! Well, we know very well that "Islamic criteria" don't count for a damn when the Muslims in question are Kurds.

The discussion includes "freedom of association" or the de facto lack thereof in the Islamic Republic's constitution, a lack which is justified by "security laws". All of these laws are interpreted broadly, as pointed out by the HRW report, so that they are virtually meaningless and a meaningless constitution is a hallmark of all fascist regimes. Such constitutions are nothing more than pieces of paper designed for show, to allow ugly regimes like those of Turkey or Iran a place at the table of so-called civilized nations.

A few years ago, a study published in the academic Journal of Religion and Society reported, "In general, higher rates of belief in and worship of a creator correlate with higher rates of homicide, juvenile and early adult mortality, STD infection rates, teen pregnancy and abortion in the prosperous democracies."

I wonder if higher rates of belief in and worship of a creator also correlate with higher rates of repression, human rights violations, and atrocities?