UPDATE: WE WERE AWAKENED THIS MORNING AT 6:20 am BY ISRAELI NAVAL VESSEL CANNONFIRE JUST OFF THE COAST HERE IN ASHDOD. FIRING CONTINUING INTERMITTENTLY. NO OTHER INFORMATION.
This morning your humble servant is continuing his expose of Turkish hypocrisy in light of Turkish PM Erdogan’s increasing accusations against Israel and increasing bellicosity toward Israel.
The newest accusation and bellicosity occurred yesterday when the Turkish government claimed that its oil and gas exploration ship off the coast of North Cyprus had been buzzed by Israeli jets and hovered over by an Israeli helicopter (all of which had supposedly flown illegally through ‘North Cyprus airspace”). By this morning, however, the Turks are beginning to back off that statement.
To review from yesterday: from 1914-1923, Turkey slaughtered at least 750,000 of its own Armenian citizens in an ethnic cleansing campaign which saw the Turks attempt to completely eradicate the Turkish Armenian community. A half a century later Turkey forced the removal of over 200,000 Greek Cypriots from their homes in northern Cyprus as Turkey set up a Turkish proxy state which is recognized by no country in the world other than Turkey.
Today, we want to briefly discuss what Turkey has done to the Kurds and discuss Turkey’s abysmal human rights record.
Turkey’s ongoing 80 year war against its Kurdish population (which with 14 million people constitute 20% of the entire Turkish population) has been a war to completely eliminate the Kurds as an ethnic minority.
Beginning in the 1930s, Turkey began a process of “Turkification” which involved massacring whole Kurdish villages (in ways remarkably similar to what had been done to the Armenians). Since then, any Kurdish people openly declaring themselves ‘Kurdish’ have been brutally repressed, removed from their villages, tortured, jailed or killed.
It has been estimated that the Turkish army has been responsible for burning almost 3,000 Kurdish settlements and displacing two million Kurds from their homes in the southeastern part of Turkey to other parts of Turkey. The Kurdish language has been outlawed; the words ‘Kurd’ and ‘Kurdistan’ have been expunged from Turkish dictionaries and histories. Today, the Turkish government refers to Kurds as ‘mountain Turks.”
The result has been that the Kurds have fought back against Turkey in repeated rebellions–the most recent being the one started by the PKK (Kurdistan Workers Party) in 1984. There has been considerable evidence that the Turkish Army has been using chemical weapons in its fight against the PKK–and now the U.S. has apparently and regrettably agreed to sell Turkey drone aircraft to attack PKK bases across the Turkish border in Iraq.
A recent blueprint for peace published by the Kurds focuses on maintaining Kurdish identity: “All identities, cultures, languages and religions must be protected by the constitution. As a basic principle there must be a constitutional nationality that is not founded on ethnicity.”
The struggle of the Kurds is a struggle for basic human rights–rights denied them to this day by an Erdogan government determined to eradicate the “Kurds” as an ethnic minority.
Finally, we will conclude our expose of Turkish human rights abuses by taking a quick look at what various organizations have said about Turkey in the last year.
In its annual report, the main judicial body ruling on human rights violations in Europe, the European Court of Human Rights, has found that “Turkey is by far the worst violator of human rights among the 47 signatory states of the European Convention on Human Rights” (http://ecohr.wordpress.com/2011/01/11/human-rights-violations-in-turkey/).
Amnesty International has this to say: “Allegations of torture and other ill-treatment [persist], especially outside places of detention, including during demonstrations, but also in police custody and during transfer to prison. In November, the UN Committee against Torture issued a series of recommendations to the authorities to combat “numerous, ongoing and consistent allegations of torture” for which the Committee expressed grave concern during their review of Turkey” (http://www.amnesty.org/en/region/turkey/report-2011).
The U.S. State Department is even more comprehensive in its annual evaluation: “There were reports of a number of human rights problems and abuses in the country. Security forces committed unlawful killings; the number of arrests and prosecutions in these cases was low compared to the number of incidents, and convictions remained rare. During the year human rights organizations reported cases of torture, beatings, and abuse by security forces. . . The government limited freedom of expression through the use of constitutional restrictions and numerous laws. Press freedom declined during the year. There were limitations on Internet freedom. Courts and an independent board ordered telecommunications providers to block access to Web sites on numerous occasions. Violence against women, including honor killings and rape, remained a widespread problem. Child marriage persisted, despite laws prohibiting it (http://www.state.gov/g/drl/rls/hrrpt/2010/eur/154455.htm).
In sum, the ‘human rights’ picture in Turkey is atrocious, and Turkey’s history of genocide and ethnic cleansing is fully documented for the world to see. As you know, PM Erdogan recently toured Egypt, Libya, and Tunisia, excoriating Israel at every stop and championing the rights of the Palestinians and other so-called ‘oppressed’ people everywhere–everywhere that it is, except in Turkey. As one journalist has written: “It’s time Erdogan stopped playing Palestinian saviour and put Turkey’s problems first.”