Lord Hylton writes to the Foreign Secretary about Ocalan and Turkish state repression

Find below the question Lord Hylton posed to the Foreign Secretary on the continued imprisonment of Abdullah Ocalan and the latest wave of arrests in Turkey:

Here is the text of a letter I wrote to the Foreign Secretary, and a the response received from the Minister for Europe:

30th September 2011

Turkey, Iraq, Iran:  I understand that President Talabani of Iraq has suggested (probably on 26th September) to Mrs Leyla Zana, when she visited him, that Mr Abdullah Ocalan (now in solitary confinement in Turkey) be moved to house arrest.  It is possible that this suggestion has also been made to the Turkish Government (see http://www.rudaw.net/english/author/admin/).  It would be a helpful move, in vies of his popularity among the Kurds of Turkey. Continue reading

New Constitution Platform’s Özçer: We would be labeled ‘separatists’ for asking greater freedoms

Akın Özçer, former diplomat and member of the Foreign Ministry in Turkey, is part of the New Constitution Platform (YAP), which in May prepared the “Essential Report for Turkey’s New Constitution,” penned following 24 YAP meetings organized in various cities and involving close to 6,000 people. In this interview with Today’s Zaman, 30 October 2011, he discusses ETA’s decision to lay down their arms in Spain and compares developments there to the contemporary situation for the Kurds in Turkey:

A former diplomat who served in France and Madrid and has written about the Spanish system of fighting terrorism has said the situation in Turkey regarding finding a solution to the Kurdish problem has improved, but there are still more steps to be taken.

“Compared to two years ago, the situation is better because at that time when we talked about issues such as the need for Turkey to have democratic conditions allowing for the establishment of pro-separatist parties, we would be labeled ‘separatists.’ Now those are accepted more readily,” Akın Özçer said in reference to our first Monday Talk with him in September 2009.

He reiterated that Turkey needs to go on with its democratization process regardless of the terrorist methods employed by the outlawed Kurdistan Workers’ Party (PKK). Continue reading

Neo-Ottoman Erdogan and the plight of the Kurds

Andrew Penny, a London-based activist and translator who has been involved with the Kurdish human rights movement for many years, writes about Turkish Prime Minister Erdogan’s growing presence in the Middle East and the evident hypocrisy is his support for Palestinian statehood in ABC Online, 30 September 2011:

Should the Palestinians gain statehood recognition at the UN in the coming weeks, Mahmoud Abbas will not be the only Middle Eastern leader smiling about it.

The event will also mark a triumph for Turkish PM Recep Erdogan in consolidating his regional influence. Not since Suleyman the Magnificent has a Turkish leader been so willing to project power abroad.

Having timed the expulsion of the Israeli ambassador and his visit to Egypt, Tunisia and Libya to coincide with the Palestinians push for recognition, Erdogan is having great success furthering his ambition to see Turkey once again, as in Ottoman times, the most powerful state in the region. On September 13, the Turkish PM addressed the Arab League in Cairo, saying: “It’s time to raise the Palestinian flag at the UN.” While warmly received by the Egyptian people, in particular the Muslim Brotherhood which sees Mr Erdogan’s moderate Islamist AKP (Justice and Development Party) as a model, the Egyptian generals appeared to be uncomfortable at this reminder of the power of the Ottoman empire, an empire that only collapsed after WW1. Continue reading

‘Kurdish issue will be hard to agree on in new charter’

Professor of Constitutional Law, Bertil Emrah Oder, gives her views on efforts to rewrite the Turkish Constitution in an interview with Hurriyet Daily News:

16 September 2011

The lack of trust will make it hard for political parties to agree on a new constitution, says expert Professor Bertil Emrah Oder. Issues about the Kurdish problem as well as secularism will prove difficult to reach a consensus, she adds, voicing her concern that Turkey might end up with a ‘majoritarian’ constitution rather one built on pluralism.
The  constitutional works in the Parliament should be transparent, Professor  Bertil Emrah Oder (L) told the Daily News ahead of their visit to Ankara  where she will attend the meeting of Parliament’s president with experts. Continue reading