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Cablegate: Ankara Nomination: 2008 Secretary's Award For

VZCZCXRO7460
RR RUEHDA
DE RUEHAK #2475 2780624
ZNR UUUUU ZZH
R 050624Z OCT 07
FM AMEMBASSY ANKARA
TO RUEHC/SECSTATE WASHDC//G/IWI/0961// 3935
INFO RUEHIT/AMCONSUL ISTANBUL 3373
RUEHDA/AMCONSUL ADANA 2353

UNCLAS ANKARA 002475

SIPDIS

SECSTATE FOR G/IWI AND EUR
SIPDIS

E.O. 12958: N/A
TAGS: KWMN PHUM PREL KPAO TU
SUBJECT: ANKARA NOMINATION: 2008 SECRETARY'S AWARD FOR
INTERNATIONAL WOMEN OF COURAGE (U)

REF: A. STATE 037570
B. STATE 23653
C. STATE 12871
D. STATE 126072

1. (U) Personal Information:
Full legal name of nominee - Rojbin Tugan
Job title/Association - Lawyer
Date of Birth - May 30, 1971
Country of Birth - Turkey
Citizenship - Turkish Republic
Address - Bulak Mahallesi, Cumhuriyet Cad., Tugan Apt. 3rd Floor,
Hakkari Telephone - +90 (0438) 211-6963
Email - rtugan@yahoo.com and rtugan@hotmail.com,
Passport number - TRK615258

1. (U) Justification for Nomination:
Rojbin Tugan has been an articulate and resourceful advocate for
human rights and rule of law in Turkey for over a dozen years. In
1996, she became the first-ever female lawyer in Hakkari province, a
remote mountainous area bordering Iraq and Iran that has suffered
from extreme poverty and PKK violence. Ms Tugan has dedicated her
career to the principle that government has a duty to ensure the
security of its citizens and should be held accountable for doing
so.

Thousands of Turkish villagers in Hakkari and adjacent areas of
Turkey were forced to evacuate their homes during periods of fierce
fighting in the 1990s as Turkish security forces combated terrorists
of the Kurdistan Workers' Party (PKK), a group whose violence has
claimed over 30,000 lives and put it on the US and EU list of
terrorist organizations. Ms Tugan is a staunch advocate for the
rights of these villagers. She has represented people who served as
pro-government village guards and those accused of PKK sympathies
who seek to return to their native villages or otherwise restart
their lives. In 2002, Ms Tugan represented a villager whose home
and possessions were completely destroyed by the Turkish military
during the evacuation. Despite numerous threats to herself and her
client, she persisted with the case and won compensation - the first
time a victim of such an incident had successfully sued the
government. This landmark case has been affirmed by the Turkish
Supreme Court and has become a precedent for scores of similar
cases. Recognizing her leadership on the evacuation issue, the
Hakkari provincial governor appointed Ms Tugan to a government panel
dealing with the thorny question of compensation for displaced
villagers.

In the same way that she expanded the opportunities for legal
redress for displaced villagers, Ms Tugan is also working to address
the problem of PKK and government-planted landmines that kill or
maim hundreds each year. In 2004, she established the Hakkari
Anti-Landmine Awareness Campaign, which has educated local citizens
about the dangers of landmines and led to a significant reduction in
landmine incidents in the Hakkari area. The campaign organization
also arranges for medical care, psychological counseling and
prosthetics for landmine victims. Through direct lobbying and legal
action in the courts, Ms Tugan is seeking compensation for mine
victims and the initiation of a region-wide program in the schools
to educate children in southeast Turkey about this continuing
problem.

Some Turkish authorities have been hostile to Ms Tugan's activism on
these sensitive subjects. She has been detained several times by
local security officials and on one occasion was rescued from harm
by a local public prosecutor, who was subsequently dismissed.
Credible sources report that Ms Tugan appears on hit lists of
several ultra-national organizations. Ms Tugan accepts these risks
stoically. In one interview she said, "while defending the rule of
law I am vulnerable to unlawfulness."

Ms Tugan's commitment to Turkey's most vulnerable citizens and the
rule of law is making a difference in the lives of Turkish citizens
and toward strengthening Turkish democracy. She is an inspiration
to all people who are struggling to expand freedom in Turkey and
throughout the world.

2. (U) Notification of Nomination: "Woman of Courage" nominee,
Rojbin Tugan, was notified on 24 September, 2007, and agreed to be
nominated.

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