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Cablegate: Honor Killings Migrate to the City

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DE RUEHIT #0452/01 2341435
ZNR UUUUU ZZH
P 211435Z AUG 08
FM AMCONSUL ISTANBUL
TO RUEHZL/EUROPEAN POLITICAL COLLECTIVE PRIORITY
RUEHC/SECSTATE WASHDC PRIORITY 8403
INFO RUEHAK/AMEMBASSY ANKARA PRIORITY 7874
RUEHDA/AMCONSUL ADANA PRIORITY 2373
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UNCLAS SECTION 01 OF 02 ISTANBUL 000452

SIPDIS

E.O. 12958: N/A
TAGS: PHUM PREL OSCE TU AA
SUBJECT: HONOR KILLINGS MIGRATE TO THE CITY

REF: A. 06 ADANA 216
B. 06 ANKARA 5606

ISTANBUL 00000452 001.2 OF 002


1. Summary and comment. A recently-released GOT report
suggests the traditionally rural practice of honor killings
has spread to Western Turkish cities such as Istanbul. The
report concludes honor killings increased from 150 in 2002
to 231 in 2007, with 1000 honor killings between 2003 and
2007. More honor killings occurred in Istanbul than any
other province. While the victims of honor killings are
mostly young women, human rights experts believe the recent
alleged honor killing of a gay male is a sign of a disturbing
new trend. The migration of the barbaric practice puts
pressure on the government to step up efforts to address
the problem through education and increased attention. The
report, issued by The Prime Ministry Human Rights Presidency,
should help to publicize the problem and its changing
demographics. End Summary and comment.

Honor Killing Practice Spreading Geographically
--------------------------------------------- ---------


2. The Prime Ministry Human Rights Presidency's July 2008
report on honor killings and domestic violence shows honor
killings increased from 150 in 2002 to 231 in 2007, with
1,000 honor and "moral" killings in the last five years
(January 2003 - December 2007). A total of 294 honor
killings took place in Istanbul's Marmara region, while
Central Anatolia reported 219 and the Aegean region 217.
Of the 294 reported honor killings in the Marmara region,
106 women were murdered for forbidden relationships, 72 for
having been sexually harassed, and 18 for being raped.

3. More honor killings are now committed in Istanbul than
any other province, according to the report, rising from
27 reported murders in 2006 to 53 in 2007 - equivalent to
a killing each week. Most of the perpetrators migrated to
the Marmara Region from eastern and southeastern Anatolia.
Ayse Sucu, President of Diyanet Foundation's Women's
Auxiliary Board, attributed the trend to rapid urbanization
in the last 10-15 years. She blamed traditional conservative
attitudes for the high incidence of honor killings, adding
that migrants carry the custom with them as they move to big
cities and abroad. By failing to integrate newcomers into
city life and society, urbanization allows such practices to
continue, Sucu said. Lawyer Fatma Benli of the women's
rights organization Akder, told us that while the number of
honor killings is high in Istanbul due to immigration of
economic migrants from Anatolia, the numbers in southeast
Anatolia are significantly underreported. She attributes
this in part to a 2004 Penal Code amendment that allows
prosecutors to charge all family members who participate
in planning an honor killing, rather than just the
actual perpetrator, in an effort to end-run the trend of
having minors carry out the murder for their families to
escape harsher sentencing. Under the new rules, families
are less likely to announce honor killings. Benli said
one way families circumvent the law is to force the relative
to commit suicide, a theory supported by the report's fining
that between 2005 and 2006, 1,985 women committed suicide.
Benli says that families unwilling to risk punishment for
honor killings will lock a young woman in a shed with
a rope, urging her to commit suicide or starve to death.

A New Trend in Honor Killing?
---------------------------------------

4. While the victims of honor killings are primarily young
women, several contacts told us the recent killing of a gay man
may signal a dangerous new trend. Twenty-six year old
Ahmet Yildiz, who represented Turkey at an international gay
gathering in San Francisco last year, was shot leaving a
cafQ in Istanbul on July 15. Fatally wounded, Yildiz crashed
while trying to flee attackers. International Relations
representative for the gay rights group Lambda Istanbul, Oner
Ceylan, believes Yildiz was the victim of a struggle between
growing civil liberties and old mentalities, resulting in
what Ceylan suspects was murder by Yildiz's traditional
family from Eastern Turkey. Yildiz was open about his
homosexuality with his family, who disapproved of his behavior.
According to Ceylan, the body remained unclaimed in the
morgue until media pressure forced Yildiz's uncle to collect
it on the sixth day. After honor-related murders, it is
common for families to refuse to bury the victim. Yildiz's
friends do not know the details of his burial, or whether

ISTANBUL 00000452 002.2 OF 002


a burial did indeed take place. Beyond collecting statements
from acquaintances, Ceylan contends the police are not
investigating the matter.

5. This is not the first reported honor killing due to
sexual orientation, Ceylan noted. In 2004 a man allegedly
hired an assassin to murder his brother for tainting the
family honor by his homosexuality in the South Central Anatolian
city of Kahramanmaras. Both the brother and assassin were
arrested and the case remains in court.
OUDKIRK

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