Cablegate: Ohal Mentality, If Not Name, Persists In

This record is a partial extract of the original cable. The full text of the original cable is not available.




E.O. 12958: N/A

REF: (A) ANKARA 8447; (B) ANKARA 6116

1. (SBU) SUMMARY: Although the GOT lifted the State of
Emergency in the Southeast (OHAL) November 30, vestiges
of OHAL rule and a siege mentality among security
personnel persist. Kurds in the region continue to wait
for implementation of promised cultural freedoms,
including the right to teach the Kurdish language and
broadcast in Kurdish. This "wait-and-see" mentality
cannot be maintained indefinitely, and as time passes,
disappointment, and belief that meaningful reform will
not occur, grow. END SUMMARY.


2. (SBU) For years, four security checkpoints guarded the
road from Bingol to Diyarbakir. According to Bingol
Mayor Feyzullah Karaaslan, people still are routinely
stopped, questioned about travel, and asked to produce
identification. Karaaslan said he continues to be
subjected to significant unnecessary delays on this
route, which persist long after the ending of OHAL in
Bingol in 1997. Passenger vehicles, trucks, tractors,
and buses are all regularly stopped. In the case of
trucks, identification and cargo manifest must be
presented. For buses, typically the driver must present
his identification and license.

3. (SBU) Poloff was stopped for 20 minutes at one
checkpoint on the Bingol-Diyarbakir road, and questioned
about purpose of travel, parents' names, previous
travel, length of time in Turkey, and point of arrival
in Turkey. When asked why traffic jandarma had such
questions, they replied "for the safety of the people of
Diyarbakir. How do we know you are who you say you
are?" This, of course, despite the fact they were
holding a diplomatic ID issued by the MFA and could see
the vehicle's diplomatic plates. At all checkpoints in
the three-hour drive, identification must be presented
and destination given.


4. (SBU) The State of Emergency lives on, both mentally and
bureaucratically, and there have been press reports
alleging the GOT plans to create a "Coordinating
Governorate" for the Southeast(see reftel A). Whether
true or not, such reports raise doubts about the GOT's
future plans for the region. Gov. Aydiner's OHAL
administration continues to exist in Diyarbakir, though
local political contacts indicated Aydiner has been
given approximately two months to close down and account
for all funding.

5. (SBU) Provincial governors with whom Poloff met in
Bingol, Elazig, and Malatya all said they are confident
that security in the region can be maintained post OHAL.
Bingol Deputy Governor Ibrahim Suha Karaboran said all

concerns which OHAL oversaw could now competently be
handled on the provincial level. Tunceli Governor
Mustafa Erkal concurred, saying that security issues had
taken a back seat to development and employment
concerns, and did not require super-provincial
authority. (NOTE: Provincial governors have long found
their authority circumscribed by the OHAL
administration, and have an interest in defending their
security-based prerogatives.)

6. (SBU) A raft of cultural-freedom laws was passed as part
of the August EU-harmonization package (reftel B).
However, implementation, both in the form of regulation
and mentality, has yet to occur. No Kurdish-language
television broadcasts, radio programs, or courses are
yet in place. Moreover, Kurds continue to chafe under
Birth Registry Law number 1587, which outlaws "names
which do not fit Turkey's national culture, moral rules,
customs or traditions, or which harm the general
public." This law is often used to ban traditional
Kurdish names; the most recent case in which a parent
was charged with violation of this law was on November
26. In March, 25 Batman city council members were
acquitted on charges of separatist propaganda for
renaming local streets using Kurdish names.


7. (SBU) With or without OHAL, a restrictive mentality
persists among government and security officials in the
Southeast. Promised reforms and expanded freedoms are
still pending. Kurds' expectations have been raised by
small liberalizing measures (like the increased
availability of Kurdish music on cassette and compact
disc), but could be easily dashed if promised reforms
are not followed through. End comment.

© Scoop Media

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