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Cablegate: Southeast Turkey Press Summary

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

UNCLAS SECTION 01 OF 05 ADANA 0035

SIPDIS


E.O. 12958: N/A
TAGS: PREL PINS PGOV PHUM IZ TU ADANA
SUBJECT: SOUTHEAST TURKEY PRESS SUMMARY
JANUARY 31, 2003


1. This is the Southeastern Turkey press summary
for January 31, 2003. Please note that Turkish
press reports often contain errors or
exaggerations; AmConsulate Adana does not vouch
for the accuracy of the reports summarized here.


POLITICS, SECURITY, HUMAN RIGHTS
--------------------------------


2. MERVAN GUL IS RESIGNING TO OPEN WAY FOR
ERDOGAN
(Milliyet) AK Party is pressing the button today
(1/31) to make it possible for its leader Recep
Tayyip Erdogan to become prime minister. Mervan
Gul, AK Party's first-listed candidate in the
March 9 Siirt elections, is submitting his
resignation to the Higher Election Council (YSK)
today, to step aside for Erdogan. Erdogan's
name, instead of Gul's, will be reported to YSK
by February 6. AK Party has decided that there
is no need for its two other Siirt candidates to
resign.


3. WAR PREPARATIONS AT INCIRLIK
(Radikal) While the U.S. is counting days prior
to a possible attack against Iraq, foodstuffs and
water are being stockpiled at the Incirlik Air
Base (Adana). U.S. officials are buying drinking
water from Pinar Group, an affiliate of the Yasar
Holding Food Group. Yasar Holding Food Group
President Ahmet Arsan pointed to increased demand
(for his water) from the Southeast and provinces
along the Iraqi border. Adana Bar Association
President Necati Erdem described the developments
regarding a possible Iraq operation as worrisome.
Hurriyet reported increased exercises at
Incirlik, where U.S. and British passenger planes
landed for military personnel transfer.
Cumhuriyet reported many planes landed at
Incirlik, while journalists were trying to film
developments there.


4. ANTI-WAR SENTIMENTS
(Bolge/Milliyet) Ali Batman, President of the
Adana chapter of the Fresh Fruit and Vegetable
Merchants Chamber, claimed war rumors have had a
negative impact on the fresh fruit and vegetable
sector, leading to the suspension of business
activities of 110 merchants over the past two
months. In a meeting at the Mersin chapter of
the Turkish Agriculturalists' Association, the
Association's National President, Ibrahim Yetkin,
said the agricultural sector would be most
affected in the event of U.S.-led war in Iraq.
Nearly 20 members of the Adana Bar Association
gathered in Adana's Ataturk Park to protest the
possible U.S.-led war in Iraq. Hurriyet reported
that fifth graders of Adana's Hurriyet Primary
School scribbled "No To War" and "Yes To Peace"
on sheets of paper and displayed them on their
classroom windows. Turkiye quoted Adana
researcher-historian Ejder Dilci as saying that
history was repeating itself regarding Iraq,
against which the U.S. is preparing to launch an
operation. According to Dilci, Germany asked
Turkey for permission to enter Iraq through
Turkey in 1941. He added that U.S. had requested
permission from the Turkish government to enter
Iraq. Evrensel reported that Mersin merchants
would wear black ribbons today (1/31) to say "No"
to war.


5. MERSIN PORT CLOSED TO FISHERMEN
(Evrensel) Fishing around the Mersin Port, which
the U.S. wants to use during a possible attack
against Iraq, has been banned since January 27.
A U.S. delegation had previously surveyed the
port. Fishermen criticized the ban, saying "we
cannot freely move about and fish in our seas."


6. INCREASED MILITARY ACTIVITIES IN CIZRE
(SIRNAK)
Hurriyet and Milliyet reported increased
activities at the Cizre (Sirnak) Tank Battalion,
following the dispatch by the Turkish General
Staff (TGS) of additional equipment and materials
to the Diyarbakir-based Second Army, which is
responsible for the Iraqi border. Some of the
Battalion's tanks are now in open fields ready
for deployment along the border. Also, military
vehicles have begun to dispatch foodstuffs from
Cizre to units along the border. Evrensel cited
Sirnak Governor Huseyin Baskaya as saying that an
exercise would soon be carried out near the
province's Habur border gate against a possible
influx of Iraqi refugees in the aftermath of a
possible U.S.-led operation against Iraq.


7. DEPLOYMENT ALONG IRAQI BORDER
(Cumhuriyet) Military units, following the
abolition of the State of Emergency (OHAL) in the
Southeast, are being re-deployed to the Iraqi
border. Military units affiliated with the Van
Public Order Command, the Kayseri Airborne
Command, the 18th Border Command, and the Third
Army have been dispatched to Sirnak through Van.
Milliyet reported that "critical" personnel who
had been transferred from the (Malatya-based)
Second Army to Western provinces might sent back
to Malatya on TDY or re-appointed to their
previous positions.


8. BODY OF BRITISH VICTIM OF PLANE CRASH
MISTAKENLY BURIED IN ISTANBUL
(Sabah) The body of U.K. citizen Christopher
Ringland, who lost his life during a plane crash
in Diyarbakir earlier this month, was reportedly
mistaken for that of businessman Nurullah Eren,
who was owner of the Eren Holding Company and the
Turkish Lacoste firm. The body had been buried
at the Karacaahmet Cemetery in Istanbul. When
officials found out about the error, Ringland's
body was taken out of the grave and sent to the
U.K.


9. TGS PREPARES ANTI-KADEK ALBUM: UNFORGOTTEN
PHOTOGRAPHS
(Dunya) Turkish General Staff (TGS) has prepared
an anti-KADEK album entitled "Separatist Terror
Organization: Unforgotten Photographs" and
distributed it to press organizations. The
albums includes photos about KADEK's murders and
destructions in Turkey, as well as its
international support.


10. ARRESTEES IN IDIL SUBJECTED TO TORTURE
(Evrensel) A delegation of human rights
advocates carried out inspections in Idil
(Sirnak), where thirty people had been arrested
following the killing of a soldier of the
district Second Infantry Border Battalion. Three
soldiers had also been wounded. After meeting
with the arrestees, the delegation said the
arrestees told them they had been subjected to
torture and maltreatment. Operations continue in
the district, while locals are concerned arrests
will increase.


11. SANLIURFA KADEK SUSPECTS RELEASED
(Evrensel) A Siverek (Sirnak) court released two
people, including a woman, who had been arrested
on charges of being KADEK members but ordered
them to appear for their upcoming trials.


12. DEHAP OFFICIALS INDICTED FOR KURDISH SONGS
(Evrensel) DEHAP, Labor Party (EMEP), and Human
Rights Association (HRA) Elazig officials have
been indicted for having remained indifferent to
Kurdish-language songs and pro-DEHAP slogans
during their November 3 election campaigns. The
officials called the indictments political, not
legal.


13. KURDISH-LANGUAGE STORE FRONT SIGNAGE
Evrensel reported that the use of Kurdish-
language store front signage by shops and places
of business in Diyarbakir was becoming
widespread.


14. PRO-OCALAN PROTESTS CONTINUE
Evrensel reported continued pro-PKK/KADEK leader
Abdullah Ocalan demonstrations protesting refusal
of permission for Ocalan to meet with his
attorneys and family members. Police intervened
to disperse a pro-Ocalan protest, which resulted
in the injury of five people, including three
police officers. In Diyarbakir, 21 people
participated in a hunger strike launched by a
group of three women, all members of the
Prisoners and Inmates Families Initiative. Also,
a group of Initiative members held a press
conference at the Seyhan (Adana) chapter of DEHAP
during which they declared that they had started
a hunger.


15. EIGHTEEN PEOPLE ORDERED HELD FOR RAPING A
GIRL
(Evrensel) Eighteen Mardin people, including
several public employees such as the Operations
Manager of the district Governor's Office and a
military captain, were ordered to remain in
custody for having raped a 12-year-old girl.
Police are searching for another ten suspects.
Human Rights Association (HRA) Mardin President
Enver Ete characterized the incident as "one of
the social problems being experienced following
clashes."


16. BOMB MAKERS RE-ARRESTED
(Turkiye) A Gaziantep court ordered the arrest
of two of the three people who had been released
after being arrested for possession of TNT and
other materials used in making bombs. The
arrestees were accused of providing support and
shelter for a convict incarcerated in the Sincan
(Ankara) Prison for bomb attacks against
Gaziantep government offices.


17. WEAPONS DEALER ARRESTED IN GAZIANTEP
(Turkiye) During a sting operation, Gaziantep
Jandarma Anti-Smuggling and Organized Crime teams
arrested 34-year-old Mahmut Yener, who wanted to
sell Jandarma eleven Afghan-made pistols at EUR
450 (approx. USD 480) each. Yener admitted
having brought the pistols in through northern
Iraq. Following interrogation, Yener was
arraigned in a local court.


18. ADANA HISTORIAN SAYS ARMENIANS CARRIED OUT
THE MASSACRE
(Turkiye) During the "Armenians and Armenian
Massacre in History" conference jointly organized
by the Adana Governor's Office, the Ceyhan
(Adana) district Governor's Office, and the Adana
National Education Directorate, researcher-
historian Cezmi Yurtsever claimed that Armenians
were trying to misrepresent the massacres they
carried out in Cukurova (Adana) and Anatolia
between 1892-1922 as if they themselves had been
subjected to those massacres. In those years,
Armenians attacked Camili village, Adana's
largest village, and tortured hundreds of people
to death.


19. "PULUMUR RESIDENTS FREEZING TO DEATH"
(Radikal/Milliyet/Evrensel) Four days have
passed since the January 27 earthquake in
Tunceli's Pulumur district, but earthquake
victims have not been provided with tents
suitable for winter conditions there. There is a
shortage of drinking water in the region.
Tunceli Governor Huseyin Baskaya said damage
assessment works have been completed in 28 of
Pulumur's 38 villages. According to a
preliminary report, 12 private and six public
buildings were strongly damaged; 46 private and
83 public buildings were moderately damaged,
while 75 private and 48 public buildings were
slightly damaged. Turkiye reported that summer
tents had been replaced with winter tents.
Officials are trying to convince earthquake
victims to settle in these tents, but earthquake
victims are reluctant to move into the tents for
fear of insufficient heating. They instead
prefer to stay with relatives and neighbors.


20. "SHOWER" OF FAX MESSAGES BY KESK TO ANKARA
(Bolge) Public employees, all members of labor
unions affiliated with the State Employees' Union
Confederation (KESK), faxed messages calling for
the payment of compulsory payroll deductions plus
interest. The faxes were sent to PM Abdullah
Gul, DPM Abdullatif Sener, and State Minister Ali
Babacan. KESK Adana Term President Ahmet Kilic
said "the payroll deductions were employees'
money, not a loan given to the State."


21. TEDAS SUBSCRIBER CONVICTED FOR ILLEGAL USE
OF ELECTRICITY
(Radikal/Evrensel) As a result of legal action
begun by the Turkish Electricity Distribution
Corporation (TEDAS) to prevent illegal use of
electricity in Diyarbakir, a TEDAS subscriber has
been convicted and sentenced to two months'
imprisonment. For the first time in the region,
a person has been convicted of illegal use of
electricity. Based on TEDAS investigations,
7,000 TEDAS subscribers across Diyarbakir over
the past two years misappropriated electricity.


22. ASSAULT AGAINST AGRICULTURAL DIRECTOR
CONDEMNED
(Bolge) Adana Agricultural Chamber President
Ayhan Barut condemned the January 26 shooting of
Adana Agricultural Director Fikret Coskun in his
office as "intimidation and oppression of public
employees." A police officer, together with his
brother, shot Coskun twice in the leg for
allegedly having sexually harassed his wife.


23. LEPROSY IN ADANA
(Bolge) A statement released by the Adana Health
Directorate said that there are a total of 62
leprosy patients in Adana. Their treatment has
been completed. No new cases have been reported
for a long time.


ECONOMIC AND AGRICULTURAL DEVELOPMENTS
--------------------------------------


24. UNEMPLOYMENT PAYMENTS
(Bolge/Evrensel) Hasim Meydan, Director of the
Employment Office in Adana, announced the payment
of a total of TL 2.2 trillion (approx. USD 1.4
million) in unemployment salaries to 3,446 of the
3,561 people applying to his office in 2002.
HOLTZ

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