Cablegate: Southeastern Turkey Hopeful For

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

(U) This cable is sensitive but unclassified;
please protect accordingly.

1. (SBU) Summary: A cross-section of GOT
officials, NGOs, and businessmen in Turkey's
Southeast reveals little, if any, change in
economic or social conditions. Lower-level GOT
officials, unaccustomed to and uncomfortable
with meeting foreign diplomats, paint an
unrealistic picture, touting the Southeast as a
model for other developing countries. Many of
these officials assert that economic conditions
are improving and were not affected by the
recent war in Iraq and that human rights
violations rarely occur. However, according to
our NGO contacts, the economic situation
remains stagnant and social conditions have not
changed since the third EU reform package was
passed in August 2002. Kurdish contacts
anticipate a resolution of Kurdish-Turkish
tensions. However, they associate this
resolution with increased US participation and
continue to think that the rise in awareness of
the Kurdish problem in the international arena
is a major step in compelling Ankara to begin
serious efforts to mend ties with citizens of
Kurdish origin. End summary.

--------------------------------------------- ----
Mid-Level Civil Servants Report An Easy Life,
Fear of Superiors, and a Party Line .
--------------------------------------------- ----

2. (SBU) Poloff met with a wide variety of
provincial education and health directors, sub-
governors, and local NGOs and prominent
citizens in Gaziantep, Sanliurfa, Hilvan, and
Diyarbakir between May 13-16. While most of
our scheduled appointments were eager to meet
with us, some provincial education and health
directors did not appear or sent their deputies
to meet with us. As it was explained, either
the directors were "in another meeting" or they
did not have the permission of their superiors
to meet with us. Often, the deputies were
enthusiastic to discuss their roles,
workplaces, and issues relating to working in
the Southeast. Aside from these contacts, many
of those who did meet with us gave an
identical, too rosy picture of conditions in
the Southeast: in the health system, almost
every child is immunized, birth control and
population control is taught, there are no
language or communication barriers, and there
is adequate health care in each village; in the
education system, all children are provided
schooling and high school attendance is on the
rise, there are no language or communication
barriers, and technology is the only thing
lacking in their schools.

--------------------------------------------- ----
... But Lower Level Contacts Bemoan Bureaucratic
--------------------------------------------- ----

3. (SBU) In contrast, the deputies assigned to
speak with us often portrayed a different
picture. In Diyarbakir's Social Security
Hospital, the hospital director spoke of
bureaucratic nightmares in which he had been
corresponding with his central ministry in
Ankara in order to fix a broken piece of
equipment for three months and still had yet to
receive the funding to repair it. According to
procedures, all appointments must be made
through an appointment system; however, many
women speak only Kurdish and are unable to
obtain an appointment on their own. Often,
these women must rely on a male family member
to translate and choose not to receive medical
care if the condition is of a private nature.
The central headquarters also seems to place a
higher emphasis on new buildings, rather than
staff; Sanliurfa's State Hospital is expected
to move into a new 500-bed hospital in August
2003 but, according to its deputy chief doctor,
"while it will be nice to have a new facility,
it is even more important to have a full
staff." Nurses are in high demand and the
shortage is so great that ten nurses (of the
100 employed at this hospital) miscarried due
to the strenuous load of hours they worked.
Sanliurfa's deputy chief doctor summed up the
situation by stating, "the only efficient
system within the GOT is the military; if the
GOT adopted a similar system to healthcare, we
would have the capability to utilize our
resources to effectively care for our
patients." Many of our health contacts also
expressed optimistic skepticism for the
Ministry of Health's plans to refresh Turkey's
healthcare system: "we have heard it before but
will be pleased to see it happen this time."

4. (SBU) The education system also shares some
language problems but the primary issue remains
attracting girls to school and getting all
students to continue to high school. In
Hilvan, there are approximately 9700 students
attending school; of these roughly 500 attend
secondary school while 9200 attend the
compulsory primary school. The Provincial
Education director atributes this wide
discrepancy to wealthier parents sending their
children to school in Sanliurfa. (Note: Hilvan
is not known to be a wealthy province and
poloff noticed more horses and carts than cars
in the city center. End note.) Girls have
begun to enter school but some of our contacts
estimate that 70 percent of the region's female
population remains illiterate. In one of
Diyarbakir's newest high schools, the principal
spends approximately half of his time
soliciting local businesses and the Ministry of
Education for money and equipment to outfit his

Still a Man's World

5. (SBU) Almost every NGO contacted stated that
the human rights situation in Southeastern
Turkey had not changed for the better after the
EU reform package was passed in August 2002 or,
for that matter, in the last five years.
Kurdish language broadcasting, guaranteed under
the EU reform package, still has yet to be seen
in a regular, unobstructed way and activists
often cite conflicting laws within the GOT and
general GOT unwillingness as primary reasons.
Prison guards often disconnect inmates and
family members who speak in Kurdish during
visiting hours. Torture continues freely
against inmates accused of being PKK-
affiliated; although the torture inflicted is
often more mental than physical and the
physical beatings are confined to those that
will leave the least lasting physical effects.
6. (SBU) According to KA-MER, a Diyarbakir-based
woman's group, suicides amongst women and girls
are on the rise in the Southeast, especially in
Diyarbakir and Batman. KA-MER worries, that
because these deaths are rarely investigated,
many of them could be honor killings designed
to look like suicides. According to KA-MER's
founder, the lack of education combined with
economic hardships and a strict religion
propels many families to take this drastic
action against their daughters who have or have
been perceived to bring dishonor to the family.
The organization applauds the local
municipality for its help in arranging
replacement identification cards to women who
have sought KA-MER's protection. Women in
Southeastern Turkey continue to play a
traditional, uneducated role and remain tied to
the male members of the family's wishes for
food, shelter, and education.

A Renewed Kurdish Hope

7. (SBU) Kurds living in Southeastern Turkey
describe to us a cautious hope for a resolution
to what they see as heir main problems because
it appears the Kurds will play a role in the
new Iraqi government and their situation has
been propelled to the international arena.
However, our contacts frequently warn that,
without US support, a resolution will not
happen. "We support the US war in Iraq but we
also support the GOT's failure to pass the
February motion allowing US troops in Iraq
because, had the government passed the motion,
Turkish troops would have moved into Northern
Iraq and the Kurdish role would have


8. (SBU) Officials' apprehension, or failure, to
meet with us and the deliverance of the same
party line given to us by many GOT bureaucrats
portrays a strong fear of repercussion by their
superiors. It is curious to note how some of
our appointments would usher us out the door
after a few minutes of small talk in order not
to be accused of discussing something
inappropriate. In meetings with higher level
officials, including the new Diyarbakir
governor, we were given a biased, but clearer
view of the region: "there are still problems,
namely within healthcare and education, but our
situation is improving daily." Also, we heard
that many mid-level GOT bureaucrats often
choose to extend their tours in the region
because of the "easy way of life." They are
often provided added monetary incentives and
enjoy an elite standing in the province. These
officials frequently seem satisfied with the
status quo and seemed to prefer not taking the
extra steps it would require to improve much of
their territory because it could potentially
upset their way of life. End Comment.

© Scoop Media

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