Cablegate: Iraq: Turkish Official, Parliamentary and Ngo

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

071534Z May 04





E.O. 12958: N/A


1. (SBU) While Turkish officials have not complained to us
about the torture and abuse of Iraqi prisoners, the Turkish
press, Parliament and NGO community are vocally expressing
their disgust with the news. Several groups have peacefully
demonstrated in front of the US and UK Embassies in Ankara.
A Turkish NGO has called for the immediate and unconditional
withdrawal from Iraq of occupation forces. The Deputy
Chairman of the Constitutional Court has decided not to
attend this year's US Independence Day celebration (on May
26), citing "the latest disgusting developments that happened
in Iraq." One AK Party deputy has called for President Bush
and PM Blair to be tried as war criminals, and the Chairman
of the Turkish Parliamentarians' Union called the "violent
policy of the of the biggest threats facing
humanity." Despite being nearly one week old, the story has
not yet shown signs of fading here in Turkey. End Summary.

2. (SBU) In the only official conversation we have had on the
torture and abuse at Abu Ghraib, the Ambassador on May 6 told
Ali Bardakoglu, President of the Religious Affairs
Directorate, that this was a stain on our nation's honor.
Bardakoglu replied that he had been at a conference in Cairo
last week on tolerance in Islamic civilization and had wanted
to talk about tolerance, but this was difficult because of
the Iraq incidents, which he said had, along with the
situation in Iraq in general, "opened a wound" in the Arab
world, and a split with the West. FM Gul told the press May
4, "this is really very shameful. Without a doubt, this will
be difficult to forget. The good thing is that
investigations were initiated in both countries and that
those who were responsible will be punished. this is not
being hidden. That is more important. It is a blessing of
democracy and freedom that they disclose such things in their
own country. We are conveying our concerns and uneasiness at
every level about these issues."

3. (SBU) Despite Turkish officials refraining from directly
confronting us about the stories of torture and abuse by US
and UK soldiers in Iraq, the issue has dominated the Turkish
press every day since the story broke, with papers calling
the abuse "systematic," saying "there is no end to the
detestable abuses at Abu Ghraib," and that torture was
"incredible and inhuman." The May 7 edition of Milliyet
reported that the existence of more than 1000 photos of the
abuse demonstrated that US officials had ordered the
recording of the abuses. See SEPTEL for more on Turkish
press coverage. There have been several peaceful
demonstrations in front of the US and UK Embassies over the
past several days by young Turks protesting the recent
developments in Iraq.

4. (U) The Parliament's Human Rights Commission released a
statement on May 6 that said, "that we are faced once again
with such practices by those who label themselves apostles of
civilization shows us that their real intention is not to
bring freedom...The invaders who failed to prove the
existence of weapons of mass destruction...have sowed the
seeds of hatred in our region that are very hard to
forget...the perpetrators should face trial at the
International Criminal Court and the victims should be
compensated." Commission Chairman Mehmet Elkatmis called the
incidents "crimes against humanity." A separate but similar
press release was issues by another group of 196 members of
the Turkish Parliament.

5. (U) AK Party deputy Abdullah Caliskan released a written
statement May 6 asserting that "the inhumane treatment was
ordered by state officials in an organized way. Therefore,
Bush and Blair should face trial together with the 'psycho'
soldiers." Turkish Parliamentarians' Union Chairman Zeki
Celiker described the "violent policy of the United States"
as "one of the biggest threats facing humanity.

6. (U) The Association of Human Rights and Solidarity for
Oppressed Peoples, a Turkish NGO, issued a statement May 6
that received wide media coverage. The text of the statement
said that, "The torture and maltreatment applied by the US
and UK forces to Iraqi civilians and POWs has reached a
disgusting and shameful level...In the last week hundreds of
Iraqi civilians were killed in Fallujah. Witnesses stated
that the streets were full of dead bodies. Thousands of
civilians are being detained by force in order for soldiers
to collect information about the Iraqi resistance...They are
being subjected to torture. Occupation forces are violating
all universal humanitarian norms. They are committing crimes
against humanity under Article 13 of the UN Geneva
Convention...The only party responsible for the inhuman
actions taking place in Iraq is the occupation force...We
call on the UN and other international organizations to
launch an impartial investigation...We seek permission for
independent human rights experts to visit Iraq in order to
investigate the ongoing human rights violations. Finally, we
want the occupation forces to leave Iraq immediately and

7. (SBU) The Embassy was contacted May 7 by the office of the
Constitutional Court's Deputy Chairman to say he would not
attend this year's US Independence Day celebration (being
held at the end of May to avoid conflicting with the
President's visit for the NATO Istanbul Summit) because of
"the latest disgusting developments in Iraq." We anticipate
that other invitees may also decline to attend in protest.
Despite almost a week having passed since the story first
broke, the clamor over it in Turkey has not yet begun to fade.

8. (U) Baghdad minimize considered.


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