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Cablegate: Se Turkey Greets Charge with a Mixed Review On Reforms

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

UNCLAS SECTION 01 OF 02 ADANA 000103

SIPDIS

SENSITIVE

E.O. 12958: N/A
TAGS: PHUM PREL TU PTER ADANA
SUBJECT: SE TURKEY GREETS CHARGE WITH A MIXED REVIEW ON REFORMS

1. (U) Charge visited Adana and Gaziantep July 29-30 to hear
from members of the business and non-governmental community
about developments in the region. Their views varied widely
from cautious optimism about democratic reforms to despair at
the maintenance of the status quo.

Wrongful imprisonment results in compensation...
--------------------------------------------- --

2. (SBU) At a private dinner with human rights activists, an
Adana-based lawyer shared a story that illustrated the "two
steps forward, one step back" view that most interlocutors
seemed to share. (Note: Presidents of both the Human Rights
Association and the Human Rights Foundation of Adana declined on
principle to hold any representational events with the Consulate
during Charge's visit, citing Abu Gharib and America's
"complicity in inciting violence" in the Middle East. End
note.) She reported that one of her clients had been jailed
for close to ten years on charges of supporting terrorists
before he was eventually acquitted and released. She applied
for compensation for his wrongful imprisonment and he was
awarded some 40 billion Turkish lira (about USD27,000).

...But the law does not always prevail
--------------------------------------

3. (SBU) She said that although she had requested more than
five times that amount for her client, the award of any
compensation is positive news. On the other hand, according to
our contact, the law clearly states that lawyers representing
such clients are to receive a payment of ten percent of the
award (on top of the award). When she approached the judge to
discuss the procedure for her payment, he told her that he had
decided the extra ten percent would not be paid since private
lawyers, in his view, did not need to receive such high fees,
and that the law (which she physically placed before him) would
not impact his decision.

4. (SBU) One Adana NGO leader insisted that despite recent
amendments to the laws, nothing had changed in the daily life of
Turkey's Kurdish population and moreover, he charged that
security forces were reacting to violence disproportionately.
In Mus, for example, he alleged that security forces tortured
HPG (People's Defense Force) terror group members captured in
June, and mutilated the corpse of another alleged terrorist,
cutting off his ears after his death. This individual himself
had been the target of numerous indictments and expressed his
anger and despair, with not a word of praise for the EU
harmonization process. His voice was unique among interlocutors
in its bitterness. Most of the others acknowledged a mixed, but
generally more positive, atmosphere of gradual progress that had
been created by recent reforms. He also alleged that police,
who now were being more closely scrutinized on pre-trial
detention conduct and lawyer access, were resorting to beatings
and pressure on citizens without arrests, or conducting
"extra-judicial killings." He cited the police's killing of an
alleged PKK assailant in Adana on May 28 as an example. TNP in
that case claim the terrorist was armed and about to shoot when
they fired on him. He died of these wounds in the hospital,
later on May 29.

5. (SBU) Most human rights activists joined the Adana NGO
activists in asserting that there would be political instability
in south-east Turkey "until the Kurdish question was dealt
with." They expressed skepticism that the AK Party attached a
high priority to addressing their regional agenda, as well.
Some agreed with the notion that Kurdish issues were part of a
broader group of democratization issues which EU accession was
putting on Turkey's national agenda, such as religious freedom
for non-Muslims (Christians, Alevis) and women's rights. Others
asserted that Turkey's major political focus in the run-up to EU
accession decisions in December was "solving the Kurdish
question."

AK Women: Our rights are supported
-----------------------------------

6. (SBU) In a separate meeting, a diverse group of Gaziantep
AKP Women's Branch activists greeted the Charge with enthusiasm
and positive news about the role of women in their party.
Interlocutors included young and middle-aged, veiled and
unveiled women, and most were involved in positions of
responsibility ranging from Social Welfare director to Legal
Affairs advisor. "Europeans perceive women in the southeast of
Turkey to be treated poorly," said one, "but in our homes and
party, women's rights are supported."

7. (SBU) When queried about the weak number of women candidates
in March local elections, they claimed that it was not party
policy to keep women out. Relations among genders within the
party "are like men in cars who like to cut women off - normal
competition," said one. They claimed that most women didn't
have enough experience, and didn't want more responsibility
anyway. They pointed out that women in Gaziantep have been very
successful in business, even if they had yet to take off in
politics (they also highlighted that Gaziantep's AKP
parliamentarian Fatma Sahin was a positive and encouraging
example for women.)

8. (SBU) Despite claiming to have insufficient experience, the
women shared that they played an "important" role in the local
election campaign. Most went door-to-door, handed out pamphlets
and got to places that "men couldn't go," they said. One had
been in politics for twelve years, but insisted she didn't want
to become a candidate (Note: This same activist refrained from
shaking Charge's hand upon his departure. End note.) The
meeting had gone on some 30 minutes when the party's local
Deputy Director (a man) invited himself in and proceeded to
dominate the meeting, querying the Charge on U.S. policy in
Iraq. One of the younger women seemed almost embarrassed by his
performance; others appeared unphased. Whether it was his rank
in the party or his gender, his presence changed the tenor of
the discussion which he then unabashedly dominated.

9. (SBU) Comment: Charge's series of meetings in Adana and
Gaziantep, which also included outreach to journalists and
entrepreneurs, provided Consulate Adana's contacts what appeared
to be much appreciated access to a senior Embassy official.
Participants seemingly relished the opportunity to tell their
stories to a visitor from Ankara. The sum total of the tales
recounted provided some room for encouragement about
democratization and the human rights situation in the south of
Turkey, but highlighted the considerable room for improvement
that still exits.


REID

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