Cablegate: Government Passes Compensation Law for Evacuated Villagers;

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

1. (SBU) Summary: Turkey's new law on compensation for
citizens who have incurred damages due to terrorism and the
fight against terrorism since 1987 calls for formation of
province-level commissions to determine compensation.
Implementing regulations for the law have not been announced,
nor have any provincial commissions yet been formed. However,
claimants are already flocking to human rights organizations
with outlines of their claims. Information about how the
government will fund implementation of this law, and, indeed,
about what its total cost might be, is not readily available.
Given these large question marks hanging over implementation,
the law's eventual impact on village returns is hard to foresee.
However, the law's language reflecting partial acceptance of
State responsibility for the village evacuations of the 1990s is
a welcome development to some human rights activists in the
southeast. End Summary.

2. (U) Human rights contacts in Turkey's southeast have been
following with great interest developments related to Law 5233
on the Compensation of Losses Stemming from Terror and the Fight
Against Terror, passed on July 27, 2004. This law addresses the
conditions under which citizens who incurred damages due to
terrorism and the fight against terrorism will be compensated by
the state. Early drafts of this law specified that it would
cover losses incurred during the period July 19, 1987 through
November 30, 2002 (i.e. during the state of emergency in the
southeast). In its final version, however, the law is
open-ended. It states that claimants for losses incurred since
July 19, 1987 must apply within one year of the law's passage,
and that those who incur losses from terrorism and
anti-terrorism efforts from this day forward must apply for
compensation within sixty days of the loss.

3. (U) The law calls for the formation of province-level
commissions to evaluate claims and determine the level of
compensation to be offered. Each commission will be chaired by
a Deputy Governor and will comprise representatives from the
Finance, Public Works and Resettlement, Agriculture and Village
Affairs, Health, Industry and Trade Ministries. Damages
previously compensated through court cases, insurance, or other
sources will not be considered under this law. In addition,
losses stemming from voluntary migration for other than
security-related reasons will not be considered. The law
specifies a formula for calculating compensation of injury,
disability and death. (Note: Lawyers in two different cities
offered the same estimate of the payment for the death of a
family member, for example: 12.5 billion TL per person killed,
or approximately USD 8400. Post cannot confirm this
calculation. End note.) As for property losses, the law refers
to value estimation principles outlined in the Nationalization
Law 2942.

Diyarbakir Bar Input on Drafting

4. (SBU) Diyarbakir Bar Association representatives told poloff
they had been able to give input as this law was being drafted,
and they pointed to two specific improvements that resulted from
their intervention. The Bar suggested to drafters that they use
language referring to compensation for any result of terrorism,
not just to damage resulting from terrorists. The law's
resulting reference to damage from anti-terrorism measures, they
claim, implies some degree of responsibility-taking by the state
for the social upheaval in the region during the 1990s. (Note:
In the past, activists claim, in order to get any kind of
similar compensation when filing with the courts or provincial
government, petitioners had to attest that their losses were due
to PKK terrorist actions. End note.) In addition, initial
drafts of the law said that those who had left their villages
out of "negligence" would not be able to apply; thanks to Bar
efforts, they say, the final version stated instead that those
who "voluntarily left for reasons other than security" would not
be compensated.

5. (SBU) Bar members in Diyarbakir who have kept the issue of
returns high on their agenda, and who advocated successfully
that a recent visit by EU Commissioner Verheugen include a visit
to an evacuated village, see this law as a potentially important
development. They told poloff they thought a Bar representative
would be appointed to participate on each provincial commission.
In late August, Diyarbakir contacts told poloff that
implementing regulations were expected o/a September 15. On
October 4, however, they stated that the regulations had not yet
been developed, nor had any provincial commissions as specified
in the law been formed.

"Most Important Damage Won't Be Compensated"

6. (SBU) A number of rights activists in the region agreed that
the law's wording implied the state was taking some degree of
responsibility for damages during the 1990s, but they were quick
to point out the law's weaknesses, as well. The Bingol HRA
leader reported that he had lobbied for changes to the draft
law, but that his suggestions were not considered. He said that
material damage was the focus of the law, but that psychological
damage was more important and more urgently required attention
in Bingol, where the evacuations of the previous decade had
affected 211 settlements with 2,920 families for a total of
17,113 residents. He had suggested the law offer a variety of
psycho-social services to those who had suffered damages.
Moreover, he added, there were 15 years of lost income to take
into account when talking compensation. In addition to the
houses these people lost, he argued, entire village
infrastructures were lost, including schools, mosques,
infirmaries, livestock pens, silos and sheds. Some people can
go back to harvest now, he said, but there is no way to live in
some of those places. "They should have consulted with us
more," he said, "We could have contributed to people seeing
return as a more attractive option." He argued that the
government should be offering to build new structures to
encourage return instead of paying out compensation.

They Want to Tell Their Stories

7. (SBU) After the law's passage, and in the absence of
implementing regulations and a clear application process, many
would-be applicants are working through the non-governmental
Human Rights Association (HRA), and in some cases, local Bar
Associations, as they prepare their claims for eventual
submissions the Commissions. As of early September, HRA-Siirt
had received applications from residents of 50 villages, and
HRA-Mardin says it has received some 1500 requests for
assistance in preparing claims. The HRA has prepared a
questionnaire that branches are administering to all those who
approach the organization for assistance in applying for
compensation. An HRA-Mardin branch representative said the
organization hopes the surveys will be able to reach close to 80
percent of all those who had been evacuated from their villages,
and collect more comprehensive information than ever before
about the experiences of families who fled from the violence.
"They don't just want money," said one human rights activist,
"They want to tell their story." So far, said our Mardin
contact, only about 5 percent of those filling out the survey
indicated that the PKK was responsible for their dislocation;
the rest, he said, were evacuated by the government.

But where will the money come from?

8. (U) One thing that may be slowing down the implementation of
this law is the fact that no one can explain exactly where the
money will come from to fund it. One Diyarbakir contact said
that his impression is that the government is hoping to mostly
provide in-kind compensation, such as materials for housing, but
that past EU and World Bank projects offering iron, cement and
sand as incentives to return were not found to be attractive.
Some lawyers speculate that ultimately funding of the law's
implementation will have to come from major external
contributions, perhaps from the European Union.

9. (SBU) Comment: One human rights activist in Diyarbakir
asserts that at least 75 percent of the estimated 3688 villages
evacuated during the violence of the 1990s are still empty. The
Compensation Law is not likely to lead to a rush back to
villages any time soon, especially given the renewed violence in
the region between security forces and PKK terrorists.
Nevertheless, contacts in the southeast have been talking about
this legislation for two months, and are waiting to see if
something will come of it. Some see it as significant simply
because the government, in the way the law is written, seems to
be acknowledging some degree of responsibility for the
evacuations of the 1990s. Others see value in the fact that
these internally displaced persons will be able to "tell their
stories" through the claims process, thus painting a more clear,
collective picture of what happened in the region during those
turbulent times. In the absence of funding and implementing
regulations, however, the law's potential impact is difficult to
envision. EU interest in the issue of village returns may
eventually provide an impetus for the government to get down to
the details on implementation of this law. End comment.


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