Cablegate: Views From Izmir On Iraq, Eu Membership, Human

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: Izmir business and religious leaders, NGOs
and a journalist shared their views on human rights, Iraq,
Turkey's EU membership and religious issues November 12 with
Izmir liaison officer. The Izmir branches of the Human
Rights Foundation and the Bar Association, both involved with
legal access and medical aspects of torture, noted their
displeasure with U.S. policy in Iraq. The muftu's office
stressed increasing religiosity in Izmir, including
applicants for the hajj and in Koranic classes. EGIAD, the
Young Businessmen's Association, was focussed on EU
membership and eager to establish contacts with U.S.
businessmen associations and participate in U.S. trade
missions and fairs. Former MP and Hurriyet Aegean rep
Tartan was confident of the role model Izmir could serve as
an EU city. End summary.

2. (SBU) Izmir Deputy Muftu Cemil Karaguz discussed the
responsibilities of the muftu,s office, including overseeing
200 mosques in the Izmir region, and administration of
Koranic courses, both short and long term, which attract many
youth as well as women. He claimed that religiosity in
Izmir has increased in recent years, and that the number of
applicants for the hajj in Izmir doubled from 3,000 to 6,000
for 2005 -- with half of the applicants women. In the final
days before Ramazan Bayram, the muftu's office was busy
answering inquiries from residents regarding the amount of
zekah (tithe in income to the poor, one of the requirements
of Islam) to be distributed. The assistant to the muftu
noted that the imams deal with current concerns such as the
growth of pickpocketing by reinforcing moral values in their
weekly khutbas (sermons). (Comment: Although the muftu
office's views on the growth of religiosity may be
overstated, the influx of residents to the Izmir region from
the southeast may be changing the traditionally more secular
character of the population. End comment.)

3. (SBU) Lawyers at the Izmir Bar Association, a 4800-member
organization that concentrates on human rights and the
prevention of torture, discussed their goals to ensure that
all detainees are guaranteed access to a lawyer following
arrest, and that detainees who claim they were tortured are
examined by qualified medical doctors. They were eager to
re-establish contact with USG representatives, but underlined
their concern about U.S. policy in Iraq.

4. (SBU) Sharing the Bar Association,s concern about U.S.
Iraq policy and human rights was the Izmir branch of the
Human Rights Foundation of Turkey, an NGO that provides
physical and psychological treatment and rehabilitation
services to those subject to torture. Dr. Veli Lok heads a
group of four reputable medical doctors at the Izmir branch,
who offer their services on a volunteer basis and approach
the problem clinically. Sharing statistics on examinees in
Izmir in 2004, he noted that of the 122 cases to date, 27
were women, 40 were victims of torture, over 99 per cent of
the examinees originated from the southeast and 90-95 per
cent were of Kurdish origin. At the conclusion of the
meeting, Dr. Lok criticized U.S. policy in Iraq, commenting
that U.S. concern about victims of torture in Turkey is
matched by Turkish concern about Iraqi victims of torture by
U.S. soldiers in Iraq. Liaison officer stressed to both
Associations the U.S. commitment to human rights, and noted
that these incidents are being dealt with legally.

5. (SBU) Directors of EGIAD, the Aegean Young Businessmen,s
Association, told liaison officer that their members had
overcome initial concerns about EU membership and were now
looking forward to the benefits EU accession would bring to
commerce in Izmir. EGIAD is an extremely active association
and holds monthly meetings with speakers for all members as
well as periodic smaller work groups on EU and foreign
relations, IT, legal, press, and cultural issues. They were
eager to reinvigorate contacts with American young
businessmen's associations and to participate in trade
missions, trade fairs and matchmaker programs in the U.S.

6. (SBU) Hakan Tartan, former DSP MP and Minister of Labor,
who ran as a candidate of Ismail Cem's New Turkey Party in
2002, is now Hurriyet's Aegean representative. Tartan, a
native of Izmir, was enthusiastic about Izmir's advantages in
the cultural and commercial areas -- and further promoted
this role of Izmir as a model city for Turkey's EU membership
in his Hurriyet column November 13.

7. (SBU) Comment: In general, the interlocutors expressed
little concern about the nature of the continued U.S.
presence in Izmir -- as opposed to the views conveyed to
Ambassador Edelman during his October 25 visit to Izmir.
(reftel) End comment.

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