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Cablegate: Turkey: Significant Decline in Number of Southeast Violent

VZCZCXRO5139
RR RUEHDA
DE RUEHDA #0051 2301135
ZNR UUUUU ZZH
R 181135Z AUG 09
FM AMCONSUL ADANA
TO RUEHC/SECSTATE WASHDC 4756
INFO RUEHAK/AMEMBASSY ANKARA 1296
RUEHIT/AMCONSUL ISTANBUL 1072
RUEHDA/AMCONSUL ADANA 1363

UNCLAS ADANA 000051

SENSITIVE
SIPDIS

E.O. 12958: N/A
TAGS: PGOV PTER TU
SUBJECT: TURKEY: SIGNIFICANT DECLINE IN NUMBER OF SOUTHEAST VIOLENT
CLASHES ON THIS YEAR'S PKK ANNIVERSARY

1. (SBU) SUMMARY: When compared with previous years, the 2009
anniversary of the Kurdistan Worker's Party (PKK) saw
significantly lower levels of violence in Turkey's southeast,
with only two notable incidents. The night of August 15, one
police officer died in clashes between PKK sympathizers and
Adana law enforcement personnel. In Gaziantep, pro-PKK
demonstrators attacked two police vehicles with Molotov
cocktails and stones; police opened fire in the air, wounding
one civilian. END SUMMARY.

2. (SBU) ADANA: Adana law enforcement contacts confirmed the
death of Ferdi Ozkan, a 24-year-old police officer, who died of
stab wounds after the August 15 skirmish. While the local press
report approximately 500 illegal demonstrators convened to shout
pro-PKK slogans, the chief of Adana's security branch clarified
that the crowd was already gathered to attend a series of summer
music concerts. Given the sensitive date, the chief of police
dispatched extra forces to the predominantly Kurdish borough.
According to the press, Ozkan was dressed in civilian attire
that evening and was serving as the official driver of the
anti-riot police chief. Press report protesters hurled Molotov
cocktails and stones at police, and set fire to tires and trash.
Anti-riot forces responded with tear gas and water cannons.
During the mayhem, local media report eyewitnesses saw Ozkan
break the line and run into the crowd of demonstrators, where he
was stabbed. (COMMENT: The national press has portrayed Ozkan
as a victim of "traitors" who killed him, but it may have been
Ozkan's boldness that cost him his life rather than a PKK
supporter bent on killing a police officer. END COMMENT.)

3. (U) Local mainstream media coverage of the fallen officer
in Adana has been fraught with emotion and messages of
patriotism. High-level provincial officials have publicly
expressed condolences, in addition to PM Erdogan. Local papers
featured photos of Adana Governor Ilhan Atis kissing the
flag-draped coffin. In remarks at the funeral service, Atis
said, "We promise you that we will protect the values you died
for until eternity within the framework of rule of law and
keeping our country in a unitary structure." Ozkan's father was
quoted as saying he would gladly spare the life of another son,
if he had one, to save the country. The local pro-Kurdish daily
gave thin coverage to the event.

4. (SBU) GAZIANTEP: The Gaziantep anti-terror police chief
confirmed on the evening of August 15, PKK supporters threw
stones and Molotov cocktails and burned trash barrels to block
the path of routine law enforcement patrols. The attack damaged
two police vehicles. Police responded with warning shots fired
into the air, and press report a stray bullet from this exchange
seriously wounded a civilian in the area.

5. (SBU) COMMENT: Despite these skirmishes, August 15 passed
relatively quietly this year. Consulate Adana's LES security
assistant, with over ten years of experience in the region,
estimates incidents are down at least 75% compared to years
past. This relative calm is most certainly linked to number of
factors: the significant decrease in the number of cross-border
operations launched by the Turkish military as compared with
summer 2008; the PKK's cease-fire, declared until September 1;
and, perhaps the most important, the latest steps by the AK
Party government to include the opinions of all political and
civic actors in the country in their much discussed "Kurdish
Opening." In the past, the PKK's characteristic tactic of using
disorderly street scenes to motivate DTP supporters kept the
Kurdish issue on the agenda. With this new democratic momentum,
the main message may finally be resonating: violence is not an
acceptable means to achieve an end. END COMMENT.

DARNELL

© Scoop Media

 
 
 
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