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Cablegate: Turkey: Arrest of Dtp Party Members Sparks Protests

VZCZCXRO9162
RR RUEHDA
DE RUEHDA #0055/01 2611411
ZNR UUUUU ZZH
R 181411Z SEP 09
FM AMCONSUL ADANA
TO RUEHC/SECSTATE WASHDC 4766
INFO RUEHAK/AMEMBASSY ANKARA 1306
RUEHIT/AMCONSUL ISTANBUL 1080
RUEHDA/AMCONSUL ADANA 1373

UNCLAS SECTION 01 OF 02 ADANA 000055

SENSITIVE
SIPDIS

E.O. 12958: N/A
TAGS: PGOV PTER TU
SUBJECT: TURKEY: ARREST OF DTP PARTY MEMBERS SPARKS PROTESTS
THROUGHOUT THE SE

1. (SBU) SUMMARY. Turkish police apprehended 19 members of
the pro-Kurdish Democratic Society Party (DTP) during September
11 anti-terror operations. The arrests sparked a week of
protests in Kurdish-populated areas throughout the southeast.
Kurdish contacts have divergent assessments of what the arrests
presage for the GOT's Kurdish initiative and what steps the
Kurds should take next. The detentions, as well as the recent
deaths of 11 Turkish soldiers and eight PKK militants in
anti-terror operations, have damaged hopes in the southeast for
a lasting solution. END SUMMARY.

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"AN ATTACK ON DTP IS AN ATTACK ON PEACE"

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2. (SBU) On September 11, Turkish law enforcement launched
simultaneous anti-terror operations in Diyarbakir, Sirnak,
Mardin and Van in what many of our Kurdish contacts perceive as
a harassment campaign targeting DTP members. In the early
morning hours, media report police raided the homes of DTP party
members, arresting them and seizing computers and documents.
(Comment: This is not the first such police operation against
the DTP: in April 2009, police detained more than 50 DTP
members in what Kurdish activists called the ruling Justice and
Development [AKP] party's revenge for losing major cities to DTP
during the March local elections. End comment.) The detentions
sparked week-long protests throughout the southeast, with
thousands marching through the streets in Van, Diyarbakir,
Hakkari and Sanliurfa, and smaller-scale demonstrations in other
cities. The illegal protests led to additional arrests of
Kurdish demonstrators, further fueling tensions.

3. (SBU) DTP contacts expressed surprise and outrage over the
latest wave of arrests, which caught party officials by surprise
given earlier momentum on the GOT-led democratization
initiative. One former party leader told us Kurdish hopes had
been dashed and "an attack on the DTP is an attack on peace."
He warned of growing pessimism, but said DTP would continue its
"democratic reaction and demands." Adana DTP Chairman Osman
Dogan said the detentions dealt a blow to finding a solution to
the Kurdish issue and blamed "forces within the state" for
undermining the process and showing insincerity. Two Kurdish
attorneys expressed surprise the state would repeat the "wrong"
of April 2009, and said it was mistake to arrest people involved
legitimately in politics as it would merely strengthen the hand
of Kurds resisting the process.

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INTELLECTUALS: PKK MUST DISARM

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4. (SBU) Two leading Kurdish intellectuals told us the essence
of the problem is the struggle between the civilian authority
(GOT) and the stronger military. The PKK's armed struggle
highlights AKP weakness and undermines AKP's efforts. They
insisted the PKK must abandon an armed struggle so a legitimate
civilian solution can be reached, removing the military's
pretext for continued involvement in the issue. The DTP, they
observed, would receive far more domestic and international
support if it showed itself the sole interlocutor in this
matter. One attorney said rather than putting the GOT in a
difficult position by pointing to PKK as the interlocutor, the
DTP should use its lawmakers to make its own proposals. He said
the military's announcement that it would cut down every last
PKK terrorist - and the populist GOT's need to concur publicly
with that sentiment - has shown that a solution, if even
possible, will be very painful.

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FROM HOPE TO SKEPTICISM


ADANA 00000055 002 OF 002


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5. (SBU) A prominent attorney in Batman said citizens have
moved from early hope to skepticism about the GOT's initiative
after receiving the bodies of 11 Turkish soldiers and eight
PKKers killed in recent military-PKK clashes in the southeast.
(Comment: Government officials are refusing to release the
bodies of five militants to their families, fueling further
unrest among Kurds in Hakkari. End comment.) He distinguished
between unallied political agnostics, who do not blame the
government for the recent detentions, and political-minded
people who see the GOT's handing of the initiative as
"unskillful." He also pointed to divisions within the PKK,
saying there are members who have not adapted to the initiative
and would sabotage the process.

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DETENTIONS PLANNED TO MOLLIFY THE OPPOSITION?

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6. (SBU) A Kurdish freelance journalist living in Diyarbakir
sees the detentions as AKP's carefully orchestrated attempt to
mollify vocal opposition parties, which have accused the AKP of
treason for opening a Kurdish initiative. He said the 19
detained DTP members were low-level bureaucrats, and AKP knew
that this "pinprick" would agitate but not completely upset its
delicate political chess game. He observed Minister of Interior
Atalay's rhetoric had changed right before the detentions.
Before the detentions, he said, Atalay was insisting the GOT was
listening to every opinion on the initiative and considering
legal incentives to encourage PKK members to abandon its armed
struggle. After the war of words began with opposition parties
CHP and MHP, with one ultranationalist politician calling the
slain soldiers "martyrs of the Kurdish initiative," Atalay said
amnesty would never be offered to terrorists. The journalist
believed the AKP was sincere, but as it has cast itself as the
"party for all citizens of Turkey," it was walking a political
tightrope. He observed the DTP was taking advantage of the
situation, pushing tension and fueling indignation to its
advantage. He said the DTP is a fractured mess, with even
imprisoned PKK leader Ocalan criticizing a DTP lawmaker for
mentioning separatism.

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COMMENT

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7. (SBU) While AKP leaders continue to use words of
brotherhood and unity to maintain momentum on its Kurdish
initiative, the recent arrests have led many Kurdish citizens to
question its sincerity. Despite the PKK's alleged ceasefire,
terrorist attacks and bloody clashes continue in the southeast.
Prime Minister Erdogan said the continued violence against the
military was "sabotage to the democratization plan," and vowed
that terrorist bullets would not halt the process that was
supported by 72 million people. Deputy Prime Minister Bulent
Arinc urged people not to react emotionally to the murdered
soldiers, and said the risks taken now would avoid further
losses in the future. While the AKP speaks with one voice, the
Kurdish community is unified by hope at a lasting peace, but
deeply fractured at how to achieve it.
DARNELL

© Scoop Media

 
 
 
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