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Cablegate: Turkey: Unrest Continues in Southeast Turkey Following

VZCZCXRO8891
RR RUEHDA
DE RUEHDA #0082/01 3651133
ZNR UUUUU ZZH
R 311133Z DEC 09
FM AMCONSUL ADANA
TO RUEHC/SECSTATE WASHDC 4826
INFO RUEHAK/AMEMBASSY ANKARA 1368
RUEHIT/AMCONSUL ISTANBUL 1132
RUEHDA/AMCONSUL ADANA 1435

UNCLAS SECTION 01 OF 02 ADANA 000082

SENSITIVE
SIPDIS

E.O. 12958: N/A
TAGS: PTER PINS PINR PGOV TU
SUBJECT: TURKEY: UNREST CONTINUES IN SOUTHEAST TURKEY FOLLOWING
ARRESTS OF KURDISH LEADERS

REF: ADANA 0080

1. (SBU) SUMMARY. The Kurdish community in SE Turkey continues
to manifest its outrage following December 24 arrests of more
than 60 Kurdish leaders including seven incumbent mayors.
Significant street protests continue in Hakkari, Sirnak,
Sanliurfa, Diyarbakir, and other heavily Kurdish-populated areas
of the southeast. Banned DTP leaders Ahmet Turk and Aysel
Tugluk's decision to respond peacefully to their arrest warrants
and appear before the Ankara Heavy Penalty Court on December 31
may help ease tensions, according to one contact. Kurdish
contacts said the recent arrests heightened feelings of
humiliation and embitterment, and that marginalization of
legitimate political actors will lead to increased violence.
END SUMMARY.

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5,000 PROTESTERS CLASH WITH POLICE IN DIYARBAKIR

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2. (SBU) Contacts confirm media reports that around 5,000
protesters gathered in the Baglar area of Diyarbakir to hear
members of the Free Citizen Association read a press statement
protesting the recent detentions and arrests of more than 60
Kurdish leaders. Diyarbakir MP Ayten Kisanak delivered a speech
saying the GoT was pursuing a "hostage policy" by imprisoning
DTP lawmakers and party members and said the Kurds could "no
longer be deceived." She said the democratic struggle would
continue. Protesters clashed with police, who responded with
tear gas. Dramatic images of the Baglar protest aired on
evening news channels.

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SE ATTORNEYS RALLY TO END ETHNIC DISCRIMINATION IN JUSTICE SYSTEM

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3. (SBU) Contacts confirm 300 lawyers from the Diyarbakir Bar
Association together with nine regional bar association
presidents marched on December 30 to the Diyarbakir Court Hall
where they held a press conference to denounce ethnic
discrimination in the judiciary system. Attorney Tahir Elci
said the group wanted to call attention to the "unreasonable and
heavy sentences for Kurdish children who throw stones at police
during protests, continued repression of freedom of speech, and
recent detentions of prominent Kurdish lawyers punished for
activities on human rights cases."

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VIEW FROM HAKKARI: "SITUATION LIKE A DERAILED TRAIN"

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4. (SBU) In the city of Hakkari, protests continue to spill
into the streets, and many retailers have shuttered their
stores. Hakkari Bar Association President Necip Korkmaz said
the situation in Turkey is a "mess," likening it to a derailed
train. He blames the state for "playing with the hopes of the
people," and contrasted AKP's statements about brotherhood and
democracy playing out before scenes of arrests of prominent
Kurdish leaders. Frustrating, too, is the fact that the
government's democratic initiative remains undisclosed and
opaque. Korkmaz urged the GoT to make announcements that would
"comfort the people" and at a minimum, to announce short-,
medium-, and long-term policies concerning the Kurdish issue.

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NEW RHETORIC, BUT "SAME OLD MISTAKEN POLICIES"

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ADANA 00000082 002 OF 002

5. (SBU) Attorney Esat Canan, former CHP lawmaker representing
Hakkari, said the continued arrests of people engaged in
legitimate politics "forces them to be engaged in illegality."
Despite the GoT's rhetoric about the democratic initiative, he
said, AKP is pursuing the same old mistaken policies of the past
25 years: shutting down parties, arresting lawful Kurdish
political actors, and trying to eliminate the PKK by military
means. He said the recent detentions were a big misstep for
AKP, and its inability or refusal to provide details on the
"democratic opening" has undercut its political efficacy. "The
government should broaden the field for politics if it really
wanted to bring down the PKK from the mountains," he said.
Canan also acknowledged mistakes by DTP officials in insisting
that jailed PKK leader Abdullah Ocalan be taken as an
interlocutor in the democracy dialogue and by "indexing" itself
to the PKK. In the end, he said it was unfortunate common sense
did not prevail.

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TURK, TUGLUK TESTIFY

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6. (SBU) Former DTP politicians Ahmet Turk and Aysel Tugluk,
who were stripped of their parliamentary immunity when their
party was banned by a December 11 Constitutional Court decision,
appeared in an Ankara court on the morning of December 31 to
answer questions. Attorney Tahir Elci views their peaceful
submission to a court order as a positive development that could
help calm tensions in the region.

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COMMENT

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7. (SBU) As Elci noted, Turk and Tugluk's behavior stands in
sharp contrast to Diyarbakir Mayor Osman Baydemir, whose use of
profanity on national television on December 24 shocked the
country and resulted in a lawsuit against him (one of some 18 he
has garnered in 2009). For Kurds in the southeast, the recent
arrests of prominent Kurdish leaders have been both startling
and humiliating. Emotions are running high with no signs of
decreasing violence levels. One journalist contact said the one
thing that could quell some of the tension is a substantive
gesture from AKP on the democratic initiative. It remains to be
seen whether such a gesture will be forthcoming. END COMMENT.
DARNELL

© Scoop Media

 
 
 
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