Monday, April 6, 2009

Obama's Speech in Turkey: Kutsal Saçmalık (holy shit)

I expected that Obama was going to do some kind of linguistic hootchie kootchie about the role of Turkey in history and the state of its human rights situation today, but I wasn't prepared for him to bend over and bare his ass to Turkish Nationalism. Or for the utter wimp out on the G word.

Text of Obama's speech to Turkish parliament
By The Associated Press

A few excerpts with translation into "reality speak":

This morning I had the great privilege of visiting the tomb of your extraordinary founder of your republic. And I was deeply impressed by this beautiful memorial to a man who did so much to shape the course of history. But it is also clear that the greatest monument to Ataturk's life is not something that can be cast in stone and marble. His greatest legacy is Turkey's strong, vibrant, secular democracy, and that is the work that this assembly carries on today.
This future was not easily assured, it was not guaranteed. At the end of World War I, Turkey could have succumbed to the foreign powers that were trying to claim its territory, or sought to restore an ancient empire. But Turkey chose a different future.

(Um, yes, it chose to massacre and exile its "minority" populations and force everyone else to pretend to be Turkish).

You freed yourself from foreign control, and you founded a republic that commands the respect of the United States and the wider world.

Translation: you became the fourth largest arms customer of the United States and we are happy to profit from sales of helicopters and jets which enable you to destroy the villages of your Kurdish citizens. We are willing to say anything to keep the cash flowing. Sometimes when I read the words of an American President,and this one is no different, I am not sure what world I'm living in:

"Now, of course, Turkey has its own responsibilities. And you've made important progress towards membership. But I also know that Turkey has pursued difficult political reforms not simply because it's good for EU membership, but because it's right for Turkey.
In the last several years, you've abolished state security courts, you've expanded the right to counsel. You've reformed the penal code and strengthened laws that govern the freedom of the press and assembly. You've lifted bans on teaching and broadcasting Kurdish, and the world noted with respect the important signal sent through a new state Kurdish television station."

Wouldn't it be nice if all that were true? Wouldn't it be nice if article 301 was abolished. If Kurdish was actually legal:

for instance, this from Info-Turk

154 Inmates on Hunger Strike in Erzurum

Rights activists called on the Ministry of Justice to act, stating that the health of four inmates in Erzurum prison, who are on hunger strike since 23 February, is deteriorating. Cihan Alkan, Bozo Açlan, Aydın Atalay and Abdulvahap Karatay are among the 154 inmates who went on hunger strike in turns, to protest right violations in the prison.

Allegedly, books and publications in Kurdish aren't allowed, the inmates' right to exit to courtyard together is obscured, they aren't allowed to talk to their families in Kurdish on the phone and arbitrary disciplinary punishments are given.

In a joint statement, rights defenders Esra Çiftçi, Yüksel Mutlu, Murat Çelikkan, Yusuf Alataş, Ataol Behramoğlu, Adil Okay, Ahmet Telli, Baskın Oran, Ercan Kanar, Gün Zileli, Hicri İzgören, Metin Bakkalcı, Nihat Behram, Oral Çalışlar, Şanar Yurdatapan, Şükrü Erbaş and Temel Demirer requested an immediate end to such practices.

And perhaps Obama would like to send a card to some of these journalists who are currently in prison... this is also from Info-Turk:

18 Journalists and Columnists Meet Year 2009 in Turkish Prisons

Let’s Send to Imprisoned Journalist A Card For New Year

Many journalists and columnists meet year 2009 in prisons in Turkey and all over the world.

We, as Solidarity Platform With Imprisoned Journalists, celebrate new year of all journalists and columnists who are imprisoned in our country and in the world, and wish they would be free as soon as possible.

Imprisoned journalists and columnists were arrested because of the fact that they defended freedom of thought and expression, freedom of press and information right of people.

We can act with solidarity by sending new year card to 18 imprisoned journalists and columnists.

Cancel Law No. 301 and Anti-Terror Law Which Block Freedom of Thought and Expression!

Freedom for Imprisoned Journalists!

We present names and prisons in which they are imprisoned of 18 journalists and columnists imprisoned since 29 December 2008 to the information of press, public, sensitive people and institutions…

Ali Buluş, Karaman-Ermenek M Tipi Cezaevi
Barış Açıkel, Kandıra 1 Nolu F Tipi Cezaevi, KOCAELİ
Bayram Namaz, Edirne 1 Nolu F Tipi Cezaevi
Behdin Tunç, Diyarbakır D Tipi Cezaevi
Erdal Güler, Amasya E Tipi Cezaevi, İstanbul
Erol Zavar, Sincan F Tipi Cezaevi, ANKARA
Faysal Tunç, Diyarbakır D Tipi Cezaevi
Füsun Erdoğan, Gebze Özel Tip Cezaevi, Gebze/KOCAELİ
Hatice Duman, Gebze Özel Tip Cezaevi, Gebze/KOCAELİ
İbrahim Çiçek, Tekirdağ 2 Nolu F Tipi Cezaevi
Mahmut Tutal, Urfa E Tipi Cezaevi
Mehmet Ali Varış, Metris Cezaevi
Mehmet Bakır, Bolu F Tipi Cezaevi
Mehmet Karaaslan, Karaman-Ermenek M Tipi Cezaevi
Murat Coşkun, Adana Kürkçüler F Tipi Cezaevi
Mustafa Gök, Sincan F Tipi Cezaevi, ANKARA
Sedat Şenoğlu, Edirne 1 Nolu F Tipi Cezaevi
Ziya Ulusoy, Tekirdağ 1 Nolu F Tipi Cezaevi

Solidarity Platform With Imprisoned Journalists (TGDP)
29 December 2008

CONTACT: Necati ABAY-TGDP Spokesperson, GSM: 0535 929 75 86, Fax: (0212) 514 68 77

Speaking during a press statement, Democratic Society Party (DTP) MP Hasip Kaplan criticized the conditions in prisons as "worse than the 1980 coup period."

Human Rights Association (İHD) chair Öztürk Türkdoğan said that they have repeatedly warned and informed the authorities about the severity of the situation and they failed to act.

Turkey's Human Rights Foundation (TİHV) chair Metin Bakkalcı noted that currently there're 108 thousand people in prisons across the country. "If the situation isn't improved, hunger strikes will result in deaths." (BIA, April 2, 2009)


Another issue that confronts all democracies as they move to the future is how we deal with the past. The United States is still working through some of our own darker periods in our history. Facing the Washington Monument that I spoke of is a memorial of Abraham Lincoln, the man who freed those who were enslaved even after Washington led our revolution. Our country still struggles with the legacies of slavery and segregation, the past treatment of Native Americans.
Human endeavor is by its nature imperfect. History is often tragic, but unresolved, it can be a heavy weight. Each country must work through its past. And reckoning with the past can help us seize a better future. I know there's strong views in this chamber about the terrible events of 1915. And while there's been a good deal of commentary about my views, it's really about how the Turkish and Armenian people deal with the past. And the best way forward for the Turkish and Armenian people is a process that works through the past in a way that is honest, open and constructive

Mr. President, excuse me? The TERRIBLE EVENTS? I thought a terrible event was when your appointments haven't paid their taxes, or you get snippy in a press conference. But obviously Obama just had a major wimp out moment. Everybody thought Obama was going to be the Santa Claus of human rights... not me. Business will go on as usual.

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