Thursday, April 16, 2009

Punishment for Success DTP leaders arrested/ Mehdi Zana

Above: Selma Irmak and Kameran Yuksek: Among the over 50 DTP members arrested by the Turkish State in revenge for the DTP's success in recent elections.

On April 14 the Turkish Government arrested over 50 people with associations to the DTP, as well as employees of the privately run Kurdish TV station GUN TV in Diyarbekir:

Quoting an article from Hurriyet:

DTP deputy chairs, Kamuran Yuksek and Bayram Altun, were taken in for questioning in Diyarbakir, where police also detained the chief editor of private television channel Gun TV, the agency said. The party's deputy chairwoman, Selma Irmak, was detained in the southeastern province of Mardin, it added.

Seracettin Irmak, a lawyer for jailed PKK leader Abdullah Ocalan, and Alican Unlu, the deputy mayor of the eastern province of Tunceli, were also among those detained on Tuesday.

Again, as an American it is not easy to understand the logic of what has happened, but you have to imagine that the Mayor of Los Angeles has his offices spied on, his phones tapped, and that the government is constantly trying to charge him for offenses against the state. Imagine a city council followed, harassed threatened, email hacked, phones tapped. Imagine a national government thwarting a local government when it tries to supply municipal services for people: healthcare, job training for women, or god forbid, garbage collection. And imagine that when a corrupt governing party loses big time, in spite of its attempts at bribery (giving away free appliances) its party members are trounced in elections, and after its losses it repsonds by having its rival party members and leaders arrested and charged with terrorism. What has just happened in Turkey is not a new thing, but the continuation of a long policy of criminalizing Kurdish leaders who try to serve their people through civil means.

I'm going to post a long quote from "Prison No. 5" by Mehdi Zana, former Mayor of Diyarbekir:

"In 1977 elections took place at the city hall in Diyarbakir. At the time, Diyarbakir was the ninth largest city in Turkey, with approximately 225,000 inhabitants: today it has more than 1.5 million. I was elected from fourteen candidates, with about 54 percent of the vote- two times more than the candidate from the incumbent party of Bulent Ecevit. The Turkish authorities, the prefect, and the military commander were appalled by my election, but I was elected democratically.

During the three years that I headed the municipality, I did my best to ameliorate the situation of the population. I did so despite the hostility of the local and national Turkish authorities who subjected the city to a genuine economic blockade: There were no funds, no subsidies generally agreed on by the public authorities for equipment and urban development. This would not do! I ended the blockade by speaking to the National Federation of Elected Republicans and Socialists in France. Its president, the late Hubert Dubedout, mayor of Grenoble, in France, and its secretary general, Antoine Blanca, who later became the adjunct secretary general of the United Nations, welcomed me with open arms. "

Zana goes onto describe how the Mayors from several cities in France worked together to donate thirty buses and trucks for the city of Diyarbakir:

"In a few weeks in an extraordinary convoy of thirty buses and trucks left France and crossed Europe to come to the aid of Diyarbakir."... "The Turkish prime minister at the time, Bulent Ecevit, called it treason and ranted and raved that "Western imperialism is trying to divide our country."

Zana goes onto describe the aftermath of the coup of 1980 and his arrest:

"Through a plan established long before, the army and police started arresting, according to a system of concentric circles, members of parliament, ministers, heads of political parties, unions, municipal governments, academics, legal or illegal militant organizations, and journalists-- in brief, all elements that seemed undesirable and harmful to the ideal Kemalist Republic. All of these militant turks dreamed of the "golden age" of the 1920's and 1930's when, under the "enlightened government of Ataturk," the country government by a single party with an eternal single head, a single official ideology,when everyone appeared obedient, patriotic, and necessarily Turkish. All those who, like the Kurds, leftists, or Muslim partisians, did not fit into the mold suffered the punishment they deserved: prison, massacre, and deportation. Once again the generals had returned in aneffort to restore that golden age. Misfortune befell the rest ofus poor thinking infidels, castoffs of the official religion. On September 24th 1980, twelve days after the coup, I was arrested along with other Kurdish friends."

Zana continues, describing torture that goes on for days:

"First the Falaka, an old torture that has proved itself. They administer it with a stick or a bat on the soles of the feat. Eery time I fainted, they splashed water on me and resumed the torture. After beating me hard on the soles of my feet they threw me on the ground and stomped on my back one by one, there were a good forty of them. Then came the insults: "You fag, I'll shit on your face..." Finally they took me to another room where they hung me up by my arms, nude, and attached electric wires to my genitals and anus. Whenthey turned on the current my whole body would tremble; they call this "doing the plane." WhenI fainted, they would wake me up by kicking me with their boots. Their questions: names, information about my organization, my contacts. "If you want, we will leave you alone; you only have to sign this paper!"
This treatment lasted fifteen days. Every night at around one o 'clock in the morning, a Kurdish guard came to take off the blindfold that I wore continuously and to give me something to drink. His presence was good for me. Then it started again, especially the electrical torture. one day I heard the words "Mehdi Zana, what is this ignominy? Do you see what state you are in?" I recognizedthe voice of the general who commanded Diyarbakir. I did not respond. He started again: Do you see hwat you had done to yourself?"... I responded "Sometimes you are at the bottom, sometime you are on top."

Zana goes on for many paragraphs describing torture, confinement to coffin like cells, hearing the sounds of women being tortured, sleep deprivation and endless physical humiliation. Finally:

"They interrogated me about my trip to Europe in 1979 in order to obtain aid for my city. They wanted to know whom I had met and what I had done. When I was the mayor, the city of Diyarbakir had recieved the buses from France as a gift. Whatwere the interests of the Europeans? Why were they interested in the Kurds? They returned to these questions endlessly: Why had we recieved this aid? With what goal? What was our relationship with France?"

I am afraid for the people who have been arrested on the 14th. There is little information about them.

Below I am reprinting Bawer Cekir's entire article from Bianet:

Operation Targeting the DTP: 40 People Detained
Simultaneous operations in 13 provinces have led to the detention of 40 people, among them leading members of the pro-Kurdish Democratic Society Party. The searches continue.
BİA News Center - Diyarbakır

Following the decision of the Diyarbakır Public Prosecutor’s Office, police operations were carried out in 13 provinces this morning (14 April).

27 places were raided by the police, including the homes of leading members of the pro-Kurdish Democratic Society Party (DTP) and the private Kurdish Gün TV channel in Diyarbakır.

Forty people have been taken into custody after operations in the provinces of Diyarbakır, Van, Tunceli, Antalya, Adana, Mardin, Gaziantep, Elazığ, Bitlis, Aydın, Ankara, Batman and Şırnak.

One of them is Selma Irmak, former vice chair of the DTP.

According to information that bianet received from Gün TV, a search warrant related to channel director Ahmet Birsin led to materials being confiscated.

The teams started their operations at 4 am. Apart from DTP homes and Gün TV, the guest houses of Greater Diyarbakır’s Municipality and Batman Municipality were also searched, as well as the Southeast Anatolia Project Union building in the Yenişehir district of Diyarbakır.

Among those taken into custody are:

DTP vice chair Kamuran Yüksek, DTP vice chair Bayram Altun, DTP vice chair Selma Irmak, PKK leader Abdullah Öcalan’s lawyers Seracettin Irmak, Ebru Günay and Şinasi Tur, and Batman municipality building director Heval Erdemli.

"Worrying and disappointing"
Speaking to CNN Türk, Diyarbakır Bar Association President Mehmet Emin Aktar said, “Such an operation is worrying. We do not know what evidence was used. I see this as a negative development. Of course, after the DTP won a serious victory in the local elections in the area, and as the party has been considered the legal representation of Kurds in the process for a solution to the Kurdish question, this has destroyed hopes for a peaceful solution.”

According to the Dicle News Agency (DİHA), Zübeyde Çoğaç, municipal councillor in the Yüksekova district of Hakkari was taken into custody after a police raid on her house. She is said to have been taken to the district gendarmerie command.

The agency has further reported that 16 people have been taken into cusotyd in Mardin following raids on homes. These people, who are expected to be taken to Diyarbakır, are: Rıdvan Bakay, Mehmet Arı, İlhami Ceylan, Cuneyt Sinci, Mehmet Özgün, Remzi Usanmaz, Mesut Haskul, Vahap Ete, Mehmet Erde, Nezir Bingöl, Abdullah Çelik, Metin Kaymaz, Seyfettin Ay, Mehmet Halepoğlu, Günay Bayraktar and Abdullah Karakuş (BÇ/AG)

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