Saturday, 28 January 2012

Turkey Top Human Rights Violator in 2011

Turkey was the country with the highest number of violations of the European Convention on Human Rights (ECHR) in 2011, the third year in a row.
European Court of Human Rights (ECtHR) head Nicolas Bratza said at a press briefing on Thursday that Turkey topped the list of countries that violated the ECHR with 159 cases. Russia followed Turkey with 121 cases and Ukraine with 105. According to Bratza, Greece (69), Romania (58) and Poland (54) had all violated at least one article of the convention.

Council of Europe Secretary-General Thorbjorn Jagland recently said during a meeting that there are currently 16,000 ongoing cases against Turkey, making it the country against which the second-highest number of cases have been filed.

The Turkish government claims it has made substantial progress in improving the human rights situation in the country. Justice Minister Sedat Ergin recently said in a conference that a series of reforms had been adopted to prevent human rights violations in the past few years, adding that similar legal amendments will continue to improve the situation.

The most important breakthrough in judicial reform was achieved last year with a landslide approval in a public referendum of amending a number of constitutional articles -- many related to judicial changes. For the first time, it introduced the individual right to petition the Constitutional Court for alleged violations of fundamental human rights. It also established the Ombudsman Office for grievances regarding the misconduct of government employees and agencies.

In its 2010 report, the Strasbourg-based court again listed Turkey as the country most often found to be in violation of the convention. The highest number of judgments finding at least one violation of the ECHR concern cases from Turkey (228), followed by Russia (204), Romania (135), Ukraine (107) and Poland (87). In 2009, Turkey also topped the list in terms of violations of ECHR articles.

The ECHR, drafted in 1950, places Turkey under the jurisdiction of the ECtHR. In 1987, Turkey accepted the right of individuals to file applications with the ECtHR to apply individually to the ECtHR and in 1990 recognized the compulsory jurisdiction of the court. However, Turkey has still not ratified some of the protocols of the convention despite having signed them.
Source: Today's Zaman

Friday, 27 January 2012

Turkish Police Chief Says Honour-Killed Women Deserve It

Women are partly to blame for Turkey’s ever-rising number of women’s murders, a retired police chief has said in an article for the January edition of the Contemporary Police Journal magazine.

“Naturally our women are in a position of victimhood against men due to the [discrepancy between their levels of] physical strength. It is not possible to say the same, however, with respect to [women’s use of] language and gestures. The blame for the murders cannot be squarely placed on men’s shoulders,” retired Police Chief Dr. Hasan Yağar said in his article, according to daily Milliyet.

Yağar further said nearly all such incidents pertaining to the murder of women take place in dense urban areas rather than in villages or hamlets in distant corners of Anatolia. The presence of attitudes that are not in line with Turkey’s traditions, customs and religious convictions in major cities are causing new migrants trying to adapt to their new circumstances to falter and fall into confusion, he said.

“It is a grave mistake to link the problem merely to the sadism of men. It is entirely impossible to ignore or deny that the matter is related to our national traditions and customs, and even to our social mysticism, or in other words, our religious perspective,” he said.
Source: Hurriyet

Women provoke men to commit murders, which then cost the male offenders their futures, he argued.
Source: Today's Zaman

In the article he also refers, as if in astonishment, to the fact that German men even allow their wives to be kissed by other men!

Thursday, 26 January 2012

Turkey to Expel Thousands of Armenians in Response to French Genocide Bill

Recall that the original Armenian Genocide was presented in the form of expulsion. The Armenians were force-marched out of their homes and died on the course of the journey. So, now, what do we have here? In response to people talking about the first Armenian Genocide, Turkey effectively commits another. Astonishing. Even more astonishing is that the countries of the western world will go on treating Turkey as if it was a civilised nation.
From The Armenian Weekly

ISTANBUL–Turkey is set to amend a law that aims to rid the country of illegal workers. Many view this move as retaliation against Armenians, in light of the new bill criminalizing Armenian Genocide denial in France.

Different estimates in Turkey put the number of Armenian citizens in the country at as low as 10,000 and as high as 100,000. Many of them are women, and they are employed in low-skill jobs.

“This country, which Mark Levene called ‘the Genocide zone,’ throughout its history has made it a habit to deport, expel, and relocate innocent people as retaliation and punishment for things they did not do, or have no connection to at all,” human rights advocate Ayse Gunaysu told the Armenian Weekly Editor Khatchig Mouradian.

The amendment to Law No. 5683 on Residence and Travel of Foreign Subjects will be ratified on Feb. 1. In the past, people from the region migrated to Turkey on tourist visas, finding employment and becoming illegal workers. After a few months, they would leave and reenter the country on a new tourist visa (a process called “visa runs”). The workers hailed mostly from countries such as Georgia, Azerbaijan, the Ukraine, Indonesia, and Armenia. The new system will force migrants to stay out of the country for 90 days between two entries. Authorities are set to strictly enforce the new law, penalizing visa overstays and runs.

However, the amendment allows for employees who wish to keep their workers to pay a salary of TL 1,330 ($744), and an insurance premium, reported The minimum wage in Turkey is TL 701 ($392), and it is unlikely that an unskilled worker will make significantly more than that.

Back in March 2010, Turkish Prime Minister Recep Tayip Erdogan hinted at retaliation against Armenian migrant workers if Genocide resolutions were passed in foreign parliaments. In a discussion about Genocide resolutions in the U.S. and Sweden, he told the BBC’s Turkish Service that of the 170,000 Armenians living in Turkey, only 70,000 are Turkish citizens. “We are turning a blind eye to the remaining 100,000… Tomorrow, I may tell these 100,000 to go back to their country, if it becomes necessary.”

It appears the French bill was the last straw for Erdogan’s government. On Jan. 25, Turkish Foreign Minister Ahmet Davutoglu told reporters that “Turkey’s response to the adoption of the bill had long been decided.”

President of the Migrants’ Association for Social Cooperation and Culture Sefika Gurbuz called the law a “threat to Armenians,” reported Bianet.

Meanwhile, Gunaysu characterized Turkey’s response a “black comedy.” “The ongoing blackmail and threats against France is itself proof of guilt as well as a manifestation of lack of dignity and self-respect, despite—of course—pathetic demonstrations of national pride,” said Gunaysu.

Gunaysu, who is a member of the Committee Against Racism and Discrimination of the Human Rights Association of Turkey, pointed out the country’s history of deporting innocents peoples. In 1915 the Young Turk regime began its systemic deportations of Armenians as a main tool to rid the Eastern provinces of a native population. “They still tell lies that it was because treacherous Armenians, whereas hundreds of thousands of Armenians were not engaged in any political activity whatsoever,” said Gunaysu. Then it was the turn of Turkey’s Kurdish and Greek populations. “The republican period is full of Kurdish deportations, especially in 1938 during and after the Dersim massacres,” she said. “In 1964, the Turkish government expelled 40,000 Anatolian Greeks, forbidding them to bring along any personal belongings over 20 kg and $20, as a retaliation against Greece in connection with the Cyprus issue—a deportation which is still terribly painful in the memories of these people.”

Gunaysu added, “The mindset from which this policy of retaliation originates is racist, inhuman, and brutal. The rulers of Turkey have once more proven that [the government] still follows the same path as that of their predecessors back in 1915 and all along the history of the Republic.”

Wednesday, 25 January 2012

Reactions to the French Genocide Bill

This incident has been very revealing. It has exposed the true savage nature of the Turks. And it proves that it is not just a substratum of the Turkish population that is morally dubious, but all of them. Even the supposedly westernised liberals, like the journalists who write for Hurriyet, have joined in the frenzy of France-bashing.

Iranian Christian Asylum Seeker Burned by Employer in Turkey

It's fascinating that the United Nations refugee agency is apparently employing Muslims to assess claims for asylum even when the applicants are converts from Islam fleeing Muslim prejudice against apostates.
Iranian Christian Asylum Seeker Burned by Employer in Turkey


Pressures and threats against Christian converts are increasing tremendously inside Iran. Severe sentences are being issued for converts with an Islamic background and this is the primary reason these converts flee their homeland and apply to the United Nation High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR) for refugee status. However, it seems that UNHCR decision makers do not understand the seriousness of this issue.

Iranian Christian news agency, Mohabat News notes that before the Islamic revolution all religious minorities, including Christians, Jews, Zoroastrians could conveniently and securely speak about their faith. After the Islamic revolution and after the Islamic regime came to power, although it stressed freedom of religion, this was just one side of the story. The regime proceeded to break its own constitution, generated a terrorizing atmosphere and put growing pressure on churches through its security organizations.

People with different beliefs, especially Christians, were subjected to arrest, imprisonment, threat and torture. The string of executions of outstanding Iranian Christian figures and pastors is a prime example of that. The laws are even being tightened more and more as time goes by. Such pressures and threats as well as heavy sentences cause Christian converts with an Islamic background to flee their homeland and seek refuge through the UNHCR office in Ankara. However, interviewers and decision makers at the UNHCR fail to understand their grievous situations and often turn down their asylum appeals.

Yousef Fallah Ranjbar is one of these asylum seekers who is currently awaiting a decision on his case in Turkey. Like other asylum seekers in Turkey, Fallah Ranjbar had to work in order to survive. However he was brutally assaulted by his Turkish employer with hot water and his body was severely burned.

In a recent contact with the Association in Support of Iranian Asylum Seekers in Turkey, Ranjbar related some tragic facts and explained what has happened to him during these years.

- Leaving Iran

Ranjbar stated that he left Iran legally in December 2008 because of problems he faced because of his Christian faith. He waited four months after his application to the UNHCR was registered. His case was reviewed during this period. After this four month period he received an appointment date for his first interview. Then he waited another full year without receiving any response from the UNHCR. After that year he was informed that his statements during the interview were not acceptable.

He says, "I went to the Helsinki organization (a consultant organization) and submitted an appeal. After a long delay, I went to the UNHCR again for my second interview. There I found out that the same interviewer who had conducted my first interview and knew nothing about Christianity, had been appointed again for my renewal interview." Ranjbar explained that because the interviewer had mocked his faith during the first interview, he refused to proceed with the renewal interview when he realized that the interviewer was the same person. This refusal cost him another long wait until his case was closed by the UNHCR in early 2011 and he was deprived of another chance to prove his claims.

Ranjbar continued, "I had to continuously work 14 hours per day for a maximum of 20 Turkish Liras in the worst conditions i.e. cold winters and hot summers. I am a barber and my hands were not prepared for such hard labour. However, I had to work as labourer in buildings moving 50 KG bags of cement as much as a full container and work in restaurants, etc."

- Burned by Turkish employer

The extreme religious views of his Turkish employer resulted in Ranjbar's rights being violated. After Ranjbar asked for his pay several times, his employer emphatically told him that he had no rights and that he would not pay him any money. Ranjbar said "Then the employer and several other workers attacked and beat me before spilling hot water all over my body." After Ranjbar was burned, he went directly to the police station to file a complaint and bring the guilty one to justice. However the trial was postponed to another time because the employer didn't appear for the hearing. After months of waiting the case is still pending.

Ranjbar is just one example of hundreds of Iranian Christian asylum seekers who are living in such situations in Turkey. Unfortunately, the lack of adequate knowledge by some UNHCR officials regarding the seriousness of such situations, especially in religious cases, as well as the unresponsiveness of related organizations regarding the special situation of Christian converts in a country like Turkey, are just some of the problems that asylums seekers are suffering from.

Council of Europe Criticises Turkish Judiciary

The criticism comes as two of the main opposition parties claim the government is using the judiciary to silence opposition in the country.

In a detailed report, the Council of Europe's commissioner on human rights, Thomas Hammerberg, has raised serious concerns that Turkey's judiciary is threatening fundamental human rights.

"There are real problems in the way the system of justice function, including the judicial system, and that has an impact on human rights," said Hammerberg. "[That's] obvious, you don't have justice in all cases being brought into the system."

One of the main concerns raised in the report is the growing number of arrests of political party members. The ongoing investigation into the Kurdistan Communities Union (KCK) is cited as a particular concern. Turkish authorities believe the KCK is the political wing of the Kurdish rebel group, the Kurdistan Workers' Party, or PKK.

According to local human-rights groups, more than 4,000 people have been detained since 2009, most of them members of the country's pro-Kurdish Peace and Democracy Party (BDP). BDP parliament member Ertugral Kurkcu says the detentions have little to do with fighting terrorism and more to do with undermining the political party.

"These people are kidnapped. They have no guilt. Many of them elected people," said Kurkcu. "Many of them trade union leaders. All influential politicians, middle men in Kurdish politics. They have no relation with violence. They have not even been accused of being affiliated with any kind of violent action."

Hammerberg echoed such concerns, saying he believes in many cases there appeared to be little evidence to justify the detentions. Many of those detained in the probe have been held for years without trial. The Council of Europe report also raised pretrial detention as an area of serious concern.

Hammerberg claims his interviews with members of the judiciary suggest pretrial detention is being used as a punishment.

"I was discussing with a prosecutor in Diyarbakir and spelling out there should be reasons to detain someone before the final trial, and he said at least they will learn a lesson. But why does the penitentiary system take on, teach lessons to people who perhaps may be innocent?" Asked Hammerberg. "There have been cases up to 10 years. That [is] absolutely outrageous. No one should be held before [being] proven guilty for such long periods."

The leader of the main opposition People's Republican Party, or CHP, Kemal Kilicdaroglu, strongly attacked pretrial detention earlier this month, and claimed that Turkey is becoming "an open prison." Two of his parliamentary deputies have been held in jail for more than three years, as part an investigation into an alleged plot to overthrow the government.

The European Court of Human Rights has repeatedly ruled against Turkey on the issue of pretrial detention. Facing mounting criticism, Justice Minister Sadullah Ergin announced a package of reforms that include addressing pre-trial detention.

He said decisions pertaining to arrest, or the refusal of a request for release on bail, will now have to be clearly written out. He said the courts will have to justify with concrete facts any strong suspicion that a defendant will commit a crime. He said they will have to make clear the purpose behind a detention and ensure that it is reasonable.

Riza Turmen, a deputy for the main opposition and a former judge for the European Court of Human Rights, says the reforms are cosmetic, and that the reform does not apply to anyone held in connection with anti-terror laws. He adds that controversial portions of those laws have resulted in the detention of nearly 100 journalists - another area of concern raised by the Council of Europe report.

But Turmen argues a more fundamental threat is facing Turkey. "The problem today in Turkey [is], there is enormous concentration of power in the hands of one party," he said. "The government controls the judiciary. The government controls all the independent institutions. Turkey has never seen such a big concentration of power, and such a concentration of power is detrimental to any democracy."

In his report, Hammerberg expresses concern about the government's influence on Turkey's judiciary. He acknowledges that Turkey faces a serious problem of terrorism and says the government's commitment to reform appears to be genuine, but now is the time for action.

"We are still waiting for implementation of signals we have received from the government," said Hammerberg. "It's a question of real implementation, not only talks and statements, when it comes to reforms and genuine changes."

In the early years of its decade-long rule, the AK Party won praise in combating torture and ending extra-judicial killings. But observers warn that good will is fast running out with the main opposition parties, along with a growing body of evidence - of which the Council of Europe report is the latest - that raises concerns about increasing authoritarian tendencies.
Source: VOA

Tuesday, 24 January 2012

Erdogan Claims French Genocide Bill is Racist

Turkish Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdogan blasted French lawmakers on Tuesday for being "racist and discriminatory" after the Senate passed a bill that would outlaw denying that the 1915 massacre of Armenians in Turkey amounted to genocide.
By Tony Todd (text)

A French bill that outlaws denial of genocides recognised by the state is "racist and discriminatory", Turkish Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdogan said on Tuesday, promising to implement sanctions against France "step by step with no retreat."

The bill, which only needs French President Nicolas Sarkozy's signature to pass into law, includes the massacre of ethnic Armenians by Ottoman Turk forces in 1915 - an event Turkey recognises but refuses to classify as genocide.

In a letter to Turkey's Prime Minister Tayyip Erdogan last week, French President Nicolas Sarkozy said a draft law making it illegal in France to deny a genocide was not aimed at targeting Ankara and urged Turkey to remember the many "common interests" it shares with France.

France's Senate passed a bill on Monday outlawing the denial of a genocide that has been recognised by French law, namely the Holocaust or the 1915-1916 massacre of Armenians by Ottoman Turks. Turkey had threatened to impose sanctions if the Senate passed the bill, which Erdogan has slammed as "racist".

A presidential source said on Tuesday that Sarkozy will likely sign the bill into law in the next two weeks.

Erdogan said the law was "null and void" as far as Turkey was concerned, but added that "we still have not lost our hope that it can be corrected."

Earlier, Turkey had promised total diplomatic rupture with Paris, while the country’s press was united in fury and condemnation of the French parliament.

“Shame on you France,” splashed popular daily Vatan. “France, the country where the ideal of liberty was born, has delivered a powerful blow against freedom of expression. By passing this bill on genocide, France is denying its own history.”

Hurriyet, one of Turkey’s biggest-selling newspapers, headlined that Sarkozy had “massacred democracy.”

The bill, which must now be signed by French President Nicolas Sarkozy before it can come into law, would criminalise publicly denying that the mass killing of ethnic Armenians by Ottoman Turk forces in 1915 was a deliberately organised genocide.

Turkish press was also pushing the angle that Sarkozy, languishing in the polls, was trying to court the significant Armenian population in France (some 500,000 voters) ahead of May’s elections.

“The French president has turned his back on freedom for the sake of a few votes,” headlined Turkish tabloid Posta, while the left-leaning Radikal said that “a subject that should be the domain of historians has become a political tool.”

Pro-government Yeni Safak said that “for a small electoral calculation, France has committed a huge crime against humanity.”

‘Total rupture’

Ankara froze political and military ties with France, a NATO ally, in December after lawmakers in the lower National Assembly passed the bill.

At the weekend, Turkish Foreign Minister Ahmet Davutoglu told FRANCE 24 that Ankara had already prepared a response.

"There will be further sanctions against France, and this time the sanctions will be permanent,” he said.

And after the bill was passed by the Senate, Turkey's ambassador to France, Tahsin Burcuoglu, said final approval by the President would cause a “total rupture” of relations between Ankara and Paris.

On Tuesday Engin Solakoglu, spokesman for the Turkish embassy in Paris, told FRANCE 24: “Relations with France will be seriously affected. Not having Turkey as a diplomatic partner, especially in the Middle East, will be felt very strongly by France.”

A day ‘written in gold’

Armenian Foreign Minister Edward Nalbandian said that the Senate vote, which was passed by 127 to 86, was a day that “will be written in gold”.

The vote “will further consolidate the existing mechanisms of prevention of crimes against humanity,” Nalbandian said in a statement.

The bill was passed on Monday despite a Senate recommendation that the law would be unconstitutional, while opponents in France’s two houses of parliament said it would not help Turkey recognise the genocide or help reconcile relations with Armenia.

Centre-left senator Jacques Mezard said it was “an unbearable law that calls into question historical research,” while French Foreign Minister Alain Juppé on Monday called for calm, saying on Canal+ television that the new law was “ill-timed”.

Sarkozy is expected to sign the bill into law in February. It could still stall if 60 lawmakers appeal against it, and the country’s constitutional council would have the final say.

Armenians maintain that 1.5 million of their forebears were killed in the massacre, while Turkey insists the number is smaller – at 500,000 – and that the tragedy should be seen in the context of a world war and a Russian attack in which the Armenians sided with the invader.

The French state officially recognised the event as genocide in 2001. The new bill would punish anyone publicly denying it with up to a year in prison and fines of 45,000 euros.
Source: France24

OIC: Adoption of genocide law sign of Islamophobia in France

The adoption of the law criminalizing the denial of the so-called "Armenian Genocide" is a sign of Islamophobia in France, Secretary General of the Organization of Islamic Cooperation (OIC) Ekmeleddin Ihsanoglu told Trend on Tuesday.

"This law contradicts three fundamental principles of democracy -- equality, freedom and brotherhood. It is a sign of growing Islamophobia," Ihsanoglu said.

He called the law unacceptable, non-complying with historical facts and demonstrating double standards.

After a nearly eight-hour debate, the French Senate adopted the bill. Some 127 senators voted in favor, while 86 senators voted against on Jan.23.

The lower house of the French parliament adopted a bill criminalising the denial of the so-called "genocide" on Dec.22. Some 45 out of 577 French MPs voted with 38 voting for and seven against the adoption of the bill.

The bill demands a year's imprisonment and a fine of 45,000 euro for denying the so-called "genocide." In response to the decision, Turkey announced that it has frozen all diplomatic relations with France.

MPs from the French president's Union for Popular Movement (UMP) party, which has the parliamentary majority, proposed the bill aimed at criminalising the denial of the so-called "genocide" to the legislative committee of the National Assembly in early December.

Armenia and the Armenian lobby claim that the predecessor of the Turkey - Ottoman Empire had committed the 1915 genocide against the Armenians living in Anadolu, and achieved recognition of the "Armenian Genocide" by the parliaments of several countries.
Source: Trend

Monday, 23 January 2012

French Senate Approves Bill Criminalising Denial of Armenian Genocide

France's Senate has passed a bill outlawing the denial of a genocide that has been recognised by French law, namely the Holocaust or the 1915-1916 massacre of Armenians by Ottoman Turks. Turkey had threatened to impose sanctions if the bill passed.

France and Turkey headed for a major diplomatic rift on Monday after French senators ignored threats from Ankara and approved a law outlawing the public denial of genocides.

The draft law passed by the Senate makes it illegal for anyone to deny that the mass killing of ethnic Armenians at the hands of Ottaman Turks in 1915 amounted to genocide.

Under the law public denial would be punished by a year’s jail sentence and a €45,000 fine.

The vote, which came after an eight-hour debate, is now likely to incite the wrath of Turkey who had earlier threatened to impose “permanent” sanctions against Paris if the law was passed.

Reacting to the vote, Engin Solakoglu, a spokesman for the Turkish Embassy in Paris, told FRANCE 24 his country would not tolerate anymore “Turkey bashing” from France.

“It is very sad to see such a law passed by the French Senate,” he said.

“Every time there are elections in France, a kind of Turkey bashing becomes a national sport. We cannot take this anymore,” Solakoglu added, accusing French politicians of meddling with "our history".

'Permanent sanctions'

Speaking before the vote, Turkey’s Foreign Minister Ahmet Davutoglu told FRANCE 24 “permanent sanctions” would be imposed against France if senators sanctioned the bill.

He said the proposed law was an affront to freedom of expression that would make him a criminal for openly discussing an “historical tragedy”.

“If I am asked a question by a journalist, how could I remain silent?” he asked. “This bill would punish me for having an opinion on an historical event. It goes against all European and French values of freedom of expression.”

Davutoglu accused French President Nicolas Sarkozy, who is languishing in the polls ahead of elections in May, of using the bill to gain approval from France’s significant Armenian population of some 500,000 voters.

“The painful history of Armenians and Turks is being used … for political opportunism and against the basic values of politics,” he said.

Reacting to the result, Esra Bulut Aymat, a senior research fellow at the EU Institute for Security Studies, said: "While many French citizens may see this as a principled stand, many Turkish citizens, already wary of President Sarkozy's opposition to Turkish membership of the EU, may interpret it primarily as anti-Turkish pre-electoral populist opportunism.”

Senators did win the backing of some Armenian groups.

“This law will bring the Armenian issue to a different international forum,” said Berge Setrakian, President of the Armenian General Benevolent UNION (AGBU), speaking to FRANCE 24 from New York.

“The major powers will focus more on this issue and hopefully now we can try and find a solution with Turkey. This will be good for Turkey too because they have been in a permanent state of denial about it.”

Setrakian accepted the fallout from the bill could have a detrimental effect on Armenia’s own relations with their neighbours.

“I think it is most likely Turkey will retaliate and render our lives more difficult, but this is a price the Armenians are willing to pay.”

A disputed history

The draft law means any public denial of genocides recognised by the French state would be outlawed, including the Second World War Holocaust and the massacre of ethnic Armenians in Ottoman Turkey in 1915.

France’s lower house of parliament, the National Assembly, had already approved the bill in a vote on December 23, 2011. That vote had prompted Turkey to recall its ambassador for consultations.

France officially recognised the Armenian killings as genocide in 2001. The new bill would punish denial with a year’s jail and a fine of up to 45,000 euros.

President Sarkozy is expected to ratify the bill in February before the closure of parliament in the run up to the presidential elections.

Armenia, backed by many historians and parliaments, says about 1.5 million Christian Armenians were killed in what is now eastern Turkey during World War I, in a deliberate policy of genocide ordered by the Ottoman government.

The Ottoman empire was dissolved soon after the end of World War I, but successive Turkish governments and the vast majority of Turks feel the charge of genocide is a direct insult to their nation. Ankara argues there was heavy loss of life on both sides during fighting in the area.

Thousands of Turks from across Europe demonstrated in central Paris at the weekend and about 200 Franco-Turks protested on Monday in front of the Senate. They waved their French voting cards and banners with slogans including: “It’s not up to politicians to invent history”.

Sarkozy tried to calm tensions before the vote by writing to Turkish Prime Minister Tayyip Erdogan last week saying the bill did not single out any country. He said that Paris was aware of the “suffering endured by the Turkish people” during the final years of the Ottoman empire.
Source: France24

Friday, 20 January 2012

France Faces Turkish Sanctions Over Genocide Bill

More evidence of staggering Turkish childishness: they're going to rename streets with French names and erect a monument to the Muslims who died in Algeria's war of independence.

Thursday, 19 January 2012

Turks Release Film Glorifying Their Conquest of Byzantium

Note the bit about how their prophet predicted the fall of first Byzantium, then Rome.

It's a disgustingly false historical epic. There's nothing in it about the days of rape and pillage that followed the conquest. A sub-plot features a European woman who falls in love with a filthy Turk.

Wednesday, 18 January 2012

French Senate Panel Rejects Armenian Genocide Bill

A French Senate panel dealt a blow Wednesday to the government's plans to make it illegal to deny that mass killings of Armenians by Ottoman Turks nearly a century ago amounted to genocide.

In a striking development, the Commission of Laws in the Senate — the upper house of parliament — voted 23-9, with 8 abstentions, that such a bill, if passed, could violate constitutional protections including freedom of speech.

"We consider that if this law was passed, there would be a large risk of it being unconstitutional," said Jean-Pierre Sueur, the commission head. "We cannot write history with laws. Freedom of expression must be respected," Sueur said.

The panel vote, while a nonbinding recommendation, was the first legislative setback for the bill that has soured relations between France and Turkey since the National Assembly, the lower house, passed it last month.

The measure, floated by President Nicolas Sarkozy's conservatives despite a visceral outcry from Turkey, goes to the full Senate for debate Monday. The opposition Socialists had in the past also expressed support.

Officials at the Senate press office said that in the vast majority of cases the full chamber follows the recommendations of the Commission of Laws.

However, rejection by the Senate does not necessarily kill a measure that the lower house — the most powerful in France — wants passed into law. The National Assembly can resurrect the bill and try again, and eventually gets the last word.

France formally recognized the 1915 killings as genocide in 2001, but provided no penalty for denying it. The Assembly bill would set punishment of up to one year in prison and a fine of up to euro45,000 ($59,000) for those who deny or "outrageously minimize" the killings — placing such denial on par with those of the Holocaust.

France is home to an estimated 500,000 people of Armenian origin.

The bill has sparked a show of animosity between the two countries, with Turkey's Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdogan accusing the French of "genocide" during France's 132-year colonial rule in Algeria. Turkey also briefly recalled its ambassador to Paris for consultations, while suspending military and economic cooperation.

Two scenarios are now most likely when the French Senate debates the bill Monday, Senate press officials said. Senators could ignore the panel vote and pass the bill, putting it on a fast track to becoming law, or they could reject the bill, handing it to a commission from both houses to iron out differences.

The second option would greatly slow the legislative process. A freeze on all but the most critical legislation goes into effect in early March ahead of spring presidential and legislative elections.

In a statement, the commission said: "There was a genocide, and the commission wants to express its infinite respect for the Armenian people, and the terrible experiences that they have endured."

But the panel also expressed doubts about "the legitimacy of the intervention of the legislature in the field of history" and suggested that commemorations or legislative resolutions might be a better way to express sympathy for the suffering than laws to criminalize some types of speech.
Source: StarTribune

American Presidential Candidate Rick Perry Says Turkey is Ruled by Islamic Terrorists

Tuesday, 17 January 2012

Life Sentence for Hrant Dink Murder

The verdict was greeted by protests.

Muslim Party in the Netherlands Demands Immediate Turkish Admission to the EU

The Dutch Muslim Party has announced plans to seek seats in the Dutch Parliament. The party already has a hold in regional governments in Amsterdam, Rotterdam, and other Dutch cities.

The Partij Voor Moslim Nederland (Party for Muslim Netherlands), as it calls itself when it is not referring to itself as The Dutch Muslim Party (note the strong differences in meaning), campaigns on an anti-abortion, anti-gay marriage, and anti-discrimination platform. It hopes to take part in Parliamentary elections in 2015. Among its principles:

Criminalization of blasphemy

Free speech within limitations: speech that can be seen as insulting or offensive on religious grounds will be prosecuted.

Damage or destruction of holy texts for any religion to be criminalized by law.
Members of the party can also be non-Muslims.

Women and men are to be seen as equal under the law.

The party is to be based on the Islamic principle of Shura

All troops must be withdrawn from Iraq and Afghanistan

Turkey must immediately be made a member of the EU

Support to Israel must be stopped

Zero-tolerance for all drugs, including marijuana (currently tolerated under Dutch law)
No bans shall be set against the current practice of importing poorly-educated women as brides for Dutch Muslim men

A new pamphlet outlining the party’s vision is to be published by the end of this month.
Source: Forbes

Monday, 16 January 2012

Turkey Fails to Deliver Justice for Murdered Armenian Journalist as Trial Ends

The Turkish authorities have failed to address state officials' alleged involvement in the killing of journalist and human rights activist Hrant Dink, Amnesty International said today, as the trial of 18 people accused of his murder drew to a close.

Hrant Dink, a Turkish citizen of Armenian descent, was killed on 19 January 2007 outside the offices of the Agos newspaper where he was the editor.

When the trial ends on Tuesday, almost five years to the day after the death of Hrant Dink, the authorities will still not have investigated the full circumstances behind his murder.

"Hrant Dink was murdered for peacefully expressing his opinions," said Andrew Gardner Amnesty International’s expert on Turkey.

"The security services knew of the murder plot and were in communication with those accused of the murder yet nothing was done to stop it taking place.

"Nothing short of a full investigation into the actions of all the state institutions and officials implicated in the murder will represent justice."

Calls by the Dink family to investigate the collusion and negligence of state officials in the murder, backed by a European Court of Human Rights judgment in 2010, have not been heeded.

In July 2011 Ogün Samast, 17 years old at the time of the murder, was found guilty of shooting Hrant Dink and was sentenced to nearly 23 years in prison by a Children's Court.

He was initially given a life sentence but the term was commuted because he was a minor at the time of the murder.

In June, Colonel Ali Öz and six other Trabzon Gendarmerie officials were convicted of negligence for their failure to relay information of the plot that could have prevented the murder.

"The actions of the Trabzon Security Directorate, Istanbul Governor’s office and the Istanbul Security Directorate have not been effectively investigated," said Andrew Gardner.

"The authorities must address this immediately and ensure that Hrant Dink and his family receive the justice they deserve."

Hrant Dink was best known for being critical of the Turkish government over issues of Armenian identity and over official versions of history in Turkey relating to the massacres of Armenians in 1915. He was repeatedly targeted for expressing his opinions.

In 2005, he was given a six-month suspended prison sentence for "denigrating Turkishness" in writings about the identity of Turkish citizens of Armenian origin.
Source: Amnesty International

Sunday, 15 January 2012

Fergie cancels US flight over Turkish extradition fears for covert filming in orphanage

The Duchess of York has cancelled a trip to America amid concerns that she could be extradited to Turkey to face a court case.

Sarah Ferguson was supposed to travel to the United States yesterday but altered her plans at the last minute after a court in the Turkish capital Ankara pressed charges against her for filming in the country without permission.

The Duchess had made an undercover documentary for ITV’s Tonight programme in 2008 in which she investigated allegations of cruelty to children in Turkey’s state-run orphanages.

Duchess And Daughters: Their Secret Mission showed footage of disabled children at an orphanage near Ankara. Some were tied to their beds and others were left in cots all day without being taken out to be fed.

However, the Duchess, 52, did not have a permit to film and has since been accused of breaching the country’s strict press laws.

The office of Turkey’s chief prosecutor announced last Thursday that it was pressing charges against her for ‘violating the privacy’ of five children.

If she is found guilty of the allegation, she could face between seven-and-a-half years and 22-and-a-half years in prison.

A friend of the Duchess told The Mail on Sunday yesterday: ‘Sarah is totally shocked by this because she thought it had gone away. It was, after all, more than three years ago. This has come out of the blue and she is deeply worried.’

Britain has an extradition deal with Turkey under the 1957 Council of Europe Convention on Extradition. However, the Home Office has said that it will not be providing assistance to the Turkish authorities because the Duchess’s actions in exposing poor conditions at the orphanage did not constitute a crime in the UK.

A spokesman said: ‘In this case there is no offence in UK law so there will be no extradition.’

Nevertheless, Prince Andrew’s former wife thinks it is ‘prudent’ to stay in Britain until the matter has been resolved. The Duchess was reported to have spoken to her lawyers about the charges, but last night a friend said: ‘It was her decision to cancel the trip. She didn’t do it on the advice of anyone else.

‘She’s sort of grounded herself until this whole thing is over. She doesn’t want to travel until it gets sorted out.’

The Duchess’s lawyers were said to be working to clarify the position in Turkey in the hope that the charges will be dropped.

For the television documentary, the Duchess disguised herself in a black wig and headscarf as she and her daughter Princess Eugenie accompanied an undercover team investigating the orphans’ living conditions.

The programme provoked an immediate diplomatic row after it was aired, with the Turks accusing the Duchess of trying to smear their country as it awaited a report on its application for membership of the European Union.

Charges were apparently brought against the Duchess and two other members of the production team soon afterwards.

A spokesman for ITV said last night: ‘We were made aware through media reports on Thursday that the issue over charges relating to our programme had arisen again.
‘When charges were originally brought three years ago, we made it clear that we stood firmly by our programme and our position remains unchanged.’

A spokesman for the Duchess refused to comment.
Source: Daily Mail

Friday, 13 January 2012

The Duchess of York's Secret Mission

In view of the recent revival of this case, I thought I'd post the documentary again.

Duchess of York Evades Extradition

This is a strange one. What are the Turks up to here? There's obviously no chance they will actually get her into prison, so what are they thinking? Perhaps it's the old Turkish carpet seller's haggling mentality they think would give them a bargaining chip to use in the EU negotiations? Crazy, if so. Or could it be they really don't want to be allowed into the EU and are trying to provoke Europeans into turning them down? This was a conspiracy theory I came across a while ago and made a post about. It sounded far-fetched to me at the time but has come to seem more plausible since.

Turkish prosecutors made a formal request to the Home Office on Thursday to help them gather evidence against the Duchess after she and an ITV1 crew filmed children in a state-run orphanage near Ankara.

Turkey’s chief prosecutor charged the Duchess in her absence with “violating the privacy” of five children, an offence which carries a prison sentence of up to 22 and a half years.

But a spokesman for the Home Office told The Daily Telegraph that no assistance would be given to the Turkish authorities because the Duchess’s actions in exposing poor conditions at the orphanage did not constitute a crime in the UK.

“Under UK extradition law a judge must order the discharge of [an extradition request] if it is not an offence under UK law and in the country requesting extradition,” said the spokesman. “In this case there is no offence in UK law so there will be no extradition.”
While the Home Office’s refusal to help Turkey is good news for the 52-year-old Duchess, she would still face arrest if she ever went back to Turkey.

James Henderson, a spokesman for the Duke of York’s former wife, said the charges had “come as a complete surprise” to her because the Turkish authorities had said last year that the case was closed.

The possibility of legal action had first been raised shortly after the ITV1 Tonight programme was shown in 2008, in which the Duchess, disguised in a black wig and headscarf, and her daughter Princess Eugenie, accompanied an undercover team investigating the orphans’ living conditions.

The programme, called Duchess and Daughters: Their Secret Mission, sparked an immediate diplomatic row, with the Turks accusing the Duchess of trying to smear their country as it awaited a report on its application for EU membership.

Mr Henderson said the Duchess’s lawyers were working to clarify the position in Turkey, in the hope that the charges will be dropped, otherwise the Duchess will face a potential lifelong restriction on visiting Turkey.

The Turkish family and social policies minister, Fatma Sahin, refused to comment on the latest development, saying: “Our lawyers are following the case, we are waiting for the ruling. It will be wrong to comment on an ongoing court case. We will be following the process.”

The Duchess has already apologised for any embarrassment the documentary had caused Turkey, but insisted she was motivated only by humanitarian rather than political reasons.
Source: The Daily Telegraph

Thursday, 12 January 2012

Duchess of York Charged in Turkey

A court in Turkey has brought charges against the Duchess of York over a controversial ITV documentary in which she went undercover to secretly film orphanages in Ankara and Istanbul.

The court accused Sarah Ferguson in her absence of going "against the law in acquiring footage and violating privacy" of five children. The charges carry a maximum jail term of more than 22 years if a conviction results.

Ferguson wore a disguise to visit the homes with her daughter Princess Eugenie for the special edition of ITV's Tonight current affairs show, which was broadcast in November 2008.

The film, which prompted a major diplomatic row with the Turkish government, featured footage of children dressed in bedclothes and rags, some of them with shaven heads and tied to beds or left in their cots all day.

Turkish politicians accused the programme-makers of a smear campaign aimed at derailing the country's attempts to join the European Union.

Ferguson, who also covertly filmed in orphanages in Romania, accompanied by her other daughter, Beatrice, said at the time of the broadcast that she was "apolitical" and was "happy with courage to stand by the film".

ITV declined to comment and is understood not to have been contacted by the Turkish authorities.

The broadcaster previously described the programme as a "valid area of public interest at a time when the UK government is endorsing the accession of Turkey into the EU, a process which is conditional in part on Turkey improving its human rights record with children".

It was unclear why Turkish authorities waited more than three years to raise the charges.

Ferguson did not declare her royal status during the film, in which she was known only as Sarah, with the footage filmed by members of her entourage posing as potential wealthy donors. The Tonight special was watched by 2.4 million viewers.
Source: The Guardian

Monday, 9 January 2012

Turkish Hackers Attack French Websites

I've posted about this before, but here's a video version of the story.

Turkey ‘Ignored' Assassination Plot of Hrant Dink

Long before one of Turkey's most famous journalists was shot three times in the head by a 17-year-old Turkish nationalist, he was already in the crosshairs of the security and intelligence forces.

A top European court and critics in Turkey say members of the police force knew of the plot to kill the journalist, Hrant Dink - an ethnic Armenian who was gunned down in Istanbul on January 19, 2007 - but took no action to prevent the crime.

Turkish authorities are still blocking a thorough investigation into the involvement of state officials in the conspiracy, critics say.

Last July, Ogun Samast, a young nationalist, was convicted by a juvenile court of killing Mr Dink in downtown Istanbul, but the trial against his alleged accomplices has been dragging on amid accusations that the authorities are reluctant to shed light on the role of security forces in the plot to kill the journalist.

Istanbul's High Criminal Court is scheduled to convene today for the 24th hearing in the trial.

"It was like a chronicle of a death foretold," said Banu Guven, a Turkish journalist and a member of Friends of Hrant, a group calling for a full investigation against policemen, military officers and members of the intelligence services.

"Officers knew this group was going to kill Hrant, they even knew the type of weapon that was going to be used," Ms Guven said this week.

Turkish nationalists hated Mr Dink because he openly said the killing of hundreds of thousands of Armenians in the final years of the Ottoman Empire amounted to genocide, a term Turkey rejects.

Suspicions that there was support or at least sympathy within the security forces for the perpetrators arose after Samast's arrest on January 20, 2007, when policemen posed for souvenir pictures with Mr Dink's murderer.

In 2010, the European Court of Human Rights in France ruled Turkey was guilty of failing to protect Mr Dink's life.

Police in Istanbul and the north-east city of Trabzon, the home of the suspected killers, "had been informed of the likelihood of an assassination attempt and even of the identity of the suspected instigators", the court said.

After the crime, authorities refused to allow investigations against high-ranking officers of the security forces, the judges said.

The verdict has not changed the situation in court in Istanbul, critics said.

"The people who would conduct the investigation are the very ones who should be investigated," Ms Guven said.

Friends of Hrant, campaigning under the slogan "This trial must not end this way", has called on its supporters to gather in front of the court in Istanbul today to protest against what it sees as attempts at a cover-up.

Samast, who was 17 when he killed Mr Dink outside the offices of Mr Dink's Armenian newspaper, Agos, was sentenced to almost 23 years in prison. According to Turkish rules on prison terms, he is to be released in about 10 years.

In the separate trial against Samast's suspected accomplices before Istanbul's High Criminal Court, the prosecution has demanded life sentences for Yasin Hayal, a member of the militant nationalist scene in Trabzon, and Erhat Tuncel, a former police informer from the Black Sea city.

Summing up its case last September, the prosecution said the murder was the work of a local cell of Ergenekon, a suspected network of nationalists accused by prosecutors in another ongoing trial of plotting to overthrow the government by provoking a military coup with the help of assassinations and other terrorist acts.

But prosecutors did not go into details of the Ergenekon connection.

Critics accused the prosecution of trying to end the trial prematurely.

"We have always said that the slowness with which this trial was proceeding was unbearable, but hastily concluding the prosecution case will not help the truth to emerge," Reporters Without Borders, an international group campaigning for media freedom, said last year.

Friends of Hrant have said the state involvement in the murder was obvious.

"It is clear that the ones responsible for Hrant's death and for an organised effort to hide the truth are state officials," the group said on its website.

Ms Guven said court proceedings, which started in February 2008, showed clear signs of reluctance by the state to get to the bottom of the case.

"The trial has been dragging on for so long because there are problems with gathering evidence," she said. "Sometimes authorities do not want to supply the court with evidence."

One example, cited by Ms Guven and other critics, is that Turkey's telecommunication authorities refused for months to give the court mobile phone records from the time and place where Mr Dink was shot. The records were sent to the court last year only after several demands by the judge.

Other evidence that Mr Tuncel and Mr Hayal, the men accused of organising the murder with Samast, worked with members of the security apparatus, has also not been examined properly, critics say.

Mr Hayal's father, Bahattin Hayal, said last November that an unnamed official had congratulated him on his son after the murder and told him that Yasin worked for the state.

There have been signs that the suspects are confident of their early release.

In one court hearing, Samast said he would get even with Mr Dink's family after the trial.

"Just wait, I'll see you in five years," he told family members in the courtroom.

Ms Guven said she was concerned the trial would end without shedding light on the true dimension of the conspiracy behind Mr Dink's death.

"The people on trial now will go to prison for a few years and may even expect a hero's welcome after their release," she said.

The militant nationalist mentality that led to Mr Dink's death was still alive in Turkey five years after the murder, she added.

"As long as we do not see the whole picture and as long as that mentality is not clearly condemned, there is a danger that things like that could happen again," she said.
Source: The National

Friday, 6 January 2012

Former Head of Turkish Armed Forces in Court

Turkey's former army chief Ilker Basbug was arrested Friday over an alleged bid to topple the Islamist-rooted government in the latest confrontation likely to inflame tensions with the powerful military.

"The 26th chief of staff of the Turkish republic has unfortunately been placed in preventive detention for setting up and leading a terrorist group and of attempting to overthrow the government," Ilkay Sezer, a lawyer for Basbug, was quoted as saying by the Anatolia news agency.

It is the first time in the history of the Turkish republic that a former chief of the Turkish military has been arrested as a suspect.

However, dozens of active and retired military officers, academics, journalists and lawyers have been detained in recent years in probes into alleged plots against the government of Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdogan.

Basbug, who retired in 2010, is the highest-ranking officer caught up in a massive investigation into the so-called Ergenekon network, accused of plotting to topple Erdogan's Islamic-rooted Justice and Development Party (AKP).

His arrest came hours after he testified as a suspect at an Istanbul court on Thursday as part of a probe into an alleged Internet campaign to discredit the government.

"The commander of such an army facing charges of forming and leading an armed organisation is really tragicomic," the 68-year-old general told prosecutors, Anatolia reported.

"I always followed the law and the constitution throughout my tenure."

"It is up to the esteemed nation to make a judgement" on his arrest, he was also quoted as saying by the private NTV television as he was leaving the Istanbul courthouse.

Basbug was sent to a prison at Istanbul's Silivri prison where other suspects of the alleged Ergenekon network are being detained. His lawyer said he would challenge the court's ruling.

The military, which considers itself as the guardian of secularism in modern-day Turkey, has carried out three coups -- in 1960, 1971 and 1980.

The move against Basbug appears to be a fresh warning to the NATO member state's military whose political influence has waned since Erdogan's AKP came to power in 2002.

Critics accuse Erdogan's government of launching a campaign to silence its opponents, charges it denies.

In 2009, Turkey's former army chief Hilmi Ozkok also testified to prosecutors in the Ergenekon probe but as a witness.

Among the allegations is an attempt by a group of army officers to establish websites to disseminate anti-government propoganda in order to destabilise the country.

"I reject this charge... I, as the chief of General Staff, am the commander of the Turkish Armed Forces which is one of the most powerful armies in the world," said Basbug in his testimony according to Anatolia.

Kemal Kilicdaroglu, leader of Turkey's opposition Republican People's Party (CHP), said that the courts trying the Ergenekon suspects were not delivering justice.

"They are implementing the decisions made by the political authority," he was quoted as saying by Anatolia.

Sunday, 1 January 2012

Foreign Affairs Says Turks 'Have Destroyed but Never Built' and 'Contributed Nothing to Human Progress'

From the time when the Turks streamed westward out of their pagan homelands in Central Asia and picked up Islam on the way,
they have destroyed but never built. They destroyed Saracenic
civilization when they broke up all the early Mohammedan
States of Western Asia, and, wresting the leadership of Islam from
the more highly gifted Semitic Arabs, they impressed upon it the
baser stamp of their Turanian race. Stout fighters to the present
day, they have contributed nothing of their own to human
progress, nothing to science or art or literature, and what they
borrowed from Persians and Arabs they have degraded
. The first
ten Sultans of the House of Othman were great conquerors with
some conceptions of statesmanship, but after them the power
passed to the effete and blood-stained creatures of the Seraglio
and to the corrupt Pashas of the Sublime Porte.

The devastating tide of Turkish conquest, sweeping over the
Christian kingdoms and principalities of South Eastern Europe,
became a formidable danger to Western civilization until it was
at last arrested outside the gates of Vienna in 1683. It then
swiftly receded.
Source: "Islam and Britain" by Sir Valentine Chirol, Foreign Affairs, Vol. 1, No. 3 (Mar. 15, 1923).