Alevis up in Arms against CHP’s Öymen after Dersim Remarks

Democratic Society Party-DTP members held a demonstration in the city, holding posters showing Öymen with a Hitler-like toothbrush moustache. On Saturday, 43 civil society organizations in the eastern province of Diyarbakır made a joint statement calling on Öymen to resign. Diyarbakır Democracy Platform read the joint statement, saying the speech by Öymen has taken its place in history as a disgrace. “We condemn Onur Öymen, who wanted more pain to be experienced through his speech in parliament and who lacks any conscientious feelings as well as CHP mentality, and those who applauded him.During a speech criticizing the government’s Kurdish initiative, which seeks to extend the rights of Kurds in Turkey to alleviate and ultimately end the separatist terrorism of the Kurdistan Workers’ Party (PKK), in Parliament on Tuesday, Öymen said: “Didn’t mothers also cry at the time of the Sheikh Said Rebellion? Didn’t mothers also cry at the time of the Dersim Rebellion?” in response to the government’s used of the phrase “Let no more mothers cry” as part of its efforts to end the PKK’s campaign of terrorism.

The rebellion took place in 1937 in Dersim, which had historically been a semi-autonomous region. Dersim was renamed Tunceli after the rebellion. The rebellion was led by Seyyid Riza, the chief of a Zaza (Kurdish) tribe in the region. The Turkish government at the time, led by İsmet İnönü, responded with air strikes against the rebels. Thousands were killed in the campaign. Öymen’s reference to the Dersim rebels as an example of terrorists continued to draw anger and resentment from the country’s Alevis and Zazas.

A group of Alevis in the Aegean province of İzmir, a city among the strongholds of the CHP, also gathered on Saturday to protest Öymen and the CHP. Holding banners reading “Racist Öymen will give account” and “Racist CHP go away Dersim,” the group also called on Öymen to resign.

Alevis across Turkey held demonstrations to protest CHP deputy Onur Öymen’s reference to the Dersim Rebellion as an example of terrorism. They laid black wreaths in front of CHP’s local offices.

Another harsh reaction to Öymen came from the southern province of Mersin, where various NGOs, including the Federation of Tunceli Residents, marched on Saturday. Democratic Society Party (DTP) members also held a demonstration in the city, holding posters showing Öymen with a Hitler-like toothbrush moustache. The group also chanted slogans protesting Öymen. Group spokesperson and DTP Provincial Chairman Serhat Ölmez said Öymen’s remarks are evidence of the CHP’s years-long policies of denial and destruction. The group laid a black wreath in front of the CHP’s local office. The group then held a moment of silence to remember those who were killed in the Dersim rebellion.
In the eastern province of Batman, a group of people including representatives of political parties and civil society groups also laid a black wreath in front of the CHP’s local office. Association of Human Rights and Solidarity for Oppressed Peoples’ (MAZLUM-DER) Batman branch head Murat Çiçek said in order for the democratic initiative to be successful Turkey should shed light on the past’s unfortunate events. “We condemn Onur Öymen and the mentality he represents and we want everyone in favor of peace to show their reaction,” he said.

Öymen’s remarks spark comparisons to Hitler in Dersim

Dersim residents put up posters throughout the city showing Öymen with a Hitler-like toothbrush moustache in protest to comments he made condoning the government’s violent response to the 1937 Dersim Rebellion.
 
Kurdish Alevis continue to lash out against Republican People’s Party (CHP) Deputy Chairman Onur Öymen, who on Tuesday referred to the Turkish government’s response to a 1937 rebellion in the predominantly Kurdish Alevi city of Dersim, as an example of fighting terrorism.16 November 2009

Children’s Rights Should Become Part of the "Democratic Initiative"

Turkey has been repeatedly criticized and admonished by the United Nations (UN) Committee for Rights of the Child because of reservations regarding 3 articles of the Convention of the Rights of the Child (CRC).The convention was enforced in 1995. In order to prevent education in the mother tongue of different ethnic groups in the country, Turkey put reservations on the following articles of the convention:

17 (d): Encourage the mass media to have particular regard to the linguistic needs of the child who belongs to a minority group or who is indigenous.

29 (c): The development of respect for the child’s parents, his or her own cultural identity, language and values, for the national values of the country in which the child is living, the country from which he or she may originate, and for civilizations different from his or her own.

30: In those States in which ethnic, religious or linguistic minorities or persons of indigenous origin exist, a child belonging to such a minority or who is indigenous shall not be denied the right, in community with other members of his or her group, to enjoy his or her own culture, to profess and practise his or her own religion, or to use his or her own language.The children’s rights defenders ask whether the government considers lifting the reservations in the scope of the "Democratic Initiative". Because, the reservations violate the children’s rights to "education, freedom of expression, to live their own culture and to use their mother tongue".As far as the criticism of the UN is concerned, Turkey puts forward the Treaty of Lausanne as pretence. The treaty defines only non-Muslim minorities. In the report issued to the United Nations in August this year, Turkey said, "Regarding children belonging to different groups under the aspect of their ethnic roots, language or religion, there are no problems for them to benefit from their own culture, to follow and apply their own religious beliefs or to practice their religions in specific places". The children’s rights defender have another question for the government: "Which monitoring mechanisms have been applied to compile this information that reveals that the reservations do not have any negative impact on the children’s daily life?" Source: Bianet.20 November 2009

Mr Öcalan’s Attorney Asks: Modern Prison = Proper Applications?

Ms Hatice Korkut, joint attorney of imprisoned leader of the  Kurdistan Workers’ Party (PKK), said she saw that a new prison is being built on the island of İmralı where Öcalan is kept since 1999. However, an improvement of the conditions is more dependent on the applications than on the structure, Korkut indicated.Joint attorney Korkut commented on the issue as follows:

High security prisoners will be transferred: This is a high security prison. Thus, the new convicts brought there are supposed to require high security. But we know that the number of convicts who want to be transferred next to Mr Öcalan is higher than 8.

Extremely heavy conditions:  Even in Europe no-one was kept under such conditions for 10 years. It cannot continue like this. This is violating international conventions as well. Also minister Cemil Cicek said that Turkey agreed to the CPT regulations. The European Court of Human Rights (ECHR) is currently dealing with a file related to isolation.

Books are not provided: Some books can still not be brought to the prison for security reasons. For example the Journal of Strategic Studies or a book concerning women’s rights and feminism are forbidden because they contain a few words in Kurdish.

We have to wait and see: We think that the prison will change in a short while. But we have to see how the conditions will change and to which extend. Our client will tell us about this as well.

Human rights: These changes concern the right of a person. But as far as Mr Öcalan is concerned, everything is being excessively politicized and is exploited for potential votes. Bianet.5 November 2009

DTP Member Demirtaş Appeals against Prison Sentence

Lawyer Cihan Aydın filed an appeal for his client Nurettin Demirtaş, former DTP leader. Demirtaş had received a 6 years and 3 months prison sentence because he had attended a funeral of PKK members. DTP member Sebahat Tuncel is also prosecuted under allegations of "membership of an illegal organization".A  day prior to the appeal on 10 November, the Diyarbakır 4th High Criminal Court convicted Demirtaş of "membership to an illegal organization" and handed down a 6 years and 3 months prison sentence, applying article 314 of the Criminal Code.Demirtaş had attended the funeral ceremony of 4 PKK members on 28 May 2006 in Diyarbakır. After some incidents occurring during the ceremony, Demirtaş was arrested and detained for about 4 months. Then he was released and prosecuted un-detained.Demirtaş was tried together with un-detained defendants Ramazan Şimşek, İmam Çobanyıldızı, Ajda İnci, Kenan Güneş and Hülya Arslan. Lawyer Aydın said in his defence for Demirtaş that his client was present during the incidents since he had attended the funeral as a politician and a DTP executive in order to strengthen his bonds with the people. He stated that Demirtaş had not made an agitating or directing speech to the crowd and concluded that for this reason an element of crime had not been constituted.Aydın pointed out that neither the instant 6 minutes of footage nor the report about the transcript of the cassette were sufficient to render a judgement. However, he could not prevent his client’s conviction.At the same time, the case of DTP Istanbul MP Sebahat Tuncel was continued on 11 November before the Istanbul 10th High Criminal Court. Tuncel is facing prison sentence of up to 15 years for alleged "PKK membership".The court postponed the case to 4 February 2010 to hear the statements of Duhok Municipality Mayor Serbest Arif Reşid and other defendants.13 November 2009

2 Landmine Victims in Turkey Every Week

Muteber Öğreten from the Initiative for a Mine-Free Turkey indicated that every 3 days people are killed or wounded by landmines. According to Öğreten, this figure has not changed since the Ottawa Treaty was ratified by Turkey in 2003.The Initiative for a Mine-Free Turkey and the International Landmine Ban Campaign published their report for 2009 in a press conference on 12 November. Apart from Öğreten, Hüseyin Demirdizen from the Turkish Medical Association (TTB), Erol Kızılelma from the Social Democracy Foundation (SODEV) and Ergün İşeri from the Disabled People Association commented on the current situation in the press conference.Ms Öğreten emphasized that Turkey is not fulfilling the requirements of the treaty. She evaluated the country’s position as follows:The purpose of the treaty is to eliminate losses and suffering caused by anti-personal landmines. The law regarding landmine clearing on the Syrian-Turkish border enforced in 2008 is not part of the treaty’s conditions. The conditions defined by the Ottawa Treaty are not fulfilled just by landmine clearance, if at the same time physical and psychological support is not granted to the victims and personal damage is not being eliminated.Öğreten continued that in order to reduce the number of mine victims measurements can be taken in the regions as risks. Local residents could receive corresponding education and children in primary school could have compulsory lessons on this topic.On the other hand Mr Kızılelma said, “The public has to be mobilized as an element of pressure for the landmine clearance. Necessary measures for clearing the landmines are not being taken. It is important to open the cleared areas to public use, this is what is required in a democracy.”According to Mr Demirdizen, “The law issued in 2008 revealed that the government is looking at the matter from a perspective of annuities. In the context of mine clearance there are several goals on the agenda, the problems of the victims must be our priority. There are unavoidable health problems as well as health problems caused by the mines that could be prevented. Landmines have been created by humans and humans can stop them. At this point, the government has to take action urgently.”According to Mr İşeri The problems of the landmine victims can be summarized as such:– They have problems to find a job. Their only income is a government allowance of 180-200 Turkish Lira (about € 80-90). Families of mine victims are supposed to live on that amount.– Infrastructure is insufficient. Many victims of dismemberment do not even have a prosthesis.– Limited education opportunities.– Lack of required rehabilitation activities. No action for reintegration into the society.– No research has been made on the number of victims in mined regions after evacuating villages. The migrants cannot return to these areas because of anti personal mines.After the clearance of mined land the victims have to be considered. By opening the cleared areas to the public, economic and social opportunities must be created for the landmine victims. Bianet.

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