The "Turkish Action Group", which is believed to have its headquarters in Ankara, substituted Turkish Cypriot names in place of Colombian and Bosnian rape victims in a four-page account of the violent retribution exacted upon Turkish Cypriot women in 1974, the year Turkish troops invaded and divided the island of Cyprus following a coup d'etat by the Greek military regime.
The original Amnesty paper was an emotional open letter last year from David Bull, the director of the human rights organisation, urging readers to join Amnesty and outlining for them - in graphic detail - the brutal rape of Sonebia Pinzon and her daughter Marcela and an unnamed elderly Bosnian Muslim woman who was sexually abused by Serbian militiamen. "What do the words `women and children first' mean to you?" his letter began. "That innocent women and children caught up in some terrible situation beyond their control, must be protected from danger at all costs? That was my understanding too. But `women and children first' has taken on a whole new meaning for me since I began reading reports on the subject here at Amnesty International."
The Turkish Action Group's pamphlet begins with these identical words but continues by saying that the (anonymous) author's response "took on a whole new meaning for me since I began reading reports and documents on Cyprus ..." It goes on to substitute Sonebia Pinzon's name with that of the "Derya family".
Here is the Amnesty version: "Don't say `I can't read this', because there is a purpose to my telling you. If the Pinzon family can get through it, then so can you and I. The [Colombian] soldiers don't waste a second. They have a job to do. It begins with Sonebia. They tear at her clothes ... the stone is cold against her back as they take it in turns to rape her. She whispers to her little boy not to look, but he's frightened, he wants to hold his mummy's hand."
And here is the Turkish version: "Don't say `I can't read this ... If the Derya family can go through it, so can you and I. Soldiers don't waste a second. They have job [sic] to do. It begins with Mrs Derya. They tear at her clothes ... the stone is cold against her back as they take it in turns to rape her. She whispers to her little boy not to look, but he is frightened, he wants to hold his mother's hand."
In identical words, the Turks describe the rape of one of Mrs Derya's daughters - in the original Amnesty version, the second rape victim is Sonebia's daughter Marcella. Mr Bull's account of the rape of an elderly Bosnian woman by Serbs states that: "She was forced to stand with seven other women. One of the men, whom she knew, forced his hand up inside her until she bled." The Turkish version claims that a Greek Cypriot forced an elderly Turkish Cypriot woman (also unnamed) "to stand with two other women while one of the men forced his hand up inside her until she bled."
To Amnesty's fury, this crude counterfeit had also turned up on a website served by British Telecom, which told Amnesty that it had "no power" to have the material removed. Neil Durkin, an Amnesty spokesman, told The Independent: "We've contacted a QC, and taken advice, but we were advised that this would cost a great deal of money and would grant this [Turkish] organisation publicity that we would not wish to give them."
There are two ironies to this sad story. The first is that during and after the 1974 Turkish invasion of Cyprus, both sides committed human rights abuses, which were fully documented by Amnesty. The second is that the descriptions of rape in the Turkish document are so similar to those in the Amnesty letter that they defy credibility.Like most human rights groups, Amnesty uses the Internet. Clearly, however, the opportunities for misuse are just as great.Reuse content