Calls for reform increase Turkish tension

In a sign of rising political tensions in Turkey, both the Islamist-led government and military leaders have reacted furiously to a proposal from some of the country's leading private businessmen for sweeping democratic reforms. "Cheap political heroism" was the derisive phrase used by one military officer to describe the report presented to parliament last week by the Turkish Association of Industrialists and Businessmen.

Among the report's recommendations were more effective protection of the civil rights of ethnic Kurds, shorter periods of prison custody to prevent police torture and other human-rights abuses, and the subjection of the military high command to defence ministry control. The businessmen also proposed the abolition of the national security council, a powerful institution which ensures the armed forces considerable influence over certain areas of government policy.

Military officers, quoted anonymously in the Turkish press, dismissed the report's proposals as based on a "lack of knowledge" about the true state of affairs in Turkey. But liberal Turkish and foreign commentators said the businessmen had clearly touched a raw nerve.

The armed forces have seized power on three occasions since 1960, ostensibly to defend the modern secular republic against political enemies. The army has remained a powerful presence in the wings since 1983, when it last returned power to civilian politicians. It plays a particularly important role in determining policy in the civil war that has raged since 1984 in the mainly Kurdish south-east of Turkey.

The businessmen's report also attracted criticism from the Turkish government, a coalition of the Islamist Welfare Party and the centre-right True Path Party. The trade minister, Yalim Erez, said the report had been produced by "intellectuals who do not know the realities of this country".

However, the armed forces and the Islamists have not always seen eye- to-eye since Necmettin Erbakan, the Welfare Party leader, came to power last June as Turkey's first Islamist prime minister since the establishment of the secular republic in 1923. But, as far as the Kurdish war is concerned, Mr Erbakan, like his secular predecessors, has essentially left the army with a free hand to crack down on the rebels.

The report was by no means the first such appeal for more humane treatment of Kurds and for a political rather than a military solution to the war. A similar report, commissioned by the Union of Chambers and Trade Bourses and published in 1995, said that support for the far-left Kurdistan Workers Party (PKK) would diminish if the government tackled the grievances of ordinary Kurds.

More than 21,000 people are estimated to have died in the war since 1984.

Start your day with The Independent, sign up for daily news emails
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
ebooks
ebooksA special investigation by Andy McSmith
News
Kim Wilde began gardening in the 1990s when she moved to the countryside
peopleThe singer is leading an appeal for the charity Thrive, which uses the therapy of horticulture
Sport
Alexis Sanchez celebrates scoring a second for Arsenal against Reading
football
Life and Style
health
Voices
An easy-peel potato; Dave Hax has come up with an ingenious method in food preparation
voicesDave Hax's domestic tips are reminiscent of George Orwell's tea routine. The world might need revolution, but we like to sweat the small stuff, says DJ Taylor
News
i100
News
Japan's population is projected to fall dramatically in the next 50 years (Wikimedia)
news
  • Get to the point
Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Independent Dating
and  

By clicking 'Search' you
are agreeing to our
Terms of Use.

iJobs Job Widget
iJobs General

Recruitment Genius: Project Implementation Executive

£18000 - £23000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: They work with major vehicle ma...

Recruitment Genius: Chiropractic Assistant

£16500 per annum: Recruitment Genius: A Chiropractic Assistant is needed in a ...

Recruitment Genius: Digital Account Executive - Midlands

£18000 - £26000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: They work with major vehicle ma...

Recruitment Genius: Web Developer

£28000 - £30000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: This company provides coaching ...

Day In a Page

NHS struggling to monitor the safety and efficacy of its services outsourced to private providers

Who's monitoring the outsourced NHS services?

A report finds that private firms are not being properly assessed for their quality of care
Zac Goldsmith: 'I'll trigger a by-election over Heathrow'

Zac Goldsmith: 'I'll trigger a by-election over Heathrow'

The Tory MP said he did not want to stand again unless his party's manifesto ruled out a third runway. But he's doing so. Watch this space
How do Greek voters feel about Syriza's backtracking on its anti-austerity pledge?

How do Greeks feel about Syriza?

Five voters from different backgrounds tell us what they expect from Syriza's charismatic leader Alexis Tsipras
From Iraq to Libya and Syria: The wars that come back to haunt us

The wars that come back to haunt us

David Cameron should not escape blame for his role in conflicts that are still raging, argues Patrick Cockburn
Sam Baker and Lauren Laverne: Too busy to surf? Head to The Pool

Too busy to surf? Head to The Pool

A new website is trying to declutter the internet to help busy women. Holly Williams meets the founders
Heston Blumenthal to cook up a spice odyssey for British astronaut manning the International Space Station

UK's Major Tum to blast off on a spice odyssey

Nothing but the best for British astronaut as chef Heston Blumenthal cooks up his rations
John Harrison's 'longitude' clock sets new record - 300 years on

‘Longitude’ clock sets new record - 300 years on

Greenwich horologists celebrate as it keeps to within a second of real time over a 100-day test
Fears in the US of being outgunned in the vital propaganda wars by Russia, China - and even Isis - have prompted a rethink on overseas broadcasters

Let the propaganda wars begin - again

'Accurate, objective, comprehensive': that was Voice of America's creed, but now its masters want it to promote US policy, reports Rupert Cornwell
Why Japan's incredible long-distance runners will never win the London Marathon

Japan's incredible long-distance runners

Every year, Japanese long-distance runners post some of the world's fastest times – yet, come next weekend, not a single elite competitor from the country will be at the London Marathon
Why does Tom Drury remain the greatest writer you've never heard of?

Tom Drury: The quiet American

His debut was considered one of the finest novels of the past 50 years, and he is every bit the equal of his contemporaries, Jonathan Franzen, Dave Eggers and David Foster Wallace
You should judge a person by how they peel a potato

You should judge a person by how they peel a potato

Dave Hax's domestic tips are reminiscent of George Orwell's tea routine. The world might need revolution, but we like to sweat the small stuff, says DJ Taylor
Beige is back: The drab car colours of the 1970s are proving popular again

Beige to the future

Flares and flounce are back on catwalks but a revival in ’70s car paintjobs was a stack-heeled step too far – until now
Bill Granger recipes: Our chef's dishes highlight the delicate essence of fresh cheeses

Bill Granger cooks with fresh cheeses

More delicate on the palate, milder, fresh cheeses can also be kinder to the waistline
Aston Villa vs Liverpool: 'This FA Cup run has been wonderful,' says veteran Shay Given

Shay Given: 'This FA Cup run has been wonderful'

The Villa keeper has been overlooked for a long time and has unhappy memories of the national stadium – but he is savouring his chance to play at Wembley
Timeless drama of Championship race in league of its own - Michael Calvin

Michael Calvin's Last Word

Timeless drama of Championship race in league of its own