Letter: Human rights abuses in Kurdish Turkey

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The Independent Online
Sir: Your correspondent, Hugh Pope, reports (20 July) that over a thousand people have died in the Kurdish area of Turkey in the first six months of this year - more than 50 in the last four days. As a member of a human rights delegation to the area in April, I have been corresponding with Tristan Garel-Jones, government spokesman on foreign affairs, concerning the Turkish government's human rights record in the area.

In his last letter to me of 2 July Mr Garel-Jones stated:

Legislation is only the first step towards real improvement in the human rights situation: we will monitor closely the implementation of the new measures. The Turkish government have been left in no doubt that both we and the other Western governments expect progress.

Unfortunately the legislation referred to by Mr Garel-Jones (allowing suspects access to lawyers in police stations) has been vetoed by President Ozal and now looks unlikely to go through the Turkish parliament. In the face of widespread allegations of extra-judicial killings by the security forces, armed attacks on unarmed civilians, and constant allegations of torture, the proposed legislation would also have been de minimis.

As Mr Garel-Jones acknowledged in his letter, there is no redress for the victims of killings, assaults and torture by the Turkish security forces since the emergency legislation in the south-east area specifically precludes this.

In our delegation's report published in April this year we called on the British government, all other European governments and on the United Nations to exercise effective pressure on Turkey, including the use of economic sanctions to stop human rights abuses against the Kurdish people.

In view of the alarmingly escalating violence and the very real prospect of a civil war, I hope that Mr Garel-Jones and the British government will now take the need to put pressure on the Turkish government more seriously.

Yours faithfully,


London, WC1