Letter: Human rights abuses in Kurdish Turkey

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The Independent Online
Sir: We have become accustomed to the unevenness of the reporting of the war in Kurdistan by your correspondents, but we must protest at Hugh Pope's article 'The war between Kurds and Turks heats up' (20 July).

The struggle of the Kurdish people for national independence is growing rapidly. The Turkish government, unable to quell the struggle led by the PKK (Kurdish Workers Party), has been killing and torturing innocent civilians. This was clearly shown by a recent human rights delegation to north Kurdistan, led by Lord Avebury.

They filmed scenes which shocked many people by their portrayal of Kurdish people being buried alive and suffering all kinds of brutality at the hands of the Turkish security forces, when they were shown on BBC news.

Despite this, on a number of occasions you have published reports from international news agencies, which claim that the PKK has killed civilians, and quote Turkish government officials as the only source.

Neither are your own correspondents particularly thorough in checking their stories. Today (20 July) Hugh Pope makes the wholly unsubstantiated claim that 'the PKK . . . refines and smuggles drugs, executes 'collaborators' and their families, extorts money from Kurds in Europe'. He does not quote a single fact or source to back up his story. Obviously the only sources of information he has are the Turkish regional governor and secret police.

Kurdish people in London, who have been forced to leave their homeland by the policy of the Turkish government, find this sort of reporting deeply offensive. We would urge you to to talk to the people there about the escalation of the war. Their views are censored by the Turkish media - they should not suffer the same treatment from the British press.

Yours sincerely,

ZINAR HOGIR

Kurdistan Information Centre

London, N4

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