Turkey has a part to play in the international community: Letter

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The Independent Online
Sir: Tony Barber's description of Turkey as a democracy needs serious qualification. Many thousands have been arbitrarily arrested and tortured. The press is restricted in what it may say, and those who offend the state risk punishment. Over the past five years at least 29 journalists have been assassinated for their temerity, hundreds of others arrested, and many tortured. Hundreds of other political activists have either been killed or simply "disappeared", mutilated bodies appearing weeks later or never.

No one can hold the PKK guiltless in the miseries of south-east Turkey, but your readers may not be aware that the state has rendered 3,000 villages uninhabitable over the past four years, leaving almost 3 million villagers destitute, to survive as best they may. Imagine for a moment such things happening in a member state of the European Union.

Nothing is likely to change until Turkey's major trading partners, the US and leading EU members, recognise that the most serious issue facing Turkey's future is one of fundamental rights, and that it must be helped to face and solve this question. That requires a frank and constructive initiative, not its avoidance, as so often happens, as if it were an embarrassment to the jollier business of trade.

DAVID McDOWALL

Richmond, Surrey

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