TITLE=TURKEY / KURDS (PART TWO OF THREE)
//// ED'S: THE SECOND OF THREE REPORTS ABOUT THE
SITUATION IN TURKEY'S MOSTLY KURIDSH SOUTHEASTERN
INTRO: Hopes are growing for a lasting peace in
Turkey's largely Kurdish southeastern provinces.
Clashes between Turkish government forces and rebels
of the outlawed Kurdistan Workers' party, the P-K-K,
are receding in the wake of a rebel cease-fire. In
the second of three reports about this new climate in
Turkey's Kurdish region, Amberin Zaman reports from
Diyarbakir on the expanding political debate about the
future of Turkey's 12-million Kurds.
/// PRO-P-K-K KURDISH MUSIC - FADE UNDER ///
"Rebellion is life." The lyrics of this banned
Kurdish song still trigger loud cheers and frenzied
folk dances at gatherings here. But it no longer
reflects the prevailing mood in Turkey's largely
Kurdish southeast provinces.
In Diyarbakir, the political nerve center of these
harshly beautiful, mountainous lands, it is
"democratic republic," not "independent Kurdistan"
that are the buzz words throughout noisy street
bazaars and high-brow intellectual circles.
A "democratic republic" encompassing Turks and Kurds
is what imprisoned P-K-K leader Abdullah Ocalan has
called for since his dramatic capture by Turkish
special forces last February in Kenya.
Ocalan declared that Kurdish autonomy and independence
were no longer realistic goals during his month-long
court room trial last June. The P-K-K leader, who was
handed the death sentence on treason charges, said
granting of long-denied cultural rights would be more
than enough to satisfy the Kurds' demands. Ocalan has
since ordered his fighters to pull out of Turkey and
to end their 15-year armed campaign fight.
Ocalan's reversal has taken both his critics and
supporters by surprise.
Cezair Serin is the mayor of Diyarbakir's bustling
commercial Surici district. Mr. Serin was elected
together with 38 other members of the pro-Kurdish
People's Democracy Party or HADEP in elections last
/// SERIN ACT ONE - IN TURKISH - FADE UNDER ///
The mayor says he agrees that ethnic nationalism is an
outdated concept, and says that he and his party will
do everything possible to promote peace.
Still, Ocalan's reversal has triggered accusations
among his erstwhile supporters that his peace
overtures are merely aimed at saving his own life.
Many question whether the 15-year rebellion that has
claimed nearly 40-thousand lives has been worth it.
Like many Kurdish politicians and activists, Mr. Serin
says it is --in his words -- fruitless to dwell on the
past. Instead, he says Kurds should seek to
consolidate their gains.
What are they? Like many, Mr. Serin responds that
today Kurds are no longer afraid to say that that is
what they are - Kurds - and that their problems are
now - largely thanks to the P-K-K insurgency - known
throughout the world.
Hanefi Isik is the regional representative of the
Ankara-based Turkish Human Rights Association. Mr.
Isik says the daily lives of Kurds in the region has
improved dramatically in recent months.
/// ISIK ACT - IN TURKISH - FADE UNDER ///
Mr. Isik says Turkish security forces appear much more
relaxed in the wake of the P-K-K cease-fire and now
treat local citizens, in his words - more gently. He
says torture and arbitrary detentions have sharply
Cemil Serhatli is Diyarbakir's new governor. He says
the Turkish government is doing its best to restore
confidence in the government among civilians
throughout the region.
/// SERHATLI ACT - IN TURKISH - FADE UNDER ///
Mr. Serhatli says measures include helping villagers
displaced by the fighting to return to their homes, as
well as providing free education and health for them.
But many, like Hadep's Cezair Serin, say that unless
the Turkish government takes urgent steps to address
the Kurds' demands for greater cultural freedom, the
atmosphere of peace could give way to renewed
/// SERIN ACT TWO - IN TURKISH - FADE UNDER ///
Mr. Serin says a crucial first step in moving peace
forward would be full amnesty for thousands of P-K-K
rebels in the mountains and for about 10-thousand P-K-
K militants and sympathizers locked up in Turkish
He says other steps would be to ease restrictions on
Kurdish language broadcasting and education, and to do
away with bans that effectively bar free debate of the
Kurdish issue and others deemed - threatening to the
unity of the Turkish state.
And, Mr. Serin argues that Kurds should be permitted
to freely sing songs, even if they are about
rebellion, without facing imprisonment. (SIGNED)
30-Dec-1999 07:46 AM EDT (30-Dec-1999 1246 UTC)
Source: Voice of America
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