An Interview with the Chairman of the Istanbul Human Rights Association Ercab Kanar
Lawyer and longtime chairman of the Istanbul Human Rights Association (IHD) Ercan Kanar warns of the domestic political consequences of his government’s involvement in the war on terror. His predictions about increasing repression in Turkey have already been confirmed in recent days. A few days ago, the Turkish military cracked down on death fasters in Istanbul’s Armutlu district who were drawing attention to the situation in Turkish prisons and killed four people.
Turkey participates in the so-called anti-terror coalition of the West and now even sends its own soldiers to the war against Afghanistan. How is this being received by the Turkish population?? Ercan Kanar: The vast majority of the population in Turkey rejects this war and sees with great disgust that the Turkish government even intervenes in this war with its own soldiers. There are surveys that put the number of opponents of the war at more than 85% in Turkish society. Interestingly, the rejection of the war in the Kurdish part is as rough as in the rest of Turkey. Among opponents of the war, there are rough disputes over how the U.S. should respond to the attacks of 11.September should respond. Is this discussion also held in Turkey?? Ercan Kanar:. We human rights activists condemn the attack of September 11.We condemn the September 11 attack unreservedly, just as we have always rejected terror. However, we believe that the real causes of the 11/11 attacks are the terrorists.September lie in the global inequality and exploitation. We plead to fight these causes of terror. Further wars with even more civilian deaths are certainly the wrong way to go. However, it is not possible to discuss such ies openly in Turkey. Because in spite of the great opposition to war in the population, the peace forces in our country have no possibility to articulate themselves. We do not have the opportunity to openly discuss or even demonstrate against war as we do in Germany and even in the USA. All manifestations of peace are prevented by police and military with violence. There were attempts to articulate the rejection of the war openly? Ercan Kanar: There have been repeated attempts to demonstrate against the war in recent times. However, the actions were ended very quickly and brutally by the security forces. Many participants were arrested, but most of them were released after 2 days. However, they are now facing trials and heavy penalties. This is naturally distracting, so that a large part of the population does not participate in protests. .Does Turkey’s involvement in the war affect the democratization process in the country?? Ercan Kanar: This can be said unequivocally. The attacks of 11.The government uses the events of September 11 and its involvement in the war as a pretext for continuing human rights violations in the country. For example, the state of emergency was recently re-imposed in four Kurdish provinces, even though the cease-fire of the Kurdistan Workers’ Party (PKK) did not reveal any guerrilla activity there. Any discussion about lifting the state of emergency after 11 September is out of the question.September silenced. Other state-terrorist practices are now being used again in Turkey. Torture has increased, villages in Kurdistan have been forcibly cleared, houses have been stormed and now opposition members are disappearing again. From 1994 to 1998, the disappearance of government critics was part of everyday life in Turkey. After that, prere from abroad has also reduced it. In summary, the war against Afghanistan threatens to bury the modest beginnings of a civil society in Turkey. The concerns of the Kurds and political prisoners, who have been on death fast for more than a year, are now being listened to even less. How does this domestic political climate affect the constitutional changes that were supposed to bring more democracy?? Ercan Kanar: The September constitutional changes have not led to more freedom overall, as they are portrayed according to Auben. There are some regulations that bring more legal certainty. But in essence nothing has changed. For example, the death penalty has not been abolished, especially for political trials. Also the power of the military and its security apparatus were not touched. Even the long-awaited language reform did not bring real progress. The Kurdish language must still not be taught in schools. The fundamental flaw in these reforms is the complete lack of public debate. Human rights groups had long insisted that the public be involved in the reform discussion. But after 11.September these laws were passed very quickly in a climate of war hysteria. Here, too, the negative consequences of the attacks can be clearly seen. (Peter Nowak)