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03ANKARA1624 2003-03-13 16:30:00 CONFIDENTIAL Embassy Ankara
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					  C O N F I D E N T I A L SECTION 01 OF 02 ANKARA 001624 



E.O. 12958: DECL: 03/13/2008


B. ANKARA 1303




F. 02 ANKARA 8881

Classified by Deputy Polcouns Nicholas S. Kass; reasons 1.5 b
and d.

1. (C) Summary: Turkey's highest court announced the closure
of the pro-Kurdish HADEP party the same day a chief
prosecutor opened a case to close the closely linked DEHAP
party. HADEP is accused of aiding the PKK and other
offenses; DEHAP is charged with actions against the
democratic state and legal institutions. HADEP leaders and
other Embassy contacts say the actions, timed for maximum
impact, are part of a broader anti-Kurdish crackdown. The
court closed HADEP despite recent reforms designed to raise
the standard for such actions. End Summary.


HADEP Closed, Successor Accused


2. (U) The Constitutional Court March 13 announced its
decision to close the pro-Kurdish People's Democracy Party
(HADEP) on charges of supporting the terrorist Kurdistan
Workers Party (PKK aka KADEK) and committing separatist acts.
The Court banned 46 HADEP members from participating in
political activity for five years. Court Chairman Mustafa
Bumin told reporters the case, filed in 1999, included
evidence that HADEP had provided (unspecified) aid and
assistance to the PKK. "We are talking about an act of
terrorism; we are not only talking about some statements," he
told reporters. The party was closed under Articles 68 and
69 of the Constitution, which prohibit parties from
undermining the independence or unity of the State and allow
for the closure of parties found in violation.

3. (C) Almost simultaneously, Supreme Court of Appeals Chief
Prosecutor Sabih Kanadoglu filed a case with the
Constitutional Court seeking the closure of the Democracy
People's Party (DEHAP), which is closely linked to HADEP.
Kanadoglu charged DEHAP with acts "contrary to the principles
of a democratic republic" and with causing "loss of
confidence in legal institutions." (Note: HADEP created
DEHAP before the November elections as insurance against a
possible pre-election closure of HADEP; several former HADEP
leaders ran in the elections under the DEHAP banner. In the
past, the GOT closed two of HADEP's predecessor parties. End

4. (C) Ahmet Turan Demir, HADEP chairman, told Emboff the
actions against HADEP and DEHAP constituted a politically
motivated effort to crush pro-Kurdish expression and
undermine democracy. Demir said the most damaging element is
the banning of 46 HADEP leaders, a severe measure that will
have a chilling effect across the political spectrum. "This
is a dangerous situation. It will lead to the isolation of
Turkey from the world," he said. Demir said HADEP will
appeal to the European Court of Human Rights.


"Anti Kurdish, Anti-Democratic" Crackdown


5. (C) Contacts espousing widely divergent political
philosophies expressed to us their concern about growing
anti-Kurdish sentiments, among both the Turkish State and
elements of the public, as a possible Iraq war looms.

-- Baskin Oran, a noted scholar at Ankara University's
prestigious Political Science Faculty and a specialist in
minority issues, characterized to us the actions against
HADEP/DEHAP as "horrifying, disastrous." Oran drew attention
to what he called the suspicious timing of the legal actions,
which come amid widespread Kurdish fears of a GOT crackdown
in the Kurdish southeast in the event of war in Iraq (Reftels
A-E). Elements of "the State," opposed to human rights
reform and EU membership, deliberately timed the HADEP
decision and the DEHAP case for maximum impact, he said.

-- Two senior Kurdish politicians -- one Kurmanji- and one
Zaza-speaker -- in the Islamist Saadet Party called our
attention to a palpable rise in Turkish-Kurdish tensions.
Both affiliated with the Naksibendi tarikat, they expressed
concern that the Turkish State's zeal in repressing dissent
in the Kurdish southeast will lead to a regional
"anti-democratic" crackdown -- asserting that, even in
Ankara, far from the fighting, Kurds will be "afraid to leave
their homes" if the bombing starts. On March 12, Saadet
kingmaker Oguzhan Asilturk told D/Polcouns that the Turkish
State's "racist" attitude toward the Kurds is deeply rooted
in the Kemalist State and has been an enduring
socio-political reality since Ataturk's day.

-- The human rights organization Mazlum Der, which focuses on
both Islamic and Kurdish issues, released a statement
decrying the decisions as: 1) an abandonment of democratic
principals and a violation of the Constitution; and 2) a blow
to Turkey's EU bid.


Recent Reforms Failed to Protect HADEP


6. (U) Recent GOT reforms were designed to make it more
difficult to close political parties. Parliament in January
adopted legislation requiring a three-fifths majority of the
11-member Constitutional Court, rather than a simple
majority, to close a party. The legislation also stipulated
that parties could be closed only for reasons stated in the
Constitution; previously, closures could also be based on the
more broadly worded reasons cited in the Political Parties
Law (Reftel F). The ruling AK Party, itself facing a closure
case, strongly backed the legislation. In March, Parliament
passed legislation giving the Constitutional Court the option
of depriving a party of state funds rather than ordering
closure. Bumin in September spoke out against a Supreme
Election Board decision to ban two HADEP leaders and other
prominent candidates from the November elections, publicly
arguing that the decision would harm Turkey's relations with
the EU. But Bumin on March 13 said HADEP's support for the
PKK required the maximum sanction.




7. (C) The timing of this crackdown on Kurdish political
expression is no coincidence. As recently as December, we
were told the HADEP closure case could not be completed until
verdicts were issued in a number of other HADEP cases, a
process that could "normally" be expected to take a couple of
years or more to run its course. It is common practice for
courts to hold the possibility of an adverse ruling as a
sword of Damocles over an organization deemed suspicious --
the ongoing cases against AK's Prime Minister-Designate
Erdogan are an example.