This record is a partial extract of the original cable. The full text of the original cable is not available.
UNCLAS SECTION 01 OF 17 ANKARA 006318
DEPARTMENT FOR G/TIP, G, INL, DRL, EUR/PGI, EUR/SE
E.O. 12958: N/A TAGS: PREL KCRM PHUM KWMN SMIG KFRD PREF TU TIP IN TURKEY SUBJECT: TIP IN TURKEY: TURKISH MEDIA ATTENTION, October 1- 15, 2005
UNCLAS SECTION 01 OF 17 ANKARA 006318
DEPARTMENT FOR G/TIP, G, INL, DRL, EUR/PGI, EUR/SE
E.O. 12958: N/A TAGS: PREL KCRM PHUM KWMN SMIG KFRD PREF TU TIP IN TURKEY SUBJECT: TIP IN TURKEY: TURKISH MEDIA ATTENTION, October 1- 15, 2005
1. In response to G/TIP inquiries, national and international media sources published the following news articles about TIP in Turkey. Text of articles originally published in Turkish is provided through unofficial local FSN translation.
2. Published by Guardian Unlimited on Saturday, October 1:
TITLE: Police free sex trade women in raid on massage parlor
Officers believe 19 were being held against will. Ministers urged to step up help for trafficking victims
BEGIN TEXT: Nineteen women from 10 countries, believed to have been tricked into working in the sex trade, were under police protection yesterday after a raid on a massage parlor. Detectives think the women may have been held against their will behind locked doors and an electric fence at premises in Birmingham.
The women - from East Europe, Italy, Turkey and East Asia - are thought to have been duped into coming to Britain with offers of jobs as nannies or waitresses.
Police say that, once here, they were held at a house by day and taken to the Cuddles massage parlor on Hagley Road, near central Birmingham, each evening. Some may have had their passports confiscated, making it even harder to escape.
Interpreters were helping officers interview them yesterday. Police said the women were being treated as victims, not offenders, and were not under arrest.
Human rights groups welcomed the police action, but said Britain was not doing enough for the welfare of victims of human traffickers. Campaigners want the government to sign up to a new European convention on the protection of such people, but ministers are resisting doing so.
The raid on Cuddles followed two months of surveillance as part of Operation Strikeout by West Midlands police, targeting violent crime.
Shortly after 8pm on Thursday, two male officers rang the bell at Cuddles, posing as clients. As the door opened, 25 female officers leapt off a bus and piled into the building. Two men and a woman from the West Midlands were arrested on suspicion of being "concerned with the management of running a brothel." Two other men, thought to be clients, were later released. Police say they found a sawn-off shotgun, batons and condoms.
Cuddles has about 12 rooms. There is an electric fence at the back of the building and some of the windows are boarded.
Det Insp Mark Nevitt said: "We went to the property to execute a warrant in human trafficking. Intelligence suggests the girls were brought into the country under false pretenses, sold on and held against their will in the massage parlor.
"These girls could be subject to violence, sexual assaults and forced to work as prostitutes. When they arrived in this country, they would have been told not to trust the police, so interviewing them will be a delicate process."
Amnesty International said victims of trafficking did not receive the protection they needed. A spokeswoman, Sarah Green, said: "Most are deported without any care or support or assessment of the risks they face if sent back. Communities might not want these women back if they know what has happened to them, and there is evidence of people being re-trafficked. If you deport them very quickly and arbitrarily, you are simply throwing them back into the fire."
Amnesty is calling on the government to sign up to the new European convention on action against trafficking in human beings, which gives victims the right to emergency housing and medical care and a temporary resident permit in the country they have been taken to.
The government is resisting because it feels the convention may be open to abuse by people with no right to stay in Britain.
More than 200 children have been rescued from prostitution in the past five years on Merseyside, the children's charity, Barnardo's, said yesterday. END TEXT.
3. Published by The Telegraph on Saturday, October 1:
TITLE: Sex slaves freed as police smash human trafficking operation
BEGIN TEXT: Police have smashed a major human trafficking ring after freeing 19 women who were being held captive and forced to work as prostitutes in the West Midlands.
A special task force raided the Cuddles massage parlor in Birmingham and released women who came from a number of countries across Europe and beyond.
Four people, a 40-year-old woman and three men, suspected of being part of the management, were arrested and were last night being questioned.
A team of 50 officers - half of them female - were involved in the swoop on Wednesday night. It is thought that the women were tricked into coming to Britain, had their passports taken away and were locked in the grimy massage parlor at night to work.
During the day they are believed to have been locked in a nearby house and made to stay there until their evening work began.
Police also found a sawn-off shotgun and four telescopic batons. Windows were boarded up to stop the women from escaping and electric fences are also said to have been erected at the rear of the building.
Det Insp Mark Nevitt, of West Midlands Police, said: "We went to the property to execute a warrant in human trafficking and intelligence suggests the girls were brought into the country under false pretences, sold on and held against their will in the massage parlor.
"These girls could be subject to violence, sexual assaults and forced to work as prostitutes in the premises."
He said the 19 women present were "obviously very distressed" and added: "When they arrived in this country the girls would have been told not to trust the police so interviewing them will be a delicate process.
"Immigration has been informed but it is too early to establish whether any of the girls were in this country illegally."
The women come from Greece, Turkey, Poland, Latvia, Italy, Japan and Hong Kong.
The month-long investigation is part of West Midlands Police's Operation Strikeout, which is targeting violent crime and robbery in the force area. A former visitor to the premises said: "The women were obviously very polite but you could tell they were very cagey and frightened of their bosses."
Kate Allen, the director of Amnesty International UK, urged the Government to sign up to the new European Convention Against Trafficking.
She said, "Amnesty welcomes the West Midlands police crackdown on traffickers and their vicious trade in women who are held prisoner and forced to work as prostitutes.
"But the UK needs to protect the victims of this brutal industry as well as catching the traffickers.
"We must turn the system around so that they are recognized as the victims and not the perpetrators of crime. The UK Government must sign up to the new European Convention."
Details of such activities in Birmingham came to light in February when a gangster was jailed for 11 years at Southwark Crown Court. Vullnet Ismailaj, 27, led a prostitution empire that trafficked eastern European women into Britain, netting him 300,000 pounds Sterling.
The following month, an Albanian immigrant, Xhevahir Pisha, 21, was jailed for seven years by Sheffield Crown Court along with two other men for their part in forcing a teenage girl into prostitution. The 15-year- old Lithuanian girl was forced to work in a brothel in Birmingham two days after arriving in Britain when a man paid 4,000 pounds Sterling for her. She was imprisoned in Pisha's house in Coventry.
According to Home Office estimates, up to 1,420 women were trafficked into Britain in 2000. END TEXT.
4. Published by Hurriyet on Friday, October 1:
TITLE: Turkish Sex Slaves in Britain
BEGIN TEXT: It was reported that there were women from Turkey among the 19 prostitutes saved during a crackdown on a brothel in Birmingham, England.
The police announced that the women were forced to serve as sex slaves and were made to work at a massage parlor against their will. The names of the Turkish women captured at the brothel were not available.
During an operation on a massage parlor, where mostly eastern European women were kept by force, three people, including one woman, were arrested.
It was discovered that on the back of the brothel, which looked like a prison, there were electric bars. END TEXT.
5. Published by Bugun on Saturday, October 1:
TITLE: Sex Slaves
BEGIN TEXT: Elina Siderova has been giving a fierce struggle for nine months for saving the women forced into prostitution by gangs. IOM's Turkey Secretary Siderova stressed that this human tragedy could be prevented only with support from the women.
Siderova noted that until now they managed to save 159 women from the houses they were locked into in Turkey through the 157 hotline they established.
She noted that their Turkish clients informed (security officials) about the women who were forced into prostitution. She said, "Those women who refuse to have sex are burned with hot oil or cigarettes are put out in their eyes." END TEXT.
6. Published by The Peninsula, Qatar's Leading English Daily, on Sunday, October 2:
TITLE: Three appear in court over trafficking
BEGIN TEXT: Three people appeared in a British court yesterday accused of running a brothel in which 19 foreign women, largely from Eastern Europe and Asia, were found during a police raid.
Carl Pritchett, 52, Nathan Langston, 22, and Susan Richards, 50, are also charged with possessing a firearm which was found at the massage parlor in Birmingham, central England.
The three were arrested after a squad of mostly female police officers stormed the Cuddles sauna on Thursday night.
Nineteen foreign women - from Slovakia, Poland, Turkey, Italy, Japan, Singapore and Hong Kong - were escorted from the building after the raid. A West Midlands Police spokeswoman said six of the women were being dealt with the Immigration Service. The rest have been released without charge.
At the half-hour hearing at Warley Magistrates' Court, the defendants spoke only to confirm their names, ages and addresses.
Pritchett is also accused of possessing an offensive weapon. He was remanded into custody after being refused an application for bail. Richards and Langston were both granted unconditional bail.
All will return to the magistrates' court next Friday, October 7.
Meanwhile British police and immigration officials yesterday were offering support to the women.
A force spokesman confirmed that seven of the women "rescued" from the Cuddles parlor were being interviewed by immigration officers. Twelve others are still at police stations while they are found accommodation.
The women are thought to have been tricked into becoming "sex slaves."
"They had their passports taken," the police spokesman said.
"They were locked into the venue during the evening to work and taken away during the day and locked in a house," she said.
Amnesty International welcomed the raid but called on the government to do more to protect victims of trafficking.
Spokeswoman Sarah Green said there was no protection in law for victims of trafficking who were normally classed as illegal immigrants and deported.
"Most are deported without any care or support or assessment of the risks they face if sent back," she said.
"Communities might not want these women back if they know what has happened to them and there is evidence of people being re-trafficked.
"If you deport them very quickly and arbitrarily, you are simply throwing them back into the fire."
Green also appealed to the government to sign up to the Council of European Convention on Action against Trafficking in Human Beings, which she said gives victims the right to emergency housing and medical care and a temporary residence permit in the country they find themselves in.
"There is no reason why Britain should not sign up," she said. "These people are victims of a series of vicious human rights violations and should be protected in law."
Meanwhile, a 50-year-old woman from Brierley Hill, West Midlands, a 50-year-old man from Stourbridge, and a 22- year-old man from Wolverhampton are being held on suspicion of being concerned in the management of a brothel.
A sawn-off shotgun and 7,000 pounds Sterling ($12,000) in cash were also recovered during the operation and a vehicle was seized. END TEXT.
7. Published by Cumhuriyet on Monday, October 3: TITLE: REASON FOR IMMIGRATION: GLOBALIZATION BEGIN TEXT: Prof. Metin Kutal, Department Head of International Relations at the Kadir Has University, said that economic and political instability in countries played a major role in fueling the Mafia that is involved in (illegal) immigration. He noted that unless these economic and political problems were resolved, the problem would deepen and added, "The globalization has deepened the abyss between the developing and developed countries."
Kutal said that immigrants prefer to go to developed countries mostly because these countries represent freedom and economic welfare. He emphasized that measures should be taken at global level against the "immigration Mafia."
He stressed that Turkey could not struggle against this problem by itself and added, "Turkey, because of its location, has been the focus of the immigration Mafia. This has created a picture against Turkey on the international arena. It brings along many legal and political problems."
Kutan said that among the measures taken an effective control mechanism was key and noted, "Entries and exits must be under control. This type of smuggling does not contribute to the economy. It fuels further the unregistered economy. As sources increase, the Mafia will get stronger in a fashion that it would be untouchable."
HUMAN TRAFFICKERS IN ACTION
Despite all efforts and operations, almost the entire human trafficking from Central Asia, Middle East and Africa to Europe has been going through Turkey.
According to a recent report by the Smuggling and Fight against Organized Crime Department, Mafia groups organized at the international level were involved in human trafficking. The security forces were mobilized when the U.S. brought on the agenda some sanctions, including an embargo, for (Turkey) not to work enough to prevent human trafficking.
Upon a proposal by the MFA, a Task Force was established with the participation of the TNP, Jandarma the Coast Guard and the MIT. As a result of the work of this Force, some operations were conducted. Upon this development, the U.S. put Turkey in Tier Two, among countries that take measures against human trafficking. But none of this prevented Turkey from being used as a transit country in human trafficking.
There are around one million immigrants in Turkey waiting to go to the West. Last year 61,228 immigrants were captured. It is estimated that the same year those who managed to end up in the West through Turkey was at least ten times this figure.
In the last activity report by the Smuggling Department, human trafficking was tackled in length. According to the report entitled, "Immigrant Smuggling and Human Trafficking," organizers are using Turkey as a transit country in order to take immigrants from Central Asia, Middle East and Africa to European countries.
The report stressed that in recent years Turkey also turned into a destination country. Many immigrants from the Middle East and Africa reportedly come to Turkey to live here.
An immigrant from Iraq or Afghanistan has to travel thousands of kilometers and pass through dozens of countries in order to reach Western Europe. If he manages to pass through these borders without being detected, he finds himself in the back streets of Paris, in the shanty town of London and in the ethnic ghettos of Germany. It is not possible for an individual immigrant who is not happy with his life in his country to do this on his own. So he goes to the Mafia. He pays between 3-7 (thousand) Euros to the Mafia that is involved in human trafficking depending on the country he is going or the itinerary he will use. The annual income of the Mafia involved in human trafficking is up to $8 billion. Since it is very profitable, the Mafia, involved in drug and arms trafficking, also got involved in human trafficking.
According to the report of the Smuggling Department, the most important characteristic of the Mafia that is involved in human trafficking is that they are organized at international level. There are Turks among the influential people in the Mafia. SECURITY FORCES DO NOT SIT STILL
The Smuggling Department conducted many operations last year against human trafficking. Some important operations included:
- Yayla Operation: It was conducted on April 25, 2004, in Ankara, Istanbul, Hatay, Canakkale and Agri. In that operation 30 immigrants, mostly Chinese, were captured and 117 fake passports were seized. It was learned that Chinese immigrants first were brought by plane to Jordan and from there were taken to Syria. Later they entered Turkey through Hatay. Traffickers were planning to take the immigrants through Romania and Greece to Western European countries.
- Sea Project Operation: This operation was conducted jointly with Britain. In Kocaeli and Istanbul 60 immigrants, including 57 Iraqis, two Egyptians and 11 Uzbekis were captured. During the operation 10 organizers were arrested.
- Alaca Operation: It was conducted at the same time in Istanbul, Aydin and Edirne on December 25, 2004. In the operation 108 immigrants were captured and 30 organizers were detained. Four of the gang members were Greek. During searches at their residences, security forces found a 10-meter speed boat used in human trafficking, one Kalashnikov, 110 bullets and three unregistered pistols. END TEXT.
Two Pakistani illegal immigrants who were treated in the Emergency ward of the hospital were sent to the Infectious Disease Department and were put under quarantine.
8. Reported by Anadolu Ajansi on Tuesday, October 4:
TITLE: Antalya Prostitution Operation - Four suspects, including a woman, who were involved in human trafficking and encouraging prostitution and ten foreign women who are allegedly involved in prostitution were captured.
BEGIN TEXT: Four suspects, including a woman, who were allegedly involved in human trafficking and encouraging prostitution and ten foreign women who were allegedly involved in prostitution were captured in Antalya.
The Antalya Public Order Police Morals Department made an announcement and noted that after receiving a tip, they carried out an operation and captured G.T., who was involved in human trafficking and mediating for prostitution. Others captured were M.A., her son and the owner of the hotel, L.E. and M.V. Ten women, including six Moldovans and four Uzbeks, who were involved in prostitution, too, were captured.
On their testimony at the Public Order department, police discovered that three of the foreign women, O.C. (18), O.K. (19) and L.C. (37) were brought for $3,000 each from an unidentified woman for the purpose of using them as prostitutes.
It was reported that suspect G.T. was earlier charged 12 times for mediating prostitution and two times for serving as a prostitute. END TEXT.
9. Published by Kuwait News Agency on Wednesday, October 5:
TITLE: Tracking Trafficking from Ankara throughout the Black Sea Region
BEGIN TEXT: The International Organization for Migration (IOM) announced Tuesday that a new initiative to track trafficking throughout the twelve nations of the Black Sea Region will be launched from Ankara today. IOM spokesperson Jean-Philippe Chauzy told reporters that this was a major step forward in Turkey's efforts to combat trafficking in cooperation with its neighboring states in the CIS and the European Union. He added that the project aims to create a regional information hub in Turkey for trafficking information and trends, including emerging trafficking hot spots, economic and social conditions and prosecution rates in the Black Sea Region. According to Chauzy, Turkey is a major destination country for trafficked individuals throughout the nations bordering the Black Sea. So far this year, IOM has assisted 163 victims return to their home countries, including 51 to Ukraine and 43 to Moldova. The project announced today is designed to work in coordination with Turkey and the 11 other member states of the Black Sea Economic Cooperation (BSEC), from Greece to Turkey's West, Russia to the North and Georgia to its West. The project is designed to complement on-going campaigns to combat human trafficking, which include increased public awareness activities, stepped up training for law enforcement and medical, psychological and direct assistance to victims of trafficking. END TEXT.
10. Published by Cumhuriyet on Thursday, October 6:
TITLE: Cut-off nose trial delayed
BEGIN TEXT: The Diyarbakir Heavy Penal Court Number 3 continued the case of R.G., whose nose was cut off and thrown on the street after being raped when she refused to abide by her husband's family wish to serve as a prostitute.
Her husband was in prison then.
Feyyat Gezginci, Turan Gezginci, who are under arrest, and Ekrem Gezginci and M.G., who are on trial on release, appeared at the session on October 5.
R.G.'s lawyer asked the court to arrest the two suspects who were released at the first court session. Meanwhile, the lawyer of the suspects requested the release of his clients.
The chief judge rejected the requests and adjourned the next session to complete the missing points in the file. END TEXT.
11. Reported by Radikal on Thursday, October 6:
TITLE: R.G. with a cut-off nose: I was forced into prostitution
BEGIN TEXT: R.G. (15), who was forced to marry the man who raped her when she was 12, did not attend the trial of her three brothers-in-law and her father-in-law.
Three years ago, R.G. was raped by her neighbor Sabahattin Gezginci. When she found out she was pregnant, she told her parents what had happened to her. She was forced to marry her rapist in a religious ceremony.
Gezginci was arrested and put in prison in 2003 for raping a 7-year-old boy.
R.G. moved in with her in-laws. The family cut her nose on March 11, 2005 as punishment for going out on the streets too many times. Upon her complaint, her three brothers-in-law and father-in-law were arrested. They are charged with forcibly keeping and cutting the nose of a minor. The prosecutor demanded 15-year sentences for each. The Diyarbakir Heavy Penal Court Number 3 on October 5, 2005 continued the case. In the previous session, the court released two of the four suspects, Feyyat and Turan Gezginci.
The two also attended the session on October 5. Feyyat Gezginci took all the blame. He said, "When my brother entered prison, she (R.G.) was going to her own parents' house against our will. She was going in the early morning and coming back late in the evening. I followed her for three days and noticed that she was speaking to four men. When she claimed that I did not have a say, I slapped her and cut her nose."
R.G. testified without appearing in court because of security concerns. She said, "When I was asleep they tried to tie me up and rape me. They claimed that I was serving as a prostitute and to teach me a lesson they would cut my nose. They were forcing me into prostitution. When they cut my nose, there was a lot of bleeding. To stop the bleeding, the boiled barley and wheat and applied it to my nose."
The session was adjourned and the court asked for a report. END TEXT.
12. Reported by Anadolu Ajansi on Friday, October 7:
TITLE: Interior Minister Aksu due to Greece
BEGIN TEXT: Turkish Interior Minister Abdulkadir Aksu will leave for Greece to attend a meeting on illegal migration and human trafficking.
The Interior Ministry stated on Friday that the meeting will be held with the participation of Turkey, Pakistan, Iran and Greece between October 10th and 11th. END TEXT.
13. Published by The Guardian on Monday, October 10
TITLE: European mission unearths torture claims in Turkey
BEGIN TEXT: Reports follow launch of EU membership talks. Ankara dismisses findings as "silly stories."
A European parliament delegation visiting Turkey to check on its progress in human rights has found "shocking" reports of murders and mutilations, a British MEP said yesterday. The findings, which come a week after Brussels launched membership talks with Turkey, highlight the scale of progress the predominantly Muslim country needs to make in its quest to join the European Union.
Richard Howitt, part of the mission by the parliament's seven-member human rights subcommittee, told the Guardian: "What we heard was shocking. There were accounts of soldiers cutting off people's ears and tearing out their eyes if they were thought to be Kurdish separatist sympathizers . You cannot hear these things without being emotionally affected."
The MEP, Labour's European foreign affairs spokesman and a champion of Turkey's EU accession, said the abuses had been corroborated by human rights organizations. A trip by the group to Turkey's Kurdish- dominated south-east had also confirmed allegations that security forces were reverting to tactics from "the bad old days," although statistics showed that instances of torture had fallen by around 13 percent since last year. Indiscriminate shootings, widespread extrajudicial killings, arbitrary arrests and instances of masked men raiding homes in the night were reported to have made a comeback.
"Our sources were very credible and the evidence was corroborated by all the different groups we spoke to," said the MEP. "They left me in no doubt of the veracity of the claims."
But Turkey's foreign ministry spokesman, Namik Tan, called the claims "silly stories." "They are purely fictitious. They have nothing to do with the truth. You will not find anyone who is credible in Turkey saying such things."
Mr. Howitt said that in September alone 95 people had been arbitrarily arrested in Van, a town near Iran. Among them was Yusuf Hasar, a 19-year-old suspected Kurdish rebel sympathizer whose body was found last week after being arrested by police the previous day. The violations have coincided with an upsurge of violence in Turkey's troubled south-east. Armed clashes have intensified since rebels lifted a unilateral ceasefire in June last year.
The delegation, whose findings will form the basis of a report that will feed into Turkey's membership negotiations, was equally appalled by reports of violence against women and allegations of body organs being removed by security forces. Mazumber, a group representing the relatives of torture victims, told the MEPs that vital organs were routinely removed from the bodies of ethnic Kurds, presumably as part of the illicit trade in people trafficking.
Mr. Howitt said it was essential the abuses be confronted before Ankara got into the nitty-gritty of the talks.
Since assuming power in 2002, Ankara's modernizing Islamist government has won plaudits for overhauling the penal code, abolishing the death penalty, dismantling once-dreaded state security prisons and increasing cultural rights for ethnic minorities. But Turkish human rights defenders still speak of a pervasive "culture of violence" in the country's police, security and judicial forces. END TEXT.
14. Reported by BBC News on Monday, October 11:
TITLE: People-smuggling racked "smashed"
BEGIN TEXT: An alleged multi-million pound people- smuggling racket, believed to have brought up to 200,000 people into the UK, has been smashed in dawn raids.
Ten people, arrested after swoops on addresses in London and Lincolnshire, are alleged to have smuggled thousands of Turkish Kurds into Britain.
Police say the racket's ringleaders are among 10 detainees, who are all Turkish Kurds.
Operation Bluesky has involved police from around Europe.
The network is thought to have brought people to Britain, in groups of up to 20 a time, concealed in cars, vans, lorries and aircraft.
We have today dismantled a huge organized criminal network of human smuggling - Tarique Ghaffur, Assistant Commissioner.
The illegal immigrants, smuggled in the Kurdish areas of Turkey, pay between 3,000 and 5,000 pounds for journeys which often take months.
The journeys involve being passed on to gang members in several European countries, staying at safe houses before being smuggled into the UK in cramped conditions.
Many of the immigrants find low-paid, black market menial jobs in north London's Turkish community.
Scotland Yard Assistant Commissioner Tarique Ghaffur said the "massive operation" had been aimed at those "right at the top of this network." "We have today dismantled a huge organized criminal network of human smuggling," he said.
Low-paid jobs The racket had mainly targeted people from the Kurdish areas of Turkey with the promise of a better life, Mr. Ghaffur said.
"One here some of these people get into low-paid jobs, others are clearly left to their own devices to find work," he added.
"Our commitment is to take out such networks and this operation is the latest in our collaboration with the growing number of law enforcement agencies in Europe to work robustly to achieve this mission."
The 10 were arrested in raids on 12 addresses in London and one in Boston, Lincolnshire.
More than 200 officers were involved in the London raids at five houses in Enfield, two in Bexleyheath and one each in Barnet, Hackney, Hammersmith, Haringey and Tower Hamlets.
BBC correspondent Neil Bennett said "tens of thousands" of people were alleged to have been smuggled into the UK by the network with "many millions of pounds made."
There had already been prosecutions in several European countries in relation to the network, he said.
There had been disruptions of the gang's activities at various stages of the chain in other countries.
There would certainly be charges of people trafficking here, he said.
"The police believe that this operation has certainly uncovered one of the biggest people trafficking networks they have ever uncovered in this country," he added. END TEXT.
15. Reported by TimesOnline on Monday, October 11:
TITLE: Europe's biggest human-traffic ring smashed
BEGIN TEXT: Eight people suspected of masterminding a pan-European human-trafficking network, which has smuggled up to 200,000 Turkish Kurds into Britain, were among 19 arrested in a series of dawn raids today.
The arrests are the result of a two-year investigation, Operation Bluesky, in which 200 officers in Britain have collaborated with counterparts in Italy, France, Holland, Belgium and Denmark to follow the gang's movements and trace its hierarchy.
Detectives said that the eight - who were arrested from 12 residential and business addresses in London and one in Boston, Lincolnshire - were running a sophisticated criminal network that charged asylum seekers between 3,000 and 5,000 pounds for a ticket into Britain.
Of the other 11 people detained in today's operation two were women, believed to be wives of the alleged ring-leaders, who tried to intervene in their arrests. Another six people were held as suspected illegal immigrants, one man was detained on suspicion of money- laundering and two more for theft.
Police said that the majority of the migrants would be driven across mainland Europe in groups of 20 to coastal ports. The journey could last several months in cramped conditions and some migrants never arrived.
There, they were held in safe houses before being smuggled aboard ferries in secret compartments hidden in lorries and cars. Some were taken across the Channel in light aircraft and flown into provincial airfields in Kent and Cambridgeshire. Once in Britan, most of the illegal immigrants have been absorbed into north London's Turkish community, working in the capital's black market economy.
Some illegal immigrants have obtained stolen or forged UK papers. Many have used the money they earn to sponsor other family members to join them.
The smugglers are estimated to have made tens of millions of pounds. Money has been invested in property and small businesses such as cafes and snooker halls. It is believed officers also recovered hundreds of thousands of pounds.
One source described the scale of the operation as "absolutely massive" and "frightening."
This morning's raids were part of Scotland Yard's Operation Maxim, which was set up to tackle organized immigration crime in London.
More than 200 police officers were involved in this morning's raids at five houses in Enfield, two in Bexleyheath and one in each of Barnet, Haringey, Tower Hamlets, Hackney and Hammersmith.
Scotland Yard's Assistant Commissioner, Tarique Ghaffur, the head of the Specialist Crime Directorate, said: "We have today dismantled a huge organized criminal network of human smuggling.
"We have been working on this operation for two years and we have worked with agencies across Europe. It is a massive operation."
Mr. Ghaffur said today's raids were aimed at those "right at the top of this network."
Detective Chief Superintendent Bill Skelly, one of the lead officers in the operation, said police were searching for at least one more man in connection with the investigation.
"This is the most significant action taken by the Metropolitan Police against a London-based human smuggling network," he said.
"We believe these are the very top people in this network. Having arrested them it will end its activities in the short term and it will take some time for the network to recover, if indeed it can." END TEXT.
16. Published by Life Style Extra (www.lse.co.uk) and China View (www.xinhuanet.com) on Monday, October 11:
TITLE: 10 arrested in people smuggling raids
BEGIN TEXT: Ten people suspected of being involved in one of Britain's largest ever human smuggling rackets were arrested today.
Seven men and two women were held after a series of dawn raids were carried out at 12 addresses across London this morning involving more than 200 officers. Another man was arrested in Lincolnshire.
Those arrested were involved in running an organized criminal network, smuggling illegal immigrants, mainly from Turkey, into the UK through ports in Holland, Italy, France and Belgium.
Today's arrests were carried out under Operation Blue Sky, a two year operation involving police in France, Holland, Denmark, Italy and Belgium, as well as Europol, which represents pan-Europe policing activity and Eurojust.
The operation was led by the Met's Operation Maxim, which aims to eradicate human trafficking, and REFLEX, a government sponsored multi-agency taskforce dealing with organized immigration crime as well as the National Criminal Intelligence Service, the Immigration Service and the Passport Service.
Metropolitan Police Specialist Crime Directorate, Assistant Commissioner Tarique Ghaffur said: "We have today dismantled a huge organized criminal network in human smuggling.
"Our commitment is taking out such networks and this operation is the latest in our collaboration with a growing number of law enforcement agencies in Europe to work robustly to achieve this mission."
Detective Chief Superintendent Bill Skelly, Head of the Metropolitan Police Service's Operation Maxim said: "Today's arrests were the result of a co-ordinated response involving numerous parts of the Metropolitan Police Service, and in close cooperation with partner agencies across London and Europe, sharing their expertise and working closely together.
"Under Operation Maxim, funded by the Home Office's REFLEXT activity, the Metropolitan Police Service, supported by Europol and Eurojust, continues to enhance its efforts against those seeking to make profit from the illegal movement of people into the United Kingdom." END TEXT.
17. Reported by The Anatolian Times on Tuesday, October 11 and by The New Anatolian on Wednesday, October 12:
TITLE: Turkey Takes All Steps to Fight Human Smuggling, Aksen
BEGIN TEXT: Turkey takes all legal and administrative steps to fight human smuggling, said Serhat Aksen, a Turkish diplomat at the Office of Turkey's Permanent Representative to the UN.
The UN General Assembly First Committee which deals with social, cultural and humanitarian issues, had a plenary session on prevention of crimes, international drug trafficking and penal law and discussed four draft resolutions the same day. Addressing the session, Serhat Aksen said that Turkey adopted the UN Convention against Transnational Organized Crimes and the UN Protocol to Prevent, Suppress and Punish Trafficking in Persons, Especially Women and Children.
Aksen also stressed that the Turkish Penal Code which went into effect on June 1st, 2005 envisaged fines and imprisonment terms from 8 years up to 12 years for those who are involved in human trafficking.
Aksen also referred to the shelters built for victims of human trafficking by the National Mission Group to Fight Human Trafficking (founded in Turkey in 2002) and the aid-information telephone line established for victims in many languages 24 hours a day.
Turkey was at the transit route of international drug trafficking because of its geographical location, Aksen said and added that Turkey signed all related UN conventions on the fight against drug trafficking and bilateral cooperation agreements with 66 countries on the issue. END TEXT.
18. Reported by Financial Times on Monday, October 11:
TITLE: UK police break human smuggling ring
BEGIN TEXT: UK police on Tuesday arrested at least 18 suspected of involvement in one of Europe's largest human smuggling ring, in a series of 12 early morning raids across London and one in Lincolnshire.
Reports on the number of arrests have varied between 18 and 19, and those arrested include six men and two women in London. Seven of those are believed to be the ring leaders, who face conspiracy charges. Six others will be charged with residing in the country illegally. Those arrested also included former asylum seekers.
The joint operation code named `Bluesky,' was carried out by 200 British police working in conjunction with detectives from Italy, Holland, France, Belgium and Denmark.
Scotland Yard said the raids followed a two-year investigation into the smuggling network that brought illegal immigrants, predominantly from Turkey, into London from mainland Europe.
The ring, allegedly a pan European organization, may be behind the smuggling of up to 200,000 people into the UK, senior officials said. It is one of the biggest human trafficking operations the British police have encountered.
Bill Skelly, directive chief superintendent of the Metropolitan police, said that illegal immigration was a huge problem. "Worldwide, it is estimated that this is a business worth 8 billion pounds and for the UK it is estimated that it is as significant as the trafficking of Class A drugs."
Police said the gang is believed to have lured thousands of economic migrants from eastern Europe to Britain with the promise of a better life.
Those illegal immigrants would have paid between 3,000 and 5,000 pounds to be smuggled - in groups of up to 20 at a time - from the Balkans. The journey may have taken several months to cross from mainland Europe to the continent's western coastal ports. According to Mr. Skelly, "The mode of transport varied but it was inherently very dangerous."
After arriving in Britain, most are believed to enter low-paid work in menial jobs. Some are believed to carry stolen or forged UK papers and many use the money they earn to sponsor other family members to make a similar trip to Britain.
The smuggling ring is estimated to have made tens of millions of pounds from the racket, a portion of which goes into businesses such as cafes and snooker halls. END TEXT.
19. Published by Sabah, Milliyet and Cumhuriyet on Wednesday, October 12:
TITLE: BLOW TO HUMAN TRAFFICKING GROUP
BEGIN TEXT: Police in Britain gave a blow to the biggest human trafficking network of Europe, involving Turks as well. According to an announcement by the British Police, the network made approximately 200,000 people enter the country secretly and that it earned millions of Euro for human smuggling. Approximately 200 policemen raided 12 houses and offices in the early morning hours in the capital London and in Lincolnshire and detained suspects, including 18 Turkish citizens.
According to the police announcement seven of them were detained for human trafficking, two for interfering in an investigation, six for violating the immigration Law, two for theft and one person for money laundering.
The police noted that eight of the detainees were the leaders of the network. In the operation codenamed "Blue Sky," the London Police cooperated with the Italian, Dutch, French, Belgian and Danish police. The network is believed to have used to bring in people in 20-person groups on cars, trucks, TIR trucks or aircraft.
The police said that immigrants sometimes paid 4,500- 7,000 Euros to smugglers for their voyage that sometimes lasted for months in return for a promise of a better life.
Those who enter Britain through illegal means are mostly from the Southeast Anatolia and during their voyage as they traveled in Europe they were handed over from one gang to another and sometimes were kept in secret cell houses and in very bad conditions.
Most of the immigrants are employed with low salaries at the Turkish quarters in northern London. These are either illegal workplaces or they are employed in the service sector. Smuggling leaders, with the millions of Euros they earn from smuggling, invest in cafes and pool bars.
Bill Skelly from the British police said, "This operation was a product of a two-year study and it is part of an international operation." He added that some of the immigrants, following many month long voyages in very bad conditions, died even before they could reach Britain. END TEXT.
20. Published by UNFPA News (www.unfpa.org) on Tuesday, October 11:
TITLE: Merchants of Misery: Human Trafficking in Moldova
BEGIN TEXT: Silvia's descent into the dark world of trafficking began when a neighbor told the 19-year-old that she could get a good job as a sales girl in Moscow. Unemployed, broke, with a baby daughter and no husband or job prospects in her hometown of Uhgheni, Silvia (not her real name) decided to travel to the Moldovan capital of Chisinau where she was to meet two men who would arrange her travel to Moscow. Upon arrival in the capital, her daughter was put in the care of one of the man's sisters. "I still do not know what was happening to me until the day we left for Moscow and all my papers, including my passport, were confiscated," recalls Silvia. "They told me that if I did not cooperate, I would never see my baby daughter again."
In poverty stricken Moldova, sex trafficking is big business, controlled mostly by Russian organized crime networks. According to some estimates, as many as 140,000 young Moldovan women have fallen prey to the flesh trade, lured by phony newspaper ads or introduced to traffickers through neighbors or school classmates. Like Silvia, most of the girls come from impoverished rural areas where more than half the population is unemployed.
Now 21 and reunited with her daughter, Silvia is hiding out in Chisinau. Like a fugitive, she is staying in an undisclosed location, while her neighbor and others in the smuggling ring are being charged with trafficking. "I still fear for my life and that of my daughter," explains Silvia in an unsteady voice. "I do not know if I will ever again feel safe. Certainly not until the people who trafficked me are in prison."
Sitting on a couch in her `safe house' - an International Office of Migration (IOM) haven for trafficked women - Silvia does not look like a victim - except for the deep sadness in her large brown eyes.
"I was sick, tired, afraid and filthy," she recalls, looking down at the floor and grasping her hands tightly together. "I was really in bad shape when I arrived here. I was shaking constantly, had horrible headaches and continuing nightmares. If not for the UN [United Nations] system here and help from IOM, I would be either dead or in a mental hospital."
The shelter has provided her with medical treatment and psychosocial counseling, "which has helped a lot," says Silvia, smiling for the first time. "I have also learned about reproductive health, thanks to UNFPA, and how to take better care of myself and my daughter."
Since 1999, UNFPA, the United Nations Population Fund, and International Organization on Migration (IOM) have been collaborating closely to assist trafficking victims. The IOM shelter is not far from a UNFPA- supported health center, which offers a complete array of reproductive health services, including sexually- transmitted infection (STI) testing and treatment, free contraceptives and pre- and post-natal care.
IOM, in collaboration with UN agencies, is also providing Silvia with a skill. "I am taking beauty courses, which will allow me to make money doing manicures and pedicures once I have completed my training." She adds, "All I want now is to have a normal life again."
Returning to normalcy is a huge challenge for girls trafficked into the sex industry. Most are unable to have trusting relationships with men. "Many girls are so destroyed by the experience that even after being rescued and returned home, they try to kill themselves," says Olga Kolomeyets, counter-trafficking coordinator for IOM in Moldova.
Nearly 90 per cent of returnees that come through Chisinau have acquired an STI that needs treatment, and 1.2 per cent are HIV positive. "Before we set up this rehab facility and shelter, victims of trafficking had no help at all in this country," says Kolomeyets. "We have assisted over 1500 girls here, but we need to do more."
According to Kolomeyets, virtually all of the girls who pass through the facility are emotionally traumatized. "Some will never recover," she notes sadly, adding that up to 85 per cent had suffered domestic abuse prior to falling into the clutches of traffickers. "There is a history of violence in their families," she continues. "So they see their sex slavery as another form of domestic abuse, which they have been subjected to all their lives."
Silvia's own "journey into hell," as she calls it, lasted for a year and a half. "I was smuggled into Moscow along with 11 other young women, all from Moldova," she says in a quiet monotone voice. "None of the girls were doing this voluntarily. We refused to work at first, so they starved and beat us. One of the overseers took an instant dislike to me. He raped me, then beat me senseless."
Her "home" in Moscow was a grimy hotel in a seedy section of the city. Actually, the entire hotel was a brothel, filled with girls from Moldova, Ukraine, Belarus and other former Soviet republics. "At first we were forced to walk the streets in search of clients," recalls Silvia. "If I did not return with clients, I was beaten. We had to work in thin dresses even in the middle of the Russian winter."
Silvia became numb in both body and spirit. The cold and brutal conditions under which they were forced to live wore most of the girls down. "A number of girls tried to commit suicide. I stayed alive because of my daughter."
When one girl from Ukraine threw herself out of the top floor window, her body was removed from the street like a piece of garbage. "The police did nothing to close the brothel or take action against the operators," explains Silvia. "The police were in the back-pocket of the criminals. We had to service lots of cops for free."
Her captivity in Moscow lasted a full year. Although she was permitted to send $100 a month to Chisinau to support her daughter, Silvia was forbidden direct contact. "Other than this, I never saw one dollar of the money I brought in," she says. "And it was a lot, as we charged $150 for sex, and sometimes I had to service up to 30 clients in one day."
When Silvia got sick and had to be hospitalized for exhaustion and venereal disease, the overseers sent her back to Moldova to visit her daughter. "I was still weak and afraid all the time," she says. "I did not even know what disease I had." She later guessed that it was syphilis. After recovering her health, Silvia was confronted again by the same two men who had smuggled her into Russia. They threatened to harm her daughter if she did not continue to work for them and shortly thereafter smuggled her into Turkey via Izmir.
After just three months, the Turkish police raided the hotel, and she was arrested. After spending two months in jail, she was turned over to IOM staff and repatriated back to Moldova. (Comment: Kolomeyets has admitted to IOM Ankara that Silvia is actually several women and that none of the women were imprisoned in Turkey for two months. End Comment.)
Why does Silvia want her story told? "At first I thought all the stories about trafficked girls were fake, a scare tactic," she says. "But now I know better, and I want to help others understand that it is real and can happen to anyone."
Silvia pauses to dry her eyes and collect her thoughts. "When I came back from Turkey and collected my daughter, it was the lowest point in my life," she says, staring at the floor. "I had no hope for the future. Here I found myself and have learned a lot." She pauses, then looks up. "I will have a new life," she says defiantly. "No one should have to endure what I went through. No one." END TEXT.
21. Published by The Independent on Wednesday, October 12:
TITLE: Drinking dens provide link for those seeking better life
BEGIN TEXT: The network of Turkish social clubs and cafes dotted throughout Wood Green in north London are the focal point for scores of illegal immigrants being smuggled into London.
For the Turkish men and women seeking a better life, but who do not have family in Britain, the unlicensed bars and drinking dens provide a crucial link, according to community leaders.
But Yashar Ismailoglu, the co-ordinator of London's biggest Kurdish and Turkish community and information center, said they could also introduce economic migrants to London's underworld.
"Some of the people who are smuggled from Turkey come from rural areas, cannot speak English, and have no contacts in Britain.
"They end up in [the north London boroughs of] Hackney or Haringey in the underground cafes and social clubs. Many of these places do not have licenses, or toilets, or fire escapes. People can end up getting involved in drugs and prostitution. People can end up sleeping rough. They do not have any money, many have spent it all getting into the country. It can cost 8,000 pounds per head."
He added that he had heard of cases in which people were "packed into lorries in confined spaces unable to move for hours."
"Some have mental problems," he said. "We have also heard about smugglers who have abandoned people at sea."
Mr. Ismailoglu said many of the Turks that were smuggled into London ended up working in the hidden economy.
"They end up in kebab and coffee shops, or working on building sites. There is an established network throughout the country among the Turkish and Kurdish community.
"They go from London to cities such as Liverpool, Manchester and Doncaster," he said.
Scotland Yard yesterday released an X-ray image which shows illegal immigrants packed into secret compartments on a lorry, to highlight the methods used by people smugglers.
Most of the Turkish Kurds smuggled into Britain by the gang targeted yesterday are believed to have been brought in hidden on lorries and vans. It is estimated the gang could have made up to 100,000 pounds from a lorry-load of 20 migrants.
Police say the immigrants, most of which came from eastern Turkey, were charged between 3,000 and 5,000 to be smuggled in groups of up to 20 across mainland Europe to the continent's northern ports. Once there, they waited in safe houses until the time was right for them to be brought into Britain.
Some were taken across the channel in light aircraft to small provincial airfields in Kent and Cambridgeshire. The journey takes several months. The police who carried out the investigation said that most of the Turkish people being smuggled into Britain should not be considered "victims" as they co-operated with the trafficking gang and most immigrants were coming to Britain to live illegally with family and friends who were legitimately living in this country. The officers said there was no evidence to suggest that violence was used by the gang members against the people they were smuggling into Britain. END TEXT.
22. Reported by Sabah on Thursday, October 13:
TITLE: Some Donate Organs
BEGIN TEXT: An immigrant speaking to the British Daily, The Guardian, said, "We went on a truck without knowing where we were heading. They (the smugglers) did not tell us that the trip would last for six days. We could have suffocated."
Ibrahim Dogus, who lives in North London noted, "Since many of them (the smuggled) did not have enough money, their organs are taken. Some of them (the smugglers) just disappear." END TEXT.
23. Published by The Turkish Daily News on Friday, October 14:
TITLE: 7 charged in UK over human smuggling ring
BEGIN TEXT: Seven men were charged on Thursday with people trafficking after being detained in police raids aimed at smashing a ring suspected of bringing tens of thousands of Turkish Kurds into Britain, police said. The seven were charged with conspiracy to facilitate illegal entry into Britain, and six of them were also charged with money laundering at Croydon magistrates court in south London. A further six men suspected of immigration violations were released by police to be dealt with by the Immigration Service. A total of 19 people were arrested Tuesday in the raids at a dozen houses and business premises in London and in Boston, eastern England. END TEXT. MCELDOWNEY