Extrait d'un rapport du SÚnat










Despite claims that it regards fundamentalism as a threat to its secular heritage, the government of Turkey appears to be encouraging and even sponsoring Islamic activities in an attempt to bring the country together and defuse separatist sentiments. Since Turks, and Kurds share a common Islamic heritage, Turkey apparently is attempting to use religion to bind together the two ethnic groups. Such a strategy holds inherent risks. Several governments in North Africa and the Middle East, for instance, promoted Islamic groups as a counterweight to radical leftist organizations during the 1970’s and early 1980’s. Some of those Islamic groups now pose a direct threat to the stability of the very governments that promoted them. Turkey’s flirtation with Islam accordingly could backfire and inadvertently provide a foothold for Islamic extremists and threaten Turkey’s long history of secularism.

It would be interesting to determine whether or not Turkey’s promotion of Islam contributed – either directly or indirectly – to the recent rise in prominence and electoral success of the Islamic Refah party. Such a determination was beyond the scope of our investigation, but would be well worth additional study and analysis.



In Diyaruakir, the largest city in Kurdish-inhabited southeast Turkey, local custom has it Chat just beyond the walls of the old city lies the site of the Garden of Eden. In today’s context, it is hard to imagine that Diyarbakir could have ever been considered paradise. It is dirty, overcrowded, and while shops and market-places appear comfortably full, there appears to be little employment opportunity. By some estimates, the city’s population has grown from roughly 300,000 to more than 1,500,000 during the past five years. The city has become a haven for rural Kurds forced to evacuate neighboring towns and villages destroyed by the Turkish military, and as such it has become a symbol of the ethnic difficulties that persist in Turkey.

Diyarbakir – like the country as a whole – is caught between a vise, with the Turkish military on one side and the Kurdistan Workers Party (PKK) on the other. It must not be overlooked that the PKK poses a grave threat not only to Turkey, but to regional stability as well. The PKK – which employs ruthless terrorist tactics against innocent noncombatants in Turkey and against innocent civilians elsewhere in the Middle East and Europe – bears direct responsibility for much of the tension in southeast Turkey and for prompting the recent Turkish invasions of Iraq. Surprisingly, however, Turkish General Doyen did not include the PKK threat in his list of Turkey’s greatest security concerns. When questioned about this, he said: "The PKK is a threat to Turkey’s security, but it is not considered major threat because we have cracked down on the bulk of it."

As a result of the ethnic strife, Diyarbakir and nine other provinces in the southeast have been under a state of emergency for the past 8 years. Turkish officials, local residents, and some independent observers suggest that tensions have subsided during the past 2 years, and there is anecdotal evidence to support such a claim. In prior visits to Diyarbakir, it was commonplace to sec armored personnel carriers and other military vehicles patrolling the streets, machine gun-toting security personnel posted throughout the city, and checkpoints at main thoroughfares. During this visit, we saw only one checkpoint and witnessed many city residents on the streets after dark.

From these observations, one should not conclude that Turkey’s policies and actions in Diyarbakir have been an unqualified success. It is evident that the existing calm is tenuous and the result of Turkey’s overwhelming – and at times oppressive – security presence, which has exacted a high east in terms of human rights violations.

Turkey, in fact, has an almost paranoid fear of losing or compromising its Turkish identity. The Government of Turkey accordingly is unable – or unwilling – to distinguish the genuine threat posed by the Kurdistan Workers Party (PKK) from the legitimate rights and aspirations of the Kurdish people. Contrary to how Turkish officials characterize the Kurds’ desires, the overwhelming majority of Kurds with whom we met didn’t speak of a separate Kurdish state or even a federation, but rather of their desire for an opportunity to express their cultural identity within Turkey. Turkey’s government refuses even to acknowledge that there is a "Kurdish problem," and thereby is ignoring the real issue. Even U.S. Embassy officers admonished us not to speak of the "Kurdish problem" for fear of suggesting to Turkish officials that the U.S. supports a separate Kurdish state. Rather, we were encouraged to refer to it as "the problem in the Southeast."

There is independent data which belies official Turkish views of Kurdish goals and aspirations. Our visit to Turkey coincided with the release of a study, authored by Professor Dogu Ergil and sponsored by the Turkish Chambers of Commerce, which contained polling results demonstrating that few Kurds advocate separatism, and that most want to continue to live within Turkey – but to have greater cultural rights. The report continues to be the subject of a great deal of debate and discussion, with some Turks calling Ergil a CIA agent and others suggesting that the government may have had a role in sponsoring the report to test the level of public tolerance – or even to lay the ground work for reforming the Anti-Terror law.

Even the notion of cultural identity is misunderstood by Turkish officials. One official who is close to the Prime Minister automatically equated calls for cultural identity with demands that Kurdish be declared an official language. He could not conceive that Kurds would be satisfied with something less – such as being rid of the fear of prosecution and incarceration for speaking or teaching Kurdish, or for engaging in political discussions on Kurdish issues, or for publishing articles on the Kurdish identity.

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