Saturday, October 17, 2009

Turkey's human rights record examined

Turkey commits massive violations of the rights of Kurds, but Kurds, unlike Palestinians, don't "count" - nobody cares.
Turkey points to Israel to deflect from itself
October 17, 10:51 AM Progressive Geopolitics  Examiner Andrew E. Mathis
Turkey has been enormously critical of Israel's military policy in Gaza since last year's war, and the most recent development is that Turkish television has aired a television program on the conflict in which a fictional Israeli soldier is seen shooting a Palestinian baby.
It's a charming bit of teledrama I'm sure. But what are the Turks trying to do in being so critical of Israel? Perhaps it amounts to their trying, in essence, to deflect attention away from its own dismal human rights record.
The chief area in which the Turkish government has committed the grossest human rights offenses has ben in its ongoing conflict with the Kurdish minority. Since 1978, the Turks have been in armed conflict with a secessionist group, the Kurdistan Workers Party (PKK). There's a strong analogy to be drawn between Israel's fight with Hamas and Turkey's fight with the PKK. Both the PKK and Hamas are recognized by the international community at large to be terrorist organizations. For its part, the PKK has engaged in bombings, killings of officials, etc.
The Turkish response has been, according to Human Rights Watch, to engage in torture, house raids, extrajudicial killings, and firing on crowds without discrimination for who is a combatant and who is not.
Does that ring familiarly at all? Sound like the things with which Israel has been accused in its conflict with the Palestinians?
Then there's the issue of Cyprus. Turkey invaded the island nation, which has a mixed Greek and Turkish population, in 1974, and conducted a de facto military occupation for 30 years, creating a puppet state of Northern Cyprus in the process. A two-state solution has been proposed for Cyprus since 2004, but the Greek population has rejected it, opting instead for a reunified nation.
Does any of that ring familiar?
Finally, there is the general human rights record. In 2007, fully 2,830 abuse reports were filed with the European Court of Human Rights (ECHR) against Turkey, resulting in 331 judgments against Turkey. Add that to a total of 1,200 judgments in the previous 12 years.
In short, Turkey is in no position to criticize Israel about anything. They should recall the adage about glass houses and, rather than try to increase their clout in the Muslim world with their rhetoric against Israel, fix their own problems at home with regard to human rights.

Obama cuts Iran democracy program

Obama is sending a clear signal to Iran human rights protestors, and the signal says, "Go to hell."
Last update - 18:05 17/10/2009       
Is Obama giving up on democracy in Iran?
By Shlomo Shamir, Haaretz Correspondent
It was recently revealed that U.S. President Barack Obama is cutting funding for a well established program that has been working to increase democracy in Iran.
The program, known as the "Iran Human Rights Documentation Center" distributes information on Iranian human rights violations and anti-democratic activities. The program has received funding from the U.S. State Department for years.
Program directors were shocked when they were told that their yearly request for a grant of $2.7 million in program funding had been rejected.
A former senior member of the State Department called the decision to cancel funding "shameful" in an interview with the website Newsmax. "This sends a clear message to Tehran that we are empowering the Iranian regime to be obstinate and fight us," he said.
"If there is one time that I expected to get funding, this was it," said Rene Redman, the group's executive director, in an interview with the Boston Globe. "I was surprised, because the world was watching human rights violations right there on television," she said.
The program has so far received $3 million in funding from the State Department. The project is under strict instructions to refrain from activity within Iran, and to avoid aiding any opposition groups in Iran.
U.S. Senator Joseph Lieberman, who initiated a bill proposing increasing the budget for programs working to promote democracy, criticized the Obama administration for changing its policy regarding the funding for these groups.
Lieberman told The Boston Globe that it was worrying that "the State Department would cut off funding at precisely the moment when these brave investigations are needed most."
Joshua Muravchik, a scholar focusing on democracy promotion with the School of Advanced International Studies at Johns Hopkins University, said in an interview with Newsmax that "the State Department cut in pro-democracy funding for Iran is part and parcel of a very deliberate policy by President Obama to diminish the role of human rights and democracy as goals of U.S. foreign policy."

Palestinian unity postponed: So what else is new?

The Palestinian unity deal, on again and off again, was postponed due to "inappropriate conditions." The appropriate conditions are that the Atlantic Ocean will turn into pink lemonade, and the lion shall lie down with the lamb and a little child shall lead them.
Of course, if the deal ever happens it will make peace impossible because Hamas is never going to agree to recognizing Israel. Meanwhile, Egypt does not tire of trying to square the circle. Their hope is that that the Palestinian Authority will force Hamas to become "respectable." But the current seems to go the other way. It is the Hamas that keeps pushing the Palestinian leadership to extremist positions.
Ami Isseroff
Last update - 11:01 17/10/2009       
Egypt: Fatah-Hamas deal deferred due to 'inappropriate conditions'
By Avi Issacharoff, Haaretz Correspondent
Egypt announced on Saturday the latest postponement of a reconciliation agreement between rival Palestinian movements Hamas and Fatah was due to "inappropriate conditions."
The announcement came after Fatah unilaterally signed the pact in Cairo on Thursday without reservations. Hamas, however, said it needed another few days to consider the document, and that the Islamist group had reservations about it.
Egypt, which has been attempting to broker the deal, had initially planned for the sides to sign the accord on Thursday. The country has yet to set a new date for a signing ceremony.
Hamas' deputy political leader, Abu Marzouk, said: "Today the Hamas leadership will relay to Egypt a document containing the necessary reservations and amendments for the Egyptian document."
According to the Damascus-based official, one of the reservations is about the U.S. demand that the unity deal follow the conditions of the Quartet, which include recognition of the State of Israel, acknowledging earlier agreements and renouncing terrorism.
Another was that Hamas wanted guarantees that if it should win in any upcoming elections, the international community would recognize the government it formed. Abu Marzouk further demanded clarifications as to the opening of the Gaza-Egypt border crossing at Rafah, which Egypt has kept shut as part of an Israeli-led blockade on the Gaza Strip.
The groups have been bitter rivals ever since Hamas ousted Fatah from the Gaza Strip in a bloody 2007 coup.