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 Turkey: Governor threatens to deprive Kurdish demonstrators and their families of health care

 Source : Amnesty International
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Turkey: Governor threatens to deprive Kurdish demonstrators and their families of health care  31.10.2008

October 31, 2008

Amnesty International, Press Release

Reported plans by the governor of the southern Turkish province of Adana to cut health care from demonstrators and their families violate international standards, Amnesty International said Thursday.

Demonstrations against the alleged ill-treatment of imprisoned Turkey's Kurdistan Workers’ Party (PKK) leader Abdullah Ocalan have taken place across the southern and eastern provinces of Turkey since 17 October. There are continuing reports that the law enforcement response to the demonstrations, which were at times violent, has included excessive use of force and other forms of ill-treatment

“The authorities’ response to the demonstrations must be consistent with their human rights obligations and not involve collective punishment,” said Andrew Gardner, Amnesty International’s expert on Turkey.

Amnesty International has learnt that the Adana provincial authorities have started legal proceedings to withdraw so-called “green cards” from families of children who participated in these demonstrations.

“Green cards” allow the poorest families access health care and treatment. Reports also indicate that the authorities are taking steps to prevent the families of such children to receive assistance from the Social Assistance and Solidarity Foundation. This body provides coal to help poor families heat their homes in winter, among other forms of assistance.

“The steps to deprive children suspected of involvement in the demonstrations and their families of health care and other benefits are a form of collective punishment and violate the right of all persons to health and to an adequate standard of living, without discrimination,” Andrew Gardner said.

“Rather than violating human rights, the Turkish authorities should ensure that their responses to the demonstrations are consistent with their obligations to respect and protect the human rights of all persons within their territories.”

Such a response could include ensuring that the policing of the demonstrations is carried out in a manner that is consistent with international standards, including the use of force and firearms. Any cases against individuals alleged to have been involved in criminal conduct should be pursued through the criminal justice system in proceedings that meet international standards of fairness, particularly those set out in the European Convention for the Protection of Human Rights and Fundamental Freedoms and the Convention on the Rights of the Child.

Copyright, respective author or news agency, amnestyusa org

* Since 1984 the Turkey's Kurdistan Workers' Party (PKK) took up arms for self-rule in the country's mainly Kurdish southeast of Turkey (Turkey-Kurdistan). A large Turkey's Kurdish community openly sympathise with the Kurdish PKK rebels.

The PKK demanded Turkey's recognition of the Kurds' identity in its constitution and of their language as a native language along with Turkish in the country's Kurdish areas,
the party also demanded an end to ethnic discrimination in Turkish laws and constitution against Kurds, ranting them full political freedoms.

The PKK is considered a 'terrorist' organization by Ankara, U.S., the PKK continues to be on the blacklist list in EU despite court ruling which overturned a decision to place the Kurdish rebel group PKK and its political wing on the European Union's terror list.

Turkey refuses to recognize its Kurdish population as a distinct minority. It has allowed some cultural rights such as limited broadcasts in the Kurdish language and private Kurdish language courses with the prodding of the European Union,
but Kurdish politicians say the measures fall short of their expectations.

** Kurds are not recognized as an official minority in Turkey and are denied rights granted to other minority groups. Under EU pressure, Turkey recently granted Kurds limited rights for broadcasts and education in the Kurdish language, but critics say the measures do not go far enough.

The use of the term "Kurdistan" is vigorously rejected due to its alleged political implications by the Republic of Turkey, which does not recognize the existence of a "Turkish Kurdistan" Southeast Turkey.

Others estimate over 40 million Kurds live in Big Kurdistan (Iraq, Turkey, Syria, Iran, Armenia), which covers an area as big as France, about half of all Kurds which estimate to 20 million live in Turkey.

Turkey is home to 25 million ethnic Kurds, a large Turkey's Kurdish community openly sympathise with the Kurdish PKK for a Kurdish homeland in the country's mainly Kurdish southeast of Turkey.

Before August 2002, the Turkish government placed severe restrictions on the use of Kurdish language, prohibiting the language in education and broadcast media. The Kurdish alphabet is still not recognized in Turkey, and use of the Kurdish letters X, W, Q which do not exist in the Turkish alphabet has led to judicial persecution in 2000 and 2003

The Kurdish flag flown officially in Iraqi Kurdistan but unofficially flown by Kurds in Armenia. The flag is banned in Iran, Syria, and Turkey where flying it is a criminal offence" 

Southeastern Turkey: North Kurdistan ( Kurdistan-Turkey) wikipedia    


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