Sir, - Ms Anne McCluskey (June 2nd) claims that the trial of Mr Abdullah Ocalan, which began on May 31st, raises many serious concerns.
I am more concerned, however, at the total lack of objectivity and appalling disregard for the truth which Ms McCluskey displays in her letter. It is quite obvious that instead of carefully following the trial and reporting on it fairly and accurately, which shouldn't be very difficult as the trial is being extensively covered by the world media, she chooses to repeat unfounded allegations about the judiciary in Turkey in particular and the Turkish people in general.
Let me see the facts straight, once and for all, on the Ocalan trial. To begin with, I would like to remind Ms McCluskey that on the first day of trial Mr Ocalan declared that since his capture he was neither tortured nor subjected to any form of inhuman or rough treatment. He then turned to the family members of those whose murders he ordered, present at the trial, and apologised for the killing of their loved ones. What is more, Mr Ocalan not only accepted all the charges and allegations put forth against him by the state prosecutor, but of his own free will admitted that he was guilty of further outrages. He has, for example, confessed to having ordered the execution of his cronies who dared to disagree with him. The list includes his former wife.
It may come as a surprise to Ms McCluskey, but Mr Ocalan has also conceded that Turkish citizens of Kurdish origin were never denied the opportunity to participate fully in the democratic process in Turkey and that they have the same rights as anyone else in the country. After more than 30,000 deaths and many times more that number of those physically and psychologically maimed forever, Ocalan now says that he regrets not having taken the democratic path and opting instead for violence and murder.
The island of Imrali was never a military base, but it has for many years been used as a high security prison. It should be obvious to even the most disinterested observer why the Turkish government decided to hold the trial there. Were it to be held anywhere else, security would have been a problem, given the deep outrage felt by the majority of the Turkish people at the atrocities committed by the PKK.
Anne McCluskey goes on to advise us to restrict the freedom of movement of the mothers, fathers, wives and children of Ocalan's victims and to stifle their right to express their feelings. How convenient! But let me remind Ms. McCluskey that Turkey is a democracy and has been one for the past 75 years and that the Turkish people are free to enjoy and exercise all the freedoms and rights inherent in a democracy.
As for the composition of State Security Courts, the present Turkish government has taken steps to change their structure. But may I remind Ms McCluskey that courts with a similar structure have existed until the recent past in a number of European countries, whose example Turkey followed.
Last but not least, is Ms McCluskey aware that Mr Ocalan has now sadly confessed that his people were once again used by adversaries of Turkey for their own ends? He has also named names, listing those countries which provided arms, training, refuge and rest and recreation facilities to him and the PKK. Thus it is not just Abdullah Ocalan who is on trial on the island of Imrali, but all the accomplices of his dastardly crimes, countries and individuals alike. If only they would show the decency to apologise. - Yours, etc.,
Engin Asula, First Secretary, Head of Chancellory, Embassy of the Republic of Turkey, Dublin.