Ismail Cem, Turkey's Foreign Minister recently complained that the European Union had offered Turkey only a "third class ticket" on the train of accession to the European Union. Others would say that Turkey was extremely fortunate to have even been considered for membership given its appalling tradition of human rights abuses.
For the past two hundred years, Turkey has achieved what is undoubtedly one of the worst human rights records in the world. The Turks have ethnically cleansed or otherwise mistreated ethnic minorities within Turkey and the peoples of neighbouring countries.
These include the Armenians, Bulgarians, Cypriots, Greeks, Kurds, Romanians and the Serbs. Turkey has the unenviable record of having conducted the first genocide of the 20th century when from 1915 to 1918 one and a half million indigenous Armenians were annihilated.
Lately, the Turks have turned their attention to those of their own people who have the courage to speak out against human rights abuses in Turkey.
Killings, disappearances and torture of lawyers, journalists, trade unionists, intellectuals and others remain well documented and are frighteningly commonplace in modern day Turkey.
Amnesty international recently reported that Turkey is the 5th worst country in the world for torture in jails, whilst the US State Department reports that the human rights situation in Turkey continues to deteriorate despite the promises of the Turkish government. In its annual report to Congress on human rights the Clinton administration stated that Turkish security forces committed "serious human rights abuses" during 1997.
Today, Turkey wages a dirty war against the Kurds who are fighting for recognition of their identity, and the right to express their language and culture. Almost 30,000 Kurds, government forces and civilians have been sacrificed. Three million Kurds are now refugees, and 3,000 Kurdish villages have been razed to the ground by Turkish troops.
This policy of human rights violations and ethnic cleansing is just as evident in the occupied north of Cyprus.
Turkey invaded the Republic of Cyprus in 1974 under the most spurious circumstances, causing death, rape, torture and forced displacement of persons, acts which are well documented by the European Court of Human Rights.
Turkey has created an illegal apartheid regime in the occupied area forcibly separating the Greek Cypriots from the Turkish Cypriots, violating a fundamental tenet of the European Union - the principle of free movement.
The few remaining Greek Cypriots enclaved in the occupied north are subject to continuous attack, harassment and intimidation, relying on United Nations protection and hand-outs in order to survive. They are also denied the right to secondary education, in violation of international law and the UN Charter on Human Rights.
No one can treat the hapless Mr Cem or Turkey itself with any credibility for so long as Turkey persists with her atrocious tradition of human rights violations. Sadly history teaches us that Turkey's policy on human rights has not and is unlikely to change.
Lobby for Cyprus urges the European Union leaders not to pursue a policy of appeasement with Turkey.
|Human rights violations in Turkey||1994||1995||1996||1997
|Civilians killed by military||458||230||119||133|
|Deaths in custody||298||122||190||97|
|Killed in clashes||5,000||3,894||2,859||2,323|
|Villages burnt down/evacuated||1,500||243||63||15|
|Human rights violations by Turkey following its invasion of the Republic of Cyprus In 1974|
|200,000 Greek Cypriots were forcibly removed from their homes|
|6,000 civilians and non combatants were murdered or tortured to death|
|1,000 women and girls were raped|
|1,619 missing persons are still unaccounted for by Turkey. The Red Cross documented that many were sent as prisoners of war to Turkey|
|100,000 colonists were transplanted to the occupied area to alter the demographic composition of the island|
|more than 40,000 Turkish Cypriots have fled the occupied area unable to coexist with the colonists|
|over 800 churches have been looted, destroyed or turned into stables|
|Turkey continues to ignore more than 90 United Nations and Security Council resolutions calling for the respect of human rights in Cyprus and the restoration of the sovereignty of the Republic of Cyprus|
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