A Justice and Development Party, or AKP, Deputy Ahmet İyimaya has suggested a legal arrangement to shield people against prosecution for voicing controversial proposals at the constitution-making commission, but the idea has been rejected after failing to garner support from fellow AKP lawmakers, the Hürriyet Daily News has learned.

İyimaya floated the idea on the grounds that "certain views could be prosecuted for being unconstitutional" and stressed that "citizens, NGOs, lawyers, foundations, associations, labor unions, universities and political parties who voice opinions on the new constitution should not feel under pressure."

The idea was rejected by other AKP members, even though their colleagues from the opposition Republican People's Party, or CHP, and the Peace and Democracy Party, or BDP, lent support. Representatives of the Nationalist Movement Party, or MHP, were lukewarm.

"Such an arrangement is necessary, a provisional constitutional article or a law to guarantee that individuals and institutions are not held responsible and are not prosecuted. But we could not overcome the AKP barrier," the CHP's Atilla Kart told the Daily News. Prosecutors could one day launch investigations into some of those who have provided input deemed a breach of the constitution, he said.

On Monday, representatives of the Journalists and Writers Foundation, founded by influential preacher Fethullah Gülen, appeared at the commission to offer its proposals. The foundation stressed the need for "constitutional citizenship" with no reference to ethnic identity and suggested Kurdish could be used as second education language at schools upon sufficient demand from parents. It said the Directorate of Religious Affairs should become autonomous in the form of a public-benefit foundation embracing all religions and sects in Turkey and the rights of non-Muslim communities should be expanded in line with international standards. It also suggested that parents should decide whether and which religious classes their children attend. The foundation advocated greater powers for local administrations.

Umut (Hope) Foundation, a leading campaigner against firearms, also made a presentation, calling for a provision to tightly limit individual gun ownership.


Turkish Security Forces Kill 20 PKK Terrorists in Diyarbakir

Turkish security forces killed 20 members of the terrorist Kurdistan Workers' Party, or PKK, in a mass operation carried out on Monday against the terrorist group in the southeastern province of Diyarbakır, the Cihan news agency reported.

The helicopter-backed ground operation reportedly conducted by gendarmerie and police special-operations teams concentrated on Görese mountain located near Diyarbakır's Dicle district. Cihan reported there are nearly 50 PKK members in the region; the operation is still underway.

Another 10 PKK terrorists were killed in an operation in the same region on Saturday. Police were alerted to the terrorists' whereabouts after the Diyarbakır provincial gendarmerie office traced telephone numbers that had been saved on a cellular phone belonging to slain PKK terrorist Hüseyin Akdoğan, who was killed in a rural area of Dicle last month. They discovered that some 50 PKK members were hiding out in four caves located in Görese mountain near the village of Kurşunlu.

Earlier this year, the government announced that it had adopted a new strategy based on cooperation between police and military forces as well as the extensive use of professional units to fight separatist terrorism. An unprecedentedly high number of terrorists have been killed over the past few months in comparison with other periods in Turkey's history of fighting the PKK during the operations conducted jointly by Police Special Operations and Gendarmerie Special Operations Unit. Effective airstrikes first destroyed terrorist camps both inside Turkey's borders and in northern Iraq, followed by relentless ground operations.

Since the beginning of December, 13 PKK terrorists have surrendered. The PKK suffered major blows in northern Iraq and also Turkey – such as those to the Kavaklı and Kazan camps in the southeastern province of Hakkari – with the deaths of about 300 terrorists. The losses suffered by the Turkish forces were minimal. This is mostly due to the joint efforts of the police force and military units, which hadn't worked together for many years due to bad management.

Not a single Turkish soldier was killed in a Special Forces operation in Kazan, Hakkari, when 54 PKK terrorists were killed in their hideout. The destruction of Kazan, a PKK stronghold, has greatly helped the fight against the PKK as this camp gave a strategic advantage to the terrorist group.

The conflict with the PKK has claimed tens of thousands of lives and cost Turkey hundreds of billions of dollars. The group is labeled a terrorist organization by the European Union and the United States, which has supplied Predator drones to Turkey to assist its fight in the rugged southeast.

Ex-terrorist's Confession Reveal Militants' Unbearable Living Conditions

A PKK terrorist who was captured by Turkish security forces in the eastern province of Ağrı told of the tough conditions PKK militants live in, stating that he only bathed about once a year during his two-and-a-half years in the terrorist organization.

Speaking to the Anka news agency, captured terrorist M.A., who is currently in jail, stated that PKK militants are shown videos in which alleged Turkish soldiers and police torture militants who have surrendered. These videos are meant to inject fear into them so that militants will not surrender, despite the unbearable conditions they live in.

M.A. was captured during an operation carried out based on information given by a recently captured high-level PKK terrorist who had been part of the organization for 17 years. During his interrogation, M.A. stated he was involved in setting a truck on fire in Ağrı on Sept. 9, 2011. He was also involved in an armed attack on the Tutak Police Department building in Ağrı on Oct. 7, 2011.

M.A. told the Anka news agency that PKK terrorists are frightened to surrender because they think they will be tortured and given a life sentence by the Turkish state.

"They [high-level PKK terrorists] show us videos in the camps in which police and soldiers beat and tortured captured militants. This aims to create hate against the state and its security forces. In these camps, they also make sure that militants do not see films in which family life is shown, fearing that people may be affected by these movies and miss the life that they had with their families. Some people still try to escape the organization," M.A. said. "However, when they get caught, they are first accused of being a spy and then killed. Also, when someone gets captured while attempting to escape the organization, they are judged by a group of senior members, and in some cases the captured person's weapon is taken, and he is given other roles, such as digging tunnels."

M.A. later said this PKK tactic was a major reason he had not surrendered, and he was scared of facing the Turkish state and its security personnel. "I saw after I was caught by soldiers that there is nothing to be afraid of in surrendering. If others [militants] also knew this, many people would surrender," he added.

Despite the fear tactics used by the terrorist organization, each week more PKK terrorists surrender to the state.


Dozens Detained in New Anti-KCK Operation in Istanbul

Police have detained more than 20 people in operations carried out against the Kurdish Communities Union, or KCK, which prosecutors say is a political umbrella organization that includes the Kurdistan Workers' Party, or PKK, terrorist organization.

The private Cihan news agency reported that police raided several premises early on Tuesday. The suspects went through medical checkups before being sent to the police department for questioning. Meanwhile, one of the suspects who jumped out the window of a house to escape detention was slightly injured.

The police have recently stepped up operations against the KCK. The KCK investigation started in December 2009 and a large number of Kurdish politicians, including several officials from the pro-Kurdish Peace and Democracy Party, or BDP, have been detained in the case.The suspects are accused of various crimes, including membership in a terrorist organization, aiding and abetting a terrorist organization and attempting to destroy the country's unity and integrity.

The detainees include mayors and municipal officials from the BDP, which has said the investigation is the government's method of suppressing its politicians, denying any links between the suspects and any terrorist organizations.


Turkish MPs Lobby Against 'Genocide' Bill

A Turkish parliamentary delegation started a three-day campaign in Paris Monday to halt a French motion criminalizing the denial of Armenian genocide claims, warning that the bill's passage would seriously damage bilateral ties.

Volkan Bozkır, head of Parliament's Foreign Relations Committee, met Monady with his French counterpart, Axel Poniatowski; the delegation also met with Pierre Moscovici from the Socialist Party to drum up opposition to the motion. A vote on the bill is expected to take place Dec. 22.

Foreign Minister Ahmet Davutoğlu said Turkey would "not remain silent" if the French parliament adopted the bill and renewed calls on France's intellectual community to resist the legislation.

"The ramifications of the bill will outstrip its proportions if such a prohibitive approach takes the upper hand in the middle of Europe," Davutoğlu told reporters in the Central Anatolian province of Konya, where he is attending meetings. "As always, Turkey has contingency plans, calculations and preparations on every issue. There will be measures that Turkey will take. If our warnings remain unanswered and prohibitive attitudes prevail in France, they should not expect us to stay silent."

Parliament Speaker Cemil Çiçek, who last week sent a letter to his French counterpart, warned that France would pay "a heavy price" if its Parliament passed the bill.

"The approval of the bill will lead to problems at a scale that will cause irreparable consequences for our relations. If things develop in that direction, I'm afraid France will pay a very heavy price in the future," he said.


Turkey Sends Delegations to France to Avert Genocide Bill

Turkey has been lobbying with full force to counter a French bill that aims to penalize denial of alleged Armenian genocide in France, as multiple delegations from the ruling party, opposition lawmakers, Turkish business people and civil society organizations embark on a Paris trip to warn French officials of the possible damage the denial bill could cause.

"Our hope is that the bill will not be put on the agenda on Dec. 22," Volkan Bozkır, head of Parliament's Foreign Affairs Commission, told the Cihan news agency on Monday as he led the Ankara delegation to Paris earlier this week to relay Turkey's concerns to French officials, whom the delegation will meet until Thursday.

In the event that the bill gets placed on the agenda, Bozkır expressed hope that the denial proposal would get "aborted" by the French Senate. Bozkır's delegation is expected to meet Jean Levitte, French President Nicolas Sarkozy's diplomacy advisor, and French Foreign Minister Alain Juppe on Tuesday, Cihan reported.

As part of efforts to express Turkey's discomfort with the bill, which makes denial of alleged Armenian genocide a crime punishable by a one-year prison sentence and a fine of 45,000 euros, Bozkır's delegation reaffirmed faith in the strength of Turkish-French relations in Paris, but warned that the bill could erupt into a crisis at a time when relations were at their best.

"Disruption in relations between Turkey and France will not yield positive results in Turkey either, but we have run out of patience," he said in hope that Turkish warnings bring about reconsideration with the French legislature. Turkish-French relations had sustained a crisis when the French Senate in 2001 passed a law that recognizes the killing of Armenians during the collapse of the Ottoman Empire as genocide, but relations were repaired in its aftermath.

The Parliament delegation led by Bozkır is expected to conduct bilateral meetings with various French officials, starting with Axel Poniatowski, president of the foreign affairs commission in parliament, and Pierre Moscovici of the Socialist Party, Cihan reported.

Opposition Republican People's Party, or CHP, lawmakers Haluk Koç and Osman Korutürk were also dispatched from Ankara by CHP leader Kemal Kılıçdaroğlu to contact French officials to discuss the probable risks of the bill, the Anatolia news agency reported over the weekend. Another CHP lawmaker, Akif Hamzaçebi, also alleged on Monday that "French history is full of dirty pages," referring to "massacres in Rwanda and Algeria," as he suggested that France would not be fit to lead discussions regarding killing and genocide, Anatolia reported.

The French bill also triggered a wave of reaction from Turkish business circles, which have expressed their reservations regarding the financial implications of the passage of such a denial bill, since France and Turkey have strong mutual trade ties, and both countries have several companies that conduct business with each other. A delegation consisting of businesspeople, led by the Turkish Union of Chambers and Commodity Exchanges, or TOBB, President Rifat Hisarcıklıoğlu and Turkish Industrialists and Businessmen's Association, or TÜSİAD, Chairwoman Ümit Boyner is also scheduled to engage in contacts with French business people with the aim of convincing them to increase pressure on French officials regarding the bill.

Last week, Foreign Minister Ahmet Davutoğlu invited executives of French companies investing heavily in Turkey to the Foreign Ministry and discussed the possible damage their business might receive in the aftermath of the bill. Davutoğlu told reporters after the meeting that it was the French executives' call whether to act on the warning and pressure French parties.

Civil society organizations, or CSO, both inside and outside Turkey also issued harsh messages to France, as two Germany-based CSOs made statements on Monday that France would be blocking freedom of expression, on top of risking its ties with Turkey, an ancient ally. They elaborated by saying that the law would bar historians from conducting objective research and expressing their views, in fear of conviction under the proposed law. They further urged France to leave history to historians, whom they said did not share the same opinion on the incidents of 1915 and said multiple archives should be opened up to clarify the issue.

In a surprising development, the Chief of Staff announced on Monday that a French military transportation plane violated Turkish airspace on the southwestern coast of the country for three minutes on Saturday, the Anka news agency reported. The Chief of Staff announcement also noted that the incident was referred to the Foreign Ministry. The violation constituted the first incident of a violated of Turkish airspace this year, as such violations usually occur between Turkey and Greece, according to Anka.

Meanwhile, on Sunday, Davutoğlu raised the level of official warnings to France, saying relations would be hurt and the Turkish ambassador would be withdrawn if the bill passes and pledging an exact retaliation to France.

"We are ready to open up archives and conduct research on the matter, on any platform. This is what facing history is," Davutoğlu said at a ministerial European Union progress review meeting in Konya, in response to Sarkozy's remarks that Turkey should face its past and recognize the alleged genocide. "If you try to take away our opportunity to face history [by blocking freedom of expression], we will start commenting on French colonial history whichever country we visit."

"If we are going to dig up all the files from history, we will dig them all up," Davutoğlu added, warning France that Turkey would force the country to face past actions by talking about "facts regarding French history all over the world." Davutoğlu also claimed that the timing of the discussion for the bill, Dec 22, was significant since it coincidence with the killing of a Turkish diplomat, Yılmaz Çolpan, in France in a terrorist attack, claimed by an Armenian terrorist group that was allegedly murdering Turkish diplomat to avenge the deaths of Armenians.

Calling the French vote "an attempt at abusing history with political motives," Parliament Speaker Cemil Çiçek urged France to act with common sense so that "France does not pay a heavy toll in the future." Many other Turkish officials voiced similar comments in the past week, but French responses to the warnings suggested that French officials interpreted such words as bluffs and did not put much stock in the issue.


Palestinian President Abbas to Arrive in Turkey on Monday

Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas and an accompanying delegation will arrive in Turkey on Monday, the Turkish Presidential Press Center said.

Abbas will meet his Turkish counterpart President Abdullah Gul, Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdogan and Foreign Minister Ahmet Davutoglu.

Turkey's support to the recognition of the Palestinian state will be affirmed and officials would exchange views on the recent developments in the region, the Press Center also said.


© 2017 Gatestone Institute. All rights reserved. The articles printed here do not necessarily reflect the views of the Editors or of Gatestone Institute. No part of the Gatestone website or any of its contents may be reproduced, copied or modified, without the prior written consent of Gatestone Institute.

Recent Articles by
receive the latest by email: subscribe to the free gatestone institute mailing list.


Comment on this item

Email me if someone replies to my comment

Note: Gatestone Institute greatly appreciates your comments. The editors reserve the right, however, not to publish comments containing: incitement to violence, profanity, or any broad-brush slurring of any race, ethnic group or religion. Gatestone also reserves the right to edit comments for length, clarity and grammar. All thoughtful suggestions and analyses will be gratefully considered. Commenters' email addresses will not be displayed publicly. Gatestone regrets that, because of the increasingly great volume of traffic, we are not able to publish them all.