A) Calls for Respect for the Rule of Law and Human Rights for the Kurdish People; B) Condemns Turkish Efforts to Deflect Attention from its Human Rights Violations; C) Calls Upon the Administration to Reject Turkish Threats Against Greece as Unacceptable
The American Hellenic Institute today released the following statement from Mr. Eugene T. Rossides, AHI Founder, with regard to the Kurdish question and the case of Mr. Abdullah Ocalan.
"AHI's guiding philosophy is respect for the rule of law and human rights. This is the surest instrument for advancing American values and interests around the world. In this context, we support the legitimate aspirations of national minorities, including of the Kurdish people, for self-determination and autonomy. This is the position of the United States government with regard to the Kosovo Albanians. We condemn governments, including the Turkish government, who deny these fundamental rights.
We are also concerned that all persons who seek to further these aspirations, including Mr. Ocalan, should receive fair treatment under the law. We are concerned that Mr. Ocalan's incarceration in solitary confinement, his interrogation without access to legal counsel of his choice, and his charging with treason raise questions about whether he is receiving the due process rights that are the fundamental elements of any independent legal system. We call upon the United States, as the champion of justice and the rule of law, to take action to ensure respect for these values.
The Administration should call specifically for Mr. Ocalan to face a trial under civil law with proper legal counsel. We endorse the declaration of the European Union of February 22, 1999 calling for "fair and correct treatment and an open trial before an independent court, with access to legal counsel of his choice and with international observers admitted to the trial."
AHI categorically and unequivocally rejects terrorism as a means of advancing political objectives. As Greek Americans, we find it unconscionable that Turkey has used statements extracted from Mr. Ocalan, surely under torture, to make baseless charges of terrorism against Greece. We deplore the irresponsible statements of Turkish President Suleyman Demirel and other Turkish ministers in this regard. We reject Turkey's aggressive threats against Greece. These are transparent efforts by Turkey to deflect attention from its continuing denial of basic human and democratic rights to the Kurds.
We welcome the February 25, 1999 letter of Prime Minister Costas Simitis to his European Union colleagues in which he said that Greece wished to avoid making the Ocalan question into a "problem between the two countries."
We welcome the Administration's diplomatic efforts to ease tensions. We urge the Administration to state publicly that Turkey's threats and defamatory campaign against Greece are unacceptable and should immediately cease.
AHI believes that we must not lose sight of the central issue with regard to the Kurds. This is that they are entitled to the rights of self-determination and autonomy within Turkey. These rights were promised to them under the 1920 Treaty of Sèvres and are guaranteed to them in accordance with the subsequent evolution of international law, and specifically through the Helsinki Accords.
Turkey has systematically denied the Kurdish people its legitimate rights and aspirations under international law. It has done so in a war of inhuman brutality extending over 15 years. Turkey's lawlessness has been on record for many years. The State Department's 1998 Human Rights report released February 26, 1999 currently documents Turkey's continuing oppression of its own citizens.
It is a matter of intense shame to American values and principles that U.S. weapons have been used for these purposes. If any government deserves to be designated as a state sponsor of terrorism and an outlaw nation, it is the military controlled government of Turkey.
The time has come to bring this war to an immediate halt. We call upon the Administration to use its influence with Turkey to insist that serious and substantive negotiations take place with the Kurdish political leadership that will open the way to a peaceful settlement between the Turkish and Kurdish peoples."
AHI Statement Regarding the case of Abdullah Ocalan