THE U.S.'s TURKISH MODEL FOR MIDDLE EAST...
Turkish human rights activists called
on the government to improve conditions for sick inmates and address
human rights violations. According to a report by the Human Rights
Association (IHD), there were “526 sick political prisoners in Turkish
prisons,” and, “154 of them in need of extremely urgent treatment,” as
of September 10. Raci Bilici, head of the Diyarbakir
branch of the IHD said, “The history of prisons in Turkey is filled with
deaths, torture and violations of rights. The Turkish state has had the
same mentality against political prisoners for years.”
Bilic also commented on the recent democratization package proposed by Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdogan.
He said, “No package that has been issued so far has offered a solution
for the violations of human rights in prisons. Necessary regulations
should be made so that sick inmates could be released.” Bilici is one of
many to comment on the reform package. In the International Herald Tribune, Andrew Finkel argues
the reforms “lack the quality of real democracy,” but are rather “a
slight of hand” because “giving Kurds or Alevis more rights risked
alienating his core supporters among Sunni and Turkish nationalists.” In
an op-ed in the New York Post, Amir Tehari asserts
Erdogan’s package “seems bent on abolishing that republic in all but
name” by re-energizing his Islamist base and giving few concessions to
Alevites and Armenians. In contrast, Semih Idiz argues in Al-Monitor
that one “glaring aspect of the package that is beyond despite” is that
“whatever it may do – or not do – for minorities, it lifts major
restrictions on devout Sunnis imposed by previous secular governments.
The Islamist section of society, which largely supports Erdogan, is
therefore happy– a fact that is reflected in the warm reception the
package got from pro-government media.”Meanwhile, Turkish authorities arrested
a group of students that visited Iran for 20 days on an exchange
program on allegations of espionage against the Turkish state. Turkey
also began constructing
a wall on its border with Syria in order to “stop people from illegally
bypassing its checkpoints and prevent smuggling,” according to Reuters.