2467Turkey lifts last state of emergency - BBC, UK
- Dec 1, 2002Turkey lifts last state of emergency
By Jonny Dymond
BBC correspondent in Diyarbakir, Turkey
Doctors, lawyers and human rights activists have met
in the Turkish city of Diyarbakir to mark the lifting
of the state of emergency in the last two Turkish
provinces where it was in force.
Diyarbakir and Sirnak, both in the south-east of
Turkey, have been governed under a state of emergency
for 15 years.
Representatives of the groups welcomed the lifting of
emergency rule, but warned that divisions remained
between different parts of the country.
The lifting of emergency rule that once covered 13
Turkish provinces and the militarisation that went
with it is a sign of the victory of the Turkish
Government over the Kurdish and left-wing
paramilitaries that once threatened the state.
A ruthless struggle against Kurdish separatists in the
1980s and 1990s left more than 30,000 dead and
millions uprooted from their homes.
The end of the state of emergency will lead to the
gradual relaxation of the military hold on Diyarbakir
and Sirnak, typified by high troops numbers, regular
checkpoints, curfews and a lack of recourse to the
Cautious welcome from activists
A bout of impromptu celebration ended the meeting of
300 or so activists drawn from different spheres of
life in Diyarbakir.
"Long live the democratic republic of Turkey," sang
some of the audience, accompanied by some sarcastic
There is pleasure here at the lifting of emergency
There is the hope that life might improve as the army
scales down its presence and legal rights are returned
to the population.
But there is also a great deal of caution.
Few believe that the state will relax its grip on an
area which until recently was a battleground between
the security forces and Kurdish paramilitaries.
Ali Oncu spoke for the democratic platform which
called the meeting.
He said that even without a state of emergency the
provinces would still be denied real freedom.
"This is a different version of holding Turkey in an
under-developed position which Turkey does not
deserve," he said.
"We would like Turkey to take a strong position near
the democratic countries.
"All sectors of society must be able to exist and live
together in peace and safety in a democratic society."
During the meeting, a plainclothes policeman stood
with a hand-held camera, taping not only the speakers,
but members of the audience.
Afterwards, organisers met police after the
authorities raised objections to a planned outdoor
meeting later in the day.
Emergency rule may have been lifted, but the mentality
which underpins it and the atmosphere of fear which it
creates shows no sign of disappearing.
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