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2467Turkey lifts last state of emergency - BBC, UK

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  • Zafar Khan
    Dec 1, 2002
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      Turkey 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.

      Long-standing conflict

      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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