by Angus Macdonald
A HUMAN rights delegation which has recently returned from Turkish Kurdistan this week published a damning report this week alleging widespread violence against unarmed Kurds by the Turkish armed forces and police.
The team of six which included Michael Feeney, refugee officer of the Westminster Diocese spent a week in the Kurdish region of Turkey at the end of April, investigating reports of killings and beatings. "Every single member of the delegation was deeply shocked by the overall situation in the area," said Mr Feeney.
The 40-page report on their visit, presented this week at a London press conference chaired by Bishop Victor Guazzelli, details evidence that at least 12 people were killed in the town of One, near the border with Syria, after soldiers opened fire on Kurds celebrating the Kurdish New Year on March 21.
Thereafter a curfew was imposed on the area. says the report, whilst armed forces and the police went on the rampage, bombarding houses. shops and offices and causing further civilian casualties.
"The Kurdish region of Turkey is like a country under foreign military occupation," said Lord Avehury, who headed the delegation. "Gross and persistent violations of human rights are occurring there every day. and must be acted upon by the international community."
The authors of the report also criticised the Western press for ignoring the alleged atrocities in Turkey. "Extremely important information about events in the area is not being covered by the world press in the way that it merits," they said.
"It is a conspiracy of silence," said Mr Feeney. "Western Governments owe a lot to Turkey, and want to avcid criticism."
lan Linden, General Secretary of the Catholic Institute for International Relations, echoed the concern. "The human rights record of Turkey in Kurdistan is absolutely appalling, but because they are allies of the West, this is being underplayed," he said.