US embassy cable - 02ANKARA7739

ELECTION INTERFERENCE FEARS IN COUNTRYSIDE

Identifier: 02ANKARA7739
Wikileaks: View 02ANKARA7739 at Wikileaks.org
Origin: Embassy Ankara
Created: 2002-11-01 12:37:00
Classification: UNCLASSIFIED//FOR OFFICIAL USE ONLY
Tags: PGOV PHUM TU
Redacted: This cable was not redacted by Wikileaks.
This record is a partial extract of the original cable. The full text of the original cable is not available.

UNCLAS SECTION 01 OF 02 ANKARA 007739 
 
SIPDIS 
 
 
SENSITIVE 
 
 
E.O. 12958: N/A 
TAGS: PGOV, PHUM, TU 
SUBJECT: ELECTION INTERFERENCE FEARS IN COUNTRYSIDE 
 
1.   (SBU) SUMMARY: While political leaders acknowledge 
that the restrictions in expression in Turkey's 
Southeast have generally loosened, villagers remain 
concerned that their voices will not be heard in 
Ankara. Based on conversations with politicians, 
business leaders, and NGO representatives, several 
social divides appear to strongly influence the outcome 
of the upcoming vote in Southeast Turkey.  Urban-rural 
differences couple with ethnic divides, most likely 
resulting in DEHAP and AK being the big regional 
winners.  Interference by local jandarma and village 
guards, as well as the effect of the baraj, could 
significantly influence the region's parliamentary 
representation.  However, human rights organizations 
and DEHAP officials report significantly less 
interference in pro-Kurdish political expression 
compared to elections in 1995 and 1999.  END SUMMARY. 
 
 
------------------------------- 
WILL DEHAP SWEEP THE SOUTHEAST? 
------------------------------- 
 
 
2.   (SBU) Though no reliable figures exist for ethnic 
population statistics, estimates suggest approximately 
15 million Turkish citizens of Kurdish descent living 
in Turkey's Southeast.  A large number of these Kurds 
plan to vote for DEHAP (Democratic People's Party), the 
successor party to HADEP.  In an October 15 decision, 
DEHAP got a green light for participation in the 
upcoming elections.  Election preparations continue 
apace.  Many small villages in the region boast only 
one party office, DEHAP's.  In larger towns and cities 
throughout the Southeast, DEHAP leaders believe they 
are poised to take a considerable portion of the vote. 
 
 
3.   (SBU) Several obstacles exist to DEHAP entering 
parliament.  First, and most significant for Turkish 
political development, DEHAP is being intentionally 
hampered, often by jandarma and village guards.  These 
allegations come from Diyarbakir and Mardin human 
rights advocates, as well as DEHAP leaders throughout 
the Southeast.  DEHAP members are regularly harassed by 
jandarma and security officials, including verbal 
threats, arbitrary arrest at rallies, and detention at 
checkpoints (in one case, a group of DEHAP leaders from 
Diyarbakir was detained for seven hours at a checkpoint 
in Sirnak without any explanation, according to DEHAP 
Sirnak Chairman Resul Sadak). 
 
 
4. (SBU) Security forces also regularly harass 
villagers they believe are sympathetic to DEHAP. 
Mazlum-Der, Human Rights Association (HRA) and DEHAP 
officials throughout the region report cases of 
jandarma and village guards threatening villagers not 
to vote for DEHAP.  The villagers are warned that, 
should DEHAP win the vote from that area, the town may 
be burned, re-evacuated, or denied services (such as 
electricity or water).  Diyarbakir's HRA also reports 
one case in which a village was told by jandarma, if 
they really wanted to show their support for DEHAP, 
that was fine, but only one person, the village sheikh, 
should vote symbolically on behalf of the whole 
village.  Of course, in reality, the vote would only 
count for one vote, not hundreds.  Ultimately, DEHAP is 
most concerned that these same security officials will 
be ensuring the sanctity of the ballot box.  DEHAP 
fully expects vote tampering to take place. 
 
 
------------------------- 
AK IS AN URBAN PHENOMENON 
------------------------- 
 
 
5. (SBU) AK is, by all current estimations, leading the 
polls throughout Turkey.  In the Southeast, this 
popularity, while significant, is largely confined to 
larger urban centers.  Only in Diyarbakir and Gaziantep 
does AK currently expect to lead the pack, with DEHAP 
also getting a strong showing.  In smaller cities such 
as Mardin (where DEHAP and ANAP seem, currently, to be 
running first and second) and Hakkari, AK barely shows 
up on the radar.  In fact, though socially very 
conservative, leaders throughout the region seem vastly 
more concerned with security and ethnic issues rather 
than the possible impact of an Islamically-minded 
party. 
 
 
-------------------- 
THE BARAJ IS CRUCIAL 
-------------------- 
 
 
6. (SBU) What does this mean for a future Turkish 
parliament?  If DEHAP takes ten percent of the national 
vote, the number of parliament seats per party will 
come close to the Southeast popular vote.  If, however, 
DEHAP does not make the cutoff, huge sections of the 
region will be unrepresented.  Diyarbakir's AK Parti 
leader, Nezir Koclardan, admits as much.  Though he 
believes AK will take only 30 percent of the popular 
vote, he expects this to yield seven of Diyarbakir's 
ten seats, betting that DEHAP, though beating them 
locally, will not cross the national threshold.  In 
Sirnak, where DEHAP believes it can muster 70 percent 
of the total vote, ANAP could benefit enormously. 
ANAP, which has historically had strong backing in 
Sirnak, could reap windfall parliamentary seats should 
DEHAP not clear the baraj.  If neither party crosses 
the baraj, however, a small fraction of the popular 
vote (as little as 15 percent) could take all the 
province's seats. 
 
 
------- 
COMMENT 
------- 
 
 
7. (SBU) Despite a seemingly endless list of 
grievances, Kurdish leaders freely admit that the 
situation in the region is more accepting of DEHAP 
(previously HADEP) than at any time in the past. 
Registering the party and its candidates is done freely 
throughout the region.  Party headquarters are opened 
with minimal interference.  Rallies often are given 
permission by the local governor.  However, local 
security officials, acting on their own authority, 
frequently seek to dampen enthusiasm for DEHAP. 
Crossing the critical ten percent baraj will be a tight 
squeeze for DEHAP, but would result in a very different 
TBMM.  In such a tight contest, piecemeal interference 
by local officials could thus have significant national 
impact.  End comment. 
 
 
Holtz 

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