Please find below a letter by the American Hellenic Media Project (AHMP) in response to James Glassman's commentary, "To Set Turkey Free". Glassman's commentary was published in numerous newspapers across the country. A version of the below letter by AHMP was published in The St. Petersburg Times (Fla.) on May 16, 1998.
American Hellenic Media Project
P.O. Box 1150
New York, N.Y. 10028-0008
To the Editor:
In his May 6 column, "To Set Turkey Free", James K. Glassman laments the European Union's exclusion of Turkey and blames "opposition from the Greeks, and from richer Europeans with a racist streak and a fear of easy immigration".
In contrast to the rosy picture painted by Turkish apologists such as Mr. Glassman, Turkey is one of the most politically repressive nations on earth. As Turkey's greatest novelist, Yesar Kemal, had written from his prison cell in 1995, a nation's soul can be gleaned from how it treats its dissidents.
In March of 1996, The NY Times cited Turkey as the country leading the world in imprisoned journalists ahead of China and Syria. Imprisonment, torture and assassinations of Turkey's journalists have earned Turkey the shameful distinction of being "one of the world's most dangerous countries in which to pursue a career in journalism" according to Amnesty International.
Torture by electric shocks, beatings, and killings are common for non-violent political offenses. As revealed by a startling internal investigation leaked to the press this year by the Turkish prime minister's office, government-sponsored terrorists and assassins with a budget of $50 million have been killing journalists, politicians, writers and other dissidents for the past two decades.
In 1974 Turkey invaded Cyprus and in a brutally characteristic fashion ethnically cleansed its Greek population from 37% of the island-democracy's territory, which Turkey continues to occupy today. Within Turkey itself, Kristalnacht-like pogroms in the 1950's and 60's reduced the Greek minority there from 250,000 to less than 2,500 today. The Greek Orthodox Patriarch, Bartholomeos I, has survived several bombings and assassination attempts during the last few years, and a sexton was murdered this year, his shrine looted and burned—acts of intimidation allegedly perpetrated by Turkish extremists but which the Turkish authorities have done nothing to remedy.
Turkey's war against its indigenous Kurdish population, just as tragic as the far more publicized war in Bosnia, has resulted in between one to three million Kurds being ethnically cleansed from more than 3,000 villages destroyed by Turkish troops, according to State Department reports.
From the authoritarian military that governs Turkey to the wave of Islamic fundamentalism engulfing it, Turkey is not "a beautiful bird in a small cage", as the delusional Mr. Glassman imagines, but a cesspool of international aggression, government corruption and deadly political repression.
Theodore G. Karakostas