Today's Zaman, Turkey
Jan 2 2008

Expectations for 2008


As I pointed out in my previous column, I'm very hopeful for 2008. I
also have high hopes for Turkey having more democracy and freedoms
and advancing on the way to more welfare.

Not only me, but also a large part of the Turkish nation, according
to the results of a survey reported in yesterday's Hürriyet, is
hopeful for 2008 and they have high expectations from it.

A public survey conducted by a Greek polling company, as quoted by
Hürriyet, has collected encouraging data which I believe reflect our
social mood as we enter a new year. According to the survey, 59.1
percent of Turks believe that they will be happier in 2008, while
only 27.3 percent of them believe that they will be less happy. Also,
46.6 percent is hopeful that 2008 will bring a higher standard of
living for them.

It's undoubtedly everybody's wish to be able to enter the new year
with high hopes and to witness the realization of those hopes and
expectations during the year. Although general expectations overlap,
the things hoped for by different individuals for their country may
be different. Maybe my expectations are a little different from the
expectations of other citizens. The best thing to do at this point,
therefore, is to tell you what sort of Turkey I'm dreaming of in 2008
and to explain my expectations one by one:

A Turkey in which all obstacles before freedom of thought and speech
are totally removed and in which Article 301 of the Turkish Penal
Code (TCK) has become history.

A Turkey in which the anti-democratic constitution, drafted by
soldiers after the 1980 military coup and which is still in effect,
is completely shelved and a new civilian and democratic constitution
is implemented.

A Turkey in which tens of thousands of our daughters, currently
deprived of their right to education because of their choice of dress
or because they are fulfilling their religious duties, are granted
back their most natural right.

A Turkey in which the gap in income distribution is closed, in which
the minimum wage isn't below the poverty line and in which everyone
has an income large enough to provide for their family and a
remunerative job to build a future for their children.

A Turkey in which honor killings are brought to an end, in which
discrimination against women in education, in professional life and
in politics is eradicated and in which domestic violence becomes

A Turkey in which the terrorist Kurdistan Workers' Party (PKK), which
has afflicted Turkey for the last 25 years by perpetrating all sorts
of evil to do permanent damage to the centuries-old Turkish-Kurdish
fraternity, is completely obliterated.

A Turkey in which Turks, Kurds, Circassians, Laz, Sunnis, Alevis,
Armenians, Jews and all others live in peace and brotherhood.

A Turkey in which all gangs with deep and dark connections are
exposed and brought to justice -- a Turkey which turns into a hell
for all crime organizations.

A Turkey in which democratic principles and the people's will are
respected by everyone and all institutions, and one in which we are
proud of our military only in the army barracks and of its presence
along the country's borders.

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Rectification of an article that overemphasized its aim
The work that I admire most is that done by humanitarian aid
organizations that rush to help people afflicted by natural disasters
or victimized by wars, regardless of race, religion, sect or
language. The International Committee of the Red Cross (ICRC) is one
of the most well-known organizations that operate to take
humanitarian aid to people victimized by wars and conflicts
regardless of their religion, race or ideology. I was saddened to
hear that an article I penned in the past weeks inadvertently carried
the risk of harming the ICRC's operations in Palestine, where great
tragedies happen every day. For this reason, I requested a small
article from Mr. Christoph Harnisch, the head of the ICRC delegation
in Tel Aviv, to rectify the possible harm that might have been caused
by my article. I'm presenting the text I received from Mr. Harnisch
without touching a single word:

Dear Mr. Keneº,

Your article `Palestine's tragedy and Hamas', published on 17
December 2007 which attributed certain comments to me, may have
resulted in misunderstandings about the ICRC's view of the current
situation in the occupied Palestinian territories.

Let me therefore reiterate that the ICRC's main concern is the
worsening humanitarian crisis affecting the Palestinian population in
the Gaza Strip and West Bank. We are particularly worried about the
impact of the severe restrictions on the movement of people and goods
that exacerbate economic hardship and affect every aspect of life.

The situation in the Gaza Strip, which has been progressively sealed
off since June, is alarming: imports are restricted to the bare
minimum and essential infrastructure, including medical facilities
and water and sanitation systems, is in an increasingly fragile
state. Substantial cuts in fuel supplies further add to the hardship
experienced by the population.

In the West Bank, stringent restrictions on the movement of people
continue to severely hamper the economic and social life of the
Palestinian population.

The measures imposed by Israel come at an enormous humanitarian cost
for the population living under occupation. While recognizing
Israel's right to address its legitimate security concerns, the ICRC
has repeatedly called on it to respect its obligations under
international law by easing restrictions on movement in the Gaza
Strip and the West Bank and by lifting the retaliatory measures that
are paralysing life in Gaza. The ICRC also calls on the Palestinian
factions to stop targeting civilian areas and endangering the lives
of civilians.

Yours sincerely

Christoph Harnisch
Head of Delegation,
International Committee
of the Red Cross, Tel Aviv