I got the following alerts back to back, yesterday and today:

SUBJECT: Unmask LGBT discrimination in Turkey

Will LGBT rights be included in Turkey’s new constitution?

Next month, Turkey will be drafting a new constitution — one that protects “everyone’s life style, belief, language, culture and ideas”, according to Prime Minister Erdogan.

But read the fine print carefully: The rights of Turkey’s gay, lesbian, bisexual and transgender (LGBT) people may not be included.

Sexual orientation and gender identity are currently not protected under Turkish law. And if key officials in Turkey’s ruling party have it their way, then LGBT people will continue to be regarded as sick and immoral.

In Turkey, LGBT discrimination is permitted in employment, education, housing, health care, public services and credit ratings.

Furthermore, police and others responsible for upholding justice often ignore violent and heinous crimes against LGBT people.

A young, openly-gay man named Ahmet Yıldız was shot down in front of his home three years ago. It took authorities months to investigate the previous series of death threats he allegedly received from his family. It took years before an international arrest warrant was ordered for Ahmet’s father — the single suspect in the case, who fled the country shortly after the murder.

And there’s simply no telling when Ahmet’s killer will finally be brought to justice.

[Small point here: This sort of discrimination and pace of justice — times 10 — doesn’t even raise an eyebrow vis-a-vis Serbs in “democratic,” non-Muslimy Kosovo, so I’m having a hard time getting my outrage going here.]

Turkey’s failure to enact laws prohibiting discrimination against LGBT people fuels stigma toward the LGBT community and puts LGBT people at risk. Sign our petition now and help stop LGBT discrimination in Turkey once and for all.

In the coming weeks, Amnesty representatives will deliver your signatures to Turkish officials as they develop Turkey’s new constitution. We need every name we can get to send a strong message that Turkey’s constitution cannot ignore LGBT rights anymore! The time for a new start is now. The time for human rights is always.

In Solidarity,

William Jones
Country Specialist, Turkey
Amnesty International USA
[1] http://www.amnestyusa.org/sites/default/files/notillnessnorcrime.pdf
If Turkey wants a new constitution that is truly inclusive, then it must include the rights of gay, lesbian, bisexual and transgender people.


SUBJECT: Not an illness, not a crime

Tell Turkey to stop violence and discrimination against LGBT people.

According to many officials in Turkey’s ruling party, LGBT people are sick and immoral. They deserve the violence, discrimination and harassment they are routinely subjected to, even from the police who are supposed to protect them.

Member of Parliament Dengir Mir Firat said that the 21st century is too soon to protect LGBT rights in the constitution. Maybe in the 22nd century, he added.

Amnesty will not wait 100 years for human rights.

Amnesty International’s new report, “Not An Illness Nor A Crime”, documents disturbing patterns of government hostility toward LGBT people in Turkey across courts, police stations, the military and the workplace.

For example, gay men are frequent targets of abuse, especially in the military. Turkey has a mandatory service requirement, but gay men are deemed unfit for the military based on their sexual orientation.

To make matters worse, proof of military service is often a prerequisite for employment of men in Turkey - so many gay men attempt to serve despite the ban.

Gay men in Turkey told Amnesty that those who seek an exemption from military service must “prove” their homosexuality by showing photos of themselves having sex or submitting to a forced anal examination. […]

In Solidarity,

Larry Cox
Executive Director
Amnesty International USA
Amnesty should probably have a word with Bill Gates, who is funding the Islamists in Turkey — a natural progression from his otherwise purely leftist destructive causes, which Amnesty presumably never had any objections to.

Since Turkey is the subject again, I’m going to post just the two latest items in my on-again, off-again chronicling of the Ottomans reclaiming the Balkans:

The rise of Turkey in the Balkans (Southeast European Times, July 11)

From economics to culture, many see the country taking on the role of a new regional power

By Misko Taleski for Southeast European Times in Skopje

Turkey has played a moderator role between Serbia and the tripartite BiH presidency.

Over the past decade, Turkey has carried out a multi-dimensional and multi-regional foreign policy. With its EU membership prospects in limbo, the country has not only looked to the east, but also towards its “near abroad” in the Balkans.

EU regional player Greece’s increasing social-financial problems provide ample room for Turkey — whose economy now ranks twelfth in the world, with a GNP of $10,000 per person — to take control of the regional rudder.

“After Yugoslavia’s disintegration, Turkey’s strategic interest returned to the Balkans, also a former Ottoman territory. This time around, the influence is economic and cultural but it soon will become geopolitical,” military-political analyst Petar Shkrbina told SETimes. “Erdogan knows that Europe needs Turkey and not the other way around. The main networks of gas and oil pipelines will go through Turkey.”

The Balkan countries, primarily Macedonia and Bosnia and Herzegovina (BiH), but increasingly Serbia as well, have achieved significant political co-operation with Ankara. In the past several years, the economic ties have strengthened as Turkish investors eye the opportunity to secure a foothold in the Balkans marketplace.

Analysts are unanimous that the pan-European corridor No. 10, which will connect the Balkan countries with the rest of Europe, will command the economic attention of Turkey. The corridor’s left wing will secure a transportation connection between Turkey and the Balkans, and Turkey and the EU.

Though Turkey is keen to develop bonds with Muslim communities in the Balkans, it says it aims to engage all ethnicities and religions in an effort to increase stability in its neighbourhood.

“Turkey has no imperialist ambitions but is trying to help the neighbouring countries as it can,” Turkish Ambassador to Serbia Ali Riza Colak said, answering charges that Ankara is interfering in Serbia’s internal affairs after a senior military delegation visited Novi Pazar, in Serbia’s Muslim-dominated Rashka (or Sandzak) region.

Rashka remains a source of tension in Ankara-Belgrade relations because the Serbs widely believe local Muslim leaders try to obtain autonomy with the help of Turkey, and many Muslims there identify with BiH.

In response, Ambassador Riza Colak says “Sandzak is the bridge for co-operation between the two countries, and Belgrade must understand the sensitivity of the people in this region.” [Sensitivity to not being allowed to establish the caliphate.]

Turkey-BiH relations are particularly important for the region. Erdogan’s election victory statement last month, in which he said his AKP’s victory would benefit Sarajevo as much as it would Istanbul, triggered harsh reactions in Republika Srpska.

The Serb member of BiH’s tri-member presidency, Nebojsha Radmanovic, said that such statements would cause political problems between BiH’s two entities and could lead to new divisions among the three constituent peoples.

“While Bosniak authorities in Sarajevo see a positive effect from Turkey’s role in BiH, Serbian politicians there are reserved and do not accept any political role by Ankara in the Balkans,” Shkrbina tells SETimes.

“Erdogan’s open ambitions to spread the ‘Green Diagonal’ [spread of Islamic influence through a set of connected countries with Muslim populations] in this space have their own limits. Neither the illegal government of the Muslim-Croat federation will help him to do that nor the political pressures on Croats in central Bosnia,” RS Vice President Emil Vlajki said.

Despite any lingering Serbian nationalist suspicion [ha ha ha ha ha ha!], Turkey has been playing a constructive moderator role by bringing together the presidents of BiH and Serbia to encourage a policy of dialogue and regional security.

The most recent example is the July 6th visit of Serbian President Tadic to Sarajevo, which was secured at a summit among all parties in Istanbul last April. Serbia now pledges to guarantee BiH’s integrity and wants to close all open questions.

Turkey has also expressed its desire for BiH and Serbia to enter the Euro-Atlantic community through membership in the EU and NATO.

Although several political issues remain an obstacle to better relations, both Ankara and Belgrade aim to smooth over political differences through greater economic co-operation and interdependence.[Great! Be a hostage of Muslim money. This is why Vlad the Impaler impaled people.]

In December 2010, Turkish Defence Minister Vecdi Gonul and Bosnian counterpart Selmo Cikotic met in Sarajevo to discuss business co-operation in the military industries.

Turkish economic activity extends throughout the region. The Turkish company TAV has already invested 200m euro in rebuilding Macedonia’s airports. Since March 1st, the Skopje and Ohrid airports are under TAV control for the next 20 years. TAV’s executives view Macedonia as a Southeast European hub and have announced they will build a new airport in eastern Macedonia. [Great. Simple solution to Islamic terror: Just let the hijackers run the airports!]

In addition, Turkey’s Shishe Dzam company has announced its interest in a strategic investment of 150m euro in two factories in Macedonia to produce glass.

Politically, Turkey will continue to be Macedonia’s steadfast supporter in Euro-Atlantic integration, advocating membership under Macedonia’s name despite the longstanding dispute with Greece. [Well, as long as it can kick Greece in the ass, it’ll be pals with Macedonia. A bit short-sighted of Macedonia, though.]

But the relations have a deeper cultural and historical context in Mustafa Kemal Ataturk, the founder of modern Turkey, who spent his youth in Macedonia and was educated at an Ottoman military school in Bitola, adding an emotional dimension to how Ankara — and the Turkish people — view Macedonia.

A joint celebration of Ataturk’s life and achievement is now held annually in Bitola. Such events contribute to increased tourism in both directions. [Capitalizing on Ataturk while undoing his legacy. Good one, Turkey.]

An important element of Turkey’s “soft power” is the increasing number of soap operas and other TV shows that have conquered audiences [cute!] throughout the Balkans. In virtually every Balkan state, Turkish shows are breaking records, as well as the long-held prejudice against Islam. [That’s right — let your guards down! That’s the goal.]

“They are very professionally produced, and they promote not luxury and glamour, but also traditional Islamic customs during marriage and funerals. The series are the cheapest but most effective approach to spread Turkish influence in the region,” Shkrbina said.

The Balkans look good…from Istanbul (Financial Times Blog, July 14)

by Neil MacDonald

Opportunity is in the eye of the beholder. The global investors who never spare a thought for the Balkans are going to miss out on some great money-making prospects, says Philip Khoury, am Istanbul-based “frontier” market specialist.

He relied on gut instincts about the region, most of which still hovers below the productivity levels and living standards it enjoyed before the 1990s break-up. “Slovenia and Croatia have moved on [to join the central European mainstream], so I’m really talking about the former Ottoman provinces [in the western Balkans],” he adds.

In “Quarterly Perspectives”, a newsletter for Impera’s small circle of high net-worth clients, Khoury puts Uzbekistan, Palestine and his home country, Lebanon, in the same “Deep Value/Undiscovered” category….

Serbia, as Khoury sees it, still looks well-placed to emulate the 1990s boom of Poland, Hungary and the Czech Republic, even if the scale is smaller and the onset long delayed.

After the arrest of Ratko Mladic, the fugitive Bosnian Serb general wanted for genocide, larger investment houses noted Serbia’s EU convergence potential.

Montenegro, the smallest ex-Yugoslav republic, is a different story….Egypt’s Orascom Group, sharing Khoury’s wait-for-it investment philosophy, plans to build a resort on the bay in the next decade or so. […]