Düşünce Suçu(!?)na Karşı Girişim / Initiative for Freedom of Expression
"Düşünce Suçu(!?)na Karşı Girişim" or "Initiative for Freedom of Expression" is an impressive initiative formed in Turkey and has about a decade of history. They consist of intellectuals, artists and to keep it brief by concerned citizens who carry out acts of civil disobedience to support freedom of expression in Turkey. Their website is entertaining, colorful and creative.I paste below their FAQ.
A series of Articles on Spanish Civil war (Ispanyol Sivil Savasi ile ilgili)
I am going to post a series of articles that begun appearing in an alternative Turkish (internet) newspaper, Sesonline.Net, about the Spanish civil war on the occasion of its 70th aniversary. The articles are in Turkish and I have recently became interested in the topic.
Here is my plug for KISA which describes itself as
KISA’s overall long-term objective is the creation of a multicultural society, where there is equality of all persons, irrespective of nationality, race or ethnic origin, colour, creed, gender, sexual or any other orientation, background or characteristic.
KISA’s activities focus on two general directions:
1. Sensitisation of the Cypriot society about social discrimination and racism, the benefits of a multicultural society and reform of the immigration and asylum framework in Cyprus, through campaigns, conferences, cultural events, provision of information, publications and lobbying the authorities.2. Operation of Support Centres providing free legal and social services, guidance and advice to migrants, refugees and asylum seekers, in order to enable them to claim their rights and facilitate their integration and full participation in society.
Republic of Cyprus is behaving truly like a "modern European democracy" (!) in (mis)handling asylum seekers and immigrants. The unfortunate presence of chaunvism and disregard for multi-culturalism from the administration(s) is not helping it either. Below I am pasting one of the latest pieces of news available in English. KISA is an exceptional organization that is worth mention here that is formed to deal with such issues.
On the missing Cypriots again (and again and again)
Ofcourse these are "allegations" so far but they are quite to the point that everyone knew but was assumed to be secret. See below.
From Cyprus-Mail ,June 20th, 2006
Government Spokesman Christodoulos Pashardis yesterday urged Greek Cypriots to place the “national good” above their narrow personal interests.
“The government fully respects the individual rights of its citizens. But, first and foremost, it has respect for the broader national interest. Only a correct solution [to the Cyprus problem] can serve this national interest."
So what does the government want people to do? They want them to be part of the herd. Do not make your own decisions. Eventhough I find the commission set up in north Cyprus completely ridicilous and illegal, I found the above statement equally disturbing and undemocratic.
Yesterday bunch of us dropped by Clark Park Music festival towards the end. Few photos pasted below.
Good cameras (hahah !) save the orientation info. It is quite nice since good viewers (like GQView) can use that info to auto-rotate the images (portrait vs landscape). renrot is a nice little script for doing this from the command-line.
Number of shots taken with a Nikon D70
It turns out I never examined the output from "exiftool" which is a nifty little tool for reading the exif data contained in images. I was wondering about the total number of shots I took with my D70 and it is embedded there as "Shutter Count".
When the will does not exist, simplest issues become complicated.
One would imagine that in a place like Cyprus which is so tiny and there is no natural barrier between the two sides, there would have been a consensus about topics like the handling of criminals (alleged or convicted) by now. However, there is no such thing yet. There have been examples in the past how these exchanges ocurred behind the doors through semi-legal means like driving the persons accross the Green Line so that interpol can catch them. The following shows several things. First of all, simply the fact the person that escaped from prison in north and got caught in south is on trial on charges of abducting and rapig a person does not imply anything about his potential involvement in crimes comitted in south. Unless there is something missing the quoted report below, it is just Cypriot police ignoring "innocent until proven guilty". Not that this is suprising, specially when we are talking about sexual crimes. The trial of these people became a big farce in north already. Now, the rest about whether they could be handed back, whether evidence can be shared. That is my main point and it is a shame. It shows that there is no will to solve simple issues. Instead of governments trying to run democratic, free, prosperous administrations, they just put their feet down and argue about stubborn politics.
Cyprus could not be left behind.
Let's see what more comes out of this. As citiizens of this island, we should be tolerant towards this type of stuff (well, we should not be tolerant about million other things too). Why should we continue to be a pawn in their hands?
‘We were told they were technical landings’
CYPRUS is one of 20 mainly European countries that facilitated so-called CIA torture flights, a Council of Europe (CoE) report published yesterday revealed.
When the allegations were first rumoured last November, the Foreign Ministry denied any connection between the CIA rendition flights and Cyprus.
However, Sotos Zacheos the Permanent Secretary of the Ministry told the Cyprus Mail yesterday, following publication of the CoE report, that the government had no idea of what the planes were when they landed in Larnaca.
“We were never actually asked by the US [to facilitate the flights],” he said. “We were told they were all technical landings and they informed us of this from the air that there were technical reasons they had to land.”
Zacheos said it was an international obligation to facilitate the landing of any aircraft with technical problems. “We had no suspicions [about the flights],” he said, adding the government would “will issue a full and transparent statement” on the issue today.
According to the report compiled by the Committee on Legal Affairs and Human Rights at the CoE, Cyprus, along with Germany, Turkey and Spain, was a "staging point" for flights involving the unlawful transfer of detainees.
Ireland, Britain, Portugal, Greece and Italy were "stopovers" for flights involving the unlawful transfer of detainees, Sweden, Bosnia, Britain, the former Yugoslav republic of Macedonia, Germany and Turkey handed over suspects, Cairo, Amman, Islamabad, Rabat, Kabul, Guantanamo Bay, Tashkent, Algiers and Baghdad served as detainee transfer/drop-off points, and Poland and Romania ran secret detention centres
"It is now clear – although we are still far from having established the whole truth – that authorities in several European countries actively participated with the CIA in these unlawful activities," Council of Europe investigator Dick Marty said.
"Other countries ignored them knowingly, or did not want to know," he said in the conclusions of the 65-page report released on the body's website.
While the report admits it has "no formal evidence" of secret CIA detention centres, it said a number of states had clearly colluded with the system of CIA secret flights and secret transfers known as renditions.
Marty said that flight data provided in January and February from Eurocontrol helped uncover the web of flights, detention centres and stop-off points used in the US-devised system.
A staging post such as Cyprus was described as involving not just a landing or stopover but would include planning and other operational activities. The planes reportedly used by the CIA, such as the N313P, are not military jets. The N313P, a Gulfstream Turbo Jet V, belongs to the Premier Executive Transport Services, believed to be a CIA front.
When Human Rights Watch first named Cyprus last year, Foreign Minister George Iacovou said he had heard nothing about any CIA planes landing in Cyprus, only about flyover rights. He said Cyprus had no formal arrangements with the US in their ‘War on Terror’.
The involvement of Cyprus came as no surprise to MP Christos Pourgourides, rapporteur of the Council of Europe's Committee on Legal Affairs and Human Rights. He said it was quite obvious that the government had “shut their eyes” to what was going on.
“To me it’s obvious they were fully aware of the coming and going and no one bothered to investigate,” he told the Cyprus Mail.
Pourgourides said it was typical of the government to present itself as the great patriot when it came to the US and the Cyprus issue, “but when it comes to actually standing up to the US, they never do”.
He said when he returned to Cyprus he may attempt to have the flights issue brought up for debate in parliament at the Foreign Affairs Committee.
The US embassy in Nicosia, quoting past comments from US Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice, told the Cyprus Mail that it was the policy of the US to comply with its laws and treaty obligations.
“The War on Terrorism sometimes involves the capture, detention and questioning of terrorists. We must question them to gather significant, potentially life-saving intelligence,” said an embassy spokesman.
“Our law enforcement and intelligence co-operation has resulted in foiling a number of deadly plots against cities and citizens in Europe and elsewhere.”
The spokesman said the embassy could not confirm or deny details of intelligence activities.
“However, the US does not transport detainees from one country to another for the purpose of interrogation by torture,” the spokesman added.
“In conducting rendition, the US government complies with its international obligations and has respected and will continue to respect the sovereignty of other countries.”
Nationalism: The IKEA Style!
I just read this hilarious column from Volkan Newspaper (a.k.a. "his master's voice" and/or "the voice of the antiquated wolves") that one columnist describes how he bumped into an IKEA store in Istanbul and realized that everything there (incorrect!) is made in Sweden. Despite his anti-communism and pro-capitalist stance that he proclaims, it hurts his "traditional" and "antique" nationalist feelings that a place like IKEA existed in Istanbul instead of the "good ol'" Turkish furniture, textile and what-not stores. He blasted the Turkish government and the present era for allowing this. Next time I go to IKEA, I will keep this in mind :) For those who may not know, IKEA is a "super-store" of cheap furniture, textiles and other home goods, it is indeed a Swedish company but just like any other "globalized", multi-national chain-store, its products are produced/assembled all over the world. It is the Wal-Mart of these products specially amongst students and middle-class in America. As far as I know, it has recently expanded enourmously in Europe including Turkey too. The latter is my poor observation.
COUNTRIES such as Nigeria, Chad and Rwanda are doing more to combat people trafficking than Cyprus, according to the latest US Trafficking in Persons (TIP) report.
The latest report has Cyprus dropping from being a Tier 2 country to being on the Tier 2 ‘watch list’, a step back from the previous year.
Tier 2 countries are those making an effort, Tier 1 countries, those who are meeting the minimum standards include most western countries.
Tier 3 are those who make no effort at all, which according to the report, include Cuba, Venezuela, Saudi Arabia and the US-deemed ‘axis of evil’, Iran, North Korea and Syria.
There are 32 countries, including Cyprus on the Tier 2 ‘watch list’ this year including China, Egypt Israel and India.
“Cyprus has been placed on Tier 2 Watch List because of its failure to show evidence of increasing efforts to address its serious trafficking for sexual exploitation problem,” said the report.
It said that while there were seven convictions using prostitution and sexual exploitation laws, the government failed to utilise its anti-trafficking legislation during the 2005 reporting period.
“The government did not proactively implement its National Action Plan, nor did it formally open a shelter for victims of trafficking. The government slightly decreased the number of "artiste" visas issued in 2005, but failed to fulfil its commitment to abolish this visa category,” said the report.
It added that the government should assign a clear political priority to fighting trafficking immediately. It should start prosecuting trafficking crimes. As promised in the National Action Plan, the government should significantly reduce the number of "artiste" visas and abolish this visa category to prevent further exploitation of trafficking victims in Cyprus.
It should produce and launch a national public awareness campaign to reduce demand for trafficking victims in Cyprus. The Cypriot Government should complete, proactively implement, and distribute its standardised handbook for screening and referral of victims and ensure its wide distribution to all foreign workers entering Cyprus.
It also said that in 2005, the government of Cyprus failed to sustain the anti-trafficking law enforcement momentum started in the previous year.
According to the US, the government finalised its proposed laws on trafficking but had not yet introduced them to parliament. It said that in 2005, Cypriot police arrested an increased number of traffickers. “While the government convicted seven suspects on charges related to prostitution, it was unable to confirm whether a trafficking element was involved,” the report said.
“The government of Cyprus did not demonstrate tangible progress in providing protection and assistance to victims of trafficking in 2005. It fell short of targets established by the government’s own National Action Plan. Although the government procured funding, obtained permits and signed a lease for a shelter for trafficking victims, it failed to open it during the reporting period,” the report said.
Instead the anti-trafficking unit informally referred victims to an NGO shelter in Limassol, but the government did not establish a formalised screening and referral process.
“The government’s Welfare Services provided financial aid, counselling and temporary shelter to 36 victims for up to three weeks in subsidised homes for the elderly. Although the planned 2004 standardised internal guidelines on victim identification and referral were completed and sent to all ministries for final review, they have yet to be printed or distributed.
“The government cooperated with NGOs in preparing the new immigration legislation and handbook. During the reporting period, the police identified 55 victims of trafficking, 42 of whom testified or pressed charges against their traffickers. Identified victims were offered legal alternatives to their removal and were allowed to remain in the country in order to testify. In the absence of a formal screening process, some unidentified victims continued to be at risk of deportation,” said the report.
The Government of Cyprus made some “limited progress” in implementing prevention elements of its National Action Plan in 2005. The government printed 60,000 trafficking prevention leaflets in four languages for those entering Cyprus on "artiste" visas, and began distributing these at immigration police offices and at airports.
“Although the government funded a promised demand oriented public awareness campaign, it has yet to conduct any large scale campaigns to generate public awareness about the role customers play in contributing to trafficking in Cyprus,” said the report.
The government drafted a pamphlet in Greek for all foreign workers entering Cyprus on other work visas, but has yet to print or distribute it. It issued 4,000 new "artiste" visas in 2005, a 13 per cent decrease from the previous year.
Embassy officials yesterday defended the report saying it was not politically motivated. They said the reports are mandated for Congress to see in what kind of countries American aid is being spent. The question for Cyprus was: “Is the government doing everything possible”. The answer according to the island’s placing is ‘no’. “But there is reason to believe the government wants to do the right thing,” said one embassy official.
North has no real laws against human trafficking
THE REPORT said the area administered by Turkish Cypriots was also a destination for women trafficked from Eastern and Central Europe for the purpose of sexual exploitation.
“Reportedly, men were trafficked to work in the construction industry,” it said.
“There are continued indications that it is also used as a transit point for persons trafficked into forced labour into the EU.”
According to the report, the north does not have a law that specifically prohibits trafficking in persons and in 2005, all potential trafficking cases were tried on the charge of "living off the earnings of prostitution”.
“Persons convicted under this law can receive a maximum sentence of two years in prison. This is not commensurate with the penalties for other similar crimes in the area administered by Turkish Cypriots, such as rape,” it said.
Police arrested 25 suspects, prosecuted 16 cases and convicted nine suspects, all of whom paid minor fines.
In 2005, 1,031 “artiste visas” were issued to women working in 46 nightclubs, and as of January 2006, 378 foreign women were working in this area.
In 2005, immigration police repatriated 150 women who wished to end their nightclub contracts.
“Police corruption remained a problem; in May 2005, two police officers were questioned on suspicion of involvement in a false visa ring but no arrests were made,” the report said.
In 2006, Turkish Cypriots established an anti-trafficking hotline, but have not publicised it.
“Turkish Cypriots should take proactive steps to train law enforcement and other front-line responders on victim identification techniques, including the key difference between trafficking and smuggling and exploitation.”
Complex Information about the Missing
Yeniduzen newspaper is quoting a series of Greek Cypriot papers which give out a complex picture of the missing person's problem. There are claims about "fate known but not reported" and "missing but not reported" people. The turkish text follows.
"TRNC PIO" is a valuable source of laughter -- heh heh heh-- which appears to be contending to be a sattirical news source. Anyway, the following are the comments by Ercakica. One could follow the statements within few days of each other and get a picture of what has been going on in the last couple of decades. It is a cyclic repetition. This time "do not mix politics into the issue" is the motto of the Turkish Cypriot side. Ofcourse, you need to turn off your alert system that is triggered by the incomprehensible translation.
Placing a bomb under an Afrika columnist's car.
A pissing contest has been going on in north Cyprus. Afrika newspaper, rightly so, has complained about what has happened and how, just like all the other cases of political bombings in north Cyprus, the latest event did not receive enough attention from the authorities (including the Turkish military/embassy/government). How it is being swept under the rug etc etc. It has become a pissing contest though. Pseudo-progressive (hey, I can use that silly term too!) columnists, associations tried to make excuses to diminish the importance of the event. Others who are pseudo-nationalist (there we go again with that term, heh heh!) turned on their usual "they must have planted the bomb themselves" rhetoric. During that time, ofcourse, Afrika forgotten the initial issue which was about freedom of press, basic human rights and concern for one's life simply for speaking out and picked up one more of its "coffe-shop debates" and begun attempting to start a fight. I am pasting the latest installment in the attachment as it was translated by RoC PIO. As usual, their translation is bordering absurdity if not utterly absurd.
Read my previous post and compare. It is a common manevour to say that "it is a sensitive issue, therefore ....", those people are sensitive precisely because those in power did *not* take necessary action!
Replying to a question as regards statements by the Turkish Cypriot side that the remains of four Turkish Cypriot missing persons since 1963 64 intercommunal clashes have been located at a tourist resort in the government control areas of the island, the spokesman said that ``this is not an issue to doubt or to discuss if the remains belong to four people or not because this is something to be found from the DNA examinations that will be conducted.
He noted that the position of the Government is that both sides must make every effort with the best possible will to investigate all these cases of the missing and stressed that this is a clear humanitarian issue.
Since there is a certain work being done outside the political sphere we consider that it is of utmost importance to encourage and provide fully our services and assistance, instead of moving to a discussion that could cause misunderstandings, he added.
Replying to another question he noted that the issue of the missing persons is an extremely sensitive one, and that every time there is a story in the news the relatives of the missing feel more pain.
Therefore, he concluded, it is better to give to the relatives information that have to do with their specific case instead of generally creating high expectations.
Remains of more missing Cypriots found?
The shameful history of Cyprus still continues. It really should not have taken ~40 years to locate the remains of missing person's. Both sides have been dragging their feet. Playing the blame game. Turkish Cypriot side has been the guilty party specially since it was hiding behind Turkey's military occupation in north. But this, unfortunately, does not rid RoC from its share of the blame. A humanitarian issue should have been handled as such instead of turning it into a pissing-contest. See attached article.
Copying from " Shards of Photography"
"Dutch photographer and Magnum nominee, Geert van Kesteren, has published (in March 2005! Shame on me for missing that!) the penetrating book Why Mister, Why?. The accompanying website www.whymisterwhy.com is intriguing to read. Van Kesteren's local contacts and extensive knowledge of the country and the culture of Iraq have provided him with a unique opportunity to show the 2003-2004 war from both the side of the Allied forces (as an embedded photographer) and the side of the common people. An impressive serie of photos and comments was the result; a result that's well worth your time."
I like weird results from fish-eye. Street.. Downtown Philadelphia.
Taken at Pen and Pencil journalist club at Philadelphia, two friends chatting under funky lighting. I hope they do not mind the photo being here :) (click for larger size)
dia: illustrations -- simple, intuitive, capable, works under all different OS'es.
gimp: no comments needed. not too often needed for research.
R: I have very rudimentary knowledge but it is becoming more and more popular. (r-project).
imagemagick: very capable, can be scripted. for edting images.
openoffice: mainly to view other people's word documents or power point documents and to steal figures from them. very capable office environment. I do not use it a lot since I prefer using LaTeX for typesetting almost everything and I use emacs as an editor.
LaTex: I do all my note-taking, report preparation (automatized with matlab), slide presentations (prosper), paper writing, grant writing etc. I use its capabilities for including movies and other things.
xpdf and sometimes acrobat reader: viewing pdf files.
emacs: my main editor under linux (and windows if I have to use one). not a power user unfortunately.
bibus: end-note like utility for open office. works well but is hard to install.
ofcourse firefox as a web browser.
mutt for reading e-mails, online or off-line.
rn or slrn for usenet newsgroups.
vmware: sometimes I have to use hardware/software that requires windows. I use an old version of vmware, keep a clean virtual machine of windows 2000 handy, copy it around if it is messed up by viri etc.
combination of ps2edit, scribus, open office drawing, ghostview and direct editing with emacs for handling adobe illustrator files, editing old eps files etc.
perl and bash scripting for moving files around, renaming etc.
ufraw with or without gimp for handling raw format photos.
gqview for viewing and flphoto for making photo albums.
basch scripting. ofcourse.
k3b for CD/dvd writing.
mplayer for playing videos.
unison to sync my computers.
rsbackup for backups.
eterm for reading turkish characters in my e-mails.
qcad for technical drawings.
and this is all I can think of now. more to come later.