Caucasus Theater

Turkey: Article 301 debate on hold as slain editor laid to rest

The assassination of Hrant Dink has, fortunately, sparked renewed challenges to the censorious Article 301. But the Turkish state seems to be trying to squelch the debate. Would Dink have wanted his funeral to be used in this manner? From the Turkish Daily News, Jan. 24:

Responding to calls from prominent Turks and foreign leaders to annul a controversial law immediately, Justice Minister Cemil Çiçek said on Tuesday that the last thing Turkey needed was to begin another debate on Article 301 of the penal code, arguing that the matter should be discussed after slain journalist Hrant Dink, convicted under the article last year, was laid to rest.

Armenian editor assassinated in Turkey

This is what George Bernard Shaw called "the extreme form of censorship." From the New York Times, Jan. 19:

ISTANBUL — The editor of Turkey's only Armenian-language newspaper was assassinated today on an Istanbul street.

Armenian genocide becomes political football —again

Pretty funny that the Turkish Foreign Ministry has officially congratulated novelist Orhan Pamuk, who has just won the 2006 Nobel Prize for literature, saying the prize would make valuable contributions to promotion of Turkish literature in the world. (Xinhua, Oct. 13) Meanwhile, the Turkish government, which recently put Pamuk on trial for daring to write the truth about the World War I-era Armenian genocide, seems to be doing its best to suppress Turkish literature. And just to complicate things further, France's move to make denial of the Armenian genocide a criminal offense is meeting with all the predictable reactions...

Turkish intellectuals in solidarity campaign for persecuted writer

The New York Times notes Oct. 6 that charges were dropped against Turkish novelist Elif Shafak, whose fictional character committed the crime of refering to the "Armenian genocide." But almost simultaneously, charges were brought against another writer, Hrant Dink, who dared to uphold historical truth. This Sept. 29 report from Turkey's BIA news agency indicates growing dissent among Turkish intellectuals:

Chechnya: Shamil Basayev reported killed

Interesting how Radio Free Europe/Radio Liberty uncritically accepts Putin's talk of a fight against "terrorism." Basayev was assuredly a bad dude, but the Russian state's counterinsurgency war in the North Caucasus is hardly less terroristic—and, as this report actually notes, really produced Basayev in the first place. From RFE/RL, July 10:

Trans-Caucasus pipeline in first tanker delivery

A victory for Western designs on Capsian oil 20 years in the making, this heightens the regional contradictions in several ways. It places greater pressure on Turkey to crush the Kurdish PKK insurgents who are making trouble in precisely that section of Eastern Anatolia traversed by the pipeline. It places greater pressure on Russia to finally get Chechnya and the North Caucasus under control so a new Moscow-controlled alternative route can be built. And it places greater pressure on both Moscow and Washington to reshape the order in Central Asia in their favor before the next arm is built—across the Caspian Sea itself, incorprating the gas and oil fields of Kazakhstan and Turkmenistan . Will that arm connect to the Baku-Ceyhan line, or to an alternate Russian-controlled route? From Turkey's Zaman, May 27:

Chechen Sufi revival —between Russian occupation and Wahhabis

How interesting. In an implicit acknowledgement that their hardcore Islamophobe policies are backfiring in Chechya, the Russian authorities are embracing the indigenous peace-loving Sufi tradition as an alternative to the violently intransigent Wahhabism imported from the Arab world. But this could also backfire—as the Sufis themselves also seek independence from Russia, even if they aren't willing to blow up civilians to acheive it. The implications are "unclear" indeed. And while it is good to see the Kunta-Haji Sufis on page 4 of the New York Times, we're not sure they would appreciate the writer's depiction of their chanting as "grunts."

North Caucasus violence continues; authorities to redraw borders?

One civilian was killed and several injured (both police and civilians) in a clash that erupted when police opened fire on protesters blocking a road in Dagestan's Dokuzpari district April 25. The protesters, who were demanding the dismisal of a local prosecutor accused of corruption, responded by hurling stones. (ITAR-TASS, April 26)

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