Abdullah Ocalan is no hero In her opinion article "Turkey on Trial" (Dec. 24) Marcia Kurop writes: "The explosive reaction by Turkey following Italy's release of the leader of the Kurdish Workers' Party (PKK), Abdullah Ocalan, highlights the irony inherent in Ankara's self-declared right to European Union membership. How can a country expect to be a member of Europe's community when it can hardly behave like a member of the international community?" The irony is not in Turkey's desire to join the EU. It is in Kurop's picture of Ocalan as a "leader" of a genuine Kurdish uprising against the Turkish government. Ocalan is not a "leader" of a popular uprising. He is a most dangerous terrorist who needs to pay for his crimes in a court of law. Now that he lost his base in Syria, he is trying to make himself into another Arafat in the eyes of gullible westerners. Marcia Kurop seems to have bought his line. Ali F. Sevin Fort Washington, Md. While Kurop concedes that Ocalan is a "murderer, terrorist and dictator rolled in one," she still does not want him to face trial in the country against whose people he committed the murders and terrorist acts. The argument that he could not have a fair trial in Turkey is unfounded. Ocalan's closest comrade-in-arms, Semdin Sakik, was just recently arrested and put on trial in Turkey, under intense international monitoring. To dismiss Turkish courts without the benefit of doubt is proof of prejudice - given that this is the prosecution of a man whose terrorist crimes, the article also submits, are so well-documented by international human rights groups. Aydin Koc Millbrae, Calif. Kurop's piece pointedly misses the core issue in Turkey. Turkey, whose people have been the victim of a systematic campaign of domestic and international terrorism emanating from the hands of Ocalan, has found itself in a defensive mode for demanding that this terrorist be brought to justice. Kurop ignores the fact that Kurds in Turkey, whom the PKK claims to represent, have been part of Turkey's social fabric in all walks of life. Just last week a member of the Turkish parliament of Kurdish descent, Yalim Erez, was given the task to form a new government in Turkey - and hence could become the second ethnic Kurd to lead the country in only one decade. It is interesting that these Kurdish success stories have been publicly called "traitors of the Kurdish cause" by the PKK and their mouthpieces. It is interesting too, that, while coverage about Ocalan are abundant, stories about people like Mr. Erez seem to be undeserving of mention. Turkey's social experiment to integrate all ethnic backgrounds into one nation of "Turks," a national rather than ethnic phrase much like we use "American," by and large has been successful. Kurop, who stops short of endorsing PKK terrorism, criticizes the Turkish people for responding to Italy's decision with civil protest and a self-imposed boycott against Italian goods. In a day and age where terrorists and their protectors have the roofs bombed from above their heads, Turkey's diplomatic and popular reactions to Italy hardly make it an "un-European" country. But if to be European is to be like Germany, who withdrew its own international arrest warrant for Ocalan in connection with two murders because it feared some civil unrest, or like Greece who reportedly doesn't hesitate to harbor terrorists in pursuance of its own nationalistic vendetta against Turkey, Turkey might as well be better off not being part of such a Europe, anyway. Guler Koknar Washington, D.C. Executive Director, Assembly of Turkish American Associations The Monitor welcomes your letters and opinion articles. Because of the volume of mail, only a selection can be published, and we can neither acknowledge nor return unpublished submissions. Mail letters to 'Readers Write,' and opinion articles to Opinion Page, One Norway St., Boston, MA 02115, or fax to 617-450-2317, or e-mail to oped@csps.com

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