In the latest issue:

Real Men Go to Tehran

Adam Shatz

What Trump doesn’t know about Iran

Patrick Cockburn

Kaiser Karl V

Thomas Penn

The Hostile Environment

Catherine Hall

Social Mobilities

Adam Swift

Short Cuts: So much for England

Tariq Ali

What the jihadis left behind

Nelly Lahoud

Ray Strachey

Francesca Wade

C.J. Sansom

Malcolm Gaskill

At the British Museum: ‘Troy: Myth and Reality’

James Davidson

Poem: ‘The Lion Tree’

Jamie McKendrick

SurrogacyTM

Jenny Turner

Boys in Motion

Nicholas Penny

‘Trick Mirror’

Lauren Oyler

Diary: What really happened in Yancheng?

Long Ling

Close

Terms and Conditions

These terms and conditions of use refer to the London Review of Books and the London Review Bookshop website (www.lrb.co.uk — hereafter ‘LRB Website’). These terms and conditions apply to all users of the LRB Website ("you"), including individual subscribers to the print edition of the LRB who wish to take advantage of our free 'subscriber only' access to archived material ("individual users") and users who are authorised to access the LRB Website by subscribing institutions ("institutional users").

Each time you use the LRB Website you signify your acceptance of these terms and conditions. If you do not agree, or are not comfortable with any part of this document, your only remedy is not to use the LRB Website.


  1. By registering for access to the LRB Website and/or entering the LRB Website by whatever route of access, you agree to be bound by the terms and conditions currently prevailing.
  2. The London Review of Books ("LRB") reserves the right to change these terms and conditions at any time and you should check for any alterations regularly. Continued usage of the LRB Website subsequent to a change in the terms and conditions constitutes acceptance of the current terms and conditions.
  3. The terms and conditions of any subscription agreements which educational and other institutions have entered into with the LRB apply in addition to these terms and conditions.
  4. You undertake to indemnify the LRB fully for all losses damages and costs incurred as a result of your breaching these terms and conditions.
  5. The information you supply on registration to the LRB Website shall be accurate and complete. You will notify the LRB promptly of any changes of relevant details by emailing the registrar. You will not assist a non-registered person to gain access to the LRB Website by supplying them with your password. In the event that the LRB considers that you have breached the requirements governing registration, that you are in breach of these terms and conditions or that your or your institution's subscription to the LRB lapses, your registration to the LRB Website will be terminated.
  6. Each individual subscriber to the LRB (whether a person or organisation) is entitled to the registration of one person to use the 'subscriber only' content on the web site. This user is an 'individual user'.
  7. The London Review of Books operates a ‘no questions asked’ cancellation policy in accordance with UK legislation. Please contact us to cancel your subscription and receive a full refund for the cost of all unposted issues.
  8. Use of the 'subscriber only' content on the LRB Website is strictly for the personal use of each individual user who may read the content on the screen, download, store or print single copies for their own personal private non-commercial use only, and is not to be made available to or used by any other person for any purpose.
  9. Each institution which subscribes to the LRB is entitled to grant access to persons to register on and use the 'subscriber only' content on the web site under the terms and conditions of its subscription agreement with the LRB. These users are 'institutional users'.
  10. Each institutional user of the LRB may access and search the LRB database and view its entire contents, and may also reproduce insubstantial extracts from individual articles or other works in the database to which their institution's subscription provides access, including in academic assignments and theses, online and/or in print. All quotations must be credited to the author and the LRB. Institutional users are not permitted to reproduce any entire article or other work, or to make any commercial use of any LRB material (including sale, licensing or publication) without the LRB's prior written permission. Institutions may notify institutional users of any additional or different conditions of use which they have agreed with the LRB.
  11. Users may use any one computer to access the LRB web site 'subscriber only' content at any time, so long as that connection does not allow any other computer, networked or otherwise connected, to access 'subscriber only' content.
  12. The LRB Website and its contents are protected by copyright and other intellectual property rights. You acknowledge that all intellectual property rights including copyright in the LRB Website and its contents belong to or have been licensed to the LRB or are otherwise used by the LRB as permitted by applicable law.
  13. All intellectual property rights in articles, reviews and essays originally published in the print edition of the LRB and subsequently included on the LRB Website belong to or have been licensed to the LRB. This material is made available to you for use as set out in paragraph 8 (if you are an individual user) or paragraph 10 (if you are an institutional user) only. Save for such permitted use, you may not download, store, disseminate, republish, post, reproduce, translate or adapt such material in whole or in part in any form without the prior written permission of the LRB. To obtain such permission and the terms and conditions applying, contact the Rights and Permissions department.
  14. All intellectual property rights in images on the LRB Website are owned by the LRB except where another copyright holder is specifically attributed or credited. Save for such material taken for permitted use set out above, you may not download, store, disseminate, republish, post, reproduce, translate or adapt LRB’s images in whole or in part in any form without the prior written permission of the LRB. To obtain such permission and the terms and conditions applying, contact the Rights and Permissions department. Where another copyright holder is specifically attributed or credited you may not download, store, disseminate, republish, reproduce or translate such images in whole or in part in any form without the prior written permission of the copyright holder. The LRB will not undertake to supply contact details of any attributed or credited copyright holder.
  15. The LRB Website is provided on an 'as is' basis and the LRB gives no warranty that the LRB Website will be accessible by any particular browser, operating system or device.
  16. The LRB makes no express or implied representation and gives no warranty of any kind in relation to any content available on the LRB Website including as to the accuracy or reliability of any information either in its articles, essays and reviews or in the letters printed in its letter page or material supplied by third parties. The LRB excludes to the fullest extent permitted by law all liability of any kind (including liability for any losses, damages or costs) arising from the publication of any materials on the LRB Website or incurred as a consequence of using or relying on such materials.
  17. The LRB excludes to the fullest extent permitted by law all liability of any kind (including liability for any losses, damages or costs) for any legal or other consequences (including infringement of third party rights) of any links made to the LRB Website.
  18. The LRB is not responsible for the content of any material you encounter after leaving the LRB Website site via a link in it or otherwise. The LRB gives no warranty as to the accuracy or reliability of any such material and to the fullest extent permitted by law excludes all liability that may arise in respect of or as a consequence of using or relying on such material.
  19. This site may be used only for lawful purposes and in a manner which does not infringe the rights of, or restrict the use and enjoyment of the site by, any third party. In the event of a chat room, message board, forum and/or news group being set up on the LRB Website, the LRB will not undertake to monitor any material supplied and will give no warranty as to its accuracy, reliability, originality or decency. By posting any material you agree that you are solely responsible for ensuring that it is accurate and not obscene, defamatory, plagiarised or in breach of copyright, confidentiality or any other right of any person, and you undertake to indemnify the LRB against all claims, losses, damages and costs incurred in consequence of your posting of such material. The LRB will reserve the right to remove any such material posted at any time and without notice or explanation. The LRB will reserve the right to disclose the provenance of such material, republish it in any form it deems fit or edit or censor it. The LRB will reserve the right to terminate the registration of any person it considers to abuse access to any chat room, message board, forum or news group provided by the LRB.
  20. Any e-mail services supplied via the LRB Website are subject to these terms and conditions.
  21. You will not knowingly transmit any virus, malware, trojan or other harmful matter to the LRB Website. The LRB gives no warranty that the LRB Website is free from contaminating matter, viruses or other malicious software and to the fullest extent permitted by law disclaims all liability of any kind including liability for any damages, losses or costs resulting from damage to your computer or other property arising from access to the LRB Website, use of it or downloading material from it.
  22. The LRB does not warrant that the use of the LRB Website will be uninterrupted, and disclaims all liability to the fullest extent permitted by law for any damages, losses or costs incurred as a result of access to the LRB Website being interrupted, modified or discontinued.
  23. The LRB Website contains advertisements and promotional links to websites and other resources operated by third parties. While we would never knowingly link to a site which we believed to be trading in bad faith, the LRB makes no express or implied representations or warranties of any kind in respect of any third party websites or resources or their contents, and we take no responsibility for the content, privacy practices, goods or services offered by these websites and resources. The LRB excludes to the fullest extent permitted by law all liability for any damages or losses arising from access to such websites and resources. Any transaction effected with such a third party contacted via the LRB Website are subject to the terms and conditions imposed by the third party involved and the LRB accepts no responsibility or liability resulting from such transactions.
  24. The LRB disclaims liability to the fullest extent permitted by law for any damages, losses or costs incurred for unauthorised access or alterations of transmissions or data by third parties as consequence of visit to the LRB Website.
  25. While 'subscriber only' content on the LRB Website is currently provided free to subscribers to the print edition of the LRB, the LRB reserves the right to impose a charge for access to some or all areas of the LRB Website without notice.
  26. These terms and conditions are governed by and will be interpreted in accordance with English law and any disputes relating to these terms and conditions will be subject to the non-exclusive jurisdiction of the courts of England and Wales.
  27. The various provisions of these terms and conditions are severable and if any provision is held to be invalid or unenforceable by any court of competent jurisdiction then such invalidity or unenforceability shall not affect the remaining provisions.
  28. If these terms and conditions are not accepted in full, use of the LRB Website must be terminated immediately.
Close

I buy my visa to enter Turkey from an immigration officer just inside the terminal building at Esenboga Airport in Ankara. I give him my passport and two grubby fivers, caked with the residue of London; he inspects them and then me with suspicion before stamping my passport, and I join the queue designated for non-Turkish nationals to pass immigration control. There are dozens of people in the queue chatting in Turkish but brandishing passports from Germany, Norway, Switzerland and elsewhere. Most, I guess, are Kurdish and I am reminded, yet again, that thousands of Kurds have made a home for themselves away from a notional Kurdistan, a region extending from south-east Turkey to northern Iraq. Many in this queue will have been born abroad, or will have established new lives in Munich, say, or London. Some will be refugees, taking a risk by returning briefly under new identities.

When I reach the head of the queue, my passport is looked at carefully before I’m allowed to pass. I’m relieved not to be asked the purpose of my visit: friends and colleagues who have conducted fact-finding missions in Turkey have been threatened and beaten up by police. One had a gun held to his head.

I have been appointed by a Geneva-based NGO, the International Commission of Jurists, to observe the June hearing of the trial of Leyla Zana and three other former Kurdish Parliamentarians charged with membership of the armed separatist group, the Kurdistan Workers’ Party, or PKK. My knowledge of the issues stems from having represented hundreds of Kurds claiming refugee status in the UK and from sifting through human rights reports. My purpose is to encourage Turkey’s compliance with the principles of the European Convention on Human Rights, to which it has been a signatory since 1954.

When Leyla Zana was 14, she was pressured by her family into marrying her second cousin, Mehdi Zana, an activist who had recently spent three years in prison. In 1977, Mehdi was elected mayor of Diyarbakir, the largest Kurdish city in Turkey, but after the military coup in 1980, he was arrested again and sentenced to 35 years’ imprisonment. Leyla and her two children visited her husband throughout the 1980s. ‘I met many different people while standing at the prison gates,’ she has said. ‘I began to change, to question my identity . . . Until then I had no interest in the fact that I was a Kurd. The ideal was to be a Turk.’ She founded and chaired a women’s group, which helped women who, among other things, were waiting for their husbands to be released from prison. Then in 1988, on a visit to the prison, she was denied access to her husband. She could hear inmates being beaten inside the prison and raised a protest. She was arrested and tortured: ‘That was about the time I decided to become a political activist.’

In 1991, she was elected to the Turkish Parliament, winning 84 per cent of the votes cast in Diyarbakir – she was the first Kurdish woman to become an MP. At her inauguration, she wore a headband decorated with the traditional Kurdish colours, yellow, green and red. When she took the oath of loyalty to Parliament, she spoke first in Turkish, as required by law, then added in Kurmanji, an illegal Kurdish dialect: ‘I shall struggle so that the Kurdish and Turkish people may live peacefully together in a democratic framework.’ MPs erupted with shouts of ‘separatist’, ‘terrorist’ and ‘arrest her.’ Parliamentary immunity saved her, for the time being.

Over the next three years, Zana openly criticised the Turkish Government’s treatment of the Kurdish people, speaking up both at home and abroad while public prosecutors in Turkey made applications to the State Security Court to remove her Parliamentary immunity. In April 1994, one of these applications was successful, and Zana, along with six other Kurdish Parliamentarians, was arrested and charged with treason, punishable by death. The Democracy Party, which she represented, was dissolved by the Constitutional Court two months later. At trial, the charge against Zana and the others was altered at the last minute to ‘membership of the PKK’. She was alleged to have been at a PKK camp in Syria (she was in Brussels at the time). A taped telephone conversation was said to reveal that she was in contact with Abdullah Ocalan, the leader of the PKK, but no expert evidence was called to identify the voices. Her political speeches were also cited.

On 8 December 1994, Zana and the others were convicted, and sentenced to 15 years’ imprisonment. She remains in detention today. ‘Our duty as legislators was to speak out,’ she wrote in the Washington Post, and ‘explore all paths to end this frightful war which has torn our country asunder.’ She referred to the previous two years when the Army had evacuated and destroyed 1390 Kurdish villages, and death squads had killed more than two thousand political and human rights activists as well as 34 journalists. None of these people had been involved in the fighting. More than a hundred journalists, academics and writers had been imprisoned. ‘Such is the price for challenging the official, military version of events,’ she said. ‘The West should realise Turkey is not just a locale for military bases and electronic eavesdropping. It’s a country of passions and conflicts, which can . . . spill over into the irrational.’

When the High Court dismissed their appeal in 1995, Zana and three others made applications to the European Court of Human Rights in Strasbourg. Their application was finally heard in 2001, and the court ruled that the trial had violated Article 6, the right to a fair trial, in three respects: the State Security Court had not been an independent and impartial tribunal as there had been a military judge on the bench; the late alteration of the charge from treason to membership of an armed separatist group had not allowed the defendants sufficient time to prepare their case; and the defence had not been allowed to cross-examine witnesses for the prosecution. Damages of $25,000 were awarded to each of the applicants, payable by the Turkish Government. The money has yet to be paid.

Zana has attracted significant international support. In 1995 the European Parliament, which has repeatedly called for her release, awarded her the Sakharov Freedom Award. She has twice been nominated for the Nobel Peace Prize.

In February this year, following the introduction of new legislation, the Turkish State Security Court acceded to the defendants’ application for a retrial. It has been heard at the rate of one day a month ever since.

Although this is a public hearing, I have some trouble gaining access to the court. The policemen guarding the entrance to the compound don’t seem to like the look of me, and despite the best efforts of my interpreter, it’s clear that I am being given the runaround. But I get lucky. Yusuf Alatas, the advocate representing Zana, has arrived at the same time as me: he whispers a few words in the appropriate ear, and I am allowed in. Alatas, I later learn, was sentenced to imprisonment in 1996 for exchanging words with security officers when trying to gain access to the building. He’s learned the hard way how to charm his way in.

During the last decade, a number of lawyers have been prosecuted merely for representing Kurdish suspects or activists. Most notoriously, in 1993, 25 lawyers who practised in Diyarbakir State Security Court were arrested, detained and prosecuted after they had represented alleged members of the PKK. The ‘Diyarbakir 25’ were charged with membership of and aiding and abetting the PKK. They claim to have been subjected to a variety of tortures during their detention, including continual blindfolding, beatings, death threats and mock executions. Some were stripped in freezing conditions and hosed with pressurised water. They were finally acquitted in 2001.

This year, the authorities have turned their attention to human rights activists. On 5 May, the day after members of the Human Rights Association attended the UN Committee against Torture, its headquarters in Ankara were raided by the Anti-Terror Branch under the pretext of a generic prosecution for ‘assisting an illegal organisation’. In another case, Dr Alp Ayan, a psychiatrist and member of the Human Rights Foundation of Turkey, faces prosecution for insulting the Armed Forces and the Ministry of Justice by publishing a press release denouncing torture and inhuman detention conditions.

Ankara State Security Court is a vast, cuboid slab of concrete. Outside the courtroom are members of the public, friends and family of the defendants, a team from Amnesty International, MEPs from Italy and Germany and their entourage. I had been warned that the trial process was farcical. By the conclusion of last month’s hearing (‘one day a month’), the prosecution had called 23 witnesses, but the defence had been denied the right to call any. The presiding judge in the retrial had been present in February when the defence applied to the court for a rehearing: he had voted not to allow a retrial, saying that there was nothing about the European Court’s judgment that led him to conclude either that the trial was unfair, or that there was any possibility that Zana and the others were not guilty. Everyone believes the verdict is a foregone conclusion. As far as the defence is concerned, the only purpose of the trial is to accumulate arguments for the Appeal Court, and presumably for a further application at Strasbourg.

Above the dais where the three judges and the prosecutor are sitting is a bust of Ataturk, guardian of the nation state. His words, in old-fashioned Ottoman Turkish, are stencilled on the wall. The message is that pluralism will not be tolerated. From a side door, surrounded by seven members of the gendarmerie, Zana and her co-defendants are brought in. Zana sees someone she knows in the gallery, and waves, smiling, before turning to say something to one of the others. She has been in prison for nine years but she seems indestructible. The judges change their minds about hearing defence witnesses – only because the prosecutor has acquiesced – and a murmur of excitement is heard throughout the court. But it’s unlikely that this will do anything to halt the steady progression towards a guilty verdict.

In the afternoon, each of the defendants gives a prepared speech. The first two choose not to refer to the evidence. This is a political trial, so they prefer to speak at length about the historical oppression of the Kurds. One, a lawyer, makes detailed submissions rebutting the prosecution evidence. The judges make no effort to disguise their boredom. More excitement rumbles throughout the public gallery as Zana, the crowd’s favourite, rises to address the bench. It is hot, she tells the judges, and she can see that they are tired. She smiles as she assures the panel that she is worried about them and will not detain them any further: she has a lot to say, and will wait until the hearing a month later. The crowd is disappointed, but I can see that the judges are flattered – it seems they haven’t realised that she is mocking them. At the close of proceedings, the judge resists a bail application on the grounds that there is nothing invalid about the guilty verdict of 1994. I make a note for my official report that the presumption of innocence has yet again been violated.

At the hearing in August, the defence lawyers’ frustration peaks: they still can’t cross-examine witnesses directly, but have to put their questions through the judges; their legal submissions are not recorded verbatim for the court log but are summarised by the judges; evidence is similarly recorded in summary form only; in contrast, every word spoken by the prosecutor and the judges is recorded verbatim; there has been repeated reference by the judges to the guilt of the defendants; the prosecutor and judges confer in chambers when decisions are made, excluding the defence from their deliberations. The list goes on. They have the international community behind them, they say, and submit the ICJ reports from previous hearings, including mine. In sum, they accuse the prosecution and the judges of prejudging the issues, of pursuing the trial merely out of vanity and a sense of their own honour. The verdict, they say, is inevitable and they withdraw from active participation in the trial process.

What astonishes me is that this impassioned protest is directed at a new panel of judges. The ‘real’ judges who are trying this case are on holiday, but the trial proceeds anyway. This is not unusual, I am told, and I have to suppress a laugh at the absurdity of it all.

The European Parliament’s latest report on Turkey’s application for membership was published in May: it’s an extraordinary document in its icy analysis and bloodless phraseology. Each sentence begins without a subject as if some headless Eurocrat were its author: ‘notes with concern that torture practices still continue and that torturers often go unpunished’; ‘is deeply concerned about reports of women in detention being subjected to frequent sexual violence and rape committed by state security agents; notes that women of Kurdish origin and women holding political beliefs unacceptable to the authorities or the military are particularly at risk of such violence.’ There is a call for Zana’s release. The document also identifies the source of these problems: ‘notes that the Army maintains a central position in the Turkish state and society; notes with regret that the Army’s excessive role slows down Turkey’s development towards a democratic and pluralist system.’

In response, the Government – under the recently appointed Recep Tayyip Erdogan – passed a sixth package of ‘democratisation laws’, repealing the anti-terror legislation employed by the military to restrict freedom of thought and expression and decriminalising television and radio broadcasting in Kurdish. The package did not get very far, however. At the end of June, the President, Ahmet Necdet Sezer, vetoed it, believing, so he said, that there was ‘still a strong possibility that the lifting of the anti-terror article would lead to major risks to the Turkish republic and the indivisible unity of the state’. On 16 July, Parliament fought back, passing the reforms for a further time: President Sezer has not, so far, challenged them in the Constitutional Court. This could be seen as a move in the right direction, but implementation of the reforms is resisted at the highest levels. The Turkish Human Rights Association is pessimistic. There are many other articles in the Turkish Criminal Code that could be invoked to harass intellectuals, human rights activists and lawyers. And a deep-seated distrust of Kurdish politics prevails. In March, HADEP, the successor to Zana’s DEP and the largest party with a Kurdish agenda, was banned. Its successor, DEHAP, now faces dissolution proceedings in the Constitutional Court. Turkey has until December 2004 to convince the EU that it is ready to start membership negotiations. Leyla Zana and her colleagues are due to be released in 2005.

Send Letters To:

The Editor
London Review of Books,
28 Little Russell Street
London, WC1A 2HN

letters@lrb.co.uk

Please include name, address, and a telephone number.

Read anywhere with the London Review of Books app, available now from the App Store for Apple devices, Google Play for Android devices and Amazon for your Kindle Fire.

Sign up to our newsletter

For highlights from the latest issue, our archive and the blog, as well as news, events and exclusive promotions.