HL Deb 07 May 1999 vol 600 cc114-5WA
Lord Hylton

asked the Secretary of State for Foreign and Commonwealth Affairs:

Whether they have received reports of alleged irregularities in the conduct of the recent general and municipal elections in Turkey; and in particular whether they have information about—(a) official insistence on open voting and refusal of secret ballloting in districts of the south east; (b) denial of access for candidates to their constituencies;(c) attacks on journalists covering the elections; and (d) threats to and harassment of political parties representing minorities, including the cancellation of HADEP's rally in Diyarbakir at short notice; and, if so whether they will discuss these matters with the Turkish Government and raise them in the Council of Europe and the OSCE. [HL2205]

Baroness Symons of Vernham Dean:

We are aware of a number of reports alleging irregularities in the run-up to and during Turkey's recent general and local elections. We will raise these reports and allegations with the Turkish authorities.

We are aware of the following information on the points the noble Lord has raised:

  1. (a) Our Embassy in Ankara has received credible reports from south east Turkey of security personnel viewing ballot papers;
  2. (b) We understand that the (successful) HADEP mayoral candidate in Lice was prevented from entering his constituency;
  3. (c) We have received reports that a journalist from the daily newspaper Evrensel was attacked while reporting on the elections in south east Turkey. There are also some reports of attacks by extreme nationalists on journalists;
  4. (d) We are aware that the HADEP election rally planned for 13 April was cancelled at short notice by the authorities in Diyarbakir. A British Embassy official was in Diyarbakir at the time and witnessed large-scale arrests of HADEP supporters and officials.