NEWS

Murdered journalist’s wife refuses to forget

Cypriot President Glafcos Clerides and Turkish-Cypriot leader Rauf Denktash are to hold today their first round of direct reunification talks, in what has been described as a «diplomatic honeymoon» for the two sides, with a series of dinners and friendly visits across the «Green Line.» Lengthy press reports have been devoted to the recent warming of relations, but little has been said or written about «the day after» a future reunification of the Mediterranean island. Only some EU officials, namely those involved in the enlargement process, have voiced concern that the economy in the south – which saw sweeping reforms in order to meet accession criteria – would be burdened by the soaring unemployment and weak economy of the north. But another issue, probably of equal importance, is that of human rights. Violations of human rights in the Turkish-occupied areas in the north have for years gone underreported, both by the press and rights groups, as access to those areas is tightly regulated. Local journalists have often been jailed, while newspaper offices have been closed. One story, though, did become public and will soon have its day in court – in Europe. The wife of Kutlu Adali, a well-known writer who was shot dead in front of his home in northern Cyprus on July 6, 1996, has lodged a complaint with the European Court of Human Rights, alleging that «Turkish and/or Turkish-Cypriot agents were involved in her husband’s murder.» The court will hold a public hearing on the admissibility and merits of the case on January 31. The case, coming at a time when relations between Greek and Turkish Cypriots are the most cordial in recent years, touches on the very heart of the talks – the 1974 division of the island. «Mr Adali was a well-known writer who had written and published articles strongly criticizing the policies and practices of the Turkish government and the Turkish-Cypriot authorities,» the court notes. «He argued that Cyprus should not be divided and that Turkish and Greek Cypriots should live in a united republic based on a pluralist democratic system.» According to his wife’s application to the court, Mr Adali «had received several death threats because of his articles and political opinions.» In Mrs Adali’s application, she alleges that the investigation launched by the Turkish-Cypriot authorities into her husband’s death was «inadequate,» denying her effective access to the courts to determine her civil right to compensation for her husband’s murder. «She further complains that following the death of her husband, she has been subjected to harassment, intimidation and discrimination by the Turkish-Cypriot authorities,» the court states. «She alleges she is being followed by plain-clothes policemen, that her telephone calls and correspondence are being monitored, that she receives threatening phone calls and that her telephone and fax lines are sometimes disconnected.» Her application cites violations of seven articles of the European Human Rights Convention. At the end of November, Denktash wrote to Clerides requesting direct talks in Cyprus. At their first face-to-face meeting in four years on December 4, they agreed to open-ended talks on the island’s future «with nothing agreed until everything is agreed.»