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AHI Letter to President Clinton Protests Sale of Blackhawk Helicopters to Turkey
FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE CONTACT: JONATHAN CLARKE
August 3, 1999 No. 30/99 (202) 785-8430

AHI Letter to President Clinton Protests Sale of Blackhawk Helicopters to Turkey

On August 3, 1999 the American Hellenic Institute sent a letter to President Clinton protesting the delivery in July of 10 Sikorsky Blackhawk helicopters to Turkey. The letter calls upon the President to halt the transfer of the remaining 40 helicopters ordered by Turkey. A copy of the letter is attached.

The letter contrasts U.S. policy in Kosovo and toward the Kurds. In Kosovo American lives were risked to offer refuge to Kosovar Albanians suffering from the repression of President Slobodan Milosevic. With respect to Turkey, American foreign policy has not only turned a blind eye to Turkey's human rights abuses, but has encouraged them through continued arms sales.

For over 15 years the Turkish military has used U.S.-supplied weapons to mount a scorched earth campaign against its Kurdish minority and has killed over 25,000 Kurdish civilians, destroyed over 2,600 Kurdish villages and forced over 2,500,000 Kurds from their homes. U.S. military sales to Turkey have made the United States a direct accomplice to Turkey's ethnic cleansing, crimes against humanity and genocide against its 20 percent Kurdish minority.

The letter criticizes the damaging double standard policy of career State, Defense and NSC officials. These overlook the actions of Turkey's military controlled government in muzzling its press, jailing its dissidents, routinely torturing detainees and arranging extrajudicial killings by death squads of Kurdish leaders. American coddling of Turkey has only reinforced Turkey's sense of immunity from normal civilized standards and encouraged it to continue its lawless behavior.

The letter calls for a critical review of U.S. policy toward Turkey. This should be based on consistently applied principles of the rule of law and respect for human rights. The U.S. should support democratic forces in Turkey rather coddling and protecting the Turkish military and their political puppets.

A democratic, stable Turkey could be an asset to United States interests. However, until this happens, all arms sales to Turkey should be halted. The U.S. must not continue to be an accomplice to ethnic cleansing, crimes against humanity and genocide in Turkey.