- The Washington Times - Saturday, December 29, 2001

Azerbaijan ties to bin Laden should not be forgotten

Your Dec. 23 editorial, "The importance of Armenia and Azerbaijan," erroneously portrays Azerbaijan as "important to U.S. counterterrorist initiatives" and thus deserving of the recent lifting of most of the long-standing American sanctions against it.

On the contrary. An October 1999 report in the journal Defense and Foreign Affairs Strategic Policy written by Yossef Bodansky, director of the U.S. Congressional Task Force on Terrorism, clearly shows that the government of Azerbaijan has knowingly provided aid and haven to violent extremist organizations and so-called religious "charities" directly tied to Osama bin Laden.

If anything, sanctions against Azerbaijan should be strengthened. President Bush and the State Department fool themselves if they believe that Azerbaijan is a sincere partner in our war against terrorism.


Newton, Mass.

Catholic bishops share responsibility for spread of HIV/AIDS

The response of several Roman Catholic officials to a Catholics for a Free Choice ad campaign about the dangers posed by the Catholic Church's ban on condoms is somewhat surprising ("Pro-choice poster campaign targets bishops," Dec. 24).

One anti-choice leader, the Rev. Thomas Euteneuer of Human Life International, states that the "bishops do not ban" condoms but they do. All 100,000 Catholic hospitals worldwide and all 200,000 Catholic schools and social service agencies are prohibited by local bishops as well as Vatican policy from teaching about or providing condoms to HIV/AIDS patients, clients or students.

The Catholic Church claims that it shows its love and compassion for those with HIV/AIDS by treating 25 percent of those infected worldwide. That means that the nearly 10 million people with HIV/AIDS who are "treated" by the Catholic Church have no direct access to condom education or condoms from their caregiver. Imagine the number of newly infected wives and children who are a result of the ban.

Another Catholic official quoted in the article, a pastoral minister for the Archdiocese of Washington, where AIDS is a major public health problem, is saddened by the ad campaign. He should instead be saddened by the unnecessary transmission of HIV/AIDS caused by a church that neither educates HIV/AIDS patients about how to save lives nor provides them with the means to do so when abstinence is not a course they choose to follow or are able to follow.

We are all human even our priests and bishops have difficulty following church teaching on abstinence. For such people to tell ordinary people in desperate circumstances that they cannot use condoms to prevent the spread of a deadly disease is to preach a culture of death.

Catholics expect more from their bishops, and our ad campaign is one way of calling them to accountability.



Catholics for a Free Choice


Turkish-Cypriot leaders perpetuate unnecessary rift

Ahmet Erdengiz's Dec. 21 letter to the editor "Good fences are still needed in Cyprus" is very persuasive. It lacks one important ingredient however truth. Mr. Erdengiz and his friends, in their desperate attempt to justify the existence of the so-called "Turkish Republic of Northern Cyprus," constantly revise history and argue with non-truths and half-truths.

Mr. Erdengiz tries to convince your readers that in the 1960's there was a one-sided massacre of Turkish Cypriots by the Greek Cypriot government. Nothing could be further from the truth. In fact, both Turkish-Cypriot and Greek-Cypriot extremist groups perpetrated violence on the other side. In addition, Turkish aircraft bombarded Greek-Cypriot civilians with napalm. The irony is that Mr. Erdengiz's own boss, Rauf Denktash, the present leader of the Turkish Cypriots, was the head of the Turkish terrorist organization known as the Turkish Resistance Organization, or TMT. Mr. Denktash and the TMT were main instigators of the 1960's violence. This organization caused terror and death not just on the Greek-Cypriot side, however; it also attacked Turkish Cypriots who opposed Mr. Denktash's dream of maintaining the separation of the two communities.

Mr. Erdengiz's statement that the violence lasted from 1963 to 1974 is also untrue. By 1970, the violence had stopped, a fact that contradicts Mr. Erdengiz's and Mr. Denktash's argument that the two communities cannot live in peace. Only in 1974 did violence break out, when the then-dictatorship of Greece implemented a coup targeting the government of Cyprus, not Turkish Cypriots and Turkey invaded and occupied Cyprus.

Mr. Erdengiz says that Greece supported Greek-Cypriot attacks on Turkish Cypriots. This is doubtful, but even if it did the Greek dictatorship was removed in 1974, its leaders jailed and the government replaced with a true democracy that has nothing to do with any of the violence in Cyprus. There is no reason for Turkish Cypriot citizens to be afraid of the government of Greece. The only leaders who took part in Cypriot aggression and still hold power are Mr. Denktash and the government of Turkey.

Both Turkish Cypriots and Greek Cypriots are responsible for the violence in the 1960's. However, there was only one unprovoked and one-sided massacre the ethnic cleansing of 200,000 Greek Cypriots from northern Cyprus during the 1974 invasion and the Turkish military's ongoing occupation of the region. The ethnic cleansing of Greek Cypriots included mass murder, mass rapes, and the torture of men, women and children. The Turks intended to force Greek Cypriots from the northern third of Cyprus. They were successful.

Of his statement that the Turkish Cypriot leadership seeks only to reinstate the Turkish Cypriot people's sovereign equal rights, I ask Mr. Erdengiz: Does that include the freedom of the press? If so, then why does Mr. Denktash close down offices of newspapers that oppose him? Why do these newspapers get bombed? Is freedom of speech protected by Mr. Denktash? Then why does he oust teachers of Turkish Cypriot children for referring to the Turkish Army occupying northern Cyprus as an "occupation force"? How about the freedom to vote for a leader? Why did Mr. Denktash's opponent in the recent elections mysteriously bow out? Intimidation? Why are Turkish Cypriots forbidden to cross into free Cyprus? Can Mr. Erdengiz answer these questions? I think not.

In a real democracy, Mr. Denktash would have been replaced long ago. Mr. Denktash does not represent the will of the people. This is apparent in the increasing number of Turkish Cypriots who are tired of oppression, intimidation, poverty and restrictions of movement. Instead, they want unification. The number of Turkish Cypriots obtaining Cypriot passports from free Cyprus have reached record levels. It would be in the Turkish Cypriot's best interests to listen to former U.S. Sen. Bob Dole and rejoin their Greek Cypriot brothers, who enjoy a flourishing economy and all the freedoms of a western democratic country. Greek Cypriots would welcome such a reunification.

The Cypriot problem is not due to the Greek Cypriots, the Cypriot government, the Greek government or the Turkish Cypriot people. Rather, the fault lies with Mr. Denktash and the government of Turkey, who rely on intimidation, torture, extra-judicial killing, and police and military power. The talks between Cypriot President Glafcos Clerides and Mr. Denktash are encouraging, but for Turkish Cypriots and Greek Cypriots to truly benefit from such talks, Mr. Denktash must first be replaced by a Turkish Cypriot who truly represents the interests of the Turkish Cypriot community and, for that matter, all Cypriots. The only fence needed in Cyprus is one around Mr. Denktash.


Centreville, Va.

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