Sir, Your newspaper suggested that Human Rights Watch had not fully appreciated the momentousness of Turkey's recent constitutional changes ("Turkey approves reforms to ease curbs on human rights", October 4). Human Rights Watch will loudly welcome genuine reform in Turkey whenever it happens - but it has not happened yet.
The recent constitutional package leaves police, prosecutors and courts with more than enough tools to continue imprisoning writers for expressing their non-violent opinions. The death penalty was left in place and it is unlikely that we shall see an end to the daily reports of ill-treatment and torture in police custody, because the constitutional changes neglected the most important safeguard: access to legal counsel. Under the new constitutional provisions, any anti-state activity (rather than opinion) remains prohibited.
Events in the 48 hours after the constitutional changes were passed showed that the term "activities" will be given the widest possible interpretation: a journalist was sentenced to 20 months' imprisonment and a magazine was shut down; a book by a Kurdish writer was banned; a local Kurdish politician was detained; trade unionists were indicted for preparing invitations to a meeting in the Turkish and Kurdish languages; and Turkish Human Rights Association members were detained while making a public call for the release of Yvonne Ridley, the British journalist, from Afghanistan.
You suggest that these changes were designed "to help Turkey meet the European Union's political criteria". In fact, they were meant to cover the embarrassment of a government that has wasted another year of its European Union candidacy without fulfilling its commitments on human rights and democracy.