Thursday, February 18, 1999

U.S. should urge Turks
to deal with Kurds

THE Kurdish rebellion in Turkey has spilled over into Western Europe in the wake of the capture of the rebel leader Abdullah Ocalan. The incident illustrates how even remote and apparently insignificant conflicts can cause wide repercussions.

The shooting at the Israeli consulate in Berlin that left three Kurds dead and at least 15 people wounded was the most violent but by no means the only incident protesting Turkey's capture of Ocalan. The Kurds were shot by Israeli security guards when they broke into the consulate building.

Ocalan faces trial and a possible death sentence for his part in a 14-year-old separatist struggle that has taken 37,000 lives. Ocalan was captured in Nairobi, Kenya, where he had been living in the Greek embassy. Turkey accused Greece of giving it "incorrect and misleading" information on Ocalan. The United States reportedly supplied information that helped the Turks track Ocalan down. Israel denied involvement in the capture.

Kurdish demonstrators briefly occupied more than 20 Greek and Kenyan missions across Europe Tuesday. Kurds also forced their way into the Geneva headquarters of the United Nations refugee agency but left about three hours later.

There are an estimated 20 to 25 million Kurds living in Turkey, Syria, Iran and Iraq, of whom 12 million live in southeastern Turkey. They have been struggling for an independent homeland for decades with scant success.

Whatever the merits of the Kurds' case in Turkey, it must be pursued by peaceful means. Terrorist and other violent tactics cannot be tolerated. The world is now so interdependent that the United States and lesser powers cannot ignore such causes when they resort to violence. The Kosovo conflict is another current example of attempts to achieve self-determination that drew international concern.

But it takes two sides to provide an alternative to violence. If Washington did assist in Ocalan's capture, it should be in a position to urge Turkey to offer some concessions to the Kurds' demands as part of a settlement.


Special trustees

CIRCUIT Judge Kevin S.C. Chang has appointed a distinguished panel to represent the Bishop Estate in dealing with the Internal Revenue Service's investigation into the estate and its trustees. Assembling of the panel was required because personal allegations against the estate's trustees created conflicts of interest in their representation of the estate to the IRS.

Those named special-purpose trustees are former Honolulu Police Chief Francis Keala, a former St. Louis High School trustee; Constance Lau, treasurer of Hawaiian Electric Industries; attorney Ronald Libkuman; retired Adm. Robert Kihune, a Kamehameha graduate and president of the USS Missouri Memorial Association; and former Iolani School headmaster David Coon, also former president of the Hawaii Medical Service Association.

Chosen from a list of eight candidates selected by the estate's court-appointed master, Colbert Matsumoto, they comprise a well-rounded board with a variety of expertise appropriate to their task. All come from a trust, business or legal background. They are to be paid on an hourly basis for their work on Bishop Estate tax matters at a rate to be determined by the court.

Trustees Richard Wong, Henry Peters and Lokelani Lindsey fought their replacement by special-purpose trustees while trustees Gerard Jervis and Oswald Stender recognized their conflict of interest and supported the naming of a special board.

The special board should be authorized to hire an attorney to represent the estate before the IRS. Libkuman should not be expected to assume a dual role of trustee and attorney. William McCorriston, who has been the estate's attorney in such matters, should not be allowed to represent both the estate and the permanent trustees in their personal estate-related dealings with the IRS.

Bishop Estate Archive

School desegregation

COMMON sense and elementary fairness scored a victory when San Francisco schools and the NAACP agreed to abandon race-based school admissions to settle a suit by Chinese-American students who were kept out of the schools they wanted to attend by quotas.

The settlement would eliminate racial and ethnic ceilings that have been enforced at each San Francisco school for 15 years. It also would prohibit assigning any of the district's 62,000 students to a school, class or program solely on the basis of race or ethnicity. However, the district could consider diversity, along with economics and geography, in a new assignment plan starting in the fall of 2000.

The enrollment ceilings to be repealed set a limit of 45 percent on enrollment of any racial or ethnic group at a school, and a 40 percent limit at alternative or "magnet" schools. In the latter category is Lowell High, which has an entrance examination and counts Supreme Court Justice Stephen Breyer and former Gov. Pat Brown among its alumni.

The limits are part of a desegregation program approved in 1983 that settled a 1978 discrimination suit by the NAACP. Although that policy has been changed, the 1983 court order still has the effect of curbing Lowell's Chinese-American enrollment, which is the largest of any group.

But the Chinese Americans fought this blatant injustice and now they have forced the advocates of racial quotas to back down. Among the plaintiffs was Patrick Wong, who was denied admission to Lowell High in 1994 because the school required higher test scores from Chinese Americans than other ethnic groups. This was affirmative action at its most absurd.

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John M. Flanagan, Editor & Publisher

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Frank Bridgewater & Michael Rovner, Assistant Managing Editors

A.A. Smyser, Contributing Editor

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