A group of Turkish women confronted Undersecretary of State Karen Hughes on Wednesday with heated complaints about the war in Iraq, turning a session designed to highlight the empowerment of women into a raw display of anger at U.S. policy.
“This war is really, really bringing your positive efforts to the level of zero,” Hidayet Sefkatli Tuksal, an activist with the Capital City Women’s Forum, told Hughes at a museum here. She said it was difficult to talk about cooperation between U.S. and Turkish women as long as Iraq was under occupation.
Hughes, whose job is to burnish the U.S. image overseas, said that “obviously we have a public relations challenge here ... as we do in different places throughout the world.”
Six of the eight women who spoke at the session focused on Iraq. “War makes the rights of women completely erased, and poverty comes after war -- and women pay the price,” said Fatma Nevin Vargun, a Kurdish women’s rights activist.
Hughes defended the Iraq invasion. “You’re concerned about war, and no one likes war,” she said. But, she said, “to preserve the peace, sometimes my country believes war is necessary.”
“War is not necessary for peace,” shot back Feray Salman, a human rights advocate.