ISTANBUL - Turkish Daily News
A group of European students were denied access to Turkish Petroleum Corporation, or TPAO, facilities in the southeastern city of Batman allegedly because the women were wearing clothing that was too revealing, reported the Doğan news agency.
The 18 students, from Latvia, Lithuania and Romania, are part of the European Union Education and Youth Program's student exchange project.
The project's Batman administrator, Şeyhmus Özbek, said TPAO security personnel likened the students to �natashas� -- a derogatory Turkish slang word for a foreign prostitute -- saying, �They told us �What are these natashas doing in your vehicle? We don't allow natashas in our facilities.'�
�We just left the facilities without entering,� she said. Özbek said there had been many problems during the week that the European guests were visiting Batman as part of the local high school theater group's �Ugly Duckling� project.
No entry for �natashas'
Özbek said the group arrived as substitutes for Germans, who cancelled their visit after the recent kidnapping of three German tourists on Mount Ağrı by Kurdistan Workers' Party, or PKK, terrorists. �We have tried every available means to bring our guests here but unfortunately when they do arrive certain obstacles and epithets have saddened us.�
TPAO security chief Necati Adıyaman said all people entering the facilities were subject to identification control. �The gate personnel might have not understood them. The checkpoint control isn't just for EU (European Union) guests but for all visitors. We apologize to the delegation if there was any misunderstanding and we are looking into whether anybody called the guests �natashas.'�
Youths trailed us at the market
The spokespeople for the Lithuanian university students -- Liga Andersone, Latvian history student Santa Girbuerga and Romanian Idana Chiriac -- said their favorite part of Batman, which they had never visited before, was the historic Hasankeyf ruins.
Andersone said they always preferred to dress comfortably. �We are not comfortable when we go to the downtown market. We tried wandering outside on our first days, but several youths started trailing us and we were very uncomfortable. Many people are staring at us, which makes us even more uncomfortable.�
�When the German group didn't come, we were the substitutes who arrived hoping to get to know Turkey's East, but we are apprehensive about mixing with the young people,� said Andersone.
�We haven't been able to leave our dormitory for fear of being harassed. Whenever we go somewhere, we go as one large group. If only we could wander around comfortably. We want to share our cultures with the people here. Unfortunately we are sometimes misunderstood, which saddens us.�