OZAL'S NEW CONCESSIONS TO WASHINGTON
In a surprise move, the Özal Government endorsed on
February 28, 1988, the side-letter extending the Defense and Economic
Cooperation Agreement (DECA) with the United States for another
Turkey announced last year in April that it was
going to endorse the side-letter because of the United States was not
meeting its commitments to Turkey. Ankara protested many times against
the cut-backs in US military and economic aid to Turkey and the
discussion in the Congress a bill which seeks to commemorate the
anniversary of the Armenian massacre at the turn of the century.
The endorsement of the side-letter came as a
surprise to political observers in Ankara as there was no recent
discernible improvement in relations with Washington.
In addition to this, as another gesture of
concession to Washington, the "President of the Republic", General
Kenan Evren, announced that he would visit the United States in the
month of June 1988. This visit originally planned for 1987 had been
suspended as a sign of protest against the discussion on Armenian
genocide in the US Congress.
According to the daily Hürriyet of February 29, by
signing the side-letter, the Turkish Government had granted to
Washington the following facilities:
1. The USA will be able to renew and modernize the
monitoring bases in Pirinclik, Sinop and Belbasi. These three stations
have a great importance for monitoring armaments tests in the United
2. Washington is allowed to accelerate the new
construction works in some important airbases such as Incirlik.
3. The US Air Force will be able to increase the
number of its F-16 fighters from 36 up to 48.
So, the US F-16s to be driven out by the Spanish Government are to be
based in Turkey.
Former Foreign Minister Hasan Esat Isik, describing
the endorsement as a diplomatic fiasco, said the basic flaw of DECA is
the fact that Turkey has committed itself fully as a country while the
United States has undertaken to fulfill only certain promises.
In a parallel move, Chief of staff General Necip
Torumtay announced a decision to hold joint naval maneuvers with the
Egyptian navy. The maneuvers are to take place this fall in the eastern
Reacting against this new military engagement, the
opposition spokesmen said that Turkey might be getting too involved in
the military conflicts of the Mediterranean.
In fact, on February 16, the daily Cumhuriyet
reported that some Turkish and Israeli enterprises had talks in a view
to co-producing long-range guns and F-4 Phantom fighters.
The British newspaper Independent of February 20
reported that the governments of Turkey and Saudi Arabia had five talks
in different times with a view of placing 16,000 Turkish soldiers in
Saudi territory, to fill the gap born after the withdrawal of Pakistani
soldiers from this country.
It is after having taken all these new Pro-american
steps that Prime Minister Özal launched his so-called "peace offensive"
towards the Middle East, European and socialist countries.
His visit to Tehran -third to Iran since he became
prime minister in 1983- was a a mixture of success and lack of
compromise. Özal's two-night stay in Tehran was quite excited as Iraqi
planes began shelling the Iranian capital. The Iraqi missile and air
attack took Ankara by surprise.
The success was that Özal became the first foreign
dignitary to be accepted personally by Ayatollah Montazeri, the man
designated by Ayatollah Khomeiny to succeed him. However, despite all
the pomp accorded to Özal, the talks between the delegations of Turkey
and Iran centering on economic topics were not quite successful. No
agreement was reached on the pipeline project which will connect
Iranian oil fields to the Mediterranean coast over the Turkish
After Tehran, Özal flew to Brussels and spoke at the
NATO summit as the fourth NATO leader after Reagan, Mitterand and Kohl.
"The modernization of the tactical nuclear arms should be evaluated
within a reasonable period of time, also taking into account the
behavior to be displayed by the Soviets in the negotiations for control
of nuclear and conventional arms," Özal said. The press commented this
declaration as a sign that Turkey takes place on the side of the
European members of NATO showing reluctance to deploy additional
Whereas, after the endorsement of DECA for more five
years and the revelations about Turkish talks with Egypt, Israel and
Saudi Arabia within the framework of Washington plans, Özal's these
"reluctant" declarations before European allies were but a new
double-faced maneuver aimed at getting more support for the improvement
of Turco-European relations.
THE US STATE DEPARTMENT'S REPORT ON THE SITUATION OF HUMAN RIGHTS IN
During the process of giving new concessions to the
United States, the Ozal administration was rather bothered by the press
reports making public some excerpts of the U.S. State Department's
annual report on the situation of human rights.
Though edited in a spirit of tolerance towards the
most loyal ally of the United States, this report addressed to the U.S.
Congress contains many critical remarks and comments on the rule of
Especially, the section on the "minorities" in
Turkey has given rise to violent accusations against the United States
in Turkish political circles.
We reproduce below the integral text of this
Respect for the integrity of the person, including
A. Political killing.
There were no accusations of politically motivated
killings by government forces in 1987. A terrorist bombing in Istanbul
during October killed one person. Also, an attack on a police station
in Istanbul in August resulted in the death of one policeman.
There were no known disappearances caused by
C. Torture and other cruel, inhuman, or degrading
treatment or punishment:
In January 1988, Turkey signed the Council of Europe
Convention for the prevention of torture and inhuman and degrading
treatment and announced its intention to sign a similar U.N. Agreement.
Accession to the Council of Europe Convention allows an international
committee of Council of Europe member states to visit all places of
detention (police stations, civilian and military prisons, and mental
hospitals) at any time, following notification of the visit to the
government of Turkey. In announcing its intention to sign the
convention, the government stressed the seriousness of Turkey's desire
to eradicate torture.
Although the Constitution states that "no one shall
be subjected to torture or ill-treatment incompatible with human
dignity," Turkish politicians, the Turkish press, and outside
monitoring groups have repeatedly asserted that prisoners are subject
to mistreatment and torture during initial interrogation or
imprisonment.In its September 1987 file on torture, Amnesty
International charged that torture was "widespread" and "systematic,"
claiming that "almost 4 years after a civilian government came to power
in November 1983, no effective measures have been taken to prevent
torture." The amnesty file included accounts of torture methods,
centers of torture, sexual abuse, and death in custody. Helsinki Watch
in its latest report concluded that "torture is still practiced in
Turkey on a large scale." It also stated, however, that abuse or
torture in prisons, apart from the initial detention period, has
Some assertions of torture concern treatment that
could be defined as police brutality, such as rough handling by police
officials aimed at intimidating a suspect or prisoner or resulting from
personal animosity. In other cased the mistreatment appears to involve
systematic torture. Nearly all of the numerous assertions have derived
from treatment during initial periods of incommunicado detention,
before charges were filed and before the accused was able to contact an
attorney. Many cases were documented by medical evidence. Greater
freedom of the press has yielded extensive coverage in Turkey of such
instances of torture, including photos of victims, descriptions of
methods, and sketches of premises where torture is said to have taken
Even before signing the Council of Europe
Convention, the Government had condemned torture and expressed its
determination to eradicate it by prompt and severe punishment of
offenders. Following the November elections, the newly appointed
director general of security, who serves as head of the Turkish
national police, flatly condemned the practice of torture and pledged
to eradicate it. The government has made efforts to investigate
assertions of torture and to prosecute the offenders. Although accurate
figures for the number of investigations and prosecutions are not
available, the press continues to report sentences of those convicted
of torture. Fore example, in October, following a judicial medical
board's determination that a prisoner in Bingol died as the result of
torture, the government opened a case against a number of military
personnel, including one officer. This same officer was later convicted
of torture in a separate case. Nonetheless, international human rights
organizations continue to maintain that many assertions of torture are
not fully investigated and that some convicted offenders continue to
carry out their official duties even while their cases are being
Human rights advocates both in and outside of
Turkey, including the Turkish Bar Association, have suggested that the
most effective way to prevent torture or assertions of torture is to
allow lawyers access to prisoners during the initial period of
detention. Such access is being considered among proposed revisions to
the criminal code. The revised criminal code, if adopted, would also
increase the punishment for torture. The current criminal code
categorizes murder by torture as manslaughter and punishes it with an
8-year sentence. Penalties for torture which does not result in death
range from 3 to 5 years. In 1986 the Parliament defeated a bill which
would have increased this penalty to a range of 5 to 10 years. The new
criminal code would increase the penalty for murder by torture to up to
In August, following widespread hunger strikes by
prisoners and parallel demonstrations by their friends and relatives
outside the prisons, Turkish reporters were permitted for the first
time to visit prisons and to report extensively on prison conditions.
As a result of this press attention, conditions in many prisons appear
to have improved. The government has responded to many prisoner demands
and has been building new prisons to improve living conditions. The
minister of justice claimed in September that prison conditions had
improved drastically in the last 3 years with the establishment of new
places of detention. However, because of its relative underdevelopment,
most public facilities in Turkey, including prisons, are still
substandard when judged against those of many developed countries.
D. Arbitrary arrest, detention, exile, or forced
Except in limited circumstances, such as when a
person is caught in the act of committing a crime, a judge must issue a
detention warrant to the prosecutor if a prisoner is to be
incarcerated. The police or public prosecutor, however, can hold
persons taken into custody incommunicado and without charge for up to
24 hours. By court order, the period of incommunicado detention may be
extended to 15 days. In cases of "offenses committed collectively" by
three or more persons, detention without charge for up to 15 days is
permitted without court order.
In the nine province under a state of emergency, the
governor (or supergovernor) may authorize detention of a person for up
to 30 days without charge. Under emergency rule, authorities do not
need warrants to detain suspects. Once in normal custody, a detainee is
taken before a public prosecutor to be informed of pending charges. If
the prosecutor decides to pursue the case, the detainee is arraigned
before a judge and subsequently allowed to detain a lawyer.
Parliament in 1980 defeated a bill requiring
immediate access to a lawyer. A proposed revision of the criminal code
under which a person, upon being detained, would have the right to
obtain a lawyer is still under discussion. A detainee does not have a
right of bail; the arraigning judge, however, may release the accused
on provisional liberty on presentation of an appropriate guarantee, or
order him held in preventive detention if the court determines that he
may flee or destroy evidence. The Constitution specifies the right of
detainees to request speedy conclusion of arraignment and trial. In all
cases, the authorities may hold a detainee incommunicado within the
prescribed time limits until he is charged or released. According to
the police powers act of 1975, a detainee's next of kin must normally
be notified "in the shortest time."
On April 15, the Parliament passed a law rescinding
a provision of the execution of sentences act of of 1986 that permitted
Turkish judicial authorities to impose sentences of "security
observation", known commonly as internal exile.
The Constitution prohibits forced labor, and there
is none in practice.
F. Denial of fair public trial
Defendants normally have the right to an open trial.
In some trials, such as those held in military prisons or on military
compounds, members of the public must seek permission to attend. But
such permission is routinely granted. Although Turkey is predominantly
Muslim, its court system and judicial procedures are modeled on the
Italian (criminal) and Swiss (civil) law codes. As in many other civil
law countries, trials in which layman juries render verdicts do not
form part of the Turkish judicial system.
The Constitution declares that judges shall be
independent in the discharge of their duties and provides for their
secure tenure. It also prohibits authorities from giving orders or
recommendations to judges concerning the exercise of judicial power.
The independence of the judiciary was demonstrated when the
Constitutional Court declared unconstitutional two provisions of the
1985 Police Powers Act which were widely considered to be oppressive.
Courts have also acquitted many defendants in cases involving freedom
Public prosecutors are also independent; to pursue a
case is their decision alone. It is they who determine whether to
pursue investigations of assertions of torture. The Supreme Council of
Judges and public prosecutors, appointed by the President and including
the Minister of Justice, select judges and prosecutors for the higher
courts and oversees those of the lower courts.
All defendants accused of terrorism or other
offenses against the security of the State, including drug smuggling,
are tried in one of eight state security courts. The judges in these
courts observe the same standards of evidence as judges presiding over
regular civilian courts. Three judges preside over state security
courts: a civilian judge as chairman, one additional civilian judge,
and one military judge. Civilian and security courts generally conduct
trials under the same rules of procedure. based on the Constitution and
emergency law regulations.
A conviction or acquittal in either system may be
appealed. If an appeals court overturns a lower court's guilty verdict,
the case is sent back to the lower court for reconsideration. If the
lower court insists on its original verdict, the case is returned to
the Appeals Court for a binding opinion. In some cases, particularly
capital cases, appeals to the Supreme Court or to the High Court of
Military Appeals are mandatory and automatic. If a death sentence is
confirmed by an Appeals Court, it must be approved by the Council of
Ministers, then by Parliament, and finally by the President.
Available evidence suggests that Kurdish-speaking
defendants standing trial in the southeast often suffer from having
only a partial, or in some cases total, lack of familiarity with
Turkish, the official and only language permitted in communication with
attorneys or judicial officials. Although translators are permitted,
the quality of the translations from Kurdish into Turkish is reportedly
Estimates of the number of political prisoners held
in Turkish jails vary greatly, depending on the source and the source's
definition of political prisoner. The government denies that it holds
any political prisoners but points out that many persons have been
imprisoned for terrorist acts or for other crimes committed in the
course of pursuing ostensibly political goals during the 1970's. Human
rights organizations believe that many people have been imprisoned
under statutes proscribing "membership in illegal organizations,"
prohibiting propaganda aimed at promoting the hegemony of one class or
ethnic group, and advocating the establishment of an Islamic state.
They estimate that persons currently imprisoned for nonviolent activity
under these statutes number several hundred.
F. Arbitrary interference with privacy, family,
home, or correspondence:
The Constitution provides for the inviolability of a
person's domicile and the privacy of correspondence and communication.
Entry by government officials into a private residence and interception
or monitoring of private correspondence are permitted only upon
issuance of a judicial warrant.
In the nine provinces still under state-of-emergency
law, however, the governor (or supergovernor) may empower authorities
to search residences or the premises of political parties, businesses,
associations, and other organizations without obtaining a warrant. They
may also search, hold, or seize without obtaining warrant persons,
letters, telegrams, and documents.
G. Violations of humanitarian law in armed conflicts:
Since August 1984, the government has faced in
southeastern Turkey an increasingly bloody campaign of violence carried
out by Kurdish guerrilla groups resident both in Turkey and several
nearby countries, whose professed aim is to establish an independent
Kurdish state --incorporating parts of present-day Turkey, Iraq, and
Iran-- by destabilizing the central Turkish Government. Armed Kurdish
rebels in Turkey receive substantial outside support and materiel.
Guerrilla attacks appear to have increased in both
number and geographic extent in 1987. Recent changes in guerrilla
tactics include the formation of larger bands for armed attacks,
strikes at the economic and transportation infrastructure of the
region, and brutal, terrorist-style massacres of villagers, many of the
victims being women and children.
The attacks by supporters of the Marxist-oriented
Kurdish Workers' Party (PKK), the main insurgent group, on government
and civilian targets has resulted in at least 500 civilian and military
deaths. A Turkish paper in July reported the 3-year death toll at 715,
of which 289 were civilians, mostly women and children, 159 military
personnel, and 267 guerrillas. There have been additional killings,
particularly of civilians, since then.
Despite major military operations against the PKK, guerrilla activities
continue in many remote and relatively inaccessible parts of the
Turkish members of parliament, international human
rights groups, and the Turkish press have raised questions concerning
activities by security forces in southeastern Turkey. Reportedly,
family members of suspected terrorists have been abused or tortured to
obtain information about the terrorists' whereabouts. In some cases,
the populations of entire villages have been questioned or even
detained. In other cases, villagers suspected of providing food to
terrorists have been charged with aiding the separatists.
Respect for civil liberties, including:
A. freedom of speech and press:
Political developments and court rulings have
removed most restraints on freedom of the press. The criminal code,
however, prohibits speech or writings considered threatening to state
security and the democratic system of government. The proscription
applies to advocacy of class or racial domination (F.G., communism and
fascism), the establishment of a theocratic state (F.G., islamic
fundamentalism), or the creation of a separate state on ethnic lines
(F.G., Kurdish separatism). These provisions are longstanding, dating
from the early days of the Turkish Republic.
The Turkish press is robust and vigorous. It is
privately owned and reflects a wide range of political views. There is
no "government" paper; to a greater or lesser extent, all newspapers
present opposition views. Furthermore, the recent trend in judicial
ruling affecting freedom of the press has been consistently in favor of
more freedom despite still existing statutory restrictions.
Nevertheless, the possibility of prosecution probably induces some
caution by the press in its selection of subject matter for reporting.
Turkish Radio and Television (TRT) is a government
monopoly. Opposition leaders complain that it is biased toward the
government in its coverage, although all parties were permitted to
present their views during the November election campaign. Works of
certain leftist and Kurdish performers and writers are reliably
reported to be banned from broadcast on TRT for political or cultural
B. Freedom of peaceful assembly and association:
Peaceful assemblies are permitted with prior
permission from the authorities. Such requests are generally granted.
According to current regulations, marching routes, rally areas, crowd
dispersion routes, and poster hanging locations are to be fixed for
each city every January. The government allowed political rallies
during the referendum campaign and did not interfere with the political
campaigning for the November parliamentary elections.
The law on associations, which reflected government
concern over the involvement of some association in the political
violence preceding the military intervention of 1980, prohibits
associations from having ties to political parties or engaging in
Association activity is closely monitored by the
government. Associations must submit their charters for the approval of
government authorities before they are allowed to form. Turkey's human
rights association, formed in July 1986, did not receive permission to
operate as a legal association until 1 year later, although it was able
to hold meetings and seminars in the interim.
As a reaction to the universities' involvement in
pre-1980 violence, the Constitution and the Political Parties Law
proscribe student and faculty involvement in political activities.
Political parties are forbidden to form youth branches. Students must
obtain their university rector's permission before joining an
association. After student protests, the government withdrew in April a
proposed amendment to the Higher Education Act which would have limited
student associations to one per university campus. Nevertheless, 143
students who protested the draft law went on trial for unlawful
assembly. This trial is still going on. Of approximately 100 faculty
members dismissed under martial law regulations --as many as 1,000
resigned of their own will either out of disagreement with the military
intervention or for other, mainly economic, reasons --a number have
petitioned for reinstatement, and at least one professor has been
reinstated following a court decision in his favor.
Membership in, or activities related to, an
organization advocating the establishment of a system of government
based on class (E.G., communist organization) are illegal under Turkish
law. Authorities detained for persons in October and arraigned them on
charges of being active members of the Revolutionary People's Union,
which is claimed to be such an organization.
Trade unions and confederations which continued to
operate under the provisions of the 1983 Labour Law have been allowed
to organize workplaces freely and to engage in collective bargaining.
Although only a small percentage of Turkey's total work force of some
16 million is organized, over 60 percent of industrialized workers are
union members covered by collective bargaining agreements. As a result,
unions have a significant impact on the economy, especially on work
rules and wage structure. The 1983 Collective Bargaining, Strike, and
Lock-out Law strictly regulates the bargaining process and makes
strikes outside the collective bargaining process (general strikes,
political strikes, and solidarity strikes) illegal. Unions are able to
represent their members, engage in collective bargaining, and respond
to their members' interests.
Under martial law, the activities of trade unions
and confederations were severely restricted.
Notwithstanding the lifting of martial law,
political activity by trade unions is banned by the Constitution, the
Law on associations, and the Trade Union Law. Unions can theoretically
neither endorse candidates and parties nor make contributions to their
campaigns. nevertheless, the Turkish Confederation of Labor, TURK-IS,
openly campaigned against the ruling Motherland Party both in the 1986
byelections and the 1987 parliamentary elections. Trade union activity
in defense of workers' social and economic interests is not regarded as
political activity. The unions have taken advantage of that distinction
to mount sternous public campaigns against various government policies
and to lobby government and opposition parliamentarians in support of
These campaigns included continuing efforts to
persuade the Parliament to bring the laws restricting union activity
into harmony with relevant International Labor Organization (ILO)
conventions. A March 24 "March on Parliament" was prevented by the
police, who charged that Turk-Is had not applied for a parade permit.
A December 1986 court decision ordered the permanent
closing of DISK (Confederation of Revolutionary Trade Unions), whose
activities were suspended under martial law following the 1980 military
takeover. The trial is in the appeals stage. The organization and its
funds remain under the control of court-appointed trustees. Three
former leaders of DISK were elected to parliament in November. The
Peace Association trials are also at the appeals stage, and ll
defendants are free on bail.
Turkish Government, union, and employer
representatives participate fully in the activities of the ILO. The
largest confederation, TURK-IS, is an affiliate of the ICFTU. Most
TURK-IS member unions are affiliated with their respective
international trade secretariats.
The government of Turkey was elected a deputy member
of the ILO governing body in 1987.
The American Federation of Labour and Congress of
Industrial Organizations (AFL-CIO) has alleged that the Turkish
workers' constitutional right to organize is hampered by the Labor Code
and by government and employer policies and practices, that the right
to strike is heavily encumbered, and that observance of minimal safety
and health standards is lax. The Minister of Labor has announced that
the government is preparing legislation which will address some of the
worker rights issues raised by the AFL-CIO and others. The new
legislation reportedly will modify or eliminate some restrictions
placed on trade unions, excessive government oversight of unions, and
regulations affecting their free choice of officers. New legislation
would also address the right of civil servants and teachers to
organize, as well as the strict requirements a union currently must
satisfy in order to become a bargaining agent.
C. Freedom of religion:
The overwhelming majority of Turks are Sunni
Muslims. "Alevis", adherents of different heterodox varieties of
Shi'ism, constitute from 10 to 15 percent of the population. There are
also various small Christian religious groups, and a small Jewish
Turkish government since the founding of the
Republic have regarded secularism as an essential attribute of a
modern, western-style democratic system, and the constitution proclaims
it to be a basic characteristic of the State.Accordingly it
distinguishes carefully between a person's private right to "freedom of
conscience, religious belief, and conviction" and public proselytizing
of any kind. Since Ottoman times, personal identity in Turkish society
has correlated with religion. The 1923 Treaty of Lausanne defines
minorities according to religion, and personal identity is still
largely synonymous with religious identity even in the modern secular
Turkish State. Proselytization is therefore politically sensitive.
Under the Constitution, "instruction in religious
culture and moral education" in accordance with a State-prepared
curriculum is compulsory for all students. The Education Ministry
confirmed in 1986 that non-Muslims would have to attend classes in
general religious instruction but would be excused from the "practical"
sections, which include memorization of Koranic verses and instruction
in prayer. The courses --2 hours per week-- are taught by lay teachers.
Extracurricular Koran courses using government-approved texts are
permitted. The Government has closed Koran courses run by
fundamentalist sects teaching a more radical brand of Islam.
Among other religious groups, small numbers of
Armenian orthodox and Armenian catholic, Greek orthodox and Greek
Catholic; Bulgarian Orthodox, Roman Catholic, Syrian and Assyrian
Christian, Chaldean Uniates, Protestants, and Jewish believers are
found in Turkey, primarily in Istanbul. In addition to the Turkish
Constitution, the Treaty of Lausanne guarantees the rights of the
non_Muslim minorities. These groups operate churches, monasteries,
synagogues, schools (where students may be taught in their own
language), and charitable religious foundations such as hospitals and
Non-Muslim minority groups have repeatedly
complained about government policies and procedure concerning the
operation of community schools, the formation of parish councils, and
the registration and repair of church property. Government restrictions
on the transfer of property to religious charitable organizations is
also a matter of contention.
The Government has recently taken steps to resolve
several issues of concern to non-Muslim groups. It granted permission
to the Greek Orthodox Patriarchate in April 1987 to rebuild its
administration building, destroyed by fire in 1941. It increased the
value of repairs which can be made without prior authorization to
historical buildings, thereby removing another issue of contention. It
permitted the free circulation of Bibles. However, it has not yet
granted permission to build churches to such communities as the
Chaldean Uniates who have emigrated to Istanbul from the Southeast, or
to the Armenian community of Ankara.
D. Freedom of Movement within the Country, foreign
travel, emigration, and repatriation:
There is general freedom of movement within Turkey.
Turks generally are free to travel abroad, and increasing numbers have
done so since the relaxation of currency controls. According to the
Constitution, a citizen's freedom to leave may be restricted on account
of the national economic situation, civic obligations (generally
military service), or criminal investigation of prosecution. Some Turks
involved in lengthy mass trials dating from the early 1980's have been
denied passports, although others have been granted passports, and
there is evidence that some citizens not under indictment were denied
passports for political reasons. Turkish law provides that those denied
passports while under indictment may nevertheless be permitted to
travel if the Justice Ministry and office of the Prime Minister
approve. Restrictions have been eased as a matter of practice, and the
government is currently considering legislative changes in order to
bring Turkish passport policies more into conformity with European
Turkish law grants citizens protection against
deportation, extradition, or denial of reentry. The Constitution
provides for the right of Turks living abroad to return home. Under
provisions of the Turkish citizenship law, however, the Government may
strip citizenship from those who have refused to return home to face
criminal charges, or who have committed acts expatriating themselves,
including failing to return to perform military service. According to a
Turkish press report in April, 13,788 Turks living abroad have been
stripped of their citizenship since 1980.
Turkey has permanently resettled approximately 4,500
Afghan refugees of Turkish ethnicity in recent years and provides a
temporary haven for East European refugees in two temporary settlement
facilities. Since Turkey limits the definition of refugees to East
Europeans, the Government does not grant refugee status to Iranians.
Nevertheless, as a country of first asylum, Turkey serves as a safe
haven for many Iranian refugees being processed for resettlement by the
United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR). It does not
generally deport to Iran those who entered Turkey illegally or who
overstayed their permitted time as "tourists". In consequence, large
number of Iranians are now living in Turkey, many of them in Istanbul
and other large cities.
Respect for political rights: The right of citizens
to change their government:
The right to change the government exists both in
theory and in practice. Turkey has a multiparty, presidential
parliamentary system. The president is elected by Parliament for a
single 7-year term. The current President, whose election was automatic
with the approval of Turkey's new constitution in the 1982 referendum,
is Retired General Kenan Evren, former chief of the Turkish General
Staff and head of the National Security Council which governed Turkey
during the period of military rule (1980-83).
Elections for public office are on the basis of
universal suffrage. The unicameral parliament has 450 seats elected on
a proportional basis. The election law requires that a party win at
least 10 percent of the total national vote in order to obtain seats in
Parliament. The 10 percent treshold is intended to prevent political
fragmentation and recurrence of the parliamentary paralysis of the late
1970's. Of the seven legal parties which fielded states of candidate
for the November national elections, three received more than 10
percent of the total vote.
Parties advocating a theocratic state, the
superiority of dictatorship of a particular social class or group, or
"exclusive" or "elitists" political philosophies are prohibited.
No party may be formed around a particular ethnic or
cultural group. Among the prohibited political groupings are communist
and other Marxist parties, which are based on class, and fascist
"elitist" parties. These are regarded as inimical to a western-style
democratic society and threatening to Turkey's fundamental integrity.
Fascists and communists similarly are banned from membership in other
parties. Members of the Armed Forces and certain categories of civil
servants may not join any political party.
The Constitution provides for equal political rights
for men and women. Turkey was one of the first countries to grant women
full and equal political rights. There are currently 11 female members
of Parliament, one of whom is a cabinet minister, and several women
hold important positions in the party hierarchies. Members of
minorities, Muslim or non-Muslim, face no legal limitations on
political participation as long as they accept Turkish national
identity. Despite other limitations and restrictions on Kurds as an
ethnic group, many Turks of Kurdish descent serve or have served in the
Parliament, the Cabinet, and senior government posts.
Governmental attitude regarding international and
investigation of alleged violations of human rights:
The government permitted visits to Turkey by
foreigners to discuss human rights during 1987 and, in most cases,
facilitated contacts for both official and nonofficial visitors. The
Government was less helpful to visitors investigating the Kurdish
issue. Since the 1983 settlement of a five-nation complaint in the
European Human Rights Commission, Turkey has undertaken to provide
regular confidential reports to the Council of Europe and to permit
site visits. The government has not permitted prison visits by the
International Committee of the Red Cross. Turkey's accession to the
Council of Europe Torture Convention will mean future visits by the COE
A nongovernmental Human Rights Association was
provisionally formed in July 1986 and had its charter officially
approved in 1987. The Social Democratic Populist Party, the main
opposition party, also has a Human Rights Committee and has actively
pursued human rights issues in Parliament.
Discrimination based on race, sex, religion,
language, or social status:
The Constitution regards all Turkish citizens as
equal and prohibits discrimination on ethnic grounds. In the Lausanne
Treaty, the government undertook "to assure full and complete
protection of life and liberty to all inhabitants of Turkey without
distinction as to birth, nationality, language, race, or religion." At
the same time, it has been longstanding policy of Turkish governments
to seek assimilation of persons of non-Turkish ethnic backgrounds into
the mainstream of society. The size or the non-Muslim minority
communities has declined steadily over the years.
Non-Muslim minority groups continue to complain
about the restrictive nature of government policies and procedures
regulating the operation of community schools, the purchase and sale of
community real estate. The administration of church properties, and the
activities of parish councils. The prohibition on most charitable
religious organizations against accepting requests also continues to be
a major concern.
Kurds can be found throughout Turkey, both as a
result of Ottoman settlement policy and more recent migration to
metropolitan centers. Those living outside of the southeastern part of
the country have been assimilated more completely into national life.
Most Kurdish speakers are concentrated in the economically
disadvantaged southeast, and many live a tribal existence. Through
large-scale economic development programs, the government seeks to
integrate fully both the region and its people into modern Turkey.
The government remains strongly opposed to any
assertion of a Kurdish ethnic identity which could bring into question
the unity of the Turkish State. Publication of books, newspapers, and
any other materials in Kurdish is forbidden, as are books or any other
materials dealing with Kurdish history, culture, or ethnic identity.
The Kurdish language is not permitted for official purposes, e.g., in
the courts, nor is it allowed in certain private situations such as
receiving visitors in prison, even when the prisoner or visitor does
not speak Turkish. However, there is no restriction on the use of
Kurdish in nonofficial settings.
As noted above, the right of indigenous minority
groups to use their own languages is limited. Although the Lausanne
Treaty states that "no restrictions shall be imposed on the free use by
any Turkish national of any language in private intercourse, in
commerce, religion, in the press, or in publications of any kind or at
public meetings," the Constitution states that the official language of
the country is Turkish. One article of the Constitution bans
discrimination on the basis of language, while others prohibit the
public use of "language prohibited by law." While there is no
legislation defining prohibited languages, the broadcasting and
publishing laws do define "legal languages." Persons have been tried on
a variety of charges relating to the use of Kurdish. All recent such
trials have resulted in acquittals. The government has stated that the
intent of its bans on publishing in Kurdish (and its discouraging of
languages such as Georgian and Laz) is to foster Turkish as the
language of all citizens for all uses. This is part of an effort to
inculcate in all Turkish citizens a sense of identity with the Turkish
state and nation as opposed to identification with any particular group
within the nation. In practice, the severity of the restrictions on the
use of a minority language appears to depend on the perceived threat
the group in question presents to the integrity of the State. For
example, the government faces armed Kurdish separatists and believes
the use of Kurdish fosters separatism. The use of Arabic, about which
there are no such concerns, is not similarly restricted.
The Government has long been a leader in promoting
and protecting women's rights. Women have full suffrage and educational
rights, have attained high office, and are represented in all
professions and institutions. Women have served or are currently
employed in senior positions as university rector and dean, ambassador,
political party president, and army colonel. Turkish businesswomen play
significant roles in many industries and sit on the boards of some of
Turkey's larges private firms. Female lawyers and judges are relatively
more common than in the United States, and female doctors dominate in
Nonetheless, the role of women in smaller
communities and rural areas --especially in the East-- is still
circumscribed by centuries of patriarchal tradition. Social and
cultural constraints in these areas limit women's equal access to
education and professional opportunities, the Constitution and body of
Conditions of Labor:
The Constitution provides for the right to
reasonable conditions of labor suited to the worker's age, sex, and
capacity, and grants the right to rest and leisure and a fair wage. The
labor law forbids the employment of children under 13 years of age and
restricts children under 15 to "light work which will not harm their
health and physical development, prevent their attendance at
occupational training and orientation programs, or their ability to
benefit from education." Children between 15 and 18 years of age may
not be employed in underground or underwater work, nor may they be
employed at night. Girls and women may not be employed in underground
or underwater work, but, if over the age of 18, may work night shifts
under conditions specified jointly by the Ministry of Health and Social
Welfare and the Ministry of Industry and Commerce.
A board composed of government, private sector, and
labor representatives establishes national minimum wages for the
agricultural and nonagricultural sectors. The labor law provides for a
7 1/2-hour day and a 45-hour workweek.
In spite of constitutional guarantees, specific
legal requirements, and labor union efforts, a considerable gap remains
between ideals and realities of occupational health and safety levels.
Trade unions have repeatedly complained that existing regulations
governing health, safety, and working conditions are not adequately
enforced. Outside the industrialized sector where unions exercise
considerable influence, legal restrictions are generally ignored both
on occupational health and safety and on child and female employment.
In general, the difference between legal prohibitions against child
labor and its practice is narrowing. But in the agricultural sector to
a large degree, and to a lesser extent in family-created commercial
enterprises, young children still work at their parents' side. During
1987 an illegal market in the services of children in a provincial
town, in which children from villages were leased to work for
nonrelatives during the school vacation months, received considerably
newspaper coverage and was closed immediately by the government.
ON THE HERITAGE FOUNDATION
In the December 1988 issue of Info-Türk, we had
produced a report of the Heritage Foundation asking the Reagan
Administration to increase its support to the Özal administration in
According to New Statesman of May 29, 1987, the
Heritage Foundation is the most influential and furthest right
think-tank in the United States. It "has channeled $1 million over the
past five years to right-wing organizations in Britain and, in a
smaller way, to other West European countries. The money has been paid
with the direct aim of influencing domestic politics in the United
Kingdom, "said the British monthly.
"Heritage, mainly financed by Joseph Coors, a US
beer baron and right-wing ideologue, is now bidding to be the core of a
'Conservative International'. Already closer than any other similar
center to President Reagan, Heritage now has the contacts and the funds
to further its programmes, which it defines as designed 'to make the
voices of responsible conservatism heard in Washington, D.C...and in
the capitals of the world'.
"Heritage's international activities have been
helped by its easy entree to Reagan administration circles. In 1982
President Reagan appointed Heritage Foundation President Edwin J.
Feulner Jr. chairman of the US Advisory Commission on Public Diplomacy,
which evaluates programmes of the USIA including the Voice of America,
Radio Marti, Fullbright scholarships and the National Endowment for
"Heritage-funded projects in Europe became more
systematic in 1982, when US and British conservatives grew alarmed at
the growing influence of the peace movement. In May that year Heritage
disseminated a 'backgrounder' on 'Moscow and Peace Offensive', in which
it called on NATO and 'its affiliated public support organizations' to
spread 'information concerning the links... between known Communist
front groups and the 'independent' peace groups.
"In an interview with Inter-Nation, Heritage
Foundation Vice-President Burton Yale Pines predicted: 'Maybe the next
step will be to organize some kind of Conservative International.' He
suggested this could take the form of an alliance of as many as 20
like-minded groups in the United States, Britain, France, West Germany,
Japan and other countries. During the last six years, the Heritage
Foundation has been a major force behind the 'Reagan Revolution'. The
Reagan Administration itself will come to an end by 1988. Heritage will
do its best, however, to ensure that the principles of Reaganism
continue to shape policies far beyond the borders of the United States."