Intifada in the East
Peasant Revolts in the West
Violence at University Campus
On-going State terrorism on pretext of chasing PKK
guerrillas leads to popular revolts in Turkish Kurdistan. Recently, two
Kurdish towns, Nusaybin and Cizre have been the scene of violent
confrontations between the State forces and the Kurdish people.
The Kurdish Intifada began on March 13 when the
regional governor announced that "a total of 17 separatist PKK members
died in southeastern Turkey in two separate clashes with government
troops." 13 of the these people were reportedly killed in a hamlet
called Grisera near the village of Serenli in Mardin and four others
near the town of Pazarcik.
One of the slain Kurds, Kamuran Dündar, was the son
of a member of the local council in Nusaybin. He was buried early on
March 15 morning contrary to the Islamic practice of holding funerals
at noon or in the afternoon.
Following the burial, groups of Dündar's relatives
and supporters confronted the security forces in the town and threw
stones at them. The security forces responded by firing into the air. A
total of six people, three civilians and three security officials, were
injured during the incident. To prevent further unrest a curfew was
later imposed on Nusaybin.
These repressive measures have led to further
demonstrations by Kurdish people and a skirmish between the inhabitants
of Cizre and security forces on March 20 resulted in killing and
wounding of many people.
A PKK spokesman, during a press conference held next
day in Brussels, claimed that more than twenty people had been shot
dead during these conflicts between revolting peasants and security
Two years earlier, on April 1, 1988, the security
forces had killed 20 alleged PKK members in Nusaybin. The local people
accuse the Army and the Police of having shot dead many innocent people
on the pretext of chasing PKK militants.
Few months ago, on September 19, 1989, five hundred
inhabitants from Derebasi village in the Silopi district of Mardin
staged demonstrations against the killing of 17 Kurds, by throwing
stones at the office of the district governor and shouting "Damn the
Facing the growing resistance of the Kurdish people,
the Turkish Army fails to restore the state authority in the area.
The PKK spokesman, in Brussels, announced that
Kurdish peasants adhere in mass to the ranks of the guerrilla forces
and form "popular committees" in towns and villages. "There is no more
the authority of the Turkish State in Kurdistan. The Kurdish people is
setting up self-government. This is the Intifada of Kurds," he said.
POISONING OF KURDISH REFUGEES
A new poisoning incident was reported on February
1st, 1990, at the Kurdish refugees camp in Diyarbakir and several
hundred people were hospitalized after having eaten the bread
containing poisonous substance.
There are for the time being approximately 13,000
inhabitants at the temporary refugee centre. About 50,000 Iraqi Kurds
had fled to Turkey in August 1988 after escaping from attacks by the
Iraqi Government. The number of Iraqi Kurds living in camps in Turkey's
southeastern provinces of Mus, Mardin and Diyarbakir is now estimated
to be around 30,000, with the departure of 20,000 to Iran or Iraq
following an amnesty declared by the Iraqi government last year.
In a similar incident last June, approximately 3,000
inhabitants of the Kiziltepe refugee camp in Mardin had received
treatment for stomach troubles after that ate breads distributed at the
camp on June 8.
In both cases, Turkish authorities minimized the
incidents, claiming that there was a psychological side to the
incident: "When they have a stomach ache, they could be panicking into
thinking they have been poisoned."
However, four British scientists dealing with the
incident of last June, in a letter to the medical journal The Lancet on
February 3, 1990, said they found evidence in blood samples of poison
victims of a a rare kind of poison called organophosphate.
DR. BESIKCI BACK TO JAIL
Dr. Ismail Besikçi, a Turkish sociologist
defending the fundamental rights of the Kurds in Turkey, was again
arrested on March 12 by the Istanbul State Security Court on charges of
making separatist propaganda.
Besikçi faces a prison sentence of between 7,5 and
15 years if convicted, for publishing a book last month entitled:
Kurdistan: A Colony of Many Nations.
Besikçi's interest in the Kurds has landed him in
prison more than once. He was released from prison most recently in May
1987 after serving a seven-year term. Besikçi, who is not a Kurd,
claims that the Kurds are a totally different people than the Turks,
both sociologically and culturally.
In his last book, the sociologist writes that the
basic rights of the Kurds are denied by the governments of the three
countries where they are living — Turkey, Iraq and Iran. Besikçi
accused these countries of trying to eradicate Kurdish culture and
Besikçi worked as a lecturer at Atatürk University
in Erzurum but was dismissed from the faculty in 1969 because he wrote
a book on the sociological structure of Eastern Anatolia and the Kurds.
In 1971 he was arrested and jailed until 1974.
Besikçi continued to publish his studies on
political and social issues. In 1979 he was rearrested for publishing a
study on the forcible settlement of the Kurds. After he was released
for a brief period, he was rearrested in 1981 for a letter which the
prosecutors said he sent to the Swiss Writers Union while still in
prison in 1980. Under article 140 of the Turkish Penal Code, which
forbids "the dissemination of derogatory information about Turkey
abroad," Besikçi was again indicted and sentenced to 12 years in
prison, but was released for his good behaviour in 1987 after having
served six years of his term.
Besikci's new arrest has once more led to protest by
international human right circles.
DISSIDENT OFFICER TO ASYLUM
A 22-year old artillery lieutenant who sent a
telegram to President Turgut Özal saying that he cannot get used to
Özal in the presidency has been subjected to a series of pressures.
Lt. Murat Seref Baba was first put into the mental
ward of a military hospital in Istanbul and held incommunicado. The
headquarters of the Turkish General Staff in Ankara announced on March
6 that the lieutenant had been hospitalized in accordance with the
regulations of the armed forces, because of having sent a telegram to
President Özal at a time when he was suffering from a nervous breakdown.
The lieutenant's sister, Betül Bozkurt said she was
told by her brother during her visit that his telegram had infuriated
Özal who called the commander of the 1st Army in Istanbul. "He
complained to me about injections and other drugs he was given. He said
he was not a lunatic but that he would turn into one if he was made to
stay in that room any longer," she said.
Dr. Süleyman Baba, the lieutenant's elder brother,
said he believed his brother was perfectly normal and was held there
In his telegram to Özal, Lieutenant Baba said:
"There are certain things which I am unable to make
myself get used to, either now or in the future. I cannot get used to
the violation of the principle of unity of national education by its
division into religious and secular schools. I cannot get used to the
upbringing of young people in some Koran schools which lead them to be
hostile to the secular republic. I cannot used to the laughter of those
who swindle the state while honest government officials are exiled from
one city to the other.
"I cannot used to seeing patients without money held
hostage in hospitals while those who make money through corruption
squander it extravagantly. I cannot used to the fact that the person
occupying the position held by Atatürk [the founder of the republic],
seeks to make a reputation for himself just by being photographed with
heads of state. You have said that people would get used to your
presidency. But I could not get used to this either."
Main opposition SHP deputy Fuat Atalay, in a
motion, asked Prime Minister Akbulut whether government officials
who send telegram to the President would be hospitalized with a
diagnosis of psychoneurosis even if they do not have mental problems.
Esat Kiratlioglu, a DYP deputy chairman, said: "If
everyone who showed reaction to Özal was sent to a mental clinic, the
whole country would turn into an insane asylum."
As the protest against this persecution was getting
grower, on March 12, Lieutenant Baba was transferred to Ankara where he
would be kept in prison for 28 days for breaking army disciplinary
rules. Sources claimed the young officer would be dismissed after
serving 28 days behind bars.
PRESSURE ON THE BAR ASSOCIATION
Turgut Kazan, president of the Istanbul Bar
Association, vowed on February 20 to struggle with Justice Minister
Oltan Sungurlu who had asked that all the members of the executive
board of the association be dismissed.
The dispute between the Justice Minister and the
Istanbul Bar Association surfaced when Sungurlu asked the chief
prosecutor in Istanbul to begin legal procedures against the
association. Sungurlu argued that Kazan and other members of the
executive board violated law by reversing a decision by the former
board expelling lawyer Alp Selek from the bar association on grounds
that he had been sentenced to an eight-year prison term on charges of
belonging to the Workers' Party of Turkey (TIP).
Selek served his sentence in prison and was released
in 1986 but found himself unable to perform as a lawyer because of a
legal stipulation introduced by the military in the early 1980s. The
legislation bars lawyers who have been found guilty of violating
articles 141, 142 and 163 of the Turkish Penal Code from practicing
"According to the legislation, the Justice Minister
has no authority to decide on which attorneys can perform in their
profession and which cannot," said the president of the Bar
Association. The Union of Turkish Bar Associations (TBB) too said the
Justice Minister has overstepped the limits of its authority.
10-YEAR BALANCE-SHEET OF REPRESSION
The daily Cumhuriyet of December 12, 1989 published
a 10-year balance sheet of the repressive regime. According to this
reports, since the military coup of September 12, 1980:
- 650 thousand people have been detained for
different motives. Of these detainees 210 thousand have been indicted
by military justice.
- Millions of people have been put on the list of
suspects and 388 thousand people deprived of the right to travelling
- By virtue of Martial Law Rules, 4,891 public
servants have been dismissed, 4,509 others banished.
- Besides, 18 thousand public servants, 2 thousand
judges and prosecutors, 4 thousand policemen and 5 thousand school
teachers have been either dismissed or forced to resign from their
- 6,353 death sentences have been claimed for
political detainees at military tribunals. 50 people have already
been executed as the death sentences for 261 others are at Parliament
- The number of those tried by virtue of articles
141, 142 and 163 of the Turkish Penal Code reaches 100 thousand.
- 171 people have been killed under tortured. The
number of the deaths under arrest passes over 300. Thousands of people
have been mutilated under torture.
- There are still 52 thousand condemned or accused
in 644 prisons of Turkey. 5 thousand of them have been detained for
- 14 people died during hunger strikes in prisons,
thousands of prisoners have become invalid for the same reason.
- More than 30 thousand people have been obliged to
flee the country for political reasons. 14 thousand of them have been
stripped of Turkish nationality by the decrees of the government.
- Eight daily newspapers have been banned for a
total of 195 days.
- Within the five and half years rule of ANAP, 458
publications have been confiscated by administrative bodies. Besides,
tribunals issued the decision of confiscation for 368 publications.
- 133,000 books were destroyed by burning and
118,000 books by other means.
- 937 films have been banned from public projection.
Among them are 114 films by Yilmaz Güney.
- Within last five years under ANAP rule, 2,792
writer, journalist and translators have been tried at tribunals. A
total of 2,000 years of imprisonment claimed for these indicted
- 13 biggest dailies of the countries have been
accused of obscene publications and a total of 60 billion TL fine
claimed by prosecutors.
- 23,667 associations have been either closed down
or their activities suspended.
- New associations set up in last years for
defending human rights have been under permanent pressure of
authorities. Prosecutors have opened 25 legal proceedings against the
Human Rights Association of Turkey (IHD), of which eleven resulted in
acquittal. The Association for Solidarity with the Prisoners'
Families (TAYAD), the Houses of People (HE), the Association of
Teachers (EGIT-DER), the Association of Women in Democratic Struggle
(DEMKAD), the Democratic Women Association (DKD), the Women Association
of a Human Life (IYIKD) and many other cultural and social associations
have often been subjected to legal proceedings. Governors have closed
down general headquarters of four associations and nine local sections.
Related to these proceedings, 344 people have been detained and a total
of 51 months imprisonment pronounced against the accused.
POLICE OPERATION AGAINST THE LEFT
After the assassination of journalist Emec, police
mounted an intensive operation throughout the country in search of 20
to 25 left-wing militants who reportedly infiltrated Turkey from Syria.
On March 10, a police patrol in Zeytinburnu, one of
the working-class neighbourhoods of Istanbul, spotted a car that was
stolen the day before. When the police ordered the car to stop two men
and a woman inside opened fire. During the car chase one police
detective was fatally wounded and two others suffered slight bullet
wounds. Although two militants were captured, the third one, identified
as Talat Coskun, forced his way into an apartment on the 11th floor of
an apartment building and took hostage three people. At the end of a
17-hour long police operation, an anti-terror team wearing bulletproof
vests stormed the apartment and seized Coskun after wounding him.
Police sources said that the captured militants
belonged to the Revolutionary Communist Party and received guerrilla
training in a Palestinian camp. Claiming that the other hit-teams of
this illegal organization were preparing attacks, especially against
retired generals who held key positions during the military rule in the
early 1980s, the police extended its operation other cities and
arrested some other suspects.
The captured left-wing militants have categorically
refused any implication in the assassination of journalist Emec.
OTHER CASES OF REPRESSION
1.1, police announced that during a 10-day operation
in Ankara about 100 alleged members of the Revolutionary Communist
Party of Turkey (TDKP) had been arrested.
9.1, police raided the Ankara office of the
Association of Women in Democratic Struggle (DEMKAD) and detained 19
women. Thereupon, 30 women went on a hunger-strike in protest.
22.1, the leaders of 31 democratic associations went
on a hunger strike for protesting against the pressure on their
1.2, five detainees of Dev-Yol Case in the Buca
Prison of Izmir went on hunger strike for protesting against ill
4.2, the State Security Court of Istanbul indicted
11 alleged members of the Marxist-Leninist Armed Propaganda Unit
(MLSPB) who face each a prison term of up to 65 years.
7.2, women associations in Istanbul announced that
21 women detained in the Sagmalcilar Prison were subjected to inhuman
conditions. They were kept in an overcharged ward together with common
law criminals and were very often harassed by the guards.
11.2, a hunger strike was started in the Prison Type
E of Bursa by 61 students arrested at the Uludag University.
17.2, in Adana, 18 people were taken into police
custody on the charge of belonging to the Communist Party of
28.2, the Martial Law Tribunal of Ankara sentenced
three Dev-Yol members to death sentence, three to life-prison and 12
others to different prison terms of from three to ten years.
HUMAN RIGHTS COMMISSION
Three political parties represented at the National
Assembly have jointly prepared a draft bill to set up a permanent human
rights examination commission within Parliament to monitor human rights
violations in Turkey and abroad.
It was announced by the spokesmen of the Motherland
Party (ANAP), the Social Democrat Populist Party (SHP) and the Correct
Way Party (DYP) that the proposed permanent commission would be
autonomous, follow internationally accepted developments on human
rights and would examine claims of human rights violations.
The commission would be entitled to examine
complaints by Turkish citizens abroad who claimed their human rights
had been violated. "Beside, all human rights violations committed in
other countries would be dealt by the commission. For example, Sweden,
which claimed to be a leader in the protection of human rights,
recently deported 60 ethnic Turks from Bulgaria who had sought asylum
in Sweden. This was the same Sweden which strongly criticized Turkey's
attitude last year toward the Iraqis who escaped to Turkey from Iraq. "
said the Turkish deputies.
The commission would also decide what amendments
were needed to bring the Turkish Constitution and laws into harmony
with the international agreements on human rights signed by Turkey.
Nevertheless, the commission would never function
like a court. Moreover, it will not be authorized to deal with the
complaints as long as they are being dealt by judicial bodies. Since
many complaints relating to torture come from the people under arrest
or on trial, this parliamentary commission's power already turns out to
be ineffective, according to the human rights circles in Turkey. It
seems that the real aim of the ANAP deputies who led this initiative is
to deceive once again democratic institutions of Europe.
In fact, during the presentation of this draft bill
to the press, Mr. Bülent Akarcali, co-chairman of the EEC-Turkey Joint
Parliamentary Committee, commenting on Amnesty International reports on
the human rights situation in Turkey, displayed once more his hostility
toward this organization: "I agree 100 percent with AI's aims. However,
in my opinion AI is an institution that insists on using Turkey as raw
material in order to continue its existence in Europe."
HELSINKI WATCH'S NEW CAMPAIGN
Helsinki Watch, a New York-based human rights
monitoring group, announced in its February 1990 report on Turkey that
it is launching a campaign against Turkish penal code articles which
restrict freedom of expression.
The human rights monitoring group asked
supporters in its recently issued report to send letters to President
Turgut Özal, Prime Minister Yildirim Akbulut, Justice Minister Oltan
Sungurlu and Nuzhet Kandemir, the Turkish ambassador to Washington;
D.C., demanding the repeal of articles 140,141,142,158,159 and 163 of
the Turkish Penal Code.
Each of these articles has been used to punish
crimes of conscience in Turkey, the report said. Article 140 concerns
disseminating derogatory information about Turkey abroad, while
articles 141 and 142 deal with communist activities. Articles 158 and
159 state the punishment for insulting the government, the president
and Parliament, and article 163 proscribes activities aimed at setting
up a government based on Islamic canon.
"Helsinki Watch is deeply concerned about continuing
harsh restriction of free expression in Turkey. We call upon the
government of Turkey to repeal Penal Code articles 140,141,142, 158,
159 and 163, to release immediately all journalists imprison ed for the
non-violent exercise of free expression, and to assure full rights of
free expression to all of its people," said Helsinki Watch.
The report says that Turkey has broken all world
records in the persecution of publishers, journalists and writers. It
claims that nearly 400 journalists have been charged in 1989 for what
they have written in their publications. In addition to the 183
criminal cases brought against journalists in 1989, Helsinki Watch
says, "magazines have been confiscated and banned, books seized and
banned and performances forbidden."
"At the end of November 1989, at least 23
journalists and editors were in prison for what they had written or
published, many serving absurdly long sentences. One journalist
received a sentence of 1,086 years, later reduced to about 700 years,"
writes the Helsinki Watch report.
AWARD TO YOUNG DETAINEES
Orhan Apaydin Human Rights and Justice Award was
given on February 28, to Turkey's minors arrested on charges of making
The award was established in 1986 after the death of
Apaydin, the former president of the Istanbul Bar Association. A jury
of writers, lawyers and journalists announced that this year "The
M.C.'s of Turkey" deserved the award. This was a reference to Melih
Calaylioglu, the 15-year-old high school student who was arrested two
years ago in Izmir on charges of making communist propaganda. Since
Press Law bars referring to minors by name, the newspapers referred to
Calaylioglu simply as M.C. until his acquittal last year.
There have been other cases of the arrest of minors
on political charges. These young people will share award with
According to the daily Cumhuriyet of December 22,
1989, the number of the Kurdish detainees under the age of 18 reached
to 40. Two special wards have recently been set up in the Prison E Type
No.1 of Diyarbakir for minor prisoners: one for the detainees between
11 and 15 years old and the other for those between 15 and 18.
In Istanbul, a 16-year old girl, S.O., was put in
the Bayrampasa Prison on December 14 for having distributed propaganda
leaflet for the Revolutionary Communist Party of Turkey (TDKP).
Recently, on March 17, 1990, a 14-year old secondary
school student, N.A., was arrested in the town of Suruç on charges of
communist propaganda. According to press reports, during a search in
the classroom, his teacher found in his pocket a piece of paper on
which there were some critical remarks on Turgut Ozal's visit to the
Black Sea Area. Considering these remarks as communist propaganda, the
teacher complained his young student to police authorities and N.A. was
a few days later taken into police custody.
IHD OFFICIAL'S DETENTION
Muzaffer Ilhan Erdost, the president of the Ankara
section of the Human Rights Association of Turkey (IHD) was detained on
March 12 on charges of making separatist propaganda in a foreword he
wrote for a book entitled The Truth Behind Diyarbakir by Edip Polat.
After a 35-hour detention Erdost was released on March 14. It was
announced that the prosecutor had mistakenly thought the book was
published by the IHD.
The investigation into the writer of the book Polat,
accused of spreading separatist propaganda, still continues.
A PRIEST ARRESTED IN ISTANBUL
Police arrested on March 14 nine people including a
Catholic pries and charged them with illegitimately smuggling Iraqi
Kurdish refugees from camps in Diyarbakir to Greece.
Police claimed Neaziz Yalap, the priest of the
Chaldean Catholic church in Istanbul, and the other eight men have been
running a ring which provided Greek passports to Kurdish refugees in
return for money.
UNREST WITHIN THE GOVERNMENT PARTY
Since Özal's access to the Presidential Palace, the
unrest within the Motherland Party (ANAP) has been growing so as to
shake the government headed by Yildirim Akbulut. The nomination of
Akbulut, known as a yes-man of Özal, has led to reactions as well among
ANAP deputies as in the party's members.
As after the 1987 elections ANAP held 289 seats in
the legislative assembly, this number fell to 282 after a series of
resignations. The government seems chaotic. Ministers are talking
against each other in the press. Akbulut has not succeeded his
authority neither on the government nor on the party organization.
Akbulut's failure in governing the country has led to inventing many
jokes to evoke his lack of intelligence and capacity.
Akbulut's nomination as prime minister and the party
chief was first contested by a former vice-premier, Hasan Celal Güzel
at the party congress held in November 1989. Although Premier Akbulut
was elected party chief thanks to the support of the Holy Alliance,
Güzel proved his force by obtaining 382 votes against 739 for Akbulut.
The second blow to the party's unity has been the
recent resignation of Foreign Minister Mesut Yilmaz from the
government. Yilmaz was one of two ministers in the current cabinet who
had served in all Motherland Party (ANAP) governments since 1983.
Since the formation of the new government, Akbulut's
statements on various foreign policy issues have been contradicting
those of the Foreign Minister. The conflict between the two men and
their supporters came out into the open on February 20, the day before
Parliament held a general debate on foreign policy issues, when Yilmaz
gave his letter of resignation to Prime Minister. Akbulut immediately
appointed State Minister Ali Bozer, who has been in charge of Turkey's
relations with the European Community, to succeed Yilmaz.
Yilmaz's resignation from the government immediately
led to speculation in political lobbies in Ankara that he was taking
the first step toward challenging Akbulut as head of government and
party. What is more, the two resigned ministers, Hasan Celal Güzel and
Mesut Yilmaz have often held talks in a view to developing a common
strategy to overthrow Akbulut's direction at the next ANAP Congress
scheduled for 1991.
Facing a joint opposition by the two former
prestigious ministers, Özal and Akbulut have to give more concessions
to the Holy Alliance within the party and the government. For example,
during his four-day trip to Iran, Prime Minister Akbulut nominated
State Minister Mehmet Kececiler acting premier. Kececiler is the leader
of the Islamic conservative Holy Alliance faction dominating the
majority of provincial organizations of the party.
But this move gave rise to reactions not only in
secular circles and even among the Liberal-minded ministers of the
Motherland Party (ANAP). As a result of this reaction, Kececiler's plan
to preside over a cabinet meeting when Prime Minister is abroad was
foiled when several liberal ministers threatened to boycott it.
There are rumours that if Akbulut, failing to
establish his authority, does not resign in coming days, President Özal
will be obliged to replace him by another confidence man.
ÖZAL'S CONTROVERSIAL VISITS
Not only his prime minister, but Özal himself too
has been the object of growing attacks by his opponents. Especially his
family's prodigal way of living in the presidential palace and his
frequent interference in the government affairs lead to protests.
Never agreed with the way of his election, the
opposition leaders continue to boycott any meeting with President Özal.
Even at national day ceremonies they refuse to meet him and to exchange
The President's last visits to the United States and
to France have severely been criticized by the opposition and the
At the end of January Özal and his wife Semra Özal,
accompanied by 14 people, made a 10-day visit to the United States and
both had medical check-ups which were paid by the State.
The daily Tercüman of January 30, 1990, asked:
"What did Özal's trip to the United States achieve except to make us
learn that the president and his wife are in sound health. Millions of
liras spent for this trip have created embarrassment for Turkey instead
of bringing diplomatic success."
Former prime minister and leader of the opposition
Correct Way Party (DYP)
Süleyman Demirel claimed on February 27 that U.S. President George Bush
sent a strongly-worded letter to Turkish President Turgut Özal about
Turkey's reaction to the Armenian bill in the U.S. Congress. He accused
Özal of not having reacted against Bush's stand to humiliate the
All opposition leaders carry on their pressure on
Özal to anticipate legislative and presidential elections as soon as
possible in order to save the country from chaotic situation.
ÖZAL'S MEETING WITH MITTERRAND
President Turgut Özal, on the occasion of the
opening of the Süleyman the Magnificent Exhibition in Paris, met
President Mitterrand other French politicians on March 13, 1990.
The controversy over Özal's one-day trip to Paris
arose over reports from France that Mitterrand was somewhat reluctant
to grant a meeting to the Turkish president. Besides, the absence of
Mrs. Semra Özal, the president's wife, during this visit led to
speculation in the press that she did not want to meet with Mrs.
Danielle Mitterrand, the French President's wife, who has been
criticized in Turkey for her pro-Kurdish activities.
During the one-hour meeting between Özal and
Mitterrand various topics including Turkey's application for full
membership in the European Community, the Cyprus question and
developments in Eastern Europe were discussed. After the meeting Özal
said he observed that there was no categorical objection to Turkey's
membership in the EC by France. However, a spokesman for the Elysee
Palace did not do same comment and only said that the Turkish president
expressed his disappointment over the EC Commission's report over
CLOSER RELATIONS WITH IRAN
To seek closer economic and political relations with
Tehran, Prime Minister Yildirim Akbulut made a four-day visit to
Iran at the end of February.
Prior to Akbulut's visit, Iran's recently appointed
Ambassador to Ankara, Muhammed Reza Bagheri said Turco-Iranian foreign
trade enjoyed its best year in 1985 when Iran's exports to Turkey
reached $1.578 billion and its imports from Turkey were $1.264 billion.
Bilateral trade since then has declined. In the January to October
period of 1989, Turkey's exports to Iran stood at $478.2 million
dollars and its imports from Iran stood at $136.6 million. Referring to
the seventh economic protocol signed last year, which foresaw a trade
volume of $2 billion, the ambassador conceded that this target was
Accompanied by a delegation of 40 government
officials and 62 businessmen, Akbulut met in Tehran with Dr. Hasan
Habibi, the deputy president of the Islamic Republic, Iranian Foreign
Minister Ali Akbar Velayeti and Iranian President Hashemi Rafsanjani.
After visiting Rafsanjani. Akbulut went to the Iranian Parliament and
was briefed on its procedures.
Mr. Habibi said the Turkish Prime Minister's visit
to Iran marked the beginning of a new phase in relations between the
two countries. Akbulut, answering Habibi, said Turkey attributes great
importance to its relations with Iran.
During Akbulut's visit to Iran a joint economic
committee including both Turkish and Iranian government officials
discussed a number of projects including a natural gas pipeline from
Iran to Turkey.
This visit occurred during a period marked a series
of terrorist acts attributed to Islamic Fundamentalist supported by
Iranian regime has been interpreted "inopportune" by the press.
ARMENIAN QUESTION AT US SENATE
Two attempts by Senator Robert Dole to get his
so-called "Armenian bill" on the U.S. Senate's agenda were defeated
first with a 49 to 49 tie vote on February 23 and secondly by 51 votes
to 48 on February 27, 1990. The bill proposed to designate April 24 as
"a day for the commemoration of the genocide of Armenians by the Turks
between 1915 and 1923"
During the second debate at the Senate, Dole
defended his bill by reading a document which he claimed was taken from
the Ottoman archives by the British intelligence service. He said the
document clearly indicates the Ottomans deliberately killed the
Dole also complained about pressure coming from
Turkey to block his bill. The senator claimed Turkish companies had
stopped business negotiations with their American partners. "If this,
is not blackmail what is?" Dole asked.
Speaking for an hour against the Dole bill, Senator
Byrd urged congressmen not to cause a confrontation between the United
States and Turkey. He said supporters of this legislation have
been making references to correspondence from American ambassador to
Turkey, Henry Morgenthau, who served between 1913 to 1916. However, he
noted, some 2,300 messages sent by Admiral Mark Bristol, who headed the
U.S. diplomatic mission in Istanbul between 1919 and 1923, were being
"Although Admiral Bristol mentioned the human
tragedy in eastern Turkey during those years he never described the
situation as genocide. The suffering of the people in eastern Turkey
was the result of civil strife and war," said Byrd.
After the second failure of his move, Senator Dole
said: "Both trials have shown that we don't have enough support in the
Senate. It would be futile to try again with this particular
resolution. Those who supported his bill are on the side of truth. In
fact, David has won the debate but it was Goliath who emerged as the
winner of the vote."
Dole's failure to reintroduce his bill caused
euphoria in Ankara. Turkish press proclaimed the result as a victory of
Turkish lobby in Washington and opened a campaign calling Turkish
citizens in Turkey and abroad to send messages of gratitude to Senator
Byrd for obstructing Dole's bill.
NEW PROGRESS IN CYPRUS PROBLEM
The U.N. Security Council has recently adopted a
resolution on the Cyprus question which is considered, for the first
time in 15 years, satisfactory by all the interested parties. The
Council emphasized that efforts should be made to build a federal
structure in Cyprus with two communities and two zones and renewed
Secretary-General Javier Perez de Cuellar's mandate to continue his
goodwill mission to bring about a federal solution in the island.
Unlike previous UN documents on Cyprus, the resolution does not
describe Turkish troops on the island as an occupying or invasion force.
Rauf Denktas, the president of the "Turkish Republic
of Northern Cyprus (KKTC)", said the resolution was balanced and "not
displeasing to the Turkish side." Immediately after he resigned from
his post to test how much popular support he has in representing the
Turkish-Cypriot Community. He set the presidential elections in
northern Cyprus for April 22, 1990. "It is up to the people to decide
whether they want me to act as their attorney," he said.
The Turkish Foreign Ministry too welcomed the
resolution, claiming that the resolution refers to the final solution
in Cyprus as a federal structure with two communities enjoying equal
rights and living in two separate zones.
As for the Greek-Cypriot side, President George
Vassiliou said: "The U.N. resolution justifies the position of the
Greek Cypriots." However, he said he would never concede the right to
self-determination to the Turkish-Cypriots.
Greek Prime Minister Xenophon Zolotas also said that
the resolution was positive for both Greece and the Greek Cypriots.
After the adoption of the resolution, de Cuellar
said his special envoy in Cyprus will contact Vassilou and Denktas for
the resumption of negotiations as soon as possible.
A NEW MINORITY POLICY IN GREECE
After the incidents in Komotini in February between
the Turkish minority and Greeks, the Athens Government decided to
change the minority policy and Prime Minister Kostas Zolotas discussed
with the leaders of the New Democracy Party, the Left Coalition and the
PASOK ways and means to end disturbances in Western Thrace. Meanwhile,
the chief justice of the Komotini Court which sentenced two minority
candidates for the Greek Parliament to 18 months in jail has been
removed from his post.
According to the reports by the press, Greek leaders
pointed to the fact that the ethnic Turkish minority constitutes a 54
percent majority in the Rodopi province where Komotini is located. They
also tagged the high fertility rate of the Turkish community as a
problem compared with the low birth rate of Christian Greeks.
They also decided to implement measures to prevent
the ethnic Turks from organizing a minority political party.
The measures planned for reversing this situation
include changing the population composition in the area by providing
incentives and jobs for minority Turks to settle elsewhere in Greece.
They agreed also to put into force a regional development plan to
increase the level of living standards which would hopefully lower the
fertility rate among minority Turks.
Among other measures decided upon by the Greek
leaders was the division of Moslem foundations into separate
administrative units which would be run by elected bodies. This would
effectively decrease the control of the Turkish diplomatic missions
over the foundations.
They also planned to restrict the judicial powers of
Moslem religious leaders, müftis, stemming from canonical Islam in the
administration of property and inheritance. These judicial powers would
be transferred to the courts which would make rulings according to the
1922 Treaty of Lausanne.
ARMY AGAINST DISARMAMENT
General Necip Torumtay, Chief of the Turkish General
Staff, said in a television interview on March 5 that no cuts should be
expected in the near future in the number of enlisted men because
shortages in military can only be offset by manpower.
He claimed Turkey's strategic importance would not
change whatever developments there were in the world in the next few
years because of the country's geographic location. The major powers
such as the United States and the Soviet Union will continue to have
interests in the Mediterranean, the Black Sea and the Middle East
regions, he said.
"Turkey also feels the heat of the Middle East which
has been simmering for a long time. A new strategy can be defined,
pegged to developments in the Middle East and especially in
neighbouring countries," said Torumtay. "Turkey has to deploy its
forces in every direction. If there is a viable peace in Europe, it
will be natural for us to shift attention to the Middle East," he said.
"The drive for modernization in the Turkish armed
forces should continue for at least another 10 or 15 years. Naturally,
the bill for this modernization will be high. But maintaining
independence and freedom is not a cheap affair, said the army chief.
In an answer to the question why Turkey was still
holding 800,000 to 900,000 men under arms instead of reducing these
numbers and using the money saved to buy new arms, Torumtay claimed:
"Each soldier costs the army 2 million TL ($834) per year. If we
decrease the number of troops by 100,000 we will be saving something
like 200 billion TL ($84 million). But a frigate costs 600 billion TL
($252 million). So the reduction in numbers does not save as much money
as many people believe."
A JOURNALIST ASSASSINATED
Five weeks after the assassination of Professor
Muammer Aksoy in February, the escalating terrorism in Turkey has
recently chosen in March another public figure as victim. Cetin Emec,
55, a columnist and former editor-in-chief of the daily Hürriyet, was
shot dead on March 7, by unidentified gunmen as he left his home on the
Asian side of Istanbul to go to his office. As his driver was walking
to the front of the vehicle, another car appeared from a side street.
It stopped about 10 meters away and two masked men ran out and sprayed
Emec's car with bullets from automatic weapons fitted with silencers.
When the killers noticed that driver Ali Sinan Ercan, 35, was running
away they pumped bullets into him too. According to eyewitness accounts
there were two other men in the killers' car. After the attack, all
four escaped in the getaway car.
Unidentified men called the offices of some
newspapers and claimed responsibility for the killing on behalf of the
Turkish Islamic Commando Association, a hitherto unknown organization.
They said: "We have killed Cetin Emec to punish the enemies of Islam."
Ironically, in his last Hürriyet column Emec
discussed the escalating terrorism in Turkey, and pointed to Turkey's
precarious position in the Middle East. Neighbouring states like Syria,
Iraq and Iran, he said, were known to encourage terrorism throughout
the world. Emec criticized the government for not adopting a tougher
line against Syria and demanded more financial and moral support for
the Turkish Army.
Following Emec's assassination, journalists staged
demonstrations in Istanbul and Ankara. Hundreds of journalists marched
to the Parliament building in Ankara on March 8 and presented a
declaration to the Speaker demanding urgent and vigorous measures to
prevent terrorism. The declaration, signed by journalists associations,
unions and major newspapers, said: "These attempts are aimed at
destroying Turkish democracy. The Turkish press underlines that Turkey
shall always have democratic rule, with Parliament as its key body. We
consider it necessary to call on Parliament as the sole representative
of the nation to prevent escalation of terrorism and uncover the
dark forces behind it."
Thereupon, the Speaker of the National Assembly,
Kaya Erdem, called on March 12 Prime Minister Yildirim Akbulut and the
two opposition party leaders, Erdal Inönü (SHP) and Süleyman Demirel
(DYP), to discuss ways and means to combat terrorism in Turkey.
The two opposition leaders offered full support to
the government for measures needed to quell violence. However, both
Inönü and Demirel argued that early parliamentary elections ahead for
their scheduled time in 1992 would help renew people's confidence in
the regime, making it possible to launch an effective struggle against
terrorism. Akbulut rejected the opposition's argument saying that
calling elections just to combat terror was irrelevant.
Next day, President Turgut Özal blamed the press for
exaggerating terrorist incidents in Turkey. According to political
circles in Ankara, the meeting of political leaders revealed the latent
friction between Özal and Akbulut, who was given the job of prime
minister by the former only five months ago.
PRESSURE ON MASS MEDIA
Tunca Aslan, editor of the weekly 2000'e Dogru was
arrested on March 13, by the Istanbul State Security Court on charges
of making propaganda detrimental to the patriotic feelings of the
nation. The magazine had in its recent issue published an article in
dealing with the Kurdish question in Turkey and proposing solutions to
it. Aslan faces a possible prison sentence of up to 15 years under
article 142 of the Turkish Penal Code.
The Istanbul State Security Court ordered
confiscation of March 7, 1990 issue of daily Günes because it published
the minutes of the talks between US President George Bush and Turkish
President Turgut Özal which took place last month in Washington D.C.
The SSC Prosecutor said the newspaper revealed "information that should
remain secret in the interest of security and the state."
Prosecutions in February:
7.2, professor Yalcin Kücük was condemned by the
State Security Court of Malatya to a 4 years and 2 months imprisonment
for a declaration defending Kurdish people's rights.
8.2, editor Muzaffer Erdogdu was indicted by the
State Security Court of Istanbul for having published Lenin's speeches
to the 3rd International. He faces imprisonment of up to 15 years.
10.2, a German citizen, Michael Dag, was indicted by
a criminal court in Izmir for having distributed the newspaper Kurtulus
in 1979 and faces a prison term of up to 15 years. He had earlier been
condemned for a first time to a one and a half year imprisonment for
the same act.
10.2, the mayor of the district of Göcek, Behzat
Akdolun, was released after being kept in prison for 18 days on charges
of having insulted Turgut Ozal during a session of the Municipal
11.2, two editors of the monthly Kivilcim, Hasan
Cako and Hayriye Cako, were taken into custody.
12.2, Edip Polat's book entitled "The Real Fact of
Diyarbakir" was confiscated by the State Security Court of Ankara.
20.2, the February issue of the monthly Emek Dünyasi
was confiscated by the State Security Court of Istanbul.
23.2, two concerts by the Group Yorum in Izmir was
banned by the governor.
23.2, Velit Gök was condemned to a prison term of 4
years and 2 months for having shouted Kurdish slogan during a concert
of folk singer Ferhat Tunc.
VIOLENCE AT UNIVERSITY CAMPUS
New campus unrest throughout Turkey in the beginning
of March has resulted in the arrest of hundreds of university students.
The incidents began on March 1st when Yildiz University students in
Istanbul roughed up a plain-clothes policeman. Following this first
incident, police raided student dormitories and detained 80 students.
Next morning, students gathered on Yildiz campus,
held a demonstration against the presence of police in the university
and shouted slogans demanding the release of their friends. Police
again intervened and arrested about 50 students. This led to the
occupation of the university buildings in the afternoon by hundreds of
student who took rector Süha Toner and five other faculty members
hostage. They said they would not come out of the building unless riot
squads ant anti-riot vehicles positioned around the campus were
The two-hour siege ended with a police charge on the
building using tear-gas, water cannons and clubs. Nearly 200 students
were detained after police forced their way into the building.
About 20 students were injured during the
confrontation with police and the historic building of the Yildiz
University was severely damaged.
On March 3, police released 152 students but held
under police custody 155 other for questioning. In protest against
police detention, smaller demonstrations took place at the Marmara
University campus in Istanbul and in Canakkale.
On March 5, about 1,000 students gathered on the
main campus of Istanbul University in Beyazit. Riot police intervened
when the demonstrators spilled out of the campus to stage a march to
the State Security Court where they expected the detained students to
appear. Students lobbed Molotov cocktails and stones at the police
while riot police charged with water cannons, sticks and stones.
Several civilians who were siding with the police were also seen
throwing stones at the students. While two police helicopters were
hovering overhead demonstrators moved back to the campus and closed the
heavy iron doors.
On March 6, the incidents spread to Adana where
students demonstrated against the arrests in Istanbul. They pelted
gendarmerie troops and policemen with stones and stopped a policeman
using a video camera. 60 of them were arrested.
There were also demonstrations in Ankara's Hacettepe
University, but no students were detained there.
The student resistance is provoked by the barrack
discipline imposed by the military regime after the 1980 coup and still
applied by the Higher Education Council (YOK). However, the leaders of
the two opposition parties represented in the Parliament, Inönü and
Demirel, said the students should not be carried away by provocations.
RIOT BY TOBACCO GROWERS
Over 60 people were arrested on March 12 in the
tobacco-growing areas of western Turkey when producers began to riot
after the government announced tobacco purchasing prices far below the
Producers expressed shock over the new prices,
increased from 33 percent to 48 percent over last year's purchasing
prices for various types of locally produced tobacco. They claimed they
could not even cover their production costs with these prices while the
inflation rate was over 70 percent.
Thousands of tobacco producers took the streets in
Akhisar, Milas, Mugla, Kinik, Süleymanoglu, Kirkagac, Kapakli,
Gökceköy, Sakarya, Isikköy and Bergama, ransacking the offices of over
50 tobacco merchants and the State Tobacco Monopoly buildings. In
Kirkagac, they smashed the windows of local offices of the Motherland
Party (ANAP). In all the incidents, angry demonstrators called for the
resignation of the government.
Gendarme units and riot police squads were
dispatched to Akhisar and surrounding towns. The protesters blocked the
main Izmir-Istanbul highway and railroad to traffic for five hours
during the demonstration.
COAL MINE DISASTER: 68 DEATHS
An explosion on February 7, 1990, in the Yeni Celtek
coal pits claimed the lives of 68 miners. It is the worst mine disaster
in Turkey since 1964 when 72 miners died in the same area.
The lack of protection measures in the area gave rise to protests by
trade unions and the relatives of the victims.
Even the arrests of three managers of the mine
failed to alleviate anger among the relatives and friends of the dead
miners who continued to wait before the sealed off area demanding the
bodies. The protesters attacked the vehicle carrying the detained
managers and shouted: "Give the murderers to us!"
When Prime Minister and some other ministers arrived
at the place of incident under heavy security, miners families shouted
at them: "We want the bodies of our dead!" When the Labour Minister
wanted to visit the homes of miners, she was given a cold shoulder.
"You only remember us at times of disaster. We don't need your
condolences," she was told.
Miners in the coal mining areas of northern Turkey
stopped work for two hours to protest the disaster.
A report by experts said the gallery where the
accident occurred was till full of poisonous gas and there was no
possibility that any survivors remained.
The Turkish Miners Union maintained there were
indications of heat build-up in the gallery two days before the gas
explosion. "According to regulations, the gallery should have been
closed up. Despite the signs, work continued in the gallery without any
precautions being taken. After the accident, the employer, instead of
saving lives preferred to save equipment. The incident is a mass
slaughter, not an accident," said the union report.