be the steps taken by the government, the fundamental demands of the 11-year struggle
should never be forgotten and all
remnants of the militarist "democracy" should be eradicated
The people of Turkey enters New Year in the hope of
a "rapid democratization" as promised by the new government. Some timid
steps have already been taken such as closing down the Eskisehir
Prison, tolerating publication of a Kurdish newspaper, lifting the ban
on some books, cassettes and films.
However, as seen in the other articles of this
issue, many anti-democratic practices such as arrests and trials for
opinion, tortures, suspicious deaths, confiscations of publications,
bans on meetings, etc. have not yet been stopped.
The army's political and repressive organs such as
the National Security Council, the Counter-Guerrilla as well as the the
State Security Courts are still carrying out their sinister functions.
The Anti-Terror Law and a number of anti-democratic articles of the
Turkish Penal Code are still being used against as before. Turkish
Kurdistan is still under the terror of the state of emergency.
In fact, even the "democratization package" of the
new coalition does not comprise all demands raised by democratic forces
of the country in the course of a 11-year struggle against the 12th
The question is not to make some superficial
gestures, but to eradicate all institutions and remnants of the
military dictatorship and to replace militarist "democracy" by a real
democracy conforming to universal norms.
Info-Türk, though supporting each positive step to
be taken by the government, will continue to keep alive the ensemble of
the demands raised by the country's democratic forces in hard days of
struggle and to monitor whether or not they are adopted and put in
Below we remind, one again, the principal ones
of these democratic demands.
• The 1982 Constitution should be replaced by a new
• The National Security Council (MGK) should be
• the Army's General Staff should be depended on the
National Defense Ministry
• The Counter Guerrilla Organization should be
• The Anti-Terror Law should be lifted
• All anti-democratic articles of the Penal Code suc
as 125, 146, 155, 158, 159, 311, 312 AND All repressive decrees should
• All political prisoners should be freed
• The State Security Courts shold be dissolved
• The period of police detention should be reduced
to 24 hours and a detainee's interrogation should be made in presence
of his lawyer
• All political murders committed by the Army, the
Counter-Guerrilla Organization and the police should be investigated
and their authors should be punished
• The electoral system should be rendered more
• The state of emergency should be lifted in Turkish
• Special security teams should be withdrawn from
the Kurdish area
• The system of village protectors should be lifted
• The Kurdish national identity should be accepted
• All reserves as regards Kurdish national identity
put earlier in international conventions by the Turkish Government
should be lifted
• The Kurdish nation's rights to free expression and
to have education in Kurdish language should be recognized
• Kurdish radio and TV broadcasting should be allowed
• It should be created a democratic order allowing
to freely discuss the Kurdish national question and its solutions
• The restrictions in the press legislation should
be lifted and monopolization in the media should be prevented
• The Higher Education Board (YÖK) should be
• The right to trade union, collective bargaining
and strike should be recognized to all working people including public
GROWING PRESSURE ON KURDISH DEPUTIES
Just at the beginning of the "democratization era",
on December 21, the Prosecutor of the Ankara State Security Court
completed a legal investigation about 22 Kurdish deputies elected on
SHP tickets and claimed capital punishment for all of them by virtue of
Article 125 of the Turkish Penal Code. They are accused of "attempting
to separate the whole or part of the State's territory" because of
their electoral speeches and declarations on the Kurdish Question.
Since the deputies have parliamentary immunity, the
prosecutor had to ask the Justice Ministry to address to the National
Assembly for lifting their immunity. If the Assembly accepts the
demand, the 22 deputies will be tried before the State Security Court.
At the National Assembly, new Kurdish deputies carry
out their legislative work under pressures and menaces.
After the incidents at the opening session of
Parliament (See: Info-Türk, November 1991), during the parliamentary
debate on security on December 26, Kurdish deputy Mahmut Alinak,
speaking on behalf of the Social Democrat Populist Party (SHP) Group,
was attacked by the DYP deputies because he was defending
Kurdish-Turkish brothership. When he said "few days ago our two
brothers died in Digor. One of them was a soldier, the other was from
the PKK," these words created furore among DYP deputies and they
dragged Alinak from rostrum and prevented him from completing his
After the incident, Alinak accused the
pro-government deputies of obstructing a democratic debate on a burning
"The Kurdish issue could only be solved through
democratic means and should be discussed in Parliament. If not, people
will start discussing it other forums and that will be very dangerous
for the country."
Alinak is a former member of the People's Labour
Party (HEP) and was elected to Parliament on SHP ticket.
HEP Chairman Feridun Yazar said the incident was
shameful. "Alinak just wanted to say Kurds and Turks are brothers and
it is wrong to kill each other and that we have to put an end to this.
But those who have prejudices, who do not know what democracy really is
brought him down from the rostrum. They can't even tolerate someone
saying 'PKK' and they react without really listening. This is an insult
to democracy. If we don't have freedom of speech in Parliament we will
never have it anywhere else in the country," he warned.
The tricolour (red-yellow-green) of the Kurdish
national movement too is still considered a crime by State authorities.
Young people are still being detained and even tortured for carrying
tricolour. HEP Chairman Yazar has ironically suggested on December 21
to ban tricolour on the traffic lamps as well.
THE MILITARY FIRE UPON CIVILIANS
Despite the fact that PKK leader Abdullah Öcalan
expressed, after the elections, to create circumstances for a political
solution to the Kurdish problem in Turkey, the Demirel Government still
looks for military and repressive solutions
Prime Minister Demirel, during the National Security
Council (MGK) meeting on November 29 said the council is a
constitutional institution and thus has certain duties regarding the
preservation of security. "The MGK should fill its duties properly or
else they should not come up to me in the future and tell me that the
country is facing disaster." He asked the MGK Secretary General Nezihi
Cakar to coordinate the activities of the National Intelligence
Organization (MIT), the military and the cabinet ministers involved in
security and prepare a project on how to combat terrorism in
As a result of this choice, one of the most dramatic
events of 1991 happened in December when the military fired upon
civilians in Turkish Kurdistan.
First, the Turkish Army carried out air attacks on
PKK guerrillas in the triangle of Diyarbakir, Bingöl and Mus. The PKK
announced that during this attack claiming the lives of 14 ARGK
(Kurdish National Liberation Army) militants, Turkish planes used
Families of the dead militants in the towns of Lice
and Kulp wanted to claim the bodies from the military on December
24, a local commander refused to hand over the corpses despite the fact
that permission was granted by Interior Minister Ismet Sezgin. As a
result, unrest hit both towns and security forces opening fire on
crowds shot dead nine people.
In retaliation, the PKK guerrillas attacked a
gendarmerie post and killed 10 soldiers in Sirnak province.
Next day, in protest against this State
terror, tradesmen in the towns of Kulp, Lice, Hazro and Bismil in
Diyarbakir refused to open their shutters. Middle school students in
the four towns did not turn up for classes.
Same day, in Istanbul, a group of around 20 people
attacked a shopping center with hand-made fire bombs. The shopping
center belongs to Emergency Rule Regional Governor Necati Cetinkaya's
brother and killed 11 people.
PKK leader Öcalan, in an interview with the BBC on
December 26 said that the fire-bomb attack was not carried out on his
orders. Warning that if Counter-Guerrilla forces escalated their
activities, such incidents will take place in Istanbul, Ankara and all
of Turkey, Öcalan called on the Ankara Government to keep the channels
of political dialogue open.
OTHER VICTIMS OF TERROR IN DECEMBER
The human rights groups of Turkey announced on
December 13 that within eight months since the adoption of the
Anti-Terror Law giving the security authorities extraordinary powers,
95 people have fallen victims of State terrorism: Eight were killed
under torture, 20 during raids on residences or ambushes, 32 during the
Counter Guerrilla attacks in the region of emergency law and 32 as a
result of police firing at random.
The following are the murders in December
1.12, it is reported that a military team shot dead
a 15-year old boy, Ismet Mirazoglu, at the Serinbayir Village in the
province of Bitlis.
1.12, Ismail Hakki Kocakaya who had been kidnapped
on November 27 in Diyarbakir was found shot dead. Eye-witnesses said
that two cars belonging to police had been used during the kidnapping.
2.12, in Istanbul, a 18-year old student, Huseyin
Fidanoglu, died by falling from the 8th floor of a building where is
also the headquarters of the Association of the Women in Democratic
Struggle (DEMKAD). The parents of the victim accused the police of
3.12, in the district of Idil of the province of
Sirnak, a citizen of Christian faith, Mihail Bayir was shot dead by two
armed men. It is reported that the killers belong to a fundamentalist
group named The Hizbullahci. In protest against this killing, the
tradesmen of the district of Gercus (Batman) closed their shops for two
days. Six of them were arrested on December 15 by a tribunal.
4.12, it is reported that the village of Mutluca in
the district of Solhan (Bingol) was raided by the military on November
18 and many villagers were beaten and tortured for obtaining
information about Kurdish militants. Among the tortured people are also
some aged persons: Selim Bukmez, 67, Abdurrahman Kilinc, 65,
Abdurrahman Kusmez, 72 and Huseyin Demir, 65.
5.12, the parents of Ibrahim Gündem from the village
of Sarierik in the district of Hazro (Diyarbakir) announced that they
have no information about his whereabouts since his detention on
8.12, in Gaziantep, a university student, Murat
Özsat who had been detained by police on November 23 was founded dead
with burns on his body. His uncle Veysi Ozsat accused the police of
killing the student because he had refused the proposals to be a police
informer. About 4 thousand students boycotted their school in
protest against police repression.
10.12, at the village of Yolacti in the province of
Diyarbakir, a special security team opened fire on a car on pretext
that it did not stop despite warning. The headman of the Erikyazi
Village, Sigbetullah Eker as well as his wife and brother in the car
were seriously wounded.
13.12, the family of 25-year old Hüseyin Toraman who
disappeared after being detained by police on October 27, asked the
Human Rights Commission of the National Assembly to open an
13.12, Sirnak deputy Orhan Dogan announced that a
village headman, Agit Akibe and another Kurd, Ibrahim Demir, were
founded dead in the district of Idil, a day after their arrest by the
security forces. The funeral of the victims in Sirnak on December
15 were attended by about 8 thousand people shouting slogans "Down with
fascism, down with the Counter Guerrilla!"
16.12, in the district of Dargecit in the province
of Mardin, 25-year old Mehmet Ata Vural was shot dead by unidentified
persons as he was returning home from work. In protest, the tradesmen
of the district of Sirnak, Cizre, Silopi and Silvan closed their shops
for a day.
17.12, the family of Cengiz Kumanli, who had been
detained by police in Istanbul on December 13, announced that they had
no information on his whereabouts.
18.12, in the district of Nusaybin of the Mardin
province, a worker named Hayrettin Cetin was shot dead by unidentified
persons as he was returning home from work. Next day, about 10 thousand
people attending his funeral shouted slogans against the Counter
OTHER STATE TERROR IN DECEMBER
1.12, the Governor of Istanbul banned a panel
organized by the Istanbul Bar Association on "Violations of human
rights in the example of The Eskisehir Prison."
1.12. during a police operation in the district of
Siverek in the province of Urfa, 13 people aged of 14 to 18 were
detained for aiding a separatist organization.
2.12, in Izmir, 9 of 43 people detained on November
26 for having participated in the unauthorized celebration of the PKK's
anniversary were put under arrest by a tribunal. Although released, the
other 34 people too will be tried along with the arrested ones.
2.2, in Izmir, 53 people were arrested for having
held a press conference in solidarity with the political prisoners
carrying out a hunger-strike in the Buca Prison.
3.12, the trial of 14 people who had been detained
during the opening of an exhibition on the occasion of the September
12, 1980 coup began at the Ankara SSC. They are accused of holding an
unauthorized demonstration and outraging the police.
3.12, in the district of Viransehir of the province
of Urfa, 15 people were detained for giving shelter to separatist
4.12, in Istanbul, a woman named Hakime Esmeray,
mother of two children, announced that, after having been detained in
October, she was subjected to torture and some policemen raped her on
November 4. Human rights groups asked the Prosecutor's office to pursue
the accused policemen.
5.12, security forces detained 13 alleged PKK
sympathizers during a raking operation in the districts of the province
5.12, in the district of Elbistan of the province of
Maras, seven people were detained by security forces. Five of the
detainees are high school students.
8.12, in Diyarbakir, a high school student, Mahir
Guneri, who had been detained five days ago for wearing pullover in
Kurdish tricolor, red, green and yellow, said after his release that he
had been tortured during his 5-day detention. The traces of torture
were confirmed by a medical report.
9.12, police detained nine people in the district of
Palu of the Elazig province. Among the detainees are also two 60-year
old men. Same day, seven people were detained in the district of
Elbistan of the Maras province.
10.12, in Istanbul, six people were wounded during a
skirmish between left-wing and Islamist students of the Yildiz
12.12, six alleged Dev-Sol members were placed under
arrest by the Istanbul SSC.
16.12, a legal proceeding was initiated against
Turgut Kazan, chairman of the Istanbul Bar Association, for having
criticized the anti-democratic practices of the Nusret Demiral, the
prosecutor of the Ankara SSC.
16.12, policed detained five people during a
demonstration in respect for human rights organized by the Istanbul
branch of the Human Rights Association (IHD) in Istanbul.
16.12, a new skirmish between left and right-wing
students of the Yildiz University in Istanbul resulted in 20 wounded.
16.12, three SHP deputies, Uluc Gürkan, Salman Kaya
and Selim Sadak claimed that a gendarmerie captain, Mehmet Göcmen,
tortured inhabitants of the Akbag village in the province of Mardin and
forced them to eat straws.
17.12, in the district of Lice (Diyarbakir) about 3
thousand people carried out a demonstration in front of the governor's
office in protest against the arrest of two Kurds in the village of
17.12, four students were brought before the
Istanbul SSC for having put on walls the posters of the Union of
Revolutionary Communists of Turkey (TIKB) in Istanbul. The defendants,
including a 17-year old girl, Lale Colak, face each a prison term of up
to 15 years.
18.12, the death sentences against two Dev-Yol
defendants, Mustafa Kantas and Omer Tunca, were approved by the
Military Court of Cassation. By virtue of the Anti-Terror Law, these
punishments were later commuted to life-prison.
18.12, a fundamentalist group raided the canteen of
the Mimar Sinan University in Istanbul and wounded two students. Police
detained seven people. Same day, in Bursa, the security forces raided a
student meeting at the Uludag University and detained 69 people. 16 of
them were later placed under arrest by a tribunal.
20.12, the trial of 21 alleged PKK militants began
at the Ankara SSC.
21.12, at the village of Zirver in the district of
Palu (Elazig), 17 Kurdish peasants were detained for resisting the
gendarmerie during a raid.
22.12, security forces detained seven Kurds in the
district of Gercüs (Batman) and four in the district of Mazidag
23.12, chairman of the Mine Workers' Union Semsi
Denizer was sentenced to 4 months and 2 days in prison for having
criticized a minister's attitude during the miners' strikes in January
1991. The punishment was later commuted to a fine of TL 3,O32,000.
24.12, a series of demonstrations was held at the
universities of Adana, Diyarbakir and Bursa on the occasion of the
massacre committed in 1978. Police detained 50 students in Adana, 30 in
Diyarbakir and 16 in Bursa.
24.12, the former HEP chairman of Adana, Kemal
Okutan, was arrested by the Ankara SSC for his speech at the HEP Grand
Convention in Ankara. The prosecutor claims capital punishment by
virtue of Article 125 of the Turkish Penal Code. Six other delegates
are also pursued for their declarations at the Convention.
26.12, in Izmir, 20 alleged PKK militants were
detained by police and 12 of them were put under arrest by the tribunal.
28.12, the Kastamonu branch of the Trade Union of
Teachers and Scientific Workers (Egit-Sen) was closed down by the
decision of the Governor on pretext that public servants have no right
to organize in unions.
28.12, police detained 22 alleged PKK militants in
Sanliurfa. Same day, the Izmir SSC arrested 12 people on the same
29.12, police detained 15 people during a marriage
ceremony in Siirt for carrying Kurdish tri-colour.
30.12, police announced the arrest of 25 people
during security operations carried out in the province of Urfa.
31.12, in Adana, 34 university students who had been
detained on December 24 during the demonstration on the occasion of the
anniversary of the Kahramanmaras Massacre, announced after release that
they were subjected to torture for accepting to be police informers and
girls were sexually harassed.
31.12, as the common detainees and prisoners were
being allowed to have open New Year visit by their families, about 1500
political detainees were deprived of this right by virtue of the
HELSINKI WATCH REPORT ON SUSPICIOUS DEATHS
Helsinki Watch, in a press release of December 15,
1991, announced that fifteen people died in the first eleven months of
1991 during police detention in suspicious circumstances.
The deaths in detention of seven people had already
been detailed in March. Of the eight most recent deaths, two died in
Ankara, two in Istanbul, and four in outlying areas, mainly in
southeast Turkey. In one of the cases, two security force members are
on trial for the detainee's death.
The eight deaths reported since March are:
Imran Aydin, detained in Ankara as a political
suspect on March 2, died on March 3. Police reported that Aydin died
while trying to flee from a house to which he was taken for on-site
inspection. The autopsy report stated that death was caused by bleeding
in the pancreas.
Haydar Altun, a member of the PKK died in March.
Security forces reported that he had been killed in a clash during a
raid on a PKK camp within Iraqi territory. On May 14, the Turkish Human
Rights Foundation reported that Altun's mother had been told that her
son had been captured alive and had died during torture while detained
by security forces.
Mustafa Ilengiz was reportedly killed by
special team members of the security forces on April 2 in Cicekalan
village of Pazarcik District, Maras. On June 22, a court case was filed
against special team members Halil Ibrahim Cura and Esen Akbulut for
his death. The trial is continuing.
Hasim Sincar was detained as an ordinary criminal
suspect in Bingol, Solhan, on April 4. He died at Solhan Gendarme
Station where he was being interrogated. Officials reported that death
was due to a heart attack.
Veli Geles was detained as a political suspect in
Ankara on April I . On April 5, his body was taken to the Emergency and
Traffic Hospital. An autopsy revealed three gunshot wounds. Police
reported that Geles was shot while attempting to flee from a house to
which he had been taken for "on-site inspection." His family was
notified of his death a month later.
Alaadin Kürekci, detained in Istanbul on May 16 as a
theft suspect, was sent to a hospital in a coma on May 17. He died on
May 20. A relative reported seeing him in the hospital with purple
bruises and marks of beating around his ears.
Osman Ekinci, a shepherd, was detained on July 20 by
three soldiers attached to the gendarmerie post at Görendoruk; there he
was beaten with three others for about 13 hours. His body was then
returned to his village with many traces of injuries.
Yücel Özen, twenty-six-year-old, was detained on
charges of theft in November in Istanbul. On November 12, Özen was
hospitalized at Taksim Emergency Hospital after falling into a coma at
Beyoglu Security Directorate. He died in the hospital on November 24.
His lawyer charged that he had been tortured in detention and demanded
The Helsinki Watch Report draws attentions the
following torture practice in Turkey:
"Torture in Turkey usually takes place in special
sections of police stations during the initial interrogation of a
suspect. Human rights activists and lawyers who represent defendants
continue to tell Helsinki Watch that between 80 and 90 percent of
political suspects and 50 percent of detainees suspected of ordinary
crimes report having been tortured in detention.
"Torture includes suspension by the arms or wrists
while naked; the use of electric shock to sensitive parts of the body;
directing highly-pressurized water at victims; falaka (beating the
soles of the feet), and other horrifying techniques.
"Torture is not confined to adults; Helsinki Watch
recently interviewed nine children between the ages of 13 and 17 who
had been tortured by police.
"Unlike the situation in police stations, torture in
prisons subsided after 1984, but in recent months Helsinki Watch has
again received reports of mass beatings with truncheons and wooden
sticks in prisons."
Helsinki Watch's Recommendations
"For many years, Helsinki Watch has been reporting
on the routine use of torture in Turkey and has urged the abolition of
torture, suggesting specific steps that the government could take to
accomplish that goal. A new government was recently elected in Turkey.
On November 25, Prime Minister Suleyman Demirel announced the new
program of his coalition government; one provision stated that torture
is an inhuman crime that will be abolished. Helsinki Watch urges the
new government to carry out this promise, and, more specifically, to:
• Acknowledge the pattern of torture in police
detention centers and take steps to end it.
• Enforce a September 1989 decree that guaranteed
detainees the right to be represented by attorneys from the moment of
detention; the provisions of this decree have never been carried out.
• Prohibit the use in court of confessions obtained
• Increase the possible sentences for the crime of
• Prosecute torturers.
• Allow the International Committee of the Red Cross
and other international organizations to visit detainees and prisoners
on a regular basis."
AMENDMENTS PROPOSED BY LAWYERS
The effective development of human rights in Turkey
requires legal amendments, education, and objective analysis by the
international community, stated Ankara Bar Association President
Özdemir Özok in an interview with Turkish Daily News on December 14,
1991. The Ankara Bar Association, a member of the Union of Bars of
Turkey, has 7,000 members.
The following are the demands of the Ankara lawyers:
• Regardless of who the suspect may be, a terrorist
or shoplifter, and regardless of the heinous nature of the suspected
crime, they must be treated with dignity as defined by international
• The Ministry of Justice should outlaw
incommunicado detentions which raise the likelihood of torture and
mistreatment. The presence of a lawyer and friends provide checks on
police behaviour. The right to immediate legal counsel is elementary in
• A free legal counsel should be provided by the
government to indigent defendants. While the Bar Association provides
free legal assistance to qualified defendants, the Minister of
Justice should contributed to these efforts.
• Repealing the post military coup anti-democratic
laws is not sufficient, the people must be taught their fundamental
rights and how to apply and defend those rights. Currently, an
overwhelming percentage of Turkish citizens are aware neither of their
most fundamental rights nor of the fundamental rights that they could
manifest if they were to exercise their democratic powers effectively.
• The government, in particular the Ministry of
Education, and non-government human rights groups must actively
research and affect educational and cultural development that
emphasizes individual rights and expression. A great part of the
Turkish population is young and energetic, and the nation's political
experience has created a mature social context where it can be promoted
a desire in the people to insist on a humanitarian life and
humanitarian social order.
• The mobilization of shame by the international
media and community of governments is an effective incentive for
countries to clean up their acts, but only under certain circumstances.
The media or foreign government must first accurately assess an issue
and, second, set its demands according to the realistic abilities of
the country to accommodate those demands otherwise, the mobilization of
shame fires back and undermines efforts to remedy the situation.
DEATH SENTENCE REMAINS
Prime Minister Demirel, during his first foreign
press conference on December 11 announced that lifting the death
sentence is not on Turkey's agenda at the moment. In reply to a
question he said that there are many countries in the world where the
death penalty is still enforced.
According to the Anti-Terror Law adopted this year,
death sentences given or to be given for the acts committed before
April 12, 1991 are not carried out. However, those who will be
sentenced for the acts committed after that date may face capital
In fact, no execution have been carried out since
1984. Up until 1984 a total of 50 convicts were executed since the
military coup of 1980. Of these 50, two convicts were executed in 1984,
just after the election of Özal Government. During that period 18 left,
9 right activists, an Armenian and 22 common criminal were hanged.
Of the 258 convicts whose death sentences were
lifted, 100 belong to the Workers' Party of Kurdistan (PKK).
Still tens of PKK militants are being tried by State
Security Courts under the menace of capital punishment.
PRESSURE ON THE MEDIA IN DECEMBER
1.12, Kozluk (Bingöl) correspondent of the weekly
Yeni Ülke, Bengi Yildiz has reportedly been in police detention since
2.12, the Istanbul SSC confiscated No. 54 of the
fortnightly Emegin Bayragi for the news about a disappeared person and
No. 7 of the weekly Yeni Ülke for the letter of a political exile.
3.12, a 1992 calendar produced by the monthly review
Newroz as confiscated by the Istanbul SSC for being printed in Kurdish
3.12, the daily Cumhuriyet reports that 3,286
decisions banning publications are still in force despite the fact that
Articles 140, 142 and 163 of the Turkish Penal Code were lifted in
April 1991. 917 of these decisions were taken by the Council of
Ministers and 2,369 by tribunals.
4.12, the daily Yeni Tan was confiscated for
5.12, the trial of writer Yilmaz Odabasi began at
the Istanbul SSC. He is accused by virtue of the Anti-Terror Law for
his book entitled The Sheik Sait Revolt of 1925.
8.12, the first issue of the monthly review Barikat
was confiscated by the Istanbul SSC by virtue of the Anti-Terror Law
and its responsible editor, Zekeriya Özdinc was taken into custody.
Besides, an evening of friendship and solidarity organized by the same
review was banned by the Governor of Istanbul.
11.12, a bomb exploded during a commemoration
ceremony by the tomb of Sedat Simavi, founder of the daily Hürriyet.
A fundamentalist organization, the Holy War Front of Turkey claimed the
15.12, the last issue of the monthly Devrimci Emek
was confiscated by the Istanbul SSC for separatist propaganda.
16.12, sociologist Ismail Besikci was again indicted
by virtue of Article 159 of the Turkish Penal Code for defaming the
Republic of Turkey in his book The State Terrorism in the Middle East.
Liable to a prison term of up to six years, he will be tried by a
criminal court of Ankara. He had already been indicted by the
Ankara SSC for the same book by virtue the Anti-terror Law on charges
19.12, three journalists from the weekly 2000e
Dogru, Güner Tokgöz, Hasan Yalcin and Selami Ince were sentenced to
prison terms of up to one year and three months for having fire arms in
the review's Ankara office. They said that the arms were there for
19.12, it is reported that the trial of journalist
Deniz Teztel and three lawyers, Bedii Yarayici, Murat Demir and Fethiye
Peksen, along with 24 other persons will begin on January 17 at the
Ankara SSC for aiding the Revolutionary Left (Dev-Sol). Four defendants
are liable to capital punishment and the others, including Teztel and
three lawyers, to prison terms of up to 15 years.
20.12, the celebrations of the anniversary of the
monthly Deng were banned by the Governor of Diyarbakir.
22.12, two books, How we fought against the Kurdish
People - Reminiscences of a Soldier by Abidin Kizilyaprak and The
Ballad of A Revolt: Dersim by Hüseyin Karatas were confiscated by the
Istanbul SSC for separatism and insulting State forces.
23.12, sociologist Ismail Besikci was sentenced to
one-year prison by a criminal court in Istanbul for his article about
the Kurdish women's participation in guerrilla warfare, published by
Yeni Ülke. The responsible editor of the review, Ozkan Kilic too was
sentenced to one-year prison, but this punishment was later commuted to
a fine. Both are accused of praising a crime by virtue of Article 312
of the Turkish Penal Code. Besikci already spent 11 years, 3
months and 20 days in prison for separatist propaganda.
24.12, two Turkish musicians, Melike Demirag and
Sanar Yurdatapan, who have been self-exiled in Germany for eleven years
returned to Turkey for a 15-day visit. Although acquitted by tribunals,
they are still deprived of Turkish nationality along with 15,000 other
people. Naturalized in Germany, they visited Turkey as German tourists.
24.12, a concert of the musical group Yorum in
Tekirdag was banned by the governor.
25.12, a book written by Metin Ciyayi, Tales from
the Country of Eternity, was confiscated by a penal court of Ankara for
praising some acts considered crime by law. At the same time, the
author was arrested in Izmir by the decision of the Ankara SSC.
26.12, a book entitled Erotic Graffitti was
confiscated for obscenity by a penal court of Istanbul.
29.12, it is the first time in the 69-year history
of Turkey, a newspaper entirely in Kurdish was published under the name
of Rojname (Newspaper). Although the publication of the 40-page
newspaper was not obstructed by the authorities, the advertisement
campaign at the Radio-TV was not accepted on grounds that the
broadcasting in languages other than Turkish is banned by the Law on
Radio and Television.
29.12, the issue No. 11 of the weekly Yeni Ülke was
confiscated by the Istanbul SSC for an article in which Besikci
criticized the functioning of the State Security Courts.
HUMAN RIGHTS ORGANIZATIONS IN TURKEY
After the elections putting an end to the Evren-Özal
period, a Human Rights Week (Dec. 10-17) was organised in Turkey
with a view to raise public awareness about human rights issues through
conferences, movies, art and other forms of communication.
The organizers of this week are the Human Rights
Association of Turkey (IHD) and the Human Rights Foundation of
In addition to these non-governmental organizations,
recently a few governmental bodies have been set up with the aim of
furthering the respect of human rights in the country.
The Turkish Daily News, in its December 11, 1991
issue, gave the following information on these institutions:
• The Human Rights Association of Turkey (IHD)
Established in July 1986 within the spirit of the
U.N. Charter, which advocates non-governmental human rights
organizations in member states today the Human Rights Association of
Turkey has grown to 44 service branches and 20,000 members.
The association's primary concerns include the
prevention of torture, improving prison conditions and protecting and
freeing prisoners of conscience. The association provides reports on
these issues to Amnesty International, Helsinki Watch, the World Human
Rights Federation, and other international organizations.
Also, the association communicates with the Turkish
public through human rights activities, such as the current Human
Rights Week, and the press. Furthermore, the association communicates
with the Ministries of Justice, Domestic Affairs and Foreign Affairs,
as well as the Commission of Human Rights of the National Assembly and
the newly established Ministry of Human Rights.
The IHD has been nominated for three prizes: The
Jimmy Carter Foundation Human Rights prize, the Gandhi International
Peace Prize and the Triennial European Community Human Rights Prize.
The IHD marked "Human Rights Week" between December
10-16 with various events such as panel discussions, lectures, plays
and exhibitions. During the week, the fifth of its kind in Turkey, the
prizes awarded to Human Rights Association Chairman Nevzat Helvaci and
Human Rights Foundation Chairman Yavuz Önen by the French Government
were given out with a ceremony on December 11.
On this occasion, Helvaci drew attention to a report
published by the United nations earlier this year, that gave Turkey a
mere seven points out of a total possible score of 40 on its human
rights scale, and with this figure, Turkey ranked 66th out of a total
88 countries. He added that by September 30 this year, 18 people had
lost their lives in prisons or during interrogations. These deaths in
suspicious circumstances were, the public was told, "suicides."
Speaking with a touch of irony, Helvaci said that it
was had to conceive why these young people -all of whom were between
the ages of 19 and 25- would choose the security buildings as a place
in which to kill themselves.
Helvaci said that the Anti-Terror Law actually
protects those who commit torture. In research that
the IHD made on this subject in 1987, of the 644 prisons in Turkey,
none were found to meet the U.N. minimum standards of treatment of
detainees and convicts, and things have not changed since then.
• The Human Rights Foundation of Turkey (TIHV)
Established in Ankara in April 1990 as a counselling
clinic for victims of torture and mistreatment, the Turkish Human
Rights Foundation expanded its services to Izmir (Aug. 1991) and
Istanbul (Oct. 1991). The foundation will open a branch in Diyarbakir
(Southeastern Turkey) in 1992.
The foundation provides rehabilitation for victims
of torture and mistreatment through both psychiatric and physical
therapy. It supplies both psychiatrists and physicians free of cost,
allocating $1,000 per patient.
TIHV Secretary General Haldun Özen stated that the
foundation does not take a case ("project") without first having
secured the necessary financial backing. In cases where the cost
exceeds $1,000 per person, the foundation draws upon its private
resources in order to raise the supplement.
The foundation also maintains a computerized library
and record keeping system, for relatively easy access. The computer
files are updated daily. However, according to the foundation's
computer-data bank specialist, the computer systems and software
programs are inadequate for the amount of work. The foundation is
researching into data retrieval programs used by other contemporary
human rights organizations around the world.
A third area which the foundation is newly
developing is human rights education. Özen stated that education
methods will be based on international models and will be tailored to
Turkey's domestic environment, taking into account both regional
cultures and educational deficiencies.
Restricted by a tight budget, the foundation has
been compelled to seek more efficient and creative methods for
achieving its ends. Last summer, Theresa Park, an American human rights
scholar, won a scholarship with the foundation on a grant from the
Harvard School of Law.
•The Human Rights Commission of the National Assembly
In March 1990, the Turkish Assembly established the
Human Rights Commission in response to the recent rise in global and
domestic awareness towards the quality of human existence in the world.
When the assembly determines that a complaint
constitutes a prima facie case of an alleged human rights violation,
the complaint is referred to the Human Rights Commission.
The commission is charged with the duty to
investigate the complaint in depth and provide a report with advise to
the Assembly's Consultative Council. After studying the commission's
report the council determines whether the assembly should address the
Commission President Ahmet Türk (SHP - Mardin) said
that the only substantial power the commission had was to investigate
all public entities as well as private establishment for alleged human
rights violations. "The commission cannot direct the legislature to act
on a case; it is purely investigatory and somewhat consultative. The
commission is seriously under-staffed in order to sufficiently
investigate complaints. Parliamentarians must provide both political
and technical support in order to enlarge the commission's staff and
expand its power."
The commission president emphasized that the Turkish
people manifest the resources, culture and respect for the democratic
process that are essential to improve human rights in Turkey. He,
however, pointed out that presently the Turkish legislature and
executive lacked the legal authority to improve Turkey's human rights.
Turk explained that the laws that were enacted after
the September 12, 1980 military coup seriously limited the personal and
collective rights of the Turkish people. Turk stated, "These
anti-democratic laws must be repealed and more democratic laws must be
enacted in order to provide the legislature the freedom to legislate
more effectively on human rights and the executive the power to put
good laws into good practice."
Turk emphasized that the recent Turkish ratification
of the Paris Agreement on the equalization of international human
rights standards, places Turkey in a serious contradiction if the
Turkish Assembly does not make the necessary legislative changes.
According to Turk, the greatest challenge for the
new government, if it can make the necessary legislative changes is the
Kurdish question in southeastern Turkey. Turk stated that the new
government is theoretically heading in the right direction regarding
democratic change, but practice and results will demonstrate the
government's real commitment to human rights.
Ministry of Human Rights
It is the first time that a Human Rights Ministry
has been formed by the new government. Human Rights Minister Mehmet
Kahraman said: "As you know, the Ministry of Human Rights was newly
formed. We have legal authority only to discuss issues and promulgate
policies. As of yet, however, we have no infrastructure or implementing
"First, the legislature must enact new laws that
address human rights.
"Second, the legislature and executive must create
the power and avenues by which the Ministry of Human Rights will
execute the new laws.
"Third, since the human rights issues comprise many
dimensions, the Ministry of Human Rights may need to work with the
Ministry of Health, Ministry of Education, Ministry of Justice, or any
other ministry or combination thereof.
"Consequently, the Ministry of Human Rights must
coordinate efforts with the other ministries in order to create clear
communication channels and efficient decision-making bodies. A good
example of effective ministerial and legislative networking was the
Eskisehir Prison case. Here, the Ministries of Justice, Health and
Human Rights and the Assembly's Commission on Human Rights coordinated
efforts to address a prisoners' rights issue. The government closed the
Eskisehir Prison, using legal authority. maintaining respect for the
democratic process and securing the confidence of the people."
Ankara University Human Rights Center
The Political Science Faculty of the Ankara
University has recently decided to revive its Human Rights Center.
The Human Rights Center, established in 1978,
experienced a good start, hosting two major human rights conferences by
1979. One conference concerned the state of human rights in the region
around Turkey, and the second conference concerned human rights
education through UNESCO.
Due to the escalating political violence and
consequent military coup, the Human Rights Center experienced no growth
in 1980. The coup de grace was the 1981 University Law, enacted by the
military government, which uprooted all university organizations and
created laws that seriously limited the freedom of university
Tekin Akillioglu, dean of the faculty, said :
"Today, we are experiencing a refreshing spirit of
intellectual freedom and maturity among professors and some students in
order to effectively help address Turkey's human rights issues.
"In January 1991, the Human Rights Center took a
major step and published its first edition of the Ankara University
Human Rights Center Journal. In addition to covering one study per
edition, the journal also summarizes the decisions held by Turkish
Constitutional Court and the European Court of Human Rights. The
January edition covered freedom of expression in the scrutiny of public
"Presently, human rights courses at the graduate
level are only electives at the Political Sciences Faculty. Also, there
is only one graduate student researching and writing on human rights.
The faculty will plan social interactions with the graduate students.
"The Political Science Faculty and Human Rights
Center are also interested in exchanges of scholars with the United
States. There are many fine human rights scholars and lawyers in the
United States that we wish to bring to the faculty for one or two
semesters. In this regard, we need a bit of help. I am investigating
the matter with the Turkish U.S. Fulbright Commission. UNESCO,
the European Council and the Geneva Human Rights Center have offered to
finance any Turkish or Middle Eastern human rights related research
that the Human Rights Center decides to conduct."
A Human Rights Museum
New Culture Minister Fikri Saglar announced on
December 11 that a Human Rights, Peace and Democracy Museum will be
established in Ankara.
"The establishment of this museum will serve as a
means to express our regret toward the people who have suffered
injustices, were locked up in prison cells or tortured for their
thoughts," he said.
The museum will be set up in a police station or a
prison, a place which has been the scene of such tortures. Various
documents on human rights, peace and democracy, even those that were
banned in the past, will be put on display in the museum.
DISK LEADER BASTURK PASSED AWAY
One of the historical figures of the Turkish trade
union movement, Abdullah Bastürk died on December 19 after a brain
hemorrhage. He was the chairman of the Progressive Trade Unions
Confederation (DISK) and spent three years in prison after the military
coup of 1980. He was also a member of the Board of the European Trade
Unions Confederation (ETUC).
He was born in an Anatolian village in 1929. He had
to leave high school at the beginning because of his family's poverty
and started his career as an agricultural worker from the age of 14.
Later on, he worked in the public and industrial sectors. He entered
trade union struggle while he was working in the municipality of
Istanbul and set up a local trade union. In 1962, he founded with his
comrades the national trade union GENEL-IS, gathering all employees in
the public sector in Turkey, and was elected to its presidency. The
Genel-Is was first affiliated with the Confederation of Turkish Trade
Unions (TURK-IS). However, criticizing the latter's pro-governmental
attitude, the Genel-Is shifted to DISK with its 100,000 members and
became the largest trade union in this progressive confederation.
Meanwhile, Bastürk was elected deputy of the Republican People's Party
He was elected the president of DISK at the 6th
Congress held at the end of 1977.
Bastürk and his comrades were among the first
persons arrested and tortured following the coup d'Etat of September
After his release, Bastürk was elected deputy from
the Social Democratic Populist Party (SHP) in 1987. In 1990, he left
the SHP and founded with a group of progressive deputies the People's
Labour Party (HEP).
The Military Court of Appeals overruled in
July 1991 the lower military court's decision to ban the DISK.
Thereupon Bastürk decided to leave political life and to give all his
energy to the reorganization of the DISK.
His death has lead a big sorrow in trade union and
human rights circles of Turkey. His funeral was attended by thousands
It is just before his death that the General Council
meeting of the Progressive Trade Unions Confederation (DISK) convened
on December 8, after an interval of 11 years, and started work to
change the confederation's bylaws in accordance with the new Trade
Bastürk marked the importance of the meeting with an
opening speech and stated that the principles his confederation has
defended since foundation were valid and standing as firm as ever. "We
were tried for a capital punishment offence, but we are still here," he
In his speech, Bastürk said that DISK will make
necessary changes in its bylaws to comply with Union Law No. 2821, but
that this would not mean they were accepting this new law. "We shall
continue to exert all effort to lift this law which is nothing but a
false defence of labor rights, " he said. Bastürk defended the view
that even after the military rule had come to an end in Turkey, labor
was not given its deserved place in a society which had been damaged
economically, culturally and politically.
He said the new coalition government is defending in
its government program all the views that DISK had defended and was
convicted of 11 years ago. Bastürk, however, added that it will not be
easy to fulfil all the promises the new government had made. As for
DISK's demands of the government, Bastürk said that primarily it would
demand that the International Labor Organization (ILO) Agreement No.
87, which deals with union rights, be approved by the government. He
said DISK would secondly demand the abolition of differentiation
between workers and government employees and that all be given the
freedom of forming unions.
Bastürk also said it would demand the return of the
confiscated properties and assets of DISK and its affiliated unions.
He said that DISK would not be defending only a
difference of wages but also a change in the role of the workers in the
society. "Since it is not easy to regain.all the loses we suffered
during the last I I years, today the struggle of DISK will be more
important when compared with the past," he concluded.