A new Helsinki Watch Document
CHILDREN IN TURKEY
Helsinki Watch recently released a report called "Nothing Unusual: The
Torture of Children in Turkey."
The report was prepared by a mission headed by Lois Whitman, deputy
director of Helsinki Watch.
We are giving below a large part of the report which was presented to
the Turkish press by Mrs. Jeri Laber, the executive director of
Helsinki Watch, at a press conference in Istanbul on January 27, 1992.
"What happened to me is nothing unusual," a 16-year-old girl told
Helsinki Watch in October 1991, referring to her detention, torture,
and imprisonment for 75 days for the crime of hanging a "No to War"
poster in her high school. Sadly, we found that to be true.
A Helsinki Watch mission interviewed nine children between the ages of
13 and 17 in Istanbul in late October 1991. All had been picked up by
police, detained, physically abused and kept at police stations and
prisons for between three days and three months; some had been
subjected to truly horrifying methods of torture. In all of the cases,
police who are responsible for the protection of civilians had, in
fact, deliberately and intentionally inflicted pain on the children.
All of the cases took place in 1990 and 1991. Three of the children
were accused of ordinary crimes; six of political offences. None were
allowed to see lawyers during their interrogations. None of the
children's families were notified by the police of their whereabouts.
All of the children were interrogated and detained in adult facilities
and those who were incarcerated during the pre-trial period were sent
to adult prisons.
These cases were not, unfortunately, unusual. During 1990 and 1991,
Helsinki Watch received dozens of reports of police torture of children
The techniques used ranged from slapping, punching, and hitting with
truncheons, to falaka (beating the soles of the feet), the Palestine
hanger (suspending a child by the wrists or arms, naked, and applying
electric shocks to the genitals and other sensitive parts of the body),
and inserting a truncheon into the anus.
Helsinki Watch has monitored torture in Turkey since 1982. The Turkish
government, while acknowledging that torture takes place, has denied
that it is used routinely. The government has asserted that
over-zealous interrogators may occasionally torture detainees, but
claims that such actions are investigated and punished. Turkish lawyers
who represent detainees, however, tell Helsinki Watch that police
torture between 80 and 90 percent of political suspects and about 50
percent of ordinary criminal suspects, including children. And those
torturers who are investigated, tried and sentenced are few in number
in comparison to the number of torture cases reported.
International law forbids torture or cruel, inhuman or degrading
treatment or punishment. International agreements and standards for the
treatment of children require special protections for children.
Six of the children interviewed by Helsinki Watch had been detained for
crimes of thought: hanging an anti-war poster, distributing in school a
pamphlet critical of the school administration, taking part in a legal
trade union demonstration. Sadly, their cases are not unique. Many
children in Turkey are detained for crimes of thought, association and
assembly, although such rights are guaranteed by international law.
Helsinki Watch calls on the Turkish Government to put an end to the
appalling practice of torturing children, to investigate allegations of
torture, to prosecute those responsible, and to make certain that such
practices never occur again. Helsinki Watch also calls on the Turkish
government to stop detaining children for crimes of thought,
association and assembly, and to comply with the requirements of
international law in its treatment of children.
Turkey is the third-largest recipient of American aid. For fiscal year
1992, the Bush administration has asked Congress to approve over $700
million in military and economic aid to Turkey. Helsinki Watch calls on
the United States government to condemn the use of torture in Turkey,
and, as required by Section 502B of the Foreign Assistance Act, to
state clearly what, if any, extraordinary circumstances warrant
provision of military and economic assistance to Turkey in light of its
consistent pattern of gross violations of human rights.
This is the ninth report that Helsinki Watch has issued on human rights
in Turkey since 1982. Unlike some of the earlier reports, it does not
cover all aspects of human rights in Turkey, but concentrates on the
torture of children and their detention for crimes of thought.
Unhappily, these grim incidents do not appear to be new in Turkey, but
rather a continuation of long-entrenched practices.
At this writing, a new government has been elected in Turkey. On
November 25, 1991, Prime Minister Süleyman Demirel presented his
government's program to Parliament; he said "Torture is a crime. . . It
is our duty to put an end to this." We hope that the new government
will take a hard look at the torture of children (and at the torture of
adults, too) and take steps to end them. Surely, a government that has
signed international agreements guaranteeing human rights and
forbidding torture can order the abolition of such horrifying and
Six torture victims speak
Six of the children interviewed by the Helsinki Watch mission in
October 1991 had been accused of political crimes; three were charged
with ordinary crimes.
Five of the children picked up for political offences acknowledged
distributing pamphlets or hanging up posters. One denied the accusation
of distributing magazines and said she had been picked up by mistake.
Nermin Alkan* was born on June 28, 1974. On October 4, 1990, when she
was 16, she was detained by police for hanging up an anti-war poster in
her high school. She was hit and kicked by police, hit on the head and
on the back with a club. She spent 75 days in custody before being
released; her case is pending in the courts, where she is charged with
membership in an illegal organization. Her case was widely reported in
the Turkish press. In Istanbul on October 28, 1991, Nermin Alkan
described these events to Helsinki Watch:
"During the Gulf crisis I was deeply affected. I was afraid that it
would be very dangerous if war broke out. I wanted to do something. I
thought I should explain my thoughts to my friends, so on October 4,
1990, I made a poster that had a picture of the Halabja massacre [the
1988 gasing of Kurds in Northern Iraq] and of a child putting flowers
into the gun of a Nazi soldier. I wrote on the poster, "It is the duty
of everyone to say no to this unjust war,~ and I included a poem on war
by Brecht. I put up the poster across from my classroom at Pendik High
School during a break between classes. My friends saw me put it up.
"One student told Deputy Director Yavuz Eke, who called me in and asked
me why I had done it, and told me I could be thrown out of school for
it. I told him my views on war. He took me to the director, Süleyman
Yolcu, who asked me to tell the truth--that I hadn't done this alone. I
told him that I had done it alone because of my views on war. At the
time, school had recently opened and people had written anti-war
slogans on the school walls. The director wanted to blame the slogans
on me. He tried to get me to say that I was working for some
organization, and said I should tell the truth, or he would call the
police. I told him there was no need to call the police, as I was
telling the truth.
"The director called the police and at about 11:00
a.m. police came from the Pendik Police Headquarters. Three or four
regular police and four police in plain clothes, political police, I
think, came. They shouted at me in the director's office: 'Why did you
do this?' They said they would take me to the political section at
police headquarters and make me tell the truth, that others had helped
"Then they took me home and searched my house. I
asked them if they had a search warrant. They said, 'No--how do you
know about such things?' They searched my room and took some magazines
that I had bought at newsstands.
"Then they took me to Pendik Police Headquarters. I
refused to talk to them, since they had brought me there by force. The
police told me I would be forced to talk at the political section at
Gayrettepe [the notorious police station in Istanbul where both
political and ordinary criminal suspects are routinely tortured.]
"Then police came from Gayrettepe. One of the police
shoved me, so I shoved him back. He said, 'Don't make me use force.'
They took me to Gayrettepe and blindfolded me with some black cloth. I
was put in a crowded room--l could hear a lot of people around me.
Someone started stomping on my feet continuously and asked me questions
about the requirements of Islam. Each time I said I didn't know,
someone hit me on the head hard with some object. My head was aching.
"Afterwards they took me downstairs. There were many
voices in the room. They started asking me questions: 'Who helped you
put up the poster? Who are your friends? What is the name of your
organization?' They hit and kicked me--l think there were about four of
them. They hit me on the head, the arms, my legs. I was still
"This went on for about half an hour--it became
unbearable. Finally I told them that if they would take off the
blindfold I would try to tell the truth. They prepared a statement and
took my blindfold off. I signed the statement to get rid of them. Then
they took me downstairs to a cell. No one bothered me until the
morning. Later I found out that they had picked up four or five of my
friends at school.
"My cell was about 6 feet by 10 feet. There was some
sort of filthy mattress on the floor that smelled terrible. There was
nothing else in the room. There was no light--only the light that came
in from the corridor through a small window in the door that could be
closed from the outside. To go to the toilet, I had to pound on the
door and ask the guard to let me out. I was alone in the cell.
"For the next four days they took me upstairs every
day to interrogate me. It lasted about three hours each time, and
sometimes happened several times a day. They asked questions about my
friends, and about an organization. Sometimes they beat me. Sometimes I
thought I heard them taking my friends upstairs--l thought I recognized
their voices. After the fifth or sixth day they gave me another
statement that I signed.
"On October 12 they took me from Gayrettepe. They
handcuffed me to a friend. First they took me to the Forensic Medicine
Department. The police talked to the doctor before the doctor saw me.
While we were in the doctor's waiting room a woman asked why we were
handcuffed, and a policeman loosed the handcuffs a little. When I saw
the doctor I told him I had been beaten on the back with a club. He
said, 'yes, yes,' but didn't look at my back.
"Then they took me and my three friends to State
Security Court. The police told us that we had to admit what we had
signed, and that if we didn't, they would pick us up again and take us
back to the police station. So I told the prosecutor my statement was
correct. Then we went before Judge Osman Sen--l think that was his
name. He said to arrest all four of us, and we were taken to
Sagmalcilar Prison. First we were taken to the quarantine room.
"We three girls were taken to the women's political
section. There were three other girls there my age, 16, who had all
spoken out against the war.
"I never saw a lawyer before I was taken to
Sagmalcilar. Then a lot of lawyers wanted to represent me [in Turkey it
is customary for many lawyers to appear on behalf of a client in a
well-known political case to lend moral support]. I had 38 lawyers
"My first trial date was on December 3, 1990. In the
afternoon, they took me and my friends from Sagmalcilar to the
detention center at the State Security Court. We waited there in
handcuffs. I found out later that just before our case was heard,
another 'No to War' case was heard. When we went into the courtroom it
was very crowded and people were yelling 'No to imperialist wars.'
There were lots of journalists and the lawyers' section was crowded.
The prosecutor said, 'I propose that the hearing be postponed.'
"Just then, a huge group of police rushed into the
courtroom and started hitting people. One of the people they hit was my
father. The police were hitting lawyers and journalists too. The judge
never answered the prosecutor, and police pushed me and my friends out
of the courtroom, hitting and kicking us. Then they put our handcuffs
back on (they had taken them off before we went into the courtroom) and
took us back to Sagmalcilar Prison. There were lots of pictures of the
beatings in the newspapers the next day, and I read in the paper that
my father had been detained. Other members of my family--cousins and my
sister--were detained too, as well as some members of my friends'
families. I found out later that my father had been hit a lot, and
asked, 'What kind of child did you bring up?' He was detained for one
day and then released. Also I found out that there was a demonstration
outside the court about our case, and nine people were detained.
"On December 25, a second hearing was held. That day
it was very calm. The judges were very polite, and didn't interrupt us.
I read an eight-page statement. Then I was released--police took me to
Sagmalcilar to get my belongings, and then I went home. Altogether I
was detained for 75 days, counting the time at Gayrettepe and in
Sagmalcilar. My case is still in State Security Court; I'm not sure
what the next trial date is.
"When I got out of prison I tried to go back to
school, but I found that I had been expelled. I finally found another
school that would take me, so I'm back in school now. Before this
happened, I wanted to study art history, but now I want to be a
criminal lawyer. What happened to me is nothing unusual in Turkey. The
government says there is democracy in Turkey, but really it doesn't
Mustafa Günes was born in 1974. On April 19, 1990,
when he was 16 years old, he was picked up by police for distributing
pamphlets in a coffee house asking people to go to Taksim Square on May
1 for a May Day demonstration. At the local police station he was hit
with sticks and clubs, his testicles were squeezed, he was hit on the
ear with a walkie-talkie, and his front teeth were knocked out of
place. He spent four days in Gayrettepe, where he was given falaka
(beatings on the soles of the feet), kicked and threatened with death.
On April 23, he was taken to State Security Court, where a judge
ordered him sent to Sagmalcilar Prison to await trial on charges of
membership in an illegal organization. After three months of
incarceration he was released. In July 1991, he was acquitted after
Parliament abolished the article of the Penal Code under which he had
Mustafa described his ordeal to Helsinki Watch:
"On April 14, 1990, 1 was distributing pamphlets in
a coffee house on the Asia side of the Bosphorous. The pamphlets called
for people to go to Taksim Square on May 1st. Five plain-clothes
policemen were in the coffee house. They took me to the local police
station. For four and a half hours they cursed me, hit me with their
hands, fists, sticks and clubs. Many police hit me at one time. I was
hit on the head, the genitals (kicked and then squeezed hard), and in
the teeth. Then I was hit on the ear with a walkie-talkie; my shirt was
soaked in blood from the cut on my ear. [He showed Helsinki Watch a
scar on his ear.] My teeth were knocked crooked--the front teeth
knocked backwards in my mouth.
"Then they took me to Gayrettepe because I wouldn't
tell them anything. I was there for a day and a half. They blindfolded
me and lay me on the floor and tied my ankles together. Then they gave
me falaka, hitting me hard on the soles of my feet. While someone was
doing that, others were kicking me everywhere on my body. One of them
said, 'We killed so-and-so--your life is at stake. If you try to run
away, we'll shoot you.' I was beaten like this for about an hour and a
half. They they put me in a cell. For 36 hours they would take me out
of the cell, beat me, search me, ask me questions, and then put me
back. It was a very difficult period; 36 hours of anxiety.
"After 36 hours they took me back to the local
police station, and then it was calmer. On April 23rd they took me to
the local prosecutor; first they took away my bloody shirt and gave me
a clean one.
"The prosecutor decided that he didn't have
jurisdiction, and on April 24th I was taken to Istanbul State Security
Court with four others. We were all sent to Sagmalcilar Prison; I was
charged with being a member of an illegal organization. On July 25th,
at our first hearing, we were all released. I had spent three months in
Sagmalcilar. When Article 141 of the Penal Code was lifted, I was
acquitted--that was on July 20, 1991.
"I never saw a lawyer until I was in Sagmalcilar;
the Istanbul Human Rights Association got me one. My family didn't find
out where I was until I was in Sagmalcilar. They even went to the local
police station while I was there, but the police told them I wasn't
"The psychological torture is still going on; if anything happens in
school, they pick on me. For instance, someone put a poster on the wall
in school. The director called me to his office--the police chief was
there. He slapped me on the face and accused me of hanging up the
poster. I will never trust a policeman again; I feel they could kill me
at any time. If police can pick you up from class and hit you, how can
you feel safe?
"This whole thing has really changed my life. I lost a whole year from
school, and some of my friends don't want to be friends with me any
more. And now I have a record, even though I was acquitted. I wanted to
be a sea captain, like my cousin, but now I can't go to maritime
school; they won't take anyone with a record, even if he's been
"I'm going to have to change my school. People run from you if you've
been in prison. In front of everyone, my teacher said, 'What happened?
You were in prison last year.' Most of my classmates never talked to me
again. They leave empty seats next to me."
Sevinc Ekinci is a 17-year-old girl who was picked up by police on
September 1, 1991, for distributing political magazines, an allegation
she denies. She spent one day at the local police headquarters, five
days in Gayrettepe, and 33 days in Sagmalcilar Prison.
She has been charged with "aiding a terrorist organization and
distributing Kurdish propaganda." Police slapped her, hit her head
against a wall, pulled her hair, hit her on the back and chest with
fists, and threatened her with the Palestine Hanger. She signed a
statement while blindfolded. She was handcuffed on the way to court.
Sevinc described the events to Helsinki Watch:
"It happened at about 9 o'clock at night. I was walking on the street
with a friend, a 17-year-old boy. Police stopped us and asked for our
identification. They they took us to the police station. In the car
they asked us where we lived and why we were walking on the street. At
police headquarters police searched us.
"Then they put us in separate places. They pulled me by my hair and
then hit my head against the wall. They hit my back and my chest with
their fists. The beating lasted about an hour. Nine or ten police took
turns hitting me. Then they put me in a cell alone until morning.
"At about 4:00 or 5:00 in the afternoon they blindfolded me and
handcuffed me to someone else. Then they took me to Gayrettepe. Police
slapped and hit me with their hands or fists on my face and my back and
kicked me. They threatened me with the Palestine Hanger and electric
shock. They kept asking me questions, and saying, 'You're Iying, you
distributed these magazines.'
"Then they took me to an isolation cell. I was there for five days.
Every day they took me out of the cell and interrogated me; I was
"The cell was only big enough for one bed. There was a low metal bed
with a sponge mattress, foul-smelling, and two blankets. There was no
window and no light. A metal door had a small window in it, and some
light came in from outside.
"The guards didn't give us any food. If you wanted food, you had to buy
it from the guards. They charged you 10,000 Turkish lira [about $2.00],
bought bread and milk for about 2,000 lira and kept 8,000 for
themselves. If you had no money, you didn't get any food.
"After five days, I signed a statement. I had a blindfold on when I
"The police didn't tell my family where I was, but on the second day,
September 2, they took me to my house and searched it, so that's when
my family found out where I was.
"They called a lawyer, and the lawyer called Gayrettepe, but police
told him I wasn't there.
"My case is still in court; the next hearing will be on November 26th.
They charged me under the Anti-Terror Law with aiding a terrorist
organization and making Kurdish propaganda. I could get a
one-to-three-year sentence for the first, and three to five years for
the second, and also very big fines. If I can't pay the fines, and my
family doesn't have that kind of money, I will have to serve another
three years in prison.
"I am very afraid. I can't understand how such a thing could happen.
When a car stops outside my house, I think it's the police."
Sevinc's uncle told Helsinki Watch that this experience can adversely
affect her future:
"In our society, virginity and purity are very important. If a girl is
picked up by the police, there is always the possibility she will have
been sexually assaulted--there is always that suspicion. And although
her parents feel bad for her, they are also very angry--why was she
walking with a young man at 9:00 p.m.? Society cannot accept that. Now
the family is stopping her from leaving the house."
Orhan and Fatma Öztürk Orhan Öztürk was born in 1974; his sister Fatma
was born in 1978. On March 18, 1990, when she was 12 and he was 16, the
children were picked up during a trade union demonstration. They were
taken to Gayrettepe, and then to their local police station. Both were
slapped, hit with clubs and kicked. Police deliberately kicked an open
wound on Orhan's leg. After three days, both children were released
without charges. Each now has a police record.
Fatma reported to Helsinki Watch:
"When the police picked us up, they put us on a police bus to take us
to Gayrettepe. They started hitting us on the bus; they hit me on my
head with a club. I spent an hour and a half at Gayrettepe; police made
me kneel and then they kicked me in the back with their feet. Then I
was taken to our local police station, and I was there for three days.
"I was put in a little bare cell, with no beds or anything. My back
really hurt, but the police wouldn't let me go to the doctor. I went on
a hunger strike with some of the others who had been picked up with us;
it lasted for two and a half days.
"After three days, the police had me sign a statement. It said I
was not a member of any organization and that I had no affiliation with
any meeting, and that I had been picked up by mistake and that I was
under age. Then I was released.
"The police never told my family where I was, but some demonstrators
told my mother I had been taken to Gayrettepe. I never saw a lawyer
while the police had me."
"I'm a senior in a trade school. On March 18 of last year there was a
big demonstration by the labor union, Otomobil Is. It was a legal
meeting; the governor of Istanbul had approved it. During the
demonstration someone wanted to hold up a banner and walk, but the
police didn't want him to. The police started hitting the crowd with
clubs. A lot of people were hurt badly. I found out later that 55
people were detained by police.
"Fatma and I were picked up by the police. I was clubbed on the leg,
and I had an open, bleeding wound. First police took us to Gayrettepe,
to the political section, to see if we had records. In Gayrettepe I was
slapped and hit. Police saw the open wound on my right leg below the
knee, and deliberately hit me there. They said, 'You are such young
children, why were you at that demonstration?' At the record office,
they made us kneel and face the wall, and then police would walk by and
kick us on the back.
"Then they took us to our local police headquarters. My leg hurt a lot,
and I wanted to see a doctor, but they wouldn't let me. Finally, on the
third day that I was there, they let me see a doctor. He said my leg
should be x-rayed, but the police wouldn't allow it.
"Then we were taken to the Forensic Medicine Department. I never saw a
report from there. Then we were taken back to police headquarters and
released. We never saw a prosecutor. They didn't charge us with
anything, but we still have records, so the police can pick us up at
"After we were released, I saw a doctor who gave me a report saying I
shouldn't go to school for seven days because of my injuries--the open
wound on my leg, and what he said was evidence of beating on my chest,
face and legs."
The children's lawyer, Kamil Tekin Sürek, told Helsinki Watch that
right after the children were released he had tried to open a case
against the police for abusing them. Unfortunately, they could not
pinpoint which police had hit them. But the lawyer claimed that the
prosecutor should charge whichever police were on duty at the local
police station and at Gayrettepe at the time. On October 24, 1990, the
lawyer received a response saying that the people who committed the
crime could not be found, and that the case was therefore closed due to
lack of evidence.
Nilay Kücük, born in 1974, was taken from her school classroom on April
20, 1990, when she was 16 years old, for distributing political
pamphlets. She spent four days in the local police station, one day and
night at Gayrettepe, and two months in Sagmalcilar Prison after she was
charged with membership in an illegal organization. On June 25, 1990,
she was released and in July 1991 she was acquitted. During her
detention, she was slapped hard on the face, shoved and pushed and
threatened with torture. When her family found out where she was, they
brought her favorite doll, which she kept with her in prison. Nilay
related her experiences to Helsinki Watch:
"On April 20, 1990, police came to my school and took me from my
classroom because I had distributed a pamphlet in school that said,
'End Repressive Fascist Education.' By this I meant that our textbooks
are not scientific; students are brainwashed. And in the technical
schools students produce things that they're not paid for. If there's a
strike by workers, students are used to break the strike. And children
are beaten in school--at least once a week teachers or the director hit
a student, usually with a long stick. One time the director slapped me.
"Police took me to police headquarters; I was there for four days. I
was beaten and slapped on the face. Police asked me who gave me the
pamphlets. I didn't want to say. One of them rolled his sleeves up and
threatened to beat me up. He said that if I confessed, I wouldn't have
to go to Gayrettepe. When I didn't answer, he slapped me hard on the
face several times. It really hurt. I was dumbfounded.
"Then he asked me to become an informer for the police. I was supposed
to inform on my friends. Then he gave me books on Islam.
"I was put in a room with my friend. It was a rectangular room about 1
1/2 meters by 2 meters, with nothing at all in it--no beds, no chairs,
no window. The door had metal bars that we could see through to the
"At Gayrettepe six of us were taken together to a room that looked like
a garage. We were made to stand facing the wall for about half an hour.
One of the boys was 13. Police asked him where his family was from and
he said 'Tunceli' [an activist Kurdish area]. As soon as he said that,
police started kicking him in the legs and hitting him on the head with
their fists. He was standing right next to me.
"Then we were blindfolded and taken upstairs. They shoved and pushed me
while I was going up the stairs. Then they took me to a room and took
the blindfold off. They made us write the basic facts of our lives and
copy out letters and sentences and numbers. We heard screams of people
being tortured. They threatened us: 'You too can be tortured.' They
wanted us to admit their accusations, and tell them who gave us the
pamphlets. We wouldn't do it.
"Then they took us to cells. Mine was a small foul-smelling room with
blood stains on the wall and a metal door with a tiny window. I
couldn't see anything. They would only let us go to the bathroom in the
morning or at night, never in between. We gave them money and they
brought us biscuits and milk. If you had no money, you got no food.
They told us we would be there a long time--15 days. 'Anyone who comes,
stays,' they said.
"I was only at Gayrettepe one day and one night. The next day I was
taken to State Security Court and charged with being a member of a
secret organization and being politically active on behalf of that
organization. Four of my friends were charged with the same things. One
is 13, two are 16, and one is 18. Then I was sent to Sagmalcilar
Prison, where I stayed for two months in the political section with
"When my parents came to visit me, they brought me some money and my
favorite doll. I kept it with me at the police station and for the two
months I was in Sagmalcilar Prison. On June 25, 1990, 1 was released,
after the first hearing in my case. Three months ago I was acquitted."
Reports by lawyers
Many attorneys with whom Helsinki Watch spoke in October 1991 described
other cases in which the children they represented said that they had
Aynur Tuncel reported that all children charged with ordinary crimes
are beaten. Some of her clients have been given falaka, boys more often
than girls. Girls are frequently threatened with sexual assault, and
boys with having a truncheon forced up their rectums.
Tülay Ates reported that she has represented children who have alleged
that they were subjected to both electric shock and the Palestine
hanger during interrogation.
Nuran Yavuz reported that one child client had said he had been beaten
on the head with a two-foot piece of wood. All of these incidents took
place during the past year.
Tülay Ates told of a recent case in which three of her clients, one of
whom was 16 years old, had been charged with theft. All three were
taken to Gayrettepe, where the two 18-year-old boys said they were
beaten, given electric shock; and the Palestine hanger. The 16-year-old
said that he was beaten but not suspended or shocked. All three spent
five days in detention and one month in Sagmalcilar Prison before being
acquitted in February 1991.
Nuran Yavuz represented a 12-year-old boy who was picked up by police
on June 19, 1991, on suspicion of throwing stones at the roof of a
carwash. A watchman had called police report the stoning. Police came
to the street where the 12-year-old, the son of the janitor, as sitting
in front of his house. The police took him to the local police station
where they said, "You know the children who stoned the roof and you
must tell us who they are." The child told Ms. Yavuz that police put a
gun to his neck and threatened to shoot him, and then took him the
window and threatened to throw him out. Ms. Yavuz lives nearby; she
heard the child's mother crying and asked what had happened. When she
heard the story, she called the police station and told police they
could not keep the child there. The police then released him without
Attorney Kamil Tekin Sürek, who has represented many clients charged
with political offences at the State Security Court, told Helsinki
Watch that between 80 and 90 percent of his clients, including
children, have been tortured. He has tried to bring cases against the
police for torture, but it is very difficult, as torture victims are
usually blindfolded and cannot identify the individual police who
Ercan Kanar, a lawyer who is the president of the Istanbul branch of
the Human Rights Association (IHD), told Helsinki Watch that since
January 1991 the Istanbul IHD had been involved with the cases of 75
children who had been physically abused by police. Three quarters of
the cases are political. He does not believe that this is
representative, however, as children charged with criminal offences do
not usually know that they can complain of torture, and do not usually
apply to the IHD for help.
*Nermin Alkan is the actual name of this youngster, who has chosen to
make her case public. The names given to the other eight children
interviewed by Helsinki Watch are pseudonyms; identifying details have
also been changed to protect those children's identities. The names of
officials mentioned in these accounts are their real names.
STILL CARRIED ON
End of January 1992... The Demirel Government
claiming to put an end all anti-democratic practices in Turkey has been
in power and all democratic institutions and groups as well in the
country as abroad have credited its promises to a great extent.
Although some timid steps have been taken in two
months, the constitution of the militarist "democracy", all repressive
institutions set up by the military continue to function as before
taking no heed to the will of the people.
It is on the 60th day of this government that the
Constitutional Court ruler for the closure of the United Communist
Party of Turkey (TBKP) on the grounds that its name contained the word
"communist" and its policies allegedly provoked separatism. The supreme
court also decided to hand over all possessions of the TBKP to the
The chief prosecutor is reportedly preparing files
for closing down two legal left-wing parties: the Socialist Party (SP)
and the People's Labour Party (HEP). Already, all leaders of these two
parties have been indicted by the State Security Court and face
punishments from long term imprisonments to death sentence.
Man-hunting is still being carried out by
State forces not only in Turkish Kurdistan, but throughout
Turkey. Arrests, tortures, condemnations are still daily practices.
Newspapers and books are being confiscated and intellectuals taken
before state security courts under Anti-Terror Law.
To be aware how is the tide running out it is just
enough to glance at the chronological notes of the January 1992 at Page
As the State terror is being reinforced against
left-wing and Kurdish movements, the extreme-right and fundamentalist
parties such as the Nationalist Labour Party (MCP) and the Welfare
Party (RP) are, with all support of the State, preparing themselves to
conquer the Turco-Islamic republics of the former Soviet Union.
Colonel Alparslan Türkes, leader of the neo-fascist
"Grey Wolves" movement says that it is the high time of realizing the
old dream of Turkish extreme-right movement: to unite all Turks of the
world, from the Balkans to the Far East, under the flag the Turkish
Ankara is promptly undergoing a craziness of
"Reconquest" to the detriment of democratization.
STATE TERRORISM IN JANUARY
2.1, in Istanbul, police opened fire on a group
demonstrating for free medical care and wounded Ismet Sinag, who was
later detained along with 14 other demonstrators.
3.1, in Istanbul, during two demonstrations to
protest the insufficient wage hikes police detained a total of 40
4.1, in Istanbul, police detained 15 people and
wounded a doctor during a protest demonstration by public servants.
4.1, in the district of Kurtalan of Siirt province,
five people were placed under arrest by a tribunal for separatism.
5.1, three alleged militants of a underground
organization were detained by the Istanbul State Security Court.
5.1, police detained 10 people during a
demonstration at the Liberty Park in Istanbul for protesting against
6.1, it is reported by Yeni Ülke that a member of
the Human Rights Association (IHD), Riza Tan who had been detained on
December 16, 1991 in Bitlis was subjected to torture during his police
interrogation and later wounded in the leg.
6.1, the Diyarbakir SSC placed under arrest 17 out
of 67 people detained during the incidents in the district of Kulp on
December 23-24, 1991. The same court also detained 8 out of 100
students detained for boycotting the courses at the Dicle University in
6.1, two high school students were placed under
arrest by the Konya SSC for having painted "separatist" slogans on
6.1, police dispersed by using firearms a
demonstration to protest the demolishing of shanty houses at popular
quarters in Istanbul and detained 15 people.
8.1, the daily Zaman reports that 12 NCOs have been
detained in different military units for having carried out propaganda
against the State's secular system.
8.1, in Istanbul, six people of whom two are
handicapped in wheel-chair were detained during a demonstration in
front of the Justice Palace to protest against the Anti-Terror Law.
8.1, in Istanbul, a local official of the People's
Labour Party (HEP), Cabbar Gezici was detained by police.
8.1, in Urfa, a high school student, Salih Tatli was
shot death in the market place by unidentified persons. His parents
accuse the Counter-Guerrilla Organisation of having assassinated Tatli.
9.1, in Istanbul, 17-year old deaf youngster,
Ahmet Cinar, was wounded in the legs by police using fire arms because
he did not hear the warning to stop.
9.1, in Istanbul, a protest demonstration by
transport workers was dispersed by police and 38 people taken into
9.1, in the district of Dargecit in Mardin province,
a 32-year old Kurd, Hüseyin Gezici was gravely wounded by unidentified
people. Accusing the Counter-Guerrilla Organization, the district's
tradesmen shut their shops in protest against this aggression.
10.1, the daily Cumhuriyet reports that the State
Security Court of Diyarbakir has dealt with 2,813 cases in 1991. The
number of the cases was 796 in 1987, 1,278 in 1988, 1,538 in 1989 and
2,010 in 1990.
12.1, in Diyarbakir, a 20-year old student of the
Dicle University, Abdülsamet Cetin was shot dead by unidentified
persons. His funeral in Nusaybin was attended by 7 thousand people
shouting slogans against Counter-Guerrilla Organization. Police
dispersed the demonstrators by using fire arms and wounded four people.
167 people were detained during the incidents. The tradesmen of the
districts of Nusaybin, Derik, Midyat and Silvan closed their shops in
protest against Cetin's killing. Besides, high school students
boycotted their courses.
12.1, at the village of Kelbasan in Sason district,
a Kurdish peasant, Mehmet Onar was kidnapped by unidentified persons.
12.1, in the district of Karakocan of Elazig
province, security forces detained seven people for aiding the PKK.
13.1, Hürriyet reports that the Siirt Chairman of
the HEP, Mehmet Demir has disappeared since January 10 and his parents
claim that he might be kidnapped by police. Same day, Adil Bayik was
assassinated in the district of Nusaybin by unidentified persons.
13.1, a 16-year old high school student, Ugras Ak
declared after his release that he had been detained on January 3 and
subjected to torture for ten days.
13.1, Milliyet reports that the Istanbul SSC has
dealt with 1,577 cases in last year. 272 of the cases ended in
condemning to different prison terms.
14.1, in last four days, police detained 15 people
for taking part in TIKKO (Workers-Peasants Liberation Army of Turkey)
14.1, in Ankara, security forces detained 78 of the
Hacettepe University students protesting against increasing of bus fees.
15.1, the Antalya section of the Trade Union of
Health Services Workers (Tüm-Saglik-Sen) was closed by the governor on
pretext that public servants had no right to trade union.
16.1, in Istanbul, police shot dead a 23-year old
university student, Engin Egeli, during a demonstration by 20 people
against price hikes. This assassination led to protests. Next day, a
protest march of students was dispersed by police and 28 demonstrators
were taken into custody. During the incident, police harassed
journalists as well. Besides, a 20-year old student, Özgür Durmaz, was
wounded by police as he was writing slogans on walls to protest Egeli's
18.1, in Nusaybin, HEP official Abdurrahman Sögüt
was shot dead by unidentified persons. The funeral of Sögüt was
attended by more then 3 thousand people.
19.1, the Socialist Party (SP) Chairman Dogu
Perincek was indicted by the Prosecutor of the Ankara SSC for his
electoral speeches and declarations. Accused of separatist propaganda
he faces a total of 18 to 40 years in prison.
19.1, a meeting for the rights to collective
bargaining and strike, organized in Izmir by different public servants
unions was banned by the governor on pretext that public servants had
no trade union rights.
19.1, Yeni Ülke reports that security forces, in
last fifteen days, detained 25 people in the district of Kozluk in
Batman province, two in Hazro, three in Urfa and three in Adiyaman.
20.1, security forces detained 13 people in the
provinces of Hatay and Gaziantep on charges of giving shelter to PKK
militants. In the districts of Bulanik and Malazgirt of Mus province,
about 100 people were detained for taking part in demonstration in
protest against Counter-Guerrilla operations.
20.1, a member of the HEP, Harbi Arman, 31, was
founded blindfolded and shot dead by the side of Devegeciti Dam in
Diyarbakir. He had been taken eight days ago by plain-clothes saying
that he was summoned for a trial at the Diyarbakir SSC. His funeral in
the village of Karadag was held in presence of a big crowd. To protest
the murder, the tradesmen of the Malazgirt district shut their shops.
21.1, seven political detainees in the Ankara Prison
went on a hunger-strike in protest against penitentiary conditions.
21.1, the governor of Izmir banned an evening for
friendship and solidarity, organized by the Tüm-Saglik-Sen on the
occasion of its 7th anniversary.
22.1, in Istanbul, a group of high school students
aged of between 15 and 17 were dispersed by police using force as they
were demonstrating in front of the National Education Directorate for
claiming a halt to practice of beating in schools. Fifteen of young
demonstrators were later taken into custody.
22.1, security forces have reportedly detained 36
people in Diyarbakir and 13 in Mardin for giving support to the PKK.
23.1, in Ankara, seven alleged members of Dev-Sol
were detained by police.
23.1, in the district of Silopi of Sirnak province,
security forces opened fire on the villagers who attempt a raid on the
Hamlet of Serebiye. Many villagers were wounded and the nephew of the
Silopi Mayor, Hüseyin Taygun was shot dead. Next day, the funeral of
Taygun in Silopi was attended by more than 20 thousand people. Besides,
the tradesmen of Sirnak, Idil and Silopi shut their shops in protest
against the killing.
24.1, security forces, during a series of
operations, detained 13 people in Gaziantep and 16 in Ankara.
24.1, a student demonstration in Ankara against the
Higher Education Board (YÖK) was dispersed by police using force and
about 96 students were taken into custody. During the incident police
harassed journalists as well. The detained students were later sent to
the State Security Court.
25.1, in Nusaybin, repairman Seyfettin Aktas was
shot dead by unidentified assailants. So, the number of the people
killed in this way reached four in one month.
26.1, two sections of the teachers' trade union
Egit-Sen, in Sivas and Bismil, were closed by the governors on pretext
that teachers had no right to trade union.
26.1, the Izmir SSC placed under arrest four high
school students for having participated in an unauthorized
In Ankara, six students were detained by police for the same reason.
26.1, the Diyarbakir SSC placed under arrest nine of
20 people kept for one month in police custody.
27.1, Yeni Ülke reports that the headman of the
Sayar village in the province of Mardin, Hasan Ergin and his 17-year
old son were subjected to torture during their detention at the
Commando Unit in Nusaybin.
27.1, it is reported that during the security
operations in January eleven people were detained for aiding the PKK.
27.1, in Istanbul, police raiding a house allegedly
occupied by the TKP-K (Communist Party of Turkey-Spark) shot dead three
youths. One of the victims, 19-year old Servet Sanin was a champion of
Karate and represented Turkey three times in international competitions.
28.1, eight people were arrested for writing
political slogans on walls in the town of Tarsus.
29.1, in Izmir, police detained seven alleged
Dev-Sol militants and sent them to the State Security Court.
JOURNALIST TEZTEL'S TRIAL
The trial of journalist Deniz Teztel, lawyers Bedii
Yarayici, Murat Demir and Fethiye Peksen began at the Ankara SSC on
January 17 1992.
Along with 24 other people they are accused of
taking part in the Revolutionary Left (Dev-Sol) actions. The prosecutor
claims prison terms of up to 15 years for the journalist, the three
lawyers and 20 other defendants by virtue of Article 168/1 of the Penal
Code and capital punishment for four others according to Article 146/1.
The court decided at the end of the first trial to release Teztel,
Demir, Yarayici and three other defendants.
The prosecution of Teztel has been protested by many
national and international human rights groups.
The Secretary General of the International
Federation of Journalists (IFJ), Aidan White sent the following message
to Turkish Prime Minister Demirel:
"The IFJ respectfully calls on your government to
look into the case of Günes journalist, Deniz Teztel whose professional
rights and civil rights appear to have been violated.
"Teztel, an experienced reporter and the human
rights correspondent for the Turkish daily Günes, was arrested on June
14, 1991. She was held for 14 days in a gaol where she claims to have
been 'mentally tortured'. She was reportedly offered her freedom in
exchange for changing her journalistic activities.
"She is officially accused of being a courier for
the terrorist organisation Dev-Sol. As a journalist, and especially a
legal and human rights correspondent, the IFJ is suspect that such
charges will be substantiated by contact that she had with prisoners.
Such contact is consistent with her professional activity.
"Her civil rights appear not to have been respected.
We understand that none of her three lawyers, nor any of her
colleagues, had seen an official written indictment against her when,
on June 28, she was transferred to Cankiri prison.
"In the beginning of November 1991, after having
been held for several months, Teztel was transferred, with many other
prisoners, to the Eskisehir Special Type prison. Upon arriving at the
prison many prisoners, including Teztel, had their clothing torn off
and were brutally welcomed.
"We further understand that Teztel has written about
human rights abuses that government personnel, civil and military, have
committed. We fear that those accused of such violations may be seeking
"The IFJ, which represents 67 national organisations
of journalists in 54 countries around the world, including those
journalists organised in the Journalists' Trade Union of Turkey,
strongly protests against these violations of Teztel's civil and
professional rights. Such harassment, and what appears to be
intimidation, is an affront to Turkish journalists and to the
international community of journalists.
"The IFJ will follow this case with great attention
and will continue to informer non-governmental, governmental and
supranational organisation of any new developments."
On the other hand, the IFJ has called on the member
unions to protest against a new anti-union trend in the Turkish press,
marked by a vociferous public campaign against organised
journalists by the publisher of the daily Milliyet, one of the largest
national newspapers of Turkey.
OTHER MEDIA PROSECUTIONS IN JANUARY
7.1, the January 92 issue of the monthly Demokrat
was confiscated by the Istanbul SSC for an article by Dr. Besikci,
entitled "The Kurds should constitute their national assembly."
7.1, a book by Edip Polat, We have turned dawns into
Newroz, was confiscated by the Ankara SSC for separatist propaganda by
virtue of the Anti-Terror Law. Besides, the publisher of the book,
Hikmet Kocak was interrogated by the public prosecutor.
14.1, Cumhuriyet reports that in last year 14 daily
newspapers and four weekly magazines were subjected to a total of 338
legal proceeding. In these cases, prosecutors claimed prison terms of
up to 961 years and fines of up to 2 billion 150 million Turkish Liras.
14.1, the 4th issue of the monthly Newroz was
confiscated by the Istanbul SSC for separatist propaganda by virtue of
the Anti-Terror Law. The three preceding issues of the same review had
also been confiscated on similar charges.
18.1, the chief editor of the monthly Newroz, Remzi
Bilget was arrested by a penal court in Istanbul for making separatist
propaganda in a message he prepared for an evening for solidarity with
the monthly review Deng.
20.1, two correspondents of the weekly Yeni Ülke,
Ali Cihat Ünlü and Rifki Turan were detained in Mus in relation with
the demonstrations in protest against Counter-Guerrilla terror.
21.1, the Erzurum office of the daily Hürriyet was
raided and stoned by 3 thousand fundamentalists. Police
intervened very lately and detained 50 of the aggressors. A side
publication of the Hürriyet Group, the weekly Tempo had published an
illustration of Prophet Mohamed. According to fundamentalists, any
illustration of the Prophet is forbidden by the Holy Book (Koran).
22.1, the trial of journalist Rafet Balli, former
minister Serafettin Elci and publisher Mehmet Ali Ugur for a book
entitled The Kurdish File began at the Istanbul SSC. The book
comprising a series of interviews with Kurdish intellectuals by Rafet
Balli had been confiscated in last year for separatist propaganda by
the decision of the same tribunal. Elci is one of the interviewed
persons. The prosecutor claims a prison term of up to five years and a
fine of up to TL 100 million for each defendant by virtue of Article 8
of the Anti-Terror Law.
28.1, the January 26 issue of the weekly Yeni Ülke
was confiscated by the Istanbul SSC. The prosecutor claims that an
obituary announcement in the newspaper contains separatist propaganda.