government, forgetting its promise of “transparence”, obstructs
any parliamentary debate on the State-backed subversive activities
THE COUNTER-GUERRILLA REMAINS UNTOUCHABLE
As political assassinations committed or covered by
the State’s clandestine organizations are continuing, the government
refuses to open any parliamentary debate on the subversive
activities of the Counter-guerrilla Organization despite its
pre-electoral promises of “transparence.”
Recently, two opposition parties, the Welfare Party
(RP) and the People’s Labour Party (HEP) submitted motions to
Parliament for the debate, calling for a special investigation to be
started by the National Assembly.
Besides, a group of the SHP deputies submitted a
similar motion. Adiyaman Deputy Celal Kürkoglu and 14 other SHP
deputies said that the Counter-guerrilla allegations flared up
following the assassination of the renowned journalist Ugur Mumcu.
Recalling the unveiling of some underground organizations such as the
Gladio in NATO countries, established after the World War II against
the possibility of a communist invasion, SHP deputies said an
investigation in Turkey should be opened as well.
Contradicting their own pre-election promises, both
Premier Demirel and Deputy-Premier Inönü prevented their party groups
from voting to open such a debate.
Inönü, at the meeting of the SHP Parliamentary
Group, said that such a debate is not opportune because it may anger
the major coalition partner DYP and the Army. The party group, under
Inönü’s pressure, rejected to vote for opening a parliamentary debate
on the matter.
As for Demirel, speaking during the DYP Group
meeting on February 23, he obliged the group to vote against by
saying rumours about the existence of a counter-guerrilla group in
Turkey must come to an end because such rumours have caused damage to
the state since 1970.
The name Counter-guerrilla was first heard just
after the March 12, 1971 coup when the top generals forced the
government of Premier Süleyman Demirel to resign by issuing a
memorandum. The infamous Ziverbey Mansion in Istanbul’s Erenköy
district was a major interrogation center. Scores of intellectuals,
among them prominent writers and journalists as well as a number of
progressive army officers were dragged into detention there. Among the
tortured journalists was also journalist Ugur Mumcu who very often
raised the Counter-guerrilla question in his column and books and was
assassinated on January 24 of this year.
It is at that interrogation center that the victims
of the 1971 coup underwent very sophisticated tortures. During
interrogation under torture, the questioners identified themselves and
intimidated their victims by the same manner: “We are the
counter-guerrilla. Even the President of the Republic cannot touch us.”
In fact, this sinister organization already
existed since 1952 under the name of the Special War Department
which had its headquarters in the building of the US Military Aid
Mission in Ankara. The training of the officers of this department was
carried out by the US Intelligence Services.
Talat Turhan, a retired army officer who was one of
the tortured at Ziverbey wrote three books on the operations of
counter-guerrilla groups in Turkey. In an interview to the daily
Dateline of November 24, 1990, Turhan said a counter-guerrilla
organization similar to Gladio was established in Turkey soon after it
joined NATO in 1952. He hinted a possible connection between the
Counter-guerrilla Organization and the assassinations of Cetin
Emec, former editor-in-chief of the mass-circulation daily Hürriyet,
Iawyer Muammer Aksoy, strong advocate of Atatürk's reform principles,
theology lecturer and SHP former minister Bahriye Ücok and writer Turan
Dursun. "Theoretically, if the murderers cannot be found and if the
political assassinations continue, the authors of crime are the
security forces and the intelligence agencies. These organizations can
act individually or in collaboration. They might act with a foreign
intelligence agency. It is up to the government to prove or disprove
this theory," he said.
Recalling the era before the military coup of 1971,
Turhan said, "Before the March 12, 1971 coup, individual terrorist
activities were widespread. This political atmosphere was followed by a
military coup, which was beneficial for the United States, which was
against the freedoms provided by the 1961 Constitution. The reason for
fueling a military coup was to make necessary amendments in the
constitution which would reinstate exploitation by the United States"
According to Turhan, the September 12, 1980 military
coup was created for the same purpose. "Those who want to exploit this
country much more than they were doing in the past organized another
military coup. Turkey was turned into a blood bath by provocations and
assassinations carried out by unknown people. This led to the military
coup,” he said. Turhan told Dateline that originally the idea of
establishing a resistance group against the Soviet-led invasion of a
NATO member country was legitimate. "You cannot blame such an
establishment for its operations if it remains within legal grounds.
But if it operates under the influence of foreign forces, namely U.S.
imperialism, it is very likely to be used for illegal activities. It
happened like this in Italy and it happens to be so in Turkey,” he said.
Turhan, who was highly influential in the army after
the military coup in 1960, was accused of involvement in two military
coup attempts and was forced to resign from the army in 1964. Following
the 1971 military coup led by right-wing officers, Turhan was jailed
for subversive activities and for leading a leftist military coup
During his trial, Turhan presented various documents
to the court including one entitled Counter-guerrilla Operations
published by U.S. army as field manual FM-31-16. It was later
translated into Turkish and published by the Turkish Army headquarters
as publication number ST-31-1S.
He also presented —as evidence of counter-guerrilla
operations in Turkey— a book entitled Counter-insurgency Warfare, by
David Galula. The book, published in 1964 by Frederick A. Praeger,
Inc., which Turhan claimed is a CIA publishing house, was published in
Turkish in 1965 by the Army Headquarters. According to Turhan, these
books, namely Counter-guerrilla Operations, were handbooks for the
counter-guerrilla organizations in Turkey.
Counter-guerrilla Operations gives detailed tactical
information on ambushes, terrorist activities, sabotage, attacks
against police stations and patrolmen, armed robbery and torture. The
other book written by Galula on counter-insurgency warfare includes, in
the seventh chapter, tactics for influencing local political leaders
and for rigging local elections when required.
"In some local elections, it is possible that all of
the elected politicians are useless or it might be impossible to find
another candidate in a better condition. This is an unfortunate
situation. Under these circumstances nothing can be done but to
transfer a better one from a different neighbourhood and to rig the
elections" the book claims.
Aided and supported by the Special War Department,
the armed bands of the Nationalist Action Party (MHP) headed by Former
Colonel Alparslan Türkes, known as Grey Wolves, had already murdered 42
left-wing people during the 5-year period of Justice Party rule until
1971. After preparing instability in the country thanks to the
political violence carried out by the Grey Wolves, the Armed Forces
intervened on March 12, 1971. It is during the 2-year period of
repression that the existence of the Special War Department was brought
to the fore. It is this organization that carried out all arrests and
torture practice in collaboration with Grey Wolves.
ECEVIT’S BLACK-OUT ON COUNTER-GUERRILLA
When the social democrat SHP came to power two
times, in 1973 and in 1978, all democratic forces of Turkey which
supported it, asked Prime Minister Bülent Ecevit to close down this
sinister organization. Although Ecevit promised at the beginning to act
accordingly, he never kept his word and yielded to the military's
May 1, 1977. Tens of thousands gathered for May Day
celebrations in Istanbul’s main Taksim Square, shouting pro-labour and
anti-establishment slogans. There were armed snipers on the rooftops.
Suddenly someone opened fire. Scores of demonstrators are fired on from
the rooftops and from hotel rooms looking onto the square. More than 30
were killed and hundreds of others wounded. The daily Aydinlik
attributed this massacre to the Counter-Guerrilla Organization, no
evidence has been produced until now to refute this claim.
During the same period, political assassinations of
many public figures such as journalists, writers, university professors
and trade union leaders became daily items of the media, but the
authors of these provocative crimes have never been identified.
The arrest of Mehmet Ali Agca, an extreme-right
activist who shot dead famous journalist Abdi Ipekci in 1978, was an
exception. [But, a few months later, thanks to the complicity within
the Armed Forces, this notorious killer would escape from a very well
protected military detention house. It is the same Agca who would shoot
the Pope on May 13, 1981. The motives of this crime committed in the
country of "Gladio" by a Grey Wolf enjoying the protection of Turkish
"Gladio" would always remain in obscurity despite many public trials in
The Counter-Guerrilla Organization question was
already brought to the Parliament in 1978 by CHP senator Niyazi Ünsal
and deputy Süleyman Genc. They claimed that the organization has
supplied arms to terrorist groups such as the Grey Wolves and has
provoked them into action. But Bülent Ecevit, social-democrat prime
minister of the period, prevented any debate this this subversive
organization despite his pre-electoral promises.
Let us read the February 1978 issue of Info-Türk
"As a matter of fact, since the latest general
elections , Ecevit has seemed to forget his earlier statements
and he did not even say anything in the government programme about the
illegal activities of the Counter-guerrilla organization.
"After the controversy started on the subject,
Ecevit was obliged to talk, but, instead of insisting on his earlier
claims, asked that this debate be stopped.
"At a news conference on February 4, 1978, Ecevit
denied the existence of a counter-guerrilla organization and claimed
that his earlier allegations were not definite claims, but
suppositions. 'According to my investigations there is not official
counter-guerrilla organization established in the State. We must all be
respectful towards the Turkish Armed Forces and help them in the
realization of their desire to remain out of politics,' he said."
It is two years later than the publication of this
article, in September 1980, that General Evren overthrew the
parliamentary government and took over the power on pretext that
political violence attained uncontrolable dimensions. It was again the
Counter-Guerrilla Organization that planned and instigated political
violence giving pretext for this new military coup d'état.
ECEVIT’S REVELATIONS ON COUNTER-GUERRILLA
And it is twelve year after his denial that Ecevit
had, on the disclosure of Gladio activities in other NATO countries, to
admit that there were strong indications that a clandestine NATO
paramilitary force existed in Turkey as well. Following is the
declaration Ecevit did on November 13, 1990:
"In 1974, just before the military operation in
Cyprus, I was informed for the first time about the existence of a
department in charge of special warfare within the headquarters of the
Turkish general staff. They were asking for money. When I inquired who
had funded the department until then I was told that it was financed by
the United States," said Ecevit.
"When I insisted, a secret briefing on the
functioning of this organization was given to me and the then defense
minister Hasan Esat Isik. We were told the Special Warfare Department
was an organization composed of 'volunteer patriots.' They said its
headquarters was located in the same building as the US military aid
delegation to Turkey. I was told also that the organization had secret
weapons depots. Its members were trained in special warfare techniques.
If and when the country was invaded by an aggressor the members of this
clandestine organization were supposed to launch counter-guerrilla
warfare against the invaders. I was told the organization was made up
of mainly young people but that when they got elder they might
eventually become politicians.
"This was a secret weapon. I thought we should act
swiftly and put measures into force against the organization's use. But
that was at the time of the Cyprus operation. Nothing was done."
Ecevit explained that when he again became prime
minister in 1978 he discussed the matter with Kenan Evren, chief of
general staff at that time. "I told him that we should give the
Department of Special Warfare official status. Evren promised to do
this," he said.
Ecevit indicated that several incidents that took
place in 1977 and 1978 were still unresolved. "Of these, the most
important occurred at the 1977 May Day rally in Taksim Square in
Istanbul. It led to the deaths of more than 30 people. I expressed my
suspicions that the civilian arm of the Special Warfare Department
might have been behind the May Day incidents to Fahri Korutürk, then
Turkey's president, who asked me to submit my concerns to him in
Ecevit also mentioned an assassination attempt
against himself on May 29,1977. During the incident a policeman shot
and wounded Mehmet Isvan, an associate of Ecevit, with a special weapon
which fired a small missile. "Following the incident it was understood
that such a weapon was not officially supposed to exist in the Turkish
police force. Our attempts to uncover the origin of this weapon were
foiled. We were never able to learn where this weapon came from or who
gave it to the policeman who used it" said Ecevit.
In 1977 Demirel—who was then prime minister—publicly
warned Ecevit not to take part in a political rally in Taksim because
there was evidence that an attempt would be made on his life.
"In 1978 when I came to power, I was curious where
Demirel got the I information,” Ecevit said. "I asked for the file and
studied it. The warning was written on a piece of blank paper with no
signature. Neither the police headquarters nor the National
Intelligence Organization (MIT) had apparently investigated where the
piece of paper came from. This again made me think of the Special
Warfare Department," said Ecevit.
Ecevit indicated that at that time he linked
right-wing violence with the clandestine activities of the department.
He said Turkey was in great social turmoil at the time which led the
military takeover by Evren in 1980.
At that time the armed gangs affiliated with the
neo-fascist Nationalist Action Party (MHP) were fighting left-wing
groups, Ecevit recalled. He said his party motorcade came under fire
more than once during his trip around the country: "In one small town,
I discussed the special warfare department and my suspicions about its
activities with an army general who I knew was directly connected with
"I told the general about my concern. He said people
taking part in the activities of this organization were people of good
will. He said they loved their country. When I objected saying that
members of organizations involved in violence and affiliated with MHP
might also participate in this clandestine organization he answered
that MHP chief [in the town where we were attacked] was also a
patriotic man of good will. Without knowing it, he had admitted that
the MHP chief in the town where we were at that time was also a member
of the special warfare department."
THE MILITARY’S VERSION OF COUNTER-GUERRILLA
General Kenan Evren, chief of the military coup of
1980, too admits the existence of the Special Warfare
Department and its involvement in some clandestine activities in his
memoirs published in 1990.
He says that, prior to the military take-over,
on May 5,1980, then Prime Minister Süleyman Demirel had requested
that the [Special Warfare] department be used to combat terrorism.
"I refused this request. He [Demirel] insisted by
saying that the department was used in 1971 against subversive
activities. I turned the request down again. During the time I served
at the head of the General Staff Headquarters the department was not
used beyond its original purpose. Some people affiliated with it may
have been involved in such incidents. I am not in a position to know
this. They may have done it without informing me,” he says.
Evren confirms that the Special Warfare Department
had previously been used for such activity, for example during the
killing of nine left-wing militants at Kizildere in northern Anatolia
on March 30,1972 .
On the other hand, Evren, said in an interview
published on November 26, 1990 in the daily Hürriyet that civilians
affiliated with the undercover paramilitary organization set up by the
Special Warfare Department at the Army Headquarters may have been
involved in terrorist incidents before 1980 without his knowledge.
On these revelations, the Turkish Armed Forces
admitted the existence of the Special War Department for the first time
in 1990, but rejected the claim that it had been involved in subversive
Lieutenant-General Dogan Bayazit, head of the
Operations Division of the general staff, told journalists on December
3, 1990 that the Special Warfare Department existed, but was not the
counter-guerrilla organization: "The department was set up to provide
resistance to an invasion in the form of guerrilla warfare and
underground rescue and kidnap operations."
As for Brigadier General Kemal Yilmaz, head of the
controversial Special Warfare Department, he confirmed that the
organization was set up in September 1952, when Adnan Menderes, an
outspoken U.S. ally, was prime minister and Turkey became a full member
According to Yilmaz, the Special Warfare
Department, which consists of civilians as well as army officials,
organized a resistance movement in Cyprus between 1963 and 1974 and was
also used in 1980 to rescue hostages held in a Turkish Airlines
passenger plane hijacked to Diyarbakir by fundamentalist Moslem
terrorists. "The department is still active in security operations
against armed members of the Workers' Party of Kurdistan (PKK) in
Turkey's southeastern provinces," he said.
Beyazit responded to Bülent Ecevit's claims that he
learned about the existence of the department in 1974, as prime
minister, when additional funds were requested from him: "In 1974,
Ecevit was briefed by the general staff, and those generals who gave
the briefing took notes of the prime minister's comments. Ecevit said,
'It is [my] national duty [to provide funds to the department]. I am,
in principle, in favour of channeling national funds to meet that need.
This will not burden the state, the department could be financed with
secret funds. Determine what you need, and hand me the list. If Ecevit
says he was not fully informed, this shows he did not read the decrees
he signed carefully."
Bayazit claimed the department was not a clandestine
organization but a division of the army. He denied, however, that the
department was set up on NATO's initiative. He also said there were no
links between the Special Warfare Department and the National
Intelligence Organization (MIT). He admitted, however, that the
department cooperated with NATO on technical issues and that, at times,
it joined NATO's training programs in Turkey and abroad.
The organization was not particularly
anti-communist, Bayazit maintained. "If Turkey were a country under the
threat of invasion only by communists, then the organization would have
mainly been set up as a shield against communism. But Turkey is under
other threats, ranging from religious fundamentalism to [President]
Saddam Hussein and Greece," he said, adding that "the department would
also be used against a religious revolution in Turkey"
At the press conference, Bayazit denied that the
Ziverbey mansion was used by the department. "The department had not
been assigned any undercover activity during the September 12, 1980
military coup, " he said.
COUNTER-GUERRILA CHANGES NAME
The Counter-guerrilla Organization changed its
official name in 1992 into the Special Forces Command (SFC) of the
Turkish Armed forces. The organization was reintroduced to the
press on October 23, 1992, under its new name.
General Kemal Yilmaz, Commander of the SFC, said
that in many democratic countries there are similar forces under the
name of, for example, SAS commandos, Alpine units, Airborne units and
The SFC operates under the special forces concept.
This concept stipulates that forces are needed to operate behind enemy
forces, weakening the main units of the enemy during war time,
“The basic function of the SCF is to support the
operation of the Turkish Armed Forces with its irregular warfare
activities by preparing plans and executing the activities of war
preparedness during peace time. During war time SFC is responsible to
establish the irregular local forces and to manage and control those
forces under the directives of the Chief of Staff's office. The SFC
units are composed of officers and non-commissioned officers, all of
whom go through a additional 3.5 years of training. The units are also
trained regularly at various NATO-member countries. SFC commandos are
trained with the most advanced weapons of the world,” he said.
Referring to some press reports raising the
possibility of linkage between alleged SFC counter-guerrilla operations
and killings of Turkish journalists in the southeast, General Yilmaz
said: "Who invented the term counter-guerrilla? I do not know. We do
not have this term used in our literature." Ruling out allegations over
SFC's association with secret operation, Yilmaz said: "The members of
SFC are composed of elements who do not know each other but who are
ready to accept the orders they will be given only at the time of an
occupation of territory. They function under the extraordinary state of
emergency Governor's office, which is responsible for the security
operations in the southeast region. The SFC units operate in the
southeast only as a potential force."
Yilmaz said that, prior to the 1974 Cyprus
operation, the Special forces were dispatched to the island to
establish the Turkish resistance organization and help them establish
"The members of the unit know that during a state of
war that they will be operating in the middle of enemy forces,
but they do not know during peace time what kind of duty they will
execute and under whose command they will operate," Yilmaz stated.
"This is a must for the security of any resistance operating in a
region under occupation. For that reason, special forces are not
organized during peace time."
Yilmaz also added that special units were not used
in Turkey's military coups. "We were the only units who were not called
on duty in the 1980 military operation," he said.
COUNTER-GUERRILA AND THE HEZBOLLAH
Despite these attempts to clear the army’s name, the
increasing number of unsolved murders shows that, whatsoever be its
official name and structure, the Counter-Guerrilla Organization is
carrying on its sinister activities particularly in the South-East. In
fact, the assassinations of the last eighteen months highly look like
to those who occurred prior to the 1980 military coup.
Let’s take as an example the first political
assassination of 1991.
July 10, 1991. In Diyarbakir, thousands march
through the streets of the city during the funeral ceremony for HEP
provincial chairman Vedat Aydin. Aydin, abducted from gis home on July
5, was found dead -- his body broken by the brutal torture he received.
Among the policemen on the city’s castle walls are masked men. They
open fire on the demonstrators. Seven people are killed and more than
250 are wounded. Five parliamentarians and 13 journalists are among the
wounded. Locals claim the counter-guerrilla is behind the incident.
February 1993. About 400 people have lost their
lives in “unsolved murders” in Turkey’s southeast region.
11.2, the weekly Aktüel claims that a group of
officers from the National Intelligence Organization (MIT) abducted
five suspects in the hands of the gendarmerie in the eastern
province of Mus and executed them in the fields. The bodies of the five
were found bullet-ridden days after their detention.
25.2, the Erzincan provincial chairman of the
Freedoms and Democracy Party (ÖZDEP), Cemal Akar is found beheaded and
mutilated in the village Zagge of the Hakkari province. He had
disappeared since January 25.
26.2, HEP Batman provincial official Bedia Argin’s
husband, Ahmet Argin (45) is founded assassinated near the
Binatli village of the province. HEP Chairman Ahmet Türk said that
Argin was first tortured then shot in the head. He had spoken a short
time ago at a TV programme on political assassinations.
27.2, a former official of the Socialist Party (SP),
Ömer Güven and his friend Cemal Özyurt are found assassinated in the
district of Cizre. The SP had been banned by the Constitution Court
Again on February 27, the local chairman of the
Human Rights Association of Turkey (IHD), attorney Metin Can, and his
friend, Dr. Hasan Kaya, are found hands tied behind their backs and
each with with a bullet hole in their heads in Tunceli.
Two human rights activists were abducted less than a
week ago. Witnesses say the two were at Can’s house when they received
a telephone call saying there had been a traffic accident and urgent
help was required. They were never heard from again after leaving the
Police bans newspapers photographers from taking
pictures at the Dinarsu bridge 12 kilometres away from Tunceli city
where the bodies surfaced near a stream. A crowd of about 500 people
gathering there shouted “Down with the Counter-guerrilla.”
Locals, as well as their parliamentary
representatives say the local Kurdish Hezbollah, a radical Islamic
group, is tolerated, protected and supported by the Counter-Guerrilla.
The Grey Wolves of the pre-coup 1980 period were replaced now by the
The Islamic Hezbollah (Party of God) emerged after
the security forces were infiltrated by radical Islamic activists
during the ANAP Government.
The weekly magazine 2000e Dogru, claimed on February
16, 1992 that a group of Hezbollah-based militants were even
being trained at the headquarters of the special counter-terrorist
crack teams in Istanbul. The reporter of the weekly, Halit Güngen, was
killed by the Hezbollah by a bullet to the head two days after the
publication of the information.
In several settlements mainly around Mardin and at
the Syria border, the Hezbollah is also carrying out its own propaganda
campaign with Arab language tape cassettes being freely sold on the
market. Several market places in larger towns are actually run by
Hezbollah members and local sources claim this is known to the police.
In Nusaybin, police patrol cars often play Hezbollah
cassettes, in Arabic and Turkish, while cruising the streets.
Villages on the border have turned into ghost towns
at night, with iron shutters drawn in front of shops. People lock
themselves into their houses and no one but special counter-terrorist
teams are seen on the streets.
Almost every night, doors are knocked on by people
identifying themselves as “guerrillas” but everyone has learned not to
answer. Opening a door could well mean being hauled off for a
self-styled Hezbollah interrogation before being killed or facing death
on the spot.
The Turkish Daily News of February 23, 1993,
reporting the motions of a parliamentary debate on counter-guerrilla
“According to those who have been subject to contra
activities or who have witnessed them in the past, the
counter-guerrilla is far more than a mere concept. It is a reality. It
is not only organized but centralized. And, they claim, it has been
used to conduct clandestine activities which in nature violated laws
and the Turkish constitution. The only way to assess which is correct
appears to be to launch a formal investigation into the claims and to
open the doors of the Turkish military to find the reality.
“Unless an investigation is launched, the debate
will continue indefinitely and cost a lot of confidence in the state
The response of the government to this wish has, as
explained at the beginning of this article, been a categorical refusal.
ALARMING FIGURES OF HUMAN RIGHTS VIOLATIONS IN TURKEY OF 1992
The Human Rights Foundation of Turkey (TIHV), on
February 23, introduced to the press its 1992 report on human rights
allegations in Turkey. "A total of 2,933 people were killed in the
general atmosphere of political violence in Turkey in 1992," said the
TIHV Chairman Yavuz Önen.
Below are the highlights of the TIHV Report:
• 1992 was just another year during which human
rights violations continued unabated and social life in the troubled
Southeast became paralysed, owing to constant strong-arm tactics used
both by security forces and armed opponent organizations.
• Out of the 2,933 deaths in 1992, 17 occurred in
police custody, 92 during the Newroz (the Kurdish New Year)
celebrations on March 21 which turned into a blood bath in the
Southeast, 26 at demonstrations, 63 in house raids, 41 during alleged
raids on villages and towns by security forces, 38 in bomb explosions,
and 103 when individuals did not halt despite orders by security forces.
• 8 party officials fell victim to political
• The number of security forces killed in clashes
with so called "terrorist groups" is 747, while that belonging to the
latter is 972.
• The number of unsolved murders rises to 360, that
of assassinations to 285 and attacks on civilians to 189.
• Throughout 1992 torture was inflicted by security
forces upon a total of 594 people -- 11 of them children and 93 women.
However, the real number is much higher. These are only the reported
• 8 disappeared after being taken into custody.
• In 1992, security forces attacked 56 reporters
while on duty.
• 13 journalists as well as 3 newspaper sellers were
•189 magazines or newspapers were seized by police
acting on orders from various state security courts, while the number
of books confiscated was as high as 20.
• A total of 23 years, 8 months and 15 days
imprisonment were given to journalists and writers.
• Journalists and writers were also sentenced a
total of TL 5,976,000,000 ($747,000) in one year.
• 32 independents organizations were shut down by
security forces, three Human Rights Association branches among them.
• 39 trade unions of public servants were banned by
• 63 female university students were detained for
covering the head with turban.
Önen complained of a general feeling of indifference
prevalent among Turkish political parties, in Parliament, and within
the government. "The ruling DYP and SHP failed to keep their promises
they had made before coming to power. Despite their earlier promise to
reconsider emergency rule and system of employing state-paid village
guards in the Southeast, they have not done anything substantial as
yet. What is more, they have adopted a much more violent stance," he
ATTEMPTS TO COUNTER “MIDNIGHT EXPRESS”...
The $15 Million film project initiated a year ago to
offset the bad impression given to Turkey by Alan Parker’s movie
Midnight Express has not been realized yet, mainly due to the film
makers’ failed attempts to finance it with defense industry spending.
The idea was brought up by the Turkish-American
Association and supported by the Turkish Ministry of Culture. Help was
sought in Hollywood and the U.S. film company Copro accepted the
project and a scenario for the film, named The Istanbul, was drawn up.
Robert Long was proposed as director and producer.
The storyline concerns adventure in a post Cold-War
world. It was planned that the film would be shot in its entirety in
Turkey, with the country’s historic places regularly featured.
At this stage, everything was ready. But the film
needed financial backing, for which Copro approached the Defense
Industries Under-secretariat (SSM) of Turkey. SSM, however,
striving to build a strong defense industry infrastructure, did not
view the project well, believing it would not contribute to
strengthening this young industry. In an attempt to prevent any
possible straining of relations with the Ministry of Culture, SSM
recently sent the ministry the list of defense companies with general
offset pledges as well as defense-related offset commitments. These
companies, however, did not approach the scheme warmly.
...AND THE REALITY OF TURKISH PRISONS
Although Midnight Express is considered by Turkish
authorities as an anti-Turk propaganda, the prisons of Turkey
themselves continue to be one of the most shameful realities of Turkey
in the field of human rights.
Recently, on February 3, the Justice Ministry
attempted to restrict the rights of inmates at the Diyarbakir E-type
Prison A new regulation put in practice terminated prison
representation at the compound, banned the use of typewriters and
restricted visits to only every two weeks.
260 prisoners who refused these restrictions
started an indefinite hunger strike on February 8. Security forces
carried out a raid on the Diyarbakir E-type Prison in the midst of a
hunger strike. 202 Kurdish prisoners were seriously wounded and 20 of
them were transfered to hospital. In protest against this operation,
all political prisoners joined the hunger strike and many tradesmen in
Diyarbakir pull down their shutters.
Similar hunger strikes have been staged against
inhuman prison conditions in the prisons of Bayrampasa (Istanbul) and
As reported by the Turkish Daily News of February
15, “the name Diyarbakir has long been ringing the bell of “torture” in
the minds of many Turks, its reputation owing to the inhuman treatment
of inmates and convicts, specifically after the 1980 military coup.
“There is perhaps not a single suspect of
‘political/terror criminal’ who has not tasted the stinging pain of
electric shocks, the pressurized water or the club ‘treatment’ in this
“Most have spent days in a cage waiting to see what
their fate would be as their guardians put into force the most vicious
of Vietnam War techniques, both for interrogation and rehabilitation.
“After the 1980 takeover, Diyarbakir prison became a
symbol of repression and torture throughout Turkey and served also as a
forceful assimilation center, where hundreds were gathered and taught
‘the Turkish way’ of life. At gunpoint or under the threat of clubs,
before and after lengthy torture, hundreds of foreign inmates were
taught how to speak Turkish and how to sing the national anthem --
sometimes tens of times in the same day.
“Pictures published in the mid-1980s showed the
inside of the compound where Turkish flags were drawn on all walls and
everywhere, from the floor and wallsto the ceiling, from the corners of
beds to table tops, Turkish flags and proverbs decorated the chambers.
“‘How happy I am to be a Turk’ was the main theme,
written everywhere in an apparent retaliation to secessionist demands
and activities. ‘How happy I am to be a Turk’ is what everyone was
demanded to say each and every day, over and over again. The
administrators of Diyarbakir prison had successfully turned the
compound from a place of punishment and rehabilitation to one of
nightmares and brain-washing...”
A SPECTACULAR PRISON ESCAPE
Eighteen prisoners broke out of the Nevsehir
Prison at around 03.00 a.m. on February 17. Nine of the prisoners
were alleged members of the outlawed PKK, four of the Revolutionary
Communist Party of Turkey (TDKP), three of the Workers-Peasants
Liberation Army of Turkey (TIKKO) and two of the DEV-SOL.
The prisoners had dug a tunnel more than 30 meters
in length in 40-60 days using metal and wooden pieces they obtained
from their visitors. After passing through the tunnel, they covered
themselves with white sheets in order to provide camouflage against the
snow and crawled for almost 1 kilometre to avoid detection by prison
The government immediately suspended 15 prison
officials, including the prison director, and opened an investigation
of them on the grounds of negligence. Political prisoners were
subjected to a more severe regime. All female prisoners were forced to
have a medical control with the purpose of finding out if they had had
sexual relations with their male comrades in prison. The Secretary
General of the Human Rights Association of Turkey (IHD), Hüsnü Öndül
protested against this pregnancy control incompatible with .the respect
to human dignity.
Two days later, on February 19, seven political
prisoners escaped from the Bayrampasa Prison in Istanbul. Those who
broke out dressed in prison guard uniforms were members of the
DEV-SOL and the TIKKO.
These 25 prisoners are added to the more than 7,900
people who have broken out of Turkish jails in the last 15 years. Only
2,700 of them have been recaptured.
During the February 18 meeting, the government
decided to submit a long-awaited draft on a prison reform to Parliament
in order to maintain state control over the prisons and ensure they are
The government draft gives additional powers to the
prison directors under the supervision of the public prosecutors. It
also suggests installing electronic equipment and closed circuit TV to
monitor and protect the prisons.
A shift from the ward system to the cell --or
dormitory-- system for Turkish prisons is reportedly to be the backbone
of the reform package. In the existing ward system, a varying number of
prisoners are held in wards in which they live and carry out all
The dormitory system had already been attempted in
1990 by the ANAP government, and Eskisehir prison had been chosen as
the pilot institution for that project. But the prisoners, reacting
adversely to the poor physical and administrative standards of
Eskisehir prison, which was not backed by a legal regulation as well,
claimed their rights were violated and staged a series of hunger
strikes. As a response to public reaction, the Eskisehir prison was
closed by the present coalition government as soon as it took power in
After the last breakout, the reopening of the
Eskisehir prison has been taken to the agenda. Justice Minister Seyfi
Oktay said the $78 million demanded by the government from the European
Housing Fund would be used for building more effectively protected
ENCYCLOPEDIAS WAR IN THE TURKISH PRESS
In the midst of a fierce competition to boost sales
by offering their readers “free” encyclopedias, three major Turkish
newspapers facing a financial disaster despite the rise of their sales
had to strike truce at the end of February 1993.
The campaign had been launched in October 1992 by
the dailies Sabah, Hürriyet and Milliyet with the promise to equip
their readers with full sets of encyclopedias --two volumes in return
only for coupons cut out of the paper every day for one month.
Dubbed as the “First Encyclopedia War” by other
newspapers, the campaign took a sharp turn in January 1993 with the
papers offering readers their own encyclopedias in return for those
purchased from others in competition. Moreover, newspapers started to
hand out mega, golden and super coupons, offering readers a second,
third and fourth chance in getting the volumes they had missed. While
at least 30 coupons were required to get two volumes in the beginning,
carefully following the super coupons, readers could get the same
volumes in return for only eight. In practice, instead of buying a
newspaper every day, readers could get the volumes by buying only eight
To avoid a catastrophe which may hit each of them,
the rival papers agreed not to issue super bonus coupons and appealed
to their readers to collect daily coupons in a more careful way.
With the encyclopedia campaign under way since
October, the three newspapers have boosted their sales by at least
twofold. Compared to the days when circulation of major papers was
around 500,000 to 700,000 each, the new circulation of the top three
ranges around 1,200,000 to 1,500,000.
Experts say the total bill for the papers involved
in the war of encyclopedias may run up to anything between one and two
trillion lira (between $12.5 and $25 million.)
Despite the annual population increase of 2.5
percent, the total daily circulation of the Turkish newspapers has
remained at 3.5 million over the past ten years. The latest campaign
has pushed the daily circulation up to over 4 million, but at a rather
NESIN TO PUBLISH THE SATANIC VERSES
Internationally renown Turkish humorist Aziz Nesin
announced on February 3 that he would have Salman Rushdie’s
controversial book The Satanic Verses translated into Turkish and
published in Turkey.
The Turkish Government had banned the importation
and distribution of Rushdie’s book in 1989.
On February 4, the Cumhuri Islami, a leading Iranian
daily, denounced Nesin and asseverated that Nesin must share the same
“fatwa” as Rushdie. “He no longer has a place among Muslims and should
like Rushdie be killed,” read the daily’s banner. The paper also called
for a boycott of Nesin’s books of which more than 100 have been
translated and printed in Iran.
In reply, Nesin said he did not care a fig. “Fear of
death does not necessarily mean that I shouldn’t do my duty... If 60
million people [in Turkey] remain silent, then fundamentalism is sure
to get the upper hand.” He also said he would be only too pleased to
have his books boycotted in Iran. “Those thieves have been bringing out
my books for over 40 years and have not paid me a single lira in
copyright yet,” he said.
Aziz Nesin, the chairman of the Writers’ Union of
Turkey (TYS), had earlier been the target of fierce attacks by ultra
nationalist milieu when he claimed that the majority of the Turkish
people were stupid fools.
“Are they not the ones who voted ‘yes’ for the
Constitution written under the aegis of the generals and made Evren
president for seven long years? Did they not shower praise on the
trigger-happy generals who toppled a civilian government in 1980 and
installed instead a puppet administration?” Nesin replied.
An Istanbul penal court opened on February 4 a case
against Nesin, demanding a maximum sentence of six years on the grounds
that he had “insulted the Turkish nation.”
PROPOSALS FOR STOPPING TORTURE IN TURKEY
The first part of the report about police torture in
Turkey, established by the Council of Europe’s Committee for The
Prevention of Torture (CPT), was published in our January 1993 issue.
Below we were are giving the second and final part of this report
concerning the action required to stop torture in Turkey::
• Action is required on several fronts if this
problem is to be addressed effectively. Legal safeguards against
torture and other forms of ill-treatment need to be reinforced and new
safeguards introduced. At the same time, education on human rights
matters and professional training for law enforcement officials must be
intensified. In this respect, the recent arrangements to send some 20
Turkish police officers to various other European countries in order to
study police methods there are to be welcomed, and the CPT trusts that
they represent part of an on-going process.
Furthermore, public prosecutors must react
expeditiously and effectively when confronted with complaints of
torture and ill-treatment. On this point, the recent annulment by the
Constitutional Court of section 15 (3) of the Law to Fight Terrorism of
12 April 1991 (which severely curtailed the possibilities for public
prosecutors to proceed against police officers alleged to have
ill-treated persons in the performance of duties relating to the
suppression of terrorism) is a very positive development. In order to
facilitate effective action by public prosecutors, the medical
examinations of persons in police and gendarmerie custody carried out
by the Forensic Institutes should be broadened in scope (medical
certificates should contain a statement of allegations, a clinical
description and the corresponding conclusions). Further, appropriate
steps should be taken to guarantee the independence of both Forensic
Institute doctors and other doctors who perform forensic tasks, as well
as to provide such doctors with specialised training.
Proper managerial control and supervision of law
enforcement officials must also be ensured, including through the
institution of effective independent monitoring mechanisms possessing
appropriate powers. Neither should the issue of the conditions of
service of such officials be overlooked, as satisfactory conditions of
service are indispensable to the development of a high-calibre police
Application of the recently drawn up Custody
Regulations, which relate inter alia to material conditions of
detention, must also be vigorously pursued throughout the whole of
Turkey. Considerable progress in this area has been made in Ankara and
Diyarbakir, in pursuance of the CPT's recommendations. However, the
situation found recently at Adana Police Headquarters (in particular in
the Anti-Terror Department) suggests that in other parts of the
country, persons detained by the police or gendarmerie may still be
held under totally unacceptable conditions.
• Particular reference must be made to the recently
adopted Law amending some provisions of the Code of Criminal Procedure
and of the Law relating to the organisation and procedure of State
Security Courts, which entered into force on 1 December 1992. This is a
revised version of the text returned to the Grand National Assembly
earlier in the year by the President of the Republic. The new Law inter
alia clarifies the existence of certain fundamental safeguards against
ill-treatment, such as the right to have a relative notified of one's
custody and the right of access to a lawyer (safeguards which had been
provided for previously but which had been largely inoperative in
practice), regulates in detail the mechanics of the interrogation
process, introduces a right to apply to a judge for the immediate
release of an apprehended person and shortens the maximum periods of
police/gendarmerie custody. The introduction of these provisions is a
most welcome step forward. However, it is a matter of great regret to
the CPT that their application to offences within the jurisdiction of
State Security Courts has been specifically excluded. Admittedly, the
number of offences under the jurisdiction of such courts has also been
reduced by the new Law, but it remains considerable: crimes against the
State; terrorist offences; drugs and arms-related offences, etc..
• The CPT wishes to take this opportunity to
underscore that it abhors terrorism, a crime which is all the more
despicable in a democratic country such as Turkey. The Committee also
deplores illicit drug and arms dealing. Further, it is fully conscious
of the great difficulties facing security forces in their struggle
against these destructive phenomena. Criminal activities of this kind
rightly meet with a strong response from state institutions. However,
under no circumstances must that response be allowed to degenerate into
acts of torture or other forms of ill-treatment by law enforcement
officials. Such acts are both outrageous violations of human rights and
fundamentally flawed methods of obtaining reliable evidence for
combating crime. They are also degrading to the officials who inflict
or authorise them. Worse still, they can ultimately undermine the very
structure of a democratic State.
• Unfortunately, Turkish law as it stands today does
not offer adequate protection against the application of those methods
to persons apprehended on suspicion of offences falling under the
jurisdiction of State Security Courts; on the contrary, it facilitates
the use of such methods. Suspects in relation to collectively committed
crimes may be held for up to 15 days by the police or gendarmerie
(rising to 30 days in regions where a state of emergency has been
declared), during which time they are routinely denied any contact with
the outside world.
It is true that the provisions of section 13 of the
new Law, concerning prohibited interrogation procedures, apply also to
persons suspected of offences under the jurisdiction of State Security
Courts. However, it would be unwise to believe that these provisions
alone will be able to stem torture and ill-treatment. The methods
described in section 13 have been illegal for many years under Turkish
Law by virtue of the general prohibition of torture and ill-treatment
in Article 17 (3) of the Constitution. Further, the stipulation that
statements made as a consequence of such methods shall not have the
value of evidence is merely a welcome reaffirmation of a principle
already recognised by the Turkish legal system.
In reality, the long periods of incommunicado
custody allow time for physical marks caused by torture and
ill-treatment to heal and fade; countless prisoners have described to
CPT delegations the treatment techniques applied by police officers. It
should also be noted that certain methods of torture commonly used do
not leave physical marks, or will not if carried out expertly.
Consequently, it shall often be difficult to demonstrate that a
statement has been made as a consequence of ill-treatment. The same
point applies to the admissibility of other evidence obtained as a
result of ill-treatment (cf.. section 24 of the new Law).
• The CPT does not contest that exceptionally,
specific legal procedures might be required in order to combat certain
types of crime, in particular those of a terrorist nature. However,
even taking into account the very difficult security conditions
prevailing in several areas of Turkey, an incommunicado custody period
of up to 15 days, let alone 30, is patently excessive; it is clear that
a proper balance has not been struck between security considerations
and the basic rights of detainees.
The CPT calls upon the Turkish Government to take
appropriate measures to reduce the maximum periods for which persons
suspected of offences falling under the jurisdiction of State Security
Courts can be held in police or gendarmerie custody, to clearly define
the circumstances under which the right of such persons to notify their
next of kin of their detention can be delayed and strictly limit in
time the application of such a measure, and to guarantee to such
persons, as from the outset of their custody, a right of access to an
independent lawyer (though not necessarily their own lawyer) as well as
to a doctor other than one selected by the police.
• As regards ordinary criminal suspects, the
amendments introduced by the above-mentioned Law could deal a severe
blow to the practice of torture and ill-treatment. However, much will
depend on how the new provisions are applied in practice. This is a
matter that the CPT intends to follow carefully in the coming months,
in close co-operation with the Turkish authorities. Nevertheless, a
number of points should be raised now.
• The maximum period of police custody for
collective crimes (three or more persons), although reduced, remains
quite high - up to eight days at the request of a public prosecutor and
by decision of a judge. In this regard, the CPT wishes to emphasise
that in the interests of the prevention of ill-treatment, it is
essential that the person in custody be physically brought before the
judge to whom the request for an extension of the custody period is
submitted. The new Law is not clear on this point.
• Although the precise content of the right of
access to a lawyer is impressive (cf.. in particular sections 14, 15
and 20 of the Law), a potential flaw lies in the fact that, with the
exception of persons who are under the age of 18 or disabled, a lawyer
will only be appointed if the person in custody so requests. A
fail-safe procedure will have to be found that ensures detainees are
(as the Law requires) informed of their right to appoint a lawyer and
not subjected to pressure when considering the exercise of that right.
The same point applies as regards the right of persons in custody to
make known to a relative of their choice that they have been
apprehended. Care will also have to be taken that the possibility
offered to take a statement, in certain cases, in the absence of the
lawyer appointed by the person detained is not abused.
• Under the new provisions, public prosecutors are
in an even better position to exercise considerable influence over the
manner in which police officers perform their duties and, more
specifically, treat persons in their custody. The CPT very much hopes
that they will make effective use of the possibilities open to them,
with a view to the prevention of ill-treatment.
• The new Law is silent on the question of the right
of persons in police or gendarmerie custody to have access to a doctor.
However, by a circular issued by the Ministry of the Interior on 21
September 1992, a right of access to a doctor in the form previously
recommended by the CPT (i.e. a right for the detainee to be examined by
a doctor chosen by him - if appropriate from among a list of doctors
agreed with the relevant professional body - in addition to any
examination carried out by a state-employed doctor) was recognised. The
CPT welcomes this development, though the inclusion of this right in a
law would be preferable. Previous circulars relating to important
safeguards for detained persons have remained a dead letter.
• Finally, it should be re-emphasised that the
phenomenon of torture and other forms of ill-treatment by the police
will not be eradicated by legislative fiat alone. It shall always be
possible for the impact of legal provisions to be diminished by ever
more expertly applied techniques of ill-treatment. Indeed, it can
legitimately be advanced that attacking the root of the problem of
torture and ill-treatment involves not so much changing laws as
transforming mentalities. This process is required not simply amongst
police officers but throughout the criminal justice system.
• The CPT is convinced that it would have been
counterproductive from the stand-point of the protection of human
rights for it to have refrained - as it was requested to do by the
Turkish authorities - from making this public statement. The statement
is issued in a constructive spirit. Far from creating an obstacle, it
should facilitate the efforts of both parties - acting in cooperation -
to strengthen the protection of persons deprived of their liberty from
torture and inhuman or degrading treatment or punishment.