the Kurdish proposal for a political solution, the government and
army of Turkey are expected to make
their choice until April 25, 1993
WAR OR PEACE?
As the Turkish armed forces were preparing an
extensive “spring” operation in Southeast Turkey, the Workers’ Party of
Kurdistan (PKK) announced on March 17 a “unilateral cease-fire” between
March 20-April 15, 1993, “if Turkish forces will not open fire on the
PKK.” During a press conference held in Syrian-controlled Bekaa Valley
in eastern Lebanon and attended also by Jalal Talabani, PKK leader
Abdullah Öcalan said: “The cease-fire for Newroz [Kurdish new year] is
a goodwill gesture and in response to calls by the international
Already a few weeks ago, on February 18, Kurdish
deputies carrying on a hunger-strike in Brussels informed the European
Parliament that the Kurdish side was ready to cease fire and to discuss
with the Turkish Government the conditions of a peaceful solution to
Asked if it was a conditional cease-fire, Öcalan
said at his press conference: “There is one condition -- that they
don’t come on to destroy us. We believe that they [Turkish officials]
feel the need for reevaluation of the situation. In order to make this
possible, we think this [cease-fire] period is necessary... and we have
done what is necessary. I hope it will be a beginning of a process of
peace, friendship, historic brotherhood between Turks and Kurds.”
“The basic question is whether the Turkish
Government is ready to stop the bloodshed, open the way for political
methods, give legal guarantees to our people and recognize the Kurdish
identity — in short, democratic ways, “ he said. But Öcalan
warned that if the Turkish Government continued to say to the Kurds
‘you don’t exist’, the price would be a return to ‘continuous war.’
“The PKK has 10,000 guerrillas in eastern Turkey and the number can be
raised to 50,000,” he added.
Keeping the promise, PKK guerrillas and militants
have not carried out any armed operation on March 21. So, contrary to
the tragic incidents of the last year during which nearly 100 people
were killed, the Newroz of this year was observed in calm except some
sporadic incidents provoked by security forces. For example, in Cizre,
a group of Kurds, mainly women and children, were peacefully dancing to
celebrate the Newroz. A police armoured car brutally broke up the show.
Yet, the PKK militants honoured truce.
In a second move, the PKK put in evidence its
intention to ameliorate its relations with other Kurdish groups as well
in Iraq as in Turkey in a view to gather all Kurdish political forces
on a democratic platform. After having reestablished a dialogue with
Jalal Talabani whom he accused of treason during the anti-PKK
operations in Iraq, APO leader Öcalan signed a protocol establishing
the principles of their common struggle with Kemal Burkay, Secretary
General of the Socialist Party of [Turkish] Kurdistan (PSK). Burkay who
had always criticized the struggle methods of the PKK and, for this
reason, was considered a collaborationist of the Turkish regime
in past. Both leaders agreed this time to strive for a democratic
solution to the Kurdish Question in all parts of Kurdistan.
Now, Ankara is at a turning point. The PKK’s
political offensive seems having badly cornered the Turkish regime
which was in preparation of an extensive military operation in spring
against the PKK forces.
The present government had already missed an
occasion of a peaceful solution when it came to power in 1991. Just
after the elections, in an interview to the Turkish Daily News of
November 26, Öcalan said: "Do they really have the intention of lifting
emergency law, special war tactics, counter-guerrilla measures, village
guards and similar things or do they want to make them more systematic?
We are considering the measures which are being developed now. If some
steps are taken, they will lead to developments. We have 900 years of
togetherness with Turkey. Even if we wanted to, we could not break off
from Turkey. We have a plan up create a democratic front.”
However, Premier Demirel refused this first
olive branch declaring that the reports of the military-civilian bodies
such as the Chief of General Staff, the National Security Council (MGK)
and the National Intelligence Organization (MIT) would be determining
in the establishing new policies against the Kurdish national movement.
In fact, the new policies were established on the military option and
the PKK had to pursue its guerrilla operations.
So, as detailed in the recent Helsinki Watch Report
(see in other columns), the situation of human rights in Turkish
Kurdistan has worsened since the Demirel Government took office in 1991.
The state of emergency is still in force in Turkish
Kurdistan. The National Assembly, just a few days before Öcalan’s
proposal, on March 8, voted the prolongation of the state of emergency
in ten South-eastern provinces for four months from March 19. Although
the SHP and DYP had been against this emergency regime when they were
in opposition, the government and the majority of DYP and SHP deputies
once again obeyed to the directive of the National Security Council to
maintain the south-eastern region under emergency state.
As reported in the preceding issue, the motions to
open a parliamentary debate on the subversive activities of the
Counter-guerrilla Organization were turned down by the government.
The first reaction to Öcalan’s declaration was very
far from a peaceful approach. The officials ruled out the possibility
of any bargaining taking place between the “terrorists” and the state.
Interior Minister Ismet Sezgin said that Öcalan’s call is due to the
PKK’s isolation as a result of Turkey’s efforts both at home and abroad
and the Turkish Army’s operations. Referring to Öcalan’s wish to return
to Turkey and to participate in political life, National Defense
Minister Nevzat Ayaz said: “There are judges and courts within this
system. The Turkish courts will do whatever is necessary.”
Will the Turkish Government and the Turkish Army,
under the pressure of the world opinion, change their attitude and
consider the PKK’s cease-fire proposal as an occasion to put an end to
the worsening polarization and the bloodshed in Turkey. Will they
accept, until April 25, a constructive dialogue with the Kurdish
Ankara is under a very heavy responsibility not only
as regards the Turkish and Kurdish peoples who wish to live peacefully
in a really democratic country but also as regards the international
public opinion suggesting both sides to enter a dialogue and to seek a
peaceful solution in this troublesome region of the world.
What can be the proof of good will by the side of
the Turkish regime? No doubt,
• lifting of state of emergency,
• halting military operations in Turkish Kurdistan,
• disbanding of village protectors,
• putting an end to subversive counter-guerrilla
• lifting Anti-Terror Law,
• changing the Constitution so as that the National
Security Council can no more dictate to the National Assembly and all
fundamental rights of the Kurds and the other minorities be recognized
are the prerequisites of such a dialogue.
As to the recognition of fundamental rights of
nationalities and minorities, what are the minima? Coincidentally, the
Parliamentary Assembly of the Council of Europe adopted on February
1st, 1993, a recommendation (N°1201) which asks that the Committee of
Ministers adopt an additional protocol to the European Convention on
Human Rights. Turkey should be one of the first signatories of such a
FUNDAMENTAL RIGHTS OF MINORITIES
The Parliamentary Assembly of the Council of Europe
recommends to all member states, including Turkey, to adopt the
following additional protocol for the protection of human rights and
fundamental freedoms concerning persons belonging to national
“The member states of the Council of Europe
“1. Considering that the diversity of peoples and
cultures with which it is imbued is one of the main sources of the
richness and vitality of European civilisation,
“2. Considering the important contribution of
national minorities to the cultural diversity and dynamism of the
states of Europe;
“3. Considering that only the recognition of the
rights of persons belonging to a national minority within a state and
the international protection of those rights are capable of putting a
lasting end to ethnic confrontations, and thus of helping to guarantee
justice, democracy, stability and peace;
“4. Considering that the rights concerned are those
which any person may exercise either singly or jointly;
“5. Considering that the international protection of
the rights of minorities is an essential aspect of the international
protection of human rights and, as such, a domain for international
Have agreed as follows:
For the purposes of this convention the expression
"national minority" refers to a group of persons in a state who
a. reside on the territory on that state and are
b. maintain long standing, firm and lasting ties
with that state,
c. display distinctive ethnic, cultural, religious
or linguistic characteristics,
are sufficiently representative, although smaller in
number than the rest of the population of that state or of a region of
e. are motivated by a concern to preserve together
that which constitutes their common identity, including their culture,
their traditions, their religion or their language.
1. Membership of a national minority shall be a
matter of free personal choice.
2. No disadvantage shall result from the choice or
the renunciation of such membership.
1. Every person belonging to a national minority
shall have the right to express, preserve and develop in complete
freedom his/her religious, ethnic, linguistic or cultural identity,
without being subjected to any attempt at assimilation against his/her
2. Every person belonging to a national minority may
exercise his/her rights and enjoy them individually or in association
All persons belonging to a national minority shall
be equal before the law. Any discrimination based on membership of a
national minority shall be prohibited.
Deliberate changes to the demographic composition of
the region in which a national minority is settled, to the detriment of
that minority, shall be prohibited.
All persons belonging to a national minority shall
have the right to set up their own organisations, including political
1. Every person belonging to a national minority
shall have the right freely to use his/her mother tongue in private and
in public, both orally and in writing. This right shall also apply to
the use of his/her language in publications and in the audio-visual
2. Every person belonging to a national minority
shall have the right to use his/her surname and first names in his/her
mother tongue and to official recognition of his/her surname and first
3. In the regions in which substantial numbers of a
national minority are settled, the persons belonging to a national
minority shall have the right to use their mother tongue in their
contacts with the administrative authorities and in proceedings before
the courts and legal authorities.
4. In the regions in which substantial numbers of a
national minority are settled, the persons belonging to that minority
shall have the right to display in their language local names, signs,
inscriptions and other similar information visible to the public. This
does not deprive the authorities of their right to display the
above-mentioned information in the official language or languages of
1. Every person belonging to a national minority
shall have the right to learn his/her mother tongue and to receive an
education in his/her mother tongue at an appropriate number of schools
and of state educational and training establishments, located in
accordance with the geographical distribution of the minority.
2. The persons belonging to a national minority
shall have the right to set up and manage their own schools and
educational and training establishments within the framework of the
legal system of the state.
If a violation of the rights protected by this
protocol is alleged, every person belonging to a national minority or
any representative organisation shall have an effective remedy before a
Every person belonging to a national minority, while
duly respecting the territorial integrity of the state, shall have the
right to have free and unimpeded contacts with the citizens of another
country with whom this minority shares ethnic, religious or linguistic
features or a cultural identity.
In the regions where they are in a majority the
persons belonging to a national minority shall have the right to have
at their disposal appropriate local or autonomous authorities or to
have a special status, matching the specific historical and territorial
situation and in accordance with the domestic legislation of the state.
1. Nothing in this protocol may be construed as
limiting or restricting an individual right of persons belonging to a
national minority or a collective right of a national minority embodied
in the legislation of the Contracting State or in an international
agreement to which that state is a party.
2. Measures taken for the sole purpose of protecting
ethnic groups, fostering their appropriate development and ensuring
that they are granted equal rights and treatment with respect to the
rest of the population in the administrative, political, economic,
social and cultural fields and in other spheres shall not be considered
The exercise of the rights and freedoms listed in
this protocol fully apply to the persons belonging to the majority in
the whole of the state but which constitute a minority in one or
several of its regions.
The exercise of the rights and freedoms set forth in
this protocol are not meant to restrict the duties and responsibilities
of the citizens of the state. However, this exercise may only be made
subject to such formalities, conditions, restrictions or penalties as
are prescribed by law and necessary in a democratic society in the
interests of national security, territorial integrity or public safety,
for the prevention of disorder or crime, for the protection of health
and morals and for the protection of the rights and freedoms of others.
HELSINKI WATCH REPORT ON THE OPPRESSION OF KURDS IN TURKEY
Helsinki Watch, issuing on March 18 a new report,
announced that killings of Turkish Kurds by Turkish security forces, as
well as disappearances, mysterious killings and brutal torture of
Kurdish civilians in southeast Turkey have increased since the Demirel
Government took office in 1991.
The below is the introduction of the report entitled
The Kurds of Turkey: Killings, Disappearances and Torture:
The situation of Turkey's Kurds has changed somewhat
since we wrote that report; Turkish authorities no longer speak of the
"mountain Turks," and Kurds are sometimes referred to by name in the
Turkish press. In addition, a law outlawing the speaking of Kurdish on
the street was repealed; but it is still illegal to speak Kurdish in
court, in official settings, or at public meetings. And most of the
cultural prohibitions remain in effect. In addition, the PKK's
guerrilla war continues more strongly than ever, and appears to have
far more support among Kurds than it did in 1988.
Prime Minister Süleyman Demirel's coalition
government, stating its commitment to human rights reforms, took office
in Turkey in November 1991. During the pre-election campaign, candidate
Demirel publicly recognized the "Kurdish reality -- a reference to the
Turkish Kurds living in southeast Turkey. In January 1992, two months
after his election, the prime minister told Helsinki Watch that he
planned to win the confidence of Turkey's large Kurdish minority
(estimated at about ten million of Turkey's fifty-seven million people)
by restoring its cultural rights and ending the village guard system
that forces local people to take up arms to support the military in its
fight against the PKK.
Unfortunately, the cultural rights of the Kurdish
minority continue to be abused in southeast Turkey and the village
guard system is as firmly entrenched as ever. The village guard system
forces villagers to choose between serving as armed guards, vulnerable
to PKK retribution, or abandoning their homes and lands. Moreover,
Turkish security forces have decimated nearly 300 Kurdish villages and
forced their residents to flee since the coalition government came to
In addition, Turkish security forces have attacked
Kurdish cities in the southeast with increased ferocity. They rained
such intense destruction on the town of Sirnak in August 1992 that all
but two or three thousand of the town's 35,000 inhabitants reportedly
piled their belongings onto wagons and trucks and abandoned the town.
Officials barred many journalists from most areas of the town and from
interviews with the mayor or other officials or residents, suggesting
that the government was trying to prevent the public from finding out
what happened. Similar large-scale attacks against civilians reportedly
took place in 1992 in Batman, Agri, Kulp and Cizre. As a result, Kurds
have been leaving the southeast in the thousands and moving to other
areas in Turkey.
Moreover, the Turkish government has utterly failed
to investigate the assassinations in southeast Turkey in 1992 of more
than 450 people who were killed by assailants using death squad
tactics. Among those killed were journalists, teachers, doctors, human
rights activists and political leaders; many suspect government
complicity in the killings. Some disappeared, only to turn up dead by a
roadside some time later. Although some of the victims were last seen
in the hands of police, the police usually deny having detained the
victims or claim that they held them briefly and then released them.
The Turkish government appears to have made no serious effort to find
the murderers or to investigate possible police involvement in
Among the many victims of assassination were
thirteen journalists and four distributors of a pro-Kurdish newspaper.
All but two of the journalists wrote for left-wing or pro-Kurdish
journals; several had written about purported connections between a
"counter-guerrilla" force or a Hezbollah group and Turkish security
forces. These journalists were apparently targeted as part of an
on-going vicious campaign to silence the dissident press. Many were
shot in the back—sometimes with one bullet to the back of the head—by
On coming to power, Prime Minister Demirel's
coalition government promised significant improvements in Turkey's
abysmal human rights record. Sadly, the promised reforms have not come
about; on the contrary, killings, torture and other human rights abuses
in Turkey have become significantly worse -- in western Turkey as well
as in the southeast.
During 1992, security forces shot and killed
seventy-four people in house raids -- thirty four in the southeast --
and the evidence suggests that the killings were deliberate executions.
Security forces also shot and killed more than 100 peaceful
demonstrators in several incidents in the southeast in 1992.
A promise to end torture has been repeatedly broken
by the coalition government, despite the fact that Prime Minister
Demirel came to power promising "police stations with glass walls." A
legal reform bill was enacted in late November. Unfortunately, its
maximum detention periods do not meet standards set by the European
Court of Human Rights: ordinary criminal suspects can be detained for
up to eight days, and political suspects for up to thirty days.
In August 1992, Helsinki Watch interviewed at length
24 people in four cities in western Turkey -- Istanbul, Ankara, Adana
and Antalya -- who told terrible stories of recent torture at the hands
of police. Many of them were Kurds. Their accounts, some of which are
recounted in a later section, and the stories of others like them, show
that the vile practice of torture continues in Turkey. It permeates the
criminal justice system and is not confined, as some believe, to
suspected terrorists or Kurdish separatists. Moreover, sixteen people
died in suspicious circumstances in 1992 while in police custody;
police claim that six of them, including three children between the
ages of 13 and 16, committed suicide. Ten of the sixteen deaths were of
Kurds in the southeast. Prime Minister Demirel's government has made no
serious effort to investigate these cases or to bring an end to torture.
In January 1992, Prime Minister Demirel, Deputy
Prime Minister Erdal Inönü and other Turkish officials told Helsinki
Watch of their ambitious plans for change. Legislation to protect
detainees from torture was only one of many planned reforms, including
amendments to the constitution and revision of the restrictive press
None of this has come to pass. In addition to the
assassinations of reporters in the southeast, other members of the
press—particularly left-wing opposition journalists—continue to be
harassed, threatened, beaten, detained and tortured. Reporters are
charged with the crimes of insulting the president, criticising the
military or public prosecutors, disseminating separatist or communist
propaganda, and praising acts that are considered crimes. Some have
been sentenced to prison terms for such crimes of thought. The journals
that have run into the most serious problems with Turkish authorities
are small, pro-Kurdish journals.
When asked to take responsibility for these abuses,
Turkish officials are quick to blame the escalating terrorism in
Turkey. To be sure, Turkey is experiencing a rising tide of terrorist
incidents. In the southeast, according to the Turkish government,
almost 1,000 civilians have been killed by the PKK since 1984. In
western Turkey, assassinations of police, judges and other officials,
most of them attributed to the left-wing extremist organization Dev-Sol
(Revolutionary Left), are becoming more frequent in Istanbul and other
major cities; at least fifty-four police and other officials were
assassinated in 1992.
But the Turkish government, in dealing with this
deplorable situation, appears to have abandoned its initially declared
commitment to a "state of law based on human rights and freedoms."
Instead of attempting to capture, question and try people suspected of
these killings, police have embarked on a campaign of house raids.
During 1992 forty alleged terrorists were shot and killed in house
raids in western Turkey -- twenty-six in Istanbul, nine in Ankara, and
five in other western cities. A similar pattern can be seen in the
southeast, where thirty-four alleged members of the PKK were shot and
killed in house raids. Police routinely claim that these deaths
occurred in the course of shoot-outs with suspects. But while the
suspects were shot dead, police were almost never killed or even
wounded, strongly suggesting that the raids were not shoot-outs but
deliberate executions. Extrajudicial killings in which police act as
judge, jury and executioner are outlawed by both international human
rights law and the laws of war.
Contrary to international laws and standards, police
continue to shoot and kill peaceful demonstrators; at least 103 were
killed in 1992 -- all but three of these were killed in the southeast.
In March, during the celebration of Newroz, the Kurdish New Year,
government troops opened fire and killed at least 91 demonstrators in
three towns in the southeast. Another nine people were killed in the
southeast in demonstrations in August. Peaceful demonstrators were also
killed in 1992 in Izmir, Adana and Antalya. No one has been charged
with any of these deaths.
The government appears to have abandoned many of its
early promises that could have afforded protections to the Kurdish
minority. Among these promises were a commitment to replace the
repressive 1982 constitution that was written following the military
coup of 1980, and, in the interim, to abolish anti-democratic
provisions in the current constitution that, for example, forbid
university professors and civil servants from joining political
parties. The government's programme included promises to change laws
that discriminate against women, to provide trade union rights for
civil servants and to enact trade union laws that comply with
International Labor Organization standards, to abolish restrictions on
political and religious freedom, and to abolish the Higher Education
Council. These promises have not been kept either.
In the initial days of the new administration some
positive steps were taken: Eskisehir Prison, known for its brutality
and isolation cells, was shut down; 227 people who had been deprived of
their citizenship for political reasons regained it; and some films and
cassettes were removed from a list of banned artistic works. The
government ended a ban on the use of the Kurdish language on the
street, although Kurdish is still banned in courts and other official
and public settings; one Kurdish-language newspaper, Welat, was allowed
to be published; and a policy of allowing parents freedom in
choosing their children names (including Kurdish names) was adopted. A
Kurdish institute was permitted to open in Istanbul, although it was
forbidden to hang up a sign outside its office. The institute was
raided by police on November 15, 1992, however; its books and records
were seized and its employees detained. On January 18, 1993, Cumhuriyet
reported that an Istanbul court had denied official registration to the
institute, since it was based on "a race." The decision is being
Justice Minister Seyfi Oktay, Interior Minister
Ismet Sezgin and Human Rights Minister Mehmet Kahraman all emphasized
in conversations with Helsinki Watch in August 1992 that the government
remains committed to change, to the establishment of "a transparent
democracy," and to making changes in the constitution and laws, as
initially proposed by the coalition government.
But appropriate actions are not forthcoming.
Killings, disappearances, brutal torture and other violations of human
rights are still taking place. Prime Minister Demirel's government has
not demonstrated the political will or ability to end these loathsome
practices, either on paper or in reality.
The Bush administration was extremely supportive of
the Demirel government, even going so far as to congratulate Turkey on
its "use of restraint" against the Kurdish population during Newroz,
when government troops shot and killed at least ninety-one peaceful
demonstrators. Turkey remains the third largest recipient of American
aid, after Israel and Egypt. For fiscal year 1993 the United States
will provide Turkey with $575 million in foreign assistance -- $450
million in military loans and $125 million in economic support grants.
In light of the massive continuing abuse of human
rights in Turkey, Helsinki Watch recommends that the U.S. government
end all military and security assistance to Turkey until such time as
Turkey no longer manifests a consistent pattern of gross human rights
violations, or state clearly, as required by Section 502b of the
Foreign Assistance Act, what extraordinary circumstances warrant
provision of military and security assistance to Turkey in light of its
pattern of violations. Helsinki Watch also recommends that the training
of Turkish police officers under the Anti-terrorism Assistance
Programme be promptly discontinued.
Helsinki Watch recommends to the Turkish government
that it end abuses of civilians in southeast Turkey and abide by the
requirements of international humanitarian law, the laws of war; end
restrictions on Kurdish ethnic identity; abolish the village guard
system; abide by international standards requiring law enforcement
officials to use lethal force only when absolutely necessary and in
proportion to the immediate danger faced when conducting raids on
houses suspected to contain "terrorists;" deploy nonlegal methods of
crowd control; punish security forces who kill civilians without
justification; investigate thoroughly and promptly all suspicious
deaths and disappearances and prosecute those responsible; end all
torture in police interrogation centers and prosecute torturers;
shorten detention periods and provide detainees with immediate and
regular access to attorneys; and end restrictions on free expression.
Further recommendations are detailed at the end of this report.
Helsinki Watch recommends to the Workers' Party of
Kurdistan (PKK) that it end all abuses against civilians and observe
promptly and scrupulously international humanitarian law - - the laws
STATE TERRORISM IN FEBRUARY
1.2, HEP deputies announce that the hamlet Güneyce
in the province of Sirnak was bombed by military aircrafts on January
31 and five members of the Ekici family, known as a sympathizer of the
PKK, were killed.
1.2, unidentified gunmen shoot dead Ali Yildirim
(31) in Diyarbakir and Kadri Balcik (55) in Silvan.
2.2, in Ankara, security forces detain eleven
alleged militants of the Islamist organization IBDA-C. Same day, in
Denizciler (Hatay), five people are placed under arrest by a tribunal
for propaganda in favour of the Hezbollah.
4.2, security forces have, during last ten-day
operations, arrested 19 people in relation with the Islamic Action
4.2, the Diyarbakir SSC sentences Cemalettin Cenap
Arici to capital punishment for having participated in PKK activities.
In the same case, two defendants are sentenced to life-prison and five
others to different imprisonments of up to 12 years and six months.
5.2, during recent operations in Ankara, Adana and
Hatay, a total of 29 people have been arrested for taking part in the
activities of the People's Revolutionary Vanguards (HDÖ).
5.2, a Hezbollah team shoot dead Fevzi Kazici (50)
in Silvan. In Pervari, Yusuf Akkan (25) is found assassinated. In
Viransehir, unidentified people shoot dead worker Mehmet Kaya.
6.2, in Malatya, Ekrem Kaval and Münir Colak allege
at tribunal that they were tortured for 15 days after their detention
on January 5.
6.2, in Ankara, 150 members of the religious
group Aczmendi are stopped at the entrance of the city when the come
from Elazig and Malatya for protesting against recent anti-Islamist
demonstrations. In the city, 25 people belonging to the same
group are taken into custody for wearing gown considered incompatible
with the Law on Dress.
7.2, the food embargo imposed by security forces in
Sirnak's Güclükonak town continues. Locals say the embargo started
because of their alleged aid to the PKK militants. No telephone
communication is possible between Sirnak and Güclükonak.
8.2, in Batman, unidentified people shoot dead Ihsan
Yesilirmak (45) and wounded his son Mahmut Yesilirmak (17).
9.2, the Izmir SSC sentences eight officials of the
People's Labour Party (HEP) to six months and 20 days in prison and TL
55,000 in fine, for instigation to ethnical hostility.
9.2, unidentified people shoot dead Kerem Ozgen (29)
in Diyarbakir and Mehmet Bagis (43) in Kozluk (Batman).
10.2, in Istanbul, 12 people have reportedly been
taken into custody for taking part in the actions of the Revolutionary
Workers-Peasants Army of Turkey (TIKKO).
10.2, Sabahat Varol, an IYO-DER (Istanbul based
association of university students) member detained by police 16 times,
claims at a press conference that police threatened her with execution.
11.2, in Istanbul, the usual visits to political
detainees at the Bayrampasa Prison is forbidden by the authorities
without any pretext. Thereupon, a number parents hold a demonstration
in front of the prison.
12.2, at the Buca Prison in Izmir, all left-wing
detainees were beaten by guards and gendarmes after an attempt to dig a
tunnel was discovered . According to defense lawyers, ten prisoners
were wounded. In protest, 55 prisoners went on hunger-strike.
12.2, the prosecutor of the Istanbul SSC indicted
eleven people for participating in the activities of the Hezbollah.
Five of the defendants face capital punishment.
12.2, in Batman, a Hezbollah team shoots
dead Yasar Bulus (33). In Mazidag (Mardin), Azad Adiloglu and
Vedat Dilekoglu are assassinated by unidentified people.
13.2, in Diyarbakir, HEP member Mehmet Akdag is
assassinated by unidentified people. Same day, in Mersin, Mehmet
Tatli (35) is found assassinated.
14.2, it is reported that SHP local chairman Hüseyin
Demir and 29 other people were arrested during a series of police
operations in Idil Sirnak province).
15.2, in Gaziantep, eleven people are detained on
charges of participating in PKK activities. In Adana, six people
are detained for belonging to the Communist Labour Party of
16.2, in Istanbul, a worker demonstration against
redundancies in Istanbul is prevented by police, four workers detained.
16.2, the Istanbul SSC sentenced two Hezbollah
members to 10 years and 10 months each, a third one to ten month for
some acts of violences. The three defendants are also sentenced to a
total of TL 210,600,000 ($23,400) in fine.
16.2, two Kurds, Mahmut Korunay (33) and Halil
Erdemir (35) were found assassinated in Karacailyas (Mersin).
16.2, Balikesir police arrest 21 people in a search
operation for suspected Dev-Sol militants. Of the detainees, 10 are
high school students, another three are university students.
17.2, a doctor of the Diyarbakir Children Hospital,
Ilhan Diken is brought before the Diyarbakir SSC on charges of
supporting the PKK. He is accused to give medical care to a wounded
person, allegedly member of the PKK.
17.2, security forces raiding on the village
Yesilyurt in Sirnak take into custody nine peasants. Among them are
also some victims of the gendarmerie atrocity in 1989. At that
time, the peasants had been forced to eat human excrement by the
gendarmerie officer. A complaint against this inhuman treatment is
still on the agenda of the European Commission of Human Rights.
19.2, in Istanbul, the IHD reports during a press
conference that three people named Osman Korkut, Hüsnü Aydin and Ekrem
Deniz were tortured at the Cinili Police Station. The fact of being
tortures was certified by a medical report. Same day, twelve university
students, detained after a sit-in on February 17, declare after their
released to have been tortured by police.
19.2, in Mersin, a demonstration by about a thousand
people in support to the PKK was prevented by police using force.
13 demonstrators were wounded and about 100 people were taken into
19.2, security forces detain three alleged members
of the Revolutionary Communist Party of Turkey (TDKP) in Kirsehir.
19.2, the Malatya SSC sentenced Hasan Hüseyin
Karakus to life-prison for taking part in TIKKO activities.
21.2, in Ankara, 24 left-wing students are expelled
from the dormitory of the Middle East Technical University
(ODTÜ)because of their political activities. In the town of Hopa
(Artvin), five students are taken into custody for the same reason.
21.2, in Mersin, Süleyman Akyüz (44) is shot dead by
23.2, the governor of Izmir banned the expedition of
some material aid to the district of Güclükonak (Sirnak), surrounded
for a long time by security forces. The material had been collected by
the IHD in izmir.
23.2, the Izmir SSC sentenced five HEP officials to
20 months in prison and TL 41,660,000 ($4,630) each for a declaration
that they had issued last year in protest against the Newroz Operation.
23.2, the Bolu section of the Finance Workers' Union
(Tüm Maliye Sen) is banned by the governor.
23.2, security forces have detained 12 people in
Istanbul for pro-PKK activities.
24.2, the prosecutor of Istanbul SSC started a legal
proceeding against three persons who had been detained on January 28
for an attempt on the life of Jewish-origin businessman Jak
Kamhi. All of them face capital punishment.
24.2, the prosecutor of Izmir SSC indicted 19 people
for having carried out pro-PKK activities in Antalya.Seven of the
defendants face capital punishment.
24.2, the prosecutor of the Diyarbakir SSC opened a
court action against a Hezbollah activist, Nedim Uysal, with the demand
of capital punishment.
25.2, a group of human rights activists who visit
the National Assembly for lodging a complaint are harassed by the
police and five of them wounded.
25.2, in Alanya, local HEP chairman Abdullah Arslan
and five other persons are detained for pro-PKK activities.
25.2, in Siirt, local IHD Chairman Haci Oguz and
seven other people are detained during a series of police raids.
26.2, the Chief Prosecutor started a legal
proceeding at the Constitution Court with the demand of banning the
Socialist Turkey Party (STP). Founded on November 7, 1992, the STP is
accused of having a separatist programme incompatible with the
27.2, the Agri section of the Finance Workers' Union
(Tüm Maliye Sen) is banned by the governor.
THE ASSASSINATION OF 14th JOURNALIST IN ONE YEAR
Kemal Kilic, 28, former reporter for the defunct
daily newspaper Özgür Gündem and Urfa IHD official, was killed by a
group of unidentified assailants on the Urfa-Akcakale highway on
February 18. His colleagues report that he had demanded authorization
to carry a fire-arm for protecting himself, but the authorities refused
it. With the assassination of Kilic, the number of the journalists
killed within a year reached 14.
NAZIM HIKMET’S NATIONALITY REJECTED
The State Council endorsed on February 24 an earlier
court decision which rejected the poet Nazim Hikmet’s application to
have his Turkish nationality returned.
Hikmet is Turkey’s most renown poet whose works have
been printed in different languages throughout the world. After having
served 13-year prison for his political beliefs, he fled Turkey in 1951
when he was appealed to make his military service at the age of 46. He
died in Moscow in 1963.
The late poet’s sister Samiye Yaltirim put in
application to the prime minister’s office back in 1988, for the
Cabinet to overrule a 1951 decision to have the poet stripped of his
Turkish nationality. She received no response.
Yaltirim took this to mean an “indirect rejection”
of her application, which prompted her to open a law suit to have her
brother’s nationality restored.
The court decided that Yaltirim had no “direct
interest” in the issue and ruled that she had no “licence” to file a
The court ruled that “the right to nationality is an
individual and personal right. A sister has no interest in the matter.”
This was endorsed by the State Council.
LARGEST FINE DEMANDED FOR BESIKCI
The prosecutor of the Ankara SSC demanded on
February 8 that sociologist and writer Ismail Besikci be fined TL 26
billion ($2,888,888) for his 13 books on the Kurdish problem. The
demand for the proposed fine, if upheld,will be the largest ever
imposed on published material in Turkey. All of these books had been
confiscated by the authorities
Besikci told the daily Cumhuriyet that Turkey is far
from being a democratic country, despite its claims that it has
established a “Western-style” democracy.
“As the number of such cases increases, the state is
dragging itself towards a dead end. These trials and indictments are
proof as to why we don’t trust the judicial system in Turkey.”
Meanwhile, Ünsal Öztürk, the publisher of Besikci’s
book and owner of the Yurt Publishing House, said: “We don’t want to be
tried by the Turkish courts. These courts do not even abide by the
international agreements signed by the state. When the SSC makes its
final decision, we will use our right to apply to the European Human
PRESSURE ON THE MEDIA IN FEBRUARY
2.2, the issue N°45 of the weekly Gercek was
confiscated by the Istanbul SSC for separatist propaganda.
3.2, the former responsible editor of the weekly
Mücadele, Erdogan Yasar Kopan is put in prison for purging a prison
term of two years and four months. He was condemned by a penal court of
Istanbul for praising certain acts considered crime and insulting the
President of the Republic in an article.
3.2, two journalists of the daily Hürriyet, Nuriye
Akman and Hasan Kilic as well as famous humorist Aziz Nesin are
indicted for an interview with the latter published on September 27,
1992. Nesin, in this interview said: "The Turkish people is
stupid." Accused of violating Article 159 of the Turkish Penal
Code, they face a prison term of up to six years each.
4.2, the responsible editor of the monthly Odak,
Hidir Ates is sentenced by the Istanbul SSC to a 6-month imprisonment
and a fine of TL100 Million ($11,100) for separatist propaganda
by virtue of Article 6 of the Anti-Terror Law.
5.2, the Istanbul SSC condemned three journalists of
the monthly Newroz for separatist propaganda: Columnist Remzi Bilget to
a 20-month imprisonment and a fine of TL 41.666.000 ($4,630),
responsible editor Celal Albayrak to a 6-month imprisonment and a fine
of TL41,666,000 and publisher Hüseyin Alatas to a fine of TL83,333,000
7.2, the issue N° 14 of the monthly Newroz is
confiscated by the Istanbul SSC for separatist propaganda.
9.2, the issue N° 39 of the weekly Azadi is
confiscated by the Istanbul SSC for separatist propaganda.
9.2, the responsible editor of the monthly Emek,
Tuncay Atmaca is sentenced to two years and six months in prison and TL
83,333,000 ($9,260) in fine by virtue of Article 8 of the ATL.
10.2, Sedat Karatas, chief editor of the weekly
Azadi, says that the Istanbul SSC committed a most curious faux pas
when it decided to seize his paper for the alleged publication of an
article that, in fact, did not make it to the the paper's pages at all.
"This is proof enough that SSC prosecutors do not even have a look at
the paper before deciding to seize it," Karatas says. Of 35 issues of
Azadi, 15 have been confiscated by police acting on orders from various
11.2, Hürriyet reporter Toygun Attila is harassed by
police as he is covering the incidents in front of the Bayrampasa
Prison in Istanbul. His camera and tape-recorder are confiscated.
12.2, the issue N°9 of the monthly Newroz Atesi is
confiscated by the Istanbul SSC for separatist propaganda.
16.2, the issue N°33 of the weekly Mücadele is
confiscated by the Istanbul SSC for separatist propaganda.
17.2, three journalists of the big media, Togay
Bayatli and Altan Öymen from daily Milliyet and Ridvan Yelekci from
daily Hürriyet, are indicted for having criticized a court decision
against a football star. They are to be tried by a penal court of
19.2, after a concert of the Musical Group Ekin in
Bergama (Izmir), 39 people are taken into custody. During their police
detention, many of them are subjected to torture and two detainees are
transferred to hospital.
21.2, the governor of Diyarbakir bans the
distribution of 23 musi-cassettes containing Kurdish songs chanted by
Sivan Perwer, Nizamettin Ariç and Gönül Sahin.
23.2, the trial of author Edip Polat for his book
entitled The Kurds and Kurdistan in the Scientific Language - A Reply
from Biology to the Official Ideology begins at the Ankara SSC. The
prosecutor demands prison terms of up to five years as well for Polat
as for Dr. Ismail Besikci who wrote the preface of the book and
publisher Vedat Yeniceri. Each faces also a fine of TL 41,666,000
($4,630) by virtue of Article 8 of the ATL.
27.2, the prosecutor of Istanbul indicts once again
sociologist Ismail Besikci for his article published in the weekly Yeni
Ülke of October 25, 1992. He faces a prison term of up to three years
for praising crimeful acts by virtue of Article 312 of the TPC. The
responsible editor of the weekly, Bülent Aydin too faces the same
THE RSF REPORT ON THE MURDERS OF JOURNALISTS
Just before this new assassination, the Swiss
Section of Reporters Without Frontiers issued a detailed report on the
murders of journalists and other pressures on the Turkish press,
During a meeting in Paris with the Turkish
Ambassador in September 1992, the French section of Reporters Without
Frontiers (Reporters sans frontières, RSF) had proposed to send an
international team to Turkey in order to investigate a series of
murders where Turkish journalists had been victims, as well as to
investigate continued difficulties experienced by certain journals. The
proposal was favourably received by the Turkish authorities.
The mission took place in Turkey from 10 January to
21 January 1993. The team conducted 22 formal meetings organized on its
own initiative or on the initiative of the authorities: 6 with
professional press organizations, 8 with journals and journalists, 4
with lawyers and human rights defenders, and 4 with government
representatives. Beyond that, the team had several informal meetings,
listened to spontaneous witnesses and collected extensive documentation.
The team regrets not to have been able to meet in
Diyarbakir, in spite of a request submitted more than one month in
advance, the authorities in charge of the State of Emergency. The
reason given was the visit of a government official in the region. The
team believes, however, that it has been able to collect sufficient
The following is the summary of the 65-page report:
1. Having been able to confirm that they had been
the authors of articles published by the press, and in the absence of
any evidence of violent activity, we believe the 13 murdered
individuals should be considered as journalists.
2. It remained so determine if they had been killed
due to their activities as journalists, and who could have been the
perpetrators of these murders. In the absence of irrefutable evidence,
it is not possible to give answers devoid of any doubt. This counts as
well for the two cases where the two suspects, members of Hezbollah,
were arrested by the Police (pending a Judgement, the details of the
case have not been communicated to us).
3. However, we believe that in certain cases we have
sufficient elements to support very strong suspicions. They include the
• At least two journalists were killed by the
PKK, the separatist Kurdish party pursuing its aims by armed means. One
of the two had been accused of being a police informant; the motive of
the murder accordingly does not appear to be tied to his (former)
journalistic activity. The other was killed during an attack on his
town; he may have been killed due to his profession.
• At least four journalists were killed due to their
journalistic activities in cases which directly, or indirectly,
implicated the Police. The identities of the murderers remain the
object of diverse hypotheses: the Counter-Guerrillas, Hezbollah,
paramilitary groups. But we are convinced that there was at least the
complicity, if not the participation, of the Armed Forces.
• In the seven other cases, there are elements based
on the testimony of witnesses which could support certain suspicions.
But, the team feels they are insufficient as such to support any
4. However the delegation believes its suspicions
concerning members of the Police are reinforced by numerous examples
and accounts of other pressures experienced by journalists and
publications in the region: obstacles to free movement, physical
intimidation, threats, burned trucks and kiosques...etc.
We have been particularly alarmed by he recent
murders of three press vendors and distributors, all threatened before
to cease selling certain publications. One vendor was attacked during
the course of our mission, and his relatives and friends told us
directly of previous threats originating from a Police Officer.
5. The deaths of these journalists take place in a
context of growing violence toward the civilian population. Hundreds of
individuals from the Kurdish civilian population have been assassinated
in a similar fashion — by mysterious killers who are never found. The
authorities blame "terrorism" and retribution killings among terrorist
groups. This exclusive blame does not convince us, if only because we
have observed on several occasions the refusal of the Turkish
authorities to investigate any case, no matter what it be, where the
Police may be implicated.
6. We confirm, and praise, the considerable freedom
of expression enjoyed by the major papers. In addition, we noted that
many publications abundantly give the point of view of the PKK. This is
the paradox of a country which allows the publication of journals very
close to organizations considered terrorist, but which subjects these
same publications to constant judicial harassment, and notably frequent
sequesters. The procedure is legal, but is based on laws which
abusively limit freedom of expression. There still exists a large
arsenal of repressive laws: 152 of their articles can be used against
7. We note with satisfaction the reform foreseen for
the Law on the Press; but we judge it to be very insufficient. We
believe in particular that Articles 6 and 8 of the Antiterror Law,
which allows vague punishment for any type of separatist propaganda,
should be repealed.
The daily Cumhuriyet published at the end of January
a list of journalists killed since the existence of the Turkish press.
The total number is 34. Thirteen of them, i.e., more than one third,
were killed in 1992.
1891: Zeki Bey
1909: Hasan Fehmi Bey
1910: Ahmet Samim, Huseyin Hilmi Bey
1919: Osman Nevres
1920: Hasan Tahsin
1930: Hikmet Sevket
1974: Adem Yavuz
1978: Ali Ihsan Özgür
1979: Abdi Ipekçi, Ilhan Darendelioglu
1980: Ismail Gerçek, Ümit Kaftancioglu, Muzaffer
Fevzioglu, Recai Ünal
1988: Mevlut Isik
1989: Sami Basaran, Kamil Basaran
1990: Çetin Emeç, Turan Dursun
1992: Halit Güngen, Cengiz Altun, Izzet Kezer,
Bülent Ülkü, Mecit Akgün, Hafiz Akdemir, Çetin Ababay, Yahya Orhan,
Hüseyin Deniz, Musa Anter, Yusuf Aktay, Hatip Kapçak, Namik Taranci
1993 (January): Ugur Mumcu
The report gives the details on the 13 murders
reported and confirmed in the course of 1992, along with an evaluation
in response to the following question:
Why they should all be considered journalists?
“Those who were killed are not real journalists.
They are militants disguised as journalists. They kill each
other." (Süleyman Demirel, Prime Minister, August 11, 1992).
Due to this statement and similar statements made by
other members of the Government, our delegation above all looked to
determine whether the thirteen victims should, or should not, be
To determine the status of a journalist in Turkey,
there are two formal means (but without any legal value, according to a
lawyer specialized in the field):
• The Press Card, issued by the State, more
precisely by the General Directorate for the Press and Information,
attached to the Office of the Prime Minister. It is a yellow or blue
card. To obtain one it is necessary to make an application, and this
must be supported by the employer. It is issued after an apprenticeship
the duration of which varies with the previous level of studies
completed: 18 months if the candidate has completed a Press School, 24
for a university graduate, 30 for a high school or college graduate.
Approximately 3000 people hold such a card
• "Journalist identity cards" distributed by press
organizations. This requires that the journalist is the officially
declared employee of a press organization.
According to our information, in only one of the
thirteen cases (that of Kezer), it is not contested that the victim had
a press card. However in one report entitled "Who is a journalist?"(see
annex), the Press Council (l) explained that the majority of
journalists have neither one nor the other. This is due to the
• The press card is not given automatically to
candidates who fulfil the conditions. It seems for practical purposes
there is a quota for each journal. On the other hand, from what we have
been told by the Press Council, the card has been devalued by the fact
it has been given to people "who have nothing to do with the profession
of journalism"— notably ministerial civil servants. This abuse is due
to the privileges which come with the card. notably price reductions.
• The journalist identity card is not frequently
issued since it obliges the employer to pay social security and other
The possession of a card is insufficient to
determine the status of a journalist. Consequently, membership in one
of the professional associations is also not a reliable criteria. The
Southeast Journalists' Association, for example, requires possession of
one of the two cards to become a member.
All the professional associations are of the opinion
that the victims were journalists, this in spite of the fact that they
were not members (only Kezer was a member of an association — in
- "In or eyes they were journalists. They worked
regularly in he information field. It matters little if this was not
their only activity" (Necmi Tanyolaç President of the Journalists'
Association in Istanbul).
- "To say that they were not journalists, the
Government bases itself on he fact hat they did not have a press card.
For us this is incorrect. They were all journalists" (Orhan Erin,
President of the Journalists' Union) .
-"For us the essential thing is that they worked for
a paper" (Ramazan Pamuk, President of the Southeast Journalists'
In light of all the opinions and testimonies we
collected, our delegation believes that in every case, except one, it
is established that all the victims exercised a journalistic activity.
The doubtful case is in our eyes Mecit Akgün, former
occasional correspondent with Yeni Ulke in Nusaybin. He ceased writing
eight months before his murder, according to the paper. his cessation
in his activities was confirmed to us by the majority of people with
whom we spoke with two exceptions. Most notably, one journalist in
Diyarbakir claimed to have cooperated with Akgün on an
investigation three months before his death. In any event, from what we
can believe from two testimonies collected in Diyarbakir, he was still
considered as a journalist in Nusaybin in spite of his political
activities. We believe therefore that in the absence of conclusive
evidence to the contrary, he should remain on the list as a journalist.
In the majority of the cases it turns out that
journalism was not a full time activity. In certain cases it was not
even the principal activity. Our delegation believes however that this
should not prevent them from being considered as journalists. The
principal reason is related to the work conditions in the southeast
region of Turkey, subject to a State of Emergency and plunged in an
atmosphere of war. It is difficult for journalists to move freely. The
papers therefore need a well supplied network of correspondents who,
due to this, do not have full time positions. In a context of massive
unemployment, numerous correspondents only work part time. But,
journalism is considered their social identity. Even for those who have
another principal profession, it is rather their journalistic
activities which expose them to local public attention.
In the course of discussions with the authorities,
they did not share the opinion put forward by Mr. Demirel and other
members of the government. Mr. Demirel, we were told, had probably
talked too hurriedly. In our discussions at the Ministry of the
Interior, the status of journalist was not called into question:
-"Unfortunately some journalists were killed in the
exercise of their profession. We are looking for their murderers. (...)
Anter and Kezer in any case were journalists. For us the the
others were local correspondents for various papers." (Ali Pitirli,
General Director for Research, Planning and Coordination) .
However, they emphasized several times that some of
them were "militants", the proof in their eyes being that seven of them
had been arrested for, suspected of, or sentenced for illegal
activities in the past. It should be understood that the term
"militant" in Turkish generally means: a member of a terrorist
In any case, there is no proof, or even a serious
indication, that the journalists were killed in the framework of
"militant" activities. If this is the case, it is necessary to
distinguish further whether their activities in the more general sense
were violent or non-violent. Turkish legislation includes under the
term terrorism mere opinions. This RSF finds totally unacceptable.
It is at least surprising, if not scandalous, that
the Turkish Government mentions sentences served, or indictments which
did not result in convictions, to implicitly devalue their deaths, to
take away their status as victims.
Given that there is no evidence of violent activity,
our delegation believes, following the example of the Turkish
professional organizations, that the exercise of possible other
activities by the victims has no impact on their status as journalists.
[This report can be ordered from Reporters sans
frontières, association suisse. Address: Case postale 162, 1010
Lausanne 10, Switzerland.]