1993: THE YEAR OF HAWKS
The year 1993 is ending with further human rights
violations, a deepening polarization between Turks and Kurds and
an unprecedented escalation of the state of war menacing not only
Turkey's future but also the stability in the Middle-East. In fact, the
70th anniversary of the Republic of Turkey has been marked as "The Year
of Hawks" because of the militarist choice of Demirel and Ciller
Associated Press reported on December 21 that the
Turkish government has devoted 150,000 soldiers and paramilitary police
to fight against the guerrillas. "Turkey, already burdened with nearly
$60 billion of debt and 67 percent inflation, is spending about $6.6
billion a year on the war, a figure expected to rise. The economy in
the Southeast has been devastated. banks are pulling out, sales of
consumers good are down 20 percent and private investment has nearly
ceased. Hundreds of thousands of Kurds have moved westward." said the
Below are the large extracts of a survey on the
situation by Ismet Imset published in The Turkish Daily News of
December 17, 1993:
Despite repeated pledges by the Ankara government of
further democratisation, Turkey is giving the West the image that it is
rapidly turning into a Latin American style country where
assassinations, newspaper raids, arrests of journalists and torture are
becoming increasingly wide-spread and systematic. Recent international
human rights reports suggest that the coalition government in Ankara
has changed its principal policies completely and no longer cares for
human rights and freedoms, one of the main items on the coalition's
There is no longer talk of abiding by the Paris
Charter, transparency and international principles of human rights,
while terrorism the Southeast has become instrumental in justifying
various violations and a turn to government-approved repression. Recent
developments, meanwhile, imply that Turkey is distancing itself from
the judicial state structure it aimed to attain and is now witnessing a
covert military influence that falls short of being an outright
take-over by the country's hard-line commanders.
There is no longer any talk of the coalition's main
principles such as abiding by the Paris Charter, respecting human
rights and freedoms and/or an overwhelming transparency drive. Instead,
there has been a vicious campaign of political assassinations committed
by Salvadorian style death squads, raids on dissident newspapers,
sweeping arrests and systematic torture.
Developments have proved that the so-called CMUK or
Judicial Reform Package which Ankara portrayed to the West as a
milestone in rights, is only a window show. Under CMUK, only ordinary
criminals; rapists, thieves, burglars and murderers have the privilege
of using their human rights, contacting their lawyers after detention
and serving less time in police custody. All others who fall into the
category of "criminals" to be tried at state security courts — which
are remnants of the military tribunals from post coup eras— such as
journalists, authors, doctors, lawyers, political activists and so on,
share none of these privileges.
According to the recent Human Rights Watch report,
Turkey has turned into a country where "appalling human rights abuses"
can be seen. As claimed in the same report, instead of remaining within
the boundaries of law and order, "the government has chosen to deal
with its problems by shooting and killing suspected members of
Again recently, journalist members of Amnesty
International staged a demonstration outside the Turkish Embassy in
London to protest the killing of at least 12 journalists in Turkey
since the coalition government came to power.
According to a report issued by Helsinki Watch in
November, even the United Nations Committee Against Torture has had to
put in writing its condemnation of "habitual widespread, deliberate and
systematic torture in Turkey." In the year 1992, a total of 16
detainees in police custody died in suspicious circumstances, while in
1993, the figure so far stands at 18. Many of the deaths were described
in police reports as resulting from suicide, heart attacks or illness.
Most of the suffering has been inflicted on
pro-Kurdish activists and writers as well as researchers who have
concentrated on human rights and the Kurdish question. Recent
polls have shown that 60 percent of Turks believe in the need to launch
all-out war on the Kurds.
In 1993, there were three most striking
developments, all linked to prominent figures who were well into the
Ugur Mumcu, a prominent Turkish journalist and
writer, was killed in a car bomb explosion in January 1993. The killing
was immediately attributed to foreign intelligence services and the
Iranian secret service surfaced as the main suspect. But the C-5
explosive used to prepare the car bomb was stocked by a number of
regional armies and secret services, including those of Turkey.
The death of Gendarmerie General Esref Bitlis, on
the other hand, is still as bizarre a case as it was. Several
intelligence officers have claimed publicly that the plane crash which
claimed his life was an act of sabotage. Recently, an intelligence
operative even appeared on television to describe how a hair-thin pipe
had been attached from the fuselage of the plane to its exhaust so it
would explode in mid air.
Four more intelligence operatives, all connected to
what appears to be a gendarmerie counter-guerrilla outfit, were
abducted and killed. Even Prime Minister Tansu Ciller was forced to say
after the incidents that the deaths were part of an "internal
accounting." She did not give the names of the state departments who
were a party to this "accounting."
The less prominent targets of unidentified death
squads, since the coalition came to power in October 91, have
been some 500 civilians in the Southeast — mostly killed by a bullet
through the head. Their files have been registered as "unsolved
crimes." Among these, 50 pro-Kurdish activists and politicians have
also been murdered. Musa Anter, a prominent Kurdish writer, was killed
at the age of 74. Mehmet Sincar, a parliamentarian for the
Kurdish-based Democracy Party (DEP) was also assassinated. Other
Kurdish authors, journalists and politicians have been marked as
targets for future assassinations.
Meanwhile attacks have spread against the
pro-Kurdish Özgür Gündem newspaper. A number of its journalists have
been killed, others have been arrested. Children attempting to sell the
paper in the Southeast have been attacked with butchers' knives, beaten
and threatened. Aysel Malkac, said to have been detained on Aug. 6, is
still reported as "missing."
These were the developments up to November. A black
mark not only for the Tansu Ciller coalition but for the previous
Süleyman Demirel administration as well. As of the end of
November, however, the situation of human rights and democracy appears
to have worsened even further with European countries cracking down on
Kurdish activists and Ankara taking this as a signal to go ahead with
human rights violations in the country.
Instead of concentrating on dealing with the spread of terrorism and
violence, Turkey appears to have adopted a military-initiated policy to
break the backbone of all opposition. The threat was first worded by
senior commanders who declared the first targets of the new campaign
would be "the supporters and sympathisers" of the terrorists. For them,
anyone who thought differently to the establishment, could fall into
And, Ciller accepted the terms. In the past three
weeks alone, developments have shown that the situation will get worse
and the human rights crisis on Turkey's agenda will deepen. The new
targets for Ankara are not the terrorists but writers, authors and
politicians: The country's intellectuals. In three weeks, Turkey moved
to a position as if to prove that the end of the democratisation era
Ünsal Öztürk, a publisher in Istanbul, was sentenced
to one year's imprisonment and fined TL 100 million for publishing a
book by PKK leader Abdullah Öcalan.
Nine British trade unionists were detained and
threatened in the Southeast. One claims she was fired on by a police
The Ankara State Security Court sentenced play
writer Numan Baktas to 20 months' imprisonment and fined him TL 208
million for a book on the experience of convicts in Diyarbakir prison
Eleven lawyers were placed under detention in
Diyarbakir and Istanbul.
Two members of a Turkish pop music band named Grup
Yorum, Kemal Sahir Gurel and Elif Sumru, were each sentenced to one
year and eight months in prison and fined TL 42 million for ''spreading
verbal propaganda aiming to destroy the territorial integrity of the
Two people, Selma Dogan and Erol Yalcin, were killed
during a police raid on their house after which the security branded
them as terrorists.
The Istanbul SSC launched a criminal investigation
against Professor Dogu Ergil, a lecturer of political sciences in
Ankara University, for his written remarks published in a weekly
Reuters reported that 200 Christians were driven
from their homes in Mardin after a village chieftain branded them as
Armenians on the state television.
The Ankara SSC sentenced journalist-author Haluk
Gerger to a one year and eight-month prison term and a fine of TL 208
million on the grounds of "spreading separatist propaganda."
The Ankara SSC filed a case against Human Rights
Association Chairman Akin Birdal, Contemporary Jurists' Association
executive board member lawyer Ali Yildirim, Dr. Alpaslan Berktay (one
of the founders of the association), former Deputy Husnu Okcuoglu and
writer-journalist Yalcin Kücük, because of their speeches on the 44th
anniversary of the Human Rights Declaration. They too will be tried for
disseminating propaganda against the nation's sovereignty.
As if to stress the real power circles in control of
state affairs, a Chief of Staff court ordered the arrest of two newsmen
and will be trying them for a programme they aired on a private
television channel. Producer Erhan Akyildiz and reporter, Ali
Tevfik Berber, both civilians, have been placed in an Ankara military
prison. They will be tried not by a civilian court but a military one
and are charged with "aiming to turn the Turkish people against
compulsory military service."
Cumhuriyet newspaper's Berin Nadi and Birikim
magazine's former editor Aydin Engin were put on trial for making a
state security court prosecutor out as a target In articles published
in their publications.
And, as if these were not enough, persecution of
pro-Kurdish yet moderate and legal institutions was also boosted in
this period. First, 16 DEP members including Democracy Party (DEP)
Ankara provincial administrators-and the party's secretary Ibrahim
Aksoy were arrested. Then the Constitutional Court opened a case for
the complete closure of DEP — which will strip 17
parliamentarians of their immunity.
This was followed by a massive crack-down on the
pro-Kurdish Özgür Gündem newspaper. Acting on orders from the SSC,
police raided the paper's Istanbul office and detained 107 people out
of which 88 were later released. Gündem offices throughout the country
were either raided or placed under a police blockade. About 30 people
were arrested. The police recently said that the newspaper's
editor-in-chief, Gurbetelli Ersöz, also in custody, was in poor health.
Friends are worried this could imply she will also be tortured and
Twentieth century Turkey, with all of these recent
examples, hardly fits in with the contemporary state structure the
prime minister and other state officials frequently talk about.
Newspapers are still raided. Journalists and writers
are arrested for what they have written.
Politicians are arrested for what they have said.
Lawyers can be detained even for defence speeches
they make in court.
And, not one of the "criminals" subject to this
persecution can in any way enjoy the privileges of the judicial reform
package which only applies to ordinary criminals.
Turkish intellectuals can be detained for up to 15 days, have no right
to see their lawyers, can be tortured and have the right to "commit
suicide" in detention.
In Turkey, which will enter 1994 with great
problems, the main problem is the situation of human rights and
freedoms which are becoming non-existent.
The country's major policy decisions are either
being influenced or taken by the military.
The Judicial system is still based on verdicts which
can be passed by controversial state security courts, often run by
former military officers. Military tribunals can still arrest and try
Any "intellectual activity," the expression of
opinion, can be regarded as "disseminating propaganda against the
nation's sovereignty." And, no one is free to think or express what he
or she may think.
All priorities on human rights and freedoms have now
been shelved. The question asked in many circles though, is how
far this "campaign" will go and how long it can last.
The indication from the West is that there is
growing anxiety among Turkey's allies. According to a senior source in
Washington, the State Department and administration are both worried
about Turkey's future. Similar signals are being received from other
countries as well.
Now that the West has dealt the expected blow to the
PKK, it appears the next step will be to care more about the human
rights situation in Turkey and prevent the administration from
committing "hara-kiri." If the issue is not treated with care and
the sensitivity it deserves, it is inevitably going to affect the whole
of Turkey's social and political future — and foreign relations
One thing is clear for the time being. That with
developments like those listed above, Turkish democracy need not fear
any military coup in the next decade, since an authoritarian rule in
disguise has already come into being.
NEW ESCALATION IN THE DIRTY WAR
The daily Hürriyet reports on December 10 that four
separate teams comprising members of the Special Operations Department
have been set in motion to shoot PKK leader Abdullah Öcalan and other
PKK and guerrilla chiefs.
According to the report, inspired by an American TV
serial, these teams call themselves the "A-team." They have made
ambitious pledges to the office of the chief of staff which in turn has
informed Premier Ciller about the matter. Chief of Staff Güres
reportedly told Ciller, "We are waiting for D-Day."
The teams comprise volunteers from the department's
personnel who have received special training. The political decision to
have the PKK leadership cadre wiped out was taken a National Security
Council meeting, and the Special Operations Department was given this
On December 28, commenting some press reports that
PKK leader Abdullah Öcalan had been killed by an A-team, Ciller
expressed her joy by saying to Hürriyet, "Haven't I told you this job
will be finished? Have some patience." However, Öcalan's death was not
confirmed by further information.
Despite official statements that the PKK received a
major blow in 1993, official figures show a two fold increase in
the PKK activities during the first 11 months of the year in comparison
to the same period in 1992.
According to the official figures provided by the
Interior Ministry and published by The Turkish Daily News of December
27, the number of PKK-related incidents throughout Turkey reached 3,901
in only first 11 months of this year while this figure was 1,920 in all
of 1992. The civilian death toll was recorded at 1,249 as of November
30, 1993, representing an increase of about 100 percent from 1992's
year-end figure of 618.
During the same period in 1993, a total of 676
security officials, including temporary village guards, soldiers and
policemen, were killed. last year, this figure stood at 634. Official
figures revealed an increase in PKK casualties and injuries in 1993
with 1,552 militants killed and 121 wounded, in contrast to last year's
figures of 1,228 killed and 52 wounded.
However, the number of PKK militants caught by
security forces so far in 1993 was 7,640, lower than the 7,908
militants caught in 1992.
POISED HAMMER EXTENDED
Despite the widespread objection from the opposition
as well as from some deputies of the ruling parties, Poised Hammer's
(currently dubbed Operation Provide Comfort) mandate was extended on
December 28 by Parliament for another six months.
During the voting, of the 358 deputies present, 196
voted for the extension, 160 voted against and two abstained.
SHP Deputy Mümtaz Soysal expressed his opposition to
the Poised Hammer in following terms:
"If we are to allow foreign flags in our territory,
then why did we engage in the War of Liberation? We are not a one-night
hostel for Poised Hammer. We are not some 'banana republic', nor are we
Washington's Middle East guard, or front line or springboard."
The former Prime Minister Bülent Ecevit, opposing to
the decision, said: "Poised Hammer has not only created a power vacuum
in northern Iraq, it has also created a lack of authority in the
Turkish Southeast. Extending this force's mandate will mean suicide for
In answer to criticisms, Foreign Minister Hikmet
Cetin argued that the absence of Poised Hammer forces could result in
another Kurdish exodus from Iraq to Turkey, as had been the case in
Although some deputies claimed that the Poised
Hammer facilitates the PKK's guerrilla operations, Cetin contradicted
it by saying: "A new migration from Iraq might create chaos in the
region, which would mean an increase in PKK power. Besides, the
presence of the Poised Hammer forces made easier for Turkey to carry
out cross-border operations against PKK militants stationed in northern
JOINT ACTION WITH IRAN AGAINST KURDS
Premier Ciller announced on December 21 that
Turkey and Iran had agreed on joint action against terrorism. "This
action can be on our territory or on Iran's territory. The details will
be handled by the security forces and the interior minister," she said
after her meeting with Iran's first Deputy President Hassan Habibi in
Security talks between Turkey and Iran at the level
of senior officials from the ministries of interior at the beginning of
the month had resulted in an accord under which the sides had agreed to
send observers to follow each other's "search and destroy" operations
against "terrorist" bases.
This accord is specifically aimed at the PKK
militants on the Turkish side and the activities of the Iranian
Kurdistan Democracy Party (IKDP) and the Mujahedeen Khalq organization,
on the Iranian side
DEP ELECTED A RADICAL CHAIRMAN
The Democracy Party (DEP) entered a new era with
Diyarbakir Deputy Hatip Dicle's election as party chairman during the
1st extraordinary convention on December 12. Dicle's election is
interpreted by political observers as the DEP's orientation to more
radical policies in spite of a closure case being dealt by the
Beating two other candidates of moderate groups
within the party, Dicle was elected during the third round of voting,
in which he obtained 212 of the 373 votes cast.
Contrary to the previous (now defunct) People's
Labour Party (HEP) conventions, the participants were not allowed to
chant radical and pro-PKK slogans. It was the first time that the
Turkish flag was raised in the convention hall.
But in contrast with the moderate atmosphere
reigning at the convention, new chairman Hatip Dicle, after his
election, used expressions that praised the PKK. Pointing out
that the PKK's military force could serve as a local defence unit until
a true peace was restored, Dicle said that the people should be asked
whether they wanted to be separate from Turkey or not, in a referendum.
He said he and his colleagues would favour the idea of living in unity.
But he also said that no one should consider a solution without the
PKK, and his words were greeted with applause from the people present
in the convention hall.
STATE TERRORISM IN DECEMBER
1.12, the Istanbul SSC prosecutor indicts Sarp
Kuray, a political refugee who returned from France and arrested in
Istanbul on October 23 for having set up abroad the organisation
Partisan's Path (PY). Sarp faces capital punishment by virtue of
Article 146/1 of the TPC.
1.12, in Dargecit (Mardin), five people are killed
by the explosion of a mine placed by security forces.
2.12, the Chief Prosecutor of the Republic started a
legal proceeding at the Constitutional Court with the demand of closing
down the Democracy Party (DEP). He claims that the party chairman
Yasar Kaya's several statements and the party's call for peace on
September 1, 1993, violate many articles of the Constitution and the
Political Parties Act.
2.12, new victims of political murder: Mehmet Nuri
Özdemir, Salahattin Özdemir and Talip Topsuz in Batman; Mehmet
Korkutata in Bingöl.
3.12, the number of the Kurdish lawyers under arrest
in Diyarbakir reaches 14 with the recent detention of Tahir Elci,
Fuat Hayri Durmus, Gazanfer Abbasioglu and Selim Kurbanoglu.
3.12, unidentified gunmen assassinate Ridvan Agirman
in Nusaybin, Ismet Demir in Batman and Mehmet Seycar in Diyarbakir.
4.11, in Adana, police take into custody three
people for separatist propaganda during a wedding ceremony. In Derik
(Mardin), police announce the arrest of 20 people during a search
operation. Besides, farmer Sehmuz Gecer is found assassinated in the
6.12, unidentified gunmen shoot dead
Abdulkadir Tekin, Burhan Atas, Seyhmuz Narin in Diyarbakir and Esat
Güntay in Batman.
7.12, the number of the detained lawyers in
Diyarbakir reaches 16 with the arrest of Imam Sahin and Arzu Sahin.
7.12, unidentified gunmen shoot dead Sukru Tavsan,
Sadrettin Aydin, Recep Erbahadir, Sedat Akinci and Bulent Gül in
Diyarbakir, Esat Göktal in Batman.
8.12, security forces raiding the village of Tecirli
in Igdir shoot dead 15-year old Isa Kocbas.
8.12, in Istanbul, nine out of 30 people detained on
November 26-27 for PKK activities are placed under arrest by a
tribunal. In Batman, police announce the arrest of 30 people for
8.12, the Malatya SSC sentences six alleged members
of the Workers'- Peasants' Liberation Army of Turkey (TIKKO) to prison
terms of up to 21 years and 10 months. In another case, three people
are sentenced by the same court to prison terms of 4 years and 6 months
each for Dev-Sol activities.
8.12, new victims of political murder: Hasan Elhakan
and Nazmi Efe in Diyarbakir.
8.12, in Eruh (Siirt), Mehmet Sen and Ahmet Sen are
killed by the explosion of a mine placed by security forces.
9.12, in Ceylanpinar (Urfa), raiding a house
security forces shoot dead a person and detain four others.
9.12, in Digor (Kars), more than 30 people are
detained during police operations.
10.12, the Kayseri SSC sentences PKK member Yildirim
Arican to capital punishment and two others to imprisonment of up to 15
10.12, the Diyarbakir SSC prosecutor indicts 12
Islamist militants for political violence and demands capital
punishment for eight defendants.
10.12, teacher Hayrettin Yildiz falls victim of
political murders in Diyarbakir and Sitki Yildirim in Adana.
10.12, in Ankara, police disperse by using force
more than 3 Thousand public servants holding a protest march and
detains 25 people.
11.12, three of the 16 Kurdish lawyers detained
earlier by police in Diyarbakir, Sabahattin Acar, Tahir Elci and
Nevzat Kaya are placed under arrest by the Diyarbakir SSC.
12.12, in Istanbul, eight members of the Islamist
organization IBDA-C are detained by police.
13.12, three political detainees in Batman, Hamit
Baltas, Diyadin Baltas and Yesil Isik announce that they were tortured
during their 30-day police detention for accepting to be informers.
14.12, former DEP Secretary General Ibrahim Aksoy
and four other party officials are detained by police in relation with
a party meeting held in Ankara on September 24.
14.12, a human rights meeting at the Balikesir
University is prevented by police using force. 24 students are
detained. After their release on December 12, they claim to have been
tortured at police station.
14.12, three passengers of a bus in Siirt are killed
by the explosion of a mine placed by security forces, seven others
15.12, a bomb explosion at a café in the Kurdish
quarters of Adana kills one person and wounds 13 others.
15.12, After the arrest of three, the Diyarbakir SSC
places under arrest six other lawyers detained earlier by police: Meral
Danis Bestas, Arif Altinkalem, Fuat Hayati Demir, Mesut Bestas, Selim
Kurbanoglu and Vedat Ertan. So, the number of the Kurdish lawyers under
arrest rises to nine.
16.12, in Istanbul, police detain 11 alleged members
the Revolutionary Communist Party of Turkey (TDKP).
17.12, in Nazilli, four Welfare Party (RP) officials
are detained for separatist propaganda.
17.12, in Istanbul, police detain 3-year old Servan
Ete together with his parents after a house raid. Same day, five other
persons are taken into custody for TIKKO activities.
17.12, the Court of Cassation approves life-prison
for two Dev-Sol defendants, Ali Sahin and Serdar Demirel.
17.12, Mehmet Elcicek falls victim of a political
murder in Diyarbakir.
18.12, in Diyarbakir, a woman named Nazime Ekinci
claims to have been tortured after her detention by police on December
19.12, in Diyarbakir, Veysi Kortak is assassinated
by unidentified gunmen.
19.12, DEP Antalya official Selim Öncü is detained
during an anti-PKK police operation.
20.12, in Istanbul, 18 people are arrested during a
series of police operations.
20.12, in Mardin, Ekrem Teonay and two unidentified
persons fall victims of political murders.
21.12, two Kurdish lawyers, Arzu Sahin and Imam
Sahin, detained in Istanbul are sent to Diyarbakir for being
tried there by the State Security Court. The number of the
Kurdish lawyers under arrest rises to nine.
22.12, DEP official Mehmet Zeynettin Unay is put in
prison for purging his prison term of two months and 23 days.
22.12, the Ankara SSC sentences 12 PKK defendants to
prison terms of up to 22 years and 6 months.
22.12, new victims of political murder: Sinan Erdem
and Mehmet Hadi Cam in Mardin, Salih Bozcu in Batman and Zeynel Keskin
23.12, a Joint Parliamentary Commission decides to
lift immunity of four DEP deputies: DEP Chairman Hatip
Dicle(Diyarbakir), Leyla Zana (Diyarbakir), Ahmet Türk (Mardin)
and Mahmut Alniak (Sirnak). If the decision is approved by the
Plenary Session of the Parliament, four deputies will be tried by the
Ankara SSC under the menace of capital punishment.
23.12, the Students' Association of the Law Faculty
of Ankara University is banned by the university administration for its
activities during the Human Rights Week.
23.12, security forces opening fire on a minibus in
Igdir shoot dead five Kurdish peasants. Later on, about 40 peasants
asking to take the bodies of the victims are taken into custody.
24.12, the IHD Corum section is searched and its
four officials taken into custody by police.
25.12, the Democratic Women's Association (UDKD) is
closed down by the Istanbul Governor and its chairwoman Necla Tanrikulu
taken into custody.
25.12, in Izmir, the Association for Freedoms and
Freedoms (Özgür-Der) is raided by police and two persons inside taken
27.12, new victims of political murder: Sadi Kortak,
Halim Özboyaci, Ayhan Dogan, Mehmet Akcanli, Mehmet Kaynar and Mehmet
Dayan in Diyarbakir, Zeki Yalcin in Hakkari, Fevzi Öncel and Sakine
Öncel in Bismil, Sirac Cengiz in Batman.
28.12, the chief prosecutor started a legal
proceeding before the Constitutional Court for banning the Socialist
Union Party (SBP). The prosecutor charges the party leaders with
28.12, in Corum, the local IHD Section and the
People's House are closed down by the governor.
28.12, in Van, Ahmet Acar falls victim of political
29.12, in Batman, Abdurrahman Bayindir is
assassinated by unidentified gunmen.
31.12, Mehmet Yildiz falls victim of political
murder in Diyarbakir.
ARMY ARRESTS JOURNALISTS
Two TV journalists, Erhan Akyildiz, 46, and Ali
Tevfik Berber, 34, were arrested on December 14, 1993, by the order of
the Chief of Staff on charges of broadcasting material that discouraged
Turks from military service.
A written statement issued by Chief of Staff Public
Relations Department said the two were arrested as part of an
investigation launched by the Chief of Staff military prosecutors by
virtue of Article 58 of the Military Penal Code and Article 155 of the
Turkish Penal Code.
Contemporary Journalists Association (CGD) Chairman
Mustafa Ekmekci said that the arrest of the journalists did not conform
with democratic principles.
Both journalists work for the Istanbul-based HBB
Television station and broadcast a TV programme on draft dodgers and
deserters from the army. Several people interviewed in the HBB
programme "Anten" were members of an anti-war group. A spokesman of the
Chief of Staff said that they too were being sought and would be
arrested when found.
The programme coincided with an outbreak of press
reports that Serdar Güres, the son of Chief of Staff General Dogan
Güres, was also among the country's 250,000 draft evaders.
The two journalists were released on December 20 by
the Chief of Staff's court but ordered to appear in court on January 25
for their trial. Both face a sentence of two months' to two years'
GENERAL GÜRES' ATTACK ON THE MEDIA
Chief of General Staff General Dogan Güres, on
December 24, lashed out at those journalists demanding to lift the
taboos on the Turkish Armed Forces and branded them as dwarfs and
Speaking at the Second Commando Brigade in Bolu,
Güres said: "We are living through critical days but we will overcome
everything. With changing regional conditions, the threats to Turkey
increased and more important duties have fallen on the Turkish Armed
Forces. From time to time and especially during critical periods,
people who are vociferous and organizations, low in figure and dwarfish
in quantity, can appear and make baseless accusations and attacks on
military commanders. These miserable people are hiding behind
democratic remarks like the Turkish Armed Forces are not taboo and
hiding their real intentions. The current danger is the terrorist
organization, its collaborators and its verbal and written supporters.
Don't have any worry, the Turkish nation is after them."
GÜRES' SON TO SHOOT JOURNALISTS!
Having made the headlines in the press --beating
people up, starting fights, a lavish spending at the officers' club and
getting involved in love affairs with various models-- this time, Chief
of Staff General Dogan Güres' son, Serdar Güres' name has got mixed up
in an education scandal.
Güres, who has been attending the theatre department
at Istanbul University's State Conservatory for the last five years,
allegedly was accepted by the school due to pressures exerted by his
family. Although he has not been attending classes, he has somehow
managed to graduate to the fourth level.
Actor and director Ahmet Levendoglu, who some time
ago resigned from the board of education, accused at a press conference
on December 27 of having violated educational rules for satisfying the
top general of the Army.
Earlier, the press had reported that Güres was
attempting to avoid military service by prolonging his stay in the
conservatory. On December 26, Serdar Güres claimed that his patience
was running out and he could kill a journalist if his patience were
exhausted any further. In his interview to the daily Milliyet, Güres
said that those who spread such "rumours" were "traitors" who were
actually after his father but could not reach him directly.
NEW ATTACK ON ÖZGÜR GÜNDEM
The assault on the daily Özgür Gündem gained a new
dimension when police cracked down on the newspaper's head office in
Istanbul and detained 107 journalists and employees on December 10,
1993. Next day, raids on other offices of the daily continued. Although
88 of those in custody in istanbul were released, arrests continued
Due to this repressive operation carried just on the
Universal Human Rights Day, the daily could not be published for three
On December 17, the daily's chief editor, Mrs.
Gurbetelli Ersöz and 46 other newspaper employees were still under
Özgür Gündem journalists fear for Ersöz' life after
a police officer informed them she was ill following her detention.
Colleagues of the detained journalists fear that the
Turkish police may be attempting to force the detainees into signing
false confessions under torture. Authorities have banned attorneys from
visiting or speaking to the detainees.
The International Federation of Journalists said in
an immediate statement that there was serious concern over the attitude
of the Turkish state with regard to press freedoms.
The PEN Writers in Prison Committee also condemned
the treatment of Özgür Gündem and appealed for urgent action.
The Reporters Without Frontiers (RSF) organization
appealed for the international community to join in the protest.
RSF director Robert Menard called on Turkey to
respect press freedoms and human rights, demanding that all the
detained employees of Özgür Gündem be set free.
According to the Committee to Protect Journalists,
which sent a message of protest to Premier Ciller, the State Security
Court, which had failed to close down Özgür Gündem using legal methods,
"has succeeded in closing the newspaper for three days by arresting its
PERSECUTION OF MEDIA IN DECEMBER
2.12, the Court of Cassation approves the sentence
of two musicians of the Group Yorum, Kemal Sahir Gürel and Elif Sumru
Gürel. The artists were sentenced by the Izmir SSC 20 months in prison
and TL 42 Million ($ 2,800) in fine each for the songs they chanted at
a concert in Denizli on March 15, 1992.
2.12, the editor of the periodical Taraf, Esma Turan
is sentenced by the Istanbul SSC to one year in prison and TL 250
Million ($ 16,666) in fine. The review's owner, Kazim Albayrak too is
sentenced to a fine of TL 100 Million ($ 6,666) in the same case.
2.12, unidentified assailants beat two vendors of
the daily Özgür Gündem in Van and Diyarbakir.
3.12, the editor of the periodical Özgür Halk, Hasan
Tepe is sentenced by the Istanbul SSC to two years in prison and TL 100
Million ($ 6,666) in fine. The review's owner, Haydar Demir too is
sentenced o a fine of TL 100 Million ($ 6,666) in the same case.
3.12, the owner of the periodical Taraf, Kazim
Albayrak is sentenced by the Istanbul SSC to ten months in prison and
TL 208 Million ($ 13,866) in fine for an article he wrote. The tribunal
also decides to ban the review's publication for one month.
3.12, two newspaper vendors, Musa Dürü and Yahya
Cilligöz are shot dead in Batman by unidentified gunmen. In
Diyarbakir, a 16-year old Özgür Gündem vendor is stabbed by
5.12, the Istanbul SSC confiscates famous Kurdish
poet Cigerhun's book entitled Ronak ve Kime Ez for separatist
propaganda. The daily Aydinlik's last issue too is confiscated for
instigating the people to disorder.
6.12, the editor of the periodical Emegin Bayragi,
Nazim Taban is sentenced by the Istanbul SSC to one year in prison and
TL 100 Million ($ 6,666) in fine for some articles on May Day. The
review's publisher Yalcin Ates too is sentenced to TL 200 Million ($
13,333) for the same articles. The court also decides to ban the
review's publication for 15 days.
6.12, the editor of the review Ekimler, Yalcin Ates
is sentenced by the Istanbul SSC to a fine of TL 3 Million 970
Thousands ($ 264). The court also decides to ban the review's
publication for one month.
6.12, the weekly Azadi N°82 and the periodical
Devrimci Emek N°25 are confiscated by the Istanbul SSC in virtue of the
7.12, the owner and editor of the periodical Newroz
Atesi, Mrs Nedime Tunc is sentenced by the Istanbul SSC to six months
in prison and TL 50 Million ($ 3,333) in fine for an article concerning
the assassination of journalist Musa Anter.
8.12, the Istanbul SSC confiscates the periodical
Emegin Bayragi N°104 and the first issue of a new periodical, Marksist
Damar, by virtue of the ATL.
8.12, in Istanbul, during a press conference held at
the Police Headquarters; Aydinlik correspondent Imam Hantas is harassed
by police and the film in his camera confiscated.
9.12, the former editor of Özgür Gündem, Isik Yurtcu
is sentenced by the Istanbul SSC to two years in prison and TL 28.7
Million ($ 1,913) in fine. The journal's owner Yasar Kaya too is
sentenced to a fine of 56.7 Million ($ 3,783).
9.12, the editor of the periodical Devrimci Emek,
Müstak Erhan Il is sentenced by the Istanbul SSC to five months in
prison and TL 41.6 Million ($ 2,777) in fine. The court also decides to
ban the review's publication for one month.
9.12, the Ankara SSC sentences journalist-writer
Haluk Gerger to 20 months in prison and TL 208 Million ($ 13,866) for a
message of solidarity he sent to a meeting of May 23, 1993.
9.12, the editor of the periodical Alternatif, Güray
Gürel is placed under arrest by the Istanbul SSC for some articles he
10.12, the former editor of Özgür Gündem, Isik
Yurtcu is sentenced by the Istanbul SSC to one year in prison and TL
100 Million ($ 6,666) in fine. The journal's owner Yasar Kaya too is
sentenced to a fine of TL 100 Million.
10.12, the editor of the periodical Ekimler, Nusret
Öztürk is sentenced by the Istanbul SSC to five months in prison and TL
41.6 Million ($ 2,777) in fine. The court also decides to ban the
review's publication for one month.
10.12, the former editor of the periodical Odak,
Hidir Ates is sentenced by the Istanbul SSC to nine months in prison
and TL 720 Thousand ($ 48) in fine for anti-militarist propaganda.
12.12, the Izmir public prosecutor bans a poster
against capital punishment prepared by the Human Rights' Association
(IHD) and the Contemporary Lawyers' Association (CHD).
13.12, the Istanbul SSC confiscates the book
entitled Nobody Can Judge The Dawn and printed by the Barikat
14.12, in Iskenderun, Özgür Gündem vendor Zuhat Tepe
is found assassinated by cutting his throat.
14.12, Diyarbakir correspondent of the daily
Aydinlik, Ferhat Bulak is kept under custody for 10 hours. He claims
after his release that he was subjected to torture during his
15.12, two TV programme producers, Erhan Akyildiz
and Ali Tevfik Berber are placed under arrest by the Military Tribunal
of the General Staff Headquarters issues a warrant for the arrest of on
charges of discrediting the Army in a programme aired on December 8.
15.12, the monthly Odak N°26 is confiscated by the
Istanbul SSC. Besides, the review's two correspondents, Mehmet Ayvali
and Firat Kilic are detained in Izmir.
16.12, writer Yalcin Kücük is sentenced by the
Ankara SSC to 20 months in prison and TL 208 Million ($ 13,866) in fine
for a speech he gave at a meeting in 1992.
16.12, two journalists of the daily Cumhuriyet,
editor Aydin Engin and publisher Berin Nadi are tried by the Istanbul
SSC for having criticised the Ankara SSC Prosecutor Nusret Demiral.
Chief editorialist of the daily Birikim Murat Belge is also tried by
the same tribunal by virtue of the ATL. They face each a prison term of
up to five years.
16.12, the monthly Hedef N°26 is confiscated by the
Istanbul SSC for separatist propaganda.
17.12, four Özgür Gündem correspondents, Haci
Cetinkaya, Mehmet Özen, Beyhan Günyeli and Gürsel Sahin who were
detained in Adana on December 11 claim after their release to have been
subjected torture for seven days.
19.12, the last issues of the dailies Cumhuriyet and
Özgür Gündem are confiscated by the Istanbul SSC.
20.12, two TV programme producers, Erhan Akyildiz
and Ali Tevfik Berber are released at their first trial by the Military
Court of General Staff. The tribunal prevented two members of
Parliament, Sirri Sakik and Mahmut Alniak from attending the trial.
20.12, the periodical Devrimci Cözüm N°11, Özgür
Gelecek N°18 and the recent issues of Genclik Yildizi and Partizan are
confiscated by the Istanbul SSC.
21.12, Özgür Gündem correspondent Necmiye Aslanoglu
says to have been tortured in Diyarbakir after her detention on
21.12, IHD Istanbul Chairman Ercan Kanar is
sentenced by a criminal court to ten month-prison for his article
criticising the army in Özgür Gündem.
22.12, the Court of Cassation approves a sentence
against Professor Fikret Baskaya. He was sentenced by the Istanbul SSC
to 20 months in prison and TL 41 Million ($ 2,733) in fine for his book
entitled The bankrupt of the Paradigm - Introduction to the Criticism
of the Official Ideology. The publisher of the book, Selim
Okcuoglu too is sentenced five months in prison and TL 41 Million ($
2,733) in fine.
22.12, the weekly Aktüel N°128 is confiscated by the
Istanbul SSC by virtue of the ATL.
23.12, sociologist Ismail Besikci is sentenced by
the Istanbul SSC to two years in prison and TL 100 Million ($ 6,666) in
fine for his open letter addressed to the Constitutional Court and
published in Özgür Gündem. In another trial, Besikci is sentenced again
to the same punishments for his conference entitled Scientific Method
and My Struggle. Besikci is already in prison for his three other
23.12, two journalists of Cumhuriyet, responsible
editor Aydin Engin is sentenced by the Istanbul SSC to 15 months in
prison and reporter Celal Baslangic to TL 2 Million 275 Thousand ($
151) in fine for a reportage with Islamist Aczmendi leader Müslüm
Gündüz. The latter too is sentenced to 15 months in prison for having
insulted Atatürk in his interview.
23.12, Özgür Gündem chief editor Mrs. Gurbetelli
Ersöz and managing editor Ali Riza Halis are placed under arrest by an
Istanbul tribunal. They were detained by police during the December 10
police raid on the journal's head office.
23.12, German TV reporter Stefan Walberg who was
arrested on October 23, 1992 for aiding the PKK, is released on an
exceptional amnesty by President Süleyman Demirel.
24.12, the editor of the periodical Ekimler, Seyit
Nusret Öztürk is sentenced by the Istanbul SSC to two years and six
months in prison and TL 250 Million ($ 17,241) in fine for an article
on May Day 1992. The court also decides to ban the review's publication
for one month.
24.12, the former editor of Özgür Gündem, Isik
Yurtcu is sentenced by the Istanbul SSC to four years in prison and TL
200 Million ($ 13,333) in fine. The journal's publisher Yasar Kaya too
is sentenced to TL 200 Million ($ 13,333) in fine. The court also
decides to ban the journal's publication for two months.
24.12, the responsible editor of the arts review
Hevdem is placed under arrest in relation with a political
25.12, Sivas correspondent of the weekly Gercek,
Cevat Aktas is detained after having transmitted his report on a
student meeting in the city.
28.12, the Ankara SSC decides to confiscate six
books of sociologist ismail Besikci which have recently been published:
1) Besikci Case 1 from the point of view Scientific Method, Autonomy of
Universities and Democratic Society Principles, 2) Besikci Case 2 from
the point of view Scientific Method, Autonomy of Universities and
Democratic Society Principles, 3) Besikci Case 4 from the point of view
Scientific Method, Autonomy of Universities and Democratic Society
Principles, 4) The General Muglali Case - 33 Bullets, 5) An
Intellectual, An Organisation and the Kurdish Question, 6) On the
Kurdish Society. By this decision 27 out of 31 books by Besikci
happened to be banned. Besides, eight different proceedings are started
against Besikci in relation with the six banned books.
29.12, the periodical Isciler ve Toplum N°85 is
confiscated by virtue of the ATL.
30.12, a former editor of Özgür Gündem, Seyh Davut
Karadag is sentenced to a one-year imprisonment and a fine of TL 71
Million ($ 4,733). The newspapers' publisher Yasar Kaya too is
sentenced to a fine of TL 143 Million ($ 9,533). The court also
decides to ban the newspaper's publication for one month. So, the total
of banning period about Özgür Gündem reaches four months.
30.12, former editor of the periodical Emegin
Bayragi, Nazim Taban is sentenced by the Istanbul SSC to five months in
prison and TL 41 Million ($ 2,733) in fine.
30.12, the last issue of the daily Aydinlik is
confiscated by the Istanbul SSC for an interview with PKK spokesman Ali
Sapan. The 1994 calendar published by Özgür Gündem and the periodical
Yeni Demokrat Genclik N°15 too are confiscated for separatist
propaganda and praising outlawed organizations.
31.12, the responsible editor of the defunct HEP's
information bulletin, Kemal Okutan is sentenced by the Ankara SSC to
six months in prison and TL 50 Million ($ 3,333) in fine for the issue
on the Newroz 1992 events.
INTELLECTUALS' DECLARATION OF UNITY
A group of Turkish intellectuals representing
different political and religious creeds issued on December 14 a
"declaration of unity" against the intensifying acts of violence in
Turkey's troubled Southeast and the restrictions imposed on basic
The declarations reads:
"We are individuals belonging top differing ethnic
backgrounds, religious beliefs, and political creeds characterised by
such dichotomies as exist between 'Kurd and Türk,' 'Islamic
Fundamentalist and Secularist,' 'Alawi and Sunni,' 'Leftist and
Rightist,' and 'Individualist and Populist.' We have come together as
one, because intensifying acts of violence terrorise us, force us into
silent submission, and threaten our freedom of thought.
"A psychology now prevalent in society, and stemming
from terror and violence, leads the masses away from democratic and
political preferences towards the exponents of revengeful violence.
"Let's not forget that totalitarian regimes are
built on the foundation of the individual's fear. A society that is
deprived of the right of access to information, that is denied the
right to speak, debate, and compromise, can never come up with ideas
for the solution of its problems. A society that cannot come up with
solutions is doomed to lose self-confidence, ultimately imagining
enemies, native and foreign.
"A shortage of ideas, the corollary of the barrier
of taboos erected before a solution to the Kurdish Question, is one of
the fundamental reasons for the current political atmosphere of
"Those who attempt to silence people who suggest
solutions that are different from their own by accusing them of high
treason, are in fact terrorising free thought, creating a far more
dangerous atmosphere and causing social divisions that may well prove
impossible to mend.
"As common sense and tolerance vanishes, Turkey,
embroiled in internal strife, is severing all ties with the world
instead of exerting its influence on the surrounding regions. We, the
people who inhabit this land, are not entitled to ignore the reciprocal
acts of violence which arise from the Kurdish issue. All responsible
individuals have to oppose violence, injustice and torture, whoever
commits such crimes and whoever the victims may be.
"Let's not play into the hands of those that strive
to disrupt social peace by creating further animosity. Let's
uphold, as Turkish, Kurdish, secularist, Fundamentalist, Sunni, Alawi,
Leftist or Rightist individuals, the values that bind us together
through reason and love."
SCANDAL IN THE TURKISH PRESS
Following a short-lived period of relative calm in
the ongoing series of mudslinging battles, the highest selling three
Turkish newspapers, Hürriyet, Sabah and Milliyet, have begun vilifying
each another again.
The ongoing war broke out when Sabah declared it was
giving away free sets of "Grolier International Americana
Encyclopaedia" and organizing a massive lottery for those that
continued collecting its volumes, involving three luxurious flats, 30
cars and 3000 TV sets.
Its campaign was slashed by Hürriyet and Milliyet,
aware that their sales, which stand around 600,000 to 800,000 copies
each, ran the risk of plummeting rapidly, while that of Sabah was
climbing to more than one million copies. On the first day of its
campaign, on December 17, Sabah doubled its sales up to 2 million copies
Claiming that Sabah's set was a hoax and that there
was no such encyclopaedia sold in the United States, Hürriyet and
Milliyet began an implacable smear campaign against Sabah. "Caution!"
said Hürriyet. "Keep your kids away from Sabah's set. Otherwise,
they'll fail their classes." Saturation advertising on Show TV, its
business partner, poked fun at Sabah's set, saying Sabah's
encyclopaedia was full of mistakes and missing entries. "Scandal in the
press," read Milliyet's front-page onslaught against Sabah, arguing
that Sabah's volumes were "lottery tickets disguised as encyclopaedias."
The first war of encyclopaedias to break out among
the big three dates back to the time last year when Sabah started a
campaign offering a free set of encyclopaedias. Milliyet and Hürriyet
quickly fastened a quarrel on Sabah, each offering their own sets.
Owing to the enormous cost involved, however, they
felt compelled to ultimately sign a gentlemen's agreement not to start
any more premium campaigns.
This cease-fire has not been respected long time and
the three giants have gone on the warpath again -- in blatant violation
of universal press ethics just like before.
FAILURE OF TAX REFORM
Despite the promise to establish a just equilibrium
in taxes, at the end of the year, the Ciller Government passed from
Parliament on December 27 a so-called "reform bill" favouring the big
fortune in detriment of working population.
Ciller, yielding to big business, made at last
minute several sweeping changes in the original tax reform bill when it
was debated in Parliament and scrapped some important articles that
would have imposed new taxes on corporations.
As for President Demirel, turning a deaf ear to
appeals from the media, approved on December 30 the law. The daily
Hürriyet of December 29 had demanded him to veto the new law saying
that it would make the rich richer and the poor poorer. The newspaper
also claimed that the big business representatives lobbied intensively
in Ankara and succeeded in having the final law passed "as they wish."
The daily Sabah criticised the new law and claimed
that the government that originally aimed at extra tax revenues worth
TL 125 trillion ($ 8 billion) thanks to the "reform" will lose some
revenues instead. On the other hand, by increasing the rate of taxes on
consumer goods, the burden of the national budget has been put one more
on the shoulders of the low income earners.
The Confederation of Progressive Trade Unions (DISK)
announced that, with the adoption of the new law, wage earners will pay
as tax almost half of the 20 per cent share that they take from the
total national income, while the other classes pay only 5 percent tax
over their 75 percent share in the total national income.