service on Turkey
Un service d'information
sur la Turquie
21st Year - N°233
38 rue des Eburons - 1000 Bruxelles
Tél: (32-2) 215 35 76 - Fax: (32-2) 215 58
Rédacteur en chef: Dogan Özgüden
- Editrice responsable: Inci Tugsavul
Turkey has been governed by a new military-backed
government since the beginning of July 1997. The military and their
allies in Parliament, on behalf of defending the secularism against the
fundamentalist rise, forced the Islamist Premier Necmeddin Erbakan to
resign and mounted a new coalition government with the participation of
the Motherland Party (ANAP), the Democratic Left Party (DSP) and the
Democratic Turkey Party (DTP).
After the European Commission announced in July that
Turkey would not take part among the countries eligible for EU
membership, this new government claiming to be "reformist and secular"
has launched a vast diplomatic offensive in Europe and the USA in a
view to obtain a more comprehensive approach from the EU Summit in
Nevertheless, the repressive policies imposed by the
military to the new government still remain as the main obstacle
preventing Turkey from taking part among the first-rank candidates. In
fact, as already anticipated in the earlier Info-Türk issue, instead of
restoring the supremacy of Republican and democratic values, the
military-backed government has already led the country to a more
So, as long as the government pursues these
policies, the three conditions for considering Turkey as a short-term
candidate - ending State terrorism, seeking a political solution to the
Kurdish Question and accepting Cyporus' membership to the European
Union - can never been fulfilled.
The minority coalition government led by ANAP
Chairman Mesut Yilmaz, thanks to the support of the Republican People's
Party (CHP) and a handful independent deputies, won an easy victory in
Parliament on July 12 when it received a vote of confidence with a
comfortable majority of 281 against 256. When several Correct Way Party
(DYP) deputies defected from their party, the new government had
already been set for an easy win. In addition to them, seven DYP
deputies did not attend the voting in an indirect support to the new
The government claiming to be a "reformist and
secular government" includes former accomplices of Ciller such as Yalim
Erez (Minister of Industry) and Necdet Menzir (Minister of
Communications). Erez is known as the principal author of Ciller's rise
in politics and remained for four years the main supporter of Ciller's
repressive policies and irregularities. As for the latter, three years
ago, as a police chief of Ciller power, he had provoked a government
crisis by accusing the CHP, the minor partner of the DYP-CHP coalition,
of giving support to "terrorists."
• With such a composition and under the pressure of
the military, one of the first things made by the new coalition's
majority in Parliament was to extend emergency law in eight Kurdish
provinces (Batman, Bingöl, Diyarbakir, Hakkari, Siirt, Sirnak, Tunceli
and Van) for four months from July 30.
• In the meantime, the new government announced that
the Turkish military would get an additional allocation of TL 130
trillion for the anti-PKK operations in Northern Iraq.
• After obtaining the vote of confidence, Prime
Minister Mesut Yilmaz, Deputy Premier Ministers Bülent Ecevit (DSP) and
Ismet Sezgin (DTP) as well as Foreign Minister Ismail Cem and Interior
Minister Murat Basesgioglu attended on July 25 the military-dominated
National Security Council (MGK) meeting and received the directive to
implement new measures imposed by the military on February 28.
• To pay its debt to the military, the new
government managed to pass on August 16 a new education law that aims
to curb what the army sees as a growing threat from Islamic
fundamentalism. Under the law, compulsory state schooling is extended
to eight years from five, effectively bringing an end to the secondary
education and thus the secondary sections of Imam Hatips. The education
reforms have fuelled street protests by Islamists so as driving the
country to a more dangerous polarization.
• At the end of August, Prime Minister Mesut Yilmaz
issued a circular activating for the first time the Prime Ministry's
Crisis Management Centre (BKYM). Under the pressure of the National
Security Council (MGK), the creation of such a centre .was
already stipulated by a decree that the former government issued on
January 9. However, former prime minister Erbakan has never put this
decree in practice because of his conflict with the military. According
to this decree, in the case of any crisis, the whole or a part of the
country can be placed under the authority of the Prime Ministry's
Crisis Management Centre (BKYM). Since this centre is managed by the
MGK Secretary General - an army general -, the country will practically
be under a covered martial law or emergency law.
• This submission to the military became more
evident when the public debate on the Western Working Group (BCG)
within the army gained new dimensions with the criticisms by the RP and
the DYP. This illegal group was created at the beginning of this year
under the pretext of following the activities of Islam fundamentalists.
When Yilmaz became prime minister, he firstly declared that there was
no more need of such a group, because a "secular" government came to
power and the fundamentalist menace thwarted. However, General Staff
officials immediately reacted by saying that the fundamentalist threat
has not disappeared and the Western Working Group continues to operate,
even meeting twice a day. Thereupon, Yilmaz preferred not to talk again
on the uselessness of the BCG.
• In the two-month period of the new government,
State terrorism has continued as before with thousands of police
detentions, unsolved murders, deaths through execution without trial,
tortures, disappearances in custody, raids on associations, trade
unions and press organs, arrest of journalists, trials and
condemnations by State Security Courts. Cosmetic partial amnesty for
some journalists in prison has remained very far from restoring press
freedom and hundreds of intellectuals such as Ismail Besikci were kept
behind iron bars.
• On July 17, former Diyarbakir Mayor Mehdi Zana was
sentenced by the Istanbul SSC to ten months in prison and a fin of TL
83 million for separatist propaganda in his book of poems entitled My
bleeding heart. In the same case, Aysenur Zarakolu, Director of Belge
Publishing House, who published the book was sentenced to a fine of TL
• On August 18, the Ankara Public Prosecution Office
launched a trial at an Ankara penal court against the Human Rights
Association (IHD) in connection with the "Human Rights Week" held by
the association in December 1996. Prison terms between one and three
years are sought for 11 members of the IHD Executive Board including
Chairman Akin Birdal. The prosecutor also requested that the IHD should
be closed down for "disseminating separatist propaganda" and "inciting
the people into enmity through racial and regional discrimination."
• Although the parties forming the current coalition
accused the outgoing government of corruption, irregularities and
nepotism, the new government has not yet started any legal proceeding
against the suspects of these practices. As Kurdish and left-wing
activists are systematically pursued, the most corrupted prime minister
of the history, Tansu Ciller, remains untouched and is given the chance
to play "martyr" and to regain prestige in public opinion.
• As for the Susurluk Scandal, instead of launching
a more efficient inquiry, members of the Special Operation Teams
including former Chief of Teams Ibrahim Sahin, accused of membership in
criminal organisation, were released on September 11 by the State
Security Court due to "lack of evidence." Sahin was the one who had let
himself be pictured with a fugitive Grey Wolf, Abdullah Catli, as
playing arm in arm at a circumcision ceremony.
• Three days later, on September 15, the Penal Court
of Afyon released four of the 11 policemen accused of beating
journalist Metin Göktepe to death.
• The new government's claim to democratise Turkey
has lost its credibility mainly because of the legal action at the
Constitutional Court for closing down the Welfare Party (RP). Although
the Chief Prosecutor started the action before the change of
government, the military pursued their pressure on the justice for
obtaining a ban on the RP and the military-backed government has
remained silent against this anti-democratic practice. In following
pages we reprint the RP's responses to the Prosecutor and the
criticisms by the Human Rights Watch against the party closure. The
Chief Prosecutor, encoouraged by the military and the new government,
said at the TV that he would not heed of criticisms to be made by
European institutions. He said: "Let their aunt, Claudia Roth, come to
support them like she did for the DEP, we shall never stop our legal
• On August 4, at the behest of the office of the
Ankara State Security Court Chief Prosecutor, the police assigned to
the anti-terrorism branch took into custody Hasan Celal Güzel, the
chairman of the Rebirth Party (YDP) for "disclosing secret state
documents to the public." Two days later, after his questioning by the
SSC, Güzel was released for being tried without arrest. A week ago
Güzel had relayed the report prepared by the West Working Group to the
Office of the Chief Prosecutor and requested that necessary action be
taken against Deputy Chief of General Staff Cevik Bir on the grounds
that Bir had been trying to demolish the constitutional order. While
taking Güzel into custody, the Office of the Ankara State Security
Court Chief Prosecutor decided not to prosecute General Bir complained
Not only the RP or the YDP, but pro-Kurdish parties
too are still subject to legal actions and the menace of being closed
down, and the new government does not take any measure against these
repressive measures. It should be reminded that in last fourteen years
20 different political parties - left-wing or pro-Kurdish - have been
closed down by the Constitutional Court. Recently:
• On June 23, the chief prosecutor started a legal
proceeding at the Constitution with the aim of closing down the
Democratic Mass Party (DKP). Founded under the leadership of a former
minister of Kurdish origin, Serafettin Elci, the DKP is accused having
some articles in its programme which are not compatible of the Turkish
Constitution and the Political Parties Act. The prosecutor considers
these articles against the integrity of the Turkish State and nation.
• Earlier, on June 4, the People's Democracy Party
(HADEP) Chairman Murat Bozlak had been sentenced by the Ankara SSC to
six years in prison for the "flag incident" at the party congress held
on June 23, 1996 in Ankara. Faysal Akcan who removed the Turkish flag
from the congress hall was sentenced to 22 years and six months on
charges of "being member of an illegal organization." The court also
sentenced 33 HADEP members to prison terms from 4 to 6 years.
• And on June 16, the first courses in Kurdish
language opened on April 26 by the Foundation for Kurdish Culture and
Researches (Kürt-Kav) was closed down by the Istanbul Governor. A
police team charged by the National Education Directory raiding the
foundation's building sealed the door of the class of courses.
Now, the RP and the DYP are denouncing the practice
of closing down a political party, but many political parties,
particularly the Democracy Party (DEP), were closed down under the rule
of DYP and DEP deputies arrested on provocative declarations of Prime
Minister Ciller. The RP has never raised opposition against such
The legal actions against DKP, HADEP and Kürt-Kav
that we have mentioned above are the last anti-democratic practices of
the DYP-RP Coalition Government. At that time, neither RP nor DYP
manifested any disapproval concerning these practices of their time.
They are talking of the violation of human rights when themselves
become the target of the military-backed pressure.
So, not only the military and its allies in politics
but also the Islamic fundamentalists and their allies such as Ciller
are in a total hypocrisy as regards human rights and freedoms.
If Turkey is now in a shameful situation concerning
human rights, both are equally responsible of it.
Nevertheless, the real democratic forces of Turkey
will contest the closing down of any party whatsoever be its
sensibility, left-wing, pro-Kurdish or Islamic. This is the criterion
of being a sincere defender of democratic norms.
MACHINATION ON EIGHT-YEAR PRIMARY EDUCATION
One of the main points of conflict between the
military and the
outgoing DYP-RP Coalition, eight-year uninterrupted primary education
was finally adopted by parliament on August 16. As the government and
its parliamentary allies "gloated" over the passage of the
controversial education reform bill, the main opposition Welfare Party
(RP) indicated that it was not prepared to drop the issue, saying this
bill was passed simply to curb religious education.
Using strong words reflecting the anger in his
pro-Islamic camp, RP
leader Necmettin Erbakan characterised those who supported this bill as
"mentally ill" and said they would be applying to the Constitutional
Court to have every article of the new law annulled.
The bill, which was passed by Parliament with a
margin of 35 votes,
foresees the closing down of the "junior high school" levels of
secondary schools and incorporating these with primary schools for
eight years of uninterrupted primary education.
Under the new law, this level of religious
imam-hatip schools will
also be closed down. Students who want to have such religious education
will now only be able to attend the high school levels of imam-hatip
schools after they complete eight years of secular primary education.
The Islamist camp believes this bill was introduced
from the staunchly secularist military that has been concerned about
the spread of fundamentalism in Turkey.
Although the government claims that the new law will
from "darkness" by closing down the lower sections of religious
schools, this claim does not correspond to the realities.
First of all, the Islamic education is not given
only in imam-hatip
schools, according to the 1982 Constitution adopted under the pressure
of the military junta it is obligatory in all secondary education
schools even for the children of the Christian, Jewish or Atheist
families. Neither the military nor their allies in Parliament,
particularly the partners of the current coalition talk never against
this "constitutional" order.
Secondly, the new law, instead of limiting Koranic
are under the control of different religious brotherhoods, enlarges
their field of activities and time-tables.
The chairman of the Teachers' Union (Egit-Der),
said to Cumhuriyet on August 21 that the education reform had been
watered down in concession to the fundamentalist circles. If children
are allowed to taken Koran courses after completing the first five
years of basic education - as the new rules say - this will mar the
"eight-year continuos basic education" concept, reverting in practice
to the "five plus three years instead of continuos" scheme sought by
CHP Deputy Chairman Ali Topuz, on August 27,
the government for the recently-introduced changes in the Koran course
regulations. He stressed that introducing these changes immediately
after Parliament passed the eight-year continuous basic education bill
amounts to resorting to a ploy to circumvent the law. He vowed that his
party would definitely have these new regulations invalidated. He said
that in essence the bill was aimed at keeping children away from
"religious conditioning" until they were 14 years old. The recent
changes in the religious education regulations enables elementary
school children to attend Koran courses at an earlier age than the new
bill had intended.
Finally, the extended primary education takes as
create an ultra-nationalist youth in the service of expansionist
policies of the military and their allies.
In fact, Prime Minister Mesut Yilmaz, in defense of
reform, repeats often that "the 21st century will be the Turkish
century thanks to this eight-year educational reform."
A "Turkish century" during which Turkey will extend
over the peoples of the countries from the Adriatic to the Chines Wall
and will equally take part in the European Union not with the European
democratic norms but with its own anti-democratic and ultra-nationalist
RP ISSUES EARLY DEFENCE STATEMENT ON CLOSURE CASE
The Islamist Welfare Party (RP), which faces a
closure case filed by the Court of Appeals, issued on August 20 the
early defence statement it submitted to the Constitutional Court and
has responded on its web page to Court of Appeals Prosecutor Vural
The 215-page defence statement comprises seven
sections and gives an overall assessment of Prosecutor Savas's
indictment which charges that "the RP became the focal point of
anti-secular activities," based on the concepts of democracy in Turkey
and abroad, human rights, freedoms and secularism, as well as under the
lights of the international conventions on human rights, the Turkish
Constitution and other laws.
The RP has asked the Constitutional Court for 60
additional days in which to submit its main defence statement,
according to the Anatolia news agency. But Anatolia said the RP's
request will be decided after Aug. 24, since most of the members of the
court are on vacation, including its president Yekta Gungor Ozden. The
RP's early defence statement was submitted to the Constitutional Court
on Aug. 4, and Prosecutor Savas sent the court his case for the RP's
closure two days later. Savas's case was also sent to RP headquarters
in Ankara on the same day and the Constitutional Court had allowed the
RP only 30 days to submit its main defence statement. The deadline is
If the Constitutional Court does not allow the RP
additional time, the party will have to submit its main defence on
Sept. 5. After that statement reaches the court, Prosecutor Savas and
either RP leader Necmettin Erbakan or an RP member will have to give
verbal statements to the Constitutional Court at a date to be
determined by Ozden. Following the completion of these stages, a
rapporteur appointed by the court will take the case files and prepare
a report. A delegation of the Constitutional Court will conclude the
case after reviewing the report of the rapporteur.
In the conclusion of the RP's defence statement, the
party claims that the Court of Appeals case ignores the Law on
Political Parties and therefore the Constitutional Court should turn
down the application since it is "not procedural." The defence
statement also said: the audio and video tapes, and newspaper clips in
the indictment do not constitute evidence; the claims the party is "the
focal point of anti-secular activities" would prove fruitless since the
party's activities did not constitute any criminal offence; the claims
against former deputies Sevki Yilmaz, Hasan Huseyin Ceylan and Ibrahim
Halil Celik were no longer valid since they were expelled from the
party; and the party believed that the Constitutional Court would
carefully take Article 10 on freedom of expression and Article 11 on
freedom of organisation of the European Convention on Human Rights into
Below, the Turkish Daily News provides its readers
some of the noteworthy parts of the RP's defence statement which was
signed by RP leader Necmettin Erbakan and published on the Internet:
* The Welfare Party's objection to the National
Security Council (MGK) recommendation that the secondary segments of
the religious imam-hatip schools be closed does not reflect opposition
to the secularist establishment, as claimed by the prosecutor's
indictment. Also, the prohibitions imposed upon political parties in
the Law on Political Parties do not stipulate any obligations such as
complying with the decisions of the MGK.
* The continuous eight-year mandatory education
system does not have any relation to secularism. This is completely a
technical matter. A report prepared on that issue has underlined the
impossibility of converting to that system at once. The RP is not
against the eight-year compulsory education system, but only against a
system that tries to manipulate children.
* It is legally inaccurate for Prosecutor in Chief
Vural Savas to target RP leader Necmettin Erbakan and various other
party officials for their earlier speeches which the prosecutor claims
concerned the dress of female university students.
* The opinions of the chief prosecutor concerning a
speech made by Erbakan during a parliamentary group meeting, which
stressed the RP leader's demands to have a "tranquil transition
period," are totally baseless. That speech should be considered to be
have been made as one of the parliamentary tasks of the RP. The speech
was deliberately distorted by certain press organizations (especially
in terms of defining the "transition period"), and was described out of
its real context and objective. Various organizations launched a
campaign against the RP after the by-elections on March 23, 1997 and
organised rallies. It was not Erbakan himself, but these organizations,
which added the word "blood" in the fax messages they sent to various
places. Especially noteworthy are the vows by these organizations in
their fax messages that Ankara will be the grave of RP Mayor Melih
Gokcek and that they are ready to fight until the last drop of their
* The RP regards the claims of the chief prosecutor
pertaining to an MGK meeting to be illegal and unfounded. In these
claims, the prosecutor referred to a baseless story from a newspaper
that Erbakan was regarded to have admitted the accusations of the Naval
Forces Commander who read out various newspaper reports (lashing out at
the RP) at a MGK meeting, since he kept silent. Because the MGK
meetings are confidential, there is no possibility of obtaining
information from the records of the meetings. Also, publishing or
publicising any material about these meetings is banned.
* Prosecutor Savas' assessment that the banquet
Erbakan offered to the staff of the Directorate of Religious Affairs
and members of the theology schools revealed an "anti-secular attitude"
is legally unfounded. Such accusations are made under the influence of
manipulative media reports and have nothing to do with violations of
* On the date (former RP Deputy) Sevki Yilmaz made
his speech, allegedly against the secularist establishment, he did not
have any organic links with the party and was not a member of the RP.
He was elected the mayor of Rize province from the RP after the
municipal elections held on March 27, 1994 and then became an RP
member. In addition, it is not certain where, when or why this speech
was made. In any case, he has been expelled from the RP.
* When the two previous speeches of (former RP
Deputy) Hasan Huseyin Ceylan were reviewed, the RP found nothing but
pre-recorded videotapes. When or where were these speeches made? Who
recorded them? These things are not certain. There is not a single
court verdict against these videotapes, charging that they consisted of
anti-secularist elements. That person does not represent the RP and has
been expelled from the party.
* (Former RP Deputy) Ibrahim Halil Celik has
announced that he did not make the remarks published by various
newspapers on May 10, 1997 and attributed to him. Celik does not
represent the RP or have any affiliation with any party organs. He has
also been expelled from the party.
* There is no other evidence but a pre-recorded
videotape regarding a speech attributed to (RP member) Ahmet Tekdal who
was claimed to have made that speech during a pilgrimage in Saudi
Arabia. It is not certain when or where the speech was made. Tekdal
(who was once the chairman of the RP) did not go on the Hajj as the
chairman of the RP but as an ordinary citizen. Since the Hajj is not
considered a centre of political activities, there is no possibility of
making a political speech there.
* The office of the state prosecutor of the State
Security Court in the central Anatolian province of Kayseri launched an
investigation into a speech attributed to Kayseri Mayor Sukru Karatepe,
an RP member, and decided it did not have jurisdiction over the case.
* The prosecutor's indictment also portrayed Sevket
Kazan's visit while he was the justice minister to the mayor of Sincan
in prison, as evidence to close down the RP. Since the visit was made
while Kazan's mandate was still under way, the case must come under the
jurisdiction of the Parliament. The Parliament members reviewed the
case upon a demand which was supported by Article 100 of the
Constitution and decided that Kazan's action did not constitute a
crime, and refused the request to prosecute him.
* It is not true that the RP kept silent about the
actions inaccurately claimed to have been committed by its members. The
party has been monitoring the claims of actions by the members of its
Chairmanship Board, Central Decision-making and Executive Board, the
provincial chairmen and its rural representatives, which are believed
to be inaccurate.
* The parliamentary commission which was set up to
investigate the assets of the Welfare Party following reports that it
was receiving so-called "financial aid" from an organisation in Libya
ruled: "No document has been found to constitute legal evidence during
the investigation that the RP received financial aid from the Islamic
Republic of Libya."
* Consultations that RP leader Necmettin Erbakan
held with various people and organizations in a number of countries had
neither a confidential aspect nor any other characteristics except for
being regular consultations. When Erbakan visited Pakistan, he did not
go there as the leader of the Welfare Party, but as the prime minister
of the 54th government, and this visit had nothing to do with the RP.
In addition, the party does not have any links with an invitation made
to Erbakan to attend various meetings in Libya. He was invited to these
meetings as a scientist, and those who organised the meetings wanted to
benefit from his personal knowledge and experiences. The Muslim
Communities Leadership was not an official state organisation, but a
private body set up by a conference delegation. Its real purpose was to
conduct studies to save Islamic countries from being underdeveloped and
exploited and find solutions to their problems.
* There is no specific incident nor serious evidence
to justify the case launched by Prosecutor Savas. The main reason for
the closure case is the extraordinary provocations by the certain media
organizations. The media started to become the highest power in the
country as a result of the compromising law on the Higher Board of
Radio and Television which monitors the activities of private radio and
television stations. That law also has helped to boost the number of
television channels that exaggerated routine incidents.
HUMAN RIGHTS WATCH SPEAKS AGAINST CLOSING DOWN REFAH
Human Rights Watch (HRW)/Helsinki came out against
the possible closing of the Islamist RP on the grounds that this
violated the secular nature of the republic. A press statement released
by HRW on July 3 said it viewed with "deep concern" the May 21, 1997,
decision by chief prosecutor Vural Savas to close the RP, the senior
partner in RP-DYP coalition until RP leader Necmettin Erbakan resigned
on June 18, 1997. "While we understand that the issue of the role of
religion in public life is under intense dispute and debate in Turkey
at the moment, we defend the right of the Welfare Party to make policy
proposals as a basic element of the right of free expression and public
debate," HRW said.
HRW said there was "political motivation" behind
trying to close down the RP.
"We believe that the final judgement on these ideas
should be left to the electorate and people of Turkey, not a court. The
appearance of the indictment on the heels of a failed vote of
confidence targeted at toppling the Erbakan government, combined with
the fact that there have been no efforts since the 1980 coup to close
the Welfare Party despite the fact that its ideology has changed little
over the past decade, point towards a political motivation for the
case," HRW argued.
HRW defended the freedom to wear religious dress in
public, as defended by the RP, as a "right of free expression." In a
Feb. 28 ultimatum by the National Security Council (MGK), the RP was
told to implement, among others, measures to eliminate the spreading
practice of wearing headscarves and other religious attire in public
"Issues such as whether an individual may wear
religious dress in various situations may implicate both freedom of
expression and the right to hold religious or other opinions without
government interference. The right of freedom of religion encompasses
the right to express one's religious beliefs through acts such as
religious dress, as long as that does not infringe the rights of
others. Human Rights Watch/Helsinki also believes that the exercise of
that right includes the right not to wear religious dress if one so
desires. Advocacy on behalf of those who wish to wear headscarves is a
protected act of free expression, even if it is contrary to settled
government policies," HRW said.
But, addressing another charge leveled at the RP by
the state prosecutor, HRW said: "advocacy of national, racial or
religious hatred that constitutes incitement to discrimination or
violence is not protected expression."
Specifically referring to certain statements uttered
in the past by some militant RP former-deputies, HRW said: "Acts
charged in the indictment, such as calls by former party deputies
Ibrahim Halil Celik for 'blood to flow' and Sevki Yilmaz's statement
that 'our task is not to talk, but, as a soldier in the army, to apply
the plan in the war' may not be protected speech if under the
circumstances they amount to incitement of physical attack, actual
imposition of discriminatory penalties or criminal harassment or
intimidation," HRW argued.
But HRW still questioned whether closing down a
party was the right response to such actions by some of its individual
"In any event, it is open to question whether the
Welfare Party as a whole should be held responsible for selected
inflammatory statements by certain of its members," HRW concluded.
ONE-MONTH HUMAN RIGHTS VIOLATIONS UNDER "ISLAMIST" GOVERNMENT
The following one-month statistics about human
rights violations in Turkey for June 1997 were taken from the Human
Rights Association of Turkey (IHD):
* 7 people died in unsolved murders.
* 7 people lost their lives through execution
without trial, after torture or while in custody.
* 271 people died in armed clashes.
* Attacks on civilians left 15 dead and 16 injured.
* One person "disappeared" while in custody.
* 12 people were tortured or claimed to have been
* 1030 people were taken into police custody.
* 95 people were placed under arrest by courts.
* No villages and hamlets were evacuated.
* 11 locations were bombed.
* 26 associations, trade unions and press agencies
* 10 associations, trade unions and press agencies
* 18 members of the press were taken into police
* 32 publications were confiscated.
* Prosecutors demanded a total of 12 years
imprisonment and a total of TL 100 million in fine for opinions.
* Courts pronounced a total of 15 years and 9 months
imprisonment and a total of TL 7 billion 23 million 383 thousand fine.
* At the end of June, there were 155 prisoners of
conscience in jail.
TWO-MONTH HUMAN RIGHTS VIOLATIONS UNDER "SECULAR" GOVERNMENT
The following two-month statistics about human
rights violations in Turkey for July-August 1997 were taken from the
Human Rights Association of Turkey (IHD):
* 13 people died in unsolved murders.
* 21 people lost their lives through execution
without trial, after torture or while in custody.
* 461 people died in armed clashes.
* Attacks on civilians left 38 dead and 97 injured.
* 9 people "disappeared" while in custody.
* 76 people were tortured or claimed to have been
* 3762 people were taken into police custody.
* 151 people were placed under arrest by courts.
* 4 villages and hamlets were evacuated.
* 20 locations were bombed.
* 35 associations, trade unions and press agencies
* 24 associations, trade unions and press agencies
* 35 members of the press were taken into police
* 57 publications were confiscated.
* Prosecutors demanded a total of 139 years and 2
months imprisonment and TL 1 billion 200 million in fine for opinions.
* Courts pronounced a total of 4 years and 11 months
imprisonment and a total of TL 1 billion 150 million 123 thousand in
fine for opinions.
* At the end of August, there were 118 prisoners of
conscience in jail.
THE NEW GOVERNMENT'S BLACKMAIL AGAINST EUROPE
Turkish authorities reacted angrily on July 15 to
the European Commission's recommendation that the European Union begin
accession talks next year with the Czech Republic, Poland, Hungary,
Slovenia and Estonia, as well as the Greek Cypriot community acting on
behalf of the whole island, and not with Turkey. "The Commission has
not only broken its promise to apply the same objective criteria to all
applicants, but has also violated international agreements," Ankara
said in a written statement on the latest development.
Officials reported on July 22 that the Foreign
Ministry had, in a retaliation against the EU's stand, initiated a
review of the implementation of Ankara's customs union agreement with
the European Union (EU) with a view to seeing if it can be improved to
They said that if it was deemed necessary, Ankara
would aim to achieve this end by means of renegotiation if necessary.
It was not clear however whether there was a consensus within the
coalition government concerning the review initiated within the Foreign
Diplomats say that Foreign Minister Ismail Cem being
from the Democratic Left Party (DSP), led by Deputy Prime Minister
Bülent Ecevit, is perhaps behind the reason why the Foreign Ministry
has initiated a review of the customs union because Ecevit
referred to the possibility of a renegotiation during a visit to
According to the Turkish Daily News of August 7,
Turkey's aggressive drive aimed at trying to join the "Europe train" at
the European Union's summit in December may be backfiring. Signs are
emerging that this drive is considered "counterproductive" in Europe
where it is said to be having the opposite effect to what Ankara wants;
namely, to enhance Turkey's chances in terms of its EU bid.
In its angrily worded statement Ankara had
castigated the European Commission at the time for its "big mistake"
and said it hoped that EU leaders would correct this at their summit at
the end of this year.
"It is precisely this attitude of trying to browbeat
us into a certain mode of behaviour that is rebounding on Turkey," a EU
source told the Turkish Daily News. "The reality of the situation is
that the Luxembourg summit will sustain the European Commission's
recommendation," he added.
"What worries us is that Turkey -- with its
aggressive drive to get into this family photo, that meeting or that
conference -- is going to react doubly angrily if it finds out that the
Luxembourg summit will not correct the Commission's `big mistake. This
in turn will cause fresh anger in Europe and leave Ankara facing
outbursts that are totally counterproductive, but which are a direct
result of its own attitude."
CYPRUS UNITY TALKS END IN DISARRAY, AS TURKEY WAS INTEGRATING TURKISH
After the new Turkish Government announced its plans
to hit S-300 missiles if they are installed in Southern Cyprus and to
integrate the northern part of Cyprus, United Nations talks in Glion
aimed at breaking through decades of division in Cyprus ended in
disarray on August 16. U.N. mediator and special Cyprus envoy Diego
Cordovez told a closing news conference, "The two leaders remain
committed to achieving a settlement of the Cyprus problem."
Cordovez had been unable to get Glafcos Clerides,
president of the internationally-recognised Greek Cypriot government in
the South of the island, and Turkish Cypriot leader Rauf Denktash to
agree to a compromise framework text.
Denktash has been encouraged in his stubborn
attitude by the recent change of government in Turkey. Deputy Prime
Minister Bülent Ecevit - who as Prime Minister ordered the 1974 Turkish
military occupation - announced this time that Turkey would integrate
Turkish part of Cyprus if the European Union commences negotiations
with Cyprus for its full EU membership.
On the occasion of the 23rd anniversary of the
Turkish occupation, on July 20, Ecevit rushed to the island and
announced a program for the partial integration of "the Turkish
Republic of Northern Cyprus" (TRNC).
During the celebrations in Turkish part of island,
the leaders of Turkey and the TRNC announced that any attack on the
TRNC will be considered as an attack on the Republic of Turkey and a
joint defense concept will be established between the two.
The Association Council agreement between Turkey and
the TRNC was signed on August 6, 1997.
According to the agreement, an association council
will be created between the two states with the participation of the
two Parliaments and the relevant ministers.
An economic and financial union will be formed
between the Republic of Turkey and the TRNC, in order to counter the
effects of the embargoes and restrictions on the TRNC economy.
Meanwhile, the TRNC will be included Turkey's priority regional
development macro-economic master plans. The TRNC will benefit from the
support and incentives provided for Turkey's priority regions for
Every structural cooperation and harmonisation
measures to be initiated between the Greek Cypriot administration and
the EU, will be similarly implemented between the TRNC and Turkey.
Although TRNC will continue to exist as an
"independent state," in all international meetings concerning Cyprus in
which the Turkish Cypriot side is denied to be heard, TRNC
representatives will be included in the delegation of Turkey.
This agreement has led to criticisms not only in the
European Community, also in the Turkish opposition circles in Cyprus.
The Greek Cypriot administration dismissed the
agreement by describing it as "a provocation to the international
community." In a statement released by the Greek Foreign Ministry,
Athens "strongly condemned" the agreement and said "Turkey has revealed
its real face, by institutionalising its military and politic control
over the TRNC."
Mehmet Ali Talat, the leader of the TRNC's main
opposition party, the Republican Turkish Party (CTP) -- which has 13
seats in the 50-seat Parliament --, told the Turkish press on August 6
that they are against the policy that ties the acceptance of Cyprus
into the EU with the EU's acceptance of Turkey. He added that Cyprus's
accession to the EU is in the interest of Turkey as well as the
isolated Turkish side of the island.
PEACE TRAIN PREVENTED BY THE NEW GOVERNMENT
The new government's attitude against the world
peace activists seeking a peaceful solution to the Dirty War in Turkish
Kurdistan has been one of the undeniable proofs of the fact that this
so-called "democratic and secular" coalition has no intention to
restore peace and democracy in the country. In fact, a peace convoy
participated or supported by many international personalities was
prevented by the Turkish Government. The German authorities too banned
the train's passage from German territories.
Musa Anter Peace Train, named after a prominent
Kurdish intellectual killed by unidentified gunmen in 1992, was
organized by the initiative Appell von Hannover. Among the
personalities participating in or supporting this initiative were
Arch-bishop Desmond Tutu (South Africa), Jose Ramos Horta (1996 Nobel
prize winner, East Timor), Lord Averbury, Lord Rea, Harold Pinter (UK),
Fondation Danielle Mitterrand (France), Prof. Jean Ziegler
The train was scheduled to depart from Brussels on
August 26 after a rally and was to be met with a welcoming ceremony at
every stop: Köln, Vienna, Budapest, Belgrade, Sofia and Istanbul. The
organizers had planned to stop in Istanbul for a day, to take Turkish
participants on board, and to continue the journey to the Southeast in
order to arrive in Diyarbakir on September 1, World Peace Day.
After the ban, the Peace Train voyagers held a press
conference in Brussels on August 26 in protest against the
anti-pacifist attitude of the Turkish and German authorities. Same day,
the Kurdish immigrants from different countries held a meeting by the
Brussels Midi Station with the participation of the voyagers of the
Many of the campaigners flied later on to Istanbul
and travelled from there to the Southeast by bus. However, security
officials in the Sanliurfa province turned back some 70 buses carrying
Turkish and Kurdish pacifists and allowed seven buses carrying
foreigners, mostly European, American and African parliamentarians,
writers, intellectuals, clergy and journalists.
The delegation determined to reach Diyarbakir was
stopped near Siverek and surrounded by armed gendarmerie forces and
village guards. Helicopters and armoured vehicles were also used to
hinder the convoy. The pacifists were finally forced back to Istanbul.
Meanwhile, the city of Diyarbakir remained under
military siege. All offices of democratic civil organizations were
surrounded by police and at least two thousand people were taken into
police custody in Diyarbakir. All entry points to the city were
blocked. Those foreigners who had arrived in Diyarbakir earlier by
plane were sent back to Istanbul.
In return to Istanbul, police stopped the bus
carrying the campaigners in Gebze and detained 20 Turkish human rights
activists accompanying the group. Many of the participants were also
forced to find rooms in other hotels when their reservations were
On September 3, the foreigners were also prevented
from giving a press conference at the hotel Pera Palas in Istanbul.
Same day, when they attempted to hold the press conference at the Hotel
Mim, police took them out by using force and injuring many of them.
Human rights activists of Turkey criticised Yilmaz's
Government for obstructing 171 foreign human rights activists from
attending the World Peace celebrities in Turkey.
This government has opened a war against a peace
initiative with unparalleled brutality," Ercan Kanar, head of Istanbul
branch of the Human Rights Association (IHD) told a news conference on
September 4. "There are powerful forces in the government that want the
conflict to continue," he said and described the government as a pawn
of the military-dominated National Security Council, a shadow cabinet
that advises the administration.
AN INTERNATIONAL CONFERENCE ON SUSURLUK BLOCKED
The two-day International Susurluk Conference which
was to have begun at the Istanbul Petrol-Is Labor Union Centre on June
14 was cancelled by the Istanbul governor's office at the last minute.
Aydinlik newspaper had received permission from the
governor's office to sponsor the conference in which journalists with
expertise on European Mafia would participate. It was only after the
foreign guests had completed all their preparations and had come to
Turkey that the governor's office announced that it was cancelling the
meeting. No reason was given for the cancellation.
Workers' Party (IP) leader Dogu Perincek, following
the cancellation, said: "Interior Minister Meral Aksener, who is a
member of the Ciller family, trampled on the law in cancelling the
meeting because it would have come out how Turkey's prime minister,
Necmettin Erbakan, and the Ciller family laundered money. Right now the
Mafia governs Turkey and it doesn't see any reason why laws can't be
HUMAN RIGHTS WATCH SLAMS TURKEY YET AGAIN
As Turkey seeks a new government, international
watchdog organisation Human Rights Watch/Helsinki has once again
strongly criticised the country's record in a letter to outgoing Prime
Minister Necmettin Erbakan dated June 28.
The letter relates to the closure by provincial
governors of offices of the Human Rights Association of Turkey (IHD) in
Diyarbakir, Izmir, Konya and Malatya. Human rights Watch Executive
Director Holly Cartner told press, "The closing of the IHD offices
violates the internationally-protected right to express freely
criticism of government policies, whether concerning human rights or
Turkey's minority ethnic Kurdish population. We urge Prime Minister
Erbakan to direct the relevant provincial governors to allow the
offices to reopen as a sign that such debate is permitted and can be
conducted without fear of persecution."
The most recent of these closures was that in Konya,
where the governor acted in response to a statement issued there on
June 6 by the Turkish Student Associations Federation (TODEF)
denouncing the Turkish army's incursions into Northern Iraq. TODEF is
just one of a number of civic organisations which IHD allows to use its
The letter also protests the arrest on June 7 of 49
persons including Ankara IHD branch director Yildiz Temurturkan while
attempting to lay a black wreath in front of the United States Embassy
in protest against alleged US support of the military's operations in
The Ankara State Security Court released 18 of the
detainees on June 18, but is still holding the rest, including Yildiz
Temurturkan. "According to information we have received from lawyers
involved in the case," the Human Rights Watch letter claims, "no
information has been given as to the reason for the detention of these
individuals or their arrest, and the investigation is being conducted
in secret. Requests by lawyers representing the defendants for this
information, including documents of the investigation, have been
denied. In addition, while the venue of the trial is the Ankara State
Security Court, the arrested are being held nearly 300 kilometres away,
making their access to legal counsel difficult. Finally, the fact that
the case of those arrested is being heard by an Anti-Terror court is
troubling given the nature of the action, which is clearly within the
bounds of the internationally-protected right of free assembly.
Reportedly those held are charged under Article 169 of the penal code,
aiding and abetting an illegal group, which falls under the purview of
the Anti-Terror Law."
HUMAN RIGHTS GROUPS HOLD OWN BRAND OF BRIEFINGS
Both human rights organizations in Turkey, the Human
Rights Association (IHD) and the Association of the Oppressed
(MAZLUMDER), are holding democracy briefings as an alternative to the
General Staff's controversial anti-fundamentalist briefings which were
recently given to prosecutors, judges, journalists, and businessmen.
The Istanbul branch of the IHD started the campaign
on July 6 by giving a briefing on human rights and democracy to
representatives of non governmental organizations (NGOs) at the Turkish
Journalists' Association (TGC) building over the weekend. MAZLUMDER's
Istanbul branch is planning to hold a similar briefing on the topic of
human rights and the irtica (reactionary religious tendencies) issue
soon, and they will be seeking to define accurately just what is meant
The IHD briefing began by addressing why it was
necessary to hold such a meeting.
"Civic society organizations should have raised
their voices on behalf of liberal democracy during social and political
crisis," the briefing text stressed, "while we lived a situation
clearly contrary to that. From the end of May to June the General Staff
gave a series of briefings to various social circles in order to
dictate to society its own opinions and solutions."
The explanation of the aim of briefing continued:
"These briefings of the General Staff were determining the limitations
of our whole social life in an unprecedented way. What was voiced
during these briefings; rights and freedoms which our society needs, or
more democracy? Exactly none of them were voiced."
According to the IHD, the General Staff was offering
a prohibitive solution to overcome the so-called crisis, and this
militarist approach would result in more limitations on rights and
freedoms which were already limited. Criticising the approach of the
General Staff, the text described the briefing series as an order. "But
NGOs failed in their responsibility to this command by not voicing the
real needs and problems of society," the text said.
In this context, the IHD's briefing tried to reply
to the question of what our society needs in order to live together in
peace and freedom.
In addition to criticism of the General Staff
briefings, the closure of the IHD's provincial branches in Diyarbakir,
Malatya, Izmir, Konya and Urfa was condemned by a joint protest action
by the IHD and MAZLUMDER in front of the latter's branch in Istanbul.
The IHD's branch organizations were closed down by
regional governors in May and June. Describing the closure decisions as
systematic and pre-planned pressures on their struggle against human
rights violations, the IHD Istanbul branch continues to protest the
case every Saturday at the same place.
Attending the last protest, Istanbul Branch Chairman
of MAZLUMDER Sadi Carsancakli condemned the measures against the IHD
and called on all NGOs to support the struggle for human rights.
TUNCELI HAS THE HIGHEST RATE OF MIGRATION
A recent Turkish Union of Chambers and Commodity
Exchanges (TOBB) report of July 8 stated that one out of every four
people have migrated from their hometown to another city.
According to official census based TOBB research results, the highest
rate of migration from urban areas comes from the southeastern town of
Although 253,271 people list Tunceli as their place
of birth on identity cards, only 118,356 of them live there. Tunceli's
migration rate, first among all other cities in Turkey, amounts to
53.57 percent with 134,915 people migrating since the last census.
Bayburt's migration rate also achieved a mark
of distinction. While 97,605 people who were born in the Bayburt area
continue to live in their hometowns, 101,776 of them have moved to
other cities giving Bayburt a 51.05 percent migration rate.
The research noted that Sivas and Kars also had high
migration rates. While 350,711 of the 3,074,506 people born in Istanbul
migrated to other cities, 317,000 of those migrating from Sivas choose
to go to Istanbul.
A NEW COSMETIC "AMNESTY" FOR A LITTLE GROUP OF JAILED JOURNALISTS
In a new cosmetic operation to fool the world
opinion, Turkey's parliament, on 14 August 1997, passed an amnesty bill
that will result in the release from prison of six editors while tens
of prisoners of opinion remain behind iron bars.
The new amnesty law suspends the jail terms of
editors - those legally designated as responsible and subsequently
convicted for published materials and news articles that appeared in
their newspapers - for a period of three years.
The law stipulates that if a similar "offence" is
committed within the three-year period, those amnestied will be
required to serve their previous sentence in addition to any new
sentencing confirmed by the courts.
Prior to the law's passage, the Turkish parliament
rejected a more far-reaching proposal to expand the amnesty to include
authors, writers, cartoonists, and other journalists who have been
convicted under the sweeping provisions of Turkey's Anti-Terror Law and
the Penal Code.
Many critics objected to the law, describing it as
contradictory and "discriminatory" and saying that it was not aimed at
bringing amnesty for all imprisoned journalists. Referring to the law
which proposed the suspension of charges and convictions, but would
lead journalists to be put behind bars once again if they committed the
"same crime," critics said the law did not display a significant change
in official views and still left journalists under the threat of being
jailed for "writing stories." They said the action of "writing" must
not be considered criminal.
Critics believe that the law is specifically
designed for Isik Yurtcu, the editor of the banned pro-Kurdish Özgür
Gündem daily, who is serving the third year of his 15-year jail
From 13-16 July 1997, a delegation of international
press freedom groups, which included representatives from the Committee
to Protect Journalists (CPJ), Journalists Without Frontiers (RSF), the
Press Council (Turkey), the International Press Institute (IPI), and
the Union of Newspaper Owners (Turkey) who met with government
officials to press for the release of jailed journalists.
Speaking at the meetings, the CPJ representative
Terry Anderson said Turkey had the highest number of jailed journalists
in the world and that this level of press restriction was unacceptable,
even in light of the considerable terrorist activity which takes place
in Turkey. According to CPJ figures, 78 journalists were in Turkish
prisons, the highest number in the world.
RSF representative of Robert Menar said his group
did not want to meddle in domestic Turkish politics but pointed out
that Turkey, as a party to numerous international conventions
protecting human rights, had to improve freedom of expression for its
On 14 July 1997, prime minister Mesut Yilmaz
promised the delegation that his government would immediately pursue
amnesty legislation that would secure the release of a limited number
of editors before parliament went into summer recess and would later
seek more comprehensive legislation to win the release of other
Before the motion was voted on in Parliament, new
Justice Minister Oltan Sungurlu who spoke on the issue displayed an
acute reluctance towards the passing of that law. "We are punishing
those who insult Atatürk and support separatist activities. But tell
us, aren't we going to punish those who commit the same actions by
means of journalism? Then, we'll be working more efficiently," Sungurlu
was quoted by the Anatolia news agency as saying.
Isik Yurtcu and five other editors released
After serving nearly 32 months in prison for his
newspaper's critical coverage of Turkey's ongoing conflict with Kurdish
insurgents, editor Isik Yurtcu was freed from Saray Prison on 15 August
1997, one day after Turkey's parliament passed a law allowing for the
conditional release of several jailed editors.
Along with Yurtcu, five other editors have been
released: Bülent Balta and Mehmet Fatih Yesilbag of the daily
Özgür Gelecek; Naile Tuncer of the left-wing newspaper Devrimci
Proletarya; and Hatice Onaran of the left-wing monthly Devrimci Cözüm.
Yurtcu, the former editor of the daily Özgür Gündem,
was sentenced in December 1994 to over ten years in prison for news
articles that appeared during his tenure as editor from 1991 to 1992. A
State Security Court convicted him under sweeping provisions of
Turkey's Anti-Terror Law and Penal Code, which included disseminating
In November 1996, Yurtcu received the International
Press Freedom Award from the Committee to Protect Journalists (CPJ) in
recognition of his courage and integrity in resisting Turkey's harsh
treatment of independent journalists covering the Kurdish conflict.
Yurtcu, who was the focus of international media
attention on 16 July when the international delegation visited him in
Saray Prison, said from his prison cell: "This is the first official
recognition by the government of the absence of press freedom in
Turkey. I am hoping that this recognition will open the way to freedom
of thought in Turkey and to a democratic society - where thought is not
INTELLECTUALS AT ODDS WITH THE STATE
The following is a reportage of Saadet Oruc on Esber
Yagmurdereli, published by the Turkish Daily News of July 17, 1997.
Yagmurdereli, who first became well-known through
his efforts to end the prisoners' hunger strike in 1996, is now
awaiting the yet-to-be-determined time of his arrest and imprisonment.
Yagmurdereli was sentenced to 23 years imprisonment because of a speech
he made at a meeting of the Human Rights Association (IHD), which is
celebrating its 11th anniversary.
The bearded, blind, elderly man sat in front of me,
smoking a cigarette that appeared likely to fall from his lips, talking
about politics, human rights and optimism. I watched his smile, framed
in a white, black, yellow and brown-coloured beard. He began speaking,
reflecting on the similarly hot July days of the previous year, the
time of the hunger strike...
Referring to those days as "one of the historical
turning points" of the country, he said that the power of civilians in
society was only then understood. It was the first time that the
ability of intellectuals to solve social conflicts was proven,
Yagmurdereli said. He continued, "Turkey decided on early elections in
1995. The main goal was to bring an end to the political crisis in the
country. Without taking a serious stand against 'the war' that had
lasted for 13 years, however, it was impossible to prevent the crisis
in the country ... The decisions of the then-governments were not
democratic in their approach, but were intended to terrorise the public
with the continuation of the Kurdish conflict. There are some circles
within the state that want the conflict in the Southeast to continue,
especially the ones who profit from the war and take a considerable
share from drug trafficking via Turkey. As $25 billion worth of drugs
are traded via Turkey, reportedly 25 percent is taken by some
individuals connected to the state. So it is easy to say that these
circles will not readily give up that amount of a money.
The government that was established after the
December 1995 election, was keen on the idea of a military approach for
the Kurdish conflict.
The appointment of former police chief Mehmet Agar,
which we understood better especially after the Susurluk accident, as
minister of justice without a law background, confirmed the position of
Those were the first days after my release from
prison. The bloody results of May Day demonstrations and prison
incidents terrorised society. Turkey, as the country having the most
political prisoners, was to experience more tragic events. The day we
went to Bayrampasa prison was also the time when the National Security
Council (MGK) decided to end the strikes by force. If we had not taken
action, hundreds of prisoners would have died. Prosecutors and
politicians then asked us to act as mediator.
Yasar Kemal, the symbol of Turkish literature, Zülfü
Livaneli, composer, Oral Calislar, Cumhuriyet's columnist and I started
to mediate for a bloodless ending to the hunger strike. And it was the
first that the intellectuals were active in seeking a solution to
Oral Calislar, Cumhuriyet columnist, talking about
those days to the Turkish Daily News pointed out that Esber
Yagmurdereli, was the leading figure in bringing about the ending of
the hunger strike… Calislar describes the rest of the story: "Esber had
the key role, then. It was a Friday when we met with Yasar Kemal and
Zülfü Livaneli, arriving from a meeting with Ferzan Citici, Istanbul's
prosecutor. There was a fear among us because of the possibility of an
attack against the prisoners. Yasar Kemal made the statement that
Turkey could not get over the shame of an attack upon the prisoners. By
phone, Welfare's Istanbul deputy, Bahri Zengin, acting with special
authority from the prime minister, Necmettin Erbakan, we were given an
undertaking that there would be no interference from the prison. Then
we accelerated our efforts. At that moment, I called Esber, to his
cellular phone while he was on the ferry between Kadikoy and Karakoy…
He got into the Bayrampasa prison to act as a mediator, and succeeded.
We, together with Ercan Karakas, Halil Ergun and Orhan Pamuk, acted
after Esber talked with the prisoners."
Calislar, disturbed by the forthcoming imprisonment
of Yagmurdereli, says that it is a shame for Turkey to put
Yagmurdereli, a man who always promotes peace, in prison. According to
Calislar, Yasar Kemal is very much at odds with the state. "Yasar
Kemal, nowadays is saying that he will not stay in a Turkey, where
Esber is imprisoned. He said that he would say that to Prime Minister
Mesut Yilmaz," Calislar said.
Now, returning to our two-hour talk with
Yagmurdereli ... He is still optimistic about the new government. "If
the Turkish people have not reacted to the 33 percent increase in oil
prices yet, it means that it is just an open cheque for the new
cabinet. But, if I have to go into the prison from where Isik Ocak
Yurtcu is released, it is not good for Turkey. Instead of finding
short-term solutions, the government must find radical solutions to
bring about freedom of expression, which is the basic of human rights,"
This last remark appears to be similar to Akin
Birdal's recent proposal: "As we did during the hunger strike, we can
act as a mediator for seeking a solution to the Kurdish issue. The
state does not have to sit with the PKK for negotiations. But free
discussion of the problem will bring the solution."
Birdal, speaking to the TDN about the 11th
anniversary of the IHD, had also proposed to act as a mediator between
the state and Kurdish circles in seeking to resolve the conflict.
"It is necessary to find the solution to the Kurdish
conflict, which has caused 70 percent migration from eastern city
Tunceli, and the evacuation of 2759 villages," Birdal says. "The IHD
will surely pay attention to that issue, which is at the same time a
problem not only for Turkey, but for the world. We are ready to act as
mediators, just as we did to save the imprisoned soldiers from the
PKK," Birdal continued.
Last year, a mission of activists travelled to PKK
camps in northern Iraq, to save a group of imprisoned Turkish soldiers.
They faced harsh criticisms because they sat under the PKK flag in a
cave, a command post of PKK. The IHD, which is currently actively
working to support Yagmurdereli, is celebrating its 11th anniversary.
Birdal says that they will continue to defend human rights.
At a time when the Motherleft government is making
positive statements with regard to human rights, the often-criticised
Human Rights Association (IHD) reaches its eleventh year.
The organization which was on honeymoon until 1992,
began to be the target of security officials and was accused of "being
the tool of terrorist organizations". The year 1992 was the year, when
the IHD took a stand for a democratic solution to the Kurdish problem,
The IHD was established just after the Sept. 12,
1980 coup d'état, to defend the rights of oppressed people. Birdal
defines their aim as "to improve rights, to protect rights". The
abolition of the law that prevented intellectuals from practising their
professions was one of their greatest successes, Birdal said.
IHD TAKES ACTION AGAINST CLOSURE OF ITS BRANCHES
IHD Chairman Akin Birdal has condemned the recent
attacks and closure of the branches in Diyarbakir, Izmir, Urfa. In an
interview with the TDN of June 30, he stated that there are planned
attacks against the IHD personnel, as well as attacks against the IHD
offices and that a trial was opened for the closure of the
organization, which will celebrate its eleventh anniversary on July 17.
Birdal said such attacks are not only against IHD,
but against people who are not adequately represented Parliament. "The
solidarity of civic forces will overcome these pressures," he stated.
Remarking that 1998 will be the 50th anniversary of
the Universal Declaration of Human Rights, Birdal called on all the
bodies interested in human rights, especially the Foreign Ministry, to
celebrate this meaningful anniversary together. "We are open to any
kind of cooperation with the state for human rights," he stated. IHD
will organize meetings and activities on the occasion of the 50th
Emphasising that the IHD does not work against the
Turkish state, Birdal stated that their only aim was to improve the
human rights standard. "We fight for the right for organizing
associations and unions and freedom of thought," Birdal declared.
In the October assembly of the association, IHD will
review and renew its approach to furthering awareness and ethics with
regard to human rights. "An organisational rebuilding regarding the
number of offices and personnel will be on the agenda," Birdal said.
THE NEW YORK TIMES HITS TURKEY OVER JAILED JOURNALISTS
Turkey's record on jailed journalists was slammed
hard on July 13 by the New York Times, which ran both a news story and
an editorial on the issue.
In the editorial entitled "Turkey, jailer of
journalists," the liberal daily said "Turkey has the shameful
distinction of imprisoning more journalists than any country in the
world. In a related story, Stephen Kinzer highlighted the drama
of the "Saturday mothers," who gather every Saturday to protest the
disappearance of their sons or daughters
After mentioning that most of these abuse cases are
related to Turkey's fight in the Southeast against "Kurdish
nationalists," Kinzer added the following: "It is generally considered
criminal to suggest that the army shares responsibility for the carnage
there, to advocate peace talks or to assert that the government should
treat the Kurds as a distinct ethnic group that deserves autonomy."
Below is the full text of the two NYT articles:
Turkey, Jailer of Journalists
"Turkey has the shameful distinction of imprisoning
more journalists than any country in the world. The New York-based
Committee to Protect Journalists has compiled a list of 78 reporters,
writers and editors now in jail, and the Turkish Press Council reckons
the total may be twice as high. Now that a new government has assumed
power, it has a timely opportunity to open those prison doors. Doing so
would lessen a stain on Turkey's reputation and enhance the democratic
credentials of Prime Minister Mesut Yilmaz's secularist centre-right
"Most of the journalists in prison are charged with
disseminating "separatist propaganda" or with being members of
proscribed pro-Kurdish political groups. In fact, under Turkey's broad
Anti-terrorism Law, journalism itself is criminalized and reporters
face prison for doing their job. An emblematic case is that of Ocak
Isik Yurtcu, a prominent writer and former newspaper editor who has
served three years of a 15-year sentence. Mr. Yurtcu's offence was to
publish articles about the Turkish Army's scorched-earth campaign
against Kurdish insurgents in southeastern Turkey.
"Mr. Yurtcu's plight, along with scores of other
cases, will be taken up this summer by a visiting delegation of
journalists, among them Terry Anderson and Peter Arnett, at the request
of Turkish press organizations.
"By responding favourably, Prime Minister Yilmaz
would signal a halt to Turkey's descent into repression. He would begin
to answer critics, especially in the European Union, of Turkey's dismal
human rights record, and would set a different example from his
immediate secular and Islamic predecessors. This is more than a press
issue. For nearly a decade Turkey has relied primarily on force to
counter Kurdish terrorists, without opening a parallel political track
for a huge, aggrieved ethnic minority. Press freedom is among the
casualties of a failed strategy, imposed by the military, which Mr.
Yilmaz cannot change overnight. Yet it is within his power to release
jailed journalists and decriminalise free speech, an essential
precondition for an end to Turkey's domestic turmoil. Turkey's friends
hope he will not let this moment pass."
Rights abuses stain Turkey's democratic image
"Turkey -- Every Saturday at noon, as they have done
for more than two years, about 100 Turks converge on a bustling plaza
in downtown Istanbul and quietly sit on the pavement.
"There are usually no speeches and no placards. The
protesters, mostly women, make their point by silently displaying
photographs of their missing loved ones, although their emotion
sometimes boils over into a chant, like 'Mothers' anger will strangle
the murderers.' After half an hour they rise and go their separate ways.
"'Three men in civilian clothes grabbed my husband
as he left the house one night in 1995,' one of the protesters, Hanim
Tosun, 32, said on a recent Saturday. 'They were carrying pistols and
walkie-talkies. We checked the license number of their car and found it
was registered to the police. That was almost two years ago. We have
tried everything to find him, but the police tell us nothing.'
"Mrs. Tosun's husband was a street vendor who had
served three years in prison on charges of collaborating with Kurdish
guerrillas in southeastern Turkey and had come to Istanbul to start a
new life. He is now a statistic, one of an unknown number of Turks
believed to have disappeared while in police custody.
"As Mrs. Tosun and the other 'Saturday mothers'
carried out their weekly protest, people around them went about their
business. At nearby kiosks, newspapers carried bold headlines accusing
politicians of various abuses. Organizers of rightist and leftist
parties huddled in downtown offices, making plans for the coming
"'This is in many ways a very free country, so free
that people can go to the polls and change their government whenever
they want,' Orhan Pamuk, Turkey's most prominent young novelist, said
in an interview. 'But it is also a country with a horrible human rights
record. Probably there is no country in the world where this
contradiction is so sharp and clear.'
"Turkey's human rights record is the subject of
endless debate, not only here but also in the Western world. Turkish
officials say the problem is exaggerated, but it is one of the main
reasons why the European Union insists on holding Turkey at arm's
length and why some Westerners consider Turkey to be a difficult
"Many strategists in Washington and in European
capitals agree that because of Turkey's membership in NATO, its
geographical position, its history and its role as a defender of
secularist democracy in the Muslim world, Turkey could become even more
important than it has been.
"But they also say that before Turkey can become a
full partner of the West or a desirable model for the new nations of
the Caucasus and Central Asia, it must resolve nagging questions about
the way it treats prisoners and dissenters.
"'Human rights and freedom of expression are very
important issues for the image of Turkey, and they condition many
people's reflex reaction to questions about Turkey's role in Europe,'
said Michael Lake, the European Union's envoy in Ankara.
"'This reflex is so strong that it outweighs
important perceptions of Turkey, such as its strategic importance, its
place in the foreign and security architecture of Europe, and even its
growing importance as an economic partner.'
"Hanging over the human rights debate is the war
being waged by Kurdish nationalists in the Southeast. Most charges of
human rights abuses in Turkey stem from incidents in that region. As
many as 80 percent of the charges arising in other parts of the
country, according to several human rights advocates, are somehow
related to the Kurdish conflict.
"Tens of thousands of people have been killed out
there," said Sabri Ergul, a member of the human rights committee in
Parliament. The remains of Turkish soldiers and civilians slain in the
fighting 'have come back to nearly every town and village in Turkey,'
he added. 'Naturally people are very angry about this. They develop the
feeling that whatever has to be done to stop terrorism is justified.'
"'Terrorism is the problem of our age, but our age
is also the age of human rights,' Ergul said. 'The great mistake that
is made here is the belief that when you combat terrorism, you don't
have to respect democracy and law.'
"Ergul is involved in one of Turkey's most important
torture-related cases. He is a lawyer for the families of 16 teenagers
who were arrested last year for scrawling leftist graffiti on walls and
who are accused of belonging to subversive organizations in the western
town of Manisa.
"Although police have admitted that the teenagers
confessed to their crimes under torture, they were found guilty and
sentenced to terms of up to 12 years in prison.
"A public prosecutor in Manisa has filed suit
against 10 police officers accused of having carried out the torture,
but the government is drawing out the case and seems to hope that it
will somehow fade away. It is doing the same in another important case,
the investigation of officers charged in the 1996 beating death of
journalist Metin Goktepe.
"'The government, especially the Interior Ministry,
protects the police who torture,' Ergul said. 'They encourage it. They
are the ones telling the police forces to behave this way, so naturally
they are not in a position to prosecute officers who follow their
"Human rights advocates say that besides torture in
detention centres and the 'mystery killings' of perceived Kurdish
nationalists, the other principal human rights problem in Turkey is the
ban on statements deemed to threaten national unity. Laws that forbid
these statements are applied most often against those who question
government policy in the Kurdish region.
"It is generally considered criminal to suggest that
the army shares responsibility for the carnage there, to advocate peace
talks or to assert that the government should treat the Kurds as a
distinct ethnic group that deserves autonomy.
"These laws are often used in cases that devastate
Turkey's image. Last year, for example, one of the country's most
beloved cultural figures, the novelist Yasar Kemal, was sentenced to a
20-month prison term for making pro-Kurdish statements that were
interpreted as separatist propaganda.
"Kemal's sentence was suspended, as often happens in
such cases. Nonetheless, human rights advocates say that more than 70
journalists and writers are in jail for statements they have made.
"Turkish officials concede that torture is sometimes
used in detention centres, but they insist that it is not systematic
and not sanctioned by the authorities. They also assert that laws
against separatist propaganda must be judged in the context of a civil
conflict in which terrorism has been used as a principal weapon.
"At a news conference in London last year, Foreign
Minister Tansu Ciller said that Turkey 'has decided to take a series of
measures in order to totally eliminate in practice the crime of
torture, which as a matter of fact is forbidden by our laws.' After she
spoke, Parliament passed a law cutting the maximum time defendants may
be held incommunicado to 10 days from 30.
"Perhaps the most illuminating human rights case in
Turkey is the complex scandal that emerged after a spectacular car
crash near the western town of Susurluk in November that killed a top
police official and an escaped heroin smuggler. A pro-government
Kurdish clan leader, who is also a member of Parliament, survived.
"Questions about what the three men were doing in a
car together led to accusations of government involvement in smuggling,
death squads, illegal repression in the Southeast and other crimes.
"But a parliamentary investigation of the scandal
fizzled out after senior military and civilian leaders signalled that
they would not cooperate. Many Turks believe responsibility for the
crimes reaches so high that a full investigation is impossible.
"'I'm glad we had Susurluk,' said Taciser Belge,
coordinator of the Istanbul-based human rights group Helsinki Citizens
Assembly. 'Now when we speak about these things, people realize that
we're not making up stories. Since Susurluk, people understand that
when things like mystery killings happen, the army and the state are
involved. This is very new in Turkey.'
100 U.S. HOUSE MEMBERS IN SOLIDARITY WITH LEYLA ZANA
One hundred members of the U.S. House of
Representatives have agreed to sign a letter to President Bill Clinton
urging him "to raise [Leyla] Zana's case with the Turkish authorities
at the highest level and seek her immediate and unconditional release"
from prison in Turkey, the American Kurdish Information Network (AKIN)
reported on July 26.
Zana, a former member of the Turkish Parliament, was
tried at a Turkish court and found guilty of treason in 1994. She is
currently serving a 15-year prison term.
Some of the House members that circulated the letter
and urged their colleagues to sign on have criticized Turkey frequently
on a variety of issues, like John Porter (R) of Illinois, Frank Wolf
(R) of Virginia, Elizabeth Furse (D) of Oregon and Esteban Torres (D)
NEW YORK CITY MAY BOYCOTT TURKEY FOR PERSECUTING CHRISTIANS
According to the New York Times of June 16. The New
York City Council has introduced a measure that, if it becomes a city
law, will boycott those companies doing business in Turkey and 14 other
nations. The measure has been sent to New York City Mayor Rudolph
Giuliani for his signature. All these countries "frequently imprison,
torture, enslave or kill Christians for practising their faith,"
according to the author of the said measure, Peter Vallone, the New
York City Council speaker.
According to Vallone's proposed city law, the city
purchasers would be banned from buying cars, computers or petroleum
from multinational corporations active in fifteen countries such as
Time Warner, Pepsico, General Motors, Mobil and Chase Manhattan.
Earlier a similar resolution was submitted in the
U.S. Congress to protect persecution of Christians in a number of
selected countries -- not including Turkey.
"The measure, introduced last month, also calls for
the city to withdraw deposits and investments from banks that do
business with those countries. If passed, the bill would make more than
one-third of the world's business population off-limits to the city,
which has the fourth-largest governmental budget in the country. Only
the federal government, California and New York state have larger
budgets," the New York Times said.
Other countries targeted by the boycott besides
Turkey include Saudi Arabia, Indonesia, Myenmar (Burma), Egypt, China,
Cuba, Iran, Iraq, Laos, Pakistan, Morocco, Nigeria, North Korea, Sudan
City Councilman Thomas Duane, a Manhattan Democrat,
praised Vallone's efforts, calling it a moral issue for the city.
"Just like in South Africa and in Northern Ireland,
New York City can stand as a leader in the battle for human rights
around the world," Duane said. "As an international city, New York has
a responsibility that's far beyond the borders of our five boroughs."
Mayor Giuliani is also said to looking favorably on Vallone's bill.
New York City's business community was not all happy
with the city's attempt to punish these 15 countries
"No business in New York City would go unaffected if this bill is
passed," said Robert Kiley, president of the New York City Partnership
and Chamber of Commerce, who said he planned to meet with city leaders
to lobby against it.
"Once again," Kiley said, "businesses are being
singled out as the bad guy. If they can't get at the offending country
at the city council base, they're taking it out on companies. This is a
kind of old and not very desirable tradition of isolationism and
know-nothingism cloaked in morality."
BESIKCI, DICLE AND MEZARCI TRIALS CONTINUE
The trials of certain defendants charged with
spreading separatist propaganda continued at the Ankara SSC No. 2 on
Former deputy Hasan Mezarci who is also charged with
defaming Atatürk was not present at the hearing but was represented by
his lawyers. In their written submission to the court, the lawyers
maintained that their client was very upset with the accusation that he
had collaborated with the outlawed Kurdistan Workers' Party (PKK), the
Anatolia news agency reported.
They presented excerpts from speeches which Mezarci
had delivered to Parliament when he was deputy in which he had
criticised the PKK. Mezarci's defence claimed that he had not made
statements against the state but that he had only criticised the
system. They requested an acquittal on the grounds that Mezarci had not
committed the crime which he was charged with. The on-duty delegation
of judges (temporary substitutes) postponed the hearing to a later date
to allow the original judges to make the final ruling in regard to the
The prosecutor demanded a prison sentence of up to
three years and a fine amounting to TL 300 million for Mezarci who had
not been kept under custody during the course of the trial.
The trials of writer Ismail Besikci and former
deputy of the now-defunct Democracy Party (DEP), Hatip Dicle and seven
former administrators of the Ankara branch of the Human Rights
Association (IHD) continued.
Besikci has been charged with spreading propaganda
against the state in his articles in the book titled "The Human Rights
Panorama in Turkey" published by the Ankara branch of the IHD. Dicle is
charged with incitement through making racial and class discriminatory
remarks. The prosecutor has demanded a prison sentence of up to three
years for both Besikci and Dicle.
The court also continued the trial of Labor Party
(IP) Chairman Dogu Perincek charged with spreading separatist
propaganda in a speech he delivered on Dec. 27, 1992, during the second
congress of the Turkish Workers and Peasants Party (TIKP). Perincek's
lawyer maintained that his client had not uttered the words included in
the indictment. The prosecutor has demanded Perincek receive a three
year prison sentence.
TURKEY'S PRIDED CULTURE MOSAIC IS FALLING APART
The cultural mosaic formed by the various ethnic
groups living within the boundaries of Turkey is always spoken about
with pride. But the culture, languages, folklore, literature and
traditions of many peoples are vanishing." says journalist Zeki Ayik in
The Turkish Daily News of April 10, 1997.
The following are his observations on the situation
of ethnic groups of Turkey:
The cultural wealth of the Kurds, Circassians, Laz,
Arabs, Abkhazians, Chechens, Tatars and various other ethnic groups,
which they have carried up to now throughout history cannot, by law, be
studied in Turkish universities. Their language and folklore are
vanishing from history.
These ethnic groups, who live all around Anatolia,
are struggling to keep their language, folklore and traditions alive.
While trying to protect their cultural values from assimilation by
isolating themselves, they have failed to resist the assimilation of
the developing technology and nature.
Turkey, no doubt, is one of the few countries where
so many numbers of different ethnic groups live together. These groups
have been forcibly replaced or forced to migrate from their original
lands under centuries of long wars and oppression in various times, and
most have been living in Anatolian lands for centuries.
Kabardegs, Shapsigs, Chechens, Ossetians, Ibikhs and
Abkhazs are some of the Caucasian groups who have been forced to
migrate to the Ottoman lands to escape Czarist Russia in the 1800's.
The Caucasian people were settled in every part of
Anatolia by the Ottomans. They fought for Turkey during the First World
War and Independence War with their Caucasian identities. But they have
taken their share from the official assimilation policy after the 1930s
and their ethnic identities were denied. Their folk dances were viewed
as Turkish folklore, their names and surnames brought from Caucasia
have been changed, their languages have been banned. There were two
names left which were known as Caucasian; "Caucasian Ethem" and
Caucasian Chicken Spread.
Caucasian people have gathered around associations
and started to struggle to go back to Caucasia. But they could not
avoid oppression in these associations either, and their opinions could
not go any further than being utopias.
Researcher and writer Cemal Tarik Kutlu, who has
spent years researching the language and history of Chechens, states
that it is inevitable for the Caucasians in Turkey to protect their
culture and language assimilation. Kutlu evaluates this result as the
official policy of the state.
"Caucasians stood for the protection of their
tradition and language for years. But assimilation has entered homes,
breaking the walls of the isolated life styles via television. Children
have been taught that everyone living in Turkey is a Turk in the
schools. It has been told that there is no need for another language.
These people have tolerated these ideologies and obeyed them. Families
have not spoken their native languages, trying help their children to
learn Turkish. Turkey has promised that it would enable the ethnic
groups to protect their language and cultures in international
agreements, but has violated these agreements.
"Besides," he continued, "our language has been
banned, our traditions have been possessed as theirs. It has been told
that Caucasians are Turkish. There is no similarity between Turkish and
Caucasian language. They have insisted on their claims, denying this
Kutlu also states that all the peoples should own
their language and culture and the states should accept and protect
The complaints of the ethnic people who have
migrated to Turkey are same with the ones who had been living in Turkey
before them. Kurds are the people who have been struggling to regain
their lost identities the most. A positive step cannot be taken despite
the intentions of political parties in various periods, such as the
establishment of a Kurdish television channel and Kurdish courses in
The Istanbul-based Foundation for Kurdish Culture
and Research (KURT-KAV), which is the first of its kind in the history
of the Turkish Republic, has recently made a serious step by opening a
school to save the Kurdish language and culture. This is a step which
should have been taken by the Turkish state.
The foundation bought a building in Beyoglu district
for the school, then renovated and prepared it for the purpose. The
foundation is waiting for the approval of the National Security Council
(MGK) according to Law No. 2923.
KURT-KAV was established by a group of Kurdish
intellectuals in 1991 in Istanbul. The foundation's official approval
in 1995 was a "first" in the history of the Turkish Republic; it is the
first institution to have been established with a Kurdish identity and
the name "Kurdish."
The president of KURT-KAV, Yilmaz Camlibel, stated
that the other nations whose languages and culture had been rejected
may open schools to have education in their own language.
"I am a Turkish citizen," he said, "but I am
Kurdish. The state opens schools which give education in Turkish with
the taxes I pay. But my need is to have Kurdish children who have not
forgotten their own identity, language and culture. Kurdish language
schools are needed for this.
"The existence of Kurdish people, who have lived on
these lands for 7,000 years, has been denied. The name 'Kurd' has been
explained by the "gart-gurt" sounds one makes walking on snow, and
people have believed in these stories. If the language, history and
folklore of Kurds is not studied, there will be many more illogical
explanations such as these ones," Camlibel points out.
"We are going to start studies within KURT-KAV to
prevent such situations," he says.
Camlibel said that the institute had applied to the
Istanbul Governor's office to open a language school and the office had
a positive attitude towards the idea. Camlibel added that the issue
would be taken into consideration by the MGK according to law No. 2923,
which concerns schools which have programs in foreign languages.
The KURT-KAV president said that the Kurdish
Language School would hold courses in a six storey building in
Tarlabasi. He added that the building was bought with the money which
was collected from the activities of KURT-KAV and donations made by
Camlibel pointed out that KURT-KAV would make a wide
study of Kurdish culture and history in addition to the language
school. He also added that his group was going to send this research to
other Kurdish institutes around the world and exchange information with
CONCERNS FOR DETAINED KURDISH PUBLISHER MARASLI
The trial against Recep Marasli, a publisher held
since 6 March 1997, continues and the next hearing is due 2 September.
Marasli is standing trial, reportedly on charges under anti-terror
legislation, for alleged membership of PRK- Rizgari, a small radical
pro-Kurdish group. The organisation's main activities are to produce
materials promoting Kurdish political and cultural rights. The charges
have been pending against Marasli for a number of years. On 7 August,
the Ankara State Security Court held another hearing of his case and
then adjourned the trial until 2 September.
Despite repeated calls by Marasli's doctors and
international human rights organizations, including PEN, that Marasli
be freed pending trial due to severe ill-health, Marasli remains
detained. On 7 August, lawyers presented medical reports to the court
which stated that Marasli had partial paralysis of the face and
cerebral atrophy. Lawyers' pleas for Marasli's release were unmet.
Marasli, now aged 41, was first imprisoned when he
was 16 for his articles published in newspapers in Erzurum. He
subsequently went to work as a publisher for Komal, which focuses on
the Kurdish community in Turkey. In 1982 he was arrested for his
publications and given a total of 36 years in prison. In 1984 he went
on hunger-strike which led to permanent neurological damage. He was
freed under a general amnesty in April 1991 on condition that he not
"re-offend". He continued to write and speak on the Kurdish issue. In
September 1993, Marasli was issued with an arrest warrant for taking
part in a debate in which he called for a peaceful solution to the
conflict in the south-east. He went into hiding, only to be arrested in
July 1994. On his arrest he is said to have suffered severe torture. He
was freed pending trial. In November 1995, he was sentenced to one year
and four months' imprisonment for his writings. He subsequently went
into hiding while the sentence went into appeal. Other charges are
pending against him, some of which are in legal process.
FORMER DIYARBAKIR MAYOR MEHDI ZANA SENTENCED AGAIN
The Istanbul SSC, on July 17, sentenced the husband
of imprisoned ethnic Kurdish former deputy Leyla Zana to prison for
spreading "separatist propaganda." Mr. Zana will serve 10 months in
prison and pay an 83 million lira ($ 540) fine for a book of poetry he
The charge is one often used to try pro-Kurdish or
human rights activists. Zana's publisher, Aysenur Zarakolu, was given a
fine of 42 million lira ($270).
Mehdi Zana, former Mayor of Diyarbakir, had earlier
been imprisoned many times because of his opinions and statements.
His wife Leyla Zana is one of four ethnic Kurdish
ex-MPs who are currently serving a 15-year sentence for links with the
outlawed PKK. In 1995 the European parliament awarded Leyla Zana the
Sakharov peace prize for freedom of thought. Mehdi Zana accepted the
award on his wife's behalf in Strasbourg.
TRIAL OF PUBLISHER AYSE NUR ZARAKOLU AND TRANSLATORS BEGINS
On 31 July 1997, RSF expressed concern over the
trial of Ayse Nur Zarakolu, owner of the Belge Publishing House, which
published a collection of articles and reports in a book titled
Özgürlügün Bedeli". The book's translators, Zeynep Herkmen and Suheyla
Kaya, are also being tried in the same case.
The book was written by German journalist Lissy
Schmidt. According to RSF's information, the trial against Zarakoglu,
Herkman and Kaya began on 30 July in an Istanbul State Security Court.
The three women are on trial in connection with the publication of two
books, one of which is Schmidt's.
During the first hearing, Zarakoglu and Kaya made
their deposition. Herkmen was absent. The trial is scheduled to
resume on 13 October 1997. BACKGROUND: In January 1997, an
Istanbul State Security Court had confiscated the book, saying it
contained "separatist propaganda."
HRW AWARDS 12 TURKISH JOURNALISTS OF DIFFERENT OPINIONS
Human Rights Watch (HRW), the international human
rights advocacy group, awarded on July 2, twelve Turkish journalists
with Hellman/Hammett grants "because of state persecution."The
journalists, who represent "Islamist, Kurdish, leftist and mainstream"
perspectives, have been "(persecuted) for writing about a number of
issues, including the Kurdish question, the role of Islam in society,
and the nature of the Turkish state," HRW claimed.
HRW awarded the following journalists: Ahmet Altan,
Ragip Duran, Ali Erol, Atilla Halis, Mustafa Islamoglu, Sefa Kaplan,
Ertugrul Kürkcü, Mehmet Oguz, Ahmet Sik, Isik Yurtcu, Aysenur Zarakolu.
In addition, writers from 15 other countries, a
total of 45 writers, received Hellman/Hammett grants this year.
HRW also noted that "a high degree of free
expression" exists "on almost all other topics, creating a national
dichotomy that permeates public debate."
"With these awards we hope to stir public debate
about the scope of free expression in Turkey and what needs to be done
to improve it," said Peter Osnos, chair of the grant selection
committee. "While free expression is permitted in many areas, it is
frequently suppressed in the discussion of some of Turkey's most
ISMAIL BESIKCI: FREEDOM OF THOUGHT NEEDS RADICAL SOLUTIONS
Ismail Besikci, Turkey's most famous "prisoner of
thought", stated that the government had to take determined steps in
order to completely assert freedom of thought in Turkey.
In an interview on July 23 with the Turkish Daily
News between the glass and bars of Bursa Prison, Besikci said, "It is
ridiculous for the State to wait for five years to see if the crime is
repeated or not." He criticised the "conditions" imposed by the state
on prisoners of thought who are to be released. Besikci, who has come
to symbolically represent prisoners of thought in Turkey faces a
sentence of more than a hundred years, said that he is closely
following the statements made by the new government regarding the
possible changes to laws on "freedom of thought and expression."
"While Deputy Prime Minister Bülent Ecevit was
making positive remarks about my release, somebody else was saying that
all prisoners of thought will be released except me", he said.
Referring to the precondition of not repeating the
"crime" within five years, Besikci said, "If you were punished because
of a robbery case or something like that, it could be possible not to
do the same crime again, but when it comes to prisoners of thought, are
we to invent new concepts so that our writing is rendered ridiculous by
ill-fitting disguise? The government has to remove the articles that
prevent freedom of expression from the Constitution, otherwise
piecemeal solutions will do nothing for a real solution to the problem."
Besikci says that he is not writing books any more,
but is preparing for his trials. "One day, I may think to bring these
defence papers together, which can turn into a new reason for being
prosecuted," he ends his words with a bitter smile on his face.Besikci
is sentenced to an imprisonment of more than a hundred of ears because
his books discussed the sociological, political and economic structure
of Southeastern Anatolia, basically the Kurdish problem.
SEVEN POLICEMEN ACCUSED OF MURDERING GÖKTEPE CHOOSE TO REMAIN SILENT
Nine policemen, seven of them being held in custody,
who are accused of the murder of journalist Metin Göktepe refused to
make statements in their first court appearance on August 21, saying,
"We wish to use our right to remain silent."
At the trial at the Afyon Criminal Court under
presiding judge, Nilgun Ucar, the hearing was postponed until September
15 so that witnesses may be called. Despite the banning of
demonstrations by the Afyon Provincial Governor's Office, about 1,600
people (40 busloads) gathered in Afyon to march to the courthouse.
Amongst these, as well as Metin Göktepe's mother Fadime, were members
and representatives of organizations such as the Freedom and Solidarity
Party (ÖDP), the Labour Party (EMEP), the Republican People's Party
(CHP), the Revolutionary Workers' Labour Union Confederation (DISK),
the Human Rights Association (IHD), the Contemporary Journalists
Association (CGD) and the Turkish Journalists Association (TGD).
Police halted demonstrators 50 meters from the
courthouse. The police also stationed snipers on the courthouse roof
and were clearly well positioned to intimidate the crowd. The
demonstrators protested the exclusion from the vicinity of the
courthouse of all but members of the Göktepe family and their lawyers
by chanting slogans such as, "Where the trial is, we are there," and
"It is our right to watch the trial." Citizens of Afyon living in the
vicinity of the courthouse closed their doors and windows securely and
watched the events from between their curtains.
Robert Manner, speaking for the international
organisation Journalists Without Frontiers, stated that they were
attending this trial because it would play a key role in shedding light
on the spate of mysterious killings from which Turkey has suffered, and
continued, "As we have seen, if the press does its duty at this trial,
the fate of other trials may change." He commented, "As for the
courtroom being so small as to allow as few as 50 people to be squeezed
in, they are sneering at us." He pointed out that when there is
substantial public interest, trials in Europe are held in large
courtrooms to admit as many as possible, and added, "This is a show of
respect for journalists and for the public right to be informed."
Referring to the large number of police, gendarmes and other security
officials surrounding the court, Manner stated that he found it strange
to see the accused police being brought into the Afyon courtroom under
the protection of a military cordon.
"Out of 40, 9 are left," said Fadime Göktepe,
complaining about yet another delay in the trial procedure. She alleged
that her son had been killed by the gangs of former Prime Minister and
Foreign minister Tansu Ciller but that the murderers had only been
arrested and brought to court thanks to the current Prime Minister
The use of the accused's lawyers of the "right of
refusal" (in other words, their request for the alteration of the
composition of the court) was regarded by the court as a method of
delaying the trial proceedings and it ordered that the accused
policemen continue to be remanded in custody, taking into account the
fact that the type of crime involved had not yet been established nor
the evidence fully collected. It also decided to launch an
investigation into whether or not the ailments of four of the
policemen, who did not attend the hearing because they produced
doctors' reports saying that they were unfit to do so, were or were not
of such a nature as to prevent them from taking part. The court
required full information on the treatment of the police in question.
CHP Parliamentary Deputy Sabri Ergül stated that the
Metin Göktepe trial and that of young people who had been tried and
imprisoned in his own district, Manisa, despite having been maltreated
by police reflected on Turkey's prestige. Unfortunately," he said, "the
behaviour of the administration in not providing information to make
the job of the court easier has no place in the public conscience."
WRITER YAGMURDERELI FACES RETURN TO JAIL UNTIL 2014 AFTER SPEAKING OUT
Esber Yagmurdereli, writer and honorary member of
several PEN Centres since he was first imprisoned in 1978, may be
forced to return to prison to serve the remaining 16 years of a
Yagmurdereli, a writer who has been blind since the
age of ten, was imprisoned in 1978 and sentenced to death on charges of
"trying to change the constitutional order by force." The sentence was
commuted to life imprisonment. International PEN,
Amnesty International and other human rights monitors concluded that
Yagmurdereli's trial fell foul of international standards of fairness
and that he was detained in denial of his rights guaranteed under the
Universal Declaration of Human Rights. In addition, it is reported that
Yagmurdereli was convicted on the basis of a confession which had been
extracted under torture.
Yagmurdereli was freed under a general amnesty in
1991 on condition that he did not "re-offend." However, later that
year, Yagmurdereli made a speech marking the 10 December Human Rights
Day in which he accused the Turkish government of human rights abuses
against Kurds. As a result, he was charged under Article 8 of the
Anti-Terror Law. Lengthy trial proceedings concluded in late June 1997
when the Istanbul State Security Court found Yagmurdereli guilty as
charged and sentenced him to ten months in prison.
At present Yagmurdereli remains free as his lawyers
have brought the case to a court of appeal. Under the conditions of his
release in 1991, Yagmurdereli could be forced to serve the remaining 16
years of the previous sentence, as well as the 10-month sentence handed
down in June 1997. It is thought that the appeal court will reach a
decision in a few days, and that Yagmurdereli could as a result be
forced to return to prison, possibly not to be released until 2014.
GREY WOLVES ELECTED A NEW FÜHRER: DEVLET BAHCELI
After the failure of the first post-Türkes congress
because of the bloody incidents between different fractions, the
Nationalist Action Party (MHP) elected Devlet Bahceli as its new basbug
(führer) during the extraordinary congress held on July 6 in Ankara.
Bahceli and Tugrul Türkes, the son of the late founding leader
Alparslan Türkes, were the only participants in the runoff. Bahceli won
the race with 697 votes while Türkes collected 487.
No one was admitted into the meeting hall except the
delegates. Even press members were not allowed for a while.
Bahceli was born in 1948 and has a Ph.D in
Economics. He has been one of the party's leading members since 1987.
He took office on July 7. His supporters cheered him
and sacrificed four sheep for him as he entered the party's
headquarters in Ankara. He is known having good relations with DYP
leader Tansu Ciller.
After his election, two extreme-right deputies
resigned from the DYP and joined the MHP in a view to give the party
the chance to raise its voice in Parliament.
TURKISH GUEST WORKERS WANT GERMAN CITIZENSHIP
Most Turks living in Germany want to become German
citizens, but without losing their Turkish citizenship, the director of
the Centre of Turkish Studies at Essen University declared in Istanbul
on July 3. At the end of 1996, 2,049,100 Turks were living in Germany,
70 percent residing there for more than 10 years, Faruk Sen, a
professor of economics and director of the centre, told a conference.
"The number of Turks returning home permanently is
falling every year. Turks living in Germany want to become German
citizens without renouncing their Turkish nationality," Sen declared.
He said the German government has been permitting
Turks to become German citizens on condition that they cancel their
Turkish citizenship by handing in their Turkish passports.
Germany has announced it will allow the children of
Turks living in their country to hold duel citizenship until the age
18, when they must decide whether to adopt Turkish or German
"The problems related to adopting German citizenship
has not been solved. Having duel citizenship is becoming more
difficult," Sen explained.
About 126,000 Turks have already become German
citizens. German planners project that 250,000 Turks will have adopted
German citizenship by the year 2000.
A vast majority of the Turks went to Germany as
"guest workers," or as university students. An estimated two million
have returned permanently to Turkey.
The Turkish population in Germany is increasing by
60,000 a year, according to Sen, mainly because of increased
intermarriages between Turks and Germans.
The two-day conference, "The problems faced by Turks
in Germany and foreigners in Turkey and the role of the press," will
end Friday. The conference has been jointly organised by the Konrad
Adenauer Foundation, the Centre for Turkish Studies and the Turkish
Democracy Foundation. Numerous Turkish and German journalists,
academics and political figures are attending the conference. Sen said
that 181,694 Turks, representing 24 percent of the Turks in Germany of
working age, were jobless due to the continued recession in Europe. He
said more Turks were being subjected to discrimination because of the
"Although Turks have no differences compared to
Germans in their professional qualification and language ability, our
citizens are beginning to have difficulty finding jobs because they are
foreigners," Sen argued. He said increasing joblessness in Germany is
also one of the principal causes of growing xenophobia among Germans.
TURKISH PRIVATE SECTOR TO GET MORE INVOLVED IN DEFENCE INDUSTRY
The Turkish Union of Chambers and Commodity
Exchanges (TOBB) said on July 3 that local firms should get more
involved in the country's defence projects in order to grab a share of
the $150 billion to be spent in the field over the next 25 years. TOBB
has just released a report focusing on the defence industry in Turkey.
During a press conference, the union's Executive
Board Deputy Chairman Erol Gemalmaz said that TOBB aims to encourage
local firms to engage in some of the impressive defence projects Turkey
has planned for the next couple of decades. He added that the report
indicated channels which could be used by industrialists who are
considering investment in the sector.
Gemalmaz pointed out that currently only 21 percent
of the primary weapons, equipment and spare parts needs of the Turkish
Armed Forces could be met by domestic production, and that the other 79
percent came from abroad. He stressed that this situation should be
reversed and added that in the next decade Turkey plans to spend at
least $10 billion.
The TOBB report was prepared by retired Brig. Gen.
Fikret Ülger. He noted that among neighbouring countries Turkey ranks
third after Israel and Russia in allocation of funds for defence.
Fikret pointed out that Turkey could provide 75
percent of its total defence needs by boosting the output of related
local firms and making wise investments in the field based on
He added that in order for Turkey to become
self-sufficient in the 21st century, command and control systems,
computer and intelligence systems, precision-guided missile systems and
electronic warfare systems must take priority.
The union's report portrayed the Turkish Armed
Forces' equipment and weaponry needs, out of the planned $150 billion
to be spent, as follows;
Land Forces Command ($60 billion planned over 25
750 helicopters, 180 rocket and missile systems, 150
antitank rockets, 12 remote control air vehicles, 3,627 main
communication tanks, 1,951 guns and howitzers, 48,564 wheeled vehicles
The needs of the Naval Forces Command ($25 billion
14 frigates, 16 patrol ships, 15 guided assault
boats, nine submarines, four anti-mine ships, four mine sweepers, 35
landing vehicles, one communications-backed ship, 25 auxiliary class
ships and vehicles, nine sea patrol aircraft, 38 helicopters
The needs of the Air Forces Command ($65 billion
640 fighter jets, 79 operations airplanes, 160
training aircraft, 68 transportation airplanes, 25 helicopters, 442 air
defence weapon systems.
MESSAGE FROM AKKUYU: WE DON'T WANT A NUCLEAR POWER STATION!
At a panel discussion organised by the Silifke
Democracy Platform on July 15, delegates voted to send a report to
Turkey's new Prime Minister Mesut Yilmaz stating that nuclear power
stations are not wanted in Turkey.
Ali Yigit, a member of the administrative board of
the Chamber of Electrical Engineers (EMO) stated that for years
propaganda to the effect that without a nuclear power station, Turkey
would be left in darkness had been carried out. He continued, "Because
no country wants a new power station near its borders, they want to
build them at Sinop (on the Black Sea) and Akkuyu (close to the
Mediterranean coast in the Icel region). With nuclear power stations,
they are choosing to commit suicide on the points of tourism and
agriculture. We should establish our future not with the technology of
the 1940s but with the technology of tomorrow. Turkey will be
sacrificed to a blind political vision. As EMO, we are on the side of
the people of Sinop and Akkuyu."
Ethem Torunoglu, Vice-Chairman of the Chamber of
Environmental Engineers (CMO) also declared that as a chamber CMO was
determined to oppose the establishment of nuclear power stations in
Turkey. "A nuclear power station is a fairy story," he said. "This
business has a dimension of imperialist aggression. They are selling
for cash to backward countries the nuclear power stations they couldn't
build themselves. From the point of view of cost, a nuclear power
station is very expensive, it is terrible from the point of view of the
possibility of an accident and from the point of view of waste, it is
impossible to dispose of this. We have difficulty in putting out forest
fires. How will those who had to bring helicopters from Germany for the
Kirikkale fire prevent a nuclear accident?"
Electrical engineer Ünal Erdogan, a member of the
National Committee of the World Energy Council, claimed that a number
of secret operations were being carried out at Akkuyu and that because
entry to the site was being forbidden, it was possible that dangerous
wastes were being stored there. "While the world is in energy trouble,"
he said, "we are in trouble both with energy and with its policy
makers." Later he added, " The greatest danger and the greatest mistake
for Turkey would be a nuclear power station. The size of bribes being 5
million dollars, for this profit they are putting us in trouble with
nuclear power which is not the energy of the future but of the past.
And they are doing this by mortgaging Turkey's future. If energy losses
in Turkey were prevented, the free energy resulting would be equal to
that of a nuclear power station. "
Tasucu Wildlife Protection and Education Foundation
Chairman Arslan Eyce stated, "They're trying to establish a nuclear
power station at Akkuyu with reports which say that population density
is low, that there is no agriculture and no tourism. They also think
that, if necessary, it can be evacuated very quickly. They regard us as
the guinea pigs of TEDAS (Turkey's electricity distribution
organisation) and the multinational companies. We are not guinea pigs.
They don't allow us a place to speak. Let us use our democratic rights.
Let's carry out a referendum." The results of the discussion and
decisions taken will be passed on to Prime Minister Mesut Yilmaz by the
Silifke Democratic Platform.
FRANCE AND TURKEY ENHANCE MILITARY COOPERATION
Deputy Chief of General Staff Gen. Cevik Bir
received President of France's General Directorate for Armament
Jean-Yves Helmer in Ankara on June 30. Consultations between the two
will centre on the issue of arms modernisation, the Anatolia news
Speaking at the Helmer's reception, Gen. Bir said
that studies for the modernisation of the Turkish Armed Forces (TAF)
planned for the next 15-20 years, included helicopter and front-line
battle tank projects. Bir also added that he and Helmer agreed that
other projects and joint studies with France should be considered.
Helmer said France and Turkey already have
co-operated both militarily and industrially and hoped that joint
projects and cooperation between the two nations continue.
Tank cooperation between France and Turkey
Chief Advisor to the Prime Minister, Sedat
Celikdogan, announced that French Leclarc tanks will be produced in
Turkey as a result of joint cooperation, as foreseen in official talks
between Turkish and French officials in Paris last week.
Celikdogan said a Turkish delegation visited France
last week and studied opportunities for cooperation while touring
several defence industry institutions, including the enormous French
defence company "GIAT."
Celikdogan said that they had a chance to closely
observe third generation Leclarc tanks while discussing French-Turkish
joint tank production. But he added that, "we Turks have to produce the
Celikdogan said that besides joint tank projects,
they have also discussed the possibilities of joint satellite
production. "Most of the biggest media companies in the world are
converting to satellite communication as we speak. If we buy from other
nations, costs soar, but there are both technological and production
aspects to manufacturing these satellites. We believe that we can
manufacture satellites once we find the proper technological partner.
We have already considered the French company Alsthom to produce
satellites," Celikdogan said.
Celikdogan concluded that "we believe that Turkey
can grow more powerful if it directs its agenda toward advancing its
CILLER'S HUSBAND IN THE SPOTLIGHT FOR HAND IN MURDER
Fikri Saglar, a deputy serving on the parliamentary
commission investigating the Susurluk scandal, on July 9, filed a legal
complaint against Özer Ciller, the husband of DYP leader Tansu Ciller,
on charges of instigating the murder of a shady casino tycoon and
acquiring secret state documents.
Republican People's Party (CHP) Deputy Saglar said
the lawyer of Ömer Lütfü Topal, the so-called "King of Casinos" shot in
Istanbul by unknown assailants, had told the Susurluk investigative
commission that Topal's wife suspected Özer Ciller of being behind the
Giving testimony to a public prosecutor, Topal's
wife also said her husband always despised and feared Özer Ciller,
alleged CHP Deputy Fikri Saglar. In his complaint to an Ankara court,
Saglar said: "During the investigations of the Susurluk Commission,
many witnesses testified that Özer Ciller was involved in illegal
activities. I believe that his involvement in the murder of Ömer Lütfü
Topal and his relationship with the accused in the Topal case should be
Saglar also said another member of the Susurluk
Commission, Yasar Topcu of the Motherland Party, had announced that
there had been telephone calls between the prime minister's residence
-- Tansu Ciller was prime minister when Topal was murdered -- and Sami
Hostan, a shady figure indicted for involvement in the Topal murder who
is still being sought by the police.
"Premeditated murder and instigating murder are
described in Articles 450 and 65 of the Criminal Code. I am of the
opinion that Özer Ciller's actions are criminal acts as described in
these provisions. This is why I requested an investigation to be
launched against him," said Saglar.
The CHP deputy also pointed out that Nuri Gündes,
Tansu Ciller's chief adviser during her tenure as prime minister, had
stated that he had given intelligence reports prepared by the National
Intelligence Organisation to Özer Ciller.
Saglar concluded by saying that Özer Ciller should
be brought to trial in accordance with Article 132 of the criminal
code, for acquiring information on secret state documents, since he
held no official position other than being the then prime minister's
OECD ACCUSES TURKEY OF MONEY LAUNDERING
While the coalition government deals with the
anti-secular demonstrations within the country, Turkey is about to face
harsh new criticism on the international scene, according to the
Turkish Daily News of July 31.
Although Turkey has been accused several times of
allowing money laundering to occur within its borders, the OECD-based
Financial Action Task Force (FATF) -- set up by the G7 group of rich
industrial countries in 1989 -- is reportedly planning to give Turkey
an official warning to stop the practice.
Commenting on the recent stories in the press
regarding black money and drug trafficking via Turkey, Western
diplomatic sources who focus on the issue commented that although some
concrete steps can be expected from the new government, Turkey's
regulations are not adequate to prevent money laundering.
Turkey will reportedly be warned at the FATF's
regular meeting in September against its "official" role in money
Turkey has formed a committee to study the
allegations and prepare a response to the criticisms expected at
Meanwhile, a similar criticism of Turkey was made by
a group of solicitors acting as advisors to oil, gas and energy
businesses. The international group, Ledingham Chalmers Solicitors,
claimed that Jersey, the British crown dependency, is a safer place to
do business than Turkey because of its regulations against money
The group, which also advises BOTAS International (a
subsidiary of the Turkish Pipeline Company, BOTAS, said that the
regulations governing companies in Jersey are more severe than those
currently applied in Turkey.
In a message sent to Dogan Sirikci, Naime Isik and
Jale Tuksal, the directors of BOTAS International, solicitor Jonathan
W. Blythe declared that since Jersey is under the protectorate of the
United Kingdom, it is in all respects subject the European Community
rules regarding the conduct of business.
"This is important since the standard of practice
required by the European Community is very high. In many cases the
requirements are higher than those in Turkey," he said. Using the
phrase, "People who live in glass houses should not throw stones,"
Blythe also claimed that simply opening a bank account in one of the
big banks of Jersey requires producing a large number of papers to
Blythe was referring to a report that appeared in
the Turkish press in late June, accusing BOTAS of wasting hundreds of
thousands of dollars without being registered in Jersey. The report
called Jersey "a paradise for money laundering."
Afterwards, BOTAS director Mustafa Murathan was
dismissed from his office and Nevzat Arseven was appointed as the new
MINIMUM WAGE FOR SURVIVING IN FAME AND MISERY
The special commission charged by the Ministry of
Employment, on July 29, established the monthly minimum net wage at TL
22 million 943 thousand ($ 134). Although the monthly brut wage was
decreed at TL 35 million 437 thousand 500, 36 per cent of this sum are
retained as income tax by the State.
The Confederation of Turkish Trade Unions (Türk-Is)
announced on July 24 that the cost of feeding a family of four cost TL
35 million 500 thousand. So, the new minimum wage is very far from
covering only the food costs of a family of four.
Moreover, giving that the annual inflation rate
remains at about 100 per cent, the purchasing power of a minimum wage
earner will decrease by half in coming twelve months.
4.5 MILLION UNREGISTERED WORKERS IN TURKEY
Social Insurance Institution (SSK) Director General
Kemal Kilicdaroglu said on that there are 4.5 million unregistered
workers currently employed in Turkey.
According to research carried out by the SSK, the
state has been losing TL 500 trillion in income tax, and the SSK has
been losing TL 680 trillion in premium revenues each year because of
unregistered employment. There were 4.5 million active workers
registered with the SSK who have been paying their premiums, and some
4.5 million workers who have been kept out of the SSK.
These figures show that Turkey is becoming an
"unregistered workers paradise." The research also showed that this
unregistered economy is occupying a significant place in the Turkish
Methods used to avoid the SSK are to leave workers
unregistered, or to declare fewer days of employment than is actually
the case. Generally, the research highlighted that the registered wages
aren't reflecting the truth and this is leading to tax losses and
insurance premium losses.
Frequent tax amnesties are encouraging employers to
stay out of the system. In the last 25 years, 11 insurance amnesties
were made, the SSK report concluded.
According to the Confederation of Turkish Labour
Unions (Turk-Is), the state has been losing TL 111 million of income
tax per worker each year, and TL 151 million of premium revenues per
Because of unregistered employment, 9.3 percent of
income tax and 34 percent of insurance premium payments from the wages
of the workers couldn't be collected.
TURKISH ISLAMIST ERBAKAN MET FRENCH EXTREMIST LE PEN
Turkey's former prime minister, leader of the
Islamist Welfare Party (RP), Necmettin Erbakan, and French far-rightist
Jean-Marie Le Pen, held six hours of talks on August 21 at the Turkish
seaside retreat Altinoluk where Erbakan regularly takes breaks.
"A meeting of opposites took place. Our leader made
recommendations to Le Pen and told him about Turkey," said RP Member of
Parliament Mehmet Ali Sahin.
Turkish newspapers reported that Le Pen was on
holiday in Turkey. Sabah said Le Pen expressed sympathy for the Turkish
Islamists in their fight against closure by the constitutional court.
Asked to comment on the Le Pen-Erbakan meeting,
former Justice Minister of the Welfare Party Sevket Kazan confirmed
that the two political doyens met, but refrained from further comment
as to what they discussed, saying he simply does not know.
"I don't know the issue... I was absent during the
talks. (former State Minister) Abdullah Gül and Hodja (Erbakan) were
present during the meeting, but I don't know the subject matter," Kazan
Current Prime Minister Mesut Yilmaz next day
evaluated the Le Pen-Erbakan meeting by saying that they were two of a
kind. "I was not surprised. Radicals meet radicals. It is normal. They
suit each other," he said.
ANTI-CYANNIDE PROTESTERS STAGE ACTION ON BOSPHORUS BRIDGE
Nearly 250 people staged a sit-down protest on the
pedestrian walkway of the Bosphorus Bridge on August 26, to draw
attention to the mining of gold by cyanide leaching in Bergama.
The demonstrators arrived in three buses and other
vehicles belonging to the Bergama municipality, at about 9.00 a.m.
Shouting slogans such as, "Cyanide company, abandon Bergama" and
"Eurogold will go, this business will end," they moved toward the
European side of the bridge. One placard read, "We will fight cyanide
gold mining to the death!" Protestors alsocarried Turkish flags and
The protestors began sitting on the walkway, despite
being ordered to disperse by bridge security guards. After an hour and
a half, they ended their protest.