well "democracy" works!
3,000 journalists prosecuted within a 8-year period
editors still in prison
A new socialist
party under the menace of interdiction
citizens recorded as "suspects"
Censorship on six
films at Istanbul Filmdays
Report on destroying ethnic identity
International: "Torture continues in Turkey"
Mass resistance of
political prisoners throughout Turkey
The daily Cumhuriyet of April 20, 1988, reports that
during a 8-year period going from September 12, 1980 up to April 1988,
the number of the journalists indicted for their publications has
reached to alarming dimensions. Military and civil tribunals have
tried, in this period, 3,000 journalists and writers in 2,000 cases
relative to "press offenses".
After the military coup, four daily newspapers and
20 reviews were closed down by martial law commanders, 50 journalists
or writers were tried by military tribunals in 404 different court
cases. 32 journalists were sentenced to a total of 3,000 years
imprisonment by military tribunals and 2,500 years of these sentences
were ratified by the Military Court of Cassation.
By virtue of the Penal Procedure Code in Turkey,
whatsoever be high the total of different prison terms for one person,
it is automatically commuted to 36 years imprisonment plus 12 years
In the period of 1980-83, in addition to the press
cases dealt by military tribunals, 796 journalists were tried in 632
cases by the special Press Court in Istanbul. Although this special
court was abolished by the Özal Government in 1983, since then up to
now, in a five-year period, 2,127 journalists have been brought before
criminal courts for 1,426 "press offenses".
While the journalists who are accused of
publications "incompatible with public morality" such as print-ing
indecent photos are being tried at Criminal Court of First Instance,
the offenses such as "communist propaganda", "separatist propaganda",
"religious propaganda", "weakening national feelings" and
"discredit-ing the government" are being dealt by military tribunals,
state security courts or aggravated criminal courts.
Only in 1987, 541 journalists were tried by
different courts in 340 press trials.
42 JOURNALISTS STILL IN PRISON
The Writers and Journalists in Prison Committee of
International PEN issued in February 1988 a new detailed report on
writers and journalists known to be kidnapped, imprisoned, banned,
under house or town arrest, or awaiting trials.
Another list on the same subject was issued by the
daily Cumhuriyet of April 20, 1988.
Gathering these reports with the information coming
from other sources, we are updating below the list of Turkish
journalists in prison:
Hasan Selim Acan: Editor of journal Halkin
Kurtulusu, sentenced to a total of 331 years imprisonment. Prosecutor
claims 100 years more in 11 outgoing cases.
Nevzat Açan: Editor of Halkin Kurtulusu, sentenced
by Istanbul Military Court to a total of 20 years and 6 months'
imprisonment. In Canakkale prison.
Fuat Akyürek: Editor of Saglikcinin Sesi, sentenced
to 10 years and 6 months' imprisonment. In Canakkale prison.
Kazim Arli: Editor of the journal Oncü between June
and August 1980. Arrested on September 11, 1985 and sentenced to 23
years and 6 months by Istanbul Military Court No.2 on June 27, 1986.
Conviction based on Art. 142 of the Penal Code. Another trial is going
on against him under Article 141 of the TPC, for membership of a lift
wing organization. Held at Ankara Closed Prison.
Irfan Asik: School teacher and editor of a monthly
political journal called Partizan until it was shut down after the
military coup. Arrested on Dec 4, 1980, while teaching, tried 13 times
for different articles, sentenced to total 111 years reduced on appeal
to 36 years. In Canakkale prison.
Güzel Aslaner: Editor of journal Halkin Birligi.
Sentence to 31 years on June 30, 1983.
Aydogan Büyüközden: Sentenced to a 36-year prison
term for articles in the daily Aydinlik. In Bursa prison.
Mehmet Cerit: Editor of periodical Halkin Yolu.
Sentenced at Istanbul Military Court on April 22, 1981 to 18 years and
Mehmet Coban: Journalist for Ankara journal Iktibas.
Charged under Article 163 for anti-secular propaganda. Sentenced to 6
years and 3 months.
Mustafa Colak: Journalist for Ozgürlük, charged with
"making communist propaganda". Arrested in December 1981 and sentenced
to 9 years' imprisonment and held in Canakkale. Given another 8 years
for membership of the Istanbul Patriot Revolutionary Youth Association.
Total therefore 17 years.
Servet Ziya Corakli: Writer and poet. Sentenced on
December 13, 1986 to 6 years and 8 months' imprisonment for
distributing "illegal" pamphlets.
Mete Dalgin: Responsible editor of journal Halkin
Birligi, total sentence of 30 years' imprisonment.
Ilker Demir: Editor of the reviews Ilke and Kitle
from 1975 to 1977. Arrested on April 3, 1984, and convicted in a number
of trials in military courts to total of 23 years and one month on
charges of making communist propaganda. In Aydin E type prison.
Galip Demircan: Editor of Halkin Kurtulusu.
Sentenced to a 15-year prison. In Canakkale Prison.
Mustafa Dum: Responsible editor of Ileri journal.
Sentenced to 13 years and 6 months' imprisonment. In Canakkale E type
Mustafa Eker: Responsible editor of Kurtulus
Sosyalist Dergi, sentenced to 13 years and 5 months' imprisonment. In
Bektas Erdogan: Imprisoned in 1979 and sentenced to
36-year imprisonment. In Bursa E type prison.
Fettah Erkan: Editor of Devrimci Derlenis, sentenced
to 11 years and 8 months prison for insulting the Army.
Muhittin Göktas: Journalist of Kivilcim review.
Sentenced to a 7 years and 6 months imprisonment.
Yasar Kaplan: Editor of a literary magazin called
Aylik Dergi. Sentenced in February 1986 to 6 years and 3 months prison
for his work "The Book of Democracy". In Bursa E type prison.
Bayram Kazakli: Editor of Devrimci Kurtulus
Publishing House. Arrested in 1983 and sentenced to 15 years
imprisonment for publishing four books and booklets.
Remzi Kücükertan: Sentenced for his articles
appeared in the review Devrimci Proletarya.
In Gaziantep Prison.
Recep Marasli: Owner of Komal Publishing House in
Istanbul. Arrested in January 1982 and tried six times. Another trial
is pending. Total sentence is 36 years which he is serving in
Feyzullah Ozer: Editor of the weekly Kitle. Arrested
in October 1981 and sentenced to 18 years and 6 months' for articles he
wrote between 1977 and 1978. In Canakkale E type prison.
Mehmet Ozgen: Editor of Bagimsiz Türkiye and
Devrimci Militan journals. In six courts cases sentenced to 33 years
and 6 months prison. In Canakkale E type prison.
Candemir Ozler: Arrested in May 1981 for
articles he published in Savas Yolu. Sentenced to 23 years and 10
months' prison. In Canakkale E type prison.
Haci Ali Özler: Imprisoned for his articles in the
review Emegin Birligi.
Ali Rabus: Editor of Birlik Yolu. Sentenced to
18-year imprisonment. In Canakkale prison.
Alaattin Sahin: Editor of the weekly Halkin Yolu in
1977. 44 cases were opened against him. In 25 cases he received a total
of 108 years, commuted to 36 years. In Canakkale Prison. At least 163
years are claimed by the prosecution in the outgoing 19 cases.
Ersan Sarikaya: Editor of Güney literary review.
Sentenced to a 7 years and 6 months. In Kayseri prison.
Orhan Selen: Poet. Sentenced to a 8-year prison in
1985. In Bursa Prison.
Osman Tas: Arrested in January 1981. Editor of
Halkin Kurtulusu, sentenced to a total of 770 years of which 660 years
ratified and commuted to 36 years. In Metris Prison of Istanbul.
Erhan Tuskan: Editor of Ilerici Yurtsever Genclik.
Arrested in October 1980. Sentenced to 48 years and 10 months in
prison, commuted to 36 years. In Canakkale prison.
Mustafa Tütüncübasi: Sentenced to a total of 42
years imprisonment in default for articles in the journal Halkin Sesi.
Hasan Fikret Ulusoydan: Responsible editor of
periodical Halkin Sesi in 1975-76. Arrested for 23 different charges
against him in 1980. Total of sentences is 75 years, commuted to 36
years. Two cases have not yet been finalised. In Metris prison in
Hüseyin Ülger: Editor of Genc Sosyalist. Imprisoned
in 1979. Serving a 17-year imprisonment in Canakkale Prison for his
Ali Haydar Yildirim: Responsible editor of five
issues of periodical Militan Genclik. Sentenced to a total of 14 years
and 6 months. Arrested in 1981.
Mustafa Yildirimtürk: Editor for eight issued of
Halkin Kurtulusu in 1977. Sentenced to a total of 215 years of which
155 years ratified. Sentence automatically commuted to 36 years. In
Metris Prison of Istanbul.
Veli Yilmaz: Editor of Halkin Kurtulusu and Halkin
Kurtulusu Yolunda Genclik. Sentenced to a total of 1,170 years of which
750 ratified. All sentences were automatically commuted to 36 years. In
Metris Prison of Istanbul.
Dogan Yurdakul: Responsible editor of the daily
Aydinlik. Sentenced in default to a 18-year prison.
Besides, Kubilay Akpinar from the periodical Günese
Cagri and Ertugrul Mavioglu from Yeni Cözüm are under arrest in
Sagmalcilar Prison of Istanbul for their ongoing trials.
RECENT PROSECUTION OF INTELLECTUALS
1.3, writers Emil Galip Sandalci and Ragip Zarakolu,
respectively chairman and vice-chairman of the Human Rights Association
(IHD) in Istanbul are tried at a criminal court for having launched a
campaign for general amnesty and against capital punishment.
2.3, in Istanbul, Professor Yalcin Kücük, publisher
Mehmet Emin Sert and Sait Üner, an independent socialist candidate at
the last legislative elections, are brought before the State Security
Court of Istanbul for having made communist propaganda during the
electoral campaign. Each faces prison terms to 10 years.
2.3, the Association of the Women in Democratic
Struggle (DEMKAD) is closed down by the authorities on grounds that its
aim is not compatible with the Constitution.
3.3, a public concert of famous folk singer Rahmi
Saltuk in Ankara is banned by the Governor on grounds that it would be
harmful to public order.
4.3, the March 1988 issue of the monthly Emegin
Bayragi is confiscated on the decision of the State Security Court for
having published articles on the Commune of Paris and the International
6.3, in Izmir, 52 representatives of different
student associations are taken into custody by police after having held
a meeting in the Aegean University to discuss their problems.
9.3, in Istanbul, Cengiz Turhan, responsible editor
of the weekly Yeni Gündem, is sentenced by the State Security Court to
seven years and six months imprisonment for communist propaganda.
10.3, in Ankara, eight members of two student
associations are arrested for unauthorized meetings.
17.3, public prosecutor indicts two journalists of
the weekly 2000'e Dogru, Mrs. Fatma Yazici and Mr. Irfan Tastemur, for
unveiling a confidential report of the National Intelligence
Organization (MIT). The responsible editor of the daily Sabah, Mr. Oguz
Atay also faces prosecution for quoting this article.
18.3, Arslan Sener Yildirim is brought before the
State Security Court for an article entitled "Trade Unions and Working
Class Party" appeared in the review Yeni Cözüm and faces a 15-year
prison for communist propaganda.
4.5 MILLION RECORDED AS "SUSPECT"
The daily Cumhuriyet of March 14-15, 1988 reports
that the number of the citizens recorded as "suspect" rose to 1,683,000
in 1987 as it was only 40,000 prior to the military coup. Of the
recorded citizens more than 700 thousand are teachers and students.
Among the others are public servants, workers, policemen, army
officers, NCOs and their relatives.
Many of these records are based on denunciations.
Even if a suspect is acquitted by a tribunal, his
record is always kept in the archives of the Interior Ministry and the
National Intelligence Organization.
With this 1.7 million victim of political
repression, the number of all citizens who have been subjected to
different investigation and recording for simple administrative
formalities is estimated at 4.5 million. Only in the Turkish Kurdistan,
reports Cumhuriyet, at least 2 million citizens have been recorded by
martial law authorities since the military coup.
FILMS BANNED FROM ISTANBUL FESTIVAL
Last minute changes were made in the 7th
International Filmdays program in April 1988. The Censorship Committee
banned three films outright, and three other films were not shown
during the Filmdays.
Tengiz Abuladze's The Cry was banned on pretext that
it was contrary to Islamic principles. Betty Blue, directed by
Jean-Jacques Beinex, was banned on pornographic grounds, and Ali
Özgentürk's Su da Yanar (Water also burns) for containing scenes
considered "harmful to the moral ethics of the society."
Beat Kuert's Deshima and Jose Alvaros Morais' O Bobo
were also eliminated from the Filmdays. This time, the Censorship
Committee wanted eight erotic scenes to be taken out from both films,
but the Organization Committee objected to the idea of showing
incomplete films at an international festival. So the films were
Samir Zikra's An Incident of Half a Meter was not
included in the festival because the film arrived late.
American director Elia Kazan and nine other members
of the jury of the Golden Tulip International Film Contest protested
against the ban on films. The jury stressed in its declaration:
- that it is uncivilized to prevent international
interest in Turkish cinema by censoring films at an international
- that authorities should recognize the importance
of one of the best Turkish directors, Yilmaz Güney, and lift the ban on
In a parallel action, Turkish actors and producers
walked in silent protest. Holding a press conference at Taksim Square,
the group stated:
"Freedom of expression in the arts is the product of
struggle over centuries. In Turkey, in the wake of the 21st century,
freedom of thought and the right to enjoy fully works of art being
subjected to random censorship by civil administrators. We announced to
the world as well as to local authorities that we reject all bans and
will protect our freedom of creativity."
TWO NOVELS TO BE DESTROYED
A court in Istanbul ruled on March 22, 1988 to
confiscate and destroy copies of Henry Miller's Tropic of Capricorn and
Ahmet Altan's Sudaki Iz (Trace in the Water) on grounds that the two
noels were harmful to public moral because of their "obscenity." The
verdict was based on the "Law protecting the minors against harmful
Altan, reacting angrily to the verdict, said: "In a
country where the judges decide how to write books there will be
neither literature nor justice left. It is more difficult to write
books than to burn them."
29 CONVICTS ESCAPE FROM PRISON
The resistance of political prisoners reached to a
climax on March 24, 1988, when 29 inmates from the maximum-security
Metris military prison in Istanbul staged a spectacular escape, through
a 50-meter tunnel they dug from the sewers of the building.
The inmates, of whom eighteen belong to the Workers'
and Peasants' Liberation Army (TIKKO), guerrilla branch of the
Communist Party of Turkey/Marxist-Leninist (TKP/ML), began the digging
the tunnel some six months ago, descending into the sewer system of the
prison from a courtyard where they were being taken out periodically
for fresh air.
Security forces throughout the country were alerted
to the escape and a massive search was mounted, especially in Istanbul,
to capture the fugitives.
Metris was built after the September 12, 1980
military coup in Turkey to hold political prisoners. The prison
consists of six blocks connected by corridors and surrounded by
quarters for the prison guards and administrators. Metris at one time
housed more than 2,500 inmates and became infamous internationally when
the maltreatment of its convicts was publicized.
A few days later, on March 30, 1988, a banner
reading "Kizildere is not the last, our fight will continue," signed by
Devrimci Birlik (Revolutionary Union) was hung from the top floor of a
building in Istanbul. The sign referred to a group of left-wing
militants who escaped from a military prison in 1971 and all were
shot dead in Kizildere, a town in the Black Sea region.
HUNGER STRIKES IN PRISONS
Despite the Government's promise to ameliorate the
prison conditions, inhuman practices are still going on and push
hundreds of political prisoners to new protest actions.
Many political prisoners in the Diyarbakir Military
Prison have been transferred to Sanliurfa and Gaziantep civilian
prisons. Since the conditions in these prisons are worse than those of
the former, the inmates who rest in Diyarbakir went on a new hunger
strike on March 3, 1988.
In the course of March, hundreds of political
prisoners in Buca (Izmir), Sagmalcilar (Istanbul) and Adana prisons
went on hunger strike and their actions were joined by their relatives
in front of the prisons.
The protest action of 27 inmates in Buca prison
turned into a violent uprising because of the incomprehension of the
prison administration. Police took into custody 74 relatives of inmates
who protested against the brutality exerted on prisoners.
NEW PHASE IN GUERRILLA WARFARE
Two armed resistance movements, the ERNK (National
Liberation Front of Kurdistan) and the TIKKO(Workers' and Peasants'
Liberation Army of Turkey) announced that their struggle against the
Turkish State would gain new dimensions in 1988.
The ERNK is led by the Workers' Party of Kurdistan
(PKK) and the TIKKO by the Communist Party of Turkey/Marxist-Leninist
At a press conference held on March 21, 1988 in
Brussels, on the occasion of the anniversary of the foundation of the
ERNK, the PKK spokesman Hüseyin Yildirim announced that in 1987 the
Kurdish guerrilla forces shot dead 344 persons of whom 12 Army officers
and 252 village protectors. Consequently, the number of the mercenaries
called "village protectors" fell from 25 thousand to 6 thousand because
of defections. Yildirim added that the guerilla forces permanently
joined by poor Kurdish peasants will soon take the form of a liberation
army and give the Turkish State heavier blows.
On the other hand, after the spectacular escape of
18 TIKKO militants from the Metris military prison, the TKP/ML
spokesman A.H. Celik held a press conference in Brussels on March 29,
1988 and said that this event marked a turning point in the guerilla
warfare led by TIKKO militants. He announced that in the coming
months, their guerrilla forces would carry out a series of military
operations as well in the Turkish Kurdistan as in big cities such as
Istanbul and will take as target State terrorism centers and some
important civilian and military figures of the regime.
9 NEW DEATH SENTENCES
On March 24, 1988, the Martial Law Court of Istanbul
sentenced 9 members of the TKP/ML to capital punishment, 15 to
life-prison and 126 others to prison terms of up to 12 years.
In Adana, on March 8, 1988, the Martial Law Court
sentenced a members of Revolutionary Fighters to life-prison and 26
others to prison terms of up to 12 years.
A new trial was started on March 9, 1988 at the
State Security Court of Diyarbakir against 15 alleged members of the
PKK. Five defendants face capital punishment.
In Erzincan, at the mass trial against the Dev-Yol
members, the military prosecutor claimed 116 death sentences and
different prison terms for 382 others.
With the approval of some new death sentences by the
Military Court of Cassation, the number of the death sentences waiting
to be ratified by the Grand National Assembly rose to 194 on March 25,
AI: "TURKEY: TORTURE CONTINUES"
Amnesty International Newsletter, in its April 1988
issue, reports that, despite the fact that the Ankara Government signed
the UN and European conventions against torture at the beginning of
this year, torture continues in Turkey.
Below we resume the article entitled "Turkey:
"In the five weeks following Turkey's signature of
the Conventions against torture AI called on the government on four
occasions to investigate allegations that detainees were being
tortured. One was Baba Erdogan, who was held by police in Istanbul for
22 days without access to a lawyer or his family. After his transfer to
prison on 12 February he said that he and another eight detainees had
been severely tortured.
"Abdullah (Ahmet) Ekinci, aged 50, on behalf of whom
AI had appealed to the Turkish Government in January, said in February
that he had been tortured for 23 days in various ways, which included
electric shocks, beatings, being stripped naked, being put into a tiny
cage and being burned with a cigarette.
"AI has repeatedly urged the Turkish Government to
implement existing legal provisions which would safeguard detainees
from torture; in particular that regarding early access to detainees by
lawyers and families. It has also urged the government to institute
independent investigation into all allegations of torture."
DESTROYING ETHNIC IDENTITY
The U.S. Helsinki Watch Committee issued, in March
1988, a specific report on the oppression of Kurds in Turkey, based
largely on information gathered during a fact-finding mission to Turkey
in June 1987. We are reproducing below this report's some parts on
"destroying ethnic identity".
"This year, for the first time, the Turkish press
has actually referred to the existence of Kurds in Turkey. And the
Turkish Army, in order to improve its intelligence operations in the
southeast, has sent in special Turkish commando units trained to speak
and read the forbidden Kurdish language: the use of Kurdish may be
illegal in Turkey, but in many parts of the east it is the only
"The Turkish government, belatedly, is now investing
a significant amount of public funds in eastern Turkey. Electricity,
telephones, and other services are gradually being brought to some of
the villages and a major irrigation project, known as the Atatürk Dam,
will, according to the government, eventually transform a large part of
the region. But the effects of these policies are not yet generally
apparent. Illiteracy and unemployment are major problems in the east,
and the cities and countryside bear witness to economic neglect. The
Kurds in eastern Turkey frequently complain that they are treated like
"The question of Kurdish identity is complicated.
Turkish Government officials claim that there is not discrimination
against Turks of Kurdish background, pointing to Kurds who have served
in government or in Parliament. And, in fact, Kurds who think of
themselves chiefly as Turks appear to be accepted such as. It is Kurds
who strongly identify themselves as Kurds who run into trouble.
Centuries of intermarriage and assimilation have also complicated
Kurdish ethnicity, both in physical appearance and in sense of identity.
"The ban on things Kurdish is selectively enforced
in Turkey, resulting in unwritten rules that often seem unfathomable to
an outsider. Some of the native arts of the Kurds, for example, have
been absorbed into the official presentations of Turkish national
culture. Kurdish dances are included in national folk dance
performances; they are identified not as Kurdish, however, but as
coming from a particular region. An Istanbul rug merchant, on the other
hand, readily volunteers that his kilims are made by Kurds, "tribal
people who live in the remote mountains of eastern Anatolia." Some of
the rug merchants in Istanbul are themselves Kurds who travel back and
forth between Istanbul and their native village in the east, buying
local handwork to sell in the city shops.
"Art that deals realistically with the economic and
social problems of the Kurds is strictly forbidden. The Kurdish
filmmaker Yilmaz Güney, whose haunting film of a few years ago, Yol,
depicts the harshness and beauty of Kurdish life, spent years in prison
and then in exile, and died prematurely in Paris in 1984.
"You can say someone is of Kurdish origins, but you
cannot refer to a Kurdish minority," a well-known member of the Turkish
parliament told us, explaining the government's official position.
Then, somewhat nervously, he asked us not to quote him by name. He
knew, of course, about Serafettin Elci, a former member of parliament,
who was sentenced to more than two years at hard labor in 1981 for
having said on the floor of the parliament, "I am a Kurd. There are
Kurds in Turkey." He also knew that early last year a member of his own
party had been removed from his party post and brought before a
disciplinary committee because he had suggested in an open forum that
the party platform be printed in Kurdish as well as Turkish. Many of
the outspoken members of the present Turkish parliament are "closet
Kurds" who bravely defend the rights of constituents who have been
beaten, arrested, or tortured. But they never mention what everyone
knows anyway — that these people are being victimized because they are
"In eastern Turkey, where the Kurds predominate,
contradictions abound. Kurdish is spoken openly in the streets, despite
its official proscription. But its use is strictly prohibited in
government offices and in the courts and prisons. A 1983 law proscribed
publications in languages other than Turkish. In the villages, local
authorities often tolerate wedding celebrations at which Kurdish
costumes, music and dances are the custom, yet there are reports of
people who have been arrested merely for possessing cassettes of
After having detailed different aspects of the
repression in the Turkish Kurdistan, the U.S. Helsinki Watch Committee
recommends that the Turkish government:
" - Acknowledge the existence of the Kurds and grant
them the political and civil rights held by other Turks;
" - End restrictions that deprive Kurds of their
ethnic identity; permit use of the Kurdish language, music and dance
and the celebration of Kurdish holidays; permit the use of Kurdish
names; permit the Kurdish language to be used by prisoners, visitors
and lawyers in prisons and detention centers;
" - Permit the establishment of Kurdish associations
and the publication of Kurdish books and periodicals;
" - Establish a parliamentary commission to
investigate the problems of the Kurdish minority and recommend steps to
improve the situation;
" - Abolish the village guard system;
" - Take steps to protect the civilian population in
the areas where guerrilla warfare is taking place;
" - Punish appropriately abuse and humiliation of
civilians by security or other military forces;
" - End the harassment of Kurdish refugees abroad,
for example by permitting Kurdish names to be given to children, and
Kurdish to be listed, where indicated, as a person's mother tongue;
" - End efforts to relocate civilians from troubled
areas except in instances where their lives are endangered, and then
only in accordance with Protocol II of the 1949 Geneva Conventions.
"We remain concerned with gross abuses of human
rights in Turkey, especially with regard to the use of torture, the
continued imprisonment of many thousands of political prisoners, and
abysmal prison conditions. We deplore the continuation of repressive
legislation in Turkey that provides no legal safeguards, even for those
rights that Turkish citizens are now exercising."
CHRISTIAN ACTIVISTS UNDER ARREST
A total of 30 Turks calling themselves Mesih
Inanlilari (Believers in Christ) have been put under police detention
in March in seven cities of Turkey, pending investigations into alleged
Simultaneously, 15 Christian expatriates from West
Germany, Great Britain, the United States, Sweden and South Korea who
are employed in Turkey were also taken in for several days of
questioning regarding supposed violations of Article 163 of the Turkish
Penal Code which prohibits "subversion of the nation's secular
principles for religious ends."
THE MEETING OF
ON THE QUESTION
OF RETURNING TO TURKEY
Political émigrés who left Turkey to self-imposed
exile in Western Europe after the 1980 military coup held their first
meeting in Köln on March 20th, 1988, with the purpose of discussing the
problems as regards their possible return to the country.
Already some political refugees, considering the
political atmosphere favorable enough, have made public their intention
to return to Turkey even without obtaining some guarantees. Two top
officials of the United Communist Party of Turkey (TBKP), Nabi Yagci
and Nihat Sargin, had returned to Turkey last November with national
passports delivered by Turkish consulates on the permission of the
government. Yagci had even asked permission to make his military
service in the Turkish Army after his return. However, they had been
arrested at the moment they arrived at Ankara airport and are now
facing trial in Ankara (See: Prosecution of communist officials).
Currently, there are tens of thousands political
refugees from Turkey in Europe and about 15 thousand of them have been
deprived of Turkish nationality. Many of political émigrés in Europe
face heavy court sentences in Turkey. Those who have not been indicted
yet could face charges for illegally traveling abroad.
Many of the émigrés are also liable to prison terms
not less than five years for their activities and declarations abroad
against the Turkish regime, by the virtue of Article 140 of the Turkish
Prior to the Köln meeting, the right-wing press
reported that it would be an assembly of the TKP members and
sympathizers. However, at the opening the meeting, the organizers
categorically refuted this claim and underlined that it was an
initiative of the émigrés of different philosophical and political
In fact, during the meeting of about 250 political
refugees including writers, journalists, musicians, stage personalities
and unionists, participants expressed different views on the question.
While some ones were advocating an immediate return, some others
considered such a move premature and said that émigrés, with a view of
exerting pressure on the regime, should refuse to return before
obtaining the release of all political prisoners and the annulment of
At the end of the meeting, the participants arrived
to the conclusions below and expressed their will to struggle for these
I. a) The solidarity and coordination meeting of
political refugees, as an independent initiative, excludes from its
field of action and information the opinion divergences and discussions
among the political parties and groups to which belong political
b) It has been adopted as principle to be extremely
meticulous for that the solidarity and coordination works among
political refugees do not take the form of a direct support to any
political party or group or do not turn into a platform against any
political party or group.
c) The solidarity and coordination works of
political refugees, taking into consideration the circumstances and
possible advantages, are organized not on a basis of formation composed
of the representatives of political parties and groups, but on the
basis of an action form to which each person adheres in a personal
d) The solidarity and coordination works count out
of their sphere of activity commenting or making any evaluation on the
decisions or practices of different political parties, groups and
individuals as regards returning to Turkey. These works aim at
fulfilling the functions to facilitate the returning of political
refugees to Turkey in general and to diminish to minimum the troubles
and problems which may come out of the return whichever be its timing
II. a) The question of returning to Turkey as well as
political refugees' situation in and problems relating to the countries
where they live, their relations and those of their relatives with
Turkey as well as the pressures to which they are subjected are
inherent in the same entity. The solidarity and coordination works
never lose sight of this entity though their principal aim is to create
the favorable conditions for returning to Turkey.
b) Political refugees' returning to Turkey is a
process which can extend to a very long period because of a series of
differences in many levels, mainly as regards the legal status and
personal situation of political refugees. The solidarity and
coordination works will be developed in a perspective aiming to ensure
all political refugees' returning to Turkey.
III. a) Political refugees' problems as regards the
countries where they currently live cannot be dissociated from
democratic struggles of those countries, neither their problems as
regards returning to Turkey can be dissociated from the struggle for
democracy in general. They cannot be solved without taking into account
the necessities of this general framework.
b) All works aiming to develop solidarity and
coordination among political refugees and to facilitate their returning
to Turkey are integral parts of the struggles for democratic rights and
freedoms in Turkey. To ensure that this integrity be understood,
with its all dimensions, by all institutions, formations, groups and
persons and that efforts be developed in a view to fulfilling the
necessities of these struggles is the main axis of the solidarity and
c) The struggle in a view to ensuring political
refugees' returning to Turkey is deeply connected to the struggle in
1. To put an end to torture and to bring torturers
2. To conform the period of police detention and
arrest to international norms,
3. To ensure prisoners' freely talking with their
lawyers and families,
4. To put an end to all legal proceedings and trials
started by an antidemocratic power,
5. To release all political detainees and prisoners,
6. To annul all antidemocratic laws and articles of
law, mainly those of the 1982 Constitution,
the Penal Code, the Nationality Code and the Law on National Passports.
7. To put an end to repressive practices
particularly applied on the Kurdish People.
They are not at all the demands and objectives that
political refugees raise particularly for themselves.
IV. a) It is noteworthy that the repressions,
particularly in the Kurdistan of Turkey, have obliged thousands of
people to leave Turkey and to seek asylum abroad. Consequently, the
solidarity and coordination works should be developed with in the
conscience of the necessity of solidarity with these people, always
subjected to pressure because of their ethnical identity and religious
beliefs. Though it exists a difference between political refugees and
this category of refugees, this solidarity is a duty for all democratic
forces as well in Turkey as abroad.
b) All measures will be taken for that the works
aiming to facilitate political refugees' returning to Turkey will not
be used, in the countries where thousands of refugees live, by the
governments of this countries and rightist circles in order to develop
a false image in favor of the political situation in Turkey. Neither
these works should be a pretext for refusing the demands of political
refugee status or for delaying the decisions related to these demands
and, in general, for creating a unfavorable atmosphere as regards
political refugees. On the contrary, all should be made in order to
develop an atmosphere of support, understanding and sympathy for
V. Solidarity and coordinations works will be based
on a permanent structure aiming to organize in each country or region
so as to overcome the difficulties coming out of geographical distances.
On the other hand, it has been concluded that it is
necessary to constitute a Solidarity and Coordination Committee on a
European scale and to set up a centralized structure which ensures
relations with Turkey.
With this purpose, it has been decided to turn the
group organizing this meeting, by coopting other members, into the
Solidarity and Coordination Committee of Political Refugees.
The Solidarity and Coordination Committee of
Political Refugees, after being enlarged, is composed of Tektas Agaoglu
(writer), Dursun Akçam (writer), Bayram Ayaz (trade unionist), Yalcin
Cerit (publisher), Sümeyra Cakir (musician), Kemal Daysal (trade
unionist), Ilkay Demir (doctor), Melike Demirag (musician), Gönül
Dincer (women association official), Engin Erkiner (editor), Bahtiyar
Erkul (trade unionist), Gültekin Gazioglu (trade unionist), Zeki Kilic
(trade unionist), Zülal Kilic (women association official), Süleyman
Kirteke (trade unionist), Dogan Özgüden (journalist-writer, chief
editor of Info-Türk), Demir Özlü (lawyer-writer), Ömer Polat (writer),
Orhan Silier (academics), Müslim Sahin (trade unionist), Murat Tokmak
(trade unionist), Yücel Top (lawyer), Selahattin Uyar (trade unionist),
Yücel Yesilgöz (lawyer), Sanar Yurdatapan (musician).
PRESSURES ON A NEW SOCIALIST PARTY
A new socialist party, though set up in full
conformity to the legal norms imposed by the 1982 Constitution and the
Political Parties Code, has been the object of legal proceedings two
weeks after its foundation and its all founders face heavy prison terms.
All legal socialist parties of the pre-coup period,
the Workers' Party of Turkey (TIP), the Socialist Workers' Party of
Turkey (TSIP), the Labour Party of Turkey (TEP), the Socialist
Revolution Party (SDP), the Socialist Motherland Party (SVP) and
the Workers' and Peasants' Party of Turkey (TIKP) had been outlawed in
1980 and definitely closed down along with other political parties in
1981. Many leaders of these parties have been arrested and condemned to
heavy prison terms by the military.
However, some leaders of these parties who could
flee Turkey after the military coup have carried on their political
activities abroad in the name of these parties.
TSIP, SVP and TEP are still active abroad as
independent political parties.
The émigré leaders of the TIP have decided to put an
end to the independence of their party and to join the Communist Party
of Turkey (TKP), attached to the pro-Soviet line and outlawed in Turkey
for more than 60 years. The attempt of the émigré TKP and TIP leaders
to set up a legal party in Turkey under the name of the United
Communist Party of Turkey (TBKP) in October 1987 resulted in the arrest
of their two top officials and the government announced that it was not
yet the time for a legal communist party.
As for the outlawed SDP, near to Eurocommunism, and
the TIKP, attached to the pro-Chinese line, their leaders who have not
fled Turkey took initiative after the 1983 legislative elections in a
view to setting up a new socialist party to unite all socialists of
Turkey under the same banner.
But a series of common meetings have proven that
ideological and political difference still existed and gathering all
socialist together was still very difficult. Thereupon, 84 former
officials and sympathizers of the outlawed TIKP set up the Socialist
Party (SP) on February 1st, 1988, in Ankara and presented the party's
statute and program to the Interior Ministry.
Although the spokesmen of the three political
parties represented in the National Assembly stated that the foundation
of a socialist party was a new step in the process of democratization,
two weeks later, on February 15, 1988, the Chief Public Prosecutor
asked the Constitutional Court to dissolve the new party on grounds
that its statute aims to establish in Turkey a regime based on the
domination of the working class.
If the Constitutional Court dissolves the SP on this
claim, all the founders of the party will be liable to a prison term of
up to 20 years by virtue of Article 141 of the Turkish Penal Code.
PROSECUTION OF TWO COMMUNIST OFFICIALS
The prosecutor of the State Security Court in Ankara
demanded maximum prison sentences totalling some 550 years for the two
top officials of the United Communist Party of Turkey (TBKP), Nabi
Yagci and Nihat Sargin, after indicting them on charges ranging from
leading illegal organizations that seek to establish a communist regime
in Turkey to insulting the President of the Republic.
The prosecutor indicted Yagci and Sargin for
breaking seven articles of the Turkish Penal Code. Yagci and
Sargin's activities in Europe come under article 140 of the Turkish
Penal Code which describes any publication or statement abroad which
defames Turkey as an offense against the state punishable by prison
sentences not less than five years. Both party officials are accused of
having violated this article 17 and 19 times respectively.
The main charge against them is setting up and
leading illegal organizations seeking to overthrow the established
regime in Turkey in favor of a working class dictatorship, defined in
article 141 of the Penal Code.
Yagci is charged with 15 counts and Sargin 13 counts
of violating article 142 which deals with spreading communist
The minimum amount of possible sentences demanded by
the prosecutor adds up to about 66.5 years for each.
There are 13 other defendants in the trial who are
not under arrest. The prosecutor demands sentences ranging from one to
12 years for the 13, among whom are the two lawyers of Yagci and Sargin.
The stiff penalties demanded by the prosecutor
against the two communist officials caused some reaction in Western
Europe as well as in Eastern countries. In Brussels Jef Ulburghs, a
Belgian member of the European Parliament, organized a press
conference, flanked by the wives of Yagci and Sargin who are still
living in exile, protesting the prosecution of the men in Turkey.
KIRKUK SCENARIO AGAIN ON THE AGENDA
While all world were protesting against the use of
chemical weapons by the Iraqi Army on civilian areas occupied by Kurds
and Iranian troops, Turkish Premier Ozal became the first government
head to visit Iraqi capital. Both Iranian authorities and Kurdish
leaders have accused Ozal of collaborating with a war criminal.
Prior to this visit, at the end of March 1988, a
nation-wide debate was launched in Turkey over whether Ankara should
militarily intervene in Kirkuk and Mosoul in case of an Iraqi collapse
at its war with Iran.
Certain political and diplomatic circles claim that
Turkey has the right to intervene in the region when the status quo set
up by the Treaty of Lausanne in 1922 shows signs of collapse. They say
joint Iranian-Kurdish control of the Iraqi-Turkish oil pipeline would
jeopardize one-third of Turkey's oil supply.
The main opposition party, social-democrat SHP
declared its firm opposition against any military adventure in the
region whatsoever be its pretext.
While Ozal and his delegation were flying to
Baghdad, the Turkish military began to deploy commando units along the
border with Iraq. Busloads of commandos in battle uniform were being
transported from their bases in western and central Turkey to Iraqi
During the visit, Iraqi chief Saddam Hussein tried
to dissipate Ankara's fears of a Kurdish takeover of the oil-rich areas
of Kirkuk and Mosoul. He said that the region was under Baghdad's
control and the establishment of an independent Kurdish state in
norther Iraq was out of question.
After the talks, Ozal said: "I am openly declaring
that our intervention in this region is completely out of the question
under any contingency."
Ozal described Turkish troop movements as routine
Nevertheless, a few days later patrol flights by
Turkish Air Force jets were started in the border areas for the first
time in the eight-year-old war between Iraq and Iran. Turkey also
closed its airspace in the southeast to military flight by Iranian and
Iraqi plans on grounds that the main Turkish border gate opening to
Iraq, Habur, was bombed by an Iranian air force jet.
TURKEY TO EXPORT WATER TO ARAB WORLD
A high-level delegation is expected to visit Arab
countries soon to have talks on the so-called "Peace Water Project"
which provides water to the Arab peninsula through giant pipelines from
According to the initial plan of the government, two
pipelines will carry water from Seyhan and Ceyhan rivers in
southeastern Turkey to Jordan and Saudi Arabia through Syria and
The mammoth plan is expected to cost some $10
billion at current prices and to create jobs for more than 50,000
people in the countries that will take part.
Opposition parties call this project one of the
"dreams" of Prime Minister Ozal.