THE SATANIC VERSES AND TURKEY
The current world-wide outcry
over publication of Salman Rushdie's The Satanic Verses has slowly
reached Turkey. Unlike other predominant Moslem countries, at the
beginning, Turkey has not experienced any violent or extensive protests
against the book. But a few weeks later, reactions against the
Constitutional Court's ban on Islamic-style dress on Turkey's campuses
coincided with the growing of anger against Salman Rushdie and gave way
to fundamentalist mass demonstrations Turkey.
The first considerable reaction
to Rushdie came on February 23, when an Islamic leader called for
Rushdie's death for insulting Islam and the Koran. "I am willing to
kill him and I'm prepared to face any punishment," said Halil Korkut,
Mufti of Osmaniye, in an interview with the daily Cumhuriyet.
Meanwhile a religious preacher
from the Mersin area, Gulcin Tavsan, reportedly said "those who take
sides with the Satan will be punished," adding she supported killing
Rushdie. Besides, a lawyer from the Mersin Bar Association accused the
Islamic Welfare Party's (RP) mayoral candidate in Adana of saying
Rushdie should be murdered, the newspaper reported.
Mass demonstrations against the
Constitutional Court's ban on Islamic-style dress took on a more
popular character on March 10, after Friday prayers. People coming out
of mosques in Istanbul, Ankara and Adana staged protest marches,
shouting slogans against President Evren who filed the suit at the
Constitutional Court demanding it repeal the law allowing Islamic
attire at the universities. (See: Info-Türk, February 1988).
"Evren, Rushdie hand-in-hand!"
shouted some demonstrators.
Several thousand demonstrators
gathered at the main entrance of Istanbul University after Friday
prayers and defied police orders to disperse. Women in chadors waiting
in front of the university in a separate group did not join the men as
they began marching toward the Grand Bazaar.
"Evren resign!" "Head scarves
will not be taken off!" shouted the crowd.
Instead of using force to
disperse the demonstrators, the police pleaded with them to obey the
The police finally went into
action near Sultanahmet and dispersed the demonstrators.
Police detained 25 people, but all were released afterwards.
In Adana, a group of 600 people,
including women, staged a similar demonstration. When the demonstrators
did not obey police orders to disperse, riot squads charged on them
with night sticks. Police said 20 people were arrested on various
In Bursa, demonstrators protested
the head scarves ban and Salman Rushdie's book after Friday prayers.
Police detained four people.
In Ankara too, a crowd of about
1,500 men gathered at the Haci Bayram Mosque after sending telegrams of
protest from the Kizilay post office to the Constitutional Court, the
Parliament and the prime minister's office.
Shouting slogans like, "Break the
hands that want to take off the head scarves," "Death to Rushdie" and
"Down with the British and Israeli Zionism," the crowd began walking
towards Ulus Square.
When the police ordered them to
disperse peacefully, some of the demonstrators shouted back, "Aren't
you Moslems, too. Join us!" Finally, police charged with night sticks,
arresting 18 people and dispersing the crowd.
On March 12, demonstrations
continued in Istanbul and Ankara. Police used force to disperse
demonstrators in the capital after a meeting organized by the Islamic
fundamentalist Zaman newspaper. The meeting, which was called "Koran
Symposium '89," drew some 1,500 people to the Kocatepe mosque after
noon prayers. They refused to budge from their places after the mosque
orderlies announced the meeting was over.
"People are praying inside and
your noise is disturbing worshippers," said the announcements.
About 60 women in chadors managed
to move the crowd, which then began a protest march on the streets.
From time to time the marchers argued with policemen, claiming they
demonstrating. After walking from Kocatepe to Haci Bayram mosque, the
second largest mosque in the Turkish capital, the demonstrators
The demonstrations continued on
March 14 in Adapazari, a town 200 kilometers (124 miles)
southeast of Istanbul. Police arrested 25 men and women. Several
protesters were badly beaten by police using night sticks. Six of the
demonstrators were formally arrested next day by the local court. The
remaining 19 were
In Istanbul, a group of women in
Islamic dress gathered on March 14 in front of the university campus
and began collecting signatures for a protest letter. They defied
police threats that they would be dispersed by force if they did not
stop. However, police did not act against them and allowed the group to
stay at the entrance of the university until evening.
IS TEHRAN BEHIND DEMONSTRATIONS?
Since the outbreak of
the.controversy over head scarves, Iranian newspapers and other mass
media have been persistently attacking President Kenan Evren and Kemal
Atatürk, the founder of the republic who introduced the principle of
On March 13, about 600 women
students clad in chadors held a demonstration at Tehran University
carrying placards in Turkish in support of the Islamic fundamentalist
students in Turkey.
"We are protesting the banning of
Islamic attire in universities in Turkey," "We are in the same trenches
with our Moslem Turkish sisters," "No Moslem women without cover," read
the slogans written in Turkish on the placards carried by
the Iranian students during the demonstration .
"Head scarves are the symbol of
freedom, their absence is slavery," "The colonialists of the world are
afraid of the head scarves," "Islam is our way," read others in Persian.
The students also shouted
"Khomeini leader, Allahu Akbar."
A student in a chador read a
six-point declaration during the demonstration attacking Atatürk and
Evren and vowing to react against every Turkish official visiting Iran
as long as the ban on
Islamic attire remains in Turkish laws.
In a commentary broadcast on
March 14, Tehran radio said those who opposed head scarves in Turkey
were "the lackeys of America and imperialism."
Thereupon, Manouchehr Mottaki,
the Iranian ambassador to Ankara, was summoned to the Turkish Foreign
Affairs Ministry and was said that mass media commentaries on the head
scarf ban and demonstrations in Iran were considered as an intrusion
into Turkey's domestic affairs.
CONTROVERSY ON DEMONSTRATIONS
The demonstrations by Islamic
fundamentalists put more strain on the Ozal government, bringing into
the open the latent disagreements between different centers of power in
the Turkish capital.
As Islamic fundamentalist
militants took to the streets, Army chief Gen. Necip Torumtay paid an
unexpected visit to President Kenan Evren on March 10 as saying
the army forces were following the fundamentalist students and their
In a telephone interview wit the
newspaper Cumhuriyet, Torumtay said the issue of wearing head scarves
on the campuses has become a political matter. When asked whether he
there is a clandestine organization behind the protest demonstrations
by Islamic fundamentalist
students, Gen. Torumtay said: "I don't have a definite opinion. But it
is a possibility." Torumtay was also asked whether the National
Security Council (MGK) would hold a meeting before its scheduled date
because of the demonstrations. The council is a semi-military advisory
body. "I don't think so. However, it is up to the president to decide
whether to hold such a meeting. The agenda of the meeting is fixed by
the general secretary of the MGK following the president's approval. So
I am not in a position to comment on this subject," said Torumtay.
Despite the mild tone used by the
army chief in his replies to Cumhuriyet, his remarks led to speculation
in political circles and the press that an army intervention is
possible if demonstrations get out of control.
On March 12, the army
headquarters issued a written statement saying that Torumtay's answers
in the telephone interview led to different interpretations in the
"The Turkish armed forces have full allegiance to parliamentary
democracy and they are aware of their role and their duties within the
constitutional regime," said the written statement.
It also said the armed forces serve the democratic and secular state as
part of the nation.
Opposition leader Erdal Inonu of
the Social Democratic Populist Party (SHP) said he considered
Torumtay's remarks that the armed forces have been following the
incidents closely as "natural." "But we are against the idea of solving
such matters through an (army) intervention. We want to find solutions
through democratic means," said Inonu.
Inonu also called on the National
Intelligence Organization (MIT) to take measures to prevent the
infiltration of theocratic movements into Turkey from neighboring
"The Khomeini regime is behind
this movement. They are even providing financial support. They want to
export their regime to Turkey," said Inonu.
Prime Minister Turgut Ozal
visited President Evren on March 11, instead of his routine weekly
meeting Thursday. Following the 70-minute meeting, Ozal would not say a
word to journalists waiting for him and went to his official residence.
On March 12, Ozal attended
ceremonies marking Physicians Day with President Evren. Although the
two men sat together at the meeting, held in Ankara University's School
of Medicine, they hardly spoke to each other. Ozal, in his address
during the meeting, made an oblique reference to Evren's application to
the Constitutional Court demanding the ban on Islamic attire on
Speaking about the General Health
Services Law which was also repealed by the Constitutional Court, Ozal
said: "Since our constitution is very detailed there is the unfortunate
tendency to take every single matter to the Constitutional Court."
Evren did not make a speech at
the meeting. But on March 13, in a written statement distributed by his
press secretary Ali Baransel, Evren said he did not approve of
involving the armed forces in political issues. "The president believes
that it is natural for institutions and persons who sincerely believe
in the merits of the democratic system to be sensitive toward
secularism," said the statement.
It also said Evren thinks the
statement by the army headquarters a day earlier was clear and left no
room for misinterpretations. Hurriyet said in March 13 issue that Prime
Minister Ozal has been under pressure from the army since the first
week of January when the nation's top generals attended a dinner with a
high placed civilian government officials and aired their complaints.
According to the newspaper, the
officers told the unidentified official that their complaints should
not be taken as an attempt by the military to intervene in the
government's business. But they said the armed forces were concerned
about the upsurge in religious movements and religious education in the
country. They said secular norms established by Kemal Atatürk in
national education should be observed in the educational policies of
Top-ranking officers also
complained about the behavior of four cabinet ministers whom they said
were encouraging religious movements in the country.
Inflation was another complaint
of the brass during the dinner. According to Hurriyet, the generals
said the high inflation rate has reached a dimension where it can cause
Even Kaya Erdem, the former
deputy prime minister who resigned from his cabinet post in January
following a dispute with Ozal, broke his silence Wednesday and said the
controversy is not simply whether to cover heads or not. "The basic
principles of the republic established by Atatürk are at stake," said
Erdem in a written statement.
Feyzullah Ertugrul, president of
the teachers association Egit-Der, said all the recent negative
developments are ramifications of the Sept. 12 regime and the
constitution it imposed on Turkey. He said the Sept. 12 constitution
introduced compulsory religious education from first grade on and
opened more religious schools.
However, Necmettin Erbakan, the
leader of the pro-Islamic Welfare Party (RP), said that the
demonstrations constituted "popular reaction within the, limits of the
law." He said he was against banning head scarves. Oguzhan Asilturk,
the party's general secretary, praised the protesters as "glorious
TURKEY'S STAND AND THE WEST
According to Mehmet Ali Birand,
foreign affairs correspondent of the daily Milliyet, "Turkey's behavior
in the midst of this storm is closely observed both in the West and the
Islamic world, because Turkey is a Moslem country preparing to become a
full member in the European Community which has hitherto been a
gathering of Christian nations."
"Turkey is asked whether it would
have shown the same reaction as Greece (withdrawing its ambassador to
Tehran) if it had been a member of the EC; whether it would have closed
its embassy in the Iranian capital and joined the anti-Khomeini
mobilization in the West? The West has the same idea. They say Turkey
would not have acted as they did and that this clearly demonstrates the
basic problem in Turkey's relationship with the EC," wrote Birand.
"The Rushdie affair provided the
West with the first opportunity in a long time to underline the
differences between Christianity and Islam. The Western press and parts
of the Western society and intelligentsia regard Khomeini's call for
Rushdie's murder and the burning of his book in bloody demonstrations
as an example of the backwardness of Islam. Even if they do not say it
openly, they watch the developments in the Islamic world with some
disdain," he added.
"As a matter of fact the Turkish
society in general has been quite mature in its response to this book
and its writer. But there are certain sections of the Turkish society
which have adopted a very tough stance in the matter, similar to what
we have been seeing in the other Islamic countries. This is Turkey's
dilemma," wrote Birand.
ANKARA AND THE SATANIC VERSES
Prior to mass demonstration, Ozal
had been asked to comment on Rushdie's book after he bid farewell to
his Iranian counterpart Mir Hussein Moussavi who was in Turkey on an
official visit. The prime minister refused to comment. A spokesman for
the Department of Religious Affairs also refused to give an official
stance to persistent reporters.
As for General Evren, he had
hinted, after returning from India, that Salman Rushdie's The Satanic
Verses would probably be banned from publication in Turkey. "But I am
not in a position to say what should be done," Evren told journalists.
The president added that some
people can do extraordinary things in order to achieve fame in the
world. "It is not only fame. There is also the financial aspect of the
matter. This person (Rushdie) resorted to unbelievable sensation, with
all the mass media in the world helping him. His book is now selling
for $200. What more could he expect in terms of promotion? The
Department of Religious Affairs is now studying the book. Probably the
appropriate authorities would ban the publishing of the book in Turkey.
The Ministry of Interior has such authority. The book can be included
in the list of banned publications," said Evren.
Regarding local support for
Khomeini's call for Rushdie's murder, Evren said: "Turkey has been a
secular republic since 1923. Our people will not take the behavior of a
few people like them seriously because all the new generations have a
firm footing in Ataturk's principle of secularism. Masses of people in
Turkey with open allegiance to Ataturk's principles won't let others
violate it," said Evren.
Meanwhile, Yusuf Ozal, the prime
minister's younger brother and a state minister, suggested he saw an
opportunity for more business with Iran now that it has been isolated
by the West.
Lutfu Dogan, a former head of the
department and a cabinet minister, said that although he viewed
Rushdie's book as the latest attempt to cast doubt on the Islamic faith
and its holy book, he did not approve of the behavior of Khomeini.
"Khomeini's fetva (decree) is
against Islam. It has been harmful to Islam. Khomeini's statement that
even if Rushdie begs repentance he would not show him mercy is also
against Islam. In our religion Allah shows mercy to those who repent,"
Dr. Mehmet Hatipoglu of the
Ankara University School of Theology said that for the past 1,400 years
Islam has been subjected to similar criticisms and attacks. "But you
have to respond to these attacks in the same way. That is you write a
book and disprove the claims. You don't just cut heads off. I don't
think this is the right solution," he added.
Rushdie's book has not yet been
translated into Turkish, although negotiations between Rushdie's agents
in London and a local literary agency in Turkey are underway. Mr. Erdal
Oz, director of Can Publishing Co. said he had received "threats from
fanatics" telling him not to publish the book. Claiming that the
fundamentalist deputies within Prime Minister Turgut Ozal's Motherland
Party (ANAP) might try to keep the book out of Turkey, Can added: "I
don't think it's likely the book will be published here."
ISLAMIC INVESTMENTS IN TURKEY
Behind the rise of fundamentalism
is no doubt also the growing economic power of Islamic capital.
Islamic fundamentalism's economic
activities in Turkey are getting more and more uncontrolable in Turkey
thanks to the Ozal Government's encouraging attitude. Within the total
foreign capital invested in Turkey, the Islamic countries holds a share
of 8 percent. At the end of 1988, the number of companies founded with
the participation of Islamic capital reached 309 of which 134 are
shared by Iraq and 31 by Saudi Arabia. The total capital invested by
Islamic countries is estimated at 64.3 billion TL. (Cumhuriyet,
One of the main Turkish partner
of these companies is Korkut Ozal, brother of the Turkish Prime
Minister. He is the principal shareholder of Akabe Insaat,
Ozal-Bayraktar Oil and Chemical Products Co., Hak Investment Co. and
Akoz Commercial Advisory Co. He has also a share of O,1% in Al Baraka,
principal international investment company of Saudi Arabia. (Milliyet,
Islamic capital appears as the
most eager in the field of foundations. While there were 754
foundations in 1984 in Turkey, their number rose to 1237 in 1988. The
new 483 foundations' properties are estimated at 300 billion TL. At
least 10 percent of the new foundations have been founded with
religious purposes. (Cumhuriyet, 6.2.1989)
Islamic foundations' growing
control in the field of education is seriously menacing the principle
of secular education, one of the main pillars of the Republican state.
The number of Koran courses throughout Turkey rose to 4,691 in recent
years. 633,000 children learn by heart the Koran in Arabic language,
without understanding its meaning. (Cumhuriyet, 23.1.1989). Meantime,
these courses, mainly founded and directed by Islamic foundations, form
children according to the Shari'a (Islamic law) principles.
As for the official religious
high schools (Imam Hatip Okullari), their number rose to 384 in 1988,
while it was 384 in 198O. Accordingly, the number of students educated
by these schools rose from 178.000 to 290.000. (Cumhuriyet, 9.1.1989)
The majority of these students are lodged in the dormitories belonging
to Islamic foundations.
Recently, a group of Islamists,
led by former TV director Saban Karatas, has taken the initiative in
founding a private university, Bezm-i Alem, to operate on the basis of
Islamic principles. (Hurriyet, 30.1.1989)
And some more figures on the rise
of fundamentalism in Turkey:
The number of the personnel
employed by the Religious Affairs Directory was raised from 53,582 in
1984 to 84,717 in 1988. Every year at least 1,500 new mosques are being
built throughout Turkey. Five mosques and seven small mosques have been
opened in five universities of Ankara. The daily circulation of an
Islamic daily newspaper climbed to 132,000 and that of an Islamic
children magazine to 100,000. The number of the people who go to Mecca
to make the pilgrimage climbed from 30,450 in 1984 to 285,724 in 1988.
TURKEY: CHAMPION OF DESTROYING BOOKS
As the controversy on The Satanic
Verses and its condemnation by Khomeini is growing, the Turkish Supreme
Court, on March 2, 1989, upheld the verdict of a lower court ordering
the confiscation and destruction of two books that were found obscene,
provoking criticism from local officials and from around the world.
As a result of the Supreme Court
verdict, Henry Miller's Tropic of Capricorn and Turkish writer Ahmet
Altan's Sudaki Iz (Trace on Water) will never be distributed in Turkey
and available copies will be destroyed. The Supreme Court, however,
cleared two other books by a Turkish author which were accused of
violating the anti-obscenity law.
The Supreme Court verdict
ordering a literary work destroyed is the first to be handed down by
the judicial body in nine years. Other cases from the same period,
which resulted in the destruction of literature and political writing,
was done upon the order of police and military regime.
Erdal Oz, publisher of the two
books which are to be destroyed, told the press that the verdict of the
Supreme Court was a clear sign of an attempt to undermine freedom of
Ahmet Altan, the author of Trace
on Water, said the verdict of the court is a death sentence which is
similar to that given by Iranian leader Khomeini for the writer of The
"I'm sure that my book is not
obscene. One cannot sentence the whole book by focusing on certain
parts," Altan said.
The censorship law was passed in
1927 in the Turkish Parliament under President Mustafa Kemal Atatürk.
It aimed to prevent the harmful effects of fanatic religious books on
children. But none of the Turkish courts applied this law until 1985
when the ruling Motherland Party resurrected it and changed its
According to a recent survey of
the left-leaning paper Cumhuriyet of February 25, 1989, since the
Motherland Party took power in 1983, 458 publications have been
confiscated, 368 of them have been ordered by lower courts to be
destroyed, and 90 await a decision.
The same survey shows that 2,792
responsible editors, translators, reporters and publishers have been
tried in 1,881 press trials since 1983. Some 39 tons of publications
were destroyed and another 40 tons are awaiting destruction pending a
final court decision. Political magazines confiscated in the past six
years comprised the largest portion within the total, followed by
political books. Fifty-five popular magazines, 78 pornographic
publications, five postcards, 14 music tapes, four video cassettes, one
calendar, 64 daily papers, 48 popular weekly magazines, five atlases
and one telephone directory were also confiscated as a result of court
rulings, the paper said.
Reporters, translators and
publishers were sentenced to a total 2,000 years in prison in the past
six years while "responsible editors" of political magazines published
before the military coup in 1980 were sentenced to a total of some
5,000 years and fined billions of Turkish liras. Twenty-six
"responsible editors" of pre-coup publications are still in prison.
Currently, 303 trials against 13 daily newspapers are still going on.
A written statement released by
the Justice Minister Tinaz Titiz protested newspapers' use of the term
"burned books" to describe the destruction of unlawful publications. He
said the materials are sent to state-run paper processing plant, for
recycling. The ministry said publications have never been burned.
Some parliamentarians and
intellectuals in the United States and Europe strongly reacted the
verdict of the Supreme Court, arguing that the destruction of books has
no place in the contemporary world.
Banned and destroyed books,
allegations of systematic torture in Turkey and the duration of police
detention were among topics discussed in the U.S. House of
Representatives subcommittee dealing with financial and military aid to
Turkey for the years 1990 and 1991.
Worse criticism came about
violations and abuses of human rights and democratic freedoms in
Turkey. Rep. Donald E. Lukens (D-Ohio) said two literary books,
including Henry Miller's Tropic of Capricorn, have been recently
The White House's spokesman
Wilkinson said the administration has been only very recently informed
about the bans and he argued, incorrectly, that the court rulings in
Turkey against these books are still to be appealed. It was a final and
irreversible Supreme Court ruling that Rep. Lukens was referring to.
Rep. Edward Feighan (D-Ohio)
referred to reports by international watchdog organizations like
Amnesty International that systematic torture is practiced in Turkey.
West German member of the
Turkish-EC Joint Parliamentary Commission, Wolfgang von Nostitz, told
Hurriyet that the banning and destroying of books is anachronistic. He
stated he will bring the issue before the European Parliament. He also
said the subject will will be discussed at the joint parliamentary
commission meeting on April 24-26 in Ankara.
Rene Tavernier, chairman of the
French chapter of the PEN Club (the international association of poets,
essayists and playwrights) called the verdict as a scandal and
protested the move on behalf of the chapter.
John E. Porter (R-III.), a member
of the U.S. House of Representatives committee on appropriations who
visited Turkey last year, told Hurriyet that the destruction of books
was a practice seen during the Nazi era.
BOOKS BANNED SINCE 1955
The following is a list of books
banned over the past 33 years (not all titles are included):
Oktay Rifat's Karga ile Tilki
(The Crow and the Fox), Orhan Kemal's Grev (Strike), Melih Cevdet
Anday's Yanyana (Side by Side), Fethi Naci's Insan Tukenmez (Man is
Inexhaustible), Sukran Kurdakul's Giderayak (In the Last Minute), Metin
Eleoglu's Sultan Palamut (Sultan Bonito), Arif Damar's Gunden Gune
(From One Day to the Next), Ferruh Dogan's cartoon album Asrilesen Koy
Ercument Behzat Lav's S.O.S in
1965, Asik Ihsani's Yazacagim (I Shall Write) in 1966, Nezihe Meric's
Nazim Nikmet Butun Eserleri 1 (Complete Works of Nazim Hikmet Vol. l)
in 1968, Hasan Huseyin's Kizilirmak (Red River), Sukran Kurdakul's Halk
Ordulari (People's Armies).
Sevgi Soysal's Yurumek (To Walk)
in 1970, Ozkan Mert's Kuracagiz Herseyi Yeniden (We Will Build
Everything Anew) in 1971, Tektas Agaoglu's Politika ve Felsefe
(Politics and Philosophy) in 1973, Cetin Altan's BirAvuc Gokyuzu (A
Handful of Paradise) in 1974, Ceyhun Can's Umut Devrimci Savasta (Hope
in the Revolutionary Struggle) in 1974, Hasan Izzettin Dinamo's Kavga
Siirleri (Battle Poems) in 1977, Yasar Mirac's Trabzonlu Delikanli (The
Young Man From Trabzon) in 1979.
Yasar Mirac's Taliplerin Agidi
(Ode to Talip) in 1980, Ataol Behramoglu's Ne Yagmur Ne Siirler
(Neither Rain Nor Poems) in 1981, Talip Apaydin's Vatan Dediler (The
Country, They Said" in 1981, Kente Inen Idris (Idris Who Went to Town)
in 1981, Adalet Agaloglu's Fikrimin Ince Gulu (The Rose of My Mind),
published in 1976, confiscated in 1981, Koktan Ankarali (Originally
From Ankara) in 1982, Asim Bezirci's Anthology On Sair, On Siir (Ten
Poets, Ten Poems), published in 1971, confiscated in 1982, Gulten
Akin's Kirmizi Karanfil (Red Carnation), published in 1971, confiscated
in 1982, Bertolt Brecht's Halkin Ekmegi (The People's Bread), the fifth
edition confiscated in 1982, Nihat Behram's Hayati Tutusturan Acilar
(Agonies That Set Life on Fire) in 1983, Fikret Otyam's Mayinlar Ciceek
Acmaz (Mines Don't Bloom) in 1983, Ozan Telli's Ekmegim, Sarabim, Tuzum
Askina (For the Laove of My Bread, Wine, Salt) and Ishakca in 1983,
Necati Gungor's Yeryuzunde Iki Golge (Two Shadows on Earth) in 1983,
Yllmaz Guney's Ogluma Mektuplar (Letters to My Son) in 1983, Mehmet
Yasin's Sevgili Olu Asker (Dear Dead Soldier) in 1984, Vecihi
Timuroglu's BirSurgunun Ezgileri (Tunes of an Exile) in 1984, Ahmet
Altan's Sudaki iz (The Trace on Water) in 1986, Pinar Kur's Bitmeyen
Ask (Endless Love) in 1986; and recently, Nihat Behram's Yurekleri
Safakta Kivilcimlar (Sparks with Hearts in Dawn) and Iskencede Olum
Guncesi (Diary of Death Under Torture), Ibrahim Acan's Yargilayan
Savunma (Judging Defense), Tayfun Mater's Devrimci Yol Davasi
Savunmalari (Defense of the Devrimci Yol Case).
PERSECUTION IN FEBRUARY
On February 7, the last issue of
the monthly review Yeni Demokrasi was confiscated for an article on
State terrorism in Kurdistan.
On February 11, the responsible
editor of the Encyclopaedia of Socialism and Social Struggles, Mr.
Abdullah Onay was indicted for having quoted some parts of Wilhelm
Weitling's writing on communism, printed in 1846. He faces a prison
term of up to 15 years.
On February 21, Professor Yalcin
Kucuk was detained for a fourth time. In all trials opened for his
articles, he faces a total of 45-year prison term.
On February 22, the issue No.3 of
the monthly review of Ozgur Gelecek was confiscated in printing house
before distribution. Responsible editor Bekir Kesen, who is already in
prison for another press trial, was indicted again.
The responsible editor of the
monthly review Emek Dunyasi, Mr. Osman Gunes was sentenced to a 6-month
prison term by the Istanbul SSC, on February 22, for an article about
442 DEPRIVED OF NATIONALITY
The practice of depriving of
Turkish nationality against those who are suspected of anti-regime
activities or who refuse to perform military service, continues in
spite of criticisms coming from international human rights
Lately, on March 14, the Council
of Minister announced that 442 Turkish citizens abroad were deprived of
Turkish nationality and their properties in Turkey would be confiscated
by the State.
NO PASSPORT TO A FILMMAKER
Turkish film director Serif Goren
was not allowed by the Turkish Government to participate in Berlin Film
Festival, though his film "Polizei" was one of the runners for the
Goren is also the co-director of
Yilmaz Guney's Cannes prize-winner film "Yol". Turkish authorities
refused to deliver him a passport on grounds that there were legal
proceedings against him for sending "Yol" to France without
authorization and for his trade union activities prior to the military
ANKARA'S DEFENSE ON TORTURE
The Turkish government is
preparing to make a strong defense against allegations from
international groups of torture and human rights violations with a
detailed report from the foreign ministry concerning prisoners who have
died in custody since the 1980 coup.
The ministry states that it is
sending the report to Amnesty International's headquarters in London
and to the Turkish diplomatic missions abroad. The report attempts to
clarify facts about the alleged deaths by torture of 144 prisoners in
Turkey between 1980-1988, as cited in Amnesty International's latest
The foreign ministry report
claims that the deaths of 32 of the 144 were caused by torture. The
report further claims that 102 of the prisoners either committed
suicide or died as the result of various causes.
The other causes of death were
listed as: 42 from lung and/or heart disorders, 22 as a result of
confrontations with security forces while in custody, 3 due to a hunger
strike, and 1 murder committed by a fellow prisoner. The remaining 10
are alive, the report said.
AI was attacked by the Turkish
government for publishing the names of 144 people it believed had died
by torture without first contacting Turkish officials. Ankara claims
that AI and other groups are trying to hinder Turkey's chances of
joining the European Community with accusations of torture.
The foreign ministry also
released a list of the persons it believes were killed under torture: 1
person in 1979, 7 in 1980, 2 in 1981, 2 in 1982, 1 in 1983, 2 in 1984,
2 in 1985, 3 in 1986, 2 in 1987 and 3 in 1988. The report also states
that charges were brought against 61 officials (50 civilian and 11
military) who were implicated in the torture cases.
The foreign ministry report would
not go unchallenged, human rights groups in Ankara said. They pointed
to the high rate of suicides under detention - 34 in all - admitted by
the ministry, drawing attention to the case of Veysel Yildiz who is
said to have hanged himself during interrogation. They said that the
report did not clarify how the youth killed himself on April 1, 1984,
before the eyes of his interrogators.
The foreign ministry's criticism
comes just as negotiations between Turkey and the European Community
AMNESTY MEETINGS IN BELGIUM
Different sections of Amnesty
International have organized a series of conferences in Belgium on the
situation of human rights in Turkey.
First, Roeselare section held its
meeting on February 21. After the projection of slides shot in Turkish
Kurdistan, Amnesty International spokesman Pierre Tavernier and
Info-Türk editor Dogan Ozgüden gave detailed information on the recent
violation of human rights in Turkey. A similar conference was held in
Temse on March 10.
Another meeting organized by
Amnesty International at the Brussels Free University (ULB) on February
22 was an occasion to prove the double-faced attitude of Turkish
Amnesty International invited to
this conference a representative of the Turkish Embassy in Belgium in
order to explain Ankara's point of view against the arguments of other
Ankara had always accused Amnesty
International of counting only on the views of opponents and refusing
to listen to Ankara's replies.
After it received the invitation
of AI, the Turkish Embassy asked if Dogan Ozgüden was to participate in
the conference. When AI said that Ozgüden too was invited, the Turkish
Embassy declined the invitation arguing that a representative of
Turkish Government cannot take place at the same round table with an
opponent deprived of Turkish nationality.
At the ULB conference, Professor
Robert Anciaux, AI spokesman Pierre Tavernier, lawyer Marie Forêt and
two Turkish journalists, Dogan Ozgüden and Hadi Uluengin commented the
present situation of human rights in Turkey. Ozgüden also reproached
the Ankara regime with lack of courage to listen to criticisms and to
explain its own stand in public.
PRISON DOCTOR REPORTS TORTURE
A Diyarbakir prison physician
submitted a report to the local state security court declaring that he
found evidence that torture was used on 10 inmates arrested last
December in Cizre in connection with the killing of two policemen.
There had been rumors that the
suspects were being tortured by the police. The lawyers of the arrested
filed a petition in the local state security court demanding a medical
examination of the inmates.
The State Security Court in
Diyarbakir ruled that it had no jurisdiction over torture cases and
sent the file to Mardin, the province where the torture was alleged to
have taken place, for review by the local prosecutor.
According to the report written
by Dr. Turgut Dogancali, the inmates were examined on Feb. 17 and signs
of torture were discovered on their bodies.
The report included the following
• Abbas Seyrek, one of the
detainees, had abrasions on the sole of his left foot.
• Ibrahim Sarica had abrasions on
his hands and feet.
• Seyfettin Vesek had abrasions
on his hands and feet.
• Hasan Baykara had signs of
being hit by a sharp instrument at the back of his head and there were
signs of burns on his abdomen and hands.
• Bedrettin Vesek had evidence of
beatings on his legs.
• Nimet Elcitorunu had signs of
injuries to his hands.
• Abdurrahman Ugan had signs of
burns on his right ankle.
• Yusuf Ecevit was diagnosed as
• Semsettin Piskin, the worst
treated according to the report, had scars on his penis and an anal
OTHER CASES OF TORTURE
On February 12, a public
prosecutor announced at a press conference in Istanbul hat his own son,
university student Siar Risvanoglu, had been tortured by police after
his arrest for carrying some TBKP tracts.
According to the daily Cumhuriyet
of February 20, 1989, in the province of Sanliurfa, a Kurdish group
were subjected to torture after their arrest by police. One of the
detainees, Huseyin Sutpak was paralyzed due to torture. Another victim,
Abdurrezak Tay, was committed suicide in a nervous breakdown after his
HUNGER STRIKES IN PRISONS
Protest actions began again in
three prisons in February.
Earlier, mass hunger strikes
throughout Turkey had ended on the promise by penitentiary authorities
to stop ill treatment and to respect the dignity of prisoners.
Since these promises have not
been kept by everywhere, 203 political prisoners in Eskisehir, 84 in
Gaziantep and 59 in Ankara prison went on hunger-strike. Among the
prisoners protesting against collective harassment and beating in
Ankara prison are also two top officials of the TBKP, Nabi Yagci and
DISK TO REORGANIZE ITSELF
"The Confederation of Progressive
Trade Unions (DISK) will reorganize itself according to the conditions
of our day," said Abdullah Basturk, the president of the defunct labor
confederation at the ceremony on February 13, 1989, marking the 22nd
anniversary of its foundation.
The ceremony was held in Istanbul
with the participation of workers, left-wing supporters and folk
singers. Arif Sag, a folk musician and saz player who has been elected
to the Parliament as a deputy from the opposition Social Democratic
Populist Party (SHP) was also present at the meeting.
Basturk, a SHP deputy, spent four
years in prison after the coup in 1980 on charges of transforming the
union into a clandestine subversive group seeking to overthrow the
established regime in Turkey in favor of a workers' dictatorship.
"Everybody knows that if DISK
were still legal, the government would not be able to oppress the
workers to the extent it can today," said Basturk in his opening speech.
As long as DISK and workers'
rights remain oppressed. Turkey will find it impossible to become a
full member in the European Community, he said.
While the generals who took power
banned DISK and suspended almost all labor rights, they commissioned
the other large labor organization, Turk-Is, to defend what they were
doing to the workers, the DISK leader said.
Basturk said the generals also
seized the properties of the confederation and put them under the
administration of trustees consisting of retired officers and
governors. "DlSK's properties are
now worth 1 trillion TL ($500 million). I am declaring here and now, we
shall not leave our properties in hands of these trustees. Those
properties have been bought by the money earned by the sweat of workers
not by the billions made by bogus exporters or corrupt people," said
Basturk's address was frequently
stopped by slogan-chanting workers shouting: "Freedom for DISK."
DISK was founded in 1967 with
over 500 thousand members and 25 member unions. One of its former
leaders, Kemal Turkler, was among the more than 5,000 slain during the
pre-1980 era of terror.
An eight-year-long mass trial of
DISK members began immediately after the 1980 coup with 1,477 people,
including 50 executives, facing charges of attempting to establish a
dictatorship of one social class over others. Most of its members,
including Basturk, faced the death penalty.
The trial ended in 1987 with the
release of all defendants. However, legal preparation of the verdict
took more than a year, setting a record. The verdict is expected to be
submitted to the military appeals court this year.
Basturk, who was in prison for
four years, said there is no end in sight to the DISK trial which will
be 10 years old this year in December.
"We have to create the
circumstances and the tools which would enable us to fight for our
rights in an organization. We shall find the ground on which our new
organization will be constructed together. There is no legal obstacle
preventing DISK from functioning again." he said.
US UNIONS' ACTION AGAINST ANKARA
At the beginning of March 1989,
representatives of U.S. trade union leaders said they will recommend
Turkey be removed from the list of countries allowed to import goods
into the United States duty-free because of continuing infringements of
the rights of unions and workers there.
Officials from the American
Federation of Labor & Congress of Industrial Organizations
(AFL-CI0) said their evaluations showed Turkey did not adhere to
International Labor Organization (ILO) conventions concerning trade
union activity, which could because for removal from the U.S.
Generalized System of Preferences (GSP) list.
According to the U.S. Trade and
Tariff Act of 1984, certain countries are permitted to import goods to
the United States under preferential tariff conditions, but they are
expected to abide by internationally recognized standards for worker
and union rights.
In the AFL-CI0's 1988 petition to
have Turkey removed from the preferential trade list, officials
criticized the Turkish government for promising reforms but not
Officials said the Turkish
government, through labor legislation, is violating ILO conventions
concerning the rights of freedom of association and collective
"Continuing to grant GSP benefits
to Turkey under these circumstances, therefore, will simply reinforce
that country's do-nothing attitude," officials write in their last
Once a report is submitted, the
U.S. Trade Representative can order a review.
The AFL-CI0 has submitted similar
petitions over the past two years, but so far the trade representative
has declined to review Turkey's record, officials said.
The AFL-CI0 report is drawn up
after extensive consultation with local trade unions and a study of
government policy, officials said.
In 1988, the organization
recommended several countries be removed from the GSP list, including
Chile, Indonesia, Paraguay, Singapore, Guatemala, Taiwan and Thailand,