professor of constitutional law was assassinated
FUNDAMENTALIST TERROR IN
Political terror which had been the pretext of the
1980 military coup d'état has recently shocked again Turkey. On January
31, 1990, a distinguished professor of constitutional law was murdered
in Ankara, a political assassination for which the responsibility was
claimed by a Islamic fundamentalist group.
Prof. Muammer Aksoy, 73, an outstanding protagonist
of secularism, was shot dead inside the apartment block where he lived
as he returned home from his office. Unidentified people called
newspapers offices and said Prof. Aksoy was "punished by Moslems
because of his attitude against Islamic attire." The callers claimed
responsibility for the killing on behalf of a hitherto unknown
organization calling itself "The Islamic Movement."
Police inspectors said the murder, carried out in
cold blood, was professional.
Prof. Aksoy was one of the professors who drafted
the 1961 Constitution which is the most liberal and democratic one
Turkey has had since the proclamation of the republic in 1923.
In 1977 Aksoy was elected to Parliament and
represented Turkey at the Council of Europe. He also served as
president of the Ankara Bar Association in 1981 and was currently
chairman of the Turkish Law Society. He was recently elected chairman
of a society formed to protect the ideals and reforms of Kemal Atatürk,
the founder of the republic.
Aksoy's murder came a day after a policeman was
killed outside his home in Istanbul. Mehmet Kazim Cakmakci was the
traffic officer who was shown brandishing his pistol at a crowd of May
Day demonstrators on the front pages of almost all Turkish daily
newspapers last year. Anonymous callers to newspaper offices said
Cakmakci was executed because he was responsible for the murder of Akif
Dalci, the youth killed on May Day.
State Minister Mehmet Yazar, the government
spokesman, drew a parallel between the two incidents saying that both
slayings looked like acts of terrorism.
Many prominent figures of the country share the view
that Turkey was again facing a plot intended to destabilize the
Prior to the military coup of 1980, many public
figures and university professors had been killed in a similar way.
Their murderers have never been found. "I am concerned because our
country may once again plunge into darkness because of escalating
terror," said a prominent professor, Hifzi Veldet Velidedeoglu.
Political violence by extreme-right groups had
already restarted few years ago in parallel with the rise of
Islamic fundamentalist movement in Turkey. On May 3rd, 1987, a
univesity student had been assassinated by the pro-Saudi Guardians of
Islam in the eastern province of Van because the students were not
fasting during the holy month of Ramadan.
On October 25, 1988, the Second Secretary of the
Saudi Arabia's Embassy in Ankara, Abdulgani Beddawi had been
assassinated outside his Ankara home by a pro-Iranian group, Islamic
Jihad Hijaz. The same organization staged, on October 16, 1989, a
timebomb attack against the Saudi Arabian Military Attache's office in
Ankara, during which a Saudi diplomat, Abdurrahman Al Shrawi was
(For the rise of Islamic fundamentalism in Turkey,
see: Extreme Right in Turkey, Info-Türk, 1988 Brussels).
SOVIET ARMY'S INTERVENTION IN AZERBAIJAN REACTIVATES PAN-TURANISM
The Soviet Army's intervention in Azerbaijan and
other ethnic troubles in the southern Soviet republics have given rise
to Pan Turanist movement in Turkey which aims to unite all peoples of
Turkish origin under a world-wide Turkish Empire.
This movement, born at the beginning of this century
following the decline of the Ottoman Empire, has always had supporters
as well in nationalist circles as among right-wing politicians and high
army officers of Turkey.
For over twenty years, this movement has been led by
Former Colonel Alparslan Turkes. As the chief of the Nationalist Action
Party (MHP) prior to 1980 he had formed militant groups, Grey
Wolves, who were the responsible for the political violence in Turkey
which led to the September 12, 1980 military coup. Although after the
coup Turkes was jailed and sentenced for the political terror of the
MHP, since 1987 he has been allowed to carry out his political
activities at the head of the Nationalist Labour Party (MCP), a new
extremist party founded by his former collaborators. (For the
historical background and recent developments of the Pan-Turkist and
Pan-Turanist movement in Turkey, see: Extreme Right in Turkey,
Info-Türk, 1988, Brussels).
Turkes and his Grey Wolves have, exploiting the
national reaction against the Soviet Army's intervention in Azerbaijan,
taken the streets as well in Turkey's main cities as in many European
Addressing a crowd of about 7,000 followers at the
meeting in Istanbul, Turkes said :"The Soviets would not be able to
escape their bloody intervention in Azerbaijan with impunity. The blood
shed by our Azerbaijani brothers heralds the dawn of liberation in that
The demonstrators carried placards with
slogans describing Soviet leader Mikhail Gorbachev as a murderer. Other
slogans shouted by the demonstrators called for the Turkish Army to go
to the rescue of Azerbaijani Turks, condemned communists and those
against the wearing of headscarves on university campuses.the issues
discussed recently in Islamic circles.
During the demonstration when some participants
began to march in the direction of the Soviet Consulate in Istanbul
they were stopped by police. Small groups also clashed with police in
an attempt to break through the police cordon.
At the meetings held in Yozgat, a stronghold of the
MCP, Bursa and Adana, demonstrators said the National Security Council
should declare war on the Soviet Union and burned an effigy of
Gorbachev, by chanting "Allah-u Akbar" (God is Great). They also
shouted: "Grey Wolves to
On February 3, 1990, more than 7 thousand Turks
mobilized by two Grey Wolves organizations in Europe, Turk Federation
and Turco Islamic Federation, held a big rally in Brussels against the
Soviet intervention in Azerbaijan and they burned the Soviet and US
flags in a protest against "the hostility of the two superpowers
against the peoples of Turkish origin."
As for the other political groups, they too
condemned the Soviet intervention in Azerbaijan, but President of the
Republic Turgut Ozal and the government have been very cautious in
their declaration in a view to not deteriorating Turco-Soviet economic
and commercial relations which have been developing for a few years.
Ozal, in his first declaration after the events,
said that Azerbaijani Turks were Shiites and as such much closer
culturally to Iran than to Turkey.
Ozal's remarks were met with a hail of protests from
politicians accusing him of committing a major blunder both in terms of
foreign policy and presidential prerogative. Erdal Inonu, leader of the
social democrat SHP, pointing to the existence of Shiite Turkish
citizens in Turkey, said the president's remarks were discriminatory.
Bulent Ecevit, leader of the Democratic Left Party
(DSP), charged that Ozal's comments gave the green light to Moscow to
invade Azerbaijan. "Turkey should be prepared to send military
equipment to Azerbaijan and take other steps to deter attacks on
Azerbaijani Turks," Ecevit said.
Although all political leaders have taken a stand
critical against the Soviet intervention in Azerbaijan, it is the
Pan-Turanist movement that has recorded an unprecedented bond in Turkey
and has turned into one of the elements of destabilization as well in
the Middle East and Balkans as in the Caucasus and the Central Asia.
POSITIVE CHANGES IN BULGARIA
The assimilation by force of the Turkish minority
was stopped on December 29, 1989, by the new direction of the Bulgarian
The party officials said former leader Todor
Zhivkov's administration had made a political mistake in using force to
shape a monolithic society and the steps taken by the new
administration would correct these mistakes.
In fact, as explained in the preceding issues of
Info-Türk Bulletin, this anti-democratic practice was an open violation
of human rights and only served to the reinforcement of Pan-Turkist and
adventurous currents in Turkey. Moreover, the Bulgarian economy
underwent a deep crisis.
However, the decision of restoring minority rights
of Turkish-origin citizens was confronted with a protest by some local
party officials. As a result, mass demonstrations for protesting the
decision were held in Sofia, Razgrad, Haskovo, Varna and Russe. The
demonstration in Sofia attracted 10,000 people who marched to the
Parliament building shouting slogans like "Turks should go to Turkey!",
"Bulgaria is not Cyprus!"
In spite of these demonstrations, the Central
Committee of the Bulgarian Communist Party has maintained its decision
and submitted the project of restoration of minority rights to the
10-YEAR BALANCE SHEET OF THE DRASTICAL JANUARY 24 MEASURES
This year marks the lOth anniversary of the
January 24 measures imposed by the IMF and put in practice by the
military in 1980. These drastical measures have subjected Turkey to
major changes in economic and social life during this lO-year period.
People on fixed incomes suffered the most from the
economic crunch. The minimum wage increased 28-fold, for example, but
the prices of basic foodstuffs went up at least 50-fold.
The January 24 measures, most of which have been
revised in the last 10 years, were almost all introduced under the
direction of Turgut Özal .
The 107.2 percent increases in wholesale prices
caused by the Jan. 24 measures set a record in the history of the
Turkish Republic. Although price increases were kept below 50 percent
during the period from 1981 to 1987, with the exception of 1984, they
soared in 1988. Inflation stood at 69.6 percent at the end of 1989.
o Prices increases in essential goods:
Foodstuffs: Bread, 6 Tl, to 350 TL per standard loaf
(58-fold increase) cheese, 155 TL to 12,000 TL per kilo (77-fold
increase); meat, 235 TL to 10,000 TL per kilo (43-fold increase); milk,
30 TL to 1,300 TL per liter (44-fold increase); rice, 39 TL to 2,700 TL
per kilo (69-fold increase). Fuel: Cylinder gas, 125 TL to 11,350 TL
per standard cylinder (91-fold increase); gasoline, 22 TL to 1,259 per
liter (57-fold increase); wood, 1,000 TL to 15O,OOO TL per ton
According to the real wages and salaries index
assuming 100 as a fixed value in 1979, wages of private sector workers
were below the 1979 level throughout the last 10 years.
In 1988 wages of private sector workers declined 50.4 percent, those of
public sector workers 51.3 percent. Wages increased a little in 1989 to
63.9 percent in the public sector and 67 percent in the private sector.
These levels indicate public sector workers now earn 36.1 percent less
than they did in 1979, and private sector workers 33 percent less.
The net minimum wage increased 28-fold over the last
10 years, from 5,400 TL, to 149,750 TL.
The number of unemployed, 1.7 million in 1979,
increased to 3 million in 1990.
o Income distribution:
As a natural consequence of the decline in real
wages, income distribution also became more inequitable. According to a
poll conducted by the State Institute of Statistics (DIE) in 1987, 76
percent of national income went to 40 percent of the country's
families; 24 percent had to be shared between the remaining 60 percent
Turkey's budget deficit mushroomed every year, so
target figures could never be reached. Listed as 60 billion TL in 1979,
the budget deficit totaled 7 trillion TL in 1989, according to
unofficial figures. The proportion of indirect tax in the total tax
figures indicates tax inequity has increased.
The economy shrank in 1979 and 1980, with the gross
national product declining by 0.4 percent in 1979 and by 1.1 percent in
1980. The annual growth rate varied by 3 percent to 5.9 percent between
1981 and 1985, increasing to 8.1 percent in 1986 and 7.4 percent in
1987. Growth rate was 5.2 percent in 1988 and I.I percent in the first
nine months of 1989, according to estimates.
o Balance of payments:
Measures taken after Jan. 24,1980 to increase
exports were effective; exports grew rapidly in 1980 and 1981. However,
the foreign trade deficit could not be covered because of the rapid
increase in imports. The foreign trade deficit, $5 billion in 1980, was
brought below $3 billion for the first time in 1988.
o Current account balance:
Because of the foreign trade deficit, the current
account balance jumped to $3.2 billion in 1980, and then showed a
deficit until 1988. There was a $1.5 billion surplus in 1988. The
surplus in the first 10 months of last year was $747 million.
o Credits, loans:
Bank deposit interest was freed of controls by
mid-1981. Tough competition between banks caused some to flounder,
others to become bankrupt. Individual bankers operating free of legal
restrictions caused chaos. Regulations have since been changed. Now,
although banks may decide their own interest rates, they cannot
implement them without Central Bank approval.
o Foreign capital:
Foreign capital investment in Turkey was only $228
million in 1979. Once the Jan. 24 measures were in force which allowed
non-guaranteed commercial debts and convertible foreign exchange bank
accounts to be used as foreign capital, debts were repaid, accelerating
the entry of foreign capital. Since 1980, 1.886 million dollars in
foreign capital have been invested in Turkey.
o Foreign debt:
The foreign debt, which totaled $13.6 million in
1979, increased to $38.3 billion by 1987, declined to $36.3 billion by
the end of September 1989.
EUROPEAN COMMISSION'S COMMENT ON THE ECONOMIC AND SOCIAL SITUATION IN
The economic and social situation of Turkey has also
been the object of a detailed study by the European Community
Commission. It is on the basis of this report that the Commission
decided on December 17, 1989, to advise EC governments not to start
negotiations on Turkey's application for Community membership.
The 127-page report entitled The Turkish Economy:
Structure and Developments was drawn up by the Commission's
Interdepartmental Working Group On Turkey, following missions to Turkey
in 1988 and 1989.
Below, we are reprinting the report's final chapter
entitled Principal Challenge for the Future:
"In submitting its request to accede to the European
Community, Turkey poses a challenge of considerable proportions.
"For the Community, Turkey would be its largest
Member State in land area and, more important, by the early years of
the next century, by far its largest in population size. On the other
hand, its present level of economic development is some way behind that
of the Member States that joined the Community recently.
"The challenges for Turkish economic and social
policy are several.
"Joining the Community implies transforming the
Turkish economy into a modern, open market economy. On this count,
progress during the present decade has, in several fundamental
respects, been promising. Economic policy strategy has clearly been
pointing in the right direction since 1980. The economy has been
significantly liberalized internally and externally and has shown its
capacity to respond to these changes, as witnessed by a fast aggregate
growth rate and, even more so, by a spectacular growth of exports of
"While much remains to be done, the political
willingness to move further in this direction seems to exist.
"It must also be remembered though that this process
of economic liberalization, which is aimed at making Turkish industry
more competitive, is still far from complete by the current standards
of the Community. Import levies, combining custom duties and several
other types of special taxes, are very high and have even increased
since 1980, offsetting in some degree the effects of eliminating
quantitative restrictions. The process of privatizing State Economic
Enterprises has only just begun and is proceeding very slowly.
Distortions caused by the complex system of export subsidies and other
tax incentives remain numerous and are significant in their impact.
Several of these subsidies and incentives would doubtless be
incompatible with Community law. Indeed, they already are incompatible
with the Additional Protocol to the Association Agreement.
"Macroeconomic equilibrium is far from having been
attained. While fast economic growth has limited the increase in
unemployment, itself aggravated by rapid demographic growth and not
helped by the limited job opportunities in the Community, serious
financial and monetary imbalances still exist.
"The rate of inflation has accelerated again in the
last two years, to around 75%, stimulated by a renewed rise in the
deficits of the public authorities and concomitant monetary expansion.
The exchange rate was, until 1988, managed so as to secure some real
improvement in competitiveness. This is understandable in view of the
precarious state of Turkey's external indebtedness, but it also means
that there has been limited monetary and budgetary measures were taken
in 1988, a fundamental stabilization therapy still has to be devised
and put into practice.
"On the other hand, according to available
statistics, the current-account balance improved substantially in 1988,
moving into surplus for the first time in several years. This is, of
course, conducive to a gradual reduction in the heavy burden of
"A process of sustainable long-term economic growth
that was such as to secure gradual convergence on the average level of
development in the Community also requires heavy investment not only in
research of technology but also in human and physical capital.
Investment in education is, for economic and social reasons, ultimately
of the most fundamental importance. It is here that needs in Turkey are
"Social and employment policies are, in many
respects, still very poorly developed in Turkey in comparison with the
situation in the Community, even in those countries that joined in
recent years. This is most noticeable in the organization of labour
market, the education system and the provision of social security
benefits. Of course, it is essential that a developing economy should
not burden itself at an early stage with excessive social security
costs. Here, therefore, there is a delicate task of medium-term or
long-term planning to be performed with a view to preparing the way for
balanced progress in the social policy and employment policy fields
without however, impeding the return to a sound external financial
position or creating new imbalances on Turkey's own labour market.
"Finally, it is necessary to bear in mind that the
Turkish application addressed to a Community which is itself evolving
at a significant pace in economic, political and institutional terms.
As regards the economic policies of the Community, they are concerned
principally with the 1992 programme for full liberalization of the
market in goods, services, capital and labour and with some of the
major associated policy developments, e.g. the structural Funds, the
social dimension, and monetary integration.
"In general terms, these developments make more
ambitious the adjustments that Turkey will have to undertake.
Human resources and employment
One of the questions which are worrying the EEC
countries is no doubt concerned with human resources and labour market
of Turkey. We are reprinting below this part of the ECC's Report:
"When founded by Mustafa Kemal (Atatürk) in 1923,
the Republic of Turkey had 10 million inhabitants. In 1985, the figure
had risen to 50 million, with a figure of over 70 million being
predicted for the year 2000. This contrasts with the situation in the
Community, where the population is likely to increase from 322 million
in 1985 to only 330 million by the year 2000.
"Between 1980 and 1985, Turkey's population expanded
on average by 2.5% a year (0.25% in the Community). This figure breaks
down into a birth rate of 3.2% and a death rate of O.7% (the
corresponding figures for the Community being 1.25% a,d 1.O%).
"This growth rate of 2.5% can be expected to
continue until the end of the century, the reason being that while the
fertility rate (number of children per woman of child-bearing age) is
falling (still 3.9% in 1985 compared with 1.7% in the Community)
notably as a result of the increasing proportion of the population
living in urban areas, the death rate, and in particular infant
mortality (still 8% in Turkey in 1985 compared with 1% in the
Community), is also expected to decline. This means that there will
probably not be any significant slowdown in the rate of population
growth before the end of the century (The Sixth Plan covering a
five-year period forecasts population growth of 2.16% per year in the
period 1990-95 while infant mortality is expected to fall to 5%). If,
after the year 2000, the population were to expand at a rate of 2/O% a
year, the 100 million mark could be reached by the year 2020.
"Close on 4O% of Turkey's population is aged 15 or
under (6O% is under 20), compared with 20% in the Community. By
contrast, less than 5% of the population is aged 65 or over (13% in the
Community). The age structures of the population in Turkey and in the
Community are altogether different and will doubtless remain so for a
long time to come.
"Population density in Turkey is 62 inhabitants per
km2 , compared with 143 inhabitants per km2 in the Community (Greece
and Spain: 75; Portugal 110). It is very low in the eastern provinces.
"Over half of the population lives in towns with
10,000 inhabitants or more (less than 25% in 1950). Close on 15 million
people (i.e. 3O%, the same as in the Community) live in urban areas
with over 1 million inhabitants, the largest being:
"Istanbul: 5.9 million
"Ankara: 3.5 million
"Izmir: 2.3 million
"The European part of Turkey has some 7 million
inhabitants although it accounts for only one thirtieth of the area of
the country. Along with the west coast, it is the part of Turkey with
the greatest concentration of population.
"In April 1988, some 2.4 million Turkish nationals
were living abroad (of whom over 1 million are workers). They are to be
found primarily in the FRG (1.5 million of which 0.6 million are
workers). Together with receipts from tourism, remittances by
expatriate Turks are a major source of the foreign exchange needed to
plug Turkey's trade deficit.
"Following a period in which more than 100,000
workers left the country each year to work abroad (136;000 in 1973),
mainly in Europe, outmigration came to a virtual halt in the mid-1970s.
In the early 1980s, when incentives were introduced by a number of
countries in Western Europe, a large number of Turkish families who had
emigrated returned (between 1979 and 1987 more than 1.3 million Turkish
nationals returned to Turkey rom the FRG alone.) In recent years, a
slight increase in the numbers leaving Turkey has been recorded (over
40,000 in 1987), the main destinations being Arab countries (Saudi
Arabia, Libya, Iraq). This new wave of outmigration is a much more
temporary phenomenon than the previous one. The workers concerned, the
vast majority of whom posses specialist skills, have not been
accompanied by their families.
"In recent years, a large number of Iranian
(probably over a million) have found temporary refuge in Turkey in the
hope of obtaining a visa for the United States or a country in Western
Europe. They live in certain areas of Istanbul, Ankara and Izmir. Many
of them live on the fringes of society while others have set up
thriving businesses. In 1989, a significant number (estimated at
300,000) of Bulgarians of Turkish origin emigrated to Turkey.
Employment and unemployment
"Out of a population of 32.4 million of working age
(1987 figures), just under 16 million work in the different branches of
the Turkish economy and 2.9 million are unemployed, while 750,000
individuals re enrolled in the Army or the police force. The
corresponding figures for the Community are 220.4 million; 123.1
million, 15.7 million and 2.9 million.
"Over half the active population in Turkey is still
engaged in agriculture (compared with only 8% in the Community) but the
intense industrialization of the country is so rapid that the figure
will probably have fallen to one third by the year 2000. A slight
decline in agricultural employment is being accompanied by a rapid
growth of employment in industry and the service sector (some 5% in
recent years) whereas in the Community only the service sector is still
"Since 1980, the population of working age has risen
by 2.8% a year in Turkey (1.O% in the Community), with the result that
the economy needs to grow rapidly (by around 7%) if the unemployment a
rate is not to show a dramatic rise.
"Between 1980 and 1987, the number of persons in
employment increased by 1.4% a year, i.e. exactly half the rate of
increase in Turkey has also fallen, from 63% in 1980 to 58% in 1987,
perhaps because people have been discouraged from looking for
employment by the fact that the number of job-seekers far exceeds the
number of jobs on offer. By contrast, a slight increase is discernible
in the participation rate in the Community.
"It is difficult to compare unemployment rates
between countries because of problems of definition. In Turkey,
unemployment is defined as the number of people on the unemployment
register but, since there is no system of unemployment benefits,
registration is not compulsory; this rate was 6% at the end of 1988.
"It would appear though that the estimated
unemployment rate in 1988 is higher than that in the Community (15.3%
or 12.5% or 9.8% according to Turkish statistics and 15.9% using OECD
statistics) and tending to increase.
Education system and vocation training
"The education system in Turkey currently comprises
"- compulsory primary education (7 to 11 year-olds);
"- three years of secondary education (12 to 14
"- three to four years of upper-secondary education
(general or vocational) (15 to 17/18 year-olds);
"- two to six years of university education (or the
"While compulsory education in Turkey lasts four
years, in the Community it varies between nine and twelve years in
"Education in Turkey is organized by the State and
is free. There are, though, a number of private schools at
"During the 1987/88 school year, virtually all (98%)
of the children concerned (6.8 million) received primary education
while some 57% (2.1 million) of the 12-14 age group were in secondary
education and 34% (1.2 million) of the 15-17/18 age group in
upper-secondary education or its equivalent. Just over 11% of adults
(481,000) were at university. Around 60% of children who completed
primary education entered the secondary system, and 75% of these went
on to an upper-secondary establishment or its equivalent. By contrast,
only a quarter of those successfully completing their upper-secondary
education are able to go on to higher education.
"It is extremely difficult to compare enrollment
rates between countries. It would appear, though, that Turkey is
lagging behind the Community somewhat in this respect, at the level of
both secondary and higher education.
"The illiteracy rate in Turkey is reckoned to be
34.4% (1980 figures), compared with 20.6% in Portugal (1981), 9.5% in
Greece (1981) and 7.1% in Spain (1981).
"If it is to secure economic development through
rapid industrialization, Turkey will have a growing need for skilled
manpower. As a result, special emphasis is being increasingly placed on
technical education and continuing vocational training. Teachers are
being trained so that the percentage of children in technical education
can be increased from 15% at the moment to 22% in 1991. The necessary
budget resources have been earmarked for this purpose. Each year some 1
million people follow vocational training courses outside the
traditional education system.
"The universities do not have enough buildings or
lecturers to allow all would-be students to attend courses. A general
entrance examination is therefore held each year in order to classify
all candidates. Those with the highest marks can choose which faculty
to attend while those lower down the list are obliged to accept a place
at those faculties that have spare places. Only half of the candidates
obtain a place. Those who are not accepted can follow their course on
television and sit the examinations.
"With the exception of civil servants, members of
the armed forces, teachers in private education and apprentices, any
Turkish worker may belong to a trade-union organization. Out of a total
of 3.4 million workers covered by a contract of employment, some 2
million or 63% belong to a union (beginning of 1988). There are three
trade-union confederations in Turkey, the largest being TURK-IS with
1.8 million members.
"Membership of a trade-union is evidenced by a
document certified by a notary with the result there can be no
disputing the number of members. To be representative, a trade union
has to satisfy two conditions, i.e. it must represent at least 10% of
the workers in a particular branch of industry nationwide and at least
50% of the workers in a particular firm. This dual statutory
requirement is challenged by the Geneva-based International Labour
"Collective bargaining agreements are concluded at
company level or, failing that, at the level of the branch of industry
concerned (private or public). As a rule, they run for a period of two
years and are concerned mainly with wages (featuring, in a growing
number of cases, a six-monthly inflation-adjustment clause), conditions
of employment and fringe benefits. In Turkey, fringe benefits are very
important and, in general, are equivalent to 150% of wages proper
(social security contribution; paid holidays, various allowances for
heating, clothing, food, etc.). In 1987, some 2343 collective
agreements were signed covering almost a million workers (1.6 million
in 1988). Their main purpose is to maintain workers' purchasing power
(compensation for inflation). Increases in real wages are, in many
cases, dependent on higher labour productivity in firms and industries.
"Strikes (or lock-outs) are prohibited by law in
sectors deemed to be of vital importance for the national economy
(water, gas, electricity, oil, petrochemicals, public transport, fire
service, funeral undertaking, hospitals, schools, banks and notarial
services). Around 10% of union members work in these sectors. Strikes
are also banned in free zones for the first ten years of their
existence. If a lawful strike is deemed dangerous to public
health or national security, it can be suspended for sixty days by
ministerial decree. If no solution is found during that period, the
Higher Arbitration Tribunal can intervene to negotiate or impose an
agreement, as it did in the case of 282 agreements covering 46.241
workers in the period 1984-87. This arrangement is also challenged by
the ILO. Despite this arrangement, some 2 million working days were
lost in 1988 because of strikes. The maximum duration of the
working week in Turkey is 45 hours. The principle of equal wages for
both men and women is laid down by law, as is a minimum salary on
recruitment (LT 250 000 or about $105 a month as at 1 August 1989, to
Which are added fringe benefits). The law also provides for
certain forms of compensation in the event of dismissal: for each year
of employment, 15 days' notice must be given and an allowance
equal to 30 days' wages (including fringe benefits, the entire amount
being tax-exempt) is payable. More advantageous arrangements may be
negotiated under collective agreements, which generally recognize the
principle of" last in, first out".
"The Turkish Constitution guarantees the freedom of
association, the right to collective bargaining and the right to
industrial action. However, the limitations imposed by the Constitution
itself and by implementing legislation and practice largely deprive
these rights of any substance. In practice, therefore, the number of
Turkish workers able to benefit from collective bargaining or to 90 on
strike is very small.
"It should also be pointed out that children
can work legally from the age of twelve and that a woman cannot enter
into a contract of employment without her husband's consent. Turkish
women in general face a difficult situation on the labour market and in
1985, out of a total of 6.4 million employees, only 950 000 or 15% were
Trend of real incomes
"In the period 1980-88, Turkey's GNP and domestic
private consumption rose in volume terms by 5.4% a year while the
population grew by just under 2.5% year.
"Private consumption per head thus increased by 3.1%
a year although real wages remained virtually unchanged from their 1980
level (following a decline of 40% between 1978 and 1980 caused by
soaring inflation). Real incomes in agriculture showed no change
either. As a result, the increase in disposable income primarily
benefited the remuneration of capital and entrepreneurs. The share of
GNP accounted for by farmers and employees is reckoned to have
contracted from over 60% at the end of the 1970s to around 30% in 1988,
This without, doubt further accentuated the very marked inequality in
the distribution of incomes.
"Annual real wage costs fell by just under 50% in
Turkey in the period 1979-85, and this compared with only a slight
decline of 3.5% in the Community.
"Hourly wage costs in manufacturing in Turkey are
probably some 13% of those in the Community (ranging from 11% in the
tobacco industry to 18% in the beverages industry).
"On account of demographic pressures, the existence
of a relatively high level of unemployment, thc difficulty of finding
work abroad and the lack or any unemployment benefit scheme in Turkey,
labour supply easily exeeds demand, which, incidentally, is rising
sharply. As a result, downward pressure is being
exerted on wages even in those industries in which collective
agreements can be concluded.
"The social security system is not highly developed
in Turkey. There are no unemployment benefits or benefits for dependent
children. Only half of the population has insurance cover for sickness
and industrial accidents and pays pension contributions.
"There are three types of social security
institution in Turkey:
"- the retirement fund for government civil servants
(and municipal employees), which pays out retirement pensions,
survivor's pensions, etc. to government employees, who are themselves
also required to contribute to the financing of the fund (1.5 million
"- the social insurance institute for individuals
tied by an employment contract to one or more employers, which provides
accident and sickness insurance cover and pays out retirement and
survivor's pensions (3.7 million people covered,";
"- the "Bag-Kur" (social security fund for the
self-employed, including farmers, who may join on a voluntary basis, (2
million people covered).
"Private funds have also been set up by banks
insurance companies the stock exchange etc. There are twenty-five such
funds in all covering fewer than 100.000 people.
"All the social security funds are financed by
contributions from employers (amounting to between 19.5% and 27% of
wages) and employees (14%; 11% for civil servants), with minimum
and maximum levels of contribution (basis of LT 126 000 and LT 640 000
per month in 1988). The State does not provide any subsidies. All of
the funds operate according to the capitalization method. They also
provide social assistance (building loans, study loans, extraordinary
"In Turkey, pensions are payable to men at the age
of 55 and to women at the age of, 50 and, in any event, after 25 years
service and 5.000 days of contributions. They ,are equivalent to 60% of
the wage received over the last five year-. of employment, subject to
minimum and maximum amounts. The social security institutions have
their own hospitals, which provide services free-of-charge. Private
clinics also exist.
"It is the Turkish government's intention to promote
private insurance so that lt covers 75% of the population by the end of
the Sixth Plan (1994) and to introduce rapidly a system of family
allowances and even unemployment benefits.
"Employment offices exist in Turkey for job-seekers
and various social institutions have been set up to care for children,
the handicapped, the elderly and the poor.
"The absence of a developed social security system
is one factor in the low level of labour costs in Turkey where wages
are already much lower than in the Community, including Greece and
Portugal. Ahead of possible membership, some limitations will doubtless
be placed on the comparative advantage accruing from the pool of cheap
labour in Turkey in so far as the Community will impose some minimum
social requirements within the context of the single internal market."
US LAWYERS ON TORTURE IN TURKEY
The Association of the Bar of the City of New York,
on December 8, 1989, released simultaneously in Istanbul and New York a
report entitled, "Torture in Turkey: The Legal System's Response," by a
delegation of four lawyers from its Committee on International Human
Rights, which visited Turkey between May 28 and June 8, 1989. The
delegation concluded that despite Turkey's ratification of the UN
Convention Against Torture and its prohibition of torture in Turkish
law, torture in Turkish police stations is widespread and the Turkish
legal system's response to that torture has been almost a complete
The delegation also concluded that the United States
State Department's annual reports on human rights practices in Turkey
were inaccurate and inadequate. The State Department and the United
States Embassy in Turkey have also failed to comply with the
Congressional Resolution Against Torture, because they have not taken
required action on torture.
The delegation concluded that, because of the
continued existence of widespread torture in police stations, the
Government of Turkey was engaging "in a consistent pattern of gross
violations of internationally recognized human rights" and that
Congress should invoke section 502B of the Foreign Assistance Act,
which would require the Secretary of State to provide all available
information on human rights in Turkey, state what steps the United
States has taken to promote human rights in Turkey, and state whether,
notwithstanding human rights abuses, extraordinary circumstances exist
which necessitate continuing security assistance to Turkey.
Torture is made possible, according to the report,
because detainees are held "incommunicado" in police custody for up to
15 days (up to 30 days in the eight southeastern provinces still under
a state of emergency) before being brought to a prosecutor for a
decision on whether to bring criminal charges.
When detainees are held "incommunicado," it is
impossible for them to complain of torture during detention. There is
no right to a habeas corpus proceeding and there is no right to see a
lawyer, a doctor, a family member, or even a prosecutor.
"Incommunicado" detention shields torturers from scrutiny by the
The methods of torture currently used by Turkish
security forces are designed to minimize the possibility of detection.
They include "falaka" (beating on the soles of the feet), Palestinian
hanger (hanging the victim by his or her wrists with the hands tied
behind his or her back), electric shock, and hosing with pressurized
One of the former detainees interviewed in Istanbul
described watching a friend undergoing electric shock torture while
water was being poured all over him. As she described it: "He was just
trembling and couldn't stand on his feet." When the police saw her
watching this, they beat her. She was also tortured with electric
shock. She told the delegation: "I thought I was going to die. I
thought my body was on fire. My heartbeat quickened, and I was just
trembling. I felt my body being cut to pieces." She was given electric
shock while tied to a Palestinian hanger, which she described as the
most painful: "I thought my arms would break."
The delegation found that by the time a detainee is
released from "incommunicado" police custody and permitted to make a
complaint, it is often impossible to document that the torture has
taken place. The physical evidence may have faded. If it still exists,
doctors often refuse to document it. The Turkish authorities use this
lack of evidence as an excuse not to investigate the detainee's
allegations of torture. Detainees and lawyers who pursue torture claims
face harassment and intimidation. Turkish courts use confessions made
under torture despite the prohibition in article 15 of the UN
Convention Against Torture.
In the rare cases when an investigation into an
allegation of torture is commenced and leads to a prosecution, it
usually drags on for years while the Government uses all available
means to exonerate the police officers. Unlike civilians accused of
criminal activity, police officers are usually not detained during the
investigation and trial, and in fact, are often promoted. Despite
Turkey's obligation as a state party to the UN Convention Against
Torture to impose severe penalties on torturers, those who are
convicted are given lenient sentences and often permitted to resume
their duties as law enforcement officials once they serve their
Turkey fails to satisfy its obligations under the UN
Convention Against Torture to compensate torture victims adequately or
to rehabilitate them. It also fails to educate its law enforcement
officials adequately, to review practices related to torture, or to
take effective steps to eradicate torture.
The Association of the Bar is an independent,
nongovernmental organization founded in 1870, with a membership of
18,000 attorneys and judges located in over 40 countries. It has a long
history of dedication to human rights at home and abroad. Since 1974,
the Association has sent missions of inquiry to countries in all
political spheres, including Cuba, Northern Ireland, Chile, Malaysia,
Singapore, and Kenya.
The delegation reached its conclusions after
visiting Ankara, Diyarbakir, and Istanbul and meeting with more than
100 persons in the United States and Turkey, including United States
government officials, Turkish government officials (including heads of
security services, military and civilian judges, prosecutors, a deputy
extraordinary regional governor, and members of Parliament), former
political prisoners and detainees, doctors, presidents and former
presidents of bar associations, lawyers, and law school faculty. The
delegation also attended trial hearings and reviewed hundreds of pages
of legal documents.
AI CAMPAIGN AGAINST THE DEATH PENALTY IN TURKEY
Amnesty International has
launched a campaign against the death sentence in Turkey. In its
February Bulletin, Amnesty International calls on supporters of the
campaign to write letters to Kaya Erdem, the speaker of the Turkish
Parliament, and Alparslan Pehlivanli, the chairman of the Justice
Committee, to demand that all capital punishment sentences in Turkey be
AI says that a total of 415
people have been executed in Turkey between 1937 and 1984.
Below the full text of the AI
Report entitled "Injustice leads to the gallows":
"Shall I send (a traitor) to
court after I capture him and not execute him? Shall I look after him
for a life-time? Should the traitor who has raised his weapon against
the brave soldiers who shed their blood for this country be looked
after (in prison) for years and years? Can you accept this?
"This is an extract from a speech
made by Turkey's President Kenan Evren in October 1984, after violent
clashes between the security forces and Kurdish guerillas in the south
east of the country. Four years later, while on a visit to the Berlin
wall in October 1988, President Evren again spoke on the death
penalty: "I am against the death penalty. On return to Turkey I shall
talk about this to Prime Minister Turgut Özal".
"In September 1989, Turgut Özal,
in an address to the General Assembly of the Council of Europe in
Strasbourg, stated that Turkey intended to reduce the number of
offences punishable by death in its Penal Code by almost half.
"Turkey is the only Council of
Europe member state that has carried out judicial executions in the
1980s. After more than five years without any executions in Turkey, the
death penalty should now be abolished in law.
"The death penalty has been the
ultimate punishment in Turkey for centuries. Apart from brief
moratoriums it was in use from the foundation of the Turkish Republic
in 1923 until 1984, when the last execution took place. Between 1937
and 1984 at least 415 people were executed, 14 of whom were women.
"In recent Turkish history there
has been a tendency for executions to follow military coups. The
incoming military rulers have tried to intimidate their opponents by
hanging their leaders. Thus, after the coup of 1960, Prime Minister
Adnan Menderes and two of his ministers were hanged. After the military
intervention of 1971, Deniz Gezmis, Hüseyin Inan and Yusuf Aslan,
leaders of a radical students' movement which developed in the late
1960s, were executed.
"Between 1973 and 1980, there was
a de facto moratorium on executions: death sentences continued to
be passed but were not ratified by the Turkish Grand National Assembly
(TBMM), the national legislative body. This moratorium came to an end
shortly after the military coup of 12 September 1980.
"On 12 September, five generals
of the National Security Council seized power and put the entire
country under martial law. The coup followed the political violence of
the late 1970s, in which over 5,000 people were killed. Most of the
dead were members of left-wing or right-wing political organizations,
then engaged in bitter fighting. The militant right-wing organization,
known as Grey Wolves, claimed they were supporting the state
"Under the rule of the generals
the death penalty was used not only against left-wing and right-wing,
but also common criminal prisoners. Between October 1980 and October
1984, 50 people were executed: 27 had been convicted of politically
motived offenses, 23 ordinary crimes. The last two executions in
October 1984, were ratified under the current civilian government.
"Around 800 people have been
sentenced to death by military courts since the introduction of martial
law in December 1978 and death sentences continue to be passed by both
civilian and military courts. No executions have taken place since
October 1984, but the number of people under sentence of death who had
exhausted all legal remedies was 249 in November 1989. These death
sentences only need confirmation by the TBMM and the president, after
which they can be carried out at any time.
"In Turkey the death penalty has
been imposed disproportionately on political prisoners. Most of the 800
condemned men and women are political prisoners, convicted of
involvement in violent activities. Most of them were sentenced to death
by military courts and denied a fair trial. Military courts are
responsible for trying civilians if their offences had led to "the
announcement of martial law". Some of these trials continue despite the
fact that martial law was lifted throughout Turkey in July 1987.
"Trials before military courts do
not conform to internationally recognized standards for a fair trial on
at least four counts:
Ú military courts are not
independent of the executive, either in law or in practice;
Ì military courts have repeatedly
failed to investigate allegations that statements produced in court as
evidence against defendants were extracted under torture;
Ì the prisoners' right to defence
has been restricted. Many were not given adequate time and facilities
to prepare their defence, or were denied private conversations with
their lawyers and some have been sentenced to death in abstentia.
Ì lawyers defending political
prisoners have been harassed and impeded. AI knows of several cases
where political prisoners were sentenced to death without proper legal
representation and of some cases where the defendants had no lawyers at
"Statements extracted under
torture are routinely produced in evidence against political prisoners
on trial for their lives, despite the provisions of Article 15 of the
United Nations Convention against Torture to which Turkey became a
state party in August 1988. Article 15 stipulate that statements
extracted under torture may not be used as evidence against the
defendant in court."