NEW REPRESSIVE COUP
The people of Turkey is used to seeing that process
of democratization be interrupted by a new military coup at the
beginning of each decade, when the rulers of the country cannot cope in
a democratic way with the economic and social problems of the country.
The years of 1960, 1971 and 1980 have marked these dramatic turning
points of the Turkish history.
1990 is not an exception to the rule... The
so-called "democratization" has recently been interrupted once more by
the militaro-civil rulers of the country, with the complicity of the
two principal opposition party leaders.
After a summit meeting with the opposition leaders
and a series of meetings of the National Security Council (MGK),
composed of army commanders and some ministers, the government put in
force on April 10, 1990, new emergency measures.
The decree No. 413 gives the regional governor
extraordinary powers to crack down on escalating Kurdish resistance in
the southeastern provinces of Turkey, such as censoring the press and
relocating "undesirable" residents of the Southeast to another region
in Turkey. His decisions are not subject to judicial arbitration. Nor
is the omnipotent governor's authority limited to the 11 provinces in
the Southeast. He can reach as far as Istanbul to close printing houses
or ban news and commentary.
The same decree increased the penalties for
insulting the President, although this had nothing to do with the
incidents in the Southeast.
Furthermore, the emergency measures have not been
subjected to the approval of the legislative assembly which is supposed
to represent the will of the people.
The daily Hürriyet of April 11 says that the new
decree is reminiscent of one of the most repressive laws in the history
of the Turkish Republic: Takrir-i Sükun, the law for the establishment
of public order, issued in 1925 on the pretext of the Sheik Sait
Uprising in the Turkish Kurdistan.
Chaired by President Turgut Özal for the first time
since the election of Prime Minister Yildirim Akbulut, the cabinet met
in session on April 9 and adopted the decree No. 413 to produce the
- Penalties were outlined against publications found
guilty of "wrongly representing incidents occurring in a region which
is under a state of emergency, disturbing its readers with distorted
news stories or commentaries, causing anxiety among people in the
region and obstructing security forces in performance of their jobs.
While the regional governor in charge of security in
the 11 southeastern provinces already had the authority to ban these
kinds of publications from the region, the new decree expands this
authority throughout the country.
The regional governor is empowered to stop
distribution of these publications and confiscate them, no matter where
they are printed, and even to close down their entire printing plants.
The process requires, however, that the regional governor's
recommendation be approved by the Interior Ministry, which then issues
the final order.
- If it is determined that a publication has
slandered an individual while covering activities within a region under
a state of emergency, the publication will be subject to a very heavy
indemnity. For example, if it is a daily newspaper, the amount of the
fine will be assessed at no less than 90 percent of the publication's
average daily sales.
In addition to fines previously set by the Turkish
Penal Code, publications which insult an individual by publishing false
articles, photographs or documents will be fined between 30 million TL
and 100 million TL ($10,000-33,000). The publishers will also pay an
additional fine calculated according to the publication's average
circulation sales. The responsible editors in question will, in
addition, be fined half of this amount. The penal code stipulates three
years n prison for those convicted.
- Although seemingly unrelated, article 158 of the
Turkish Penal Code which makes it a crime to insult the president was
included in these measures. The penal code already stipulates up to
three years imprisonment for those who insult the president. With the
new addition, publications which insult the president will pay a fine
up to 100 million TL ($33,000). In addition, their owners will be fined
according to circulation sales, with their responsible editors, paying
half of this amount.
- The same penalty will be applied for insulting
Parliament, the government, ministers and high-level state executives.
In addition to the new fines, article 169 in the Turkish Penal Code
already includes a stipulation providing for a maximum six year prison
sentence if convicted of this crime.
- Identical regulations will apply to cases stated
in article 268 of the Turkish Penal Code. This article already calls
for a maximum three year prison sentence for insulting officials, and
judges in particular.
- Broadcasting about a region under a state of
emergency by the Turkish Radio and Television Corporation (TRT) will be
controlled by the Interior Ministry and the General Secretariat of the
National Security Council.
- Individuals who are observed to be acting against
the State may be subjected to compulsory relocation, depending on the
decision of the regional governor. The relocation site will be
determined by the Interior Ministry, and if necessary the exiles will
be given financial aid from a state fund.
- The regional governor is authorized to control all
union activities, including strikes and lockouts, prohibiting them
entirely if necessary. He may also take measures to prevent boycotts
and slow-down schemes, and even close down work places. Previously,
regional governors were only authorized to delay strikes and lockouts
for one month.
- Public prosecutors of the State Security Courts
will open litigation in all kinds of cases requested by the regional
governor, as long as they are included in the category of crimes
handled by the court.
- The regional governor is authorized to request
that State institutions transfer certain employees to another place or
position if he does not like their performance or considers them
"harmful." The State institutions in question will be required to meet
these demands immediately. Previously, the regional governor was
authorized to request placement changes except in the case of judges,
prosecutors and military staff.
- People who live in a region under a state of
emergency will be able to move somewhere else if they so desire, with
jobs to be provided for them. A total of 60,000 civil servant jobs at
State institutions are being created for these people, with the cabinet
authorized to increase this number by 26 percent if necessary. The
distribution of created vacancies has not yet been announced;
administration of the project is delegated to the Interior Ministry.
- Another point in the measures prohibits any court
case from being opened to question the manner in which Interior
Ministry authorities, the regional governor or any of his officials
have exercised their authority.
- Penalties for those convicted of supporting
separatist activities were also doubled.
PARLIAMENTARY OPPOSITION FOOLED
As the leaders of the parliamentary opposition were
criticizing the measures taken by the government, President Özal
justified the new regime of repression by claiming that all party
leaders were unanimous on the gravity of the situation in the southeast
of the country.
In fact, the leaders of the two parties represented
in Parliament, Erdal Inönü (SHP) and Süleyman Demirel (DYP), had
abandoned their policy of avoiding President Turgut Özal and met with
him at the president's invitation on April 2 to discuss violence in the
After the 3-hour meeting in which Prime Minister
Akbulut also participated, Özal appeared on television to announce that
he was happy to see all party leaders united in backing the measures to
be taken to safeguard the integrity of the nation. "The measures that
will be taken from now on were also explained to them [the opposition
leaders] along general lines. There was a general consensus on this
subject too. The party leaders reiterated that they would support the
government in measures connected with events in southeastern Anatolia,"
Prime Minister Akbulut too told reporters that he
was happy with the Çankaya meeting: "The most concrete result of the
meeting is the backing provided by all political parties to the
security forces in the struggle against terrorism. All the political
parties have come to an agreement on the need to combat terrorism."
Although disappointed in their hopes to get a
promise of early elections from Özal and Akbulut, both opposition
leaders supported the idea of taking extraordinary measures in the
Southeast. "To fight terrorism armed struggle is necessary," said
Demirel, addressing the parliamentary group of his party. "The
situation in the Southeast is grave. We could not possibly have ignored
the invitation to the Çankaya meeting when people are shouting 'Down
with Turkey' on the streets in Cizre."
REACTION AGAINST THE MEASURES
However when the measures were a few days later
unveiled by the government, both Demirel and Inönü remarked that they
had been fooled by Özal.
Demirel said: "When we said we would support the
measures, we meant the measures in the framework of human rights and
law. No one should be thinking that we are in favour of the present
measures. The decree has shown clearly that the regime imposed on
Turkey by President Turgut Özal is different from the one outlined in
the constitution." He asked the government to abandon the measures
particularly those concerning press censorship and exile.
Demirel, in his address to his deputies on April 17,
said the government in Turkey does not carry out the work for which it
is responsible. "Özal is doing that work for the government. Özal has
no [executive] responsibility [according to the constitution]. But from
now on his political responsibility is open to discussion. We must find
a name for this regime because it is not the one envisaged in the
constitution of the Turkish Republic. I haven't witnessed such measures
even during wartime. It is an aberration." Demirel remarked.
Same day, addressing his party's deputies, Inönü
said the public is under the impression that the democratic process in
Turkey has come to a halt. "According to the Constitution, the
government should have submitted the decree it adopted to Parliament
within 24 hours. Although a week has passed, the decree has not been
introduced for debate in the assembly. Everyone should say what they
think about such an important decree. It should not be discussed behind
closed doors. Nobody disputes that separatism is a threat aimed at
national integrity, but the integrity of the nation should be protected
within democratic rules."
SHP deputies Hasan Fehmi Günes and Turhan Beyazit
announced they would apply to the Constitutional Court for abrogation
of the government decree imposing emergency measures.
Nineteen independent deputies who broke away from the SHP last year
held a two-day vigil in Parliament on April 18-19,waiting for the
government to submit the emergency measures to the National Assembly
Fehmi Isiklar, speaking on behalf of deputies
staging the sit-in, said because of government practices the political
crisis in Turkey is deepening.
"Democracy is blamed for the rise of terrorism. The
basic freedoms and rights of the people are jeopardized. Freedom of the
press is obliterated and labour rights have been left to the arbitrary
decisions of the regional governor," said Isiklar.
Turgut Kazan, president of the Istanbul Bar
Association, said the government decree allows government officials the
privilege of law breaking. "Under a law-abiding government system it is
up to the courts to decide on judicial matters. However, the government
decree blocks the functioning of the judiciary. This is incompatible
with law. Furthermore, on the pretext of stopping armed terrorism, the
severity of the punishment for insulting the president and the
government has been increased. It is understood from this that the real
aim of these measures is to ban criticism of the government,'' said
POPULAR RESISTANCE AGAINST TERROR
Even before the issue of the new decree, emergency
measures had already been imposed in 11 towns in the provinces of
Mardin and Siirt, following the people's resistance against the
security forces (See: Info-Türk, March 1990).
Tension was high among the population in the area
partly because the traditional Newroz, which marks the New Year in
southeastern Turkey and in other countries of the Middle East, is
usually celebrated by Kurds between March 21 and 28.
On March 21, a university student in Diyarbakir,
Zekiye Alkan immolated herself in protest against the oppression of the
Kurdish people. The protest actions on the occasion of Newroz rapidly
spread beyond the Kurdish towns. Thousands of university students of
Kurdish origin organized Newroz celebrations in Istanbul, Ankara and
other big cities. Hundreds of demonstrators were taken into custody by
On March 26, shops and businesses in Cizre, Silopi
and Idil remained closed as the population launched a silent protest
against State terrorism.
Next day, when a group of high school students
started a protest demonstration in Cizre, security forces armed with
anti-riot vehicles, guns and water cannons ordered them to disperse.
The demonstrators did not obey and began setting tires on fire in the
streets and pelting the security forces with stones. When special
police intervened clashes took a bigger dimension.
Following the first confrontation in the morning
between the group of young demonstrators and police, rioting by larger
groups broke out in other parts of the town.
When security forces finally took the town under
control at 16.30 and imposed a curfew, four people were dead and nine
Mustafa Büyük, the governor of Cizre, said
shots were fired at security forces by unidentified people using long
range firearms, a Turkish flag was burned and a statue of Kemal
Atatürk, the founder of the Turkish Republic, was smashed. A building
belonging to the Agriculture Ministry was burned and several cars were
destroyed during the incidents.
Parallel to the disturbances broke out in Cizre, six
oil trucks parked at a roadside lot between Cizre and Silopi were set
on fire by a group of PKK militants. Another group also caused damage
at the government-owned coal mine company building outside Cizre.
Following the incidents, 138 people were detained by
police in Cizre and 74 of them were put under arrest on March 28 by the
State Security Court of Diyarbakir.
Following days the tradesmen of Silvan, Diyarbakir,
Batman and Tunceli joined the protest action by pulling down their
shutters and keeping closed their shops all the day. Thereupon security
forces were reinforced by troops and tanks in the region. Road-blocks
were set up at the entrance to towns and only government officials and
local residents were allowed in.
Emergency measures were also enforced in Sirnak,
Eruh Kiziltepe, Midyat and Pervari (provinces of Siirt and
Mardin). The towns of Uludere, Beytussebab and Yüksekova (province of
Hakkari), further to the east, were also put on an emergency footing.
Independent Mardin deputy Ahmet Turk said that the
incidents were in the main provoked by the special police force in the
area. The deputy demanded the withdrawal of the force and the lifting
of emergency measures.
On April 5, the Constitution and Justice committees
of the National Assembly started a proceeding in a view to lifting
parliamentary immunity of 11 deputies, known as defenders of the
Kurdish people's rights.
On April 6, the government circles announced that
some of the 267 capital punishments waiting at the National Assembly
might be ratified very soon. Since 41 of these capital punishments
belong to PKK militants, such a declaration aimed at intimidating
Next day, the security forces attacked on the
Kurdish guerrilla groups in Hakkari. At the end of this two-day
operation supported by some pro-government Kurdish clans, it was
announced that 21 PKK militants were shot dead and 15 others captured.
So, the National Security Council (MGK), composed of
army commanders and some ministers, had pretext enough to announce
extraordinary measures of repression. Since the two main opposition
leaders had already given the government their support, the opening of
the new period of repression on April 10, 1990 was but a simple
CENSORSHIP ON THE PRESS
The new emergency measures had an immediate effect
on the Turkish press.
First, the Hürriyet's printing house announced that
it would no longer be able to print the left-wing weekly 2000'e Dogru
(Toward the year 2000). This magazine had been printing information
about events in the Southeast which made it one of the most frequently
banned publications in Turkey. 2000'e Dogru was not published for to
weeks, because its publisher could not find a printing house willing to
"After the decree was officially published, Hürriyet
authorities asked to meet with us," said Hüseyin Karanlik,
editor-in-chief of 2000'e Dogru, in a telephone interview. "We
discussed the risks of Hürriyet's whole printing facility being closed
down. On April 13, the contract was cancelled. We contacted several
printing plants in an effort to get printed by someone else. Nafiz
Ilicak agreed to print the magazine. But later, they told us that
authorities from the police department had warned them not to sign the
"(The government) is intent on fighting anti-state
publications," Interior Minister Abdülkadir Aksu told journalists at a
deputies' dinner in Ankara on April 17. "Look, the magazine 2000'e
Dogru cannot be printed. Is this such a bad thing? It should be
acknowledged that had Hürriyet continued to print the magazine, (the
government) would have closed down the printing plant."
"The decree has already served its purpose,"
President Turgut Özal said on April 18, referring to Hürriyet's refusal
to print 2000'e Dogru.
Tufan Türenç, editor-in-chief of Hürriyet,
said the decree was vague and "open to interpretation," and that this
caused the press great difficulty. Confirming that the newspaper's
printing plant had cancelled the contract of 2000'e Dogru, Türenç
stressed that "although the press does not agree with the measures, we
shall have to obey (the measures) for now."
Meantime, the State Security Court of Diyarbakir
issued a warrant for arresting Mr. Dogu Perincek, chief editor of the
Earlier, on March 15, the responsible editor of
2000'e Dogru, Mr. Tunca Arslan was arrested by the State Security Court
of Istanbul for an article about Kurds.
On April 2, the same court ordered the confiscation
of 2000'e Dogru as well as another weekly magazine, Nokta, for
unveiling a report of the Turkish General Staff on the Kurdish question.
On April 19, a new legal proceeding was started
against Mr. Perincek, chief editor of 2000'e Dogru, by the State
Security Court of Malatya, for a conference he had given in this city.
He faces another 3-year prison term.
As a matter of fact, after the adoption of the
extraordinary measures, almost all of the left-wing publications face
the risk of disappearing.
BESIKCI'S NEVER-ENDING TORMENT
The arrest of famous Turkish sociologist Dr. Ismail
Besikci and the successive confiscation of his works on the Kurdish
question have given rise to protests as well in Turkey as abroad.
Despite this international reaction, prosecutors continue to harass him
by opening new legal proceedings.
He was jailed in March for his book entitled
Kurdistan: A Colony of Many Nations. (See: Info-Türk, March 1990). A
plea by 60 lawyers for the release of Besikci was rejected on April 18
by the Istanbul State Security Court. Several lawyers, foreign
journalists and representatives from London-based Amnesty International
and the Istanbul Human Rights Association were present at the court as
In his defense, Besikci rejected the accusations
that he was making Kurdish propaganda and said that his work was a
scientific one. "It is impossible to control rapidly changing social
conditions with inflexible official ideology,'' he said.
The court decided not to release Besikci and
postpone the case until May 15.
As this trial is going on, the State Security Court
ordered the seizure of a second book by Ismail Besikci.
Science-Official Ideology, State-Democracy and the Kurdish Question,
which went on sale March 27, examines Turkish ideology with respect to
the Kurdish question and points out that official Turkish ideology runs
counter to scientific fact.
Besikci's third book, An Intellectual, An
Organization and the Kurdish Problem, too was recently
confiscated by the State Security Court. In this book, Besikci blames
some intellectuals, such as humorist Aziz Nesin, for not defending the
rights of Kurdish people in Turkey.
Besikci faces, if convicted, a prison sentence of up
to 45 years in total for his three confiscated books.
Besikci is one of Turkey's most celebrated human
rights activists, having spent some 10 years in prison between 1971 and
1987 because of his publications on the Kurdish question. Besikci, who
is not a Kurd, was most recently released from prison in May 1987.
In Copenhagen, Dr. Erik Siesby, chairman of the
Danish Helsinki Committee, said that he was saddened by Besikçi's
detention and that he had invited Besikçi to a meeting there on March
31 and April 1 that will examine the status of minorities in Turkey,
Bulgaria, Romania and Greece. Besikci has sent a paper to be read in
his absence on the problems of the Kurds in Turkey.
A West German member of the European Parliament,
Mrs. Claudia Roth, met with Besikci in his Istanbul prison cell for 90
minutes. Roth, who was in Turkey to attend the meeting of the Joint
Turkey-European Parliament Committee in the Mediterranean city of
Antalya, said after her meeting with Besikci that the sociologist's
incarceration was "a very grave and serious" blow to Turkey's human
OTHER ACTIONS AGAINST THE PRESS
2.3, the Governor of Ankara banned the
representation of a play entitled "Why did we make this coup d'état?"
3.3, journalist Melih Zeytinoglu, a former editor of
Playboy magazine's Turkish edition, surfaced in Köln and asked
political asylum in West Germany. He had been sentenced to fines
totalling 40 million TL ($20,000) for breaking the Obscenity Law. The
court converted fines into a 1,096-year prison term, when his employer
failed to pay the sum until the deadline for payment expired.
8.3, the daily Günes was confiscated by the State
Security Court for having unveiled the minutes of the Bush-Özal talks
in Washington. Mr. Uluc Gürkan, author of the article, was arrested two
days later but released on bail of 5 million TL ($2,000). Gürkan and
Alev Er, responsible editor of the newspaper, both face a prison term
of up to 8 years.
9.3, in Izmir, police took into custody three
journalists, Doruk Aydogmus, Nusret Atasever and Mesut Avci, as well as
seven readers at the office of the monthly Yeni Cözüm.
19.3, Mrs. Katherina Bjarvail, correspondent of the
Swedish daily Sydvenska Dagbladet, was detained in Diyarbakir as she
was taking photos of the demonstrations and kept for three hours in
31.3, the responsibles of 40 printing houses in
Izmir were indicted by the prosecutor for not having sent the
publications that they print to the Board for Protecting Minors from
1.4, A new scandal at the International Film
Festival in Istanbul: The projection of a film entitled "Nights of
Blackout" was banned by the Board of Censorship. The film directed by
Yusuf Kurcenli has as subject the tortures applied in Turkey during the
Second World War.
4.4, the Ankara State Security Court censored the
daily Sabah for preventing the publication of an article that
would have allegedly shed more light on the attempt to assassinate
Turgut Özal two years ago. The newspaper claimed it had found a new
witness who implicated the prosecutor of Dalaman prison in the plot
against Özal's life. Two other dailies, Günes and Günaydin too were
censored by the prosecutors of the same court for preventing the
publication on the same subject.
7.4, Mrs. Nazli Ilicak was sentenced to a fine
totalling 306 million TL ($100,000) on charge of insulting 102 deputies
of the Motherland Party (ANAP) in an article she wrote in the daily
Tercüman. Mrs. Ilicak is being tried also in another case for insulting
11.4, Dr. Tayfun Gönül, who had launched a campaign
against obligatory military service, and three journalists, Alev Er and
Kutlu Özmakinaci from the daily Günes and Tugrul Eryilmaz from the
weekly Sokak, were indicted by the State Security Court of Istanbul.
Each faces a prison term of up to two years for anti-Army propaganda.
15.4, the fortnightly Isciler ve Politika was
confiscated by the SSC of Istanbul.
16.4, three monthly reviews, Toplumsal Kurtulus,
Emegin Bayragi and Iscinin Gazetesi, as well as journalist Günay
Aslan's book entitled Butchers in Uniform were confiscated by the SSC
17.4, the Council of Ministers announced that 17
people living abroad had been stripped of Turkish nationality. Among
them are also former TIP official Zeki Kilic, journalist Sabri Bal and
lawyer Yücel Yesilgöz.
18.4, the fascicule No.70 of the Encyclopaedia of
Socialism and Social Struggles was confiscated by the SSC of Istanbul.
21.4, the SSC of Istanbul ordered the confiscation
of more publications: the monthly reviews Devrimci Genclik, Yeni
Demokrasi, Özgürlük Dünyasi, Kivilcim, Genc Sosyalistler, Yeni Cözüm as
well as a book on the 1st May incidents of the last year: It was not a
stone but a heart in Our Hands.
22.4, a right-wing magazine, Akdogus, was
confiscated for insulting Atatürk in an article.
24.4, two journalists from the monthly review Hedef,
Ali Aslan and Mehmet Torus were taken into custody in Istanbul for
25.4, the weekly Sokak announced that it had to stop
its publication because of increasing pressure. The SSC of
Istanbul ordered the confiscation of the fortnightly Iscilerin Sesi and
a book entitled Kurdish Uprising in 1925, written by Cemsit Ates.
A PROTEST MESSAGE FROM THE IPI
The International Press Institute (IPI) sent a
message to President Turgut Özal on March 21, strongly protesting the
government's repressive measures against the press in Turkey.
The message noted that in the last two weeks
restrictions and penalties against the press in Turkey have reached
record levels. The message, signed by IPI Director Peter Galliner,
cited the seizure of leftist weekly 2000'e Dogru and the arrest
of its editor, Tunca Aslan, because of an article on the Kurds, court
action against Tercuman columnist Nazli Ilicak for insulting the prime
minister, and the arrest and release on bail of Günes editor Uluç
Gurkan because he published the minutes of the meeting between Özal and
U.S. President George Bush in January in Washington, D.C.
"These acts are violations of article 19 of the
Universal Declaration of Human Rights which safeguards gathering and
disseminating information," wrote Galliner to the Turkish president.
APO WARNS THE TURKISH GOVERNMENT
As the repressive measures were being taken against
the Kurdish people in Turkey, the daily Hürriyet began on April 1st,
1990 to publish a series of interviews with the most wanted Kurdish
leader of the country: Abdullah Öcalan, leader of theWorkers Party of
Öcalan, who is known by his PKK alias, Apo, lives in
a camp called Mahsum Korkmaz Academy, named after a PKK guerrilla
leader killed in the Bekaa Valley in Lebanon, three hours drive from
Beirut. The camp is the training ground for the PKK's armed squads,
both men and women. Öcalan brought his PKK headquarters to Lebanon
under the guise of the Palestine Democratic Front.
Öcalan talked about the future of the PKK and its
troubled relationship with the Turkish government.
Despite the continuing armed struggle between the
Turkish security forces and PKK members, Öcalan made a surprising
"Let's call a cease-fire and sit at the negotiating
table. The method we have used until now isn't terrorism. Real
terrorism will begin now. There will be new developments in the 1990s,
and a lot of blood will be spilled. I can't stop the things that will
happen, but if Turkey changes its current policy of violence in the
Southeast we too can give up violence. Only in this way can the
pointless spilling of so much blood be prevented. Anyway, we can't
secede from Turkey for the time being. We need Turkey and we won't be
able to leave for at least 40 years. After that we may have a
referendum and determine the future. But that's another matter.
"Our problem is with Turkey and we are capable of
dealing with it. At the moment the most important matter on Turkey's
agenda is us. Tragic events are occurring. Too much blood is flowing.
Innocent people, both on your side and on ours, are dying. This is a
special war, and our view is 'if you don't kill, then I won't kill.'
The true reason for the inflation in Turkey right now is the vast
amount of money spent on special forces and security."
Öcalan claimed that his organization is getting no
material assistance from outside. "Turkey, thinking that other
countries are supporting our cause, is trying to put an end to this
imaginary support by selling everything to the foreigners. For example,
thinking that France is giving us support, the government has sold its
cement factories." he said.
Öcalan denied PKK involvement in the murder of
Hürriyet journalist Çetin Emeç:"If the PKK had killed him, we would
have admitted it immediately," he said.
He did, however, admit PKK responsibility in the
abduction and killing of nine employees of the state-owned Etibank's
ferrochromium plant in Elazig two weeks ago. "Turkey is fighting a war
in the Southeast, everything has been given over to the government, and
as such, everyone who is working for the state is a target," he said.
Öcalan rejected claims that his PKK men were
infiltrating Turkey across the Syrian border. They enter Turkey using
official Turkish passports, he said. He went on to say that the PKK
crossing the border illegally is impossible, the PKK leader said
because it is mined and sealed off with barbed wire. "At a time when
even the Berlin wall has been torn down Turkey has built an
insurmountable border," he said.
Öcalan said his organization does not have an active
relationship with Syria and that Damascus was unaware that the PKK was
setting up camp in the Bekaa valley. He insisted that the PKK received
neither financial support nor arms from Syria.
Öcalan charged that Turkey is using religion to
subdue the people of the Southeast. "It uses excerpts from the Koran to
spread the idea that rising against the government is a sin," he said.
The PKK leader said his organization will also begin using religious
sentiment for its own propaganda purposes "We, too, will find the
relevant verses in the Koran to encourage people to raise their heads.
We can leave Iran behind in the use of religious sentiments," he said.
TURKEY: EXTRAJUDICIAL KILLINGS
Amnesty International, in its latest report released
in March 1990, has called on the Turkish Government to initiate
impartial and independent investigations into alleged extrajudicial
Titled "Turkey: Extrajudicial Killings," the report
describes 50 cases of murder or disappearance since 1981. The
London-based human rights group presents statements by witnesses which
allege that the cases were extrajudicial executions which may have been
carried out by state security forces.
Amnesty International has asked the Turkish
government to provide information on the methods and findings of past
and on-going investigations, and urges that these findings be made
The report discussed political violence following
the military coup of September 12, 1980, and fighting in southeastern
Turkey where the Workers Party of Kurdistan (PKK) has been waging a
guerrilla war against security forces since 1984.
Amnesty International stated, "In the eight years
after the coup over a quarter of a million people were arrested on
political grounds and almost all of them were tortured. Official
reports recorded 330 politically motivated killings between Sept. 12,
1980 and Feb. 16, 1982. A report issued by the General Staff covering
the same period added that 202 "terrorists" were killed during clashes
with the security forces.
"lt appears that at least some of these killings
were intentional shootings of opponents, either after detention or in
situations where they could have been detained and brought to trial,"
the report said.
Official casualty figures for Southeast Turkey
quoted in the report indicate that in the first 9.5 months of 1989, 108
"terrorists", 112 civilians and 88 members of the security forces were
Amnesty International criticizes the methods used by
the government to investigate killings by security forces. The report
states, "Under the jurisdiction of the regional governor any offences
by a state employee including members of the security forces has to be
investigated by local administrative councils. Members of these
councils are chosen from civil servants in the municipality. (Turkish)
lawyers have not only pointed out that these people are members of the
executive without any legal knowledge, but also that they are easily
influenced by local commanders of the security forces.
The report also criticizes the village protector
scheme whereby the government has armed 20,000 Kurds in the Southeast
to protect villages and fight the guerrillas.
"There have been frequent allegations that some
(village protectors) misuse their power and carry out private ventures
such as kidnapping women or killing members of a rival tribe as part of
a blood feud," the Amnesty International report said.
The report presented cases of three murders and
three disappearances which witnesses allege were committed by village
The human rights group maintains that "The
distribution of arms by the authorities divided the population
according to their willingness to take up arms, qualifying them as
either supporting the Turkish state or the Kurdish guerrillas.
Accordingly, those supporting the state became targets for guerrilla
attacks and those believed to support the guerrillas became targets for
the security forces.
"The guerrillas are reported to have attacked the
civilian population, taken prisoners —in particular village protectors
and people believed to be police informers— and tortured and killed
some of them. As a matter of principle Amnesty International condemns
the killing of prisoners whether carried out by government or
non-government entities," the report said.
Despite requests by witnesses and relatives of
victims that authorities investigate killings by security forces or
village protectors, the government rarely investigates, Amnesty
International claimed. The group also alleges that the government
sometimes intimidates or tortures witnesses to prevent them from making
accusations against security forces.
One case examined in the report was investigated by
the local administrative council and the Ministry of Interior before
being referred to the Supreme Administrative Court (Danistay).
The report states that on Sept. 17, 1989, security
forces killed nine people in Mardin province in a clash with PKK
militants. Amnesty International maintains that witnesses immediately
came forward to claim that six of the dead were villagers recruited by
soldiers to guide them to the scene of the fighting.
No decision on the case has yet been reached.
A MAYOR SUSPENDED FROM OFFICE
The government suspended Ismail Özay, the mayor of
Çanakkale, from office on March 18, just hours after he snubbed
President Turgut Özal during a ceremony marking the 75th anniversary of
the Battle of the Dardanelles. The move led to a new confrontation
between the opposition parties and the Motherland Party (ANAP). During
the ceremony in Çanakkale last Sunday Mayor Özay, who is a member of
the main opposition Social Democratic opposition Populist Party
(SHP), did not stand up to greet the President. A speech Özay made
later is also alleged to have offended Özal.
Özay was absent when the President came to Çanakkale
accompanied by Prime Minister Yildirim Akbulut and a plethora of
cabinet ministers. The mayor later said he was in Izmir on business.
In his speech during the ceremony on Sunday, Özay
did not mention President Özal and addressed himself only to the prime
minister, ministers, other guests and the people of Çanakkale.
"Those who make decisions on the fate of the nation
in the name of the people but without their support are bound to be
crushed under the burden of their decisions and to disappear in the
depths of history," said the mayor in his speech.
When Özay ended his speech. there was no clapping by
the official guests, but the people cheered.
President Özal then took the platform, beginning his
address with a poem for the fallen heroes of the Dardanelles. In reply
to the mayor, Özal said Marxism and Leninism had collapsed all over the
world. "But in various countries and in Turkey too, there are a few
people who cannot give up these ideas. Even if there are one or two
such people of dubious origin in Turkey, the people will never
sympathize with them."
After the celebrations the mayor called a press
conference and claimed the speech he made at the ceremony was based on
a text he had written 11 years ago for a similar ceremony. The
president's angry response to the mayor accusing him of having Marxist
ideas was prompted by references in Özay's speech to "imperialism."
Although it was Sunday and Interior Minister
Abdulkadir Aksu was away from Ankara, State Minister Husnu Dogan took
the necessary steps to instruct the governor of Çanakkale to suspend
the mayor. Özay was notified of the government decision removing him
from office after midnight on Sunday.
The mayor's suspension led to further solidarity
between the two opposition parties in Parliament. DYP leader Süleyman
Demirel accused the government of attempting to terrorize and
SHP's Erdal Inönü said: "We all would like to show
respect to the presidency. But the person who occupies the presidential
office should respect his position. If he begins to use authority not
prescribed in the constitution he puts the nation in a dilemma," said
Both Demirel and Inönü said removal of the mayor was
not legitimate because there was no legal ground for such a move.
HUNGER STRIKE OF TBKP OFFICIALS
Dr. Nihat Sargin and Nabi Yagci (Haydar Kutlu), the
chairman and the general secretary of the United Communist Party of
Turkey (TBKP), held a 20-day hunger strike for the lifting of Articles
141 and 142 of the Turkish Penal Code and their release from prison.
They put an end to this action on April 25.
Sargin and Yagci voluntarily returned to Turkey in
November 1987 from self-imposed exile in Europe and said they would
work openly for the legalization of their party. But they were arrested
on their arrival and have been tried by the State Security Court of
Istanbul since then.
"The annulment of articles 141, 142 and 163 is the
first step toward a democratic regime (in Turkey). The smashing of this
first taboo will lead to the ending of other taboos. Because there is
wide popular support (for the removal of these articles), they could
easily be got rid of. The fact that only two of us from among the top
executives of TBKP are in detention while on trial, is evidence that
political motives rather than legal requirements play the decisive role
in our prolonged incarceration," said Sargin and Yagci in their
Meanwhile, the TBKP Central Committee announced that
an application to have the party formally legalized would be made to
the Interior Ministry during the first week of May.
Sargin and Yagci's case was discussed in Parliament
Tuesday. Kemal Anadol, an independent deputy who resigned from the main
opposition Social Democratic Populist Party (SHP) last year, demanded
the abrogation of articles 141, 142 and 163. Anadol said TBKP members
who declared last year that they were communists have met with the
nation's top politicians including SHP's Erdal Inönü and Süleyman
Demirel of the Correct Way Party (DYP) saying openly that they were
speaking on behalf of the TBKP.
Justice Minister Oltan Sungurlu replied to Anadol
saying the government has sought consensus among the political parties
before lifting the articles in question. "We have not been able to
reach such a consensus. We must also take into consideration the
feelings of the public about this matter. It is pointless to put a
question on the agenda which cannot readily be solved," said Sungurlu.
"I must say that we would feel extremely sorry if
something happened to Sargin and Yagci. But I must also emphasize that
it is not right to force Turkey through pressure from abroad," he added.
A group of four physicians from the European Human
Rights Commission examined Sargin and Kutlu on April 17 in prison.
Meanwhile, supporters of Sargin and Yagci mounted a
campaign to publicize the situation. They pasted posters on walls,
lined up in front of the main post office building in Istanbul and sent
telegrams to South Africa asking for political asylum because they said
human rights in South Africa were respected more than they are in
Turkey as evidenced by the release of Nelson Mandela.
Although at the beginning two communist officials
declared that they would carry on their action to the end if the
articles are not lifted, after a 20-day action, on April 25 they
announced that they put an end to their hunger strike on a promise by
President Turgut Özal to review the articles at the beginning of May.
ATTEMPT FOR FOUNDING A NEW MARXIST PARTY
As the TBKP announced that it would apply to the
Interior Ministry for having their party formally founded and
legalized, a group composed of representatives of various left-wing
political movements and some members of parliament met on April 15 in
Istanbul to discuss the establishment of a new political party that
would gather most Turkish Marxists under its roof.
The meeting resulted in the election of a 25-member
committee which will prepare the groundwork for the formal
establishment of the new party. Its first convention is scheduled for
June, a spokesman for the group said.
Haluk Gerger, a former university professor,
announced at the beginning of the meeting that Turkish Marxists are
determined to set up a new party as an alternative choice for the
"At a time when our people are being forced to
believe that the political problems of the country cannot be solved and
the future is hopeless, we Marxists have decided to begin the process
of establishing a socialist party which would present realistic
solutions to problems. Thus (the new party) would offer a viable
alternative to the forces governing the country," said Gerger. Kemal
Anadol, a member of Parliament who broke away from the main opposition
Social Democratic Populist Party (SHP) last year, said he is talking
with other independent deputies who either resigned or were expelled
from the SHP. These independent deputies held a series of meetings
earlier this year in an attempt to form a party but their efforts
failed to bear fruit when Aydin Güven Gürkan, former SHP chairman,
withdrew as leader of the group.
Ekin Dikmen, a SHP deputy who was present at the
Sunday's meeting, said he will be resigning from the SHP to take part
in the establishment of the Marxist party.
Representatives of the illegal United Communist
Party of Turkey (TBKP) were also present at this meeting. Zulfu
Dicleli, a TBKP executive, said the TBKP will continue its struggle for
legalization. Once it becomes legal, it will dissolve itself and its
members will join the new Marxist party, he said.
TURKEY-EC JOINT MEETING
The Joint Parliamentary Committee of the Turkish
National Assembly and the European Parliament covened on March 23-24 in
Turkey. During the meeting, Abel Matutes, the EC's
Mediterranean commissioner, explained in detail why the community
thought Turkey was not yet eligible for membership.
In order to decrease the agricultural surplus within
the community, Matutes said this sector is being reduced. Turkey's
membership would create a problem in that the Turkish agricultural
sector is on the verge of expansion, he said, referring to the
Southeast Anatolia Project (GAP) in the East.
Also, EC countries have limited their steel
production, Matutes said, with subsidies being provided to steel
industry workers to encourage them to move to other sectors of the
Matutes also touched upon a political obstacle to
Turkey's application at a press conference he called last Friday before
the meeting. Referring to the unrest in the Southeast, he said, "We
support the Turkish government's struggle against terrorism. Such
incidents also happen in countries in the community. Basing our opinion
on experience, we think human rights should be respected while
struggling against terrorism."
Although the community does not think the Turkish
government is neglecting human rights, Matutes said the EC wants Turkey
to respect the rights of minorities.
Cyprus represents a major political hindrance to
Turkey's membership, Matutes said. New members must be accepted
unanimously by the 12 EC countries, and Matutes said he does not
believe a unanimous vote is yet possible.
Maire George Quinn, Chairman of the EC Council of
Ministers, said during the meeting that although Turkey has come a long
way in improving its human rights record, further change is needed. The
Irish state minister noted earlier improvements such as a series of
anti-torture agreements Turkey signed in 1988.
Foreign Minister Ali Bozer expressed Turkey's
disappointment in the EC report. Bozer said Turkey had expected at
least an "expression of political willingness."
"There has been no sign to guarantee that Turkey's
membership negotiations will resume after 1993," he said. Bozer
dismissed the EC explanation regarding both Cyprus and minorities as
having nothing to do with Turkey's membership. "
TURKISH AGENTS IN WEST GERMANY
West Germany has asked Turkey to recall 15 Turkish
diplomats working in various Turkish missions around the country, it
was announced on April 4, 1990.
The names of the 15 Turkish diplomats were first
publicized during a German television program "Panorama". The diplomats
are accused of working for the Turkish Intelligence Agency (MIT) and
gathering information about Turkish workers active in German labour
In fact, many members of the Turkish diplomatic
missions in Europe have carried out this sinister activity since the
military coup and hundreds of Turkish opponents have been stripped of
Turkish nationality on the reports of these "agents."
The Turkish Ministry of Foreign Affairs announced
that it will recall 15 officials working at diplomatic missions in West
Germany, citing a lack of security and disturbing allegations against
personnel. In retaliation, the Turkish Ministry demands that eight
officials working at West Germany's diplomatic missions in Turkey be
called back to West Germany, saying they were dealing with business
unrelated to their work here.