A non-government information service on Turkey
Un service d'information non-gouvernemental sur la Turquie


16th Year - N°183
January 1992
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 Rédacteur en chef: Dogan Özgüden - Editrice responsable: Inci Tugsavul

A new Helsinki Watch Document


Helsinki Watch recently released a report called "Nothing Unusual: The Torture of Children in Turkey."
The report was prepared by a mission headed by Lois Whitman, deputy director of Helsinki Watch.
We are giving below a large part of the report which was presented to the Turkish press by Mrs. Jeri Laber, the executive director of Helsinki Watch, at a press conference in Istanbul on January 27, 1992.


"What happened to me is nothing unusual," a 16-year-old girl told Helsinki Watch in October 1991, referring to her detention, torture, and imprisonment for 75 days for the crime of hanging a "No to War" poster in her high school. Sadly, we found that to be true.
A Helsinki Watch mission interviewed nine children between the ages of 13 and 17 in Istanbul in late October 1991. All had been picked up by police, detained, physically abused and kept at police stations and prisons for between three days and three months; some had been subjected to truly horrifying methods of torture. In all of the cases, police who are responsible for the protection of civilians had, in fact, deliberately and intentionally inflicted pain on the children.
All of the cases took place in 1990 and 1991. Three of the children were accused of ordinary crimes; six of political offences. None were allowed to see lawyers during their interrogations. None of the children's families were notified by the police of their whereabouts. All of the children were interrogated and detained in adult facilities and those who were incarcerated during the pre-trial period were sent to adult prisons.
These cases were not, unfortunately, unusual. During 1990 and 1991, Helsinki Watch received dozens of reports of police torture of children under 18.
The techniques used ranged from slapping, punching, and hitting with truncheons, to falaka (beating the soles of the feet), the Palestine hanger (suspending a child by the wrists or arms, naked, and applying electric shocks to the genitals and other sensitive parts of the body), and inserting a truncheon into the anus.
Helsinki Watch has monitored torture in Turkey since 1982. The Turkish government, while acknowledging that torture takes place, has denied that it is used routinely. The government has asserted that over-zealous interrogators may occasionally torture detainees, but claims that such actions are investigated and punished. Turkish lawyers who represent detainees, however, tell Helsinki Watch that police torture between 80 and 90 percent of political suspects and about 50 percent of ordinary criminal suspects, including children. And those torturers who are investigated, tried and sentenced are few in number in comparison to the number of torture cases reported.
International law forbids torture or cruel, inhuman or degrading treatment or punishment. International agreements and standards for the treatment of children require special protections for children.
Six of the children interviewed by Helsinki Watch had been detained for crimes of thought: hanging an anti-war poster, distributing in school a pamphlet critical of the school administration, taking part in a legal trade union demonstration. Sadly, their cases are not unique. Many children in Turkey are detained for crimes of thought, association and assembly, although such rights are guaranteed by international law.
Helsinki Watch calls on the Turkish Government to put an end to the appalling practice of torturing children, to investigate allegations of torture, to prosecute those responsible, and to make certain that such practices never occur again. Helsinki Watch also calls on the Turkish government to stop detaining children for crimes of thought, association and assembly, and to comply with the requirements of international law in its treatment of children.
Turkey is the third-largest recipient of American aid. For fiscal year 1992, the Bush administration has asked Congress to approve over $700 million in military and economic aid to Turkey. Helsinki Watch calls on the United States government to condemn the use of torture in Turkey, and, as required by Section 502B of the Foreign Assistance Act, to state clearly what, if any, extraordinary circumstances warrant provision of military and economic assistance to Turkey in light of its consistent pattern of gross violations of human rights.
This is the ninth report that Helsinki Watch has issued on human rights in Turkey since 1982. Unlike some of the earlier reports, it does not cover all aspects of human rights in Turkey, but concentrates on the torture of children and their detention for crimes of thought. Unhappily, these grim incidents do not appear to be new in Turkey, but rather a continuation of long-entrenched practices.
At this writing, a new government has been elected in Turkey. On November 25, 1991, Prime Minister Süleyman Demirel presented his government's program to Parliament; he said "Torture is a crime. . . It is our duty to put an end to this." We hope that the new government will take a hard look at the torture of children (and at the torture of adults, too) and take steps to end them. Surely, a government that has signed international agreements guaranteeing human rights and forbidding torture can order the abolition of such horrifying and inhumane practices.

Six torture victims speak

Six of the children interviewed by the Helsinki Watch mission in October 1991 had been accused of political crimes; three were charged with ordinary crimes.
Five of the children picked up for political offences acknowledged distributing pamphlets or hanging up posters. One denied the accusation of distributing magazines and said she had been picked up by mistake.

Nermin Alkan* was born on June 28, 1974. On October 4, 1990, when she was 16, she was detained by police for hanging up an anti-war poster in her high school. She was hit and kicked by police, hit on the head and on the back with a club. She spent 75 days in custody before being released; her case is pending in the courts, where she is charged with membership in an illegal organization. Her case was widely reported in the Turkish press. In Istanbul on October 28, 1991, Nermin Alkan described these events to Helsinki Watch:

"During the Gulf crisis I was deeply affected. I was afraid that it would be very dangerous if war broke out. I wanted to do something. I thought I should explain my thoughts to my friends, so on October 4, 1990, I made a poster that had a picture of the Halabja massacre [the 1988 gasing of Kurds in Northern Iraq] and of a child putting flowers into the gun of a Nazi soldier. I wrote on the poster, "It is the duty of everyone to say no to this unjust war,~ and I included a poem on war by Brecht. I put up the poster across from my classroom at Pendik High School during a break between classes. My friends saw me put it up.
"One student told Deputy Director Yavuz Eke, who called me in and asked me why I had done it, and told me I could be thrown out of school for it. I told him my views on war. He took me to the director, Süleyman Yolcu, who asked me to tell the truth--that I hadn't done this alone. I told him that I had done it alone because of my views on war. At the time, school had recently opened and people had written anti-war slogans on the school walls. The director wanted to blame the slogans on me. He tried to get me to say that I was working for some organization, and said I should tell the truth, or he would call the police. I told him there was no need to call the police, as I was telling the truth.
    "The director called the police and at about 11:00 a.m. police came from the Pendik Police Headquarters. Three or four regular police and four police in plain clothes, political police, I think, came. They shouted at me in the director's office: 'Why did you do this?' They said they would take me to the political section at police headquarters and make me tell the truth, that others had helped me.
    "Then they took me home and searched my house. I asked them if they had a search warrant. They said, 'No--how do you know about such things?' They searched my room and took some magazines that I had bought at newsstands.
    "Then they took me to Pendik Police Headquarters. I refused to talk to them, since they had brought me there by force. The police told me I would be forced to talk at the political section at Gayrettepe [the notorious police station in Istanbul where both political and ordinary criminal suspects are routinely tortured.]
    "Then police came from Gayrettepe. One of the police shoved me, so I shoved him back. He said, 'Don't make me use force.' They took me to Gayrettepe and blindfolded me with some black cloth. I was put in a crowded room--l could hear a lot of people around me. Someone started stomping on my feet continuously and asked me questions about the requirements of Islam. Each time I said I didn't know, someone hit me on the head hard with some object. My head was aching.
    "Afterwards they took me downstairs. There were many voices in the room. They started asking me questions: 'Who helped you put up the poster? Who are your friends? What is the name of your organization?' They hit and kicked me--l think there were about four of them. They hit me on the head, the arms, my legs. I was still blindfolded.
    "This went on for about half an hour--it became unbearable. Finally I told them that if they would take off the blindfold I would try to tell the truth. They prepared a statement and took my blindfold off. I signed the statement to get rid of them. Then they took me downstairs to a cell. No one bothered me until the morning. Later I found out that they had picked up four or five of my friends at school.
    "My cell was about 6 feet by 10 feet. There was some sort of filthy mattress on the floor that smelled terrible. There was nothing else in the room. There was no light--only the light that came in from the corridor through a small window in the door that could be closed from the outside. To go to the toilet, I had to pound on the door and ask the guard to let me out. I was alone in the cell.
    "For the next four days they took me upstairs every day to interrogate me. It lasted about three hours each time, and sometimes happened several times a day. They asked questions about my friends, and about an organization. Sometimes they beat me. Sometimes I thought I heard them taking my friends upstairs--l thought I recognized their voices. After the fifth or sixth day they gave me another statement that I signed.
    "On October 12 they took me from Gayrettepe. They handcuffed me to a friend. First they took me to the Forensic Medicine Department. The police talked to the doctor before the doctor saw me. While we were in the doctor's waiting room a woman asked why we were handcuffed, and a policeman loosed the handcuffs a little. When I saw the doctor I told him I had been beaten on the back with a club. He said, 'yes, yes,' but didn't look at my back.
    "Then they took me and my three friends to State Security Court. The police told us that we had to admit what we had signed, and that if we didn't, they would pick us up again and take us back to the police station. So I told the prosecutor my statement was correct. Then we went before Judge Osman Sen--l think that was his name. He said to arrest all four of us, and we were taken to Sagmalcilar Prison. First we were taken to the quarantine room.
    "We three girls were taken to the women's political section. There were three other girls there my age, 16, who had all spoken out against the war.
    "I never saw a lawyer before I was taken to Sagmalcilar. Then a lot of lawyers wanted to represent me [in Turkey it is customary for many lawyers to appear on behalf of a client in a well-known political case to lend moral support]. I had 38 lawyers altogether.
    "My first trial date was on December 3, 1990. In the afternoon, they took me and my friends from Sagmalcilar to the detention center at the State Security Court. We waited there in handcuffs. I found out later that just before our case was heard, another 'No to War' case was heard. When we went into the courtroom it was very crowded and people were yelling 'No to imperialist wars.' There were lots of journalists and the lawyers' section was crowded. The prosecutor said, 'I propose that the hearing be postponed.'
    "Just then, a huge group of police rushed into the courtroom and started hitting people. One of the people they hit was my father. The police were hitting lawyers and journalists too. The judge never answered the prosecutor, and police pushed me and my friends out of the courtroom, hitting and kicking us. Then they put our handcuffs back on (they had taken them off before we went into the courtroom) and took us back to Sagmalcilar Prison. There were lots of pictures of the beatings in the newspapers the next day, and I read in the paper that my father had been detained. Other members of my family--cousins and my sister--were detained too, as well as some members of my friends' families. I found out later that my father had been hit a lot, and asked, 'What kind of child did you bring up?' He was detained for one day and then released. Also I found out that there was a demonstration outside the court about our case, and nine people were detained.
    "On December 25, a second hearing was held. That day it was very calm. The judges were very polite, and didn't interrupt us. I read an eight-page statement. Then I was released--police took me to Sagmalcilar to get my belongings, and then I went home. Altogether I was detained for 75 days, counting the time at Gayrettepe and in Sagmalcilar. My case is still in State Security Court; I'm not sure what the next trial date is.
    "When I got out of prison I tried to go back to school, but I found that I had been expelled. I finally found another school that would take me, so I'm back in school now. Before this happened, I wanted to study art history, but now I want to be a criminal lawyer. What happened to me is nothing unusual in Turkey. The government says there is democracy in Turkey, but really it doesn't exist."

    Mustafa Günes was born in 1974. On April 19, 1990, when he was 16 years old, he was picked up by police for distributing pamphlets in a coffee house asking people to go to Taksim Square on May 1 for a May Day demonstration. At the local police station he was hit with sticks and clubs, his testicles were squeezed, he was hit on the ear with a walkie-talkie, and his front teeth were knocked out of place. He spent four days in Gayrettepe, where he was given falaka (beatings on the soles of the feet), kicked and threatened with death. On April 23, he was taken to State Security Court, where a judge ordered him sent to Sagmalcilar Prison to await trial on charges of membership in an illegal organization. After three months of incarceration he was released. In July 1991, he was acquitted after Parliament abolished the article of the Penal Code under which he had been charged.
    Mustafa described his ordeal to Helsinki Watch:
    "On April 14, 1990, 1 was distributing pamphlets in a coffee house on the Asia side of the Bosphorous. The pamphlets called for people to go to Taksim Square on May 1st. Five plain-clothes policemen were in the coffee house. They took me to the local police station. For four and a half hours they cursed me, hit me with their hands, fists, sticks and clubs. Many police hit me at one time. I was hit on the head, the genitals (kicked and then squeezed hard), and in the teeth. Then I was hit on the ear with a walkie-talkie; my shirt was soaked in blood from the cut on my ear. [He showed Helsinki Watch a scar on his ear.] My teeth were knocked crooked--the front teeth knocked backwards in my mouth.
    "Then they took me to Gayrettepe because I wouldn't tell them anything. I was there for a day and a half. They blindfolded me and lay me on the floor and tied my ankles together. Then they gave me falaka, hitting me hard on the soles of my feet. While someone was doing that, others were kicking me everywhere on my body. One of them said, 'We killed so-and-so--your life is at stake. If you try to run away, we'll shoot you.' I was beaten like this for about an hour and a half. They they put me in a cell. For 36 hours they would take me out of the cell, beat me, search me, ask me questions, and then put me back. It was a very difficult period; 36 hours of anxiety.
    "After 36 hours they took me back to the local police station, and then it was calmer. On April 23rd they took me to the local prosecutor; first they took away my bloody shirt and gave me a clean one.
    "The prosecutor decided that he didn't have jurisdiction, and on April 24th I was taken to Istanbul State Security Court with four others. We were all sent to Sagmalcilar Prison; I was charged with being a member of an illegal organization. On July 25th, at our first hearing, we were all released. I had spent three months in Sagmalcilar. When Article 141 of the Penal Code was lifted, I was acquitted--that was on July 20, 1991.
    "I never saw a lawyer until I was in Sagmalcilar; the Istanbul Human Rights Association got me one. My family didn't find out where I was until I was in Sagmalcilar. They even went to the local police station while I was there, but the police told them I wasn't there.
"The psychological torture is still going on; if anything happens in school, they pick on me. For instance, someone put a poster on the wall in school. The director called me to his office--the police chief was there. He slapped me on the face and accused me of hanging up the poster. I will never trust a policeman again; I feel they could kill me at any time. If police can pick you up from class and hit you, how can you feel safe?
"This whole thing has really changed my life. I lost a whole year from school, and some of my friends don't want to be friends with me any more. And now I have a record, even though I was acquitted. I wanted to be a sea captain, like my cousin, but now I can't go to maritime school; they won't take anyone with a record, even if he's been acquitted.
"I'm going to have to change my school. People run from you if you've been in prison. In front of everyone, my teacher said, 'What happened? You were in prison last year.' Most of my classmates never talked to me again. They leave empty seats next to me."

Sevinc Ekinci is a 17-year-old girl who was picked up by police on September 1, 1991, for distributing political magazines, an allegation she denies. She spent one day at the local police headquarters, five days in Gayrettepe, and 33 days in Sagmalcilar Prison.
She has been charged with "aiding a terrorist organization and distributing Kurdish propaganda." Police slapped her, hit her head against a wall, pulled her hair, hit her on the back and chest with fists, and threatened her with the Palestine Hanger. She signed a statement while blindfolded. She was handcuffed on the way to court. Sevinc described the events to Helsinki Watch:

"It happened at about 9 o'clock at night. I was walking on the street with a friend, a 17-year-old boy. Police stopped us and asked for our identification. They they took us to the police station. In the car they asked us where we lived and why we were walking on the street. At police headquarters police searched us.
"Then they put us in separate places. They pulled me by my hair and then hit my head against the wall. They hit my back and my chest with their fists. The beating lasted about an hour. Nine or ten police took turns hitting me. Then they put me in a cell alone until morning.
"At about 4:00 or 5:00 in the afternoon they blindfolded me and handcuffed me to someone else. Then they took me to Gayrettepe. Police slapped and hit me with their hands or fists on my face and my back and kicked me. They threatened me with the Palestine Hanger and electric shock. They kept asking me questions, and saying, 'You're Iying, you distributed these magazines.'
"Then they took me to an isolation cell. I was there for five days. Every day they took me out of the cell and interrogated me; I was blindfolded.
"The cell was only big enough for one bed. There was a low metal bed with a sponge mattress, foul-smelling, and two blankets. There was no window and no light. A metal door had a small window in it, and some light came in from outside.
"The guards didn't give us any food. If you wanted food, you had to buy it from the guards. They charged you 10,000 Turkish lira [about $2.00], bought bread and milk for about 2,000 lira and kept 8,000 for themselves. If you had no money, you didn't get any food.
"After five days, I signed a statement. I had a blindfold on when I signed it.
"The police didn't tell my family where I was, but on the second day, September 2, they took me to my house and searched it, so that's when my family found out where I was.
"They called a lawyer, and the lawyer called Gayrettepe, but police told him I wasn't there.
"My case is still in court; the next hearing will be on November 26th. They charged me under the Anti-Terror Law with aiding a terrorist organization and making Kurdish propaganda. I could get a one-to-three-year sentence for the first, and three to five years for the second, and also very big fines. If I can't pay the fines, and my family doesn't have that kind of money, I will have to serve another three years in prison.
"I am very afraid. I can't understand how such a thing could happen. When a car stops outside my house, I think it's the police."

Sevinc's uncle told Helsinki Watch that this experience can adversely affect her future:
"In our society, virginity and purity are very important. If a girl is picked up by the police, there is always the possibility she will have been sexually assaulted--there is always that suspicion. And although her parents feel bad for her, they are also very angry--why was she walking with a young man at 9:00 p.m.? Society cannot accept that. Now the family is stopping her from leaving the house."

Orhan and Fatma Öztürk Orhan Öztürk was born in 1974; his sister Fatma was born in 1978. On March 18, 1990, when she was 12 and he was 16, the children were picked up during a trade union demonstration. They were taken to Gayrettepe, and then to their local police station. Both were slapped, hit with clubs and kicked. Police deliberately kicked an open wound on Orhan's leg. After three days, both children were released without charges. Each now has a police record.
Fatma reported to Helsinki Watch:

"When the police picked us up, they put us on a police bus to take us to Gayrettepe. They started hitting us on the bus; they hit me on my head with a club. I spent an hour and a half at Gayrettepe; police made me kneel and then they kicked me in the back with their feet. Then I was taken to our local police station, and I was there for three days.
"I was put in a little bare cell, with no beds or anything. My back really hurt, but the police wouldn't let me go to the doctor. I went on a hunger strike with some of the others who had been picked up with us; it lasted for two and a half days.
 "After three days, the police had me sign a statement. It said I was not a member of any organization and that I had no affiliation with any meeting, and that I had been picked up by mistake and that I was under age. Then I was released.
"The police never told my family where I was, but some demonstrators told my mother I had been taken to Gayrettepe. I never saw a lawyer while the police had me."

Orhan reported:

"I'm a senior in a trade school. On March 18 of last year there was a big demonstration by the labor union, Otomobil Is. It was a legal meeting; the governor of Istanbul had approved it. During the demonstration someone wanted to hold up a banner and walk, but the police didn't want him to. The police started hitting the crowd with clubs. A lot of people were hurt badly. I found out later that 55 people were detained by police.
"Fatma and I were picked up by the police. I was clubbed on the leg, and I had an open, bleeding wound. First police took us to Gayrettepe, to the political section, to see if we had records. In Gayrettepe I was slapped and hit. Police saw the open wound on my right leg below the knee, and deliberately hit me there. They said, 'You are such young children, why were you at that demonstration?' At the record office, they made us kneel and face the wall, and then police would walk by and kick us on the back.
"Then they took us to our local police headquarters. My leg hurt a lot, and I wanted to see a doctor, but they wouldn't let me. Finally, on the third day that I was there, they let me see a doctor. He said my leg should be x-rayed, but the police wouldn't allow it.
"Then we were taken to the Forensic Medicine Department. I never saw a report from there. Then we were taken back to police headquarters and released. We never saw a prosecutor. They didn't charge us with anything, but we still have records, so the police can pick us up at any time.
"After we were released, I saw a doctor who gave me a report saying I shouldn't go to school for seven days because of my injuries--the open wound on my leg, and what he said was evidence of beating on my chest, face and legs."

The children's lawyer, Kamil Tekin Sürek, told Helsinki Watch that right after the children were released he had tried to open a case against the police for abusing them. Unfortunately, they could not pinpoint which police had hit them. But the lawyer claimed that the prosecutor should charge whichever police were on duty at the local police station and at Gayrettepe at the time. On October 24, 1990, the lawyer received a response saying that the people who committed the crime could not be found, and that the case was therefore closed due to lack of evidence.

Nilay Kücük, born in 1974, was taken from her school classroom on April 20, 1990, when she was 16 years old, for distributing political pamphlets. She spent four days in the local police station, one day and night at Gayrettepe, and two months in Sagmalcilar Prison after she was charged with membership in an illegal organization. On June 25, 1990, she was released and in July 1991 she was acquitted. During her detention, she was slapped hard on the face, shoved and pushed and threatened with torture. When her family found out where she was, they brought her favorite doll, which she kept with her in prison. Nilay related her experiences to Helsinki Watch:

"On April 20, 1990, police came to my school and took me from my classroom because I had distributed a pamphlet in school that said, 'End Repressive Fascist Education.' By this I meant that our textbooks are not scientific; students are brainwashed. And in the technical schools students produce things that they're not paid for. If there's a strike by workers, students are used to break the strike. And children are beaten in school--at least once a week teachers or the director hit a student, usually with a long stick. One time the director slapped me.
"Police took me to police headquarters; I was there for four days. I was beaten and slapped on the face. Police asked me who gave me the pamphlets. I didn't want to say. One of them rolled his sleeves up and threatened to beat me up. He said that if I confessed, I wouldn't have to go to Gayrettepe. When I didn't answer, he slapped me hard on the face several times. It really hurt. I was dumbfounded.
"Then he asked me to become an informer for the police. I was supposed to inform on my friends. Then he gave me books on Islam.
"I was put in a room with my friend. It was a rectangular room about 1 1/2 meters by 2 meters, with nothing at all in it--no beds, no chairs, no window. The door had metal bars that we could see through to the corridor.
"At Gayrettepe six of us were taken together to a room that looked like a garage. We were made to stand facing the wall for about half an hour. One of the boys was 13. Police asked him where his family was from and he said 'Tunceli' [an activist Kurdish area]. As soon as he said that, police started kicking him in the legs and hitting him on the head with their fists. He was standing right next to me.
"Then we were blindfolded and taken upstairs. They shoved and pushed me while I was going up the stairs. Then they took me to a room and took the blindfold off. They made us write the basic facts of our lives and copy out letters and sentences and numbers. We heard screams of people being tortured. They threatened us: 'You too can be tortured.' They wanted us to admit their accusations, and tell them who gave us the pamphlets. We wouldn't do it.
"Then they took us to cells. Mine was a small foul-smelling room with blood stains on the wall and a metal door with a tiny window. I couldn't see anything. They would only let us go to the bathroom in the morning or at night, never in between. We gave them money and they brought us biscuits and milk. If you had no money, you got no food. They told us we would be there a long time--15 days. 'Anyone who comes, stays,' they said.
"I was only at Gayrettepe one day and one night. The next day I was taken to State Security Court and charged with being a member of a secret organization and being politically active on behalf of that organization. Four of my friends were charged with the same things. One is 13, two are 16, and one is 18. Then I was sent to Sagmalcilar Prison, where I stayed for two months in the political section with adults.
"When my parents came to visit me, they brought me some money and my favorite doll. I kept it with me at the police station and for the two months I was in Sagmalcilar Prison. On June 25, 1990, 1 was released, after the first hearing in my case. Three months ago I was acquitted."

Reports by lawyers

Many attorneys with whom Helsinki Watch spoke in October 1991 described other cases in which the children they represented said that they had been tortured.
Aynur Tuncel reported that all children charged with ordinary crimes are beaten. Some of her clients have been given falaka, boys more often than girls. Girls are frequently threatened with sexual assault, and boys with having a truncheon forced up their rectums.
Tülay Ates reported that she has represented children who have alleged that they were subjected to both electric shock and the Palestine hanger during interrogation.
Nuran Yavuz reported that one child client had said he had been beaten on the head with a two-foot piece of wood. All of these incidents took place during the past year.
Tülay Ates told of a recent case in which three of her clients, one of whom was 16 years old, had been charged with theft. All three were taken to Gayrettepe, where the two 18-year-old boys said they were beaten, given electric shock; and the Palestine hanger. The 16-year-old said that he was beaten but not suspended or shocked. All three spent five days in detention and one month in Sagmalcilar Prison before being acquitted in February 1991.
Nuran Yavuz represented a 12-year-old boy who was picked up by police on June 19, 1991, on suspicion of throwing stones at the roof of a carwash. A watchman had called police report the stoning. Police came to the street where the 12-year-old, the son of the janitor, as sitting in front of his house. The police took him to the local police station where they said, "You know the children who stoned the roof and you must tell us who they are." The child told Ms. Yavuz that police put a gun to his neck and threatened to shoot him, and then took him the window and threatened to throw him out. Ms. Yavuz lives nearby; she heard the child's mother crying and asked what had happened. When she heard the story, she called the police station and told police they could not keep the child there. The police then released him without charges.

Attorney Kamil Tekin Sürek, who has represented many clients charged with political offences at the State Security Court, told Helsinki Watch that between 80 and 90 percent of his clients, including children, have been tortured. He has tried to bring cases against the police for torture, but it is very difficult, as torture victims are usually blindfolded and cannot identify the individual police who tortured them.

Ercan Kanar, a lawyer who is the president of the Istanbul branch of the Human Rights Association (IHD), told Helsinki Watch that since January 1991 the Istanbul IHD had been involved with the cases of 75 children who had been physically abused by police. Three quarters of the cases are political. He does not believe that this is representative, however, as children charged with criminal offences do not usually know that they can complain of torture, and do not usually apply to the IHD for help.
*Nermin Alkan is the actual name of this youngster, who has chosen to make her case public. The names given to the other eight children interviewed by Helsinki Watch are pseudonyms; identifying details have also been changed to protect those children's identities. The names of officials mentioned in these accounts are their real names.



    End of January 1992... The Demirel Government claiming to put an end all anti-democratic practices in Turkey has been in power and all democratic institutions and groups as well in the country as abroad have credited its promises to a great extent.
    Although some timid steps have been taken in two months, the constitution of the militarist "democracy", all repressive institutions set up by the military continue to function as before taking no heed to the will of the people.
    It is on the 60th day of this government that the Constitutional Court ruler for the closure of the United Communist Party of Turkey (TBKP) on the grounds that its name contained the word "communist" and its policies allegedly provoked separatism. The supreme court also decided to hand over all possessions of the TBKP to the state Treasury.
    The chief prosecutor is reportedly preparing files for closing down two legal left-wing parties: the Socialist Party (SP) and the People's Labour Party (HEP). Already, all leaders of these two parties have been indicted by the State Security Court and face punishments from long term imprisonments to death sentence.
    Man-hunting  is still being carried out by State forces  not only in Turkish Kurdistan, but throughout Turkey. Arrests, tortures, condemnations are still daily practices. Newspapers and books are being confiscated and intellectuals taken before state security courts under Anti-Terror Law.
    To be aware how is the tide running out it is just enough to glance at the chronological notes of the January 1992 at Page 6.
    As the State terror is being reinforced against left-wing and Kurdish movements, the extreme-right and fundamentalist parties such as the Nationalist Labour Party (MCP) and the Welfare Party (RP) are, with all support of the State, preparing themselves to conquer the Turco-Islamic republics of the former Soviet Union.
    Colonel Alparslan Türkes, leader of the neo-fascist "Grey Wolves" movement says that it is the high time of realizing the old dream of Turkish extreme-right movement: to unite all Turks of the world, from the Balkans to the Far East, under the flag the Turkish empire:Turan.
    Ankara is promptly undergoing a craziness of "Reconquest" to the detriment of democratization.


    2.1, in Istanbul, police opened fire on a group demonstrating for free medical care and wounded Ismet Sinag, who was later detained along with 14 other demonstrators.
    3.1, in Istanbul, during two demonstrations to protest the insufficient wage hikes police detained a total of 40 public servants.
    4.1, in Istanbul, police detained 15 people and wounded a doctor during a protest demonstration by public servants.
    4.1, in the district of Kurtalan of Siirt province, five people were placed under arrest by a tribunal for separatism.
    5.1, three alleged militants of a underground organization were detained by the Istanbul State Security Court.
    5.1, police detained 10 people during a demonstration at the Liberty Park in Istanbul for protesting against torture.
    6.1, it is reported by Yeni Ülke that a member of the Human Rights Association (IHD), Riza Tan who had been detained on December 16, 1991 in Bitlis was subjected to torture during his police interrogation and later wounded in the leg.
    6.1, the Diyarbakir SSC placed under arrest 17 out of 67 people detained during the incidents in the district of Kulp on December 23-24, 1991. The same court also detained 8 out of 100 students detained for boycotting the courses at the Dicle University in December.
    6.1, two high school students were placed under arrest by the Konya SSC for having painted "separatist" slogans on walls.
    6.1, police dispersed by using firearms a demonstration to protest the demolishing of shanty houses at popular quarters in Istanbul and detained 15 people.
    8.1, the daily Zaman reports that 12 NCOs have been detained in different military units for having carried out propaganda against the State's secular system.
    8.1, in Istanbul, six people of whom two are handicapped in wheel-chair were detained during a demonstration in front of the Justice Palace to protest against the Anti-Terror Law.
    8.1, in Istanbul, a local official of the People's Labour Party (HEP),  Cabbar Gezici was detained by police.
    8.1, in Urfa, a high school student, Salih Tatli was shot death in the market place by unidentified persons. His parents accuse the Counter-Guerrilla Organisation of having assassinated Tatli.
    9.1, in Istanbul,  17-year old deaf youngster, Ahmet Cinar, was wounded in the legs by police using fire arms because he did not hear the warning to stop.
    9.1, in Istanbul, a protest demonstration by transport workers was dispersed by police and 38 people taken into custody.
    9.1, in the district of Dargecit in Mardin province, a 32-year old Kurd, Hüseyin Gezici was gravely wounded by unidentified people. Accusing the Counter-Guerrilla Organization, the district's tradesmen shut their shops in protest against this aggression.
    10.1, the daily Cumhuriyet reports that the State Security Court of Diyarbakir has dealt with 2,813 cases in 1991. The number of the cases was 796 in 1987, 1,278 in 1988, 1,538 in 1989 and 2,010 in 1990.
    12.1, in Diyarbakir, a 20-year old student of the Dicle University, Abdülsamet Cetin was shot dead by unidentified persons. His funeral in Nusaybin was attended by 7 thousand people shouting slogans against Counter-Guerrilla Organization. Police dispersed the demonstrators by using fire arms and wounded four people. 167 people were detained during the incidents. The tradesmen of the districts of Nusaybin, Derik, Midyat and Silvan closed their shops in protest against Cetin's killing. Besides, high school students boycotted their courses.
    12.1, at the village of Kelbasan in Sason district, a Kurdish peasant, Mehmet Onar was kidnapped by unidentified persons.
    12.1, in the district of Karakocan of Elazig province, security forces detained seven people for aiding the PKK.
    13.1, Hürriyet reports that the Siirt Chairman of the HEP, Mehmet Demir has disappeared since January 10 and his parents claim that he might be kidnapped by police. Same day, Adil Bayik was assassinated in the district of Nusaybin by unidentified persons.
    13.1, a 16-year old high school student, Ugras Ak declared after his release that he had been detained on January 3 and subjected to torture for ten days.
    13.1, Milliyet reports that the Istanbul SSC has dealt with 1,577 cases in last year. 272 of the cases ended in condemning to different prison terms.
    14.1, in last four days, police detained 15 people for taking part in TIKKO (Workers-Peasants Liberation Army of Turkey) actions.
    14.1, in Ankara, security forces detained 78 of the Hacettepe University students protesting against increasing of bus fees.
    15.1, the Antalya section of the Trade Union of Health Services Workers (Tüm-Saglik-Sen) was closed by the governor on pretext that public servants had no right to trade union.
    16.1, in Istanbul, police shot dead a 23-year old university student, Engin Egeli, during a demonstration by 20 people against price hikes. This assassination led to protests. Next day, a protest march of students was dispersed by police and 28 demonstrators were taken into custody.  During the incident, police harassed journalists as well. Besides, a 20-year old student, Özgür Durmaz, was wounded by police as he was writing slogans on walls to protest Egeli's killing. 
    18.1, in Nusaybin, HEP official Abdurrahman Sögüt was shot dead by unidentified persons. The funeral of Sögüt was attended by more then 3 thousand people.
    19.1, the Socialist Party (SP) Chairman Dogu Perincek was indicted by the Prosecutor of the Ankara SSC for his electoral speeches and declarations. Accused of separatist propaganda he faces a total of 18 to 40 years in prison.
    19.1, a meeting for the rights to collective bargaining and strike, organized in Izmir by different public servants unions was banned by the governor on pretext that public servants had no trade union rights.
    19.1, Yeni Ülke reports that security forces, in last fifteen days, detained 25 people in the district of Kozluk in Batman province, two in Hazro, three in Urfa and three in Adiyaman.
    20.1, security forces detained 13 people in the provinces of Hatay and Gaziantep on charges of giving shelter to PKK militants. In the districts of Bulanik and Malazgirt of Mus province, about 100 people were detained for taking part in demonstration in protest against Counter-Guerrilla operations.
    20.1, a member of the HEP, Harbi Arman, 31, was founded blindfolded and shot dead by the side of Devegeciti Dam in Diyarbakir. He had been taken eight days ago by plain-clothes saying that he was summoned for a trial at the Diyarbakir SSC. His funeral in the village of Karadag was held in presence of a big crowd. To protest the murder, the tradesmen of the Malazgirt district shut their shops.
    21.1, seven political detainees in the Ankara Prison went on a hunger-strike in protest against penitentiary conditions.
    21.1, the governor of Izmir banned an evening for friendship and solidarity, organized by the Tüm-Saglik-Sen on the occasion of its 7th anniversary.
    22.1, in Istanbul, a group of high school students aged of between 15 and 17 were dispersed by police using force as they were demonstrating in front of the National Education Directorate for claiming a halt to practice of beating in schools. Fifteen of young demonstrators were later taken into custody.
    22.1, security forces have reportedly detained 36 people in Diyarbakir and 13 in Mardin for giving support to the PKK.
    23.1, in Ankara, seven alleged members of Dev-Sol were detained by police.
    23.1, in the district of Silopi of Sirnak province, security forces opened fire on the villagers who attempt a raid on the Hamlet of Serebiye. Many villagers were wounded and the nephew of the Silopi Mayor, Hüseyin Taygun was shot dead. Next day, the funeral of Taygun in Silopi was attended by more than 20 thousand people. Besides, the tradesmen of Sirnak, Idil and Silopi shut their shops in protest against the killing.
    24.1, security forces, during a series of operations, detained 13 people in Gaziantep and 16 in Ankara.
    24.1, a student demonstration in Ankara against the Higher Education Board (YÖK) was dispersed by police using force and about 96 students were taken into custody. During the incident police harassed journalists as well. The detained students were later sent to the State Security Court.
    25.1, in Nusaybin, repairman Seyfettin Aktas was shot dead by unidentified assailants. So, the number of the people killed in this way reached four in one month.
    26.1, two sections of the teachers' trade union Egit-Sen, in Sivas and Bismil, were closed by the governors on pretext that teachers had no right to trade union.
    26.1, the Izmir SSC placed under arrest four high school students for having participated in an unauthorized demonstration.
In Ankara, six students were detained by police for the same reason.
    26.1, the Diyarbakir SSC placed under arrest nine of 20 people kept for one month in police custody.
    27.1, Yeni Ülke reports that the headman of the Sayar village in the province of Mardin, Hasan Ergin and his 17-year old son were subjected to torture during their detention at the Commando Unit in Nusaybin.
    27.1, it is reported that during the security operations in January eleven people were detained for aiding the PKK.
    27.1, in Istanbul, police raiding a house allegedly occupied by the TKP-K (Communist Party of Turkey-Spark) shot dead three youths. One of the victims, 19-year old Servet Sanin was a champion of Karate and represented Turkey three times in international competitions.
    28.1, eight people were arrested for writing political slogans on walls in the town of Tarsus.
    29.1, in Izmir, police detained seven alleged Dev-Sol militants and sent them to the State Security Court.


    The trial of journalist Deniz Teztel, lawyers Bedii Yarayici, Murat Demir and Fethiye Peksen began at the Ankara SSC on January 17 1992.
    Along with 24 other people they are accused of taking part in the Revolutionary Left (Dev-Sol) actions. The prosecutor claims prison terms of up to 15 years for the journalist, the three lawyers and 20 other defendants by virtue of Article 168/1 of the Penal Code and capital punishment for four others according to Article 146/1. The court decided at the end of the first trial to release Teztel, Demir, Yarayici and three other defendants.
    The prosecution of Teztel has been protested by many national and international human rights groups.
    The Secretary General of the International Federation of Journalists (IFJ), Aidan White sent the following message to Turkish Prime Minister Demirel:
    "The IFJ respectfully calls on your government to look into the case of Günes journalist, Deniz Teztel whose professional rights and civil rights appear to have been violated.
    "Teztel, an experienced reporter and the human rights correspondent for the Turkish daily Günes, was arrested on June 14, 1991. She was held for 14 days in a gaol where she claims to have been 'mentally tortured'. She was reportedly offered her freedom in exchange for changing her journalistic activities.
    "She is officially accused of being a courier for the terrorist organisation Dev-Sol. As a journalist, and especially a legal and human rights correspondent, the IFJ is suspect that such charges will be substantiated by contact that she had with prisoners. Such contact is consistent with her professional activity.
    "Her civil rights appear not to have been respected. We understand that none of her three lawyers, nor any of her colleagues, had seen an official written indictment against her when, on June 28, she was transferred to Cankiri prison.
    "In the beginning of November 1991, after having been held for several months, Teztel was transferred, with many other prisoners, to the Eskisehir Special Type prison. Upon arriving at the prison many prisoners, including Teztel, had their clothing torn off and were brutally welcomed.
    "We further understand that Teztel has written about human rights abuses that government personnel, civil and military, have committed. We fear that those accused of such violations may be seeking revenge.
    "The IFJ, which represents 67 national organisations of journalists in 54 countries around the world, including those journalists organised in the Journalists' Trade Union of Turkey, strongly protests against these violations of Teztel's civil and professional rights. Such harassment, and what appears to be intimidation, is an affront to Turkish journalists and to the international community of journalists.
    "The IFJ will follow this case with great attention and will continue to informer non-governmental, governmental and supranational organisation of any new developments."
    On the other hand, the IFJ has called on the member unions to protest against a new anti-union trend in the Turkish press, marked by  a vociferous public campaign against organised journalists by the publisher of the daily Milliyet, one of the largest national newspapers of Turkey.


    7.1, the January 92 issue of the monthly Demokrat was confiscated by the Istanbul SSC for an article by Dr. Besikci, entitled "The Kurds should constitute their national assembly."
    7.1, a book by Edip Polat, We have turned dawns into Newroz, was confiscated by the Ankara SSC for separatist propaganda by virtue of the Anti-Terror Law. Besides, the publisher of the book, Hikmet Kocak was interrogated by the public prosecutor.
    14.1, Cumhuriyet reports that in last year 14 daily newspapers and four weekly magazines were subjected to a total of 338 legal proceeding. In these cases, prosecutors claimed prison terms of up to 961 years and fines of up to 2 billion 150 million Turkish Liras.
    14.1, the 4th issue of the monthly Newroz was confiscated by the Istanbul SSC for separatist propaganda by virtue of the Anti-Terror Law. The three preceding issues of the same review had also been confiscated on similar charges.
    18.1, the chief editor of the monthly Newroz, Remzi Bilget was arrested by a penal court in Istanbul for making separatist propaganda in a message he prepared for an evening for solidarity with the monthly review Deng.
    20.1, two correspondents of the weekly Yeni Ülke, Ali Cihat Ünlü and Rifki Turan were detained in Mus in relation with the demonstrations in protest against Counter-Guerrilla terror.
    21.1, the Erzurum office of the daily Hürriyet was raided and stoned by 3 thousand fundamentalists.  Police intervened very lately and detained 50 of the aggressors. A side publication of the Hürriyet Group, the weekly Tempo had published an illustration of Prophet Mohamed. According to fundamentalists, any illustration of the Prophet is forbidden by the Holy Book (Koran).
    22.1, the trial of journalist Rafet Balli, former minister Serafettin Elci and publisher Mehmet Ali Ugur for a book entitled The Kurdish File began at the Istanbul SSC. The book comprising a series of interviews with Kurdish intellectuals by Rafet Balli had been confiscated in last year for separatist propaganda by the decision of the same tribunal. Elci is one of the interviewed persons. The prosecutor claims a prison term of up to five years and a fine of up to TL 100 million for each defendant by virtue of Article 8 of the Anti-Terror Law.
    28.1, the January 26 issue of the weekly Yeni Ülke was confiscated by the Istanbul SSC. The prosecutor claims that an obituary announcement in the newspaper contains separatist propaganda.