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16th Year - N°184
February 1992
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 Rédacteur en chef: Dogan Özgüden - Editrice responsable: Inci Tugsavul

"The situation of human rights in Turkey should be
kept on the agenda of the Council of Europe"


    The situation of human rights in Turkey continues to be one of the main concerns of the Council of Europe. Recently, on January 20, 1992, the Committee on Legal Affairs and Human Rights of the the Parliamentary Assembly of the Council of Europe adopted a comprehensive report exposing human rights violations in this member country and, in a draft resolution, called on the Turkish authorities to take many urgent measures for respecting human rights.
    The report was prepared by two rapporteurs, Mrs Mrs Lentz-Cornette (Luxembourg, Christian Social Party) and Mrs Mrs Baarveld-Schlaman (The Netherlands, Socialist) following their visit to Turkey in July 1991.
    The said report was also taken note by the Political Affairs Committee on January 24, 1992.
    Although it had to be discussed at the February 1992 plenary meeting of the Parliamentary Assembly, the discussion was reported to a further date as a result of the insistent demands of the Turkish parliamentarians. Besides, a part of the Turkish media qualified this report as "a new proof of the European hostility against Turkey."
    We are reproducing below a slightly abridged text of the Report on the situation of human rights in Turkey:

1. Introduction

    It is already more than 5 years ago that the Assembly adopted its Resolution 860 (1986) on the situation in Turkey in which it instructed its ~Political Affairs and Legal Affairs Committees to continue to follow developments closely". In fact, since the military intervention of 12 September 1980, these two committees had studied carefully the developments in Turkey. Their delegations or rapporteurs visited Turkey on several occasions and presented numerous texts which the Assembly adopted between October 1980 (Recommendation 904) and April 1985 (Resolution 840). After the adoption of Resolution 860, the Committee on Legal Affairs and Human Rights continued to follow very closely the human rights situation in Turkey. It considered and discussed several papers of its rapporteurs and held hearings on trade union rights during the mini-session in Istanbul on 30 June 1986, and a major hearing in Paris on 7 September 1987 at the proposal of the European Trade Union Confederation. It organised another major hearing on human rights in general in Paris on 16 January 1990. After that hearing it was decided - with the approval of the Bureau - to instruct the rapporteurs of the two committees to visit Turkey. This visit was originally scheduled to take place at the end of August 1990, because of the Gulf crisis and war/ it was postponed several times. It now took place from 21 until 28 July 1991.
    We reported orally to our committees on this visit during the September 1991 part-session and were instructed to submit to them a written report, in time for its subsequent presentation to the Assembly at the February 1992 part-session.

2. Our official visit to Ankara, Diyarbakir and Istanbul

    2.1. During our visit we had talks with MM. Giray, Kalemli [a former member of the Committee on Legal Affairs and Human Rights] and Seker, Ministers for Foreign Affairs, the Interior and Justice respectively, the Ambassadors of the Netherlands and of the EEC to Turkey, members of the parliamentary delegation to the Council of Europe, the vice-president of the Grand National Assembly, the Chairman of the Parliamentary Human Rights Committee (which has a kind of ombudsman function with advisory powers) and a number of other members of parliament. We met professors, journalists, representatives of women's organisations and, when in Ankara, visited the Human Rights Foundation where victims of torture are being treated. In all three towns we met lawyers and national and local representatives of the Turkish Human Rights Association, some of whom had to travel many hours by bus to come and see us. When in Diyarbakir we had a long conversation with the super governor, responsible for law and order in the whole of south east Turkey where the state of exception applies.
    2.2. A meeting with President Özal was planned for Saturday 27 July but had to be cancelled because of a short period of hospitalisation of the President.
    2.3. In all we met an impressive number of persons and for conciseness' sake we shall not mention them by name in our report. Some of them may, in fact, prefer that their names are not revealed.
3. The political situation

    3.1. After their intervention in 1980, the military carried out the return to democracy like a military operation. In fact, democracy was restored in 1983 in accordance to schedule after a new Constitution had been adopted by referendum in 1982. The newly created Motherland Party emerged as the great winner of the parliamentary elections of 1983. Much of its success and victory were due to its founder and leader, Turgut Özal. Whilst the former political leaders and parties were discredited or excluded from political life, Mr Özal appeared to a large part of the Turkish population as the right person to lead the country. A charismatic, self-made man, not belonging to the former political “clique”, trusted by the military yet without being their own candidate, combining traditional Moslem ideas with a modern business-like approach, Özal was the person with whom many Turks could identify themselves. No doubt it was because of Özal that the Motherland Party obtained a majority of seats in the Grand National Assembly and kept this majority until the parliamentary elections of 20 October 1991.
    3.2. Mr Özal became Prime Minister in 1983 and, in 1987, succeeded Mr Evren as President of the Republic. Even as President he very much remained the leader of his party rather than the impartial head of State who does not interfere in day to day government, stands above the parties and represents the whole of the population at home and the state abroad. It is said that Özal's favouritism towards his own relatives cost himself and his party much of its previous popularity. Özal's market oriented policies had brought fast economic growth. Unfortunately his government showed itself incapable to check rampant inflation, reduce social injustices and find adequate solutions for the ever more serious problems in the south-eastern provinces (Kurdistan) which will be dealt with in more detail in the next chapter.
    3.3. The functions and powers of the Turkish President are mainly described in Article 104 of the Constitution of 1982 which was inspired by the French model. Yet the powers of the President may seem more impressive than they in reality are and may be considerably reduced by a hostile parliament. Some of our interlocutors expressed concern about the powers of the National Security Council. One may remember that it was the NSC which took over all power from the government and the Grand National Assembly in 1980. It is, no doubt, more important than may appear from the provisions in the Constitution. It is composed of the Prime Minister, the Chief of the General staff, the Ministers of Defense, Interior and Foreign Affairs, the Commanders in Chief of the Army, Navy and Airforce, and the Commander of the Military Police. Its agenda is drawn up by the President of the Republic and it has consultative powers.
    3.4. In the general elections of 1987, the ANAP (Motherland Party) obtained 64,9% of the seats in Parliament. This result is, however, very flattering as the electoral system is very favourable to the large political parties and in particular to the largest. There is for instance a 10% threshold and the ANAP obtained this high number of seats with only 36,3% of the votes cast. After the general elections of 20 October 1991 the breakdown of seats in the Grand National Assembly is as follows:
    True Path Party 178, Motherland Party 115, Social Democrat Populist Party 88, Prosperity Party 62, Democratic Left Party 7.
    3.5. When we visited Turkey the date for general elections had not yet been fixed. It was not even certain whether such election were to take place under the existing electoral law or whether this law would be modified beforehand. In this respect we describe the situation in Turkey as we found it to be in July 1991, during our visit, but we shall discuss the new political situation, which resulted from the general elections, in Chapter 14.

4. The situation in south-east Turkey

    4.1. The south-eastern region of Turkey is made up of 11 provinces and has a common borderline with Syria, Iraq and Iran. Its highly important strategic and tense position became even more evident during the Gulf crisis and war. The main town in this region is Diyarbakir where the super governor responsible for law and order in the whole area has his headquarters. The region is very rich. It possesses a certain number raw materials and produces 95% of Turkey's oil production but the average income is about half of the average income of a Turkish citizen. A number of dams have recently been constructed to increase the production of electricity. The population is made up of Kurds who are in many respects different from the population in other parts of Turkey. The Kurdish people has a long history and a remarkable culture and folklore. The number of Kurds is estimated at about 12 millions, many of whom living in other parts of Turkey, especially in the large towns in the West.
    4.2. The Kurdish language is an Indo-European language which was spoken for more than 2 500 years. Many Kurdish words are quite similar to Dutch or German. “I am happy that I am a Turk" was one of the famous expressions of Atatürk. His policy and the policy of his successors was to unite Turkey and the common denominator of all people living in Turkey was the Turkish language in which - it was said - everything could be expressed. As a consequence of this policy the Kurdish language was prohibited and every expression of Kurdish identity was harshly sanctioned. Thus the driver of a petrol lorry, which happened to be painted in red, yellow and green - the colours of Kurdistan - was beaten up by the police and punished with six months' imprisonment. Until recently those who used the Kurdish language were risking heavy prison sentences. Last spring, the interdiction to speak Kurdish in private or in the street was ended but it is still not possible to speak Kurdish in public meetings, public buildings, the radio and television etc. The use of Kurdish in writing remains entirely prohibited. Thus, when we were there, we were told that the police had forced shopkeepers in Diyarbakir to remove any signs in Kurdish from their shops. When we met with the Governor we asked him why cassettes with Kurdish songs had been confiscated. The reply was, that the cassettes had been confiscated, because no turnover tax had been paid.
    4.3. Faced with a categoric refusal for recognition of their identity and a lack of tolerance, there was increasing unsatisfaction, unrest and - recently - revolt. Many people living in the area feel that the policies pursued by the central government are unfair and ignore that it is only a small group which actually takes up the arms against Ankara. The PKK (Workers' party of Kurdistan) started as a Marxist party but became increasingly aggressive and violent. Practically all terrorist acts committed in the region are committed by members of PKK. The government reacted with equal violence and with large scale measures to intimidate the population which was forced to evacuate important areas along the borders and elsewhere and to concentrate in a number of villages. Shepherds are no longer allowed to go into the mountains and as a result their sources of income are disappearing. In every village a village guard was appointed who gets a gun and a salary of one million Turkish pounds from the central government and whose task it is to protect the village against the PKK.
    4.4. Under these circumstances one can easily understand that the region is slowly sliding towards an awful civil war which might still be avoided if the population were to be granted a number of cultural and linguistic rights and if the area would allowed to enjoy some kind of autonomy within the Turkish Republic. There are a number of Council of Europe member states (Denmark, Finland, Italy, Portugal, Spain, Switzerland etc.) which granted considerable autonomy to certain regions and there is no reason why Turkey could not do the same for Kurdistan. When in Diyarbakir we met a great number of reasonable and moderate people who did reject the terrorism à la PKK and would still be prepared to co-operate with such a peaceful solution.
    4.5. Unfortunately everything points into the direction of more violence and an escalation of terrorism on the one hand and counter-attacks of the government forces on the other. Statistics given by the Minister of the Interior indicate that, from 1986 until July 1991, 437 policemen or military and 576 civilians had been killed. In addition the terrorists had kidnapped 1 144 persons, mainly children. On the other hand from 1987 until July 1991, government forces killed 1 273 terrorists.
    4.6. To this one must add a number of extrajudicial executions on which no figures are available. For instance, at midnight on 5 July 1991, three weeks before we arrived in Diyarbakir, Mr Aydin, President of the People's Labour Party (HEP) and member of the Turkish Human Rights Association was taken away by four men and on 8 July found assassinated at the roadside some 60 km away. According to his wife, Mr Aydin recognised the armed men as police officers and went along with them to go to police headquarters to be interrogated. However the Minister of the Interior denied that the police or any security forces were involved. Prior to his assassination Mr Aydin had been on trial at the State Security Court in Ankara for giving a speech in Kurdish at the annual meeting of the Human Rights Association in October 1990. He had served two months imprisonment in connection with that charge.
    4.7. Mr Aydin's funeral on 10 July 1991, was attended by thousands of people. When the police fired into the crowd, three persons were killed. Many others were injured through bullet wounds or by jumping down a wall in the panic caused by the shooting. During and after these incidents the police arrested more than 350 persons. Until now it has not been clarified who is responsible for the killing of Mr Aydin and who gave the order to start the shooting at his funeral.
    4.8. The Aydin incidents, unfortunately, are only examples. Many others are reported. On 18 June 1991, the car of one of the members of the Human Rights Association in Diyarbakir was completely destroyed by a bomb and another explosion destroyed the local office of the association. These and other acts are attributed to the police.
    4.9. The PKK seems to have the support of some of Turkey's neighbours who are keen to encourage subversion in its south-eastern provinces. Syria is said to train on its territory Kurdish teenagers who are kidnapped by the PKK and then return as guerilla fighters to Turkish soil. In accordance with recent informations, the Iraqi Government is arming and supplying the PKK in retaliation for Turkey's close co-operation with the allied forces during the Gulf war.

5. Freedom of expression - the media

    5.1. Freedom of expression is guaranteed in Article 26 of the Constitution but is sub-ordonated to a number of restrictions and conditions which —grosso modo— correspond to those of Article 10 of the European Convention on Human Rights. In application of the Anti-Terrorism Act, which we shall discuss in more detail below, crimes of conscience no longer exist and as a result many journalists have since been released from prison. Some of them had been more than ten years in prison. In its bulletin of 18 June 1991 on freedom of expression in Turkey, the Helsinki Watch Committee provides the names of 21 released journalists but the actual number may be much higher. It is reported that, in 1990, there were 294 violations of free expression which included the confiscation, banning or other censorship of 98 separate issues of newspapers and magazines. There were 568 charges brought against journalists in 1990 listed in the bulletin which based itself on information provided by the Turkish Human Rights Association. In 12 incidents journalists were beaten by the police which raided the offices of 7 journals. On several occasions, the police shut down newspaper printing presses as well. There is no official censorship in Turkey but journalists and editors know very well that they must be very careful and impose a strict censorship upon themselves if they want to be left unimpeded. The number of incidents reported is simply too high to be able to speak of a really free press.
    5.2. Nowadays radio and, especially, television play an enormously important role and Turkey is no exception in this respect. Radio and television are very much under control by the state and the government uses its dominating position to its advantage as was shown in the recent election campaign where the Motherland party, its leaders and Ministers, clearly were granted much more time than the opposition parties.

6. Trade union rights

    6.1. The 1982 Constitution provides for the right to form and to join trade unions and the rights of trade unions themselves in its Articles 51 to 54. These articles have been further elaborated in the Trade Unions Act No. 2821 and the Collective Agreements, Strikes and Lockouts Act No. 2822 of 5 May 1983. The Turkish Constitution and these two acts were translated by the Council of Europe in its two official languages and reproduced as working documents. Unfortunately it was not possible to include the trade unions in our meetings and discussions. The present chapter is therefore not based on our own findings and experience.
    6.2. During the hearing on trade union rights in Paris on 7 September 1987 members were informed about the trial against the Trade Union Confederation, DISK, and its leaders. The Assembly has always been concerned about this trial before the Military Court of Istanbul which had started shortly after the military takeover in 1980. In fact, when a delegation of the Assembly visited Turkey in early 1982, its members attended a session of the court in this mass trial which took place in a sports hall in the outskirts of Istanbul. The court gave its final verdict only on 23 December 1986 in which it confirmed the dissolution of DISK and its 28 affiliated organisations, confirmed the confiscation of their property by the state and sentenced 264 of its leaders to prison sentences of up to ten years. 1 209 of its leaders were found not guilty. President Basturk, who had served a part of his prison sentence but not all of it had been temporarily released and allowed to take part in the hearing where he made a great impression. In the meantime he had been elected as a member of the Grand National Assembly and did therefore not have to return to prison. The criticisms which were expressed in respect of the DISK trial concerned the allegations of torture of the DISK leaders especially during the interrogation period, numerous violations of the right to a fair trial, the verdict itself which was - at least partly - based on facts which would not be considered criminal in other Council of Europe member states but which were so in accordance with provisions of the Turkish Penal Code which date from 1936 and had been taken from the Penal Code of Mussolini. There is also the fact that those who had been acquitted were not granted any compensation for the period pending trial.
    6.3. When DISK was suspended in 1980, 29 trade unions which were active in 24 different sectors of economic life adhered to this huge confederation which represented some 580.000 workers. The week before we arrived the Cassation Court squashed the decisions of the military courts and declared that DISK was not pursuing unconstitutional aims or had carried out illegal activities. Its leaders were acquitted and the confederation was to be put again in the possession of its assets, evaluated at some 1.5 billion Turkish Lira (some 20 milliard French francs). On 9 September last it resumed its activities.
    6.4. The criticisms raised during and after the Paris hearing concerning the legal situation in respect of trade unions may be summarised as follows:
    - Article 52, Section 1 of the Constitution deprives trade unions from pursuing "political activities". This provision may give the impression that trade unions are deprived of their very raison d'être. On the other hand Article 37, paragraph 2 of the Trade Unions Act provides that professional activities, undertaken with a view to safeguarding and to promoting social and economic rights and interests of members, are not to be viewed as "political activities' in the sense of the Constitution. Thus, if one reads the Constitution in that way, trade unions may be free to discharge their mandate in accordance with their specific mission which is to improve the social and economic status of workers.
    - Turkish law exhaustively enumerates and thereby limits the sectors of activity where Trade Unions Act and employers associations may be set up (Article 60 of the Trade Unions Act). Millions of workers including teachers, civil servants and personnel of religious organisations are deprived from setting up or joining trade unions.
    - The provision of Article 14, paragraph 14 of the Trade Unions Act in which it is provided that a person shall be required to have actually worked for a period of 10 years before being able to become a trade union leader.
    - Article 12 of the Collective Agreements etc. Act provides that more than 50% of the workers in the place of work have to be members of the union as a condition for the union to be recognised as a negotiating body.
    - The limits on the right to strike (see Article 54 of the Constitution and Article 25 of the Collective Agreements etc. Act).
    - All the limits imposed on the right to conclude collective agreements (Constitution, Articles 52 and 53 and Collective Agreements Act, Articles 9, 11 and 12).
    - The detailed and far-going powers which are given to the public authorities to control and supervise the administration and the finances of trade unions. In many respects Turkish trade union legislation is contrary to the provisions and spirit of the European Social Charter and some of the ILO conventions. In the Declaration made when accepting Article 25 of the Human Rights Convention Turkey declared that, for the purpose of the competence attributed to the Human Rights Commission Articles 33, 52 and 135 of the Constitution must be understood as being in conformity with Articles 10 and 11 of the Convention. It may be recalled that Article 11 of the Convention grants the right to freedom of peaceful assembly and to freedom of association with others, including the right to form and to join trade unions for the protection of one's interests.

7. Police custody and detention pending trial

    7.1. In Turkey, most of the cases of torture (see Chapter 8) are reported to take place during the period of police custody. The length and the conditions of police custody are therefore of great importance. In as far as its length is concerned, it was reduced from 15 days to 48 hours for individual crimes and from 90 to 15 days for those accused of collective crimes. These 15 days may be doubled in the provinces in the South-East in which an official state of emergency exists. Collective crimes are all those crimes which are committed by two or more persons. Before the end of the detention period a detainee must be brought before a judge. In theory lawyers and family members up to the third degree may freely visit a detainee during this period while others may do so after having obtained permission from the public prosecutor. However, in practice, this period of police custody is completely incommunicado. A detainee may receive a visit by his lawyer or lawyers up to a maximum of three. Normally, however, he does not have a lawyer and, if he has one, the lawyer need not be informed of his arrest. Even if all this is the case, the lawyer may not possess a power of attorney which the police requires but, as he cannot visit his client, the detainee will not be able to sign this power of attorney. In addition, detainees may communicate with their lawyers and family only in the presence of a police officer.
    7.2. It is clear that under these circumstances anything may happen during police custody. Significant in this respect is the case of a 36 years old Swiss woman who was arrested last May in Istanbul and kept in the police prison of Gayrettepe where the Consul-General visited her. Apparently she did not dare to tell him anything about the conditions of her detention. It was only later that she told her advocate that she had received electric shocks and had been beaten on her head [Tessiner Zeitung, 8 June 1991.]
    7.3. The Committee on Legal Affairs and Human Rights is now studying the replies from national parliamentary delegations, including the reply from Turkey, to a questionnaire on detention pending trial which was sent out early in 1991. The results of this comparative study may be highly interesting and show the needs for common European criteria for the length and conditions of detention pending trial including police custody. They may possibly result in the proposal to draw up an additional protocol to the Human Rights Convention (11th additional Protocol) on which work already started in a governmental expert committee on human rights.

8. Torture

    8.1. Ever since the late seventies, when Amnesty International started to report that torture was "widespread and systematic", torture has been a matter of great concern to members of our Assembly. In fact it may be considered as one of the main human rights problems persisting in Turkey today, which nearly all of our interlocutors admitted. We therefore considered that torture was the most important item of our visit and we raised it frequently and consistently during our discussions. Yet, although practically all of those we met pronounced themselves against torture, we experienced that they often found excuse and comprehension in the case of torture of terrorists. We had talks with leading politicians, lawyers and representatives of human rights associations who declared themselves to be fully against torture. Apart from the fact that it is inhuman, immoral and illegal, they realise that it tarnishes Turkish reputation abroad, that it may turn the tortured person into an enemy of the state who will be seeking for vengeance later, and that it is unreliable and ineffective as a means of interrogation. The Constitutional Court already declared that testimonies made before the police have insufficient proof.
    8.2. As a large majority of torture cases are reported to take place in police stations and prisons, the length and the conditions of police custody are of enormous importance. The Human Rights Association, which has many practising lawyers among its members, reported to us that there are some 500 people arrested in Istanbul every month and estimated that about 150 of them were tortured. The methods used are simple and well-known. They include beating on all parts of the body, Palestinian hanging and electric shocks. A detainee may be put in an old car tire to be rolled around or he may be forced to undress and to lay down; subsequently ice will be put on his body and an electric fan may be blowing air on him.
    8.3. We learned that torture has very deep emotional and traditional roots. It is used as a measure of discipline, to intimidate the detainee and as an interrogation method. It forms part of a mentality, of the way in which a civil servant respects his fellow-citizens. No doubt many Turks consider it as part of the criminal sanction. We were told that an ordinary Turkish father whose son is assassinated will expect, if not require, that the police tortures the murderer. In many Turkish families it is common that a husband beats his wife, a father his children. Why shouldn't the police do the same with criminals? Here we should mention that it is not only men but that there are many cases reported in which women are tortured as well. In fact women may be more vulnerable and there are even more ways to ill-treat and to humiliate them then there are in the case of men.
    8.4. Torture is prohibited by law and in Article 17 of the Constitution as well as in a number of international treaties to which Turkey subscribed. There are ministerial instructions to the police that torture can not be tolerated but these instructions have not had a great impact and the practice of torture continues, possibly with more sophisticated and hidden methods than in the past.
    8.5. Mr Kalemli, then Minister of the Interior, told us that, during the period 1 January 1989 and 15 December 1989, 508 cases of torture allegations were brought to Turkish courts and that 15 policemen were convicted to prison sentences. From 1 January to 12 November 1990, 906 incidents relating to maltreatment by government officials were brought to the attention of the judiciary. 354 cases were filed with the courts. Thirty-two officials were convicted and the judicial procedure on the cases of 450 officials were in process.
    8.6. Among lawyers and advocates of human rights these figures are considered with much scepticism. It was observed that the convictions were mainly suspended and conditional sentences and that a police officer - especially after the adoption of the Anti-Terrorism Act - was in a much stronger (legal) position than his victim. A policeman who is accused of torture is not arrested or even suspended in his functions and his case will first be considered by a committee of civil servants. If necessary the State will pay the fees of three lawyers to defend him. It is clear that these privileges may not incite any police officer to abstain from torturing a detainee if he feels like it.
    8.7. When in Ankara we visited the apartment of the Human Rights Foundation, a private organisation, which treats torture victims. We were much impressed by its work. Last year the foundation treated 40 torture victims. This year the number would be even higher. On 2 August last, the foundation opened another centre in Izmir in the presence of Mr Espersen, President of the International Center for the rehabilitation of torture victims in Denmark and a member of the Assembly.
    8.8. What to do to fight the awful practice of torture? The political will, of both government and parliament, is by far the most important element to fight torture. Among the legal measures to be taken are the repeal or at least amendment of the Anti-Terrorism Act, to which we will return later. The length of police custody should be more reduced and practical measures must be taken that an arrested person can immediately receive visits from his nearby relatives, his doctor and his advocate. No interrogations should be carried out any more by the same police officer who arrested him.
    8.9. A delegation of the Council of Europe Committee for the Prevention of Torture and Inhuman or Degrading Treatment or Punishment visited Turkey from 9-21 September 1990 and from 29 September-7 October 1991. During its first visit the committee went to eight during its second visit to twelve different prisons, interrogation centres and police headquarters. Unfortunately the information gathered by the committee is confidential and so are the reports prepared on these visits which are transmitted to the Turkish Government only. We much hope that Turkey will follow the examples of Austria, Denmark and the United Kingdom which decided to make public the reports drawn up by the torture committee on its visits to these countries in 1990.

9. Death penalty

    In November 1990 the number of cases in which the death penalty may be pronounced was reduced from 29 to 16 offences listed in the Turkish Penal Code. There has been no execution since 1984 and - as a hopeful consequence of this - Turkey might be able to adhere to the 6th Additional protocol to the Human Rights Convention abolishing capital punishment. The fact that any death penalty needs the ratification of the Grand National Assembly, which used to be very reluctant to give its authorisation on the past, no doubt contributes to this positive development. The Anti-Terrorism Act (see Chapter 10 below) provides that all the 25 of death penalties pronounced before 8 April 1991 are to commuted into 10 or 20 years imprisonment depending on the offence committed.

10. The Anti-Terrorism Act

    10.1. On 12 April 1991 the Grand National Assembly enacted Act No. 3713 to fight terrorism. No doubt this Act has a number of positive aspects. It commuted all death sentences pending into prison sentences and permitted the conditional release of 43 000 convicts out of 46 000, many of whom may be considered as political prisoners. At the same time Articles 141, 142 and 163 of the Penal Code were repealed. These articles concerned activities "with the purpose of establishing domination of a social class over other social classes" or "overthrowing any of the established basic economic or social orders of the country", communist and anti secular activities and propaganda.
    10.2. On the other hand, the Anti-Terrorism Act has been under heavy attack by politicians, lawyers and human rights organisations such as the Turkish Human Rights Association, Amnesty International and Helsinki Watch. Their concerns include first of all the definition of terrorism given in Article 1 of the Act which, in their opinion, is so broad that any two persons who press for changes in the economic or social system, even without committing any violent act, may be covered by its wording. Yet, it is fair to mention the opinion expressed by Professor Ozbudun at the Antalya Conference (3-5 October 1991) that a careful reading of this article clearly shows that only acts perpetrated by means of "coercion, force and violence, intimidation, duress or threat'" would fall within the scope of its definition. The peaceful activities of associations seeking to change the social, economic or constitutional system could therefore not be prosecuted under the Anti-Terrorism Act.
    10.3. The Act limits the rights of persons charged with terrorism to freely contact their lawyers and restricts prisoner conditions and privileges for any convicted terrorist. It exempts police officers who have taken confessions from detainees to testify in court and makes it more difficult to convict police officers who have tortured detainees. Moreover it limits the freedom of the press and the right to hold meetings and demonstrations. Those who are critical of it consider that the Anti-Terrorism Act is as restrictive as the articles of the Penal Code it sought to replace.
    10.4. Terrorism is indeed a serious threat to the Turkish population and republic and it is clearly on the increase. Although most acts of terrorism take place in the south-eastern provinces, terrorist organisations remain active in other parts of the country as well. Some Assembly members will remember Professor Aksoy, former dean of the Ankara Bar Association and member of the Committee on Legal Affairs and Human Rights, who was assassinated in January 1990, and hardly a week goes by without a number of terrorist acts being reported. Thus at least 16 persons died on 16 August last at the anniversary of the campaign for independence of Kurdistan. In the week of 10 October, at least 5 police officers lost their lifes in Istanbul. (Former) generals and senior police officers are frequently victims of terrorist acts.
    10.5. We understand that the Turkish republic must take efficient measures to protect itself and its population against the scourge of terrorism. We doubt however that the approach of the Anti-Terrorism Act is the right one.

11. The courts

    When the law is evident and complete the task of a judge is simply to apply the law. However, when legal texts are unclear or incomplete a judge must "interpret", that is to say try to give the right meaning to these texts. This may be a very responsible and difficult task and requires legal background and moral courage. It is of course impossible to generalise but we got the impression that the Turkish judiciary has a good reputation, that it is functioning properly and plays its role which is so essential for the rule of law and the respect of fundamental rights and freedoms. Some of the higher courts are not afraid to take decisions against the government's will. Thus, after 11 years of legal proceedings, the Trade Union Confederation, DISK, was considered not to be illegal. In July last, the Constitutional Court, annulled two parts of the Anti-Terrorism Act but, on the other hand, declared that the Turkish Communist Party is unconstitutional. After revocation of Articles 141 and 142 of the Penal Code it looked like the Communist Party could, finally, take up its activities as a normal political party. However, the Constitutional Court considered it to be violating Article 14 of the Constitution and declared the Communist Party to be illegal.
12. Turkey and the European Convention on Human Rights

12.1. Turkey ratified the Convention already in 1954 but one knows that ratification can only be fully effective if it is accompanied by the declarations under Article 25 (Right to individual petition) and Article 46 (compulsory jurisdiction of the Court on Human Rights) without these optional declarations the application of the rights and freedoms listed in the countries will remain the sole responsibility of national authorities, with the exception of interstate applications. These are provided under Article 24 and the governments of Denmark, France, Netherlands, Norway and Sweden availed themselves of this possibility on 1 July 1982. The applicant governments alleged violations of six different articles in the Convention between 12 September 1980 (the date of the military intervention) and the introduction of their applications which were declared admissible by the Commission and ended in a friendly settlement on 7 December 1985. No doubt many were disappointed by the outcome of the applications. Yet the fact that the Turkish Government recognised the right to individual application on 28 January 1987 must be seen as a direct result of this outcome. The recognition, initially made for a period of three years, was renewed in 1990 when Turkey also recognised the compulsory jurisdiction of the European Court of Human Rights. These are highly important and courageous decisions which enable Turkish citizens or private organisations to bring any alleged violations of the Human Rights Convention before its Strasbourg organs.
    12.2. Unfortunately, the declaration by which the Turkish Government accepted the right to individual application under Article 25 was accompanied by a number of statements which had the aim of considerably reducing the conditions under which applications might be introduced. The declaration was registered by the Secretary General who informed the Turkish Government that such registration in no way prejudged the decision as to their admissibility which would have to be taken by the competent body, that is the European Commission of Human Rights. The Committee on Legal Affairs and Human Rights studied the declaration in detail with help of a consultant experts who, surprisingly enough, arrived at the conclusion that it was acceptable.
    12.3. In its decision of 4 March 1991 the Human Rights Commission considered three applications against Turkey which concerned events which had occurred in Cyprus in July 1989. One of the statements made by the Turkish Government concerned a restriction ratione loci stating that applications could only be made for events which had taken place on the territory at which the Turkish Constitution applied. The Commission rejected this restriction and declared that violations committed elsewhere by Turkish authorities could also be the subject of individual applications. In the opinion of the Commission a territorial restriction such as had been made by the Turkish Government was therefore not admissible. This does however not imply that the remaining part of the Turkish declaration would no longer be valid either.
    12.4. Since 1987 a number of individuals availed themselves of the opportunity to introduce applications against Turkey. Some of these applications, in the meantime, were declared admissible. Thus, on 10 October 1991, the Commission declared admissible the applications submitted by members of "Dev-Yol" which raise problems under Article 5 para. 3 (reasonable length of detention on remand) and Article 6 para. 1 (reasonable length of criminal proceedings, fair trial before an independent and impartial tribunal) On 11 October last the Commission declared partly admissible the applications made by certain members of the Turkish Communist Party who allege violations of Articles 6, 9, 10 and 11 combined with Article 14 (freedom of thought, expression- and peaceful assembly) and Article 3 (prohibition of torture, inhuman and degrading treatment or punishment).

13. Conclusions

    13.1. As a member of the Council of Europe Turkey obtained rights and obligations under international law. The Preamble and Article 1 of the Statute of the Council of Europe impose on its member states the full and undivided respect of fundamental rights and freedoms. The Assembly has an obligation to draw the attention to human rights violations irrespective where in Europe they occur. In respect of Turkey there is reason for great concern, especially as the situation in its south-eastern provinces is concerned.
    13.2. No doubt Turkey took a number of positive measures in favour of human rights in the recent past. They include internal measures but also measures at international level, both of which are enumerated in the draft resolution we are submitting together with this report, but there are still reasons for concern. Some of the measures taken are of a cosmetic rather than of a real value. Terrorism and counter-violence are on the increase, and the country may be on the brink of civil war in its south-eastern provinces.
    13.3. In the draft resolution we submit a number of tentative proposals which, we hope, may contribute to improving the human rights situation in Turkey. Of course we very much hope that what Mr Giray, then Minister for Foreign Affairs, told a news conference on 21 September 1991, will one day become true: "Turkey will be number one among countries that have no human rights problems ... We are about to become a totally clean human rights champion". He also said that “Ankara had made rapid progress in human rights in the past eight years because it was under constant supervision by the outside world".
    13.4. It appears that Turkey's police has become increasingly arrogant and disdainful of foreign interference, stating that it was not to be taken seriously given the fact that the West needed Turkey anyway for its importance and strategic position.
    13.5. Our Assembly, a political body, owes its authority to giving the highest priority to upholding human rights and parliamentary democracy. It will therefore want to continue supporting the numerous democratic and progressive forces in Turkey which sincerely defend individual rights and freedoms. For these reasons we recommend that the Assembly's Political Affairs Committee and its Committee on Legal Affairs and Human Rights keep Turkey on their agenda.

14. The new political situation

    14.1. As a result of the outcome of the general election, which we mentioned in paragraph 3.4., a coalition was formed between the True Path Party and the Social Democrat Populist Party. Mr Demirel, who has been many times Prime Minister until 1980 - when he was ousted by the military - became Prime Minister again, Professor Inönü Vice-Prime Minister. The coalition holds 266 of the 450 seats of the Grand National Assembly which is however insufficient to change the Constitution. 
     14.2. We have noted with great satisfaction the wish to modify the Constitution and the many very positive statements in the governmental declaration on subjects which are of particular concern to us in the present report. They include, among others:
- a shortening of the duration of police custody;
    - the education of the police in relation to human rights and freedoms;
    - improved rights of detainees to see their parents and lawyers;
    - elimination of torture;
    - arrested persons will be given the right to refuse to give testimony unless their lawyer is present;
    -restrictions on the rights of trade unions and of political parties are to be reduced;
    - more freedom of the media;
    - more autonomy for the universities;
    - review of the Anti-Terrorism Act.

    143 Finally we would like to quote paragraph 20 of the "principles of democratisation" of the new Turkish coalition Government which reads as follows: that "The legal and practical shortcomings, obstacles and limitations our citizens are facing in the freedom of expression, in the protection and development of their ethnical, cultural and linguistic identity will be eliminated in accordance with the spirit of the Charter of Paris to which Turkey is a party and within its national integrity."
This paragraph could mean the beginning of true cultural identity and freedom for the Kurdish population in south-eastern Turkey.

Extracts from the Draft Resolution

    - Turkey is an important country with a population of some 58 million people, its economy is growing fast but the developments outlined above are clearly of great concern to the Assembly. Unfortunately the south-eastern provinces are lagging behind in many respects: economic development, respect for human rights etc. The situation in south-eastern Turkey is rapidly deteriorating and becoming very grave indeed.
    - The Assembly warmly welcomes the very positive approach towards fundamental rights and freedoms in the declaration of the new coalition government in Turkey and the statement made by Mr Çetin, the new Minister for Foreign Affairs who, on 26 November 1991, before his colleagues of the Committee of Ministers of the Council of Europe, declared that "we shall lift all the legal and constitutional hurdles for democracy and human rights in Turkey".
    - It calls on the Grand National Assembly and the Government of Turkey:

    i. to show the political will to change the attitude towards force in general and torture in particular;
    ii. to do whatever they can to prevent torture;
    iii. to review the Anti-Terrorism Act of 12 April 1991;
    iv. to reduce the maximum period under which detainees may be held in police custody, improve its conditions and make sure that, during such custody, there are no more legal and practical obstacles for detainees to be visited by their close relatives, lawyers or medical doctor;
    v. to improve the training of the police;
    vi. to fully respect the identity, freedoms and rights of the Kurdish population in South-East Turkey;
    vii. to lift the existing restrictions on trade unions.

    - The Assembly also calls on the Government of Turkey:

    i. to follow the examples of Austria, Denmark and the United Kingdom and to make public the reports of the visits which the European Committee for the Prevention of Torture paid to Ankara, Diyarbakir and Istanbul in September 1990 and September-October 1991;
    ii. to reconsider, in the light of recent jurisprudence of the European Commission on Human Rights, the reservations it made when accepting and renewing the right to individual petitions under Article 25 of the Human Rights Convention;
    iii. to strictly apply the principle, laid down in paragraph 2 of Article 6 of the European Convention on Human Rights that "Everyone charged with a criminal offence shall be presumed innocent until proved guilty according to law;
    iv. to improve its control of the police and of police-stations;
    v. to put an end to the state of exception in the south-eastern provinces .

    - Finally the Assembly appeals to Turkey (and to all those Council of Europe states which have not yet done so) to ratify the following Protocols to the European Convention on Human Rights:

    i. No. 4 on securing certain rights and freedoms other than those included in the Convention and in Protocol No. 1 (1963; ETS No. 46);
    ii. No. 6 on the abolition of the death penalty (1983; ETS No. 114);
    iii. No. 7 adding certain additional rights to the Convention (1984; ETS No. 117);
    iv. No. 9 introducing the possibility for individual applicants to bring their case before the Court of Human Rights (1990; ETS No. 140).

Draft Order

    - The Assembly, a political body, owes its authority to the fact that it gives the highest priority to upholding human rights and parliamentary democracy. It desires to fully support all the numerous democratic forces in Turkey and those who have the earnest will to protect fundamental rights and freedoms. Therefore, it instructs its Political Affairs Committee and its Committee on Legal Affairs and Human Rights to continue to follow developments closely.
    - It moreover invites its Committee on Legal Affairs and Human Rights to continue its study of the conditions of detainees pending trial in Turkey, including the rights of access of lawyers to their clients, and to submit its conclusions to the Assembly as soon as possible.


    The Parliamentary Assembly of the Council of Europe adopted on February 5, 1992 a recommendation as regards the rights of minorities.
    The votes by the Turkish members of the Assembly showed once more the contradictions of the Turkish regime on the minority questions.  As the deputies from the Correct Way Party (DYP), the Motherland Party (ANAP) and the Welfare Party (RP) were voting against the recommendation, two deputies from the Social Democrat Populist Party (SHP), Ismail Cem and Ercan Karakas, voted for; another deputy from the same party, Istemihan Atalay, abstained.
    During the debate on the draft recommendation; Bülent Akarcali (ANAP) opposed to the text as follows: “I consider the presentation of this report to be untimely. In politics, it is not enough to defend good causes alone; it is necessary, even imperative, to do it in a convenient period. I think that it is not at all a convenient period to adopt this report.”

    The recommendation, adopted by 98 votes against 31, reads:

    • History has transformed the continent of Europe into a mosaic of peoples, who differ according to language, culture, customs and traditions and religious practice.
    The mixing and overlapping of these peoples is such that it is impossible to define their geographical boundaries fully and exclusively. The national frontier which emerged from two world wars did not achieve this. Nor will those of the future, whatever form they take.
    In a democratic state there can be no second-class citizens: citizenship is the same for all. The first and last guarantee of this equality of rights and duties lies in scrupulous respect for human rights on the part of states and in the ratification by them of the European Convention on Human Rights.
    • Within this common citizenship, however, citizens who share specific characteristics (cultural, linguistic, religious etc.) with others may wish to be granted and guaranteed the possibility of expressing them.
    • It is these groups sharing such specific features within a state that the international community has called "minorities", since the first world war, without that term denoting any inferiority whatever in this or that field.
    • There is an urgent need for international decisions and commitments which can be rapidly implemented in the area concerned. Peace, democracy, freedoms and respect for human rights in Europe are at stake.
    • The different intergovernmental organs of the Council of Europe will soon be required to give their opinions to the Committee of Ministers, so as to enable the latter to conclude its work on the draft Charter for Regional or Minority Languages. The Assembly is aware of certain weaknesses already noted in this draft. However, as it does not wish to delay matters, the Assembly recommends that the Committee of Ministers conclude its work as quickly as possible and that it do its utmost to ensure the rapid implementation of the Charter.
    • The Assembly has taken note of the terms of reference given to the Steering Committee for Human Rights by the Committee of Ministers. Under those terms of reference, consideration is to be given to the proposal for a convention for the rights of minorities. However, although it contains an excellent definition of the rights to be guaranteed, the proposed convention appears to be deficient on the question of supervisory machinery. Thus, the Assembly considers it preferable and urgent to elaborate an additional protocol to the European Convention on Human Rights and it welcomes the fact that the Austrian Minister submitted the draft of such a protocol to his colleagues at the meeting of the Committee of Ministers on 26 November 1991.
    • In addition, although this can in no way substitute for a legal instrument, the Assembly recommends the drawing up and rapid adoption by the Committee of Ministers of a declaration setting out the basic principles relating to the rights of minorities, on which there is already international consensus.
    The Assembly considers that such a declaration should serve as a basic reference against which applications for membership of the Council of Europe can be judged and which would underpin the positions adopted by the Council of Europe and the activities of the mediating body proposed below.
    • In its Order No. 456 (1990), the Assembly decided to play a mediating and conciliating role in conflicts involving minorities whenever it was asked to do so. In order to strengthen this Council of Europe role, the Assembly recommends that the Committee of Ministers give the Council a suitable mediation instrument, associating the highest competent authorities at international and national level. This body would have power to do three things:
        i. To observe and record: this would involve constant monitoring of changes in the situation of minorities in all the European states;
        ii. To advise and forestall: it would also have the task of taking timely action to help states and minorities to define the rules governing their relations before open conflict developed;
        iii. To discuss and mediate: in cases of open conflict, it would be expected to draw on its international backing and own achievements in making on-the-spot efforts to reconcile the parties to the dispute and to find lasting and peaceful solutions to the problems which oppose them.
    In view of the extreme urgency of the proposed measures, the Assembly requests the Committee of Ministers to implement this recommendation before 1 October 1992.


    According to the daily Hürriyet of December 27, 1991, the Ankara Government  put three reserves to the Convention on Children Rights, adopted by the United Nations. These reserves put restrictions on the rights of the children belonging to ethnic minorities. These restrictions have also been approved by the Legal Affairs Committee of the National Assembly.
    The articles which were not adopted by Ankara concern:
    - using in the media the language of the children belonging to a minority,
    - developing their culture of origin,
    - recognizing the equality and tolerance between children of different ethnic origins.