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


17th Year - N°196
February 1993
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 Rédacteur en chef: Dogan Özgüden - Editrice responsable: Inci Tugsavul

The government, forgetting its promise of “transparence”, obstructs
any parliamentary debate on the State-backed subversive activities


    As political assassinations committed or covered by the State’s clandestine organizations are continuing, the government refuses to open any parliamentary  debate on the subversive activities of the Counter-guerrilla Organization  despite its pre-electoral promises of “transparence.”
    Recently, two opposition parties, the Welfare Party (RP) and the People’s Labour Party (HEP) submitted motions to Parliament for the debate, calling for a special investigation to be started by the National Assembly.
    Besides, a group of the SHP deputies submitted a similar motion. Adiyaman Deputy Celal Kürkoglu and 14 other SHP deputies said that the Counter-guerrilla allegations flared up following the assassination of the renowned journalist Ugur Mumcu. Recalling the unveiling of some underground organizations such as the Gladio in NATO countries, established after the World War II against the possibility of a communist invasion, SHP deputies said an investigation in Turkey should be opened as well.
    Contradicting their own pre-election promises, both Premier Demirel and Deputy-Premier Inönü prevented their party groups from voting to open such a debate.
    Inönü, at the meeting of the SHP Parliamentary Group, said that such a debate is not opportune because it may anger the major coalition partner DYP and the Army. The party group, under Inönü’s pressure, rejected to vote for opening a parliamentary debate on the matter.
    As for Demirel, speaking during the DYP Group meeting on February 23, he  obliged the group to vote against by saying rumours about the existence of a counter-guerrilla group in Turkey must come to an end because such rumours have caused damage to the state since 1970.


    The name Counter-guerrilla was first heard just after the March 12, 1971 coup  when the top generals forced the government of Premier Süleyman Demirel to resign by issuing a memorandum.  The infamous Ziverbey Mansion in Istanbul’s Erenköy district was a major interrogation center. Scores of intellectuals, among them prominent writers and journalists as well as a number of progressive army officers were dragged into detention there. Among the tortured journalists was also journalist Ugur Mumcu who very often raised the Counter-guerrilla question in his column and books and was assassinated on January 24 of this year.
    It is at that interrogation center that the victims of the 1971 coup underwent very sophisticated tortures. During interrogation under torture, the questioners identified themselves and intimidated their victims by the same manner: “We are the counter-guerrilla. Even the President of the Republic cannot touch us.”
    In fact, this sinister organization already existed  since 1952 under the name of the Special War Department which had its headquarters in the building of the US Military Aid Mission in Ankara. The training of the officers of this department was carried out by the US Intelligence Services.
    Talat Turhan, a retired army officer who was one of the tortured at Ziverbey wrote three books on the operations of counter-guerrilla groups in Turkey. In an interview to the daily Dateline of November 24, 1990, Turhan said a counter-guerrilla organization similar to Gladio was established in Turkey soon after it joined NATO in 1952. He hinted  a possible connection between the Counter-guerrilla Organization and the  assassinations of Cetin Emec, former editor-in-chief of the mass-circulation daily Hürriyet, Iawyer Muammer Aksoy, strong advocate of Atatürk's reform principles, theology lecturer and SHP former minister Bahriye Ücok and writer Turan Dursun. "Theoretically, if the murderers cannot be found and if the political assassinations continue, the authors of crime are the security forces and the intelligence agencies. These organizations can act individually or in collaboration. They might act with a foreign intelligence agency. It is up to the government to prove or disprove this theory," he said.
    Recalling the era before the military coup of 1971, Turhan said, "Before the March 12, 1971 coup, individual terrorist activities were widespread. This political atmosphere was followed by a military coup, which was beneficial for the United States, which was against the freedoms provided by the 1961 Constitution. The reason for fueling a military coup was to make necessary amendments in the constitution which would reinstate exploitation by the United States"
    According to Turhan, the September 12, 1980 military coup was created for the same purpose. "Those who want to exploit this country much more than they were doing in the past organized another military coup. Turkey was turned into a blood bath by provocations and assassinations carried out by unknown people. This led to the military coup,” he said. Turhan told Dateline that originally the idea of establishing a resistance group against the Soviet-led invasion of a NATO member country was legitimate. "You cannot blame such an establishment for its operations if it remains within legal grounds. But if it operates under the influence of foreign forces, namely U.S. imperialism, it is very likely to be used for illegal activities. It happened like this in Italy and it happens to be so in Turkey,” he said.
    Turhan, who was highly influential in the army after the military coup in 1960, was accused of involvement in two military coup attempts and was forced to resign from the army in 1964. Following the 1971 military coup led by right-wing officers, Turhan was jailed for subversive activities and for leading a leftist military coup attempt.
    During his trial, Turhan presented various documents to the court including one entitled Counter-guerrilla Operations published by U.S. army as field manual FM-31-16. It was later translated into Turkish and published by the Turkish Army headquarters as publication number ST-31-1S.
    He also presented —as evidence of counter-guerrilla operations in Turkey— a book entitled Counter-insurgency Warfare, by David Galula. The book, published in 1964 by Frederick A. Praeger, Inc., which Turhan claimed is a CIA publishing house, was published in Turkish in 1965 by the Army Headquarters. According to Turhan, these books, namely Counter-guerrilla Operations, were handbooks for the counter-guerrilla organizations in Turkey.
    Counter-guerrilla Operations gives detailed tactical information on ambushes, terrorist activities, sabotage, attacks against police stations and patrolmen, armed robbery and torture. The other book written by Galula on counter-insurgency warfare includes, in the seventh chapter, tactics for influencing local political leaders and for rigging local elections when required.
    "In some local elections, it is possible that all of the elected politicians are useless or it might be impossible to find another candidate in a better condition. This is an unfortunate situation. Under these circumstances nothing can be done but to transfer a better one from a different neighbourhood and to rig the elections" the book claims.
    Aided and supported by the Special War Department, the armed bands of the Nationalist Action Party (MHP) headed by Former Colonel Alparslan Türkes, known as Grey Wolves, had already murdered 42 left-wing people during the 5-year period of Justice Party rule until 1971. After preparing instability in the country thanks to the political violence carried out by the Grey Wolves, the Armed Forces intervened on March 12, 1971. It is during the 2-year period of repression that the existence of the Special War Department was brought to the fore. It is this organization that carried out all arrests and torture practice in collaboration with Grey Wolves.


    When the social democrat SHP came to power two times, in 1973 and in 1978, all democratic forces of Turkey which supported it, asked Prime Minister Bülent Ecevit to close down this sinister organization. Although Ecevit promised at the beginning to act accordingly, he never kept his word and yielded to the military's pressure.
    May 1, 1977. Tens of thousands gathered for May Day celebrations in Istanbul’s main Taksim Square, shouting pro-labour and anti-establishment slogans. There were armed snipers on the rooftops. Suddenly someone opened fire. Scores of demonstrators are fired on from the rooftops and from hotel rooms looking onto the square. More than 30 were killed and hundreds of others wounded. The daily Aydinlik attributed this massacre to the Counter-Guerrilla Organization, no evidence has been produced until now to refute this claim.
    During the same period, political assassinations of many public figures such as journalists, writers, university professors and trade union leaders became daily items of the media, but the authors of these provocative crimes have never been identified.
    The arrest of Mehmet Ali Agca, an extreme-right activist who shot dead famous journalist Abdi Ipekci in 1978, was an exception. [But, a few months later, thanks to the complicity within the Armed Forces, this notorious killer would escape from a very well protected military detention house. It is the same Agca who would shoot the Pope on May 13, 1981. The motives of this crime committed in the country of "Gladio" by a Grey Wolf enjoying the protection of Turkish "Gladio" would always remain in obscurity despite many public trials in Rome.]
    The Counter-Guerrilla Organization question was already brought to the Parliament in 1978 by CHP senator Niyazi Ünsal and deputy Süleyman Genc. They claimed that the organization has supplied arms to terrorist groups such as the Grey Wolves and has provoked them into action. But Bülent Ecevit, social-democrat prime minister of the period, prevented  any debate this this subversive organization despite his pre-electoral promises.
    Let us read the February 1978 issue of Info-Türk Bulletin:
    "As a matter of fact, since the latest general elections [1977], Ecevit has seemed to forget his earlier statements and he did not even say anything in the government programme about the illegal activities of the Counter-guerrilla organization.
    "After the controversy started on the subject, Ecevit was obliged to talk, but, instead of insisting on his earlier claims, asked that this debate be stopped.
    "At a news conference on February 4, 1978, Ecevit denied the existence of a counter-guerrilla organization and claimed that his earlier allegations were not definite claims, but suppositions. 'According to my investigations there is not official counter-guerrilla organization established in the State. We must all be respectful towards the Turkish Armed Forces and help them in the realization of their desire to remain out of politics,' he said."
    It is two years later than the publication of this article, in September 1980, that General Evren overthrew the parliamentary government and took over the power on pretext that political violence attained uncontrolable dimensions. It was again the Counter-Guerrilla Organization that planned and instigated political violence giving pretext for this new military coup d'état.


    And it is twelve year after his denial that Ecevit had, on the disclosure of Gladio activities in other NATO countries, to admit that there were strong indications that a clandestine NATO paramilitary force existed in Turkey as well. Following is the declaration Ecevit did on November 13, 1990:
    "In 1974, just before the military operation in Cyprus, I was informed for the first time about the existence of a department in charge of special warfare within the headquarters of the Turkish general staff. They were asking for money. When I inquired who had funded the department until then I was told that it was financed by the United States," said Ecevit.
    "When I insisted, a secret briefing on the functioning of this organization was given to me and the then defense minister Hasan Esat Isik. We were told the Special Warfare Department was an organization composed of 'volunteer patriots.' They said its headquarters was located in the same building as the US military aid delegation to Turkey. I was told also that the organization had secret weapons depots. Its members were trained in special warfare techniques. If and when the country was invaded by an aggressor the members of this clandestine organization were supposed to launch counter-guerrilla warfare against the invaders. I was told the organization was made up of mainly young people but that when they got elder they might eventually become politicians.
    "This was a secret weapon. I thought we should act swiftly and put measures into force against the organization's use. But that was at the time of the Cyprus operation. Nothing was done."
    Ecevit explained that when he again became prime minister in 1978 he discussed the matter with Kenan Evren, chief of general staff at that time. "I told him that we should give the Department of Special Warfare official status. Evren promised to do this," he said.
    Ecevit indicated that several incidents that took place in 1977 and 1978 were still unresolved. "Of these, the most important occurred at the 1977 May Day rally in Taksim Square in Istanbul. It led to the deaths of more than 30 people. I expressed my suspicions that the civilian arm of the Special Warfare Department might have been behind the May Day incidents to Fahri Korutürk, then Turkey's president, who asked me to submit my concerns to him in writing.”
    Ecevit also mentioned an assassination attempt against himself on May 29,1977. During the incident a policeman shot and wounded Mehmet Isvan, an associate of Ecevit, with a special weapon which fired a small missile. "Following the incident it was understood that such a weapon was not officially supposed to exist in the Turkish police force. Our attempts to uncover the origin of this weapon were foiled. We were never able to learn where this weapon came from or who gave it to the policeman who used it" said Ecevit.
    In 1977 Demirel—who was then prime minister—publicly warned Ecevit not to take part in a political rally in Taksim because there was evidence that an attempt would be made on his life.
    "In 1978 when I came to power, I was curious where Demirel got the I information,” Ecevit said. "I asked for the file and studied it. The warning was written on a piece of blank paper with no signature. Neither the police headquarters nor the National Intelligence Organization (MIT) had apparently investigated where the piece of paper came from. This again made me think of the Special Warfare Department," said Ecevit.
    Ecevit indicated that at that time he linked right-wing violence with the clandestine activities of the department. He said Turkey was in great social turmoil at the time which led the military takeover by Evren in 1980.
    At that time the armed gangs affiliated with the neo-fascist Nationalist Action Party (MHP) were fighting left-wing groups, Ecevit recalled. He said his party motorcade came under fire more than once during his trip around the country: "In one small town, I discussed the special warfare department and my suspicions about its activities with an army general who I knew was directly connected with the department.
    "I told the general about my concern. He said people taking part in the activities of this organization were people of good will. He said they loved their country. When I objected saying that members of organizations involved in violence and affiliated with MHP might also participate in this clandestine organization he answered that MHP chief [in the town where we were attacked] was also a patriotic man of good will. Without knowing it, he had admitted that the MHP chief in the town where we were at that time was also a member of the special warfare department."


    General Kenan Evren, chief of the military coup of 1980,  too admits the existence of  the Special Warfare Department and its involvement in some clandestine activities in his memoirs published in 1990.
    He says  that, prior to the military take-over, on May 5,1980,  then Prime Minister Süleyman Demirel had requested that the [Special Warfare] department be used to combat terrorism.
    "I refused this request. He [Demirel] insisted by saying that the department was used in 1971 against subversive activities. I turned the request down again. During the time I served at the head of the General Staff Headquarters the department was not used beyond its original purpose. Some people affiliated with it may have been involved in such incidents. I am not in a position to know this. They may have done it without informing me,” he says.
    Evren confirms that the Special Warfare Department had previously been used for such activity, for example during the killing of nine left-wing militants at Kizildere in northern Anatolia on March 30,1972 .
    On the other hand, Evren, said in an interview published on November 26, 1990 in the daily Hürriyet that civilians affiliated with the undercover paramilitary organization set up by the Special Warfare Department at the Army Headquarters may have been involved in terrorist incidents before 1980 without his knowledge.
    On these revelations, the Turkish Armed Forces admitted the existence of the Special War Department for the first time in 1990, but rejected the claim that it had been involved in subversive activities.
    Lieutenant-General Dogan Bayazit, head of the Operations Division of the general staff, told journalists on December 3, 1990 that the Special Warfare Department existed, but was not the counter-guerrilla organization: "The department was set up to provide resistance to an invasion in the form of guerrilla warfare and underground rescue and kidnap operations."
    As for Brigadier General Kemal Yilmaz, head of the controversial Special Warfare Department, he confirmed that the organization was set up in September 1952, when Adnan Menderes, an outspoken U.S. ally, was prime minister and Turkey became a full member of NATO.
    According to Yilmaz, the Special  Warfare Department, which consists of civilians as well as army officials, organized a resistance movement in Cyprus between 1963 and 1974 and was also used in 1980 to rescue hostages held in a Turkish Airlines passenger plane hijacked to Diyarbakir by fundamentalist Moslem terrorists. "The department is still active in security operations against armed members of the Workers' Party of Kurdistan (PKK) in Turkey's southeastern provinces," he said.
    Beyazit responded to Bülent Ecevit's claims that he learned about the existence of the department in 1974, as prime minister, when additional funds were requested from him: "In 1974, Ecevit was briefed by the general staff, and those generals who gave the briefing took notes of the prime minister's comments. Ecevit said, 'It is [my] national duty [to provide funds to the department]. I am, in principle, in favour of channeling national funds to meet that need. This will not burden the state, the department could be financed with secret funds. Determine what you need, and hand me the list. If Ecevit says he was not fully informed, this shows he did not read the decrees he signed carefully."
    Bayazit claimed the department was not a clandestine organization but a division of the army. He denied, however, that the department was set up on NATO's initiative. He also said there were no links between the Special Warfare Department and the National Intelligence Organization (MIT).  He admitted, however, that the department cooperated with NATO on technical issues and that, at times, it joined NATO's training programs in Turkey and abroad.
    The organization was not particularly anti-communist, Bayazit maintained. "If Turkey were a country under the threat of invasion only by communists, then the organization would have mainly been set up as a shield against communism. But Turkey is under other threats, ranging from religious fundamentalism to [President] Saddam Hussein and Greece," he said, adding that "the department would also be used against a religious revolution in Turkey"
    At the press conference, Bayazit denied that the Ziverbey mansion was used by the department. "The department had not been assigned any undercover activity during the September 12, 1980 military coup, " he said.


    The Counter-guerrilla Organization changed its official name in 1992 into the Special Forces Command (SFC) of the Turkish Armed forces.  The organization was reintroduced to the press on October 23, 1992, under its new name.
    General Kemal Yilmaz, Commander of the SFC, said that in many democratic countries there are similar forces under the name of, for example, SAS commandos, Alpine units, Airborne units and Delta forces.
    The SFC operates under the special forces concept. This concept stipulates that forces are needed to operate behind enemy forces, weakening the main units of the enemy during war time, explained Yilmaz.
    “The basic function of the SCF is to support the operation of the Turkish Armed Forces with its irregular warfare activities by preparing plans and executing the activities of war preparedness during peace time. During war time SFC is responsible to establish the irregular local forces and to manage and control those forces under the directives of the Chief of Staff's office. The SFC units are composed of officers and non-commissioned officers, all of whom go through a additional 3.5 years of training. The units are also trained regularly at various NATO-member countries. SFC commandos are trained with the most advanced weapons of the world,” he said.
    Referring to some press reports raising the possibility of linkage between alleged SFC counter-guerrilla operations and killings of Turkish journalists in the southeast, General Yilmaz said: "Who invented the term counter-guerrilla? I do not know. We do not have this term used in our literature." Ruling out allegations over SFC's association with secret operation, Yilmaz said: "The members of SFC are composed of elements who do not know each other but who are ready to accept the orders they will be given only at the time of an occupation of territory. They function under the extraordinary state of emergency Governor's office, which is responsible for the security operations in the southeast region. The SFC units operate in the southeast only as a potential force."
    Yilmaz said that, prior to the 1974  Cyprus operation, the Special forces were dispatched to the island to establish the Turkish resistance organization and help them establish their security.
    "The members of the unit know that during a state of war that they will be operating in the middle  of enemy forces, but they do not know during peace time what kind of duty they will execute and under whose command they will operate," Yilmaz stated. "This is a must for the security of any resistance operating in a region under occupation. For that reason, special forces are not organized during peace time."
    Yilmaz also added that special units were not used in Turkey's military coups. "We were the only units who were not called on duty in the 1980 military operation," he said.


    Despite these attempts to clear the army’s name, the increasing number of unsolved murders shows that, whatsoever be its official name and structure, the Counter-Guerrilla Organization is carrying on its sinister activities particularly in the South-East. In fact, the assassinations of the last eighteen months highly look like to those who occurred prior to the 1980 military coup.
    Let’s take as an example the first political assassination of 1991.
    July 10, 1991. In Diyarbakir, thousands march through the streets of the city during the funeral ceremony for HEP provincial chairman Vedat Aydin. Aydin, abducted from gis home on July 5, was found dead -- his body broken by the brutal torture he received. Among the policemen on the city’s castle walls are masked men. They open fire on the demonstrators. Seven people are killed and more than 250 are wounded. Five parliamentarians and 13 journalists are among the wounded. Locals claim the counter-guerrilla is behind the incident.
    February 1993. About 400 people have lost their lives in “unsolved murders” in Turkey’s southeast region.
    11.2, the weekly Aktüel claims that a group of officers from the National Intelligence Organization (MIT) abducted five suspects  in the hands of the gendarmerie in the eastern province of Mus and executed them in the fields. The bodies of the five were found bullet-ridden days after their detention.
    25.2, the Erzincan provincial chairman of the Freedoms and Democracy Party (ÖZDEP), Cemal Akar is found beheaded and mutilated in the village Zagge of the Hakkari province. He had disappeared since January 25.
    26.2, HEP Batman provincial official Bedia Argin’s husband, Ahmet Argin (45) is founded assassinated  near the Binatli village of the province. HEP Chairman Ahmet Türk said that Argin was first tortured then shot in the head. He had spoken a short time ago at a TV programme on political assassinations.
    27.2, a former official of the Socialist Party (SP), Ömer Güven and his friend Cemal Özyurt are found assassinated in the district of Cizre. The SP had been banned by the Constitution Court last year.   
    Again on February 27, the local chairman of the Human Rights Association of Turkey (IHD), attorney Metin Can, and his friend, Dr. Hasan Kaya, are found hands tied behind their backs and each with with a bullet hole in their heads in Tunceli.
    Two human rights activists were abducted less than a week ago. Witnesses say the two were at Can’s house when they received a telephone call saying there had been a traffic accident and urgent help was required. They were never heard from again after leaving the house.
    Police bans newspapers photographers from taking pictures at the Dinarsu bridge 12 kilometres away from Tunceli city where the bodies surfaced near a stream. A crowd of about 500 people gathering there shouted “Down with the Counter-guerrilla.”
    Locals, as well as their parliamentary representatives say the local Kurdish Hezbollah, a radical Islamic group, is tolerated, protected and supported by the Counter-Guerrilla. The Grey Wolves of the pre-coup 1980 period were replaced now by the Hezbollah.
    The Islamic Hezbollah (Party of God) emerged after the security forces were infiltrated by radical Islamic activists during the ANAP Government.
    The weekly magazine 2000e Dogru, claimed on February 16, 1992  that a group of Hezbollah-based militants were even being trained at the headquarters of the special counter-terrorist crack teams in Istanbul. The reporter of the weekly, Halit Güngen, was killed by the Hezbollah by a bullet to the head two days after the publication of the information.
    In several settlements mainly around Mardin and at the Syria border, the Hezbollah is also carrying out its own propaganda campaign with Arab language tape cassettes being freely sold on the market. Several market places in larger towns are actually run by Hezbollah members and local sources claim this is known to the police.
    In Nusaybin, police patrol cars often play Hezbollah cassettes, in Arabic and Turkish, while cruising the streets.
    Villages on the border have turned into ghost towns at night, with iron shutters drawn in front of shops. People lock themselves into their houses and no one but special counter-terrorist teams are seen on the streets.
    Almost every night, doors are knocked on by people identifying themselves as “guerrillas” but everyone has learned not to answer. Opening a door could well mean being hauled off for a self-styled Hezbollah interrogation before being killed or facing death on the spot.
    The Turkish Daily News of February 23, 1993, reporting the motions of a parliamentary debate on counter-guerrilla says:
    “According to those who have been subject to contra activities or who have witnessed them in the past, the counter-guerrilla is far more than a mere concept. It is a reality. It is not only organized but centralized. And, they claim, it has been used to conduct clandestine activities which in nature violated laws and the Turkish constitution. The only way to assess which is correct appears to be to launch a formal investigation into the claims and to open the doors of the Turkish military to find the reality.
    “Unless an investigation is launched, the debate will continue indefinitely and cost a lot of confidence in the state apparatus.”
    The response of the government to this wish has, as explained at the beginning of this article, been a categorical refusal.


    The Human Rights Foundation of Turkey (TIHV), on February 23, introduced to the press its 1992 report on human rights allegations in Turkey. "A total of 2,933 people were killed in the general atmosphere of political violence in Turkey in 1992," said the TIHV Chairman Yavuz Önen.
    Below are the highlights of the TIHV Report:
    • 1992 was just another year during which human rights violations continued unabated and social life in the troubled Southeast became paralysed, owing to constant strong-arm tactics used both by security forces and armed opponent organizations.
    • Out of the 2,933 deaths in 1992, 17 occurred in police custody, 92 during the Newroz (the Kurdish New Year) celebrations on March 21 which turned into a blood bath in the Southeast, 26 at demonstrations, 63 in house raids, 41 during alleged raids on villages and towns by security forces, 38 in bomb explosions, and 103 when individuals did not halt despite orders by security forces.
    • 8 party officials fell victim to political assassinations.
    • The number of security forces killed in clashes with so called "terrorist groups" is 747, while that belonging to the latter is 972.
    • The number of unsolved murders rises to 360, that of assassinations to 285 and attacks on civilians to 189.
    • Throughout 1992 torture was inflicted by security forces upon a total of 594 people -- 11 of them children and 93 women. However, the real number is much higher. These are only the reported cases.
    • 8 disappeared after being taken into custody.
    • In 1992, security forces attacked 56 reporters while on duty.
    • 13 journalists as well as 3 newspaper sellers were assassinated.
    •189 magazines or newspapers were seized by police acting on orders from various state security courts, while the number of books confiscated was as high as 20.
    • A total of 23 years, 8 months and 15 days imprisonment were given to journalists and writers.
    • Journalists and writers were also sentenced a total of TL 5,976,000,000 ($747,000) in one year.
    • 32 independents organizations were shut down by security forces, three Human Rights Association branches among them.
    • 39 trade unions of public servants were banned by governors.
    • 63 female university students were detained for covering the head with turban.
    Önen complained of a general feeling of indifference prevalent among Turkish political parties, in Parliament, and within the government. "The ruling DYP and SHP failed to keep their promises they had made before coming to power. Despite their earlier promise to reconsider emergency rule and system of employing state-paid village guards in the Southeast, they have not done anything substantial as yet. What is more, they have adopted a much more violent stance," he said.

    The $15 Million film project initiated a year ago to offset the bad impression given to Turkey by Alan Parker’s movie Midnight Express has not been realized yet, mainly due to the film makers’ failed attempts to finance it with defense industry spending.
    The idea was brought up by the Turkish-American Association and supported by the Turkish Ministry of Culture. Help was sought in Hollywood and the U.S. film company Copro accepted the project and a scenario for the film, named The Istanbul, was drawn up. Robert Long was proposed as director and producer.
    The storyline concerns adventure in a post Cold-War world. It was planned that the film would be shot in its entirety in Turkey, with the country’s historic places regularly featured.
    At this stage, everything was ready. But the film needed financial backing, for which Copro approached the Defense Industries Under-secretariat (SSM) of Turkey.  SSM, however, striving to build a strong defense industry infrastructure, did not view the project well, believing it would not contribute to strengthening this young industry. In an attempt to prevent any possible straining of relations with the Ministry of Culture, SSM recently sent the ministry the list of defense companies with general offset pledges as well as defense-related offset commitments. These companies, however, did not approach the scheme warmly.

    Although Midnight Express is considered by Turkish authorities as an anti-Turk propaganda, the prisons of Turkey themselves continue to be one of the most shameful realities of Turkey in the field of human rights.
    Recently, on February 3, the Justice Ministry attempted to restrict the rights of inmates at the Diyarbakir E-type Prison  A new regulation put in practice terminated prison representation at the compound, banned the use of typewriters and restricted visits to only every two weeks.
    260 prisoners who refused these restrictions  started an indefinite hunger strike on February 8. Security forces carried out a raid on the Diyarbakir E-type Prison in the midst of a hunger strike. 202 Kurdish prisoners were seriously wounded and 20 of them were transfered to hospital. In protest against this operation, all political prisoners joined the hunger strike and many tradesmen in Diyarbakir pull down their shutters.
    Similar hunger strikes have been staged against inhuman prison conditions in the prisons of Bayrampasa (Istanbul) and Buca (Izmir).
    As reported by the Turkish Daily News of February 15, “the name Diyarbakir has long been ringing the bell of “torture” in the minds of many Turks, its reputation owing to the inhuman treatment of inmates and convicts, specifically after the 1980 military coup.
    “There is perhaps not a single suspect of ‘political/terror criminal’ who has not tasted the stinging pain of electric shocks, the pressurized water or the club ‘treatment’ in this compound.
    “Most have spent days in a cage waiting to see what their fate would be as their guardians put into force the most vicious of Vietnam War techniques, both for interrogation and rehabilitation.
    “After the 1980 takeover, Diyarbakir prison became a symbol of repression and torture throughout Turkey and served also as a forceful assimilation center, where hundreds were gathered and taught ‘the Turkish way’ of life. At gunpoint or under the threat of clubs, before and after lengthy torture, hundreds of foreign inmates were taught how to speak Turkish and how to sing the national anthem -- sometimes tens of times in the same day.
    “Pictures published in the mid-1980s showed the inside of the compound where Turkish flags were drawn on all walls and everywhere, from the floor and wallsto the ceiling, from the corners of beds to table tops, Turkish flags and proverbs decorated the chambers.
    “‘How happy I am to be a Turk’ was the main theme, written everywhere in an apparent retaliation to secessionist demands and activities. ‘How happy I am to be a Turk’ is what everyone was demanded to say each and every day, over and over again. The administrators of Diyarbakir prison had successfully turned the compound from a place of punishment and rehabilitation to one of nightmares and brain-washing...”


    Eighteen prisoners broke out of the Nevsehir Prison  at around 03.00 a.m. on February 17. Nine of the prisoners were alleged members of the outlawed PKK, four of the Revolutionary Communist Party of Turkey (TDKP), three of the Workers-Peasants Liberation Army of Turkey (TIKKO) and two of the DEV-SOL.
    The prisoners had dug a tunnel more than 30 meters in length in 40-60 days using metal and wooden pieces they obtained from their visitors. After passing through the tunnel, they covered themselves with white sheets in order to provide camouflage against the snow and crawled for almost 1 kilometre to avoid detection by prison guards.
    The government immediately suspended 15 prison officials, including the prison director, and opened an investigation of them on the grounds of negligence. Political prisoners were subjected to a more severe regime. All female prisoners were forced to have a medical control with the purpose of finding out if they had had sexual relations with their male comrades in prison. The Secretary General of the Human Rights Association of Turkey (IHD), Hüsnü Öndül protested against this pregnancy control incompatible with .the respect to human dignity.
    Two days later, on February 19, seven political prisoners escaped from the Bayrampasa Prison in Istanbul. Those who broke out  dressed in prison guard uniforms were members of the DEV-SOL and the TIKKO.
    These 25 prisoners are added to the more than 7,900 people who have broken out of Turkish jails in the last 15 years. Only 2,700 of them have been recaptured.
    During the February 18 meeting, the government decided to submit a long-awaited draft on a prison reform to Parliament in order to maintain state control over the prisons and ensure they are secure.
    The government draft gives additional powers to the prison directors under the supervision of the public prosecutors. It also suggests installing electronic equipment and closed circuit TV to monitor and protect the prisons.
    A shift from the ward system to the cell --or dormitory-- system for Turkish prisons is reportedly to be the backbone of the reform package. In the existing ward system, a varying number of prisoners are held in wards in which they live and carry out all activities together.
    The dormitory system had already been attempted in 1990 by the ANAP government, and Eskisehir prison had been chosen as the pilot institution for that project. But the prisoners, reacting adversely to the poor physical and administrative standards of Eskisehir prison, which was not backed by a legal regulation as well, claimed their rights were violated and staged a series of hunger strikes. As a response to public reaction, the Eskisehir prison was closed by the present coalition government as soon as it took power in late 1991.
    After the last breakout, the reopening of the Eskisehir prison has been taken to the agenda. Justice Minister Seyfi Oktay said the $78 million demanded by the government from the European Housing Fund would be used for building more effectively protected prisons.


    In the midst of a fierce competition to boost sales by offering their readers “free” encyclopedias, three major Turkish newspapers facing a financial disaster despite the rise of their sales had to strike truce at the end of  February 1993.
    The campaign had been launched in October 1992 by the dailies Sabah, Hürriyet and Milliyet with the promise to equip their readers with full sets of encyclopedias --two volumes in return only for coupons cut out of the paper every day for one month.
    Dubbed as the “First Encyclopedia War” by other newspapers, the campaign took a sharp turn in January 1993 with the papers offering readers their own encyclopedias in return for those purchased from others in competition. Moreover, newspapers started to hand out mega, golden and super coupons, offering readers a second, third and fourth chance in getting the volumes they had missed. While at least 30 coupons were required to get two volumes in the beginning, carefully following the super coupons, readers could get the same volumes in return for only eight. In practice, instead of buying a newspaper every day, readers could get the volumes by buying only eight coupons.
    To avoid a catastrophe which may hit each of them, the rival papers agreed not to issue super bonus coupons and appealed to their readers to collect daily coupons in a more careful way.
    With the encyclopedia campaign under way since October, the three newspapers have boosted their sales by at least twofold. Compared to the days when circulation of major papers was around 500,000 to 700,000 each, the new circulation of the top three ranges around 1,200,000 to 1,500,000.
    Experts say the total bill for the papers involved in the war of encyclopedias may run up to anything between one and two trillion lira (between $12.5 and $25 million.)
    Despite the annual population increase of 2.5 percent, the total daily circulation of the Turkish newspapers has remained at 3.5 million over the past ten years. The latest campaign has pushed the daily circulation up to over 4 million, but at a rather high cost.

    Internationally renown Turkish humorist Aziz Nesin announced on February 3 that he would have Salman Rushdie’s controversial book The Satanic Verses translated into Turkish and published in Turkey.
    The Turkish Government had banned the importation and distribution of Rushdie’s book in 1989.
    On February 4, the Cumhuri Islami, a leading Iranian daily, denounced Nesin and asseverated that Nesin must share the same “fatwa” as Rushdie. “He no longer has a place among Muslims and should like Rushdie be killed,” read the daily’s banner. The paper also called for a boycott of Nesin’s books of which more than 100 have been translated and printed in Iran.
    In reply, Nesin said he did not care a fig. “Fear of death does not necessarily mean that I shouldn’t do my duty... If 60 million people [in Turkey] remain silent, then fundamentalism is sure to get the upper hand.” He also said he would be only too pleased to have his books boycotted in Iran. “Those thieves have been bringing out my books for over 40 years and have not paid me a single lira in copyright yet,” he said.
    Aziz Nesin, the chairman of the Writers’ Union of Turkey (TYS), had earlier been the target of fierce attacks by ultra nationalist milieu when he claimed that the majority of the Turkish people were stupid fools.
    “Are they not the ones who voted ‘yes’ for the Constitution written under the aegis of the generals and made Evren president for seven long years? Did they not shower praise on the trigger-happy generals who toppled a civilian government in 1980 and installed instead a puppet administration?” Nesin replied.
    An Istanbul penal court opened on February 4 a case against Nesin, demanding a maximum sentence of six years on the grounds that he had “insulted the Turkish nation.”

    The first part of the report about police torture in Turkey, established by the Council of Europe’s Committee for The Prevention of Torture (CPT), was published in our January 1993 issue. Below we were are giving the second and final part of this report concerning the action required to stop torture in Turkey::

    • Action is required on several fronts if this problem is to be addressed effectively. Legal safeguards against torture and other forms of ill-treatment need to be reinforced and new safeguards introduced. At the same time, education on human rights matters and professional training for law enforcement officials must be intensified. In this respect, the recent arrangements to send some 20 Turkish police officers to various other European countries in order to study police methods there are to be welcomed, and the CPT trusts that they represent part of an on-going process.
    Furthermore, public prosecutors must react expeditiously and effectively when confronted with complaints of torture and ill-treatment. On this point, the recent annulment by the Constitutional Court of section 15 (3) of the Law to Fight Terrorism of 12 April 1991 (which severely curtailed the possibilities for public prosecutors to proceed against police officers alleged to have ill-treated persons in the performance of duties relating to the suppression of terrorism) is a very positive development. In order to facilitate effective action by public prosecutors, the medical examinations of persons in police and gendarmerie custody carried out by the Forensic Institutes should be broadened in scope (medical certificates should contain a statement of allegations, a clinical description and the corresponding conclusions). Further, appropriate steps should be taken to guarantee the independence of both Forensic Institute doctors and other doctors who perform forensic tasks, as well as to provide such doctors with specialised training.
    Proper managerial control and supervision of law enforcement officials must also be ensured, including through the institution of effective independent monitoring mechanisms possessing appropriate powers. Neither should the issue of the conditions of service of such officials be overlooked, as satisfactory conditions of service are indispensable to the development of a high-calibre police force.
    Application of the recently drawn up Custody Regulations, which relate inter alia to material conditions of detention, must also be vigorously pursued throughout the whole of Turkey. Considerable progress in this area has been made in Ankara and Diyarbakir, in pursuance of the CPT's recommendations. However, the situation found recently at Adana Police Headquarters (in particular in the Anti-Terror Department) suggests that in other parts of the country, persons detained by the police or gendarmerie may still be held under totally unacceptable conditions.
    • Particular reference must be made to the recently adopted Law amending some provisions of the Code of Criminal Procedure and of the Law relating to the organisation and procedure of State Security Courts, which entered into force on 1 December 1992. This is a revised version of the text returned to the Grand National Assembly earlier in the year by the President of the Republic. The new Law inter alia clarifies the existence of certain fundamental safeguards against ill-treatment, such as the right to have a relative notified of one's custody and the right of access to a lawyer (safeguards which had been provided for previously but which had been largely inoperative in practice), regulates in detail the mechanics of the interrogation process, introduces a right to apply to a judge for the immediate release of an apprehended person and shortens the maximum periods of police/gendarmerie custody. The introduction of these provisions is a most welcome step forward. However, it is a matter of great regret to the CPT that their application to offences within the jurisdiction of State Security Courts has been specifically excluded. Admittedly, the number of offences under the jurisdiction of such courts has also been reduced by the new Law, but it remains considerable: crimes against the State; terrorist offences; drugs and arms-related offences, etc..
    • The CPT wishes to take this opportunity to underscore that it abhors terrorism, a crime which is all the more despicable in a democratic country such as Turkey. The Committee also deplores illicit drug and arms dealing. Further, it is fully conscious of the great difficulties facing security forces in their struggle against these destructive phenomena. Criminal activities of this kind rightly meet with a strong response from state institutions. However, under no circumstances must that response be allowed to degenerate into acts of torture or other forms of ill-treatment by law enforcement officials. Such acts are both outrageous violations of human rights and fundamentally flawed methods of obtaining reliable evidence for combating crime. They are also degrading to the officials who inflict or authorise them. Worse still, they can ultimately undermine the very structure of a democratic State.
    • Unfortunately, Turkish law as it stands today does not offer adequate protection against the application of those methods to persons apprehended on suspicion of offences falling under the jurisdiction of State Security Courts; on the contrary, it facilitates the use of such methods. Suspects in relation to collectively committed crimes may be held for up to 15 days by the police or gendarmerie (rising to 30 days in regions where a state of emergency has been declared), during which time they are routinely denied any contact with the outside world.
    It is true that the provisions of section 13 of the new Law, concerning prohibited interrogation procedures, apply also to persons suspected of offences under the jurisdiction of State Security Courts. However, it would be unwise to believe that these provisions alone will be able to stem torture and ill-treatment. The methods described in section 13 have been illegal for many years under Turkish Law by virtue of the general prohibition of torture and ill-treatment in Article 17 (3) of the Constitution. Further, the stipulation that statements made as a consequence of such methods shall not have the value of evidence is merely a welcome reaffirmation of a principle already recognised by the Turkish legal system.
    In reality, the long periods of incommunicado custody allow time for physical marks caused by torture and ill-treatment to heal and fade; countless prisoners have described to CPT delegations the treatment techniques applied by police officers. It should also be noted that certain methods of torture commonly used do not leave physical marks, or will not if carried out expertly. Consequently, it shall often be difficult to demonstrate that a statement has been made as a consequence of ill-treatment. The same point applies to the admissibility of other evidence obtained as a result of ill-treatment (cf.. section 24 of the new Law).
    • The CPT does not contest that exceptionally, specific legal procedures might be required in order to combat certain types of crime, in particular those of a terrorist nature. However, even taking into account the very difficult security conditions prevailing in several areas of Turkey, an incommunicado custody period of up to 15 days, let alone 30, is patently excessive; it is clear that a proper balance has not been struck between security considerations and the basic rights of detainees.
    The CPT calls upon the Turkish Government to take appropriate measures to reduce the maximum periods for which persons suspected of offences falling under the jurisdiction of State Security Courts can be held in police or gendarmerie custody, to clearly define the circumstances under which the right of such persons to notify their next of kin of their detention can be delayed and strictly limit in time the application of such a measure, and to guarantee to such persons, as from the outset of their custody, a right of access to an independent lawyer (though not necessarily their own lawyer) as well as to a doctor other than one selected by the police.
    • As regards ordinary criminal suspects, the amendments introduced by the above-mentioned Law could deal a severe blow to the practice of torture and ill-treatment. However, much will depend on how the new provisions are applied in practice. This is a matter that the CPT intends to follow carefully in the coming months, in close co-operation with the Turkish authorities. Nevertheless, a number of points should be raised now.
    • The maximum period of police custody for collective crimes (three or more persons), although reduced, remains quite high - up to eight days at the request of a public prosecutor and by decision of a judge. In this regard, the CPT wishes to emphasise that in the interests of the prevention of ill-treatment, it is essential that the person in custody be physically brought before the judge to whom the request for an extension of the custody period is submitted. The new Law is not clear on this point.
    • Although the precise content of the right of access to a lawyer is impressive (cf.. in particular sections 14, 15 and 20 of the Law), a potential flaw lies in the fact that, with the exception of persons who are under the age of 18 or disabled, a lawyer will only be appointed if the person in custody so requests. A fail-safe procedure will have to be found that ensures detainees are (as the Law requires) informed of their right to appoint a lawyer and not subjected to pressure when considering the exercise of that right. The same point applies as regards the right of persons in custody to make known to a relative of their choice that they have been apprehended. Care will also have to be taken that the possibility offered to take a statement, in certain cases, in the absence of the lawyer appointed by the person detained is not abused.
    • Under the new provisions, public prosecutors are in an even better position to exercise considerable influence over the manner in which police officers perform their duties and, more specifically, treat persons in their custody. The CPT very much hopes that they will make effective use of the possibilities open to them, with a view to the prevention of ill-treatment.
    • The new Law is silent on the question of the right of persons in police or gendarmerie custody to have access to a doctor. However, by a circular issued by the Ministry of the Interior on 21 September 1992, a right of access to a doctor in the form previously recommended by the CPT (i.e. a right for the detainee to be examined by a doctor chosen by him - if appropriate from among a list of doctors agreed with the relevant professional body - in addition to any examination carried out by a state-employed doctor) was recognised. The CPT welcomes this development, though the inclusion of this right in a law would be preferable. Previous circulars relating to important safeguards for detained persons have remained a dead letter.
    • Finally, it should be re-emphasised that the phenomenon of torture and other forms of ill-treatment by the police will not be eradicated by legislative fiat alone. It shall always be possible for the impact of legal provisions to be diminished by ever more expertly applied techniques of ill-treatment. Indeed, it can legitimately be advanced that attacking the root of the problem of torture and ill-treatment involves not so much changing laws as transforming mentalities. This process is required not simply amongst police officers but throughout the criminal justice system.
    • The CPT is convinced that it would have been counterproductive from the stand-point of the protection of human rights for it to have refrained - as it was requested to do by the Turkish authorities - from making this public statement. The statement is issued in a constructive spirit. Far from creating an obstacle, it should facilitate the efforts of both parties - acting in cooperation - to strengthen the protection of persons deprived of their liberty from torture and inhuman or degrading treatment or punishment.