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

21st Year - N°231
March-April 1997
38 rue des Eburons - 1000 Bruxelles
Tél: (32-2) 215 35 76 - Fax: (32-2) 215 58 60
 Rédacteur en chef: Dogan Özgüden - Editrice responsable: Inci Tugsavul


The military's demonstration of force, under the pretext of defending secularism, to replace the Islamist Government by a Turco-Islamist government


    As the military and their allies in politics were developing a new manoeuvre on behalf of defending Secularism and saving the country from the Islamist RP rule, they engaged Turkey this time in another dangerous adventure characterised by the submission to the supremacy of the semi-military National Security Council (MGK) on the one hand, and on the other, to the adoration of Grey Wolf, the symbol of racism and expansionism.
    Firstly, at a meeting of February 28, 1997, the MGK  issued a very detailed ultimatum, similar to those which preceded the military coups of 1971 and 1980, to the Government and ordered RP-DYP Coalition to take a series of measures such as stopping anti-secular practices and demonstrations.
    In fact, a number of declarations recently made by Erbakan and other RP leaders already led to annoyance in secular sections of the population.
    Seizing this occasion, the military imposed themselves again as the only powerful guarantee to protect secular gains of the society against the RP's practices.
    For example, in response to the "Al-Quds (Jerusalem) Day" ceremony organized by the RP Municipality in Sincan near Ankara at which Iranian Ambassador Muhammad Reza Bagheri praised Turkey's march toward an Islam-based state, the military ordered a drive past of over 30 tanks, armoured personnel carriers and jeeps through the main street of Sincan.
    This unprecedented demonstration of force was highlighted by the media as a sign of the Turkish Army's intention to stage a new coup d'état if the RP continues to rule the country.
    The MGK, in this atmosphere favourable to the military's interference, met on February 28 and ordered the government to take the following measures:
     * Acts against Turkey's democratic, secular system based on the supremacy of the law should not be tolerated under any means.
    * The laws under the protection of Article 174 of the Constitution concerning the inviolability of the reforms under the republic should be implemented in full by the government.
    * State prosecutors should act immediately in situations where these laws are seen to have been violated. Religious institutions considered to be violating these laws should be closed.
    * People whose religious garb falls contrary to the dress code should not be encouraged by any means.
    * Education policy should once again be put in line with the law on "Uniformity in Education."
    * Compulsory basic education should be raised to eight years.
    * Schools for raising Islamic clergy, which in themselves represent a social need, should be retained at required levels, while such schools which are in excess of requirements, should be converted to vocational schools.
    * Koranic schools in the hands of fundamentalists should be closed and those of such schools that are necessary should be attached to the Ministry for Education.
    * There is a process of fundamentalist cadres being placed in public offices. The government should halt this process.
    * Iran's efforts at trying to destabilize Turkey's regime should be followed carefully and where necessary countered.
    * Personal attacks against the integrity of the Turkish Armed Forces are seen to have increased of late. Such attacks should be prevented.
    * Officers discharged from the armed forces for fundamentalist activities should not be given employment by sympathetic municipalities or in the civil service.
    * Parties should be made accountable for speeches and statements by their mayors around the country.
    * Finance organizations under the control of religious sects should be followed closely and prevented from becoming economic forces.
    * Audio and visual media organs following an anti-secular line should be followed closely and where necessary brought in line with the stipulations of the Constitution.
    * Financial transfers to municipalities from organizations like the pro-Islamic Milli Görüs (National View) which is based in Europe should be prevented.
    It is under the increasing pressure of the Army that the government discussed on March 13 the steps sought by the MGK against fundamentalist movements, and decided to "formulate measures in line with the MGK decisions."
    The MGK is a military-dominated council composed of five high commanders of the Army, prime minister and the ministers of defense, interior and foreign affairs.
    The controversial meeting of the MGK was followed by the declarations of the military commanders threatening the government and claiming themselves the real protectors of the Republic and the secular principles of the State. Even during their visits abroad, Chief of Staff Ismail Hakki Karadayi, in Israel, and Deputy-Chief of Staff Cevik Bir, in the USA, gave declarations as if they were the real masters of the country.
    Erbakan is faced with not only the military's "coup threat" but also his coalition partner's threat to withdraw from the government. He counters both of these by threatening to stage an early election. The tension has caused a rift inside the party. RP Deputy Chairman Aydin Menderes and his six friends, for example, are saying that the RP should abandon its "tension policy", adopt a policy of compromise, and be the government of not only the Islamist segment of the society but the government of everybody.
    As for the DYP wing of the government led by Ciller,  some members of government in the fear of a military coup, launched a campaign for immediately withdrawing from the government.
    It is a fact that, the RP wing of the government has intensified their Fundamentalist declarations and practices to give the image of leading the country to an Islamist regime.
    However, it is another fact that the rise of Islamist is not the question of the last few months. This is a process that started with the foundation of religious schools at the period of Inönü, successor of Atatürk, in 1950.
    During the period of Democrat Party (DP) in 50s, first the call to prayer in Turkey was replaced by the one in Arab and it was followed by the opening of Koranic courses, the encouragement of Islamic brotherhoods and the opening the country to the influence of the Saudi Fundamentalism.
    Even the three military coups, in 1960, 1971 and 1980, changed nothing and the Islamist movement was strongly rooted in every corner of the country.
    Prime Minister Necmettin Erbakan set up his first Islamist party, the Order Party (NP), in 1970. After the ban of this party by the Constitutional Court, he set up his second Islamist party, the National Salvation Party (MSP) in 1973. Moreover, he was admitted to take part in coalition governments, first by Bülent Ecevit in 1973 and later by Demirel in the following years.
    Although Erbakan's MSP was closed down along with all other political parties in 1980 by the military junta, it is the same junta that, in a move to counter the left-wing movement, made Islamic courses obligatory even in the secondary schools by inserting a special article to the Constitution.
    Again it is the same junta that encouraged the construction of new mosques and authorized the Saudi Arabia to finance the salaries of religious teachers for the children of Turkish immigrant workers in Europe.
    During the repressive operations against the Kurdish opponents, it is the aircrafts of the Army that dropped tracts in Kurdish areas calling on Moslems to support the Armed Forces, qualified Army of Jihad (Holy War), against the "Atheist" Kurdish guerrillas.
    The complicity of all Turkish politicians, including Özal, Demirel, Ciller and Yilmaz, with Islamist brotherhoods is so evident that during the last legislative elections all these leaders had secret bargainings with fundamentalist leaders and asked their support in exchange of giving more concessions if they come to power.
    For example, Tansu Ciller, as claiming herself as the only guarantee to prevent a RP power in Turkey during her lobby activities prior to the Customs Union ratification by European Parliament, did not hesitate at all to hold confidential talks with religious godfather Fethullah Gülen. It is not astonishing since the number of the new constructed mosques and new opened Koran courses reached their record level during her two-year government.
    It is always herself that, forgetting her promises to European Union, repeated very often the slogans "Our eyes at the Turkish flag, our ears at the Ezan (Islamic prayer)!" and "We'll take our mosques to Europe!". Again it is Ciller who formed a coalition government with the RP in exchange to save herself from supreme court in her corruption affairs.
    In Parliament, not only the RP group but also the groups of DYP and ANAP are full of deputies belonging to different religious brotherhoods. They, when necessary, constitute a powerful block in Parliament without distinction of party and obstruct any law they consider harmful to Islamist movement.
    However, despite the existence of this multi-party block, the life of the DYP-RP government does not seem long under the increasing pressure of the military and their allies in politics. 
    Considering the concessions that were given to Islamists by the military and its allies in politics, the recent Secularist demonstration of force does not have any sense. Besides, Erbakan's first acts as prime minister was to increase the military's salaries and to approve all of the Army's costly armament projects.
    The real reason of the Army's anger is the fact that many RP officials and militants started in last months to challenge the military's omnipresence in politics and to claim civilian supremacy, of course in the name of Islamism.
    The Army is in the fear that such an overture might lead to the recognition of other civilian forces such as left-wing and Kurdish ones. So, in the eyes of the military and their allies in politics, this trend should immediately be stopped by cornering the RP in a deadlock: Erbakan either should accept under the military's pressure some secularist measures such as closing down the lower sections of religious schools at the expense of losing his chance in coming elections or should give up to govern the country.
    If Erbakan chooses the second alternative, as long as the military remains the master of Turkish politics, the RP's successor will never be a government respecting European standards of democracy, but a government strictly attached to a Turco-Islamist policy developed first by the neo-fascist MHP and entirely adopted after the  1980 Coup by the military.
    The death of the historical Basbug (Führer) of the Turkish fascist movement, Ex-colonel Alparslan Türkes, on April 6, gave the military and their allies in politics a golden occasion to dictate this Turco-Islamist orientation to all anti-RP sections of the population.
    Türkes, champion of ultra-nationalism, arch-enemy of all left-wing and democratic forces, founder of fascist Grey Wolves organization, father of the idea of uniting all Turkish-speaking people of the world, from Adriatic to the Chinese Wall, under the banner of the Turan Empire, was proclaimed the most trustworthy leader of our era and his image was imposed to the population by the authorities and the media as the unique example to be followed by every Turk.
    The Führer was put to rest amid ardent public demonstrations on April 8, 1997, with an attendance of one million people coming from all corners of Turkey. The funeral was a show of force for Turkish ultra-nationalism.
    The media have been searching through their archives. Every day, they have been rediscovering new attributes to exalt Türkes. Discussions and interviews on the "Türkes Mission" have been piling on top of each other almost to the level of brainwashing.
    His slogans such as "The 21st Century will be the Turkish Century" were abundantly quoted by the press.
    Nobody, excepted for a few left-wing columnists, reminded the fact that Türkes was the responsible of the assassination of more than 5 thousand people in political violence before 1980 and of preparing the pretext of a military coup to follow its Turco-Islamic policies. Nobody did not remember that he was the arch-enemy of a peaceful solution to the dirty war in Turkish Kurdistan and the main adversary of any reform for democratization in the country.
    The fact that Grey Wolves constituted the backbone of the criminal special forces in Turkish Kurdistan was not remembered at all. 
    Even the most recent revelations about the implication of Türkes' Grey Wolves in the dirty Mafia relations were completely forgotten.
    All the political leaders, including social democrat Deniz Baykal (CHP) and Bülent Ecevit (DSP) were present at the funeral and other ceremonies to praise him. Ecevit was the first political leader who paid a visit to the MHP headquarters after Türkes' death was announced.
    Proper tears, crocodile tears and Ciller tears have been interwoven with each other. The name of Alparslan Türkes has been memorialised with attributes, new ones discovered in their hundreds every day as well as the familiar ones such as "The Legendary Leader," "The Last Basbug," "Undoubtedly the Leader of Turkish Nationalism," "An Expert in the Politics of Balance," "The Leader of Social Peace, Unity, Integrity and Consensus," "A man with a Cause," and so on.
    After the fall of Islamist RP, it will be the turn of a Turco-Islamist government backed by the military whatsoever be its composition. What is more, in order to counter the further popularisation of the RP in opposition as a martyrised party, this new military-backed government will not stay behind the outgoing government in giving concessions to Islamists.
    The proof is that during the funeral crowds carrying three-crescent flags of MHP shouted "Allah is the Greatest!" along with "Turkey, the Greatest!" and "The 21st Century, the Turkish Century!"
    Respect to the European standards of democracy is no more the concern of the military's allies in politics. They are volunteers of reinforcing a Turco-Islamist and expansionist Turkey by oppressing the Kurds and other national or religious minorities and by doing all the possible to make Turkey "the Greatest" and to turn the 21st Century to "the Turkish Century."
    It is the era of "Worship to Wolf" that has been opened in Turkey.


    Oral Celik, one of Mehmet Ali Agca's accomplices in the attempt against the Pope, told the parliamentary commission investigating the Susurluk affair on January 29 that he and Abdullah Catli had carried out their actions in the name of the state.
    Notorious grey wolf told the commission, which was looking into the mysterious traffic accident which took place in Susurluk on November 3 and the "state gang" claims triggered by it, that he and Catli had carried out attacks against the Armenian terrorist organization ASALA and that they had received only $10,000 from the state to meet their expenses. He noted that the state had not fulfilled other promises it had made to them.
    Extradited to Turkey after serving prison sentences abroad for narcotics smuggling, Celik, one of the people implicated in the assassination attempt made on Pope John Paul II, has been cleared of all the charges he faced in Turkey by all three of the relevant courts and is now a free man.
    In his more than two-hour testimony, Celik said he and Catli had agreed with the state on the need to silence ASALA. He said that the intelligence organization had covered their expenses and that they had presented a list to the intelligence organization containing a demand for the release of their jailed friends. They had been promised that their demands would be met. Celik said he and Catli had carried out operations in many places including France, Greece and Canada against ASALA and that they had fulfilled their promises. He asked the commission whether ASALA existed any longer.
    Celik said that he and Catli had acted in the name of the state after the Sept. 12, 1980 coup. He claimed that he had been falsely accused of several crimes, including the killing of journalist Abdi Ipekci. He said he had served long years in prison and that those who had made agreements with them had not fulfilled their promises. He repeated his previous defense that he had not been involved in the plot against Pope. He was protected by four people whom he introduced as relatives when he entered and left Parliament.


    The Turkish Defense Ministry on April 11, 1997, revealed a $31 billion defense modernization and procurement program for the next decade, in an attempt to strengthen its armed forces.
    A Ten-year Acquisition Program (OYTEP)  foresees the acquisition of thousands of armored combat and wheeled tactical vehicles, more than 100 attack helicopters, tank-project, air-refuelling and early-warning aircraft, warships, missile systems, communication and satellite systems and modernization programs for fighter jets.
    Defense Minister Turan Tayan noted it was the first time that such a detailed and complicated defense program had been announced, pointing out that they would present this program to the private sector and to entrepreneurs in an effort to draw their attention to the defense sector.
    Tayan said that, during the 1980s in particular, Turkey had accelerated efforts for its defense industry, making radical changes such as the establishment of the Undersecretariat for the Defense Industry (SSM). During a briefing last year, the General Staff announced that $150 billion would be needed to fund arms procurement and operations of the Turkish Armed Forces for the next 25 years. During that period, the army would require $60 billion, the navy $25 billion, and the air force $65 billion in arms and equipment.
    General staff officials earlier had pointed out that while existing defense industry organizations in Turkey belonged to the public sector, there existed many private companies with the capacity to undertake projects in the defense field. They enumerated measures to lure these firms to the military sector.
    Turkey has the second largest force in NATO, trailing only the United States in number of troops.
    The defense industry is currently dominated by three state bodies: the High Coordination Council of the Defense Industry, directed by the prime minister, is composed of 14 members including the chief of the general staff. The Defense Industry Executive Board, comprising the defense minister and the chief of general staff, is also administered by the prime minister. The SSM is the last of these entities.

    The parliamentary investigative commission looking into "state gangs" or the so-called "mafia-police-politician triangle" exposed by a traffic accident which occurred in Susurluk on Nov. 3, 1996, yielding to the pressure of the RP-DYP Coalition Government, concealed the responsibility of Ciller and her accomplices in this dirty affair.
    Delivered to the parliament speaker's office on April 3, the report confirms the existence of gangs backed by state security officials and many politicians, but at the same time rejects allegations that many crime organizations were founded by the state itself.
    At the three-month probe's end, the Susurluk Commission has given no coverage to any concrete issue related to gang links. If not for the State Security Court's (DGM) report charging former Interior Minister Mehmet Agar and DYP Urfa Deputy Sedat Bucak with establishing gangs, the report of the parliamentary investigative commission would be a complete fiasco.
    The Susurluk Commission has attached the DGM report to its own document. Curiously, the report regarding the lifting of parliamentary immunity remains at the Prime Ministry, blocking official action from being taken. Since the DGM document sent to the Susurluk Commission was passed on for information purposes only, the parliamentary speaker's office cannot take official action.
    The names of mafia-linked politicians have not been mentioned in the report because of the harsh stance of DYP and RP members.
    During the Susurluk probe, the commission was particularly careful not to mention the names of Deputy Prime Minister Tansu Ciller and her husband Özer Ciller. A number of state officials, including National Intelligence Organization (MIT) personnel, who provided information to the commission had persistently given Özer Ciller's name. Other statements that intelligence reports had been given to Özer Ciller instead of the prime minister were not mentioned in the conclusion of the report.
    It was significant that the report mentioned that the Office of Chief of General Staff had given a "tough response" instead of providing information openly to the commission. The report also said the MIT had not given information that was requested.
    Chairman of the Susurluk Commission Mehmet Elkatmis of the Welfare Party (RP) held a press conference to disclose the commission report, saying that the "prime minister of the time" had been responsible for the gang relationships extending from Agar to Catli.
    Saying, "There should be no state secret hidden from Parliament," Elkatmis complained that the commission was denied access to a significant amount of information on the grounds that these were "state secrets" or "commercial secrets."
    Elkatmis said that six of the nine commission members opposed the assessments made in the conclusion portion of the report, that opposition members were expressing reservations while two DYP members approved on the whole of the report.
    Elkatmis noted that the crimes committed by the gang had taken place in 1995, therefore Tansu Ciller had a political responsibility as the prime minister of the time. He said that Agar, on the other hand, had shifted responsibility to the National Security Council (MGK) as well by telling the commission, "I did everything in the framework of the MGK decisions."
    The commission chairman said that in the report they referred to the "political responsibility" issue by saying, "Persons who been the subject of an MIT report have been given the highest posts," and that these specific individuals and the particular posts should be investigated. "The RP did not owe anything to anyone," he said, "and the commission had decided against hearing Deputy Prime Minister Tansu Ciller and her husband Özer Ciller due to being pressed for time." He said they had done their duty and that he had a clear conscience.
    Summarising more than 100,000 documents and interviews with 57 people involved in the case, the most critical part of the commission report is its section on results and proposals. Critiques have also been concentrated on the same part due to expectations that the commission finally should suggest to the Parliament to start a process on restructuring the state, which is allegedly involved in the illegal activities. The Parliament also should purify itself of the existence of those who used their parliamentary identity to cooperate with and secure the gang members.
    But the report shows that eventually neither the political extensions of gangs -- 13 have been officially revealed throughout the process since the Susurluk accident -- nor the "black connections" between the underground world and the state establishments will completely be able to be determined and clarified. The commission referred, in its report, to only 12 names connected to former Interior Minister Mehmet Agar.
    According to the report it has been determined that some of the weapons and bullets found in the car which crashed in Susurluk -- of a serious quality and quantity and of the kind that could be used for assassinations and discreet murder -- were registered as General Directorate of Security issue.
    The general directorate failed to give a satisfactory explanation when the commission asked how and why these weapons and bullets found their way into the car. The commission believes that the persons travelling in the Mercedes had received the weapons and the documents -- which said that the bearers were authorized to carry weapons and that the police force should try to facilitate their work -- thanks to instructions from Mehmet Agar, who was director general of security at the time and by Ibrahim Sahin, then the acting head of the Special Operations Department.
    It is understood that the gun permits and the green (privileged) passports in the name of Yasar Oz and Mehmet Ozbay (whose real name was Abdullah Catli) were also issued in line with instructions given by Agar during his post as director general of security. These documents enabled many fugitives who were known to have taken part in numerous illegal acts to carry weapons and to leave and return to the country easily. In other words, these persons were granted many privileges with these documents.
    When Special Team members implicated in the assassination of casino king Omer Lütfü Topal -- namely, A. Carkin, E. Ersoy and O. Yorulmaz -- were detained as suspects, Correct Way Party (DYP) Sanliurfa Deputy Sedat Bucak attempted to have these persons released and tried to prevent the expansion of the inquiry. In line with instructions from Agar (currently a DYP deputy), Sahin, the acting head of the Special Operations Department who is responsible for the Special Team, went from Ankara to Istanbul, and the three were swiftly transferred from the Istanbul Security Directorate to the Ankara Security Directorate where they were interrogated and released illegally after only a superficial investigation.
    The section of the parliamentary commission's report which provides a general assessment of the Susurluk issue mentions "uncontrollable" forces and reads, "It seems a strong possibility that these uncontrollable forces are connected to some officials at certain state offices." The report continues that some affairs carried out in the name of the state are hidden under the concept of "confidential state secret."
    The strongest statement with regard to gangs reads, "Interest-based illegal organizations have connections with the state and there have been efforts to establish illegal organizations within the state. The impression is that some security forces and some politicians have links with outlawed crime organizations which could be called mafia or gangs."
    The report has failed even to reflect fully upon incidents in which that gang had been implicated. For example, the kidnapping of the owner of the Yaprak TV station has been completely omitted by the report, though this incident has received considerable public attention.
    The report gives no detailed information on issues such as money laundering, the serial killings of Kurdish-origin businessmen in a crime wave which was believed to have political connections, and Turkish intelligence officials' role in massacre suspect Abdullah Catli's escape from a Swiss prison and his secret transfer to Turkey. Under the circumstances it is not surprising that the report is largely unsatisfactory.
    The 310-page "supplements" appended to the 22-page commission report, on the other hand, contained some highly significant information. Meanwhile, thousands of documents gathered by the commission from various sources and the transcripts of testimony given by the 57 persons heard by the commission, could not be attached to the commission report and have been delivered to the parliament speaker's office.
    This is why a publishing house has opened a campaign under the name "You Write Your Report," while many magazines also are printing alternative reports inspired by the ANAP deputies represented on the investigation commission, who declared that they will prepare an alternative one.
    The Scala Publishing House has gathered the most important minutes of the commission meeting within a book titled "Susurluk Documents" which was published just one day before the commission report was released. Synchronous with this unprecedented book publishing, the Scala publishing house called on the public to write their own reports by themselves, considering the original documents presented by the book.
    The 625 page book was prepared for publication by journalist Veli Özdemir, who didn't reveal how he was able to provide all the texts of the original documents. "But we still think we might print the story of this book in another study," said the editor of the publishing house.


    A BBC news report on April 11, 1997, named Turkey and the Turkish Republic of Northern Cyprus (KKTC) as major countries where British drug dealers' money is laundered. On its lunch time news program, the BBC 1 television channel claimed that 90 percent of heroin found in Britain came through Turkey. It alleged that the TRNC was the destination for many British drug dealers to launder their money. "The heroin manufactured either in or near the lawless fringe of eastern Turkey reaches Europe," the correspondent said.
    "Northern Cyprus has more banks that its population needs. More than 60 banks for 80,000 people. Regulations are loose and supervision light for this green destination of shady money," a correspondent from the TRNC stated. "Add in to this more than 30 casinos where money changes ownership illegally and quickly and it is a perfect combination for money laundering," he added. Customs officials are in no doubt that Cyprus is a destination for money laundering, the BBC correspondent claimed. "What we are seeing is couriers taking money out of this country in large quantities and taking it either to countries that are supplying heroin or to other countries such as Cyprus," Michael Newsom from Customs investigation told the reporter.
    "The heroin coming through Turkey passes on into Europe and eventually to Britain. But when it comes to paying, Britain's drug dealers take their money to the more welcoming climate of Northern Cyprus where it can be bandied around until its ownership is confused and then it could be taken to Turkey," the correspondent pointed out.


    The depreciation of confidence in Deputy Prime Minister and Foreign Minister Tansu Ciller has been observed during a high-powered European traffic in Ankara in March.
    After talks with the Human Rights Association (IHD) and the People's Democracy Party (HADEP) on March 23, the chairwoman of the Socialist Group of European Parliament Pauline Green said "We will not pay attention to what Ciller wrote and signed -- from now on we will only look at the implementation of these things," emphasising her point by allowing a piece of paper she was holding to drop to the ground.
    IHD Chairman Akin Birdal said the European Parliament had lost all confidence in Deputy Prime Minister and Foreign Minister Tansu Ciller who, in intense lobbying efforts prior to the customs union, had asked the European Parliament's socialist wing to back her during the process, reportedly threatening that "the fundamentalists will take over" otherwise.
    Constantly pressured on the human rights issue, Turkish government announced human rights legal reform, the deputy prime minister stating specifically that "torture such as 'Palestine Hanging'" was out of question, now and forever.
    Green said she interpreted these words, which indicated explicit knowledge of such torture techniques, "as a confession" and was very specific about the role of the military, reportedly emphasising the importance of civil conscience over any organization, including the military.
    Also mentioned by Green and her colleagues were the handicaps created from lack of a democratic resolution to the Kurdish issue. In this vein, the Socialist Group leader reiterated, "We will force the implementation of human rights."


    Turkish-German relations have been on the decline since Bonn reacted to Deputy Prime Minister and Foreign Minister Tansu Ciller's threat that Ankara would veto NATO expansion if the EU took in former Warsaw Pact members before Turkey.
    While the German side interpreted this as "attempted blackmail," Europe's Christian Democrats led by German Chancellor Helmut Kohl had subsequently sent an equally blunt message to Ankara saying it could not join the EU for "civilizational" and "cultural" reasons.
    As a follow up to this round of tension, Prime Minister Necmettin Erbakan's remark that leaders should "bow their heads in shame" because of their treatment of Turkey, made just a few hours before German Foreign Minister Klaus Kinkel's visit at the end of March, almost resulted in the cancellation of the trip. However, official word from the Turkish Foreign Ministry smoothed things over and Kinkel's visit, though delayed, went as planned.
    On March 26, after his talks with Ciller and Turkish members of Parliament, Kinkel said that he had arrived in Turkey with his head held high and that no German official would arrive here with feelings of shame.
    Referring to the question of NATO expansion, Kinkel said every country had to act responsibly with regard to this issue.
    The German Foreign Minister also declared that the human rights issues and the "Kurdish problem" in Turkey were also among the issues that were obstructing Ankara's path to the EU.


    The German upper house of Parliament on March 14 approved a ruling that children of foreign guest workers must acquire visa and residence permits. The ruling requiring visas and residence permits be held by foreigners and children under the age of 16 who are from Turkey, Tunisia, Morocco and the former Yugoslavia, affects the lives of an estimated 600,000 adults and 800,000 children.
    Interior Minister Manfred Kanther noted that Germany was not a country of immigration. He added that with the ruling government, Germany will never become a country of immigrants. Repeating that the new ruling aimed to combat the so-called "human trade," Kanther said the visa and residence permit question would not be a big problem for the families affected.
    The Turkish ambassador to Bonn, Volkan Vural earlier discussed the issue with Interior Minister Under-secretary Kurt Schelter and told him the visa and permit application row had caused Turks living in Germany to feel isolated.


    Two recent fires in Holland and Germany devastating two Kurdish immigrant families have led a new tension between Turkey and Europe. After the fires, assimilating Kurdish victims to Turkish origin and reminding that 31 Turkish citizens lost their life in criminal or racist attacks in last six years, Turkish media launched a violent campaign against Dutch and German authorities.
    First, a fire at the house of a Kurdish family in The Hague, the Netherlands, caused the death of the mother and her five children on March 25. The father and the other three children were rescued safe and sound. The bodies of the victims were buried in the township of Eleskirt in the eastern province of Agri on March 29 to cries of "Damn Europe" from some at the funeral.
    Media reports of a possible racist motive focused on petrol bomb attacks on the same night on nearby buildings housing an Azerbaijani-Turkish centre and a Turkish Islamic association.
    Prime Minister Wim Kok told reporters that even the suspicion of a racist attack was worrying for the country, which prides itself on the tolerance of its society. "The thought that we could be dealing with arson with some ethnic intention is dramatic. That would be an entirely new phenomenon in the Netherlands and a serious signal," he said.
    Another fire in the centre of the Lower Rhineland town of Krefeld in Germany on March 31 devastated a Kurdish family. Three members of the family died and three were injured after leaping from their third-floor apartment window after the fire broke out in their 13-story building.
    This time Turkish political leaders as well as the Turkish media, claiming that the arson attack was made by German racists, violently attacked German authorities in a retaliation to Kohl's stand excluding Turkey from the European family.
    Turkish Interior Minister Meral Aksener told journalists that Germans failing to get rid of Turkish migrants now try to annihilate them by fire.
    However, German police declared a few days later that the blaze which killed three people appeared to have been started by the father of the family concerned.
    It is after this revelation that German media and political leaders started to accuse their Turkish counterparts of provoking Turkish population without having any evidence of the fact and of causing to the deterioration of Turkish-European relations.


    In the year of fighting against racism and xenophobia, Turkey remains to be one of the countries where racist and xenophobic acts continue as before.
    First of all, the repressive operations against the Kurdish population have never ceased.
    In addition to this, the IHD Committee to Monitor Minority Rights issued on March 21 a new report reminding the following facts of this year:
    - A historical church in Erzurum is menaced to be turned into a mosque.
    - In Edirne, a 93-year old synagogue was demolished.
    - In Diyarbakir, an Assyrian graveyard faces demolition for the construction of a new high-way.
    - In Eyüp, Istanbul, the Armenian Church Virgin Mary was subjected to a bomb attack.
    - In Istanbul, the Gypsy quarter of Sulukule was raided by Grey Wolves and one person kidnapped.
    Very recently, the Minister of Interior, Meral Aksener insulted Armenians by using the words of "Armenian seed" for PKK leader Öcalan in order to humiliate him.


    In its first visit to Turkey as a formal delegation, the U.S.-based Anti-Defamation League (ADL), met with government officials to discuss their concern that Turkey remains a country that is "pluralistic."
    ADL National Director Abraham Foxman said on March 26 that the delegation is worried that an atmosphere ripe for anti-semitism and intolerance is growing. "There have been disturbing signs of anti-semitic comments, greater tolerance for them, and the emergence of 'holocaust denial,'" said Foxman, whose group also met with members of the Jewish community in Istanbul.
    "We urged the government to be sensitive and denounce this. We were assured that this is not part of the tradition of this country."
    As one example, ADL points to the publication last year of a book in Turkey which denied that the holocaust happened. When well-known artist Bedri Baykam wrote an article criticising the book, says Foxman, "He was sued for defamation."
    The book, bearing a title which translates to "The Lie of the Jewish Genocide," was written by a Harun Yahya, which, according to Bedri Baykam, is a pseudonym used by Islamist extremists.


    As racist acts are continuing in Turkey, in a new move to charm the Western world, Turkish authorities are gearing themselves up for the 2000th anniversary of the birth of Christ, the Anatolia news agency reported on March 26.
    Selcuk, Demre, Tarsus, Iskenderun, Iznik, Capadoccia and many other places all held important and substantial Christian populations throughout time -- making Turkey an open-air museum. Besides the places mentioned above, Istanbul is home to the Fener Greek Patriarchate and Mardin holds the Deyr-ul Zafaran Church holds special significance for Syriacs.
    According to the information received from the Tourism Ministry, an inventory of the three religions' relics and places of worship has been prepared.
    Since it is well known that Turkey's Christian populations such as Armenians, Assyrians, Greeks were either massacred or forced to leave the country, this plan to celebrate 2000th anniversary of Christ is a new double-faced and mal-intentioned manoeuvre of Turkish authorities.


    "The One Minute's Darkness for Enlightenment" campaign of the Citizen's Initiative for Enlightenment received considerable attention and support all over Turkey from citizens who turned off their lights every night at 21.00 throughout February.
    The Citizen's Initiative for Enlightenment, various non governmental organizations (NGOs), democratic groups, political parties, writers, artists, actors and actresses, businessmen and citizens attended the colourful meeting to celebrate the commencement of the one-month-long campaign.
    Major television channels broadcast the campaign in their prime-time news programs and had a one-minute siren warning throughout February to remind the public to turn off their lights.
    The campaign was to highlight public concern at the recent scandals in the country which have given rise to allegations that a hidden "secret state" is in existence.
    One of Turkey's most important businessmen, Sakip Sabanci too turned off his mansion's lights every night at 21:00 throughout the campaign. The lights were off also in the headquarters of Sabanci Holding, the Twin Towers, to support the campaign.
    Despite popular participation, government circles accused the campaigners of leading a conspirative action.  Below is a summary of criticisms that have been made.
    - Necmettin Erbakan: "They (the campaigners) are parasites and conspirators. These are people who have nothing to do but create intrigues."
    - Mehmet Gölhan (DYP Deputy-Chairman): "Why should people long for the light? As if there is any darkness in this country.."
    - Islamist daily Zaman: "We warn you not to turn your lights off. Make sure that your lights are on every evening at 21:00 because one minute of darkness by this mentality can turn into eternal oppression."
    - Sevket Kazan: "The opposition is keeping itself busy with childish actions. By playing with the electric switches, Turkey will not be cleaned up. They play 'candles off' by this action."
    Kazan's comments included a grave insult to the country's millions- strong Alevi community and heralded the beginning of a new crisis.
    The term "candles off" refers to a conventional folk fallacy about Alevi traditions. According to this belief, when Alevi families gather together at night, they put the candles off and engage in an incestuous orgy.
    The origins of this belief lie in the fact that, unlike Sunni Muslims, Alevi men and women pray together in their Cem rituals. Moreover, the form of their prayers is not the classical Muslim namaz, but a form of dancing accompanied in a sense, by a form of religious music, performed by both men and women.
    The infamous Sivas massacre of July 1993, in which 37 Alevi intellectuals were burnt to death by religious Sunni fanatics was a mile-stone in the rise of tension. Prior to his assignment to the post of minister of justice, Kazan worked as a defence lawyer of the Sivas massacre suspects.
    As expected, the leading figures of the Alevi community quickly protested against Kazan. One of the leading Alevi intellectuals, Riza Zelyut, demanded the minister of justice's immediate resignation. The chairman of the Pir Sultan Abdal Cultural Associations, Murtaza Demir, said that "Sevket Kazan has an exceptional place amongst the Sharia supporters and the Refah Party as a sworn enemy of the Alevis."
    On February 16, the death of a campaigner, Celal Cankoru, who was killed under arrest in a police car following the "one minute's darkness for enlightenment" demonstration in Antalya led to a new wave of protests.
    Next day, demonstrators gathered once again under strict police control extinguished their candles at 21.00, both to demand a clean society and in memory of Cankoru.
    To the previous slogan, "Don't be silent or your turn will come," was added, "the citizens are here, where are the killers?"


    The amendment to detention procedures became law on 6 March and was announced by the Turkish Government as a measure to combat torture and ill-treatment. The new law substantially shortens the maximum terms of police detention from 30 days to 10 days in provinces under a state of emergency legislation, and from 14 days to seven days throughout the rest of the country.
    People detained for offences within the jurisdiction of State Security Courts will be permitted access to legal counsel after the first four days' detention, according to the amendment.
    However, this amendment is unlikely to prevent torture and actually differs little from an earlier draft described by the European Committee for the Prevention of Torture (ECPT) as "unacceptable", Amnesty International announced on   March 10.     
     "Although we welcome the long-awaited reduction in detention periods, the provisions of this law are insufficient in scope to combat what has become an ingrained system of abuse," Amnesty International said. "We also regret that our call for an end to incommunicado detention has not been answered."
    Unfortunately, there is nothing in this law to support Deputy Prime Minister and Foreign Minister Tansu Ciller's claim that "from now on, Turkish norms conform with European norms on detention periods". Neither European human rights law nor international human rights law, endorse four days' incommunicado detention.
    The Human Rights Association (IHD) announced on April 9 that human rights abuses were continuing in Turkey despite the said amendment.
    The IHD reports that 12 people had applied to the group in March claiming they had been tortured, up from three in February. Again in March, one person died as a result of police gunfire, 23 prisoners were beaten in prison or in court, 14 journalists arrested and 29 publications confiscated.
    As for January-February 1997, the IHD reported the following facts:
    * Sixteen died in unsolved murders.
    * 25 people lost their lives by execution without trial, after torture or while in custody.
    * 183 people died in armed clashes.
    * Attacks on civilians left fifteen dead and twenty injured.
    * Thirteen people "disappeared" while in custody.
    * 43 people were tortured or claimed to have been tortured.
    * 1608 people were taken into custody, 32 of whom were from the press.
    * 171 people were arrested.
    * Two villages and hamlets were evacuated.
    * Nine places were bombed.
    * 43 associations, trade unions and press agencies were closed.
    * 32 associations, trade unions and press agencies were raided.
    * 29 publications were confiscated.
    * There were 157 prisoners of conscience in jail at the end of February.
    * Courts gave prison terms exceeding 34 years and fines of over TL 3,095,000,000 for opinion and political activities.

    The Justice Ministry announces on January 21, 1997, that 56,082 people are imprisoned in 562 prisons of Turkey by the end of 1996. Of them 9,241 are political prisoners: 528 right-wing and 8.713 left-wing.
    The following is the one-year balance-sheet of the state terrorism in 1996 according to the figures established by the Human Rights Association (IHD): 
    * 78 died and 46 wounded in unsolved murders and attacks.
    * 190 people lost their lives by execution without trial, after torture or while in custody.
    * 2,589 people died in armed clashes.
    * Attacks on civilians left 119 dead and 133 injured.
    * 194 people "disappeared" while in custody.
    * 346 people were tortured or claimed to have been tortured.
    * 20,434 people were taken into custody, 32 of whom were from the press.
    * 271 people were arrested.
    * 68 villages and hamlets were evacuated.
    * 109 places were bombed.
    * 132 associations, trade unions and press agencies were closed.
    * 134 associations, trade unions and press agencies were raided.
    * 195 publications were confiscated.
    * There were 140 prisoners of conscience in jail at the end of 1966.
    * Courts gave prison terms exceeding 173 years for opinion and political activities.
    * Prosecutors demanded prison terms of 1,856 years and four months for opinion and political activities.


    Despite the repeated promises to lift the state of emergency, the National Assembly, yielding to the military's directives, extended this repressive rule for another four months in nine provinces from March 30.
    The nine provinces inhabited mainly by Kurds and subject to emergency rule for over nineteen years are Batman, Bingöl, Bitlis, Diyarbakir, Hakkari, Tunceli, Siirt, Sirnak and Van.
    At the National Assembly, 245 out of 421 deputies present at the session voted for the extension of emergency rule. By this vote, the Welfare Party (RP) which was an ardent opponent of the exceptional regime proved once more its hypocrisy.


    Turkey's Saturday Mothers rallied on April 12, 1997, for their 100th weekly vigil in an Istanbul plaza to demand information on missing loved ones, a symbol of the country's intractable record of human rights abuses.
    About 200 people gathered in Galatasaray, holding aloft black-and-white photographs of sons, daughters, fathers and brothers last seen in the hands of the security forces.
    They have met there every Saturday since May of 1995, and vow to carry on until the disappearances stop and their relatives are accounted for.
    "We will come here each week until the missing our found," said the father of Hasan Ocak, whose body was later found in a municipal grave."We must find the bones of all the 'disappeared.'"
    Turkey's Human Rights Association (IHD) says it is investigating 792 reports of disappearances from 1992 through 1996. Amnesty International says it's investigators have solid documentation of at least 135 cases.
    However, experts say many 'missing' go unreported altogether in nine restive eastern provinces, which remain under emergency rule restrictions.
    Most are believed dead, either at the hands of the security forces or right-wing death squads. Rights workers say they have found some bodies that still bore the ink from police fingerprinting.
    The authorities report they have no records of most of those said to be missing, suggesting many have joined outlawed guerrilla groups, such as the PKK, or are already in prison.
    "Human dignity will defeat torture," chanted the Saturday Mothers. "If you stay silent, they'll come for you next."
    A special police "outreach" team set up to help families track down their relatives sat by idly, mistrusted and spurned by the families as another in a string of cosmetic measures on rights abuses.
    "They are using up the petrol and salaries that we pay for," said one demonstrator, waving a hand at the police mini-bus. "They should save our money and just answer our questions."
    Few police have ever been convicted in abuse cases, with those found guilty often given light sentences.
    "It's our opinion that (the reform) is more of a farce, a theatre of the rule of law," said Bernd Marschang, a German attorney from the International Association of Democratic Lawyers on hand for the rally. "There is no interest in punishing those responsible for political killings," Marschang told Reuters.
    Nonetheless, the Saturday Mothers and other Turkish rights activists say they will return each weekend until they learn the truth, no matter how grim.
    "We will turn out until the government accepts that these people were lost in custody," said Eren Keskin, a lawyer and deputy chair of the Human Rights Association. "But we will never be able to find them because all are gone," she said.


    In another move, relatives of the victims of mysterious, unsolved murders that have happened during the past twenty years came together on March 26, 1997, to make their voices heard.
    The Susurluk road accident of November 3 last year allegedly revealed clues to the existence of a gang within the state which should be considered as a prime suspect for the series of sensational and mysterious murders that have occurred in Turkey since the 1970s.
    Gathering at the Marti Art House on Istanbul's Istiklal Street, the relatives of many victims of unsolved murders called on those responsible to start investigating their cases immediately.
    There, Sezen Oz, the wife of prosecutor Dogan Oz, who was assassinated on March 24, 1979 in Ankara, shouted out: "This is enough! We ask that murderers not be protected, and that all of them be arrested, jailed, and immediately sentenced."
    This was the voice of a woman who has been waiting for nearly 20 years for the state to solve her husband's case, without any successful prosecution or punishment of the perpetrators made.
    In addition, around 15 wives, children, brothers and husbands of victims -- ranging from those of the noted journalist Abdi Ipekci (killed in 1979) to journalist Cetin Emec (killed in 1990), expressed their feelings at the meeting, where a joint declaration was also read out.
    Addressing the public, the declaration underlined that all these past events showed that it was wrong to define these murders as "mysterious."
    "The identities of the murderers were uncovered through the internal settling of accounts within the state," the statement read. "But despite everything, the murder cases have remained 'mysterious' due to murderers not being arrested and jailed."
    The relatives of the victims asked the political parties, the Turkish Parliament and the Presidency to inform the public regarding the investigation process of all these cases, and to explain why that process has still not been concluded.


    The chief prosecutors of the State Security Courts in Turkey have a total of 13,665 files concerning "unsolved murders," according to data taken on February 11 from the General Directorate of Criminal Records and Statistics covering the period up to the end of 1995.
    The Diyarbakir SSC Chief Prosecutor's Office takes the lead with 11,699 files, while Konya has the fewest, with 22 files.
    Files related to unsolved murders comprise 56.4 percent of the total workload of the SSC chief prosecutors. A total of 2,401 files was submitted to the prosecutors' offices between January 1, 1995, and December 31, 1995.
    The SSC offices in Malatya, Erzincan, Izmir and Istanbul are among those with most files related to unsolved murders.
    In 1995, 255 cases of this type were solved.


    In a report entitled Turkey: Torture and Mistreatment in Pre-Trial Detention by Anti-Terror Police, released on March 11, Human Rights Watch/Helsinki documents a systematic pattern of torture and other abuse by anti-terror police units in Turkey.
    "Torture by the anti-terror unit is neither spontaneous nor rogue.  This unit has methodically incorporated torture and abuse into its daily operations, utilising special equipment, including special straps to bind detainees, high pressure hoses, racks for suspending suspects by their arms, and instruments to apply electric shock," reports HRW.
    HRW reminds in the report the following facts:
    "In December 1996, Foreign Minister Ciller pledged that the government would 'totally eliminate in practice the crime of torture' shortly after the Council of Europe's Committee for the Prevention of Torture issued a 'Public Statement' exposing the widespread use of torture methods by police. While legal proceedings are sometimes instituted against police for alleged abuse and torture, the overall number of such actions is small relative to the problem and proceedings are problematic.
    "Under a law stemming from the Ottoman period [Memurin Muhakemat Hakkinda Kanunu Muvakkat], police and other civil servants cannot be brought to trial for malfeasance unless a Provincial Administrative Council chaired by the state-appointed provincial governor gives its approval. Such approval has been rarely given in the State of Emergency region where many abuses occur. 
    "When trials are launched, they drag on. Police are rarely arrested when they face criminal charges, and under the 1991 Anti-Terror Law, anti-terror police cannot be remanded into custody if charged. Their legal fees are paid by the state. In April 1996, murder charges were brought against eleven police for the January 1996 murder in custody of journalist Metin Goktepe; since that time the court has held only two hearings, and none of the police have been remanded into custody. 
    "In the cases where police officers are convicted, sentences are usually lenient. In one case in 1996, two policemen convicted of beating and maltreating a twelve-year-old child had their sentence commuted to a fine of TL750,000, about U.S.$8 at the time.
    "Public prosecutors, who de jure have wide-ranging oversight powers over police during a criminal investigation, do not make full use of them, especially in cases involving security detainees."
    The report sent along with a letter to Prime Minister Necmettin Erbakan on March 14 contains recommends:
    - The anti-terror police units should be disbanded, and abusive police must be prosecuted aggressively.
    - Laws hindering such actions must be amended.     
    - Detention periods for security detainees must be reduced and immediate access to counsel be given."


    Secret papers from the Interior Ministry that reveal the steps authorities plan against the military, political and the cultural presence of the PKK in 1997, were revealed by the Turkish Daily News on March 17.
    The papers, originally circulated on Jan, 3, 1997 to the State of Emergency Regional Directorate, to all provincial governors, the General Gendarme Command, the General Security Directorate, and the National Security Council General Secretariat, include suggestions that anti-terrorist protests be organized, that High school and university students who are likely to join the organization be kept under surveillance, and that MED TV be prevented from making programs in Turkey.
    The classified four-page document lists the measures to be taken against PKK activities under two titles:
    * "Measures to be applied at specific times"
    * "Measures to be applied continuously".

    Measures to be applied at specific times

    "In response to the PKK separatist terrorist organization's steering of men of thinking and art and other influential people who may impress the public at home and abroad to serve its aims:
    "People who may be qualified as thinkers and are currently being used by the organization should be identified and their past histories and intelligence information relating to them be secured.
    "People the organization may use should be presented to the public at home and abroad in such a manner as to remove any influence they may have.
    "International institutions and organizations should be correctly informed regarding people the organization presents as thinkers, and files prepared with this aim should be sent to international institutions and organizations.
    The document says the above measures should take place between January and May 1997.
    In other actions that are to take place during the first five months of the year, the document proves that the village guard system will not be abandoned, at least not in the sort term.
    "In response to the possibility that the organization will target people taking the side of the state and put psychological pressure on them with accusations of spying and banditry, or carry out massacres and various armed actions; practices should be applied which will secure the raising of the morale of citizens supporting the state, in particular temporary village guards, and the public should be informed in a suitable manner in the matter of the malintentioned reports in the press that the temporary village guard system is to be abolished."

    Special Project for Newroz

    The celebration of Newroz, March 21 -- a festival for the coming of spring -- is especially mentioned for action during March. The festival is celebrated by many Middle Eastern peoples, but in recent years it has taken on political connotations.
    "With the aim of preventing the organization from exploiting Newroz, the functions required by the special project to be prepared in this matter should be carried out."
    The "special project" mentioned in the document was not elaborated on.

    Measures to be applied continuously

    Those activities which are to take place throughout the year are mainly aimed at the PKK's recruitment strategies, its propaganda -- both at home and abroad -- and the supporting of anti-PKK groups and people.
    "In response to the setting up of so-called front headquarters in so-called provinces defined by the organization and activities of the creation of institutions of logistics, education, finance, health, military branches, people's courts and the like, collaborators should be speedily exposed, persuasion should be applied to them, a spectacle should be made of them, and if necessary they should be penalized."
    The Interior Ministry document also orders that special enlightenment programs are to be organized, visits made, in the presence of international visitors (representatives of nongovernmental organizations, human rights activists and international institutions which the ministry says are used by the PKK) to regional people who have suffered from terrorism.
    The paper also says that those who have suffered from terrorism should be "made" to apply for recognition "to organizations like the Helsinki Watch Committee and the International Human Rights with documentation and information, and protests should be made at the biased attitudes of these institutions."

    Stopping PKK cooperation

    In regards to the PKK cooperating with other legal organizations in Turkey, such as extreme left-wing groups, the Yezidis -- a religious group -- Alawites and radical Islamic groups the document puts forward two plans.
    "Possible leaders in thought of the left-wing organizations will be enlightened and those who can not be directed will have their influence over the public rocked as professional degenerates."
    The Interior Ministry also laid out the plans to keep the Kurdish language at the fringes of society.
    "Administrative and local measures should be taken against those attempting to propagate the Kurdish language, form institutions conducting research to make it a language of literacy and to start education and Kurdish literacy courses directed at front activities."
    For the pro-Kurde MED TV, which broadcasts mainly in Kurdish, the Interior Ministry ordered new campaigns by letter, fax and telegrams addressed to the governments concerned. MED-TV will also be prevented from making programs in Turkey.

    Red, yellow, and green are Turkish colours

    It was also ordered that academic meetings should display the colors yellow, red, and green as if they were traditional Turkish colors.
    In order to prevent the PKK searching for new fields of activity, Street trading will be prevented in the provinces of Adana, Icel, Antalya, Sivas, Konya, Nevsehir, Kirsehir, Tokat, Ankara, Istanbul and Izmir. Kurdish migrants from the Southeast often earn their living in the big cities of the west through street trading.
    Kuran courses which are considered as a possible field of PKK activity, and which are likely to be "steered" by the Kurdistan Islamic Movement, will be closely monitored.
    In conclusion, the classified document states that at the end of March, June, September and December, working reports of the above orders will be sent to the Interior Ministry State of Emergency Coordination Committee General Secretariat.


    The number of the specially-trained village guard forces in the southeastern province of Van, known as the "lightning force" has grown from 100 to 420 since it was established last year. Speaking on the occasion on March 2, Van Governor Abdülkadir Sari was quoted by the Anatolia news agency as saying "We are not pleased with killing people, but are ready to kill if necessary for the country."
    The lightning force was established last year to fight against PKK militants and its 400 members were equipped with hi-tech equipment. The newly trained guards also received certificates from Governor Sari.
    Sari said the terrorist organization had declared the southeastern provinces of Van and Hakkari as so-called liberated zones, but it also suffered the heaviest casualties in the same areas.
    Referring to the achievements of the force, Sari said,"More terrorists were killed in 1996 than in the past 12 years."


    With a scandalous manoeuvre, Turkish authorities hijacked again the celebration of the Kurdish New Year (Newroz) on March 21. While Kurdish people were being banned in many Kurdish cities and towns to celebrate their own new year, Turkish officials renaming this "Nevruz" organized many ceremonies with the participation of ministers, high commanders and security forces.
    In spite of repression, in Diyarbakir, more than 100 thousand Kurds celebrated their national day by dancing around fires and singing songs. Official celebration could not gather more than 20 thousand people in the same city. Same day, in Diyarbakir, a march organized by PKK sympathizers were attacked by security forces and many people arrested.
    For the Kurds these celebrations mark the legend of the iron smith Kawa who slays the tyrant Dehhak and frees his people, said by Kurds to be their ancestors.
    To prevent Kurds from celebrating their national day, Turkish authorities recently claimed that "Nevruz" marks the departure of the Göktürk from the legendary land of Ergenekon in Central Asia and the gaining of their independence.
    This year, in a further move, Turkish authorities also claimed that the Kurdish national colours (red-yellow-green) were the colours of Turkish nation in the history.
    Issuing a special message, President Süleyman Demirel said, "We must not allow those who are trying to disrupt the peace by means of Nevruz, which has in fact served peace for thousands of years."
    Minister for Culture Mehmet Kahraman, responding to a question as to why these colours claimed as theirs by the Kurds were predominant on official "Nevruz" posters printed by his Ministry, maintained these colours were first used by the "Göktürk" Turks in Central Asia centuries ago.
    A statement from the Directorate for Religious Affairs said, "Do not forget that preventing enemies at home and abroad who want to abuse the day is a religious and national responsibility."
    IHD Chairman Akin Birdal stressing the special meaning that Newroz has for the Kurdish people called on the authorities to let Kurds celebrate this day unencumbered.

    A bill submitted to Parliament which called for a ban on the sale of pump-action shotguns to people carrying hunters' licences was rejected by the votes of RP and ANAP deputies on March 26.
    There has been a boom in pump-action shotgun sales since 1990 due to lax sales conditions. In fact, anyone who becomes a hunters' club member is able to purchase such a weapon for $250. Pump-action shotguns are sold mostly in Istanbul and have grown in popularity among radical Islamists over the past two years. According to the unofficial numbers, 500,000 people in Turkey own these shotguns.
    The guns available carry a magazine of seven shells and can be converted to automatically fire 12 rounds with a steel addition to the barrel, a tactic much favoured by criminals.
    An Eurasia ferry was hijacked in Turkey with these licensed pump-action shotguns one year ago on the Trabzon/Sochi-Istanbul route by members of an illegal organization protesting the war in Chechnya. Five militants held passengers and crew hostage for three days.
    The weapons are also popular among mafia members. They are used in half of all armed attacks in Istanbul, where the mob has an internal settling of accounts almost every day. The rounds can pierce armoured cars and mafioso carry these guns in their cars all the time.
    Main opposition ANAP leader Mesut Yilmaz was among those who voted against the ban on the sale of pump-action shotguns to those bearing hunters' licences, though he had earlier charged that certain RP voters were arming themselves with such weapons.


    The People's Democracy Party (HADEP) members and a group including relatives of the men imprisoned protested, on  March 2, the arrest and continued detention of former DEP deputies who have been held since March 1994.
    Deputy chief of HADEP, Sedat Yurttas, the attorney in the DEP case, Yusuf Alatas, and former Deputies Mahmut Alinak and Mehmet Emin Sever addressed people gathered in front of the Ankara Central Closed Prison, where the former deputies, including the Kurdish activist Leyla Zana, are being held.
    The group left flowers at the prison gate for those imprisoned. Plain-clothes and uniformed policemen were on duty in front of the prison when the protesters arrived. Addressing the group, Yurttas, Alatas and Sever stressed the urgent need for a democratic approach to the Kurdish issue and emphasised the harm which "gangs" have brought to the region, referring to the many mysterious killings and political assassinations being committed in southeastern Anatolia.
    "You have the right to establish murder gangs, and kill people using the power of the state. However, you do not have right to be involved in politics for the sake of the people," said Alinak.
    HADEP is now facing a trial regarding the party's closure is because of an incident in which the Turkish flag was pulled down during the party's second congress, and replaced by a giant portrait of the leader of the outlawed PKK.
    Murat Bozlak, the head of HADEP, remains in Ankara Elmadag Prison with other leading party figures. The prosecutor is calling for a 20-year sentence for him under the Anti-terror Law "for running an illegal organization."


    Following an incident at the Buca Prison in Izmir, unrest has been spreading in many Turkish prisons.
    On March 24, in protest against the inhuman conditions, a group of inmates in Buca prison in Izmir attacked security guards with sharp objects after visiting hours, wounding four security guards and a soldier and taking one guard captive, whom they later released.
    Political prisoners in Bursa, Bergama and Umraniye prisons joined in the protest to give support to their friends in Buca.
    The Human Rights Association (IHD) announced that the reason for the riot was the mounting tension between the inmates and prison officials after an escape tunnel was disclosed last month. A circular was issued following the discovery of the tunnel to facilitate strict control over the prison. The resulting tension was further heightened by a decision to transfer 44 prisoners to another prison.
    "We have sent delegations not only to Buca prison, but also to the other prisons where the inmates are protesting. We want to act as mediators in resolving this issue," IHD noted.
    In the last four years, two tunnels were discovered in Buca prison in the wards where the inmates are currently carrying out a protest.
    As the rebellion entered its third day on March 26, Izmir Bar Association Chairman, Cetin Turan, said his organization had sent a petition to the Justice Ministry demanding that the ministry open a dialogue with the prisoners, in order to discuss the prisoners' demands for better food and living conditions.
    If the ministry refuses to speak to the prisoners, and instead waits for bigger developments, then events could escalate to the levels of last year when 12 hunger-strikers died, the petition said.


    The Workers' Party (IP) leader Dogu Perincek on March 24 faced the Ankara State Security Court on charges that he had spread separatist propaganda during a meeting on Dec. 27, 1992.
    SSC prosecutors have demanded a prison sentence of one to three years Perincek who said he was innocent of the charges.
    Perincek said he had never made a separatist propaganda speech in his life. He also noted that the text of his speech could actually be used in his defense and demanded that the tape recording of his speech be played to the court.
    1On the other hand, the Constitutional Court decided on February 14 to close the Labour Party (EP) for having in its programme some articles on Kurdish question incompatibles with the Constitution and the Political Parties Act.

    Three deputies, Bülent Tanla, Gökhan Capoglu and Bekir Yurdagül criticising the attitude of DSP leader Ecevit and her wife Rahsan Ecevit, were expelled from the party on April 3 by the Disciplinary Board yielding to Ecevit's order. This brings down the number of DSP deputies to 68.
    Also at the instigation of party leader Ecevit, the Board has issued warnings to five other DSP deputies, namely, Cevdet Selvi, Fikret Ünlü, Tahir Köse, Yüksel Aksu and Hilmi Develi.
    Criticising the expulsion decisions, DSP Deputy Chairman Cevdet Selvi said that he found the decisions "wrong and unfair". He said that instead of expelling these deputies from the party "a more constructive solution" should have been found. He said, "If this mentality continues at the DSP, it seems that uneasiness in the party will continue to grow."
    Since the last election, three DSP deputies have joined the Correct Way Party (DYP) and one has joined the Motherland Party (ANAP).


    1.1, in Batman, Fuat Suna and Mehdi Suna are shot dead by unidentified gunmen.
    2.1, in Batman, Selman Suna, wounded during the armed attack one day ago dies in hospital.
    6.1, HADEP official Izzet Tepecik and a group of party members are detained in Dörtyol.
    7.1, in Istanbul, the office of the Lawyers for People is raided by police and three lawyers, Efkan Bolac, Metin Narin and Alper Tunga Saray taken to police custody.  HADEP local chairman Vakkas Bayhan and a party member are taken into custody in Aksaray.  In Diyarbakir, Mehmet Lala is found assassinated in a car.  Tevfik Kusun who was detained by police on November 29 in Diyarbakir is found shot dead on the highway Adiyaman-Urfa.
    8.1, the Ankara SSC starts the trial of 127 members of the Aczmendi brotherhood for insulting Atatürk and disobeying police.  Halil Sahin and his son Giyasettin Sahin, 9, are shot dead in Batman.  A former political  prisoner, Naziri Caliskan, 42, dies of cancer  in Istanbul because he was not treated during his 9-year imprisonment.  In Cermik (Diyarbakir), Yasin Yerlikaya and Yasar Aktan are killed at an armed attack by unidentified gunmen.
    9.1, in Istanbul, HADEP member Adil Dizek claims to have been tortured after being kidnapped by police agents on January 6.  In Izmit, Fahrettin Yildizhan is shot dead by police for having refused to submit a police control.
    10.1, in Istanbul, 14-year old D.H. claims to have been tortured for three days after his detention on January 6.
    11.1, in Izmir, twenty people are placed under arrest for being members of the Marxist-Leninist Communist Party (MLKP).
    12.1, the daily Demokrasi reports that two political prisoners, Polat Iyit, in Istanbul, and Veysi Celikten, in Malatya, are not allowed to have medical treatment as they are suffering from serious illness.
    13.1, the Diyarbakir SSC prosecutor starts a legal action against the members of the IHD Committee To Monitor Torture Cases who are carrying out an investigation the torturing of ten prisoners on September 24, 1996, in Diyarbakir.
    14.1, in Mus, the local office of the Confederation of Public Servants' Trade Unions (KESK) is raided and searched by police.
    15.1, in Istanbul, political prisoner Polat Iyit dies in Bayrampasa Prison because he was not allowed by the Istanbul SSC to have a medical treatment against lung cancer in a hospital.  In Istanbul, a group of MHP Grey Wolves raid the Istanbul University and stab a left-wing student.  Following a court decision, police close down a series of Aczmendi prayer houses in Elazig, Malatya, Urfa, Antep and Sivas.
    16.1, in Mus, three teachers, Güler Er, Nil Sarikaya and Özlem Özaydin claim to have been tortured and sexually harassed by police following their detention on January 14.  In Adana, Erol Özkan claims to have been tortured by police after his detention on January 14. In Izmir, police detain eleven alleged MLKP members.  In Istanbul, nurse Nuran Kovankaya, representative of the Health Workers' Trade Union (SES), is detained by political police.
    18.1, in Istanbul, during the funeral of Polat Iyit, victim of ill-treatment in Bayrampasa Prison, police attack the participants and wound many people including Özgür Gelecek correspondent Bektas Topan and Partizan Sesi correspondent Serif Sezer. The camera of the TV channel Samanyolu is also broken by police.
    19.1, Chairman of the Istanbul University Students' Union Fatih Sinan Aslan and former chairman Hakan Günaslan are detained by police as visiting the student wounded Grey Wolves three days ago.  In Bolu, right-wing students beat other students refusing to fast in the month of Ramazan.  In Savur (Mardin), 15-year old Seydo Karatas dies at the explosion of mine laid by security forces.
    20.1, ten parents of political prisoners are brought before a penal court in Izmir for having made a sit-in in protest. Each faces a prison term of up to three years.
    21.1, in Savur, security forces shoot dead Murat Akman during a raid on a house.  The Diyarbakir SSC starts to try HADEP officials Niyazi Bulgan, Mevlut Ilkin, Vakkas Demir, Selahattin Behcet and Kamber Turunc for supporting an outlawed organization.  The Ankara SSC sentences, in two trials against the Revolutionary People's Liberation Party-Front (DHKP-C), fifteen people to prison terms of up to 23 years and 7 months.  In Van, fifteen people are placed under arrest by a penal court for being PKK members.
    22.1, former Istanbul Bar Association chairman Turgut Kazan is brought before a penal court in Ankara on the complaint of Justice Minister Sevket Kazan.  In Diyarbakir, twenty lawyers are tried by the SSC on charges of relations with the PKK.  The IHD warns authorities that political prisoner Mehmet Salk Celikpence faces death because he was not allowed to have a fair medical treatment.  In Yatagan, the chairman of the Energy Workers' Trade Union (TES-IS), Erol Soganci, and two other officials are detained by gendarmes.  HADEP member Tahir Han is sentenced by the Ankara SSC to one year in prison and TL 100 million in fine for a speech.
    23.1, former DEP deputies Mehmet Emin Sever, Mahmut Uyanik and Muzaffer Demir, and former CHP deputy Abdülkerim Zilan are brought before the Ankara SSC for aid to PKK and separatist propaganda. Each faces a prison term of up to 7 years and 6 months.  The Malatya SSC starts to try 11 HADEP officials for separatist propaganda.  The Ankara SSC sentences eight members of the Revolutionary Communists' Union of Turkey (TIKB) and nine members of the MLKP to prison terms of up to fifteen years. University student Sadik Arslan, detained on January 17 in Istanbul, is reportedly subjected torture at police centre.  The IHD reports that the prisoners who held a hunger strike in prisons during which 12 prisoners died are not allowed to have a fair medical care and some of them face death.  In Diyarbakir, 24 political prisoner, who took part a resistance action during which ten detainees were killed, are brought before a penal court for causing damages to public property.
    24.1, in Ankara, six persons are beaten by police for having taken alcohol drink during Ramadan.
    25.1, a group of students protesting the condemnation of young high school students by the Izmir SSC and lawyer Tülay Odabas are detained and harassed by police in Istanbul.
    27.1, four representatives of the Labour Party of Belgium (PTB), Hilde Meesters, Axel Bernard, Julien Verbsteegh and Pascal Prielyncr are detained by police in Ankara during an attempt to give a petition to the National Assembly on the condemnation of young high school students.
    28.1, Chairman of the Izmir Anti-War Association (SKD) Osman Murat Ülke is sentenced by the military court of the Turkish General Staff to 6-month prison and a fine of TL 540 thousand for refusing military service. The court also decides to send him to a military regiment in Bilecik.  The Ankara SSC sentences two MKLP members to 12 years and 6 months each.  The trial of 28 Hizbullah members are brought before the Diyarbakir SSC. 21 defendants face capital punishment for having participated in the killing of 54 people in different provinces.  The Iskenderun office of the Party of Labour (EMEP) is raided by police.
    31.1, in Izmir, eighteen people are placed under arrest for PKK activities.  The Diyarbakir SSC sentences Türkiye Altun to three years and six months in prison for aiding the PKK.
    4.2, the leader of the Aczmendi brotherhood, Müslüm Gündüz is indicted by the Ankara SSC Prosecutor for anti-secular activities. He faces imprisonment of up to ten years.  The Ankara SSC sentences 22 students to prison terms of up to 20 years for being MLKP members.
    5.2, police raiding a house in Istanbul shoot dead high school student Kamuran Özcan.  In Nusaybin, Musa Sayik is shot dead by unidentified gunmen.  The trial of IHD Vice-chairman Mahmut Sakar and board member Vedat Cetin starts at the Diyarbakir SSC.
    7.2, in Istanbul, seven members of Socialist Power Party (SIP) are attacked by Grey Wolves.
    12.2, in Istanbul, 433 university students are indicted by prosecutor for a demonstration in November 6, 1996, during which many students were brutally beaten by police.  IHD Elazig office is closed for ten days by the governor for having some illegal publications inside.
    13.2, IHD Chairman Akin Birdal and 21 other association and party officials are tried by a penal court in Ankara for an unauthorised meeting in solidarity with hunger strikes in prisons.  A political prisoner accused of being PKK member, Mehmet Emin Cakan is found dead in Agri Prison.
    16.2, political prisoner Celal Türker, sentenced to 12 years for PKK activities and suffering from tuberculosis, dies in Ceyhan.
    17.2, in Istanbul, police shoot dead 18-year old Nurettin Demir, an alleged member of the Revolutionary Communists' Union of Turkey (TIKB). During the victim's funeral police use force against the participants and detain 35 of them.
    18.2, a former DYP deputy of Kurdish origin, Abdülmelik Firat is sentenced by the Ankara SSC to one year in prison and a fine of TL 100 million for a speech he made in Germany.  Five people are sentenced by the Istanbul SSC to life-prison each for being members of a radical Islamist organization.
    19.2, twenty Iranian political refugees are detain in Ankara for a sit-in in front of the UN Refugees Office.
    21.2, Kurdish activist Hüseyin Deger is found shot dead at the Dicle University campus in Diyarbakir.  In Izmit, detainee Hizir Akkus is killed during his police interrogation.
    25.2, MHP Grey Wolves raiding the Letters Faculty of Istanbul University wound 19 students and two journalists.  The Diyarbakir SSC sentences ten officials of IHD and different associations to one-year prison and TL 100 thousand each for having participated in a press conference by Leyla Zana in 1992.
    27.2, At a trial against DHKP-C, the Ankara SSC sentences one person to life-prison and twelve people to prison terms of up to 13 years.  The Istanbul SSC sentences six IBDA-C members to prison terms of up to 20 years and 10 months.
    28.2, thirteen people are brought before the Istanbul SSC for having founded a radical Islamist organization Ceysullah (God's Soldiers). Five defendants face capital punishment.  The Istanbul SSC sentences three IBDA-C members to life-prison and two others to 33 years in prison.


    The Human Rights Association (IHD) launched on March 14 a world-wide campaign to secure the release of 140 political prisoners who have been prosecuted for their "thoughts." During this campaign the attention of the world opinion was drawn to the unprecedented case of Ismail Besikci who has been repeatedly jailed since 1971 and still kept in prison for expressing his opinions against the State's official stand.
    In general, there has been increasing criticism and irritation as well in Turkey as in the world against the prosecution of the writers, intellectuals, journalists and students, who, normally, would be expected to be the driving force of a civilised society.
    Writers have been dragged from one State Security Court to another for decades in rapidly increasing numbers every year. The prosecution of the intellectuals has reached a level that the society can not tolerate anymore.
    As a protest against the violation of freedom of thought by prosecuting books, writers and journalists, over one thousand intellectuals have signed the book "Freedom to Thought" to be prosecuted within the same file in case of prosecution.
    A group from PEN (International Writers Associations) from various parts of the world have also gathered in Istanbul in March to express their support for the signers of the book "Freedom for Thought." 
    Writers such as Vice Presidents of Sweden's PEN Lars Erik Blomovist, USA's PEN Joanne Leedom and the President of Russia's PEN Alexander Tkachenko and many other writers and PEN members from Scotland, England, Germany, Palestine, Finland, Netherlands, Israel, Canada and Mexico were present in Istanbul to file suits against themselves to be prosecuted along with their Turkish counterparts who have signed the book.
    The application of guest writers has been rejected by the State Security Courts. The writers wanted to attend the panel discussions organized by the lecturers and the students of the Istanbul University, but they were stopped by the police and they were rejected admission by the president of the university.
    The Israeli writer Abraham Heffner, commenting on the police existence at the university, said, "Let them enter the university. Let them in your lectures, so they can learn about the atmosphere of knowledge, they will definitely learn something."
    As the first activity of the campaign, the IHD put out posters of Turkish sociologist Ismail Besikci, who has been sentenced to 103 years for his articles and books.
    Just after the launching of this campaign, on March 27, the Court of Cassation ratified another heavy imprisonment against Besikci. He had been sentenced by the Ankara SSC to 4 years and 4 months in prison and to a fine of TL 333 millions for separatist propaganda in his 15 different books.
    With this last decision, Besikci's total imprisonment ratified by higher courts climbed to 41 years and another total of 37-year imprisonment is being dealt by the Court of Cassation. Besikci also faces further imprisonment of a few centuries in his pending trials at State security courts.
    Besikci, 58, graduated from the Faculty of Political Sciences of Ankara University and became a research assistant in sociology at Atatürk University in Erzurum. Observing the dramatic facts of Turkish Kurdistan on the spot during his military service and academic works, he wrote his first critical study entitled The System in Eastern Anatolia, Socio-Economic and Ethnic Foundations.
On the publication of this work he was dismissed from his university post and was arrested in 1972 and remained in prison until the general amnesty of 1974.
    Deprived of the right to work at university, he was again jailed in 1979.
    Released in 1980, he was sentenced in 1981 for a letter he had written to the Swiss Writers' Union while in jail and remained in prison until 1987.
    Besikci was arrested again in 1991 for a book on the forcible resettlement of the Kurds, but released a few months after on the amendment of the Turkish Penal Code.
    Immediately after this release, he was arrested again in 1991 for his different works by virtue of the new Anti-Terror Law.
    The never-ending imprisonment of Besikci and other intellectuals of Turkey constitutes the biggest shame as well for Turkey's leaders as for Europe of which Turkey is a privileged partner in the European Union and the Council of Europe.
    The defenders of human rights and freedom of expression can send their support of this campaign to the following address of the Human Rights Association (IHD) in Turkey:
    Insan Haklari Dernegi Genel Merkezi
    Tunali Hilmi Caddesi 104/4


    Composer and human rights activist Sanar Yurdatapan was detained at Atatürk Airport in Istanbul on April 16, 1997, on his return from a brief visit to Germany. After being interrogated incommunicado until April 22, he was put under arrest by the Istanbul SSC on charges of aiding illegal organizations.
    Yurdatapan is the spokesman for the Together for Peace (BIBA) initiative and also the prime mover of the Freedom of Thought initiative, a group of more than a thousand intellectuals, academics, writers and artists.
    He also organized an investigation delegation to Güclükonak, the scene of a massacre of 11 Kurds in January 1996. Later on, he started investigation on the other killings committed bay the State's security forces.
    He was arrested in 1996 on charges of preparing a programme for the Kurdish Med-TV.
    Recently, he interviewed two former PKK activists, Murat Demir and Murat Ipek, who had turned into agents of special forces and took part in many assassinations of the latter. However, after the Susurluk Scandal, these two men decided to reveal the facts and accorded a series of TV interviews to Yurdatapan.
    Yurdatapan is now accused by Turkish authorities of bringing from Germany two fake passports for taking out Demir and Ipek from the country in a move to launch with their participation a new campaign abroad against Turkey.
    Yurdatapan will be tried together with Demir and Ipek by the Istanbul SSC under Article 169 of the Turkish Penal Code.


    The third hearing in the trial of police officers accused in the killing of journalist Metin Goktepe took place on 11 April 1997 in Afyon (300 kilometres east of Aydin). A delegation from Reporters sans frontières (RSF) attended the hearing, as it had the 18 October 1996 and 6 February 1997 hearings.
    After this third hearing, RSF denounces the lack of good faith in the justice in this case. The hearing took place in a small room in which several Turkish journalists among the hundreds present could not fit. After two hours of confusing debate, the court postponed the trial to 28 May with the heart of the case not even being addressed. The defense lawyers have asked the three judges in the case to withdraw, citing their lack of independence.
    Metin Göktepe, a journalist with the daily Evrensel, was arrested and beaten to death by Istanbul police officers on 8 January 1996. Under media and public pressure, authorities finally opened an inquiry which led to 48 police officers being charged.
    On the other hand, Reporters sans frontieres (RSF) reported on March 9 that many more journalists were subjected to violence at the hands of the police in Turkey in 1996 than the year before. In 1996, 154 journalists were attacked, including one who was killed.
    There were also 31 journalists tortured in detention.     In 1995, RSF recorded 50 attacks on journalists.


    Turkey is "top of the list" as far as the number of journalists in prison goes, with a whopping 78 out of a total 185 journalists imprisoned world-wide according to the report of the Committee for Protecting Journalists (CPJ) in New York, the Anatolia news agency reported on March 14.
    The report "Attacks against the Press 1996" lists Turkey followed by Ethiopia with 18 imprisoned journalists, China with 17, Kuwait with 15 and Nigeria and Burma with eight each.
    Twenty seven journalists lost their lives while on duty in 1996, the report read, adding that 26 of them were assassinated, while one died in the airplane crash in Croatia in which US Secretary of Commerce Ron Brown also lost his life.
    A total of seven journalists were killed in Algeria, known to be the most dangerous country for journalists, while six were killed in Russia.
    Noting that 57 journalists were killed in 1995, the report said a total of 474 had been killed in the last decade.

    In March, 45 journalists were taken into custody and a further eight were attacked according to the Journalists' Union of Turkey (TGS), the Anatolia news agency reported on April 14.
    114 journalists, writers and publishers are still in prison. There have been three instances of the Supreme Board of Radio and Television (RTÜK) shutting down radio and television channels, 17 warning penalties were handed out by RTÜK to radio stations and television channels, and four books were banned.
    According to TGS, three foreign journalists were among those taken into custody, including New York Times reporter Stephen Kinzer, as well as two journalists from Finland. The 1996 report of the Committee to Protect Journalists in the USA declared Turkey to be the "country that imprisons the most journalists."
    A statement published following the International Press Institute's (IPI) 56th General Board Meeting said that Turkey was on a par with Zambia and Colombia regarding freedom of the press, with more journalists imprisoned in Turkey than in any other democratic country.


    Writer-translator Ertugrul Kürkcü and publisher Ayse Nur Zarakolu were sentenced on March 14 by the Istanbul SSC for having published in Turkish the 1995 Human Rights Watch Arms project report, Weapons Transfers and Violations of the Laws of War in Turkey. The court also ordered the confiscation of the report. (This report was reprinted earlier by Info-Türk)
    Both are charged under Article 159/1 of the Turkish Penal Code for "defaming and belittling the state military and security forces."
    Translator Kürkcü was given a ten-month prison sentence, suspended for two years. If Kürkcü is seen to violate once more the same article of the Turkish Penal Code during this two-year period, he will automatically be sent to jail for ten months, in addition to being prosecuted for the new infraction.
    Ayse Nur Zarakolu, the owner of Belge Publishing House that published the translation, was fined TL 1.5 million.
    In the week directly following January hearing of the trial, three additional charges were brought against Zarakolu for publishing texts dealing with minority issues in Turkey. She now has a total of 21 cases pending against her.
    A HRW press release, protesting against the verdict, states that in the case of the translator, in particular, the verdict has effectively muzzled his activities as a translator, journalist and intellectual for two years. And while Zarakolu's sentence is largely symbolic, state prosecutors have more than compensated with an unprecedented intensification of other legal proceedings against the publisher.


    Turkish publisher Ayse Nur Zarakolu was, on April 10, 1997, prized with 1997 PEN/Barbara Goldsmith Freedom-to-Write Award  by the PEN American Center for her fight to defend freedom of expression.
    Mrs. Zarakolu, a founder of Turkey's Freedom to Publish Committee and the director of Belge Publishing House, was sentenced in 1995 to two years in prison for having published a book on the 1915 genocide of Turkish Armenians by the Turkish army, which the government of Turkey denies to this day.
    While she has not yet been imprisoned for that charge, she faces prosecution on charges relating to other controversial Belge books, most notably "Weapons Transfers and Violations of the Laws of War in Turkey", a report by the New York-based Human Rights Watch, and she has already been fined more than $5,000.
    Zarakolu spent last fall behind bars for publishing a book on the Kurdish civil war, and, although she is now free, she could be reimprisoned at any time.


    On 2 March 1997, The New York Times correspondent Stephen Kinzer was detained at a military checkpoint near the town of Kozluk and taken to the town of Batman, where he was held in custody for 19 hours before his release.     According to The New York Times, Kinzer was subjected to seven hours of interrogation during which security agents accused him of spying for the outlawed PKK.
    During the detention and interrogation, he was also denied requests to contact the United States Embassy and The New York Times to alert them of his situation.
    The New York Times, in a letter addressed to Prime Minister Erbakan, said it was "astonished and deeply distressed" over the "outrageous treatment" of its Istanbul correspondent at the hands of the military and police in Southeast Turkey. "Kinzer was taken at gun point to a police command post and detained for 19 hours. He was interrogated for seven hours by police who accused him of being a PKK  spy. He was fingerprinted and photographed in the manner of a common criminal. He was kept in a jail cell overnight. He was forced to sign documents he could not understand."


    On 7 March, Hatun Temizalp and Ali Cankaya, journalists with the bi-monthly newspaper Proleter Halkin Birligi, were arrested during a police raid in the Istanbul neighbourhood of Alibeyköy.
    The pretext for their arrest was the discovery by police of copies of Proleter Halkin Birligi in their possession. Police officers subsequently accused them of affiliation with an "outlawed organisation." 
    Both Temizalp and Cankaya were detained for seven days and were subjected to varying degrees of torture. Based on information recently received by CPJ, Temizalp was repeatedly punched and kicked about her body over a period of two days by police officers.
    In a separate development, three journalists were arrested and taken into police custody on or about 12 March near the capital of Ankara. They are Orhan Kavci of the weekly Kizilbayrak, and Gülay Yücel and Nihat Ozcan, reporters with the weekly Kurtulus.


    Amnesty International has reported the re-arrest of publisher Recep Marasli on 6 March 1997 with his wife, Nuran Marasli, at Ankara airport as they attempted to flee the country.
    They were taken to the Anti-Terror Branch of the Ankara Police Headquarters. The couple appeared in court on 12 March, after which Marasli was committed to prison and his wife released.
    Amnesty International reports that his arrest is connected to his publications and writings, although the exact details of the charges against him remain unclear. 
    Marasli had been imprisoned for years after the 1980 military coup for her earlier writings and publications.
    International PEN is seriously concerned for his health, which is said to be permanently and seriously damaged as a result of the torture he suffered during a previous detention. He reportedly has difficulty in walking and in keeping balance, and is in need of constant medical care and treatment.


    On 5 March 1997, the Turkish Cypriot newspaper Yeni Düzen reported that it had received death threats from Azmi Karamahmutoglu, the Chairman of the "Idealist Hearths Organisation" in Turkey.
    Yeni Düzen reports in a front-page article entitled "Death Threat" that Karamahmutoglu sent a letter to the journalists of the newspaper in which he allegedly threatens them with death.
    In his letter, Karamahmutoglu reportedly writes, "What I understand is that you want to become `researcher journalists.' That is, you want to be an Abdi Ipekci, and Ugur Mumcu or a Kutlu Adali [three journalists who were assassinated], but there are some necessary conditions for this."  Adali was an editorial writer for Yeni Düzen


    2.1, the editor of the defunct daily Özgür Gündem, Bülent Balta, is put in prison to serve his prison terms given for some articles he published.  Two publishers of the journal Akdeniz in Isparta, Ismail Rüstü Celik and Mehmet Ali Celik are attacked by two armed assailants.  In Osmaniye, the office of the local daily Özgür Cukurova is raided by police and publisher Yeter Özcan taken into custody.
    3.1, Özgür Gelecek, N°88, is confiscated by the Istanbul SSC on charges of separatist propaganda.
    4.1, in Ankara, the offices of the periodicals Kurtulus, Alinteri and Kizil Bayrak are raided by police who arrest during the operation nine people including four members of the musical group Ekin, Derya Güzel, Cigdem Dagkiran, Özgür Aktan and Deniz Sarigül.
    8.1, the Istanbul SSC sentences the editor of the periodical Özgür Gelecek, Murat Aricak, to one year in prison and TL 600 million in fine. The court also decides to ban the review's publication for one month.  The Istanbul SSC bans the broadcasting of a programme on tortured children at the Show TV.  Devrimci Genclik correspondent Molla Zincir is detained in Istanbul.
    11.1, a former editor of the periodical Sosyalist Alternatif, Aliyar Gökce is detained in Canakkale.
    13.1, writer Haydar Arslan's book Selected Articles from Devrimci Yol is confiscated by the Istanbul SSC. A legal action is started against the Gökkusagi Publishing House which edited the book.  The January issue of the review Yeniden Newroz is confiscated by the Istanbul SSC for separatist propaganda.
    14.1, the Adana representative of the periodical Tavir, Ayfer Arife Yildiz is placed under arrest by a court of Adana.
    15.1, former DEP deputy Mahmut Alinak is put in Ankara to serve a three-year imprisonment because he could not pay a fine of TL 116 million for a speech he gave during the 1991 electoral campaign. Sentenced by the Ankara SSC. He already served a nine-month imprisonment in the same case.  The periodical Devrimci Emek is closed for fifteen days by the Istanbul SSC.
    16.1, a book written by journalist Lissy Schmidt, The Price of Freedom: Reportages from the Kurdish Region in Iraq, is confiscated by the Istanbul SSC for separatist propaganda. After a nine-year activity of journalist in Turkey Lissy Scmidt was not allowed to stay in Turkey and killed on April 3, 1994, in Iraq.  The Istanbul SSC sentences the editor of the review Partizan Sesi, Hatun Yildirim, to two years and six months in prison and TL 1.5 billion in fine.  The Izmir SSC sentences the editors of the dailies Hürriyet, Yeni Asir and Ege to a fine of TL 90 million each for having revealed the names of some policemen accused of torture. The SSC prosecutor starts legal actions for same reason against the editors of Milliyet, Cumhuriyet and Zaman.
    19.1, the editor of the defunct review Emegin Bayragi, Haydar Demir is put in prison in Ayvalik to serve his three-year imprisonment.  Two correspondents of the journal Kurtulus, Mehmet Yildiz and Nebahat Aslan, are detained in Istanbul. The Istanbul SSC confiscates the review Hedef N°63 for propaganda of an outlawed organization.  In Adana, the office of the review Alinteri is raided and correspondent Melek Tukur harassed by police.
    20.1, Dr. Haluk Gerger's book The regime of Turkey and The Kurdish Question is confiscated by the Istanbul SSC.
    21.1, the broadcasting of the TV Kanal D is banned for one day by the Radio-TV Higher Board (RTÜK). The same board also bans for an indefinite period the broadcasting of the TV MRT and the radios Uzay, Ribat, Konya, Net and Ülkü in Konya.
    22.1, poet Yilmaz Odabasi is again indicted by a penal court of Ankara for his book Dream and Life while he is already being tried by the Ankara SSC for the same book. He is accused of insulting Atatürk and Turkish national anthem.
    23.1, Istanbul offices of the Komal publishing house and the periodical Sterka Rizgari are raided by police and four people detained.
    24.1, the Istanbul SSC confiscates the review Deng N°39, Kemal Burkay's books Religion and Politics and Malmisanj, Kird, Kirmanci, Dimili or Zaza Kurds, Munzur Cem's books Some Erroneous Views on Alevis, Kurmanci, Kirmanci and Dersim and Czar's Rubais.
    27.1, The RTÜK bans the broadcasting of private TV channels Yildiz TV (Mardin), DRT, CRT-1 and CRT-2 (Ceyhan) and Kanal E (Elbistan) as well as the radios TEK (Elbistan), Duyan FM and Ceyhan FM (Ceyhan) for not having fulfilled certain official formalities.  Two journalists of the daily Cumhuriyet, Eren Güvener and Ayca Atikoglu, and writer Emre Yilmaz are tried by a penal court of Istanbul for having insulted a public prosecutor.
    28.1, Haydar Isik's book Dersim Tertelesi is confiscated by the Istanbul SSC for separatist propaganda.  The Adana office of the periodical Tavir is put on fire by unidentified persons after a raid to the same office by police.
    29.1, the Istanbul SSC sentences periodical Hedef's contributor Ismail Kalkan to 3 years and 9 months in prison for aiding an outlawed organisation.  Two journalists, Turan Gültekin (Yeni Asir) and Göktay Koraltan (Yeni TV) are beaten by bodyguards during Premier Erbakan's visit to Izmir.
    30.1, The RTÜK bans the broadcasting of the radios Vahdet FM, Hilal FM and Radio 27 for not fulfilling some formalities.
    1.2, poet Can Yücel is indicted along with the editor of the humoristic review Leman by public prosecutor for insulting religious values. He faces a prison of up to two years.  Proleter Halkin Birligi N°30 is confiscated by the Istanbul SSC for propaganda of an outlawed organization.
    2.2, a panel organized in Diyarbakir by the Democracy and Peace Party (DBP) is banned by the governor's decision. Another panel on the assassination of journalist Metin Göktepe in Istanbul is also forbidden.  In Hatay, three journalists of the review Güneyde Kardelen, Ismail Kilic, Mehmet Güzel and Semsettin Koyun are indicted by the Malatya SSC Prosecutor for separatist propaganda. Each faces imprisonment of up to five years.
    3.2, The Court of Cassation ratifies a fine of TL 5,450,000 against the director of the Yurt Publishing House, Ünsal Öztürk, for having published Ismail Besikci's two books, The 12 September Fascism and The Resistance of PKK and An Intellectual, An Organisation and the Kurdish Question.  Two journalists of the local radio Safak FM in Gaziantep, Siddik Akdogan and Nisan Kumru are arrested for having insulted Atatürk in a programme.  The RTÜK bans for one day the broadcasting of two radios, Hedef  Radyo in Ankara and Radyo Umut in Istanbul.
    4.2, the editor of the review Sterka Rizgari is arrested in Istanbul.  Cartoonist Ahmet Erkanli is put in Bayrampasa Prison in Istanbul for serving his ten-month imprisonment for a cartoon published by the review Tavir.
    5.2, H.C. Armstrong's book Grey Wolf, written in 1932 on Atatürk, is confiscated by a penal court of Istanbul for insulting Atatürk.  Police raid the offices of three periodicals, Tavir in Adana, Özgür Atilim in Mersin and Deng in Istanbul.  The broadcasting of the Metro TV in Diyarbakir is banned for one day by the RTÜK.
    6.2, IHD Vice-chairwoman and lawyer Eren Keskin is sentenced  by the Istanbul SSC to one year and 40 days in prison and TL 111 million in fine for an interview she gave to Medya Günesi. The review's editor Nesih Cilgin too is sentenced to same prison term and a fine of TL 131 million.  The former editor of Atilim, Eylem Semint is sentenced by a criminal court of Istanbul to ten months in prison and a fine of TL 1.5 million for having insulted the Republic.  In Osmaniye, the publisher of the journal Özgür Cukurova, Yeter Özcan, is again detained by police raiding his office.  Dayanisma correspondents Dilek Korkmaz and Songül Demir are detained in Gebze.
    7.2, in Istanbul, journalist Fatih Altayli is detained together with eight other persons on charges of holding an unauthorised demonstration in front of Ciller's villa in Istanbul.  RTÜK bans the broadcasting of TV Hizmet and Radio Hizmet in Ünye and two other local radios in Korgan and Ulubey.
    10.2, the editor of defunct review Hevdem, Siddik Demirel is arrested in Eskisehir to serve his 20-month imprisonment.
    11.2, the Istanbul SSC confiscates Odak N°61, Devrimci Emek N°50, Aydinlik N°503 and the last issue of Emek for instigating hostility.
    12.2, police take into custody three journalists, Kamber Saygili (Özgür Atilim), Zeynel Engin (Partizan Sesi) and Emine Bas (Özgür Radyo) in Istanbul as they were covering a press conference by a group of workers.  The office of the review Alinteri is raided in Istanbul and its issue N°90 confiscated by the SSC.
    13.2, journalist Mustafa Aktas' book Come to My Voice is confiscated by Istanbul SSC for separatist propaganda.  RTÜK bans Dost Radio and Dost TV in Erzincan.
    14.2, RTÜK bans Radio Genclik FM in Batman and Radio FM 12 in Bingöl.
    15.2, in Iskenderun, the offices of IHD, HADEP and the review Özgür Atilim are raided by police.  In Istanbul, the last issues of two newspapers, Selam and Radikal, are confiscated by prosecutors.
    18.2, twelve human rights activists from the IHD and the Izmir Anti-War Association (ISKD) are brought before a military court of Turkish General Staff on charges of having published a communiqué against military service. Each faces imprisonment of up to two years.  Twelve high school students are tried by the Istanbul SSC for having constituted a committee for democratic rights.
    19.2, journalists Faruk Demirel and Ragip Polat are detained in Ankara as covering a trade union action against the privatisation of an energy central.
    20.2, writer and publisher Muzaffer Erdost is sentenced by the Ankara SSC to one-year prison and a fine of TL 100 million for his book Three Sivas.  The Istanbul SSC confiscates the periodicals Sokak N°1, Proleter Halkin Birligi N°31, Partizan Sesi N°54 for separatist propaganda and Selam for fundamentalist propaganda.
    21.2, police detain Partizan Sesi correspondent Ahmet Özlü in Adana, Özgür Atilim correspondents Sultan Secik, Bayram Namaz and Ferhat Akcay in Istanbul.  The Court of Cassation ratifies 15-day ban on the review Hedef.  The Ankara SSC sentences writer Medeni Ayhan to one-year imprisonment and a fine of TL 100 million for his book Kurdish Philosopher Ehmede Xane.  RTÜK bans for one day TV channels Kanal D and Kanal 7.
    24.2, two journalists of Demokrat Radyo in Izmir, Savas Öztürk and Necmi Aksoy are indicted for their programs on incidents in prisons.  RTÜK bans Metro TV in Diyarbakir and Sok Radio in Icel for 30 days, and Kanal D and Show TV in Istanbul for one day.  Yalcin Kücük's book History in Brief is confiscated for insulting State authorities.  The trial of Demokrasi Van correspondents Adil Harmanci and Ayse Harmanci starts at the Diyarbakir SSC.  Özgür Halk publisher Aral Yilmaz is detained in Elazig.
    25.2, Hürriyet columnist Emin Cölacan and editor Dogan Satmis are indicted by Ankara prosecutor for having insulted Premier Erbakan.  Alinteri office is raided by police in Adana and the review's last issue N°91 confiscated by Istanbul SSC.
    28.2, the wife of wanted journalist Zeynel Abidin Kizilyaprak (Nû Roj), Rahime Henden, claims to have been kept as hostage by police on February 27 until her husband's surrendering. She also says to have witnessed the torture applied to Özgür Atilim correspondent Sultan Secik and two others persons at the political police station.  The assassinated writer Turan Dursun's book The Taboo in Ruins is confiscated by a penal court of Istanbul on charges of insulting God.