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


21st Year - N°233
July-August 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


    Turkey has been governed by a new military-backed government since the beginning of July 1997. The military and their allies in Parliament, on behalf of defending the secularism against the fundamentalist rise, forced the Islamist Premier Necmeddin Erbakan to resign and mounted a new coalition government with the participation of the Motherland Party (ANAP), the Democratic Left Party (DSP) and the Democratic Turkey Party (DTP).
    After the European Commission announced in July that Turkey would not take part among the countries eligible for EU membership, this new government claiming to be "reformist and secular" has launched a vast diplomatic offensive in Europe and the USA in a view to obtain a more comprehensive approach from the EU Summit in December 1997.
    Nevertheless, the repressive policies imposed by the military to the new government still remain as the main obstacle preventing Turkey from taking part among the first-rank candidates. In fact, as already anticipated in the earlier Info-Türk issue, instead of restoring the supremacy of Republican and democratic values, the military-backed government has already led the country to a more dangerous polarization.
    So, as long as the government pursues these policies, the three conditions for considering Turkey as a short-term candidate - ending State terrorism, seeking a political solution to the Kurdish Question and accepting Cyporus' membership to the European Union  - can never been fulfilled.
    The minority coalition government led by ANAP Chairman Mesut Yilmaz, thanks to the support of the Republican People's Party (CHP) and a handful independent deputies, won an easy victory in Parliament on July 12 when it received a vote of confidence with a comfortable majority of 281 against 256. When several Correct Way Party (DYP) deputies defected from their party, the new government had already been set for an easy win. In addition to them, seven DYP deputies did not attend the voting in an indirect support to the new government.
    The government claiming to be a "reformist and secular government" includes former accomplices of Ciller such as Yalim Erez (Minister of Industry) and Necdet Menzir (Minister of Communications). Erez is known as the principal author of Ciller's rise in politics and remained for four years the main supporter of Ciller's repressive policies and irregularities. As for the latter, three years ago, as a police chief of Ciller power, he had provoked a government crisis by accusing the CHP, the minor partner of the DYP-CHP coalition, of giving support to "terrorists."
    • With such a composition and under the pressure of the military,  one of the first things made by the new coalition's majority in Parliament was to extend emergency law in eight Kurdish provinces (Batman, Bingöl, Diyarbakir, Hakkari, Siirt, Sirnak, Tunceli and Van) for four months from July 30.
    • In the meantime, the new government announced that the Turkish military would get an additional allocation of TL 130 trillion for the anti-PKK operations in Northern Iraq.
    • After obtaining the vote of confidence, Prime Minister Mesut Yilmaz, Deputy Premier Ministers Bülent Ecevit (DSP) and Ismet Sezgin (DTP) as well as Foreign Minister Ismail Cem and Interior Minister Murat Basesgioglu attended on July 25 the military-dominated National Security Council (MGK) meeting and received the directive to implement new measures imposed by the military on February 28.
    • To pay its debt to the military, the new government managed to pass on August 16 a new education law that aims to curb what the army sees as a growing threat from Islamic fundamentalism. Under the law, compulsory state schooling is extended to eight years from five, effectively bringing an end to the secondary education and thus the secondary sections of Imam Hatips. The education reforms have fuelled street protests by Islamists so as driving the country to a more dangerous polarization.
    • At the end of August, Prime Minister Mesut Yilmaz issued a circular activating for the first time the Prime Ministry's Crisis Management Centre (BKYM). Under the pressure of the National Security  Council (MGK), the creation of such a centre .was already stipulated by a decree that the former government issued on January 9. However, former prime minister Erbakan has never put this decree in practice because of his conflict with the military. According to this decree, in the case of any crisis, the whole or a part of the country can be placed under the authority of the Prime Ministry's Crisis Management Centre (BKYM). Since this centre is managed by the MGK Secretary General - an army general -, the country will practically be under a covered martial law or emergency law.
    • This submission to the military became more evident when the public debate on the Western Working Group (BCG) within the army gained new dimensions with the criticisms by the RP and the DYP. This illegal group was created at the beginning of this year under the pretext of following the activities of Islam fundamentalists. When Yilmaz became prime minister, he firstly declared that there was no more need of such a group, because a "secular" government came to power and the fundamentalist menace thwarted. However, General Staff officials immediately reacted by saying that the fundamentalist threat has not disappeared and the Western Working Group continues to operate, even meeting twice a day. Thereupon, Yilmaz preferred not to talk again on the uselessness of the BCG.
    • In the two-month period of the new government, State terrorism has continued as before with thousands of police detentions, unsolved murders, deaths through execution without trial, tortures, disappearances in custody, raids on associations, trade unions and press organs, arrest of journalists, trials and condemnations by State Security Courts. Cosmetic partial amnesty for some journalists in prison has remained very far from restoring press freedom and hundreds of intellectuals such as Ismail Besikci were kept behind iron bars.
    • On July 17, former Diyarbakir Mayor Mehdi Zana was sentenced by the Istanbul SSC to ten months in prison and a fin of TL 83 million for separatist propaganda in his book of poems entitled My bleeding heart. In the same case, Aysenur Zarakolu, Director of Belge Publishing House, who published the book was sentenced to a fine of TL 42 million.
    • On August 18, the Ankara Public Prosecution Office launched a trial at an Ankara penal court against the Human Rights Association (IHD) in connection with the "Human Rights Week" held by the association in December 1996. Prison terms between one and three years are sought for 11 members of the IHD Executive Board including Chairman Akin Birdal. The prosecutor also requested that the IHD should be closed down for "disseminating separatist propaganda" and "inciting the people into enmity through racial and regional discrimination."
    • Although the parties forming the current coalition accused the outgoing government of corruption, irregularities and nepotism, the new government has not yet started any legal proceeding against the suspects of these practices. As Kurdish and left-wing activists are systematically pursued, the most corrupted prime minister of the history, Tansu Ciller, remains untouched and is given the chance to play "martyr" and to regain prestige in public opinion.
    • As for the Susurluk Scandal, instead of launching a more efficient inquiry, members of the Special Operation Teams including former Chief of Teams Ibrahim Sahin, accused of membership in criminal organisation, were released on September 11 by the State Security Court due to "lack of evidence." Sahin was the one who had let himself be pictured with a fugitive Grey Wolf, Abdullah Catli, as playing arm in arm at a circumcision ceremony.
    • Three days later, on September 15, the Penal Court of Afyon released four of the 11 policemen accused of beating journalist Metin Göktepe to death.
    • The new government's claim to democratise Turkey has lost its credibility mainly because of the legal action at the Constitutional Court for closing down the Welfare Party (RP). Although the Chief Prosecutor started the action before the change of government, the military pursued their pressure on the justice for obtaining a ban on the RP and the military-backed government has remained silent against this anti-democratic practice. In following pages we reprint the RP's responses to the Prosecutor and the criticisms by the Human Rights Watch against the party closure. The Chief Prosecutor, encoouraged by the military and the new government, said at the TV that he would not heed of criticisms to be made by European institutions. He said: "Let their aunt, Claudia Roth, come to support them like she did for the DEP, we shall never stop our legal action!"
    • On August 4, at the behest of the office of the Ankara State Security Court Chief Prosecutor, the police assigned to the anti-terrorism branch took into custody Hasan Celal Güzel, the chairman of the Rebirth Party (YDP)  for "disclosing secret state documents to the public." Two days later, after his questioning by the SSC, Güzel was released for being tried without arrest. A week ago Güzel had relayed the report prepared by the West Working Group to the Office of the Chief Prosecutor and requested that necessary action be taken against Deputy Chief of General Staff Cevik Bir on the grounds that Bir had been trying to demolish the constitutional order. While taking Güzel into custody, the Office of the Ankara State Security Court Chief Prosecutor decided not to prosecute General Bir complained by Güzel.
    Not only the RP or the YDP, but pro-Kurdish parties too are still subject to legal actions and the menace of being closed down, and the new government does not take any measure against these repressive measures. It should be reminded that in last fourteen years 20 different political parties - left-wing or pro-Kurdish - have been closed down by the Constitutional Court.     Recently:
    • On June 23, the chief prosecutor started a legal proceeding at the Constitution with the aim of closing down the Democratic Mass Party (DKP). Founded under the leadership of a former minister of Kurdish origin, Serafettin Elci, the DKP is accused having some articles in its programme which are not compatible of the Turkish Constitution and the Political Parties Act. The prosecutor considers these articles against the integrity of the Turkish State and nation.
    • Earlier, on June 4, the People's Democracy Party (HADEP) Chairman Murat Bozlak had been sentenced by the Ankara SSC to six years in prison for the "flag incident" at the party congress held on June 23, 1996 in Ankara. Faysal Akcan who removed the Turkish flag from the congress hall was sentenced to 22 years and six months on charges of "being member of an illegal organization." The court also sentenced 33 HADEP members to prison terms from 4 to 6 years.
    • And on June 16, the first courses in Kurdish language opened on April 26 by the Foundation for Kurdish Culture and Researches (Kürt-Kav) was closed down by the Istanbul Governor. A police team charged by the National Education Directory raiding the foundation's building sealed the door of the class of courses.
    Now, the RP and the DYP are denouncing the practice of closing down a political party, but many political parties, particularly the Democracy Party (DEP), were closed down under the rule of DYP and DEP deputies arrested on provocative declarations of Prime Minister Ciller. The RP has never raised opposition against such practices.
    The legal actions against DKP, HADEP and Kürt-Kav that we have mentioned above are the last anti-democratic practices of the DYP-RP Coalition Government. At that time, neither RP nor DYP manifested any disapproval concerning these practices of their time. They are talking of the violation of human rights when themselves become the target of the military-backed pressure.
    So, not only the military and its allies in politics but also the Islamic fundamentalists and their allies such as Ciller are in a total hypocrisy as regards human rights and freedoms.
    If Turkey is now in a shameful situation concerning human rights, both are equally responsible of it.
    Nevertheless, the real democratic forces of Turkey will contest the closing down of any party whatsoever be its sensibility, left-wing, pro-Kurdish or Islamic. This is the criterion of being a sincere defender of democratic norms.


    One of the main points of conflict between the military and the outgoing DYP-RP Coalition, eight-year uninterrupted primary education was finally adopted by parliament on August 16. As the government and its parliamentary allies "gloated" over the passage of the controversial education reform bill, the main opposition Welfare Party (RP) indicated that it was not prepared to drop the issue, saying this bill was passed simply to curb religious education.
    Using strong words reflecting the anger in his pro-Islamic camp, RP leader Necmettin Erbakan characterised those who supported this bill as "mentally ill" and said they would be applying to the Constitutional Court to have every article of the new law annulled.
    The bill, which was passed by Parliament with a margin of 35 votes, foresees the closing down of the "junior high school" levels of secondary schools and incorporating these with primary schools for eight years of uninterrupted primary education.
    Under the new law, this level of religious imam-hatip schools will also be closed down. Students who want to have such religious education will now only be able to attend the high school levels of imam-hatip schools after they complete eight years of secular primary education.
    The Islamist camp believes this bill was introduced under pressure from the staunchly secularist military that has been concerned about the spread of fundamentalism in Turkey.
    Although the government claims that the new law will save Turkey from "darkness" by closing down the lower sections of religious schools, this claim does not correspond to the realities.
    First of all, the Islamic education is not given only in imam-hatip schools, according to the 1982 Constitution adopted under the pressure of the military junta it is obligatory in all secondary education schools even for the children of the Christian, Jewish or Atheist families. Neither the military nor their allies in Parliament, particularly the partners of the current coalition talk never against this "constitutional" order.
    Secondly, the new law, instead of limiting Koranic courses which are under the control of different religious brotherhoods, enlarges their field of activities and time-tables.
    The chairman of the Teachers' Union (Egit-Der), Mustafa Gazalci said to Cumhuriyet on August 21 that the education reform had been watered down in concession to the fundamentalist circles. If children are allowed to taken Koran courses after completing the first five years of basic education - as the new rules say - this will mar the "eight-year continuos basic education" concept, reverting in practice to the "five plus three years instead of continuos" scheme sought by Islamist circles.
    CHP Deputy Chairman Ali Topuz, on August 27, bitterly criticised the government for the recently-introduced changes in the Koran course regulations. He stressed that introducing these changes immediately after Parliament passed the eight-year continuous basic education bill amounts to resorting to a ploy to circumvent the law. He vowed that his party would definitely have these new regulations invalidated. He said that in essence the bill was aimed at keeping children away from "religious conditioning" until they were 14 years old. The recent changes in the religious education regulations enables elementary school children to attend Koran courses at an earlier age than the new bill had intended.
    Finally, the extended primary education takes as objective to create an ultra-nationalist youth in the service of expansionist policies of the military and their allies.
    In fact, Prime Minister Mesut Yilmaz, in defense of the educational reform, repeats often that "the 21st century will be the Turkish century thanks to this eight-year educational reform."
    A "Turkish century" during which Turkey will extend its domination over the peoples of the countries from the Adriatic to the Chines Wall and will equally take part in the European Union not with the European democratic norms but with its own anti-democratic and ultra-nationalist norms!


    The Islamist Welfare Party (RP), which faces a closure case filed by the Court of Appeals, issued on August 20 the early defence statement it submitted to the Constitutional Court and has responded on its web page to Court of Appeals Prosecutor Vural Savas's indictment.
    The 215-page defence statement comprises seven sections and gives an overall assessment of Prosecutor Savas's indictment which charges that "the RP became the focal point of anti-secular activities," based on the concepts of democracy in Turkey and abroad, human rights, freedoms and secularism, as well as under the lights of the international conventions on human rights, the Turkish Constitution and other laws.
    The RP has asked the Constitutional Court for 60 additional days in which to submit its main defence statement, according to the Anatolia news agency. But Anatolia said the RP's request will be decided after Aug. 24, since most of the members of the court are on vacation, including its president Yekta Gungor Ozden. The RP's early defence statement was submitted to the Constitutional Court on Aug. 4, and Prosecutor Savas sent the court his case for the RP's closure two days later. Savas's case was also sent to RP headquarters in Ankara on the same day and the Constitutional Court had allowed the RP only 30 days to submit its main defence statement. The deadline is Sept. 5.
    If the Constitutional Court does not allow the RP additional time, the party will have to submit its main defence on Sept. 5. After that statement reaches the court, Prosecutor Savas and either RP leader Necmettin Erbakan or an RP member will have to give verbal statements to the Constitutional Court at a date to be determined by Ozden. Following the completion of these stages, a rapporteur appointed by the court will take the case files and prepare a report. A delegation of the Constitutional Court will conclude the case after reviewing the report of the rapporteur.
    In the conclusion of the RP's defence statement, the party claims that the Court of Appeals case ignores the Law on Political Parties and therefore the Constitutional Court should turn down the application since it is "not procedural." The defence statement also said: the audio and video tapes, and newspaper clips in the indictment do not constitute evidence; the claims the party is "the focal point of anti-secular activities" would prove fruitless since the party's activities did not constitute any criminal offence; the claims against former deputies Sevki Yilmaz, Hasan Huseyin Ceylan and Ibrahim Halil Celik were no longer valid since they were expelled from the party; and the party believed that the Constitutional Court would carefully take Article 10 on freedom of expression and Article 11 on freedom of organisation of the European Convention on Human Rights into consideration.
    Below, the Turkish Daily News provides its readers some of the noteworthy parts of the RP's defence statement which was signed by RP leader Necmettin Erbakan and published on the Internet:
    * The Welfare Party's objection to the National Security Council (MGK) recommendation that the secondary segments of the religious imam-hatip schools be closed does not reflect opposition to the secularist establishment, as claimed by the prosecutor's indictment. Also, the prohibitions imposed upon political parties in the Law on Political Parties do not stipulate any obligations such as complying with the decisions of the MGK.
    * The continuous eight-year mandatory education system does not have any relation to secularism. This is completely a technical matter. A report prepared on that issue has underlined the impossibility of converting to that system at once. The RP is not against the eight-year compulsory education system, but only against a system that tries to manipulate children.
    * It is legally inaccurate for Prosecutor in Chief Vural Savas to target RP leader Necmettin Erbakan and various other party officials for their earlier speeches which the prosecutor claims concerned the dress of female university students.
    * The opinions of the chief prosecutor concerning a speech made by Erbakan during a parliamentary group meeting, which stressed the RP leader's demands to have a "tranquil transition period," are totally baseless. That speech should be considered to be have been made as one of the parliamentary tasks of the RP. The speech was deliberately distorted by certain press organizations (especially in terms of defining the "transition period"), and was described out of its real context and objective. Various organizations launched a campaign against the RP after the by-elections on March 23, 1997 and organised rallies. It was not Erbakan himself, but these organizations, which added the word "blood" in the fax messages they sent to various places. Especially noteworthy are the vows by these organizations in their fax messages that Ankara will be the grave of RP Mayor Melih Gokcek and that they are ready to fight until the last drop of their blood.
    * The RP regards the claims of the chief prosecutor pertaining to an MGK meeting to be illegal and unfounded. In these claims, the prosecutor referred to a baseless story from a newspaper that Erbakan was regarded to have admitted the accusations of the Naval Forces Commander who read out various newspaper reports (lashing out at the RP) at a MGK meeting, since he kept silent. Because the MGK meetings are confidential, there is no possibility of obtaining information from the records of the meetings. Also, publishing or publicising any material about these meetings is banned.
    * Prosecutor Savas' assessment that the banquet Erbakan offered to the staff of the Directorate of Religious Affairs and members of the theology schools revealed an "anti-secular attitude" is legally unfounded. Such accusations are made under the influence of manipulative media reports and have nothing to do with violations of the law.
    * On the date (former RP Deputy) Sevki Yilmaz made his speech, allegedly against the secularist establishment, he did not have any organic links with the party and was not a member of the RP. He was elected the mayor of Rize province from the RP after the municipal elections held on March 27, 1994 and then became an RP member. In addition, it is not certain where, when or why this speech was made. In any case, he has been expelled from the RP.
    * When the two previous speeches of (former RP Deputy) Hasan Huseyin Ceylan were reviewed, the RP found nothing but pre-recorded videotapes. When or where were these speeches made? Who recorded them? These things are not certain. There is not a single court verdict against these videotapes, charging that they consisted of anti-secularist elements. That person does not represent the RP and has been expelled from the party.
    * (Former RP Deputy) Ibrahim Halil Celik has announced that he did not make the remarks published by various newspapers on May 10, 1997 and attributed to him. Celik does not represent the RP or have any affiliation with any party organs. He has also been expelled from the party.
    * There is no other evidence but a pre-recorded videotape regarding a speech attributed to (RP member) Ahmet Tekdal who was claimed to have made that speech during a pilgrimage in Saudi Arabia. It is not certain when or where the speech was made. Tekdal (who was once the chairman of the RP) did not go on the Hajj as the chairman of the RP but as an ordinary citizen. Since the Hajj is not considered a centre of political activities, there is no possibility of making a political speech there.
    * The office of the state prosecutor of the State Security Court in the central Anatolian province of Kayseri launched an investigation into a speech attributed to Kayseri Mayor Sukru Karatepe, an RP member, and decided it did not have jurisdiction over the case.
    * The prosecutor's indictment also portrayed Sevket Kazan's visit while he was the justice minister to the mayor of Sincan in prison, as evidence to close down the RP. Since the visit was made while Kazan's mandate was still under way, the case must come under the jurisdiction of the Parliament. The Parliament members reviewed the case upon a demand which was supported by Article 100 of the Constitution and decided that Kazan's action did not constitute a crime, and refused the request to prosecute him.
    * It is not true that the RP kept silent about the actions inaccurately claimed to have been committed by its members. The party has been monitoring the claims of actions by the members of its Chairmanship Board, Central Decision-making and Executive Board, the provincial chairmen and its rural representatives, which are believed to be inaccurate.
    * The parliamentary commission which was set up to investigate the assets of the Welfare Party following reports that it was receiving so-called "financial aid" from an organisation in Libya ruled: "No document has been found to constitute legal evidence during the investigation that the RP received financial aid from the Islamic Republic of Libya."
    * Consultations that RP leader Necmettin Erbakan held with various people and organizations in a number of countries had neither a confidential aspect nor any other characteristics except for being regular consultations. When Erbakan visited Pakistan, he did not go there as the leader of the Welfare Party, but as the prime minister of the 54th government, and this visit had nothing to do with the RP. In addition, the party does not have any links with an invitation made to Erbakan to attend various meetings in Libya. He was invited to these meetings as a scientist, and those who organised the meetings wanted to benefit from his personal knowledge and experiences. The Muslim Communities Leadership was not an official state organisation, but a private body set up by a conference delegation. Its real purpose was to conduct studies to save Islamic countries from being underdeveloped and exploited and find solutions to their problems.
    * There is no specific incident nor serious evidence to justify the case launched by Prosecutor Savas. The main reason for the closure case is the extraordinary provocations by the certain media organizations. The media started to become the highest power in the country as a result of the compromising law on the Higher Board of Radio and Television which monitors the activities of private radio and television stations. That law also has helped to boost the number of television channels that exaggerated routine incidents.

    Human Rights Watch (HRW)/Helsinki came out against the possible closing of the Islamist RP on the grounds that this violated the secular nature of the republic. A press statement released by HRW on July 3 said it viewed with "deep concern" the May 21, 1997, decision by chief prosecutor Vural Savas to close the RP, the senior partner in RP-DYP coalition until RP leader Necmettin Erbakan resigned on June 18, 1997. "While we understand that the issue of the role of religion in public life is under intense dispute and debate in Turkey at the moment, we defend the right of the Welfare Party to make policy proposals as a basic element of the right of free expression and public debate," HRW said.
    HRW said there was "political motivation" behind trying to close down the RP.
    "We believe that the final judgement on these ideas should be left to the electorate and people of Turkey, not a court. The appearance of the indictment on the heels of a failed vote of confidence targeted at toppling the Erbakan government, combined with the fact that there have been no efforts since the 1980 coup to close the Welfare Party despite the fact that its ideology has changed little over the past decade, point towards a political motivation for the case," HRW argued.
    HRW defended the freedom to wear religious dress in public, as defended by the RP, as a "right of free expression." In a Feb. 28 ultimatum by the National Security Council (MGK), the RP was told to implement, among others, measures to eliminate the spreading practice of wearing headscarves and other religious attire in public offices.
    "Issues such as whether an individual may wear religious dress in various situations may implicate both freedom of expression and the right to hold religious or other opinions without government interference. The right of freedom of religion encompasses the right to express one's religious beliefs through acts such as religious dress, as long as that does not infringe the rights of others. Human Rights Watch/Helsinki also believes that the exercise of that right includes the right not to wear religious dress if one so desires. Advocacy on behalf of those who wish to wear headscarves is a protected act of free expression, even if it is contrary to settled government policies," HRW said.
    But, addressing another charge leveled at the RP by the state prosecutor, HRW said: "advocacy of national, racial or religious hatred that constitutes incitement to discrimination or violence is not protected expression."
    Specifically referring to certain statements uttered in the past by some militant RP former-deputies, HRW said: "Acts charged in the indictment, such as calls by former party deputies Ibrahim Halil Celik for 'blood to flow' and Sevki Yilmaz's statement that 'our task is not to talk, but, as a soldier in the army, to apply the plan in the war' may not be protected speech if under the circumstances they amount to incitement of physical attack, actual imposition of discriminatory penalties or criminal harassment or intimidation," HRW argued.
    But HRW still questioned whether closing down a party was the right response to such actions by some of its individual members.
    "In any event, it is open to question whether the Welfare Party as a whole should be held responsible for selected inflammatory statements by certain of its members," HRW concluded.


    The following one-month statistics about human rights violations in Turkey for June 1997 were taken from the Human Rights Association of Turkey (IHD):
    * 7 people died in unsolved murders.
    * 7 people lost their lives through execution without trial, after torture or while in custody.
    * 271 people died in armed clashes.
    * Attacks on civilians left 15 dead and 16 injured.
    * One person "disappeared" while in custody.
    * 12 people were tortured or claimed to have been tortured.
    * 1030 people were taken into police custody.
    * 95 people were placed under arrest by courts.
    * No villages and hamlets were evacuated.
    * 11 locations were bombed.
    * 26 associations, trade unions and press agencies were closed.
    * 10 associations, trade unions and press agencies were raided.
    * 18 members of the press were taken into police custody
    * 32 publications were confiscated.
    * Prosecutors demanded a total of 12 years imprisonment and a total of TL 100 million in fine for opinions.
    * Courts pronounced a total of 15 years and 9 months imprisonment and a total of TL 7 billion 23 million 383 thousand fine.
    * At the end of June, there were 155 prisoners of conscience in jail.


    The following two-month statistics about human rights violations in Turkey for July-August 1997 were taken from the Human Rights Association of Turkey (IHD):
    * 13 people died in unsolved murders.
    * 21 people lost their lives through execution without trial, after torture or while in custody.
    * 461 people died in armed clashes.
    * Attacks on civilians left 38 dead and 97 injured.
    * 9 people "disappeared" while in custody.
    * 76 people were tortured or claimed to have been tortured.
    * 3762 people were taken into police custody.
    * 151 people were placed under arrest by courts.
    * 4 villages and hamlets were evacuated.
    * 20 locations were bombed.
    * 35 associations, trade unions and press agencies were closed.
    * 24 associations, trade unions and press agencies were raided.
    * 35 members of the press were taken into police custody
    * 57 publications were confiscated.
    * Prosecutors demanded a total of 139 years and 2 months imprisonment and TL 1 billion 200 million in fine for opinions.
    * Courts pronounced a total of 4 years and 11 months imprisonment and a total of TL 1 billion 150 million 123 thousand in fine for opinions.
    * At the end of August, there were 118 prisoners of conscience in jail.


    Turkish authorities reacted angrily on July 15 to the European Commission's recommendation that the European Union begin accession talks next year with the Czech Republic, Poland, Hungary, Slovenia and Estonia, as well as the Greek Cypriot community acting on behalf of the whole island, and not with Turkey. "The Commission has not only broken its promise to apply the same objective criteria to all applicants, but has also violated international agreements," Ankara said in a written statement on the latest development.
    Officials reported on July 22 that the Foreign Ministry had, in a retaliation against the EU's stand, initiated a review of the implementation of Ankara's customs union agreement with the European Union (EU) with a view to seeing if it can be improved to Turkey's advantage.
    They said that if it was deemed necessary, Ankara would aim to achieve this end by means of renegotiation if necessary. It was not clear however whether there was a consensus within the coalition government concerning the review initiated within the Foreign Ministry.
    Diplomats say that Foreign Minister Ismail Cem being from the Democratic Left Party (DSP), led by Deputy Prime Minister Bülent Ecevit, is perhaps behind the reason why the Foreign Ministry has initiated a review of the customs union because  Ecevit referred to the possibility of a renegotiation during a visit to northern Cyprus.
    According to the Turkish Daily News of August 7, Turkey's aggressive drive aimed at trying to join the "Europe train" at the European Union's summit in December may be backfiring. Signs are emerging that this drive is considered "counterproductive" in Europe where it is said to be having the opposite effect to what Ankara wants; namely, to enhance Turkey's chances in terms of its EU bid.
    In its angrily worded statement Ankara had castigated the European Commission at the time for its "big mistake" and said it hoped that EU leaders would correct this at their summit at the end of this year.
    "It is precisely this attitude of trying to browbeat us into a certain mode of behaviour that is rebounding on Turkey," a EU source told the Turkish Daily News. "The reality of the situation is that the Luxembourg summit will sustain the European Commission's recommendation," he added.
    "What worries us is that Turkey -- with its aggressive drive to get into this family photo, that meeting or that conference -- is going to react doubly angrily if it finds out that the Luxembourg summit will not correct the Commission's `big mistake. This in turn will cause fresh anger in Europe and leave Ankara facing outbursts that are totally counterproductive, but which are a direct result of its own attitude."


    After the new Turkish Government announced its plans to hit S-300 missiles if they are installed in Southern Cyprus and to integrate the northern part of Cyprus, United Nations talks in Glion aimed at breaking through decades of division in Cyprus ended in disarray on August 16. U.N. mediator and special Cyprus envoy Diego Cordovez told a closing news conference, "The two leaders remain committed to achieving a settlement of the Cyprus problem."
    Cordovez had been unable to get Glafcos Clerides, president of the internationally-recognised Greek Cypriot government in the South of the island, and Turkish Cypriot leader Rauf Denktash to agree to a compromise framework text.
    Denktash has been encouraged in his stubborn attitude by the recent change of government in Turkey. Deputy Prime Minister Bülent Ecevit - who as Prime Minister ordered the 1974 Turkish military occupation - announced this time that Turkey would integrate Turkish part of Cyprus if the European Union commences negotiations with Cyprus for its full EU membership.
    On the occasion of the 23rd anniversary of the Turkish occupation, on July 20, Ecevit rushed to the island and announced a program for the partial integration of "the Turkish Republic of Northern Cyprus" (TRNC).
    During the celebrations in Turkish part of island, the leaders of Turkey and the TRNC announced that any attack on the TRNC will be considered as an attack on the Republic of Turkey and a joint defense concept will be established between the two.
    The Association Council agreement between Turkey and the TRNC was signed on August 6, 1997.
    According to the agreement, an association council will be created between the two states with the participation of the two Parliaments and the relevant ministers.
    An economic and financial union will be formed between the Republic of Turkey and the TRNC, in order to counter the effects of the embargoes and restrictions on the TRNC economy. Meanwhile, the TRNC will be included Turkey's priority regional development macro-economic master plans. The TRNC will benefit from the support and incentives provided for Turkey's priority regions for development.
    Every structural cooperation and harmonisation measures to be initiated between the Greek Cypriot administration and the EU, will be similarly implemented between the TRNC and Turkey.
    Although TRNC will continue to exist as an "independent state," in all international meetings concerning Cyprus in which the Turkish Cypriot side is denied to be heard, TRNC representatives will be included in the delegation of Turkey.
    This agreement has led to criticisms not only in the European Community, also in the Turkish opposition circles in Cyprus.
    The Greek Cypriot administration dismissed the agreement by describing it as "a provocation to the international community." In a statement released by the Greek Foreign Ministry, Athens "strongly condemned" the agreement and said "Turkey has revealed its real face, by institutionalising its military and politic control over the TRNC."
    Mehmet Ali Talat, the leader of the TRNC's main opposition party, the Republican Turkish Party (CTP) -- which has 13 seats in the 50-seat Parliament --, told the Turkish press on August 6 that they are against the policy that ties the acceptance of Cyprus into the EU with the EU's acceptance of Turkey. He added that Cyprus's accession to the EU is in the interest of Turkey as well as the isolated Turkish side of the island.


    The new government's attitude against the world peace activists seeking a peaceful solution to the Dirty War in Turkish Kurdistan has been one of the undeniable proofs of the fact that this so-called "democratic and secular" coalition has no intention to restore peace and democracy in the country. In fact, a peace convoy participated or supported by many international personalities was prevented by the Turkish Government. The German authorities too banned the train's passage from German territories.
    Musa Anter Peace Train, named after a prominent Kurdish intellectual killed by unidentified gunmen in 1992, was  organized by the initiative Appell von Hannover. Among the personalities participating in or supporting this initiative were Arch-bishop Desmond Tutu (South Africa), Jose Ramos Horta (1996 Nobel prize winner, East Timor), Lord Averbury, Lord Rea, Harold Pinter (UK), Fondation Danielle Mitterrand (France), Prof. Jean Ziegler (Switzerland).
    The train was scheduled to depart from Brussels on August 26 after a rally and was to be met with a welcoming ceremony at every stop: Köln, Vienna, Budapest, Belgrade, Sofia and Istanbul. The organizers had planned to stop in Istanbul for a day, to take Turkish participants on board, and to continue the journey to the Southeast in order to arrive in Diyarbakir on September 1, World Peace Day.
    After the ban, the Peace Train voyagers held a press conference in Brussels on August 26 in protest against the anti-pacifist attitude of the Turkish and German authorities. Same day, the Kurdish immigrants from different countries held a meeting by the Brussels Midi Station with the participation of the voyagers of the forbidden train.
    Many of the campaigners flied later on to Istanbul and travelled from there to the Southeast by bus. However, security officials in the Sanliurfa province turned back some 70 buses carrying Turkish and Kurdish pacifists and allowed seven buses carrying foreigners, mostly European, American and African parliamentarians, writers, intellectuals, clergy and journalists.
    The delegation determined to reach Diyarbakir was stopped near Siverek and surrounded by armed gendarmerie forces and village guards. Helicopters and armoured vehicles were also used to hinder the convoy. The pacifists were finally forced back to Istanbul.
    Meanwhile, the city of Diyarbakir remained under military siege. All offices of democratic civil organizations were surrounded by police and at least two thousand people were taken into police custody in Diyarbakir. All entry points to the city were blocked. Those foreigners who had arrived in Diyarbakir earlier by plane were sent back to Istanbul.
    In return to Istanbul, police stopped the bus carrying the campaigners in Gebze and detained 20 Turkish human rights activists accompanying the group. Many of the participants were also forced to find rooms in other hotels when their reservations were mysteriously cancelled.
    On September 3, the foreigners were also prevented from giving a press conference at the hotel Pera Palas in Istanbul. Same day, when they attempted to hold the press conference at the Hotel Mim, police took them out by using force and injuring many of them.
    Human rights activists of Turkey criticised Yilmaz's Government for obstructing 171 foreign human rights activists from attending the World Peace celebrities in Turkey.
    This government has opened a war against a peace initiative with unparalleled brutality," Ercan Kanar, head of Istanbul branch of the Human Rights Association (IHD) told a news conference on September 4. "There are powerful forces in the government that want the conflict to continue," he said and described the government as a pawn of the military-dominated National Security Council, a shadow cabinet that advises the administration.

    The two-day International Susurluk Conference which was to have begun at the Istanbul Petrol-Is Labor Union Centre on June 14 was cancelled by the Istanbul governor's office at the last minute.
    Aydinlik newspaper had received permission from the governor's office to sponsor the conference in which journalists with expertise on European Mafia would participate. It was only after the foreign guests had completed all their preparations and had come to Turkey that the governor's office announced that it was cancelling the meeting. No reason was given for the cancellation.
    Workers' Party (IP) leader Dogu Perincek, following the cancellation, said: "Interior Minister Meral Aksener, who is a member of the Ciller family, trampled on the law in cancelling the meeting because it would have come out how Turkey's prime minister, Necmettin Erbakan, and the Ciller family laundered money. Right now the Mafia governs Turkey and it doesn't see any reason why laws can't be ignored."

    As Turkey seeks a new government, international watchdog organisation Human Rights Watch/Helsinki has once again strongly criticised the country's record in a letter to outgoing Prime Minister Necmettin Erbakan dated June 28.
    The letter relates to the closure by provincial governors of offices of the Human Rights Association of Turkey (IHD) in Diyarbakir, Izmir, Konya and Malatya. Human rights Watch Executive Director Holly Cartner told press, "The closing of the IHD offices violates the internationally-protected right to express freely criticism of government policies, whether concerning human rights or Turkey's minority ethnic Kurdish population. We urge Prime Minister Erbakan to direct the relevant provincial governors to allow the offices to reopen as a sign that such debate is permitted and can be conducted without fear of persecution."
    The most recent of these closures was that in Konya, where the governor acted in response to a statement issued there on June 6 by the Turkish Student Associations Federation (TODEF) denouncing the Turkish army's incursions into Northern Iraq. TODEF is just one of a number of civic organisations which IHD allows to use its premises.
    The letter also protests the arrest on June 7 of 49 persons including Ankara IHD branch director Yildiz Temurturkan while attempting to lay a black wreath in front of the United States Embassy in protest against alleged US support of the military's operations in Iraq.
    The Ankara State Security Court released 18 of the detainees on June 18, but is still holding the rest, including Yildiz Temurturkan. "According to information we have received from lawyers involved in the case," the Human Rights Watch letter claims, "no information has been given as to the reason for the detention of these individuals or their arrest, and the investigation is being conducted in secret. Requests by lawyers representing the defendants for this information, including documents of the investigation, have been denied. In addition, while the venue of the trial is the Ankara State Security Court, the arrested are being held nearly 300 kilometres away, making their access to legal counsel difficult. Finally, the fact that the case of those arrested is being heard by an Anti-Terror court is troubling given the nature of the action, which is clearly within the bounds of the internationally-protected right of free assembly. Reportedly those held are charged under Article 169 of the penal code, aiding and abetting an illegal group, which falls under the purview of the Anti-Terror Law."


    Both human rights organizations in Turkey, the Human Rights Association (IHD) and the Association of the Oppressed (MAZLUMDER), are holding democracy briefings as an alternative to the General Staff's controversial anti-fundamentalist briefings which were recently given to prosecutors, judges, journalists, and businessmen.
    The Istanbul branch of the IHD started the campaign on July 6 by giving a briefing on human rights and democracy to representatives of non governmental organizations (NGOs) at the Turkish Journalists' Association (TGC) building over the weekend. MAZLUMDER's Istanbul branch is planning to hold a similar briefing on the topic of human rights and the irtica (reactionary religious tendencies) issue soon, and they will be seeking to define accurately just what is meant by "reactionary."
    The IHD briefing began by addressing why it was necessary to hold such a meeting.
    "Civic society organizations should have raised their voices on behalf of liberal democracy during social and political crisis," the briefing text stressed, "while we lived a situation clearly contrary to that. From the end of May to June the General Staff gave a series of briefings to various social circles in order to dictate to society its own opinions and solutions."
    The explanation of the aim of briefing continued: "These briefings of the General Staff were determining the limitations of our whole social life in an unprecedented way. What was voiced during these briefings; rights and freedoms which our society needs, or more democracy? Exactly none of them were voiced."
    According to the IHD, the General Staff was offering a prohibitive solution to overcome the so-called crisis, and this militarist approach would result in more limitations on rights and freedoms which were already limited. Criticising the approach of the General Staff, the text described the briefing series as an order. "But NGOs failed in their responsibility to this command by not voicing the real needs and problems of society," the text said.
    In this context, the IHD's briefing tried to reply to the question of what our society needs in order to live together in peace and freedom.
    In addition to criticism of the General Staff briefings, the closure of the IHD's provincial branches in Diyarbakir, Malatya, Izmir, Konya and Urfa was condemned by a joint protest action by the IHD and MAZLUMDER in front of the latter's branch in Istanbul.
    The IHD's branch organizations were closed down by regional governors in May and June. Describing the closure decisions as systematic and pre-planned pressures on their struggle against human rights violations, the IHD Istanbul branch continues to protest the case every Saturday at the same place.
    Attending the last protest, Istanbul Branch Chairman of MAZLUMDER Sadi Carsancakli condemned the measures against the IHD and called on all NGOs to support the struggle for human rights.


    A recent Turkish Union of Chambers and Commodity Exchanges (TOBB) report of July 8 stated that one out of every four people have migrated from their hometown to another city.  According to official census based TOBB research results, the highest rate of migration from urban areas comes from the southeastern town of Tunceli.      
    Although 253,271 people list Tunceli as their place of birth on identity cards, only 118,356 of them live there. Tunceli's migration rate, first among all other cities in Turkey, amounts to 53.57 percent with 134,915 people migrating since the last census.      Bayburt's migration rate also achieved a mark of distinction. While 97,605 people who were born in the Bayburt area continue to live in their hometowns, 101,776 of them have moved to other cities giving Bayburt a 51.05 percent migration rate.  
    The research noted that Sivas and Kars also had high migration rates. While 350,711 of the 3,074,506 people born in Istanbul migrated to other cities, 317,000 of those migrating from Sivas choose to go to Istanbul.


    In a new cosmetic operation to fool the world opinion, Turkey's parliament, on 14 August 1997, passed an amnesty bill that will result in the release from prison of six editors while tens of prisoners of opinion remain behind iron bars.
    The new amnesty law suspends the jail terms of editors - those legally designated as responsible and subsequently convicted for published materials and news articles that appeared in their newspapers - for a period of three years.
    The law stipulates that if a similar "offence" is committed within the three-year period, those amnestied will be required to serve their previous sentence in addition to any new sentencing confirmed by the courts.  
    Prior to the law's passage, the Turkish parliament rejected a more far-reaching proposal to expand the amnesty to include authors, writers, cartoonists, and other journalists who have been convicted under the sweeping provisions of Turkey's Anti-Terror Law and the Penal Code.    
    Many critics objected to the law, describing it as contradictory and "discriminatory" and saying that it was not aimed at bringing amnesty for all imprisoned journalists. Referring to the law which proposed the suspension of charges and convictions, but would lead journalists to be put behind bars once again if they committed the "same crime," critics said the law did not display a significant change in official views and still left journalists under the threat of being jailed for "writing stories." They said the action of "writing" must not be considered criminal.
    Critics believe that the law is specifically designed for Isik Yurtcu, the editor of the banned pro-Kurdish Özgür Gündem daily, who is serving the third year of his 15-year jail sentence.
    From 13-16 July 1997, a delegation of international press freedom groups, which included representatives from the Committee to Protect Journalists (CPJ), Journalists Without Frontiers (RSF), the Press Council (Turkey), the International Press Institute (IPI), and the Union of Newspaper Owners (Turkey) who met with government officials to press for the release of jailed journalists.  
    Speaking at the meetings, the CPJ representative Terry Anderson said Turkey had the highest number of jailed journalists in the world and that this level of press restriction was unacceptable, even in light of the considerable terrorist activity which takes place in Turkey. According to CPJ figures, 78 journalists were in Turkish prisons, the highest number in the world.
    RSF representative of Robert Menar said his group did not want to meddle in domestic Turkish politics but pointed out that Turkey, as a party to numerous international conventions protecting human rights, had to improve freedom of expression for its citizens.
    On 14 July 1997, prime minister Mesut Yilmaz promised the delegation that his government would immediately pursue amnesty legislation that would secure the release of a limited number of editors before parliament went into summer recess and would later seek more comprehensive legislation to win the release of other imprisoned journalists.  
    Before the motion was voted on in Parliament, new Justice Minister Oltan Sungurlu who spoke on the issue displayed an acute reluctance towards the passing of that law. "We are punishing those who insult Atatürk and support separatist activities. But tell us, aren't we going to punish those who commit the same actions by means of journalism? Then, we'll be working more efficiently," Sungurlu was quoted by the Anatolia news agency as saying.

    Isik Yurtcu and five other editors released

    After serving nearly 32 months in prison for his newspaper's critical coverage of Turkey's ongoing conflict with Kurdish insurgents, editor Isik Yurtcu was freed from Saray Prison on 15 August 1997, one day after Turkey's parliament passed a law allowing for the conditional release of several jailed editors.
    Along with Yurtcu, five other editors have been released: Bülent Balta and Mehmet Fatih Yesilbag of the  daily Özgür Gelecek; Naile Tuncer of the left-wing newspaper Devrimci Proletarya; and Hatice Onaran of the left-wing monthly Devrimci Cözüm.
    Yurtcu, the former editor of the daily Özgür Gündem, was sentenced in December 1994 to over ten years in prison for news articles that appeared during his tenure as editor from 1991 to 1992. A State Security Court convicted him under sweeping provisions of Turkey's Anti-Terror Law and Penal Code, which included disseminating "separatist propaganda."
    In November 1996, Yurtcu received the International Press Freedom Award from the Committee to Protect Journalists (CPJ) in recognition of his courage and integrity in resisting Turkey's harsh treatment of independent journalists covering the Kurdish conflict.     
    Yurtcu, who was the focus of international media attention on 16 July when the international delegation visited him in Saray Prison, said from his prison cell: "This is the first official recognition by the government of the absence of press freedom in Turkey. I am hoping that this recognition will open the way to freedom of thought in Turkey and to a democratic society - where thought is not a crime."

    The following is a reportage of Saadet Oruc on Esber Yagmurdereli, published by the Turkish Daily News of July 17, 1997.
    Yagmurdereli, who first became well-known through his efforts to end the prisoners' hunger strike in 1996, is now awaiting the yet-to-be-determined time of his arrest and imprisonment. Yagmurdereli was sentenced to 23 years imprisonment because of a speech he made at a meeting of the Human Rights Association (IHD), which is celebrating its 11th anniversary.
    The bearded, blind, elderly man sat in front of me, smoking a cigarette that appeared likely to fall from his lips, talking about politics, human rights and optimism. I watched his smile, framed in a white, black, yellow and brown-coloured beard. He began speaking, reflecting on the similarly hot July days of the previous year, the time of the hunger strike...
    Referring to those days as "one of the historical turning points" of the country, he said that the power of civilians in society was only then understood. It was the first time that the ability of intellectuals to solve social conflicts was proven, Yagmurdereli said. He continued, "Turkey decided on early elections in 1995. The main goal was to bring an end to the political crisis in the country. Without taking a serious stand against 'the war' that had lasted for 13 years, however, it was impossible to prevent the crisis in the country ... The decisions of the then-governments were not democratic in their approach, but were intended to terrorise the public with the continuation of the Kurdish conflict. There are some circles within the state that want the conflict in the Southeast to continue, especially the ones who profit from the war and take a considerable share from drug trafficking via Turkey. As $25 billion worth of drugs are traded via Turkey, reportedly 25 percent is taken by some individuals connected to the state. So it is easy to say that these circles will not readily give up that amount of a money.
    The government that was established after the December 1995 election, was keen on the idea of a military approach for the Kurdish conflict.
    The appointment of former police chief Mehmet Agar, which we understood better especially after the Susurluk accident, as minister of justice without a law background, confirmed the position of that government.
    Those were the first days after my release from prison. The bloody results of May Day demonstrations and prison incidents terrorised society. Turkey, as the country having the most political prisoners, was to experience more tragic events. The day we went to Bayrampasa prison was also the time when the National Security Council (MGK) decided to end the strikes by force. If we had not taken action, hundreds of prisoners would have died. Prosecutors and politicians then asked us to act as mediator.
    Yasar Kemal, the symbol of Turkish literature, Zülfü Livaneli, composer, Oral Calislar, Cumhuriyet's columnist and I started to mediate for a bloodless ending to the hunger strike. And it was the first that the intellectuals were active in seeking a solution to Turkey's problems…"
    Oral Calislar, Cumhuriyet columnist, talking about those days to the Turkish Daily News pointed out that Esber Yagmurdereli, was the leading figure in bringing about the ending of the hunger strike… Calislar describes the rest of the story: "Esber had the key role, then. It was a Friday when we met with Yasar Kemal and Zülfü Livaneli, arriving from a meeting with Ferzan Citici, Istanbul's prosecutor. There was a fear among us because of the possibility of an attack against the prisoners. Yasar Kemal made the statement that Turkey could not get over the shame of an attack upon the prisoners. By phone, Welfare's Istanbul deputy, Bahri Zengin, acting with special authority from the prime minister, Necmettin Erbakan, we were given an undertaking that there would be no interference from the prison. Then we accelerated our efforts. At that moment, I called Esber, to his cellular phone while he was on the ferry between Kadikoy and Karakoy… He got into the Bayrampasa prison to act as a mediator, and succeeded. We, together with Ercan Karakas, Halil Ergun and Orhan Pamuk, acted after Esber talked with the prisoners."
    Calislar, disturbed by the forthcoming imprisonment of Yagmurdereli, says that it is a shame for Turkey to put Yagmurdereli, a man who always promotes peace, in prison. According to Calislar, Yasar Kemal is very much at odds with the state. "Yasar Kemal, nowadays is saying that he will not stay in a Turkey, where Esber is imprisoned. He said that he would say that to Prime Minister Mesut Yilmaz," Calislar said.
    Now, returning to our two-hour talk with Yagmurdereli ... He is still optimistic about the new government. "If the Turkish people have not reacted to the 33 percent increase in oil prices yet, it means that it is just an open cheque for the new cabinet. But, if I have to go into the prison from where Isik Ocak Yurtcu is released, it is not good for Turkey. Instead of finding short-term solutions, the government must find radical solutions to bring about freedom of expression, which is the basic of human rights," he says.
    This last remark appears to be similar to Akin Birdal's recent proposal: "As we did during the hunger strike, we can act as a mediator for seeking a solution to the Kurdish issue. The state does not have to sit with the PKK for negotiations. But free discussion of the problem will bring the solution."
    Birdal, speaking to the TDN about the 11th anniversary of the IHD, had also proposed to act as a mediator between the state and Kurdish circles in seeking to resolve the conflict.
    "It is necessary to find the solution to the Kurdish conflict, which has caused 70 percent migration from eastern city Tunceli, and the evacuation of 2759 villages," Birdal says. "The IHD will surely pay attention to that issue, which is at the same time a problem not only for Turkey, but for the world. We are ready to act as mediators, just as we did to save the imprisoned soldiers from the PKK," Birdal continued.
    Last year, a mission of activists travelled to PKK camps in northern Iraq, to save a group of imprisoned Turkish soldiers. They faced harsh criticisms because they sat under the PKK flag in a cave, a command post of PKK. The IHD, which is currently actively working to support Yagmurdereli, is celebrating its 11th anniversary. Birdal says that they will continue to defend human rights.
    At a time when the Motherleft government is making positive statements with regard to human rights, the often-criticised Human Rights Association (IHD) reaches its eleventh year.
    The organization which was on honeymoon until 1992, began to be the target of security officials and was accused of "being the tool of terrorist organizations". The year 1992 was the year, when the IHD took a stand for a democratic solution to the Kurdish problem, Birdal says.
    The IHD was established just after the Sept. 12, 1980 coup d'état, to defend the rights of oppressed people. Birdal defines their aim as "to improve rights, to protect rights". The abolition of the law that prevented intellectuals from practising their professions was one of their greatest successes, Birdal said.


    IHD Chairman Akin Birdal has condemned the recent attacks and closure of the branches in Diyarbakir, Izmir, Urfa. In an interview with the TDN of June 30, he stated that there are planned attacks against the IHD personnel, as well as attacks against the IHD offices and that a trial was opened for the closure of the organization, which will celebrate its eleventh anniversary on July 17.
    Birdal said such attacks are not only against IHD, but against people who are not adequately represented Parliament. "The solidarity of civic forces will overcome these pressures," he stated.
    Remarking that 1998 will be the 50th anniversary of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights, Birdal called on all the bodies interested in human rights, especially the Foreign Ministry, to celebrate this meaningful anniversary together. "We are open to any kind of cooperation with the state for human rights," he stated. IHD will organize meetings and activities on the occasion of the 50th anniversary.
    Emphasising that the IHD does not work against the Turkish state, Birdal stated that their only aim was to improve the human rights standard. "We fight for the right for organizing associations and unions and freedom of thought," Birdal declared.
    In the October assembly of the association, IHD will review and renew its approach to furthering awareness and ethics with regard to human rights. "An organisational rebuilding regarding the number of offices and personnel will be on the agenda," Birdal said.

    Turkey's record on jailed journalists was slammed hard on July 13 by the New York Times, which ran both a news story and an editorial on the issue.
    In the editorial entitled "Turkey, jailer of journalists," the liberal daily said "Turkey has the shameful distinction of imprisoning more journalists than any country in the world.  In a related story, Stephen Kinzer highlighted the drama of the "Saturday mothers," who gather every Saturday to protest the disappearance of their sons or daughters
    After mentioning that most of these abuse cases are related to Turkey's fight in the Southeast against "Kurdish nationalists," Kinzer added the following: "It is generally considered criminal to suggest that the army shares responsibility for the carnage there, to advocate peace talks or to assert that the government should treat the Kurds as a distinct ethnic group that deserves autonomy."
    Below is the full text of the two NYT articles:

    Turkey, Jailer of Journalists

    "Turkey has the shameful distinction of imprisoning more journalists than any country in the world. The New York-based Committee to Protect Journalists has compiled a list of 78 reporters, writers and editors now in jail, and the Turkish Press Council reckons the total may be twice as high. Now that a new government has assumed power, it has a timely opportunity to open those prison doors. Doing so would lessen a stain on Turkey's reputation and enhance the democratic credentials of Prime Minister Mesut Yilmaz's secularist centre-right coalition.
    "Most of the journalists in prison are charged with disseminating "separatist propaganda" or with being members of proscribed pro-Kurdish political groups. In fact, under Turkey's broad Anti-terrorism Law, journalism itself is criminalized and reporters face prison for doing their job. An emblematic case is that of Ocak Isik Yurtcu, a prominent writer and former newspaper editor who has served three years of a 15-year sentence. Mr. Yurtcu's offence was to publish articles about the Turkish Army's scorched-earth campaign against Kurdish insurgents in southeastern Turkey.
    "Mr. Yurtcu's plight, along with scores of other cases, will be taken up this summer by a visiting delegation of journalists, among them Terry Anderson and Peter Arnett, at the request of Turkish press organizations.
    "By responding favourably, Prime Minister Yilmaz would signal a halt to Turkey's descent into repression. He would begin to answer critics, especially in the European Union, of Turkey's dismal human rights record, and would set a different example from his immediate secular and Islamic predecessors. This is more than a press issue. For nearly a decade Turkey has relied primarily on force to counter Kurdish terrorists, without opening a parallel political track for a huge, aggrieved ethnic minority. Press freedom is among the casualties of a failed strategy, imposed by the military, which Mr. Yilmaz cannot change overnight. Yet it is within his power to release jailed journalists and decriminalise free speech, an essential precondition for an end to Turkey's domestic turmoil. Turkey's friends hope he will not let this moment pass."

    Rights abuses stain Turkey's democratic image

    "Turkey -- Every Saturday at noon, as they have done for more than two years, about 100 Turks converge on a bustling plaza in downtown Istanbul and quietly sit on the pavement.
    "There are usually no speeches and no placards. The protesters, mostly women, make their point by silently displaying photographs of their missing loved ones, although their emotion sometimes boils over into a chant, like 'Mothers' anger will strangle the murderers.' After half an hour they rise and go their separate ways.
    "'Three men in civilian clothes grabbed my husband as he left the house one night in 1995,' one of the protesters, Hanim Tosun, 32, said on a recent Saturday. 'They were carrying pistols and walkie-talkies. We checked the license number of their car and found it was registered to the police. That was almost two years ago. We have tried everything to find him, but the police tell us nothing.'
    "Mrs. Tosun's husband was a street vendor who had served three years in prison on charges of collaborating with Kurdish guerrillas in southeastern Turkey and had come to Istanbul to start a new life. He is now a statistic, one of an unknown number of Turks believed to have disappeared while in police custody.
    "As Mrs. Tosun and the other 'Saturday mothers' carried out their weekly protest, people around them went about their business. At nearby kiosks, newspapers carried bold headlines accusing politicians of various abuses. Organizers of rightist and leftist parties huddled in downtown offices, making plans for the coming election campaign.
    "'This is in many ways a very free country, so free that people can go to the polls and change their government whenever they want,' Orhan Pamuk, Turkey's most prominent young novelist, said in an interview. 'But it is also a country with a horrible human rights record. Probably there is no country in the world where this contradiction is so sharp and clear.'
    "Turkey's human rights record is the subject of endless debate, not only here but also in the Western world. Turkish officials say the problem is exaggerated, but it is one of the main reasons why the European Union insists on holding Turkey at arm's length and why some Westerners consider Turkey to be a difficult partner.
    "Many strategists in Washington and in European capitals agree that because of Turkey's membership in NATO, its geographical position, its history and its role as a defender of secularist democracy in the Muslim world, Turkey could become even more important than it has been.
    "But they also say that before Turkey can become a full partner of the West or a desirable model for the new nations of the Caucasus and Central Asia, it must resolve nagging questions about the way it treats prisoners and dissenters.
    "'Human rights and freedom of expression are very important issues for the image of Turkey, and they condition many people's reflex reaction to questions about Turkey's role in Europe,' said Michael Lake, the European Union's envoy in Ankara.
    "'This reflex is so strong that it outweighs important perceptions of Turkey, such as its strategic importance, its place in the foreign and security architecture of Europe, and even its growing importance as an economic partner.'
    "Hanging over the human rights debate is the war being waged by Kurdish nationalists in the Southeast. Most charges of human rights abuses in Turkey stem from incidents in that region. As many as 80 percent of the charges arising in other parts of the country, according to several human rights advocates, are somehow related to the Kurdish conflict.
    "Tens of thousands of people have been killed out there," said Sabri Ergul, a member of the human rights committee in Parliament. The remains of Turkish soldiers and civilians slain in the fighting 'have come back to nearly every town and village in Turkey,' he added. 'Naturally people are very angry about this. They develop the feeling that whatever has to be done to stop terrorism is justified.'
    "'Terrorism is the problem of our age, but our age is also the age of human rights,' Ergul said. 'The great mistake that is made here is the belief that when you combat terrorism, you don't have to respect democracy and law.'
    "Ergul is involved in one of Turkey's most important torture-related cases. He is a lawyer for the families of 16 teenagers who were arrested last year for scrawling leftist graffiti on walls and who are accused of belonging to subversive organizations in the western town of Manisa.
    "Although police have admitted that the teenagers confessed to their crimes under torture, they were found guilty and sentenced to terms of up to 12 years in prison.
    "A public prosecutor in Manisa has filed suit against 10 police officers accused of having carried out the torture, but the government is drawing out the case and seems to hope that it will somehow fade away. It is doing the same in another important case, the investigation of officers charged in the 1996 beating death of journalist Metin Goktepe.
    "'The government, especially the Interior Ministry, protects the police who torture,' Ergul said. 'They encourage it. They are the ones telling the police forces to behave this way, so naturally they are not in a position to prosecute officers who follow their instructions.'
    "Human rights advocates say that besides torture in detention centres and the 'mystery killings' of perceived Kurdish nationalists, the other principal human rights problem in Turkey is the ban on statements deemed to threaten national unity. Laws that forbid these statements are applied most often against those who question government policy in the Kurdish region.
    "It is generally considered criminal to suggest that the army shares responsibility for the carnage there, to advocate peace talks or to assert that the government should treat the Kurds as a distinct ethnic group that deserves autonomy.
    "These laws are often used in cases that devastate Turkey's image. Last year, for example, one of the country's most beloved cultural figures, the novelist Yasar Kemal, was sentenced to a 20-month prison term for making pro-Kurdish statements that were interpreted as separatist propaganda.
    "Kemal's sentence was suspended, as often happens in such cases. Nonetheless, human rights advocates say that more than 70 journalists and writers are in jail for statements they have made.
    "Turkish officials concede that torture is sometimes used in detention centres, but they insist that it is not systematic and not sanctioned by the authorities. They also assert that laws against separatist propaganda must be judged in the context of a civil conflict in which terrorism has been used as a principal weapon.
    "At a news conference in London last year, Foreign Minister Tansu Ciller said that Turkey 'has decided to take a series of measures in order to totally eliminate in practice the crime of torture, which as a matter of fact is forbidden by our laws.' After she spoke, Parliament passed a law cutting the maximum time defendants may be held incommunicado to 10 days from 30.
    "Perhaps the most illuminating human rights case in Turkey is the complex scandal that emerged after a spectacular car crash near the western town of Susurluk in November that killed a top police official and an escaped heroin smuggler. A pro-government Kurdish clan leader, who is also a member of Parliament, survived.
    "Questions about what the three men were doing in a car together led to accusations of government involvement in smuggling, death squads, illegal repression in the Southeast and other crimes.
    "But a parliamentary investigation of the scandal fizzled out after senior military and civilian leaders signalled that they would not cooperate. Many Turks believe responsibility for the crimes reaches so high that a full investigation is impossible.
    "'I'm glad we had Susurluk,' said Taciser Belge, coordinator of the Istanbul-based human rights group Helsinki Citizens Assembly. 'Now when we speak about these things, people realize that we're not making up stories. Since Susurluk, people understand that when things like mystery killings happen, the army and the state are involved. This is very new in Turkey.'


    One hundred members of the U.S. House of Representatives have agreed to sign a letter to President Bill Clinton urging him "to raise [Leyla] Zana's case with the Turkish authorities at the highest level and seek her immediate and unconditional release" from prison in Turkey, the American Kurdish Information Network (AKIN) reported on July 26.
    Zana, a former member of the Turkish Parliament, was tried at a Turkish court and found guilty of treason in 1994. She is currently serving a 15-year prison term.
    Some of the House members that circulated the letter and urged their colleagues to sign on have criticized Turkey frequently on a variety of issues, like John Porter (R) of Illinois, Frank Wolf (R) of Virginia, Elizabeth Furse (D) of Oregon and Esteban Torres (D) of California.


    According to the New York Times of June 16. The New York City Council has introduced a measure that, if it becomes a city law, will boycott those companies doing business in Turkey and 14 other nations. The measure has been sent to New York City Mayor Rudolph Giuliani for his signature. All these countries "frequently imprison, torture, enslave or kill Christians for practising their faith," according to the author of the said measure, Peter Vallone, the New York City Council speaker.
    According to Vallone's proposed city law, the city purchasers would be banned from buying cars, computers or petroleum from multinational corporations active in fifteen countries such as Time Warner, Pepsico, General Motors, Mobil and Chase Manhattan.
    Earlier a similar resolution was submitted in the U.S. Congress to protect persecution of Christians in a number of selected countries -- not including Turkey.
    "The measure, introduced last month, also calls for the city to withdraw deposits and investments from banks that do business with those countries. If passed, the bill would make more than one-third of the world's business population off-limits to the city, which has the fourth-largest governmental budget in the country. Only the federal government, California and New York state have larger budgets," the New York Times said.
    Other countries targeted by the boycott besides Turkey include Saudi Arabia, Indonesia, Myenmar (Burma), Egypt, China, Cuba, Iran, Iraq, Laos, Pakistan, Morocco, Nigeria, North Korea, Sudan and Vietnam.
    City Councilman Thomas Duane, a Manhattan Democrat, praised Vallone's efforts, calling it a moral issue for the city.
    "Just like in South Africa and in Northern Ireland, New York City can stand as a leader in the battle for human rights around the world," Duane said. "As an international city, New York has a responsibility that's far beyond the borders of our five boroughs." Mayor Giuliani is also said to looking favorably on Vallone's bill.
    New York City's business community was not all happy with the city's attempt to punish these 15 countries     "No business in New York City would go unaffected if this bill is passed," said Robert Kiley, president of the New York City Partnership and Chamber of Commerce, who said he planned to meet with city leaders to lobby against it.
    "Once again," Kiley said, "businesses are being singled out as the bad guy. If they can't get at the offending country at the city council base, they're taking it out on companies. This is a kind of old and not very desirable tradition of isolationism and know-nothingism cloaked in morality."

    The trials of certain defendants charged with spreading separatist propaganda continued at the Ankara SSC No. 2 on August 20.
    Former deputy Hasan Mezarci who is also charged with defaming Atatürk was not present at the hearing but was represented by his lawyers. In their written submission to the court, the lawyers maintained that their client was very upset with the accusation that he had collaborated with the outlawed Kurdistan Workers' Party (PKK), the Anatolia news agency reported.
    They presented excerpts from speeches which Mezarci had delivered to Parliament when he was deputy in which he had criticised the PKK. Mezarci's defence claimed that he had not made statements against the state but that he had only criticised the system. They requested an acquittal on the grounds that Mezarci had not committed the crime which he was charged with. The on-duty delegation of judges (temporary substitutes) postponed the hearing to a later date to allow the original judges to make the final ruling in regard to the case.
    The prosecutor demanded a prison sentence of up to three years and a fine amounting to TL 300 million for Mezarci who had not been kept under custody during the course of the trial.
    The trials of writer Ismail Besikci and former deputy of the now-defunct Democracy Party (DEP), Hatip Dicle and seven former administrators of the Ankara branch of the Human Rights Association (IHD) continued.
    Besikci has been charged with spreading propaganda against the state in his articles in the book titled "The Human Rights Panorama in Turkey" published by the Ankara branch of the IHD. Dicle is charged with incitement through making racial and class discriminatory remarks. The prosecutor has demanded a prison sentence of up to three years for both Besikci and Dicle.
    The court also continued the trial of Labor Party (IP) Chairman Dogu Perincek charged with spreading separatist propaganda in a speech he delivered on Dec. 27, 1992, during the second congress of the Turkish Workers and Peasants Party (TIKP). Perincek's lawyer maintained that his client had not uttered the words included in the indictment. The prosecutor has demanded Perincek receive a three year prison sentence.

    The cultural mosaic formed by the various ethnic groups living within the boundaries of Turkey is always spoken about with pride. But the culture, languages, folklore, literature and traditions of many peoples are vanishing." says journalist Zeki Ayik in The Turkish Daily News of April 10, 1997.
    The following are his observations on the situation of ethnic groups of Turkey:
    The cultural wealth of the Kurds, Circassians, Laz, Arabs, Abkhazians, Chechens, Tatars and various other ethnic groups, which they have carried up to now throughout history cannot, by law, be studied in Turkish universities. Their language and folklore are vanishing from history.
    These ethnic groups, who live all around Anatolia, are struggling to keep their language, folklore and traditions alive. While trying to protect their cultural values from assimilation by isolating themselves, they have failed to resist the assimilation of the developing technology and nature.
    Turkey, no doubt, is one of the few countries where so many numbers of different ethnic groups live together. These groups have been forcibly replaced or forced to migrate from their original lands under centuries of long wars and oppression in various times, and most have been living in Anatolian lands for centuries.
    Kabardegs, Shapsigs, Chechens, Ossetians, Ibikhs and Abkhazs are some of the Caucasian groups who have been forced to migrate to the Ottoman lands to escape Czarist Russia in the 1800's.
    The Caucasian people were settled in every part of Anatolia by the Ottomans. They fought for Turkey during the First World War and Independence War with their Caucasian identities. But they have taken their share from the official assimilation policy after the 1930s and their ethnic identities were denied. Their folk dances were viewed as Turkish folklore, their names and surnames brought from Caucasia have been changed, their languages have been banned. There were two names left which were known as Caucasian; "Caucasian Ethem" and Caucasian Chicken Spread.
    Caucasian people have gathered around associations and started to struggle to go back to Caucasia. But they could not avoid oppression in these associations either, and their opinions could not go any further than being utopias.
    Researcher and writer Cemal Tarik Kutlu, who has spent years researching the language and history of Chechens, states that it is inevitable for the Caucasians in Turkey to protect their culture and language assimilation. Kutlu evaluates this result as the official policy of the state.
    "Caucasians stood for the protection of their tradition and language for years. But assimilation has entered homes, breaking the walls of the isolated life styles via television. Children have been taught that everyone living in Turkey is a Turk in the schools. It has been told that there is no need for another language. These people have tolerated these ideologies and obeyed them. Families have not spoken their native languages, trying help their children to learn Turkish. Turkey has promised that it would enable the ethnic groups to protect their language and cultures in international agreements, but has violated these agreements.
    "Besides," he continued, "our language has been banned, our traditions have been possessed as theirs. It has been told that Caucasians are Turkish. There is no similarity between Turkish and Caucasian language. They have insisted on their claims, denying this (language) fact."
    Kutlu also states that all the peoples should own their language and culture and the states should accept and protect them.
    The complaints of the ethnic people who have migrated to Turkey are same with the ones who had been living in Turkey before them. Kurds are the people who have been struggling to regain their lost identities the most. A positive step cannot be taken despite the intentions of political parties in various periods, such as the establishment of a Kurdish television channel and Kurdish courses in schools.
    The Istanbul-based Foundation for Kurdish Culture and Research (KURT-KAV), which is the first of its kind in the history of the Turkish Republic, has recently made a serious step by opening a school to save the Kurdish language and culture. This is a step which should have been taken by the Turkish state.
    The foundation bought a building in Beyoglu district for the school, then renovated and prepared it for the purpose. The foundation is waiting for the approval of the National Security Council (MGK) according to Law No. 2923.
    KURT-KAV was established by a group of Kurdish intellectuals in 1991 in Istanbul. The foundation's official approval in 1995 was a "first" in the history of the Turkish Republic; it is the first institution to have been established with a Kurdish identity and the name "Kurdish."
    The president of KURT-KAV, Yilmaz Camlibel, stated that the other nations whose languages and culture had been rejected may open schools to have education in their own language.
    "I am a Turkish citizen," he said, "but I am Kurdish. The state opens schools which give education in Turkish with the taxes I pay. But my need is to have Kurdish children who have not forgotten their own identity, language and culture. Kurdish language schools are needed for this.
    "The existence of Kurdish people, who have lived on these lands for 7,000 years, has been denied. The name 'Kurd' has been explained by the "gart-gurt" sounds one makes walking on snow, and people have believed in these stories. If the language, history and folklore of Kurds is not studied, there will be many more illogical explanations such as these ones," Camlibel points out.
    "We are going to start studies within KURT-KAV to prevent such situations," he says.
    Camlibel said that the institute had applied to the Istanbul Governor's office to open a language school and the office had a positive attitude towards the idea. Camlibel added that the issue would be taken into consideration by the MGK according to law No. 2923, which concerns schools which have programs in foreign languages.
    The KURT-KAV president said that the Kurdish Language School would hold courses in a six storey building in Tarlabasi. He added that the building was bought with the money which was collected from the activities of KURT-KAV and donations made by businessmen.
    Camlibel pointed out that KURT-KAV would make a wide study of Kurdish culture and history in addition to the language school. He also added that his group was going to send this research to other Kurdish institutes around the world and exchange information with them.


    The trial against Recep Marasli, a publisher held since 6 March 1997, continues and the next hearing is due 2 September. Marasli is standing trial, reportedly on charges under anti-terror legislation, for alleged membership of PRK- Rizgari, a small radical pro-Kurdish group. The organisation's main activities are to produce materials promoting Kurdish political and cultural rights. The charges have been pending against Marasli for a number of years. On 7 August, the Ankara State Security Court held another hearing of his case and then adjourned the trial until 2 September.
    Despite repeated calls by Marasli's doctors and international human rights organizations, including PEN, that Marasli be freed pending trial due to severe ill-health, Marasli remains detained. On 7 August, lawyers presented medical reports to the court which stated that Marasli had partial paralysis of the face and cerebral atrophy. Lawyers' pleas for Marasli's release were unmet.
    Marasli, now aged 41, was first imprisoned when he was 16 for his articles published in newspapers in Erzurum. He subsequently went to work as a publisher for Komal, which focuses on the Kurdish community in Turkey. In 1982 he was arrested for his publications and given a total of 36 years in prison. In 1984 he went on hunger-strike which led to permanent neurological damage. He was freed under a general amnesty in April 1991 on condition that he not "re-offend". He continued to write and speak on the Kurdish issue. In September 1993, Marasli was issued with an arrest warrant for taking part in a debate in which he called for a peaceful solution to the conflict in the south-east. He went into hiding, only to be arrested in July 1994. On his arrest he is said to have suffered severe torture. He was freed pending trial. In November 1995, he was sentenced to one year and four months' imprisonment for his writings. He subsequently went into hiding while the sentence went into appeal. Other charges are pending against him, some of which are in legal process.


    The Istanbul SSC, on July 17, sentenced the husband of imprisoned ethnic Kurdish former deputy Leyla Zana to prison for spreading "separatist propaganda." Mr. Zana will serve 10 months in prison and pay an 83 million lira ($ 540) fine for a book of poetry he had written.
    The charge is one often used to try pro-Kurdish or human rights activists. Zana's publisher, Aysenur Zarakolu, was given a fine of 42 million lira ($270).
    Mehdi Zana, former Mayor of Diyarbakir, had earlier been imprisoned many times because of his opinions and statements.
    His wife Leyla Zana is one of four ethnic Kurdish ex-MPs who are currently serving a 15-year sentence for links with the outlawed PKK. In 1995 the European parliament awarded Leyla Zana the Sakharov peace prize for freedom of thought. Mehdi Zana accepted the award on his wife's behalf in Strasbourg.


    On 31 July 1997, RSF expressed concern over the trial of Ayse Nur Zarakolu, owner of the Belge Publishing House, which published a collection of articles and reports in a book titled Özgürlügün Bedeli". The book's translators, Zeynep Herkmen and Suheyla Kaya, are also being tried in the same case.
    The book was written by German journalist Lissy Schmidt. According to RSF's information, the trial against Zarakoglu, Herkman and Kaya began on 30 July in an Istanbul State Security Court. The three women are on trial in connection with the publication of two books, one of which is Schmidt's.
    During the first hearing, Zarakoglu and Kaya made their deposition. Herkmen was absent.  The trial is scheduled to resume on 13 October 1997.  BACKGROUND: In January 1997, an Istanbul State Security Court had confiscated the book, saying it contained "separatist propaganda."

    Human Rights Watch (HRW), the international human rights advocacy group, awarded on July 2, twelve Turkish journalists with Hellman/Hammett grants "because of state persecution."The journalists, who represent "Islamist, Kurdish, leftist and mainstream" perspectives, have been "(persecuted) for writing about a number of issues, including the Kurdish question, the role of Islam in society, and the nature of the Turkish state," HRW claimed.
    HRW awarded the following journalists: Ahmet Altan, Ragip Duran, Ali Erol, Atilla Halis, Mustafa Islamoglu, Sefa Kaplan, Ertugrul Kürkcü, Mehmet Oguz, Ahmet Sik, Isik Yurtcu, Aysenur Zarakolu.
    In addition, writers from 15 other countries, a total of 45 writers, received Hellman/Hammett grants this year.
    HRW also noted that "a high degree of free expression" exists "on almost all other topics, creating a national dichotomy that permeates public debate."
    "With these awards we hope to stir public debate about the scope of free expression in Turkey and what needs to be done to improve it," said Peter Osnos, chair of the grant selection committee. "While free expression is permitted in many areas, it is frequently suppressed in the discussion of some of Turkey's most pressing problems."


    Ismail Besikci, Turkey's most famous "prisoner of thought", stated that the government had to take determined steps in order to completely assert freedom of thought in Turkey.
    In an interview on July 23 with the Turkish Daily News between the glass and bars of Bursa Prison, Besikci said, "It is ridiculous for the State to wait for five years to see if the crime is repeated or not." He criticised the "conditions" imposed by the state on prisoners of thought who are to be released. Besikci, who has come to symbolically represent prisoners of thought in Turkey faces a sentence of more than a hundred years, said that he is closely following the statements made by the new government regarding the possible changes to laws on "freedom of thought and expression."
    "While Deputy Prime Minister Bülent Ecevit was making positive remarks about my release, somebody else was saying that all prisoners of thought will be released except me", he said.     Referring to the precondition of not repeating the "crime" within five years, Besikci said, "If you were punished because of a robbery case or something like that, it could be possible not to do the same crime again, but when it comes to prisoners of thought, are we to invent new concepts so that our writing is rendered ridiculous by ill-fitting disguise? The government has to remove the articles that prevent freedom of expression from the Constitution, otherwise piecemeal solutions will do nothing for a real solution to the problem."
    Besikci says that he is not writing books any more, but is preparing for his trials. "One day, I may think to bring these defence papers together, which can turn into a new reason for being prosecuted," he ends his words with a bitter smile on his face.Besikci is sentenced to an imprisonment of more than a hundred of ears because his books discussed the sociological, political and economic structure of Southeastern Anatolia, basically the Kurdish problem.

    Nine policemen, seven of them being held in custody, who are accused of the murder of journalist Metin Göktepe refused to make statements in their first court appearance on August 21, saying, "We wish to use our right to remain silent."
    At the trial at the Afyon Criminal Court under presiding judge, Nilgun Ucar, the hearing was postponed until September 15 so that witnesses may be called. Despite the banning of demonstrations by the Afyon Provincial Governor's Office, about 1,600 people (40 busloads) gathered in Afyon to march to the courthouse. Amongst these, as well as Metin Göktepe's mother Fadime, were members and representatives of organizations such as the Freedom and Solidarity Party (ÖDP), the Labour Party (EMEP), the Republican People's Party (CHP), the Revolutionary Workers' Labour Union Confederation (DISK), the Human Rights Association (IHD), the Contemporary Journalists Association (CGD) and the Turkish Journalists Association (TGD).
    Police halted demonstrators 50 meters from the courthouse. The police also stationed snipers on the courthouse roof and were clearly well positioned to intimidate the crowd. The demonstrators protested the exclusion from the vicinity of the courthouse of all but members of the Göktepe family and their lawyers by chanting slogans such as, "Where the trial is, we are there," and "It is our right to watch the trial." Citizens of Afyon living in the vicinity of the courthouse closed their doors and windows securely and watched the events from between their curtains.
    Robert Manner, speaking for the international organisation Journalists Without Frontiers, stated that they were attending this trial because it would play a key role in shedding light on the spate of mysterious killings from which Turkey has suffered, and continued, "As we have seen, if the press does its duty at this trial, the fate of other trials may change." He commented, "As for the courtroom being so small as to allow as few as 50 people to be squeezed in, they are sneering at us." He pointed out that when there is substantial public interest, trials in Europe are held in large courtrooms to admit as many as possible, and added, "This is a show of respect for journalists and for the public right to be informed." Referring to the large number of police, gendarmes and other security officials surrounding the court, Manner stated that he found it strange to see the accused police being brought into the Afyon courtroom under the protection of a military cordon.
    "Out of 40, 9 are left," said Fadime Göktepe, complaining about yet another delay in the trial procedure. She alleged that her son had been killed by the gangs of former Prime Minister and Foreign minister Tansu Ciller but that the murderers had only been arrested and brought to court thanks to the current Prime Minister Mesut Yilmaz.
    The use of the accused's lawyers of the "right of refusal" (in other words, their request for the alteration of the composition of the court) was regarded by the court as a method of delaying the trial proceedings and it ordered that the accused policemen continue to be remanded in custody, taking into account the fact that the type of crime involved had not yet been established nor the evidence fully collected. It also decided to launch an investigation into whether or not the ailments of four of the policemen, who did not attend the hearing because they produced doctors' reports saying that they were unfit to do so, were or were not of such a nature as to prevent them from taking part. The court required full information on the treatment of the police in question.
    CHP Parliamentary Deputy Sabri Ergül stated that the Metin Göktepe trial and that of young people who had been tried and imprisoned in his own district, Manisa, despite having been maltreated by police reflected on Turkey's prestige. Unfortunately," he said, "the behaviour of the administration in not providing information to make the job of the court easier has no place in the public conscience."


    Esber Yagmurdereli, writer and honorary member of several PEN Centres since he was first imprisoned in 1978, may be forced to return to prison to serve the remaining 16 years of a previous sentence.
    Yagmurdereli, a writer who has been blind since the age of ten, was imprisoned in 1978 and sentenced to death on charges of "trying to change the constitutional order by force." The sentence was commuted to life imprisonment.     International PEN, Amnesty International and other human rights monitors concluded that Yagmurdereli's trial fell foul of international standards of fairness and that he was detained in denial of his rights guaranteed under the Universal Declaration of Human Rights. In addition, it is reported that Yagmurdereli was convicted on the basis of a confession which had been extracted under torture.
    Yagmurdereli was freed under a general amnesty in 1991 on condition that he did not "re-offend." However, later that year, Yagmurdereli made a speech marking the 10 December Human Rights Day in which he accused the Turkish government of human rights abuses against Kurds. As a result, he was charged under Article 8 of the Anti-Terror Law. Lengthy trial proceedings concluded in late June 1997 when the Istanbul State Security Court found Yagmurdereli guilty as charged and sentenced him to ten months in prison.
    At present Yagmurdereli remains free as his lawyers have brought the case to a court of appeal. Under the conditions of his release in 1991, Yagmurdereli could be forced to serve the remaining 16 years of the previous sentence, as well as the 10-month sentence handed down in June 1997. It is thought that the appeal court will reach a decision in a few days, and that Yagmurdereli could as a result be forced to return to prison, possibly not to be released until 2014.


    After the failure of the first post-Türkes congress because of the bloody incidents between different fractions, the Nationalist Action Party (MHP) elected Devlet Bahceli as its new basbug (führer) during the extraordinary congress held on July 6 in Ankara. Bahceli and Tugrul Türkes, the son of the late founding leader Alparslan Türkes, were the only participants in the runoff. Bahceli won the race with 697 votes while Türkes collected 487.
    No one was admitted into the meeting hall except the delegates. Even press members were not allowed for a while.
    Bahceli was born in 1948 and has a Ph.D in Economics. He has been one of the party's leading members since 1987.
    He took office on July 7. His supporters cheered him and sacrificed four sheep for him as he entered the party's headquarters in Ankara. He is known having good relations with DYP leader Tansu Ciller.
    After his election, two extreme-right deputies resigned from the DYP and joined the MHP in a view to give the party the chance to raise its voice in Parliament.

    Most Turks living in Germany want to become German citizens, but without losing their Turkish citizenship, the director of the Centre of Turkish Studies at Essen University declared in Istanbul on July 3. At the end of 1996, 2,049,100 Turks were living in Germany, 70 percent residing there for more than 10 years, Faruk Sen, a professor of economics and director of the centre, told a conference.
    "The number of Turks returning home permanently is falling every year. Turks living in Germany want to become German citizens without renouncing their Turkish nationality," Sen declared.
    He said the German government has been permitting Turks to become German citizens on condition that they cancel their Turkish citizenship by handing in their Turkish passports.
    Germany has announced it will allow the children of Turks living in their country to hold duel citizenship until the age 18, when they must decide whether to adopt Turkish or German nationality.
    "The problems related to adopting German citizenship has not been solved. Having duel citizenship is becoming more difficult," Sen explained.
    About 126,000 Turks have already become German citizens. German planners project that 250,000 Turks will have adopted German citizenship by the year 2000.
    A vast majority of the Turks went to Germany as "guest workers," or as university students. An estimated two million have returned permanently to Turkey.
    The Turkish population in Germany is increasing by 60,000 a year, according to Sen, mainly because of increased intermarriages between Turks and Germans.
    The two-day conference, "The problems faced by Turks in Germany and foreigners in Turkey and the role of the press," will end Friday. The conference has been jointly organised by the Konrad Adenauer Foundation, the Centre for Turkish Studies and the Turkish Democracy Foundation. Numerous Turkish and German journalists, academics and political figures are attending the conference. Sen said that 181,694 Turks, representing 24 percent of the Turks in Germany of working age, were jobless due to the continued recession in Europe. He said more Turks were being subjected to discrimination because of the economic crisis.
    "Although Turks have no differences compared to Germans in their professional qualification and language ability, our citizens are beginning to have difficulty finding jobs because they are foreigners," Sen argued. He said increasing joblessness in Germany is also one of the principal causes of growing xenophobia among Germans.

    The Turkish Union of Chambers and Commodity Exchanges (TOBB) said on July 3 that local firms should get more involved in the country's defence projects in order to grab a share of the $150 billion to be spent in the field over the next 25 years. TOBB has just released a report focusing on the defence industry in Turkey.
    During a press conference, the union's Executive Board Deputy Chairman Erol Gemalmaz said that TOBB aims to encourage local firms to engage in some of the impressive defence projects Turkey has planned for the next couple of decades. He added that the report indicated channels which could be used by industrialists who are considering investment in the sector.
    Gemalmaz pointed out that currently only 21 percent of the primary weapons, equipment and spare parts needs of the Turkish Armed Forces could be met by domestic production, and that the other 79 percent came from abroad. He stressed that this situation should be reversed and added that in the next decade Turkey plans to spend at least $10 billion.
    The TOBB report was prepared by retired Brig. Gen. Fikret Ülger. He noted that among neighbouring countries Turkey ranks third after Israel and Russia in allocation of funds for defence.
    Fikret pointed out that Turkey could provide 75 percent of its total defence needs by boosting the output of related local firms and making wise investments in the field based on strategical needs.
    He added that in order for Turkey to become self-sufficient in the 21st century, command and control systems, computer and intelligence systems, precision-guided missile systems and electronic warfare systems must take priority.
    The union's report portrayed the Turkish Armed Forces' equipment and weaponry needs, out of the planned $150 billion to be spent, as follows;
    Land Forces Command ($60 billion planned over 25 years):
    750 helicopters, 180 rocket and missile systems, 150 antitank rockets, 12 remote control air vehicles, 3,627 main communication tanks, 1,951 guns and howitzers, 48,564 wheeled vehicles
    The needs of the Naval Forces Command ($25 billion allocated):
    14 frigates, 16 patrol ships, 15 guided assault boats, nine submarines, four anti-mine ships, four mine sweepers, 35 landing vehicles, one communications-backed ship, 25 auxiliary class ships and vehicles, nine sea patrol aircraft, 38 helicopters
    The needs of the Air Forces Command ($65 billion allocated):
    640 fighter jets, 79 operations airplanes, 160 training aircraft, 68 transportation airplanes, 25 helicopters, 442 air defence weapon systems.


    At a panel discussion organised by the Silifke Democracy Platform on July 15, delegates voted to send a report to Turkey's new Prime Minister Mesut Yilmaz stating that nuclear power stations are not wanted in Turkey.
    Ali Yigit, a member of the administrative board of the Chamber of Electrical Engineers (EMO) stated that for years propaganda to the effect that without a nuclear power station, Turkey would be left in darkness had been carried out. He continued, "Because no country wants a new power station near its borders, they want to build them at Sinop (on the Black Sea) and Akkuyu (close to the Mediterranean coast in the Icel region). With nuclear power stations, they are choosing to commit suicide on the points of tourism and agriculture. We should establish our future not with the technology of the 1940s but with the technology of tomorrow. Turkey will be sacrificed to a blind political vision. As EMO, we are on the side of the people of Sinop and Akkuyu."
    Ethem Torunoglu, Vice-Chairman of the Chamber of Environmental Engineers (CMO) also declared that as a chamber CMO was determined to oppose the establishment of nuclear power stations in Turkey. "A nuclear power station is a fairy story," he said. "This business has a dimension of imperialist aggression. They are selling for cash to backward countries the nuclear power stations they couldn't build themselves. From the point of view of cost, a nuclear power station is very expensive, it is terrible from the point of view of the possibility of an accident and from the point of view of waste, it is impossible to dispose of this. We have difficulty in putting out forest fires. How will those who had to bring helicopters from Germany for the Kirikkale fire prevent a nuclear accident?"
    Electrical engineer Ünal Erdogan, a member of the National Committee of the World Energy Council, claimed that a number of secret operations were being carried out at Akkuyu and that because entry to the site was being forbidden, it was possible that dangerous wastes were being stored there. "While the world is in energy trouble," he said, "we are in trouble both with energy and with its policy makers." Later he added, " The greatest danger and the greatest mistake for Turkey would be a nuclear power station. The size of bribes being 5 million dollars, for this profit they are putting us in trouble with nuclear power which is not the energy of the future but of the past. And they are doing this by mortgaging Turkey's future. If energy losses in Turkey were prevented, the free energy resulting would be equal to that of a nuclear power station. "
    Tasucu Wildlife Protection and Education Foundation Chairman Arslan Eyce stated, "They're trying to establish a nuclear power station at Akkuyu with reports which say that population density is low, that there is no agriculture and no tourism. They also think that, if necessary, it can be evacuated very quickly. They regard us as the guinea pigs of TEDAS (Turkey's electricity distribution organisation) and the multinational companies. We are not guinea pigs. They don't allow us a place to speak. Let us use our democratic rights. Let's carry out a referendum." The results of the discussion and decisions taken will be passed on to Prime Minister Mesut Yilmaz by the Silifke Democratic Platform.

    Deputy Chief of General Staff Gen. Cevik Bir received President of France's General Directorate for Armament Jean-Yves Helmer in Ankara on June 30. Consultations between the two will centre on the issue of arms modernisation, the Anatolia news agency reported.
    Speaking at the Helmer's reception, Gen. Bir said that studies for the modernisation of the Turkish Armed Forces (TAF) planned for the next 15-20 years, included helicopter and front-line battle tank projects. Bir also added that he and Helmer agreed that other projects and joint studies with France should be considered.
    Helmer said France and Turkey already have co-operated both militarily and industrially and hoped that joint projects and cooperation between the two nations continue.
    Tank cooperation between France and Turkey
    Chief Advisor to the Prime Minister, Sedat Celikdogan, announced that French Leclarc tanks will be produced in Turkey as a result of joint cooperation, as foreseen in official talks between Turkish and French officials in Paris last week.
    Celikdogan said a Turkish delegation visited France last week and studied opportunities for cooperation while touring several defence industry institutions, including the enormous French defence company "GIAT."
    Celikdogan said that they had a chance to closely observe third generation Leclarc tanks while discussing French-Turkish joint tank production. But he added that, "we Turks have to produce the tanks ourselves."
    Celikdogan said that besides joint tank projects, they have also discussed the possibilities of joint satellite production. "Most of the biggest media companies in the world are converting to satellite communication as we speak. If we buy from other nations, costs soar, but there are both technological and production aspects to manufacturing these satellites. We believe that we can manufacture satellites once we find the proper technological partner. We have already considered the French company Alsthom to produce satellites," Celikdogan said.
    Celikdogan concluded that "we believe that Turkey can grow more powerful if it directs its agenda toward advancing its technology." [QE]

    Fikri Saglar, a deputy serving on the parliamentary commission investigating the Susurluk scandal, on July 9, filed a legal complaint against Özer Ciller, the husband of DYP leader Tansu Ciller, on charges of instigating the murder of a shady casino tycoon and acquiring secret state documents.
    Republican People's Party (CHP) Deputy Saglar said the lawyer of Ömer Lütfü Topal, the so-called "King of Casinos" shot in Istanbul by unknown assailants, had told the Susurluk investigative commission that Topal's wife suspected Özer Ciller of being behind the murder.
    Giving testimony to a public prosecutor, Topal's wife also said her husband always despised and feared Özer Ciller, alleged CHP Deputy Fikri Saglar. In his complaint to an Ankara court, Saglar said: "During the investigations of the Susurluk Commission, many witnesses testified that Özer Ciller was involved in illegal activities. I believe that his involvement in the murder of Ömer Lütfü Topal and his relationship with the accused in the Topal case should be investigated."
    Saglar also said another member of the Susurluk Commission, Yasar Topcu of the Motherland Party, had announced that there had been telephone calls between the prime minister's residence -- Tansu Ciller was prime minister when Topal was murdered -- and Sami Hostan, a shady figure indicted for involvement in the Topal murder who is still being sought by the police.
    "Premeditated murder and instigating murder are described in Articles 450 and 65 of the Criminal Code. I am of the opinion that Özer Ciller's actions are criminal acts as described in these provisions. This is why I requested an investigation to be launched against him," said Saglar.
    The CHP deputy also pointed out that Nuri Gündes, Tansu Ciller's chief adviser during her tenure as prime minister, had stated that he had given intelligence reports prepared by the National Intelligence Organisation to Özer Ciller.
    Saglar concluded by saying that Özer Ciller should be brought to trial in accordance with Article 132 of the criminal code, for acquiring information on secret state documents, since he held no official position other than being the then prime minister's husband.

    While the coalition government deals with the anti-secular demonstrations within the country, Turkey is about to face harsh new criticism on the international scene, according to the Turkish Daily News of July 31.
    Although Turkey has been accused several times of allowing money laundering to occur within its borders, the OECD-based Financial Action Task Force (FATF) -- set up by the G7 group of rich industrial countries in 1989 -- is reportedly planning to give Turkey an official warning to stop the practice.
    Commenting on the recent stories in the press regarding black money and drug trafficking via Turkey, Western diplomatic sources who focus on the issue commented that although some concrete steps can be expected from the new government, Turkey's regulations are not adequate to prevent money laundering.
    Turkey will reportedly be warned at the FATF's regular meeting in September against its "official" role in money laundering.
    Turkey has formed a committee to study the allegations and prepare a response to the criticisms expected at September's meeting.
    Meanwhile, a similar criticism of Turkey was made by a group of solicitors acting as advisors to oil, gas and energy businesses. The international group, Ledingham Chalmers Solicitors, claimed that Jersey, the British crown dependency, is a safer place to do business than Turkey because of its regulations against money laundering.
    The group, which also advises BOTAS International (a subsidiary of the Turkish Pipeline Company, BOTAS, said that the regulations governing companies in Jersey are more severe than those currently applied in Turkey.
    In a message sent to Dogan Sirikci, Naime Isik and Jale Tuksal, the directors of BOTAS International, solicitor Jonathan W. Blythe declared that since Jersey is under the protectorate of the United Kingdom, it is in all respects subject the European Community rules regarding the conduct of business.
    "This is important since the standard of practice required by the European Community is very high. In many cases the requirements are higher than those in Turkey," he said. Using the phrase, "People who live in glass houses should not throw stones," Blythe also claimed that simply opening a bank account in one of the big banks of Jersey requires producing a large number of papers to achieve this.
    Blythe was referring to a report that appeared in the Turkish press in late June, accusing BOTAS of wasting hundreds of thousands of dollars without being registered in Jersey. The report called Jersey "a paradise for money laundering."
    Afterwards, BOTAS director Mustafa Murathan was dismissed from his office and Nevzat Arseven was appointed as the new chairman.


    The special commission charged by the Ministry of Employment, on July 29, established the monthly minimum net wage at TL 22 million 943 thousand ($ 134). Although the monthly brut wage was decreed at TL 35 million 437 thousand 500, 36 per cent of this sum are retained as income tax by the State.
    The Confederation of Turkish Trade Unions (Türk-Is) announced on July 24 that the cost of feeding a family of four cost TL 35 million 500 thousand. So, the new minimum wage is very far from covering only the food costs of a family of four.
    Moreover, giving that the annual inflation rate remains at about 100 per cent, the purchasing power of a minimum wage earner will decrease by half in coming twelve months.


    Social Insurance Institution (SSK) Director General Kemal Kilicdaroglu said on that there are 4.5 million unregistered workers currently employed in Turkey.
    According to research carried out by the SSK, the state has been losing TL 500 trillion in income tax, and the SSK has been losing TL 680 trillion in premium revenues each year because of unregistered employment. There were 4.5 million active workers registered with the SSK who have been paying their premiums, and some 4.5 million workers who have been kept out of the SSK.
    These figures show that Turkey is becoming an "unregistered workers paradise." The research also showed that this unregistered economy is occupying a significant place in the Turkish economy.
    Methods used to avoid the SSK are to leave workers unregistered, or to declare fewer days of employment than is actually the case. Generally, the research highlighted that the registered wages aren't reflecting the truth and this is leading to tax losses and insurance premium losses.
    Frequent tax amnesties are encouraging employers to stay out of the system. In the last 25 years, 11 insurance amnesties were made, the SSK report concluded.
    According to the Confederation of Turkish Labour Unions (Turk-Is), the state has been losing TL 111 million of income tax per worker each year, and TL 151 million of premium revenues per worker.
    Because of unregistered employment, 9.3 percent of income tax and 34 percent of insurance premium payments from the wages of the workers couldn't be collected.


    Turkey's former prime minister, leader of the Islamist Welfare Party (RP), Necmettin Erbakan, and French far-rightist Jean-Marie Le Pen, held six hours of talks on August 21 at the Turkish seaside retreat Altinoluk where Erbakan regularly takes breaks.
    "A meeting of opposites took place. Our leader made recommendations to Le Pen and told him about Turkey," said RP Member of Parliament Mehmet Ali Sahin.
    Turkish newspapers reported that Le Pen was on holiday in Turkey. Sabah said Le Pen expressed sympathy for the Turkish Islamists in their fight against closure by the constitutional court.
    Asked to comment on the Le Pen-Erbakan meeting, former Justice Minister of the Welfare Party Sevket Kazan confirmed that the two political doyens met, but refrained from further comment as to what they discussed, saying he simply does not know.
    "I don't know the issue... I was absent during the talks. (former State Minister) Abdullah Gül and Hodja (Erbakan) were present during the meeting, but I don't know the subject matter," Kazan said.
    Current Prime Minister Mesut Yilmaz next day evaluated the Le Pen-Erbakan meeting by saying that they were two of a kind. "I was not surprised. Radicals meet radicals. It is normal. They suit each other," he said.


    Nearly 250 people staged a sit-down protest on the pedestrian walkway of the Bosphorus Bridge on August 26, to draw attention to the mining of gold by cyanide leaching in Bergama.
    The demonstrators arrived in three buses and other vehicles belonging to the Bergama municipality, at about 9.00 a.m. Shouting slogans such as, "Cyanide company, abandon Bergama" and "Eurogold will go, this business will end," they moved toward the European side of the bridge. One placard read, "We will fight cyanide gold mining to the death!" Protestors alsocarried Turkish flags and Ataturk posters.
    The protestors began sitting on the walkway, despite being ordered to disperse by bridge security guards. After an hour and a half, they ended their protest.