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


Year 21 - N°234
September 97 - February 98
38 rue des Eburons - 1000 Brussels
Tel: (32-2) 215 35 76 - Fax: (32-2) 215 58 60
 Chief editor: Dogan Özgüden - Responsible editor: Inci Tugsavul


 As for the earlier years, the year 1997 too has not brought to the people of Turkey the chance to have a democratic regime conforming to European norms and to see the dirty war in the East ending in a peaceful solution. On the contrary, the violations of human rights were carried on with the same rhythm and the military, instead of returning to their barracks, confirmed one more their domination on political, social and cultural life of the country.
 The last four months of 1997 have been marked by a series of events which made clearer the so-called "reformist and secular" Government's submission to the military and consequently the isolation of the Ankara regime as well in Europe as in the Islam world.
 Never-ending cross-border operations of the Turkish armed forces against the Kurdish guerrillas in Iraq territory and Ankara's "military and intelligence" cooperation with Israel have led to such a big reaction in the Moslem and Arab world that the President of the Republic Süleyman Demirel had to leave the Islam Summit Conference in Iran.
 As for the relations with Europe, the Turkish diplomacy  underwent its greatest defeat since the proclamation of the Republic when Turkey was refused by the Luxembourg Summit to take place among the countries eligible for EU membership although it has been an associate member of the EU since 1963.
 The Luxembourg Summit declared on December 13 that the candidate countries who want to participate in the European Conference together with 15 member countries should "share a common commitment for peace, security and good neighbourly relations, integrity and non-violability of the exterior borders and the international principles of law to solve their differences through pacifist means, particularly through the jurisdiction of the International Court of Justice in the Hague."
 "The states who will accept these criteria and the principles mentioned above should be called to the conference. In the first count, the EU has invited Turkey, Cyprus and the ten candidates," the agreement said.
 In the final report, Turkey is given a "policy of rapprochement" under the title of "A European Strategy for Turkey." Under this chapter, it is assured that Ankara will be judged by the main criteria as the other candidates, and adds that the EU will define a strategy that would prepare to accession in bringing it closer to the EU on all fields.
 This strategy consists of a development of potentials of the Ankara accord, the deepening of the customs union, the financial aid and the harmonisation of the legislations between the Turkey and the Union.
 However, the following program says that the relations between Turkey and the Union will be "in function of the economic and the political reforms of Turkey, particularly on the question of human rights, respect of minorities (added to the text the last moment) establishment of stable and normal relations between Turkey and Greece and solving the differences through the judicial ways, for example through the International Court of Justice, and to solve the Cyprus problems through the resolutions of the UN Security Council."
 The immediate reaction of the government was to declare that political dialogue with the European Union was unilaterally suspended and that Turkey would decline the invitation to the 12 March Conference. While Prime Minister Yilmaz was accusing the European Union of being a "Christians' club", Deputy Prime Minister Bülent Ecevit went further by declaring that even the application of the Customs Union could be suspended as well.
 As for the military, in a retaliation to EU decision, they decided to tighten their attitude on its red and yellow lists. The Red List (denoting countries from which Turkey will not purchase arms or accept tenders for military equipment) already includes Norway, Sweden, Switzerland, Denmark, Austria and South Africa. The Yellow List (denoting countries with which Turkey will carefully monitor its relations) already includes the Netherlands, Germany, Luxembourg, Belgium and Finland.
 The most mediatic one of the army chiefs, General Cevik Bir claiming that none of the EU countries has a regime as democratic as the one of Turkey, accused them to support of Turkey's ennemies.
 Whereas, the Luxembourg decisions should not have been a surprise for the Turkish leadership. The European Commission  had already announced in July that Turkey would not take part among the countries eligible for EU membership unless three conditions are not fulfilled:
 1. Full respect of human rights,
 2. Seeking a political solution to the Kurdish Question,
 3. Seeking peaceful solutions to its differences with Greece and not obstructing Cyprus' adhesion to the European Union.
 Since July, the military and their allies in parliament have not taken any positive measure to fulfill these conditions.
 The chronological notes at the other columns show that, instead of respecting human rights, in last four months:
 - Kurdish members of parliament, journalists and artists were kept in prisons.
 - Just before the Luxembourg Summit, human rights activists like Esber Yagmurdereli were imprisoned according to some anti-democratic articles.
 - The legal action to close down the Welfare Party (RP) was accelerated.
 - Many publications and books were confiscated, radio and television broadcastings banned.
 Instead of seeking a political solution to the Kurdish question, the very existence of the Kurdish people was officially denied by the National Security Council; the military operations against Kurdish opposition groups were extended as well in Turkey as in neighbour countries.
 What is more, the Kurdish exodus started at the end of 1997 put in evidence the dramatic situation of the Kurdish people in Turkey and in the Iraqi territories under Turkish military's harassment.
 As for the questions as regards Cyprus and Aegean Sea, instead of accepting Cyprus' membership and seeking peaceful solutions to the differences with Greece, Turkish armed forces were mobilised against Cyprus and Greece on pretext of installation Russian S-300 anti-aircraft missiles in southern part of the island.
 As regards human rights and Kurdish Question, nothing has changed in Ankara's hawkish attitude in the first two months of 1998 as well.
 The Welfare Party (RP) was closed down, the leaders of the People's Democracy Party (HADEP) were arrested and the National Security Council (MGK) ordered the National Assembly to prolong emergency rule in six Kurdish provinces for four months starting on March 31.



 The following is a Reuter article on the recent situation in Turkey published by the world media on February 27.
 "One year after ordering a halt to the march of political Islam, the country's secularist generals can take some satisfaction in having made the country safe for democracy, Turkish-style
 "The Islam-based Welfare Party (RP) has been banned and its leader Necmettin Erbakan —the godfather of the modern Islamic movement— exiled from politics after one year as prime minister. A successor party faces legal threats and a crippling internal power struggle.
 "A second assault, lightning arrests earlier this month of the leadership of the country's main legal Kurdish party, HADEP, further secured the political centre as represented by mainstream parties of "left" and "right".
 "As they gathered for a National Security Council meeting on Thursday, almost one year to the day since they launched a campaign against the Islamists, the force commanders can find the Islamists interregnum little more than an unpleasant memory. The Turkish prime minister is once again welcome in the White House, ties with Israel are stronger than ever, the country remains anchored to NATO and the authorities are enforcing bans on Koran classes and Islamic forms of dress. But a number of critics and analysts say the result is a politics stripped of debate on some of the most pressing issues of the day and millions of voters effectively disenfranchised. 'Flying the Flag of Political Bankruptcy,' taunted the pro-Kurdish daily Ülkede Gündem, charging the army with gutting Turkey's body politic.
 "'Take away the Islamists and the Kurds and what do you have left?' asked one Western diplomat. 'The answer: not much. On many issues the other parties are virtually identical. And who will represent all those voters?'
 "Turkey's population of 62 million is about 99 percent Moslem, a significant portion of whom are demanding a role for their religion in public life.
 "The last general elections, in late 1995, saw Welfare and the pro-Kurdish People's Democratic Party (HADEP) between them garner almost 26 percent of the popular vote. In the absence of reliable polls, it is difficult to judge their current strength. A leading human rights campaigner says the attack against Welfare and, later, HADEP reflect a unified strategy on the part of a political establishment steeped in secularism and Turkish nationalism.
 "'These two parties did not remain within the boundaries set by the state, so they were either banned or their members arrested,' Akin Birdal told Reuters. 'These events are actually the result of a mentality which says: Either you behave in line with me and within my boundaries or I won't allow you to exist at all.'
 "Turkey's brass launched their 'soft coup' against Welfare leader and then-Prime Minister Erbakan on February 28, 1997, at a meeting of the National Security Council. The army brought down three earlier civilian governments by force.
 This time they used the Council, charged with defence and dominated by fellow soldiers, to undermine Erbakan in retaliation for a series of modest Islamist initiatives. He was forced to resign in June.
 Last month the constitutional court banned Erbakan and his Welfare Party, a verdict that took effect on February 22. A week before, prosecutors ordered the arrest of the HADEP leaders on charges of links to armed separatists.
 Perhaps less comfortable than the generals with the results of the 'creeping coup' of February 28, 1997, is its most visible beneficiary, current Prime Minister Mesut Yilmaz.
 "Yilmaz took over from Erbakan last summer, at the head of a minority coalition confronting runaway inflation, moribund economic reforms and strained relations with Europe. The prime minister, a cautious conservative in the post for the third time, has found his hands tied by heavy reliance on a social democratic party that remains outside the government. That, say analysts, could force Yilmaz and his Motherland Party (ANAP) to risk the wrath of the generals and some elements of his cabinet by seeking concessions to the Islamists in a bid for future support.
 "Already there are hints he may use the Security Council meeting to do just that.
 "'ANAP has been softening its line on (Islamic style) headscarves and the Koran courses. Their aim is to steal Welfare votes,' said political commentator Bilal Cetin."



 The following one-year statistics about human rights violations in Turkey were taken from the Human Rights Association of Turkey (IHD):
 * 109 people died in unsolved murders.
 * 114 people lost their lives through execution without trial, after torture or while in custody.
 * 2,514 people died in armed clashes.
 * Attacks on civilians left 151 dead and 239 injured.
 * 66 people "disappeared" while in custody.
 * 366 people were tortured or claimed to have been tortured.
 * 27,308 people were taken into police custody.
 * 1,273 people were placed under arrest by courts.
 * 23 villages and hamlets were evacuated.
 * 127 locations were bombed.
 * Right to work was violated 13,226 times.
 * 153 associations, trade unions, press agencies and political parties were closed.
 * 213 associations, trade unions, press agencies and political parties were raided.
 * 298 members of the press were taken into police custody
 * 278 publications were confiscated.
 * Prosecutors demanded a total of 893 years and 8 months imprisonment and TL 3 billion 200 million in fine for opinions.
 * Courts pronounced a total of 259 years and 4 months imprisonment and a total of TL 64 billion 885 million in fine for opinions.
 * At the end of 1997, there were 105 prisoners of conscience in jail.


The Turkish Press Council stated that the year 1997 has been full of pressures, prevention measures, detentions, and arrests for the Turkish press. This year, the owner of a radio station was killed, three journalists were subjected to armed attacks, 96 journalists were taken into custody and 16 journalists were arrested.
 In the explanation of the Press Council, it was claimed that the Turkish press experienced its most difficult, problematic phase since Turkey embraced the democratic system, during the RP-DYP coalition. In that term the members of the Refahyol government threatened the newspapers and television stations. Press institutions were closed and censorship threatened. Certain mafia groups raided some TV studios, with the encouragement of the Refahyol government.
 The press had hoped that these conditions would change with the advent of the Mesut Yilmaz government, but in a short period all the hopes had died.
 As for the Journalists' Trade Union of Turkey (TGS), the number of journalists detained in 1997 was 211. In the same year, 143 journalists were harassed or beaten, the offices of 27 newspapers, magazines or radio and television were attacked and three book shops destroyed. 109 newspapers or periodicals were confiscated.
 Tribunals banned the publication of 21 journals or periodicals for a total of 28 months and 20 days. A periodical was closed down definitely. Besides, the Higher Board of Radio-Television (RTUK) banned 37 times TV broadcastings and 20 times radio broadcastings.
 At the trials against journalists and writers, tribunals pronounced a total of 137 years and 6 months in prison and a total of TL 69.1 billion in fine.


 January 16:
 * The Constitutional Court outlaws the pro-Islamic Welfare Party (RP) and bans its leader, former Prime Minister Necmettin Erbakan, along with five other deputies from political leadership for five years. "The court decided to close the Welfare Party because of evidence confirming its actions against the principles of the secular republic," Chief Justice Ahmet Necdet Sezer discloses. Reacting to the court decision, Erbakan calls on his followers to remain calm, and Erbakan said the court verdict is a "serious judicial error" and vows to take the case to the European Court of Justice.
 * The United States says banning the Welfare Party damages confidence in the NATO ally's democratic system.
 * European Union (EU) president Britain voices concern over the ban against the Welfare Party and says it would urgently consult with its EU partners. "We are concerned at the implications for democratic pluralism and freedom of expression and will be urgently discussing the closure of Welfare with our EU partners," Britain announces.
 January 18:
 * Islamic leader Necmettin Erbakan strongly criticised the Constitutional Court for disbanding his party and imposing a five-year ban on his political career. "What kind of justice is this?" Erbakan told supporters at a meeting in Istanbul. "They are judging us, but there is no crime. They fill a file with newspaper clippings and present it as evidence."
 January 20:
 * Erbakan vows again that new movements will be formed to take its place. "I leave you to the hands of Allah [God] until we meet again under the light of a great Turkey which will be enacted soon," Erbakan, speaking at a news conference, told the nation.
 * The EU expresses its dismay at Turkey's banning of the Islam-based Welfare Party (Refah). "The European Union notes with regret the decision of the Turkish Constitutional Court ... to order the closure of the Welfare Party, to confiscate its property and to ban certain present and former members of that party from being members of the Turkish Parliament or from further political activity for five years," the EU presidency says in a statement.
 February 22:
 * The Constitutional Court ruling, providing its justification in respect to the closure of the Welfare Party (RP), was published in the Official Gazette, putting an end to the RP's 14-year-old political life. The closure of Welfare was coupled with a political ban on six of its former members, including chairman Necmettin Erbakan. They are expected to face prosecution for supporting Islamic fundamentalism and opposing the secular system in Turkey.
 February 23:
 * Forty-one deputies of the defunct Welfare Party (RP) joined the Virtue Party (FP), thus enabling this party to form a parliamentary group. The FP had been  founded on December 10 by several former parliamentary candidates of the RP.
 February 24
 * The number of newcomers to the FP rose to 91. Abdullah Gül, a leading RP member who joined the newcomers, said that the new party would carry reformist views, such as allowing women to take part in the party administration, and embracing the liberal masses.
 February 25
 * The Virtue Party (FP) continued to swell as new members from the banned Welfare Party joined it. The number of members has already exceeded 100, making it the main opposition party in the Parliament. Istanbul's Islamist Mayor Recep Tayyip Erdogan announced that he would switch to the Virtue Party.
 February 26:
 * Members of the North Atlantic Assembly's Civil Affairs Committee met the leader of the recently banned Welfare Party (RP), Necmettin Erbakan, who himself was booted out of Parliament and barred from political leadership for five years for anti-secular activities.


 The Welfare Party (RP) is the 21st political party banned in Turkey. Before the establishment of the Constitutional Court, two parties were banned by the Criminal Court
 The Constitutional Court which was established by the 1960 Constitution, concluded all six of the party closure cases with an official decision up until the 1980 military coup. The parties banned by the Constitutional Court before 1980 are as follows:
 The Worker-Farmer Party (ICP), the National Order Party (MNP), the Turkey Future Ideal Party (TIUP), the Workers' Party of Turkey (TIP), the Great Anatolia Party (BAP) and the Labour Party of Turkey (TEP).
 The 15 parties which have been banned since 1983 are as follows:
 The Great Anatolia Party (closed twice), the Socialist Party, the Greens Party, the People's Party, the United Communist Party of Turkey, the People's Labor Party, the Freedom Democracy Party, the Socialist Turkey Party, the Democracy Party, the Democrat Party (closed twice), the Democracy and Change Party, the Revival Party, the Labor Party, the Socialist Union Party and the Welfare Party.
 The lawsuit opened against the Democratic Mass Party (DKP) is still continuing in the Constitutional Court.


 September 15:
 The Court of Cassation rejects an appeal from Playwright and lawyer Esber Yagmurdereli, 52, against a 10-month prison sentence for "separatist propaganda." Yagmurdereli, who is blind, had been sentenced to a ten-month prison term which was finalised on 16 September 1997. He had been convicted for a speech made in September 1991 in which he accused the authorities of human rights abuses against the Kurds. Yagmurdereli was previously arrested in 1978 and served with a life sentence on political charges during which time he was elected an Honorary Member of several PEN centres. He was subsequently freed under the terms of an April 1991 amnesty. However, his freedom was not unconditional and was reliant on him not being convicted of another political offence. If so, he would be required to serve the remainder of his sentence. A life sentence is considered to be the equivalent of 36 years in prison. Yagmurdereli will therefore have to serve the remaining 22 years and six months of his previous life sentence, as well as the new ten-month prison term.
 October 19:
 Esber Yagmurdereli was arrested at his home in Istanbul by the Istanbul Security Directorate Public Order Department. He was taken to the Department's offices in Gayrettepe, Istanbul where he was held for two days before eventually being transferred to a prison in Cankiri
 November 9:
 Turkish authorities, in a move to fool European public opinion, free human rights activist Esber Yagmurdereli from prison on medical grounds.
 January 17:
 The public prosecutor of Cankiri issued a new warrant for arresting again human rights activist Esber Yagmurdereli on pretext that he refuses to go to medical examination. He had been released on November 9 on medical ground.
 January 28:
 The Writers in Prison Committee of International PEN is deeply concerned by the reversal of the suspension of execution of the 22-year prison sentence against Esber Yagmurdereli. Yagmurdereli immediately went into hiding.


 A controversial report prepared by special investigator Kutlu Savas under orders from the prime minister Mesut Yilmaz was presented to the media on January 23, 1998, as a big success of the government in fighting corruption and obscure relations.
 Although many critics claim that there is nothing new in the report, at least for reminding again, we are reprinting some important points noted by the report:

 Struggle against terrorism

 The report noted the public's concern over the discovery of illegal activities that focused attention on the alleged relationship between politicians and the underworld. The purpose of these activities is to gain money, influence and power, the report said. "It is also disturbing that these illegal activities are covered up as being actions in the struggle against terrorism," it added.
 Meanwhile the report stressed that "all institutions" of the state were aware of these illegal activities. The lack of control over the state institutions was revealed to the public after the Susurluk accident. "Issues that were considered state secrets began to appear in newspapers. This was the most important indicator of the lack of dedication within state institutions."

 Murder triangle

 Concerning the chain of murders which took place in the area between the provinces of Izmit, Adapazari and Bolu, the report said that security officials, including the police and gendarmerie officers, along with former admitted members of terrorist organizations —who were allegedly involved in the murders—were all still concentrated in that area. "Those who committed these murders did not even bother to move other places, and the horror they created became the biggest proof of their strength."

 "The state was silent"

 The report also accused the state of keeping silent regarding its infiltration by illegal gangs. Most of the blame was bestowed upon the National Intelligence Organization (MIT) and the Security Department, which between them employ more than 150,000 police officers. It held these organizations responsible for failing to cope with a few rogues who had acquired influence.
 The report warned that there is a possibility that the illegal gangs may get out of control unless the state makes comprehensive reforms. It blamed the state institutions again for the inability to carry out their tasks in a professional manner. "The existence of so many opposing elements within the same body is because of the emergence of fields of illegal activities created by this chaos. The officials concerned were unable to prevent the development of these activities so they supported them instead. These incidents remained hidden until the Susurluk accident."

 Catli left DM 2 million to his family

 Abdullah Catli, the right-wing terrorist suspect at the centre of the controversy surrounding the Susurluk accident, was also discussed in the report. " Catli's fingerprints were found at the site where the so-called casino king, Omer Lütfü Topal, was murdered. There is also the fact that Catli' left his family DM 2 million, and investigations are required to discover what happened to the millions of dollars that were extorted from Topal," the report said. It also suggested that all of the Catli files need to be disclosed. The report also drew attention to Catli's alleged links with the police officers who were believed to have murdered Topal, and with the Istanbul Security Directorate.

 "Ersever was not murdered by Yesil"

 One section of the report discussed the unsolved murder of retired gendarmerie officer Ahmet Cem Ersever, also an intelligence officer. It clearly objected to claims by the MIT that Hanefi Avci, the deputy head of the Intelligence branch of the Security
 Department, appointed Mahmut Yildirim— code-named "Yesil"— to "execute" Ersever.
 It also objected to the claims that Avci contacted Ersever's girl friend, Nevval Boz, and his aide, Mustafa Deniz, before killing the intelligence officers.
 The report blasted Yesil, who claimed to have killed Ersever, saying he exhibited a low and uncivilised attitude that was only aimed at promoting his personal interests.

 Topal murder carried out by gang

 The Susurluk report links the 1996 murder of the so-called casino king, Omer Lutfu Topal to the elite police forces. "Topal served a prison sentence from 1979-84 for smuggling drugs and rata, in 1990, he began to carry out business with Israeli partners," the report said, without specifying the type of the "business." The report underlined that the yearly profit of Topal's chain of companies was $1.1 billion. It was also noted that Topal carried out various business activities in Azerbaijan and Turkmenistan.
 The report said that Topal took an active role in helping the True Path Party in an attempt to prevent the reelection of Mesut Yilmaz, the current prime minister, as the deputy from the eastern Anatolian city of Rize. Topal also gave financial assistance to Yilmaz's rival.
 The report said the first information about the Topal murder case's links with the elite police teams was obtained from a special. note sent by MlT's Istanbul branch to the city's security directorate.
 It also underline special links between Topal and Mehmet Agar. "According to the earlier claims, Agar had had Topal investigated on his possible links with the Kurdish nationalists. After learning that he was being targeted, Topal asked for more Protection from the police He was said to have sent Orhan Tasanlar, the former Istanbul police chief, a gift worth TL 250 billion, but his request was turned down by Tasanlar, causing him to panic.
 Kutlu Savas, stated in the Susurluk report that Topal was killed in July 1997 when suspicions against him were at their peak. It said Topal had been forced to pay $17 million to his alleged murderers, but he was told that the money never reached its intended destination, even though the payment was made. Right-wing terrorist Abdullah Catli's fingerprints were recovered at the site of Topal's murder.

 Ozer Çiller and plans to kill PKK leader

 Certain sections of the Susurluk report prepared by Kutlu Savas underline the alleged role of Ozer Çiller, the husband of former Prime Minister Tansu Çiller, in its description of the state-mafia links, especially in the parts about the struggle against terrorism and the restructuring of MIT:
 "There were radical changes made in the structure of the police and intelligence institutions in the second half of 1993, following the change of the head of government. Following Tansu Çiller's coming to power, a "hawkish attitude" dominated the country's anti-terrorism policy, the report added. It also stressed that the appointment of Mehmet Agar as the chief of the Security Department also took place in this period.
 The report also emphasized that Ozer Çiller had relations with Mehmet Eymur, the head of MIT's counter terrorism branch, who remained at odds with Mehmet Agar. Eymur was said to have submitted his reports to and received orders from the prime minister's husband, instead of Tansu Çiller herself.
 On the other hand, the security organization headed by Mehmet Agar acquired immense power with the support of the then-Prime Minister Çiller "The police organization undertook important project such as the capturing [and killing] of PKK leader Abdullah Ocalan," the report said.
 Also, the intelligence organizations were engaged in several other projects to keep track of the extreme left-wing terrorist leader, Dursun Karatas, in Britain, Belgium and the Netherlands. "For this purpose, they cooperated with drug lord Nurettin Guven to pursue Karatas," the report said. It also added that MIT had allocated $12.5 billion from the slush fund to carry out the above operations and transferred the funds to the Security Department. "Since it was known that allocations from the slush fund were always approved by the prime minister, it was never elaborated how and why this money was reserved.
 Later, this amount was increased to an amount between $40 billion and $50 billion dollars." said the report.

"A report to cover up the Susurluk mess?"

 The Susurluk Report has led a big scandal and tension in relations with Azerbaijan and Prime Minister Mesut Yilmaz had, in the end, to apologize to Azerbaijani President Haydar Aliyev.
 In the report it is claimed that Aliyev's son had owed money to the slain casino king Ömer Lütfü Topal. Besides, the report says that Turkish intelligence service were directly involved in the preparation of a coup d'état against President Aliyev in 1995. An agent of the National Intelligence Organization (MIT)  had a talk with Azerbeijan's former president Ebulfeyz Elcibey and determined the names of the persons who would serve in the government following the coup.
 On the reaction of Aliyev, President Demirel personally contacted him for assuring that Turkey had no relations with this coup and Prime Minister Yilmaz had to publicly apologize to Aliyev.
 The Turkish Daily News editor Ilnur Cevik, in his article of January 26, 1998, said the report seems to be designed to create a smoke screen preventing the nation from seeing the real mess.
 Below is an extract of this article:
 "For a whole week we have been witnessing a rather unfruitful debate concerning the Susurluk revelations of a report commissioned by Prime Minister Mesut Yilmaz and prepared by Kutlu Savas... We waited for the dust to settle and to hear what everyone had to say on this issue before making any comment. Now we feel the time has come to speak out.
 "For a whole week we have seen many people being accused of various crimes. The only thing we have not seen, in fact, is the crux of the matter; the real linkages between state officials, politicians and mobsters.
 "Kutlu Savas is the former top security official who prepared a special report for the late Turgut Ozal on fictitious exports, which was as inconclusive as the current Susurluk report he has prepared.
 "As matter of fact, even the way the report was made public is rather farcical. The prime minister chose to reveal the report in a special program called Arena on private TV Channel D instead of either announcing it on the state owned TRT channels or at a press conference.
 "Why he selected such an unconventional method is a mystery...
 "Yilmaz has been saying repeatedly that he will get to the bottom of the Susurluk scandal even if it costs him his government seat. When he was prime minister for three months in early 1996 he even said he would have revealed everything about Susurluk if he had managed to stay in power another 15 days.
 "Yilmaz has been in power for more than six months, yet the nation still remains in the dark about the Susurluk scandal. The report should have revealed who ordered the creation of gangs within the state. It should have unearthed the state officials who protected these gangs. This was not the case.
 "No one bothers to question why and how the state officials managed to set up death squads. They do not even want to debate whether the state should be allowed to kill its 'opponents.'
 "All that the report does is to try to place the blame of state financed death squads on former Prime Minister Tansu Ciller. Thus the report talks about events since 1993 but does not touch upon the activities of these gangs before that date, when Tansu Ciller was not in power.
 "The revelations are designed to smear Ciller but make sure that past events and the roots of the death squads are never revealed.
 "President Süleyman Demirel called the TV program where Yilmaz revealed the 'findings' of the Susurluk report 'a feast,' but later realised this was a great mistake. The report not only accused Ciller of backing the death squads and their illegal activities but also showed that the leaders of Azerbaijan and Turkmenistan were also involved in corruption and irregularities...
 "The leaders of both Turkmenistan and Azerbaijan were furious over the allegations and President Haydar Aliyev has threatened to call off a visit to Ankara... So Demirel, too, has realised the 'feast' is now backfiring.
 "Yilmaz has ordered more investigations into Susurluk. However, if these probes continue along the guidelines drawn in the report by Savas, then we may be wasting our time. Yilmaz should show the courage to get to the bottom of the death squad issue and tell the nation what has happened in this country during the past sixteen years or so.


 During a symposium on "Religion, Science and Environment" in Trabzon, Christian delegates and particularly Greek Orthodox Patriarch Bartholomew were attacked by ultra-nationalist groups shouting "Trabzon will be the grave of the priest," "The Black Sea is Turkish and will remain Turkish," "Go back" and "If our blood is split, the victory is Islam's." (Turkish Daily News, 3.10.1997)
 On the eve of the new millennium, Turkey is developing plans to get maximum benefit thanks to "faith tourism."  As Vatican makes preparation for a grand celebration of the 2000th anniversary of Christ's birth, Turkey decided to organize "Faith Tours." in historic sites and relics of Christianity. Many critics describe this initiative scandalous in a country where Christians have systematically been oppressed. (Milliyet, 8.2.1998)



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