Since 17 January, Turkish news has been dominated by a vast police operation against the Hizbullah terrorist organisation. A few days after the decision to suspend Öcalan’s execution, and while this decision was making waves in the governing coalition, the Turkish police launched an attack, broadcast live on television, against the Istanbul headquarters of the Hizbullah. The leader of this organisation, Hüseyin Velioglu, was killed in the shoot-out.
This first operation was followed by others in the provinces of Konya, Mersin and Adana. Real charnel houses were discovered. The Turkish media made great play of these pictures of pictures of Hizbullah’s barbarity. Of the 33 victims identified to date one is a woman, the Islamic reformist writer Konca Kuris. The others are dissidents from the group or Kurdish business men who had been strangled, mutilated and had their throats cut for refusing to pay the ransom demanded or suspected of Kurdish nationalism.
Initially the Turkish media accused Iran of being behind the Hizbullah. This manoeuvre, however, soon showed up its limitations. A number of commentators and, especially, representatives of civil society, recalled that the so-called Party of God had, for a very long time, enjoyed the active complicity of certain State departments in eliminating, with impunity, thousands of Kurdish patriots and activists, real or alleged. A small extremist group in the 80s, the Hizbullah was protected and armed by the Turkish authorities who used it as an instrument for doing their dirty work in the fight against the PKK and, in general, against secular Kurdish nationalism.
Hizbullah’s killer commandos shot down in broad daylight, often by a bullet in the back of the head, Kurdish doctors, engineers, teachers and students, using prepared lists of "separatists to be eliminated" that the local Turkish police and gendarmerie departments provided. When the local population arrested the killers the police intervened to evacuate them without any form or trial. This criminal game was so frequently and openly used, in particular in the provinces of Diyarbekir, Batman and Silvan that the local people had come to call the Hizbullah "Hizbi-Kontra" – the Party of Contras.
One of the tools of the "dirty war" waged in Turkish Kurdistan, along side the Özel Tim, formed of Grey Wolves. and the gendarmerie and political police death squads, the Hizbullah also, from time to time, carried out operations against members of the Iranian opposition in Turkey, at Teheran’s request. The Turkish secret services had also sent a number of hardened activists of this organisation to Chechenya.
All this policy was well know and confirmed by thousands of witnesses – the protests by President Demirel stating that "the State does not commit crimes" or of the Armed Forces General Staff that it "had nothing to do with this criminal organisation" convince very few in Turkey. Not even Mesut Yilmaz, former Prime Minister and President of the government coalition party ANAP who declared before a meeting of his party’s M.P.s: "My conviction is that the Hizbullah could not have done what it did without the cooperation of certain traitors within the State" (see further on "Read in the Press"). In fact everything that is happening as if the Turkish authorities had decided to clean the Augean stables and wash their hands. The Hizbullah chiefs hastily liquidated would have been embarrassing witnesses to the State crimes committed in the last few years in Turkish Kurdistan. And the killing fields of Kurdistan have yet to be fully explored. "For years the Hizbullah has killed thousands of people in Kurdistan in the sight and full knowledge of the government. The dark forces that, in the heart of the State, have protected this organisation must be brought to trial. If the subsoil of Kurdistan were to be explored hundreds of bodies would be discovered" declared Cemil Aydogan, president of the Mardin Human Rights Association, on 24 January. A pious hope since, in Turkey, who would dare interrogate or sue prefects (provincial governors), general or police chiefs.
For its part, the English language daily, Turkish Daily News, like the majority of the Turkish press, raised in its 31 January issue, the question of "unsolved murders" in the Kurdish regions of Turkey.
"Hizbullah is prime example of state’s ‘playing one against the other’ policy" is the headline over the article in question. "From the late 1980s until the capture of Kurdistan Workers’ Party (PKK) leader Abdullah Ocalan in mid-1999, the radical Islamist terror organization, calling themselves Hizbullah and referring to their opponents as Hizbul-contras, committed approximately 2,000 murders in southeastern Turkey. Most of the fatal attacks against PKK sympathizers as well as against members of political parties, including the People’s Labor Party (HEP), the Democracy Party (DEP) and the People’s Democracy Party (HADEP), remain unsolved. In the early 1990s, the number of murders rapidly increased, prompting allegations that the organization was supported by the state" the paper writes.
"Journalist Halit Gungen, the first person to add weight to this allegation by confirming the state support through photographic evidence, was killed in an armed assault while working in the Diyarbakir office of the 2000’e Dogru (Towards 2000) newspaper (…) The photos taken by Gungen showed armed Hizbullah militants receiving firearms training at the training field of the Diyarbakir police anti-terrorist task force. Gungen’s fate was shared by Hafiz Ozdemir, a columnist of the Diyarbekir newspaper Ozgur Gundem (Free Agenda), who followed a similar approach. Then several other journalists were assassinated, all working for either Ozgur Gundem or for 2000’e Dogru. In the beginning of the 1990s, little short of a ‘massacre of journalists’ was experienced in the Southeast, and all of these murders remain unsolved" the paper continued.
"The fact is that most of the murdered journalists were those who either investigated Hizbullah, wrote articles about the terrorist organization or published interviews on terrorism. Moreover, none of the killers were ever apprehended by the police. This situation further increased suspicions that Hizbullah was receiving support from the state".
The paper added that "The support provided for Hizbullah was not limited to firearms training at the headquarters of the task force. According to some allegations, Hizbullah terrorists who were captured by local residents, at great risk to their own lives, were released by the police within a few days. In mid-1992, a businessman who owned a souvenir shop in Mardin’s Nusaybin county was assassinated in his shop by a terrorist. The killer was captured by the owners of the other shops in the area and was subsequently turned in to the police. To the amazement of the people, he was also released after a few days"
"Based on the accelerated rate of unsolved murders committed in the region and the increased number of allegations claiming that the terrorist organization was receiving support from the state, a Parliamentary Investigation Commission was formed at the beginning of 1993 (…) In response to questions posed to him by the commission chairman, True Path Party (DYP) Ankara Deputy Sadik Avundukluoglu, and commission members (…), Batman Police Chief Ozturk Yildiz admitted that Hizbullah militants undergo fire arms training at their camps the in Sekili, Cicekli and Gonullu villages of Gercus and that the gendarmerie forces provide logistical support for the organization (…) This conversation, which took place in the office of the deputy governor of Batman, was recorded on an audiocassette by Judge Akman Akyurek, who died in a suspicious traffic accident in 1997. Following his death the audiocassette recording of this conversation mysteriously went missing. Some details of the conversation between Police Chief Yildiz and the investigation commission members were published in newspapers (…) However, the Office of the Chief of General Staff censored the broadcast of a popular TV program entitled ‘Arena’ (…) just before the information about that audiocassette was to be announced."
The reasons for the dismantling of Hizbullah are also attacked by the paper "By that time, the state no longer needed Hizbullah. The PKK terrorist organization had been reduced in size (…) Furthermore (…) the PKK militants started to leave Turkey. This turn of events left the state facing the threat of Hizbullah. Based on information obtained from Hizbullah informers (…) Turkish security forces launched attacks against Hizbullah in the Southeast, causing heavy losses to the terrorist organization. Realizing that there was no place left for them to hide and with the intention of covering their tracks, the terrorists started to migrate to cities like Istanbul, Ankara, Izmir and Konya and subsequently targeted former members who had deserted the organization (…) Many people, including some well-established businessmen of Kurdish descent, were kidnapped for this purpose and executed following prolonged torture and questioning".
After several weeks of tension and debate, the leaders of the threeparties forming the Turkish Government coalition decided, at the end of a seven hour cabinet meeting on 12 January to suspend the execution of the PKK chief. However, the Turkish Prime Minister declared "we have agreed that if the terrorist organisation and its sympathisers manipulate our decision to the detriment of the higher interests of Turkey, this suspension will be ended and the process will immediately begin". :r. Ecevit also took pains to point out, for the benefit of the ultra-nationalists, that it was "out of the question that the European Court for Human Rights alter a sentence passed by the Turkish Courts (…) When the process arising out of our international commitments and our Constitution has come to an end, the case will immediately come before Parliament".
The differences between the three parties of the coalition led by Prime Minister Bülent Ecevit of the "Democratic Left" Party (DSP) put at risk the very survival of the coalition "prematurely born" as a result to the early General Elections of 18 April 1999. The DSP’s principal partner, the National Action Party (MHP - neo-fascist) had been insisting on Abdullah Öcalan’s execution, without further delay, whereas the other two coalition partners, the DSP and former Prime Minister Mesut Yilmaz’s Motherland Party (ANAP) argued in favour of waiting for the final verdict of the European Court. Bülent Ecevit considered, on 6 January 2000, that Turkey could find itself involved in problems at international level if it failed to respect the decision of the European Court: "the most urgent question facing the government is the European Court’s decision (…) If we do not conform to it, it is evident that it would cause us international problems". Deputy Prime Minister Devlet Bahçeli, of the MHP, under pressure from his electorate, to whom he had promised Öcalan’s head, had stated last week "Nothing can prevent the execution of a punishment, decided by our independent law, for a terrorist who has plunged the country into a blood bath". On the eve of the government’s summit meeting, Sabahattin Çakmakoglu, MHP Minister for Defence, had also suggested that Öcalan’s sentence should be carried out: "We think that the death sentence on Öcalan should be carried out (…) Parliament has the last word on Öcalan’s punishment (…) Parliament must thus evaluate the European Court’s decision".
Threats and pressures were rampant on the eve of the meeting of 12 January 2000. Yavuz Alphan, President of the Izmir Association of the Families of Victims, stated that id Öcalan were not hanged, the members of the 46 such associations throughout the Country would return the medals awarded to the dead soldiers by throwing them into the Parliament House Gardens. Two men belonging to one of these associations soaked themselves in petrol and threatened to set themselves alight in the centre of Ankara so demand Öcalan’s execution. The President of the Chamber of Shopkeepers and Artisans, Ali Riza Ercan, also called for the PKK chef’s execution, stressing that, if he was not, his members "would give the government the appropriate answer" at the next elections.
The Turkish daily Hurriyet, on 12 January 2000, stated that the Islamic Virtue Party was taking advantage of the tensions in the government by suggesting the formation of a coalition with the MHP and former Prime Minister Tansu Çiller’s True Path Party (DYP). However, the paper adds, the Nationalists rejected the proposal.
In Diyarbekir, in Kurdistan, on 11 January 2000, 37 Mayors from the pro-Kurdish People’s Democratic Party (HADEP) launched an appeal to the government for it to respect the decision of the European Court for Human Rights. "A error in this area will certainly engender a bloody period. We do not want to see, once again, an atmosphere of intensive fighting, of tears and of pain. We call on all the political parties to show some common sense over this matter" stated Fatma Kurtulan, a member of the HADEP Executive Board.
In Europe, Francisco Seixas da Costa, Portuguese Minister for European Affairs, whose country is presiding the European Union at the moment, warned Ankara about the consequences of executing the PKK leader "the efforts to bring Turkey and the European Union closer together will get off to a bad start if Turkey were to make decisions incompatible with European principles". Mr. Seixas is expected to visit Turkey on January 14 2000.
The president of the Freedom and Solidarity Party (ÖDP), Ufuk Uras, for his part, stated that "no country can base its future on the gallows (…) The important thing is to avoid suffering fresh sorrows and to prevent Turkey being driven into an internal conflict that would distance it from the way to peace". The president of the Turkish Human Rights Association (IHD), Hüsnü Öndül, issued a similar appeal, stressing that Turkey ran the risk of being expelled from the Council of Europe.
Moreover, the Members of Parliament representing Kurdish region constituencies but on True Path Party (DYP) and Virtue Party (FP) tickets have sharply criticised their own parties’ attitude on this issue.
THE humanitarian organi-sation, Amnesty Internati-onal, has just made public a report on Iraq dated 24 November 1999 that attests to flagrant and systematic violations of Human Rights which are still current in that country. The great majority of victims are Shiites from Southern Iraq and certain quarters of Baghdad as well as of those Kurds who live in the regions administered by the Iraqi regime, in particular Kirkuk. According to Amnesty, the violations of human rights fall under five headings:
1º. Arbitrary arrests and detention: They generally take place secretly; the family neither knows that one of its members in incarcerated, nor where. The arbitrary arrest and detention of suspected opponents of the government are carried out on a very large scale. The government gives no explanation of the reason for their arrest to its victims nor show any warrant for their arrest.
2º. Torture and ill treatment: The Iraqi authorities resort systematically to torture, both physical and psychological, during interrogation. Immediately after their arrest, the victims are subjected to physical torture. The most common forms of torture being electric shocks or cigarette burns on different parts of the body, pulling out of finger nails, hanging for long periods from the arms or legs, beatings with rope ends, the falaqa (beatings on the soles of the feet), piercing the hands with an electric drill and sometimes even gouging out the eyes of detainees. Moreover, a number of decrees provide for legal sentences that can be defined as forms of torture or degrading treatment (amputation, branding an "X" on the forehead with a red-hot iron…). Psychological tortures are also used, amongst which is the rape of a member of the victims family under his eyes (generally a mother of wife), threatening the victims to attack other members of his family, simulated executions of long periods of solitary confinement.
3º. The death sentence: This is used on a mass scale. In fact, hundreds of executions take place every year without any official communiqué being published. The majority of victims are Shiites from Southern Iraq (and also of armed groups of the Islamic opposition) and certain quarters of Baghdad, and also Kurds from the North. The secrecy maintained over the executions makes it virtually impossible to tell whether they were in execution of a legal sentence or purely arbitrary.
4º. "Disappearances" and arbitrary ("extra judicial") executions: Since the early 80s, hundreds of thousands of Kurds and Shiites have "disappeared" – their fate remains unknown to this day. Moreover many high Shiite dignitaries from the South have been killed since 1997, the conditions under which they took place leading one to think that they were "extra judicial" executions (following, at best, a summary and inequitable trial) carried out by government agents of security forces. Since the attempted Shiite uprising of 1991, in response to the Gulf War, government repression of Shiite dissidence has remained as violent.
5º. The forcible expulsion of non-Arab citizens: Thousands of Kurdish families have been driven from their homes and expelled to the three governorates of Iraqi Kurdistan (Irbil, Dohuk and Suleimaniah) controlled by the main Kurdish political parties.
Still according to Amnesty International’s report, there is a "total blackout on the atrocities committed by the Iraqi forces against suspected opponents of the regime" and "the Iraqi government systematically refuses that United Nations Human Rights experts, and particularly the special reporter on Iraq, to carry out on the spot investigations on violations of fundamental rights and freedoms. No International organisation has visited Iraq in the course of the last few years". This despite U.N. Resolution 688 of 5 April 1991, calling on the Iraqi government to put an end to "the repression of the Iraqi civil population" and to allow "immediate access of humanitarian organisations to all those in need of help in all parts of Iraq". The Resolution remains a dead letter.
The one hand, the deplorable living conditions of the population, due to the sanctions imposed on Iraq, are clamourously denounced and foreign journalists and politicians are allowed into the country to denounce them – on the other the massive violations of human rights and the reigning climate of terror have led thousands of Iraqi nationals to flee illegally and seek asylum in neighbouring countries and other States across the world…
In April 1999, the United Nations Human Rights Commission condemned the "systematic, generalised and extremely serious violations of Human Rights and international humanitarian law, committed by the Iraqi government which shows itself by a state of oppression and repression based on discrimination and generalised terror" and the "summary and arbitrary executions" and the "generalised and systematic use of torture as well as the publication and application of decrees providing for cruel and inhuman punishments for offenses".
Classed as a prisoner of opinion by Amnesty International, after his long calvary in Turkish jails because of his research on the Kurds and recently released under a law suspending (but not abolishing) sentences passed for "crimes committed in press or publication" the Turkish sociologist Ismail Besikçi answered questions put by the chief editor of the Kurdish weekly Roja Teze and published in its 21 January 2000 issue.
Alluding to the Öcalan case he specified that, while politicians could well abandon the defence of ideas they had defended in the past, he insisted "that an academic cannot allow himself to abandon the defence of scientific facts. It is then up to each one of us to accept the consequent risks." He added "that conditions for those who are interested in the Kurds, and for the Kurds themselves have become harder. Whereas one ought to expect that, thanks to the sacrifices made up to now, this [Kurdish] question could be tackled more easily, we are seeing, on the contrary, a toughening of the conditions in which the question can be treated. We can still not speak about it as we should. We still risk being sentenced to long terms of imprisonment over this issue".
In the opinion of Besikçi, who has spent 16 years of his life in Turkish jails because of his research work and publications on the Kurds, the regime still continues to have prejudices about the Kurds and to treat them in a humiliating manner: "When mentioning a Chechen or a Bosnian, the use of a qualifying adjective is avoided. When Fehriye Erdal, who tried to murder the Turkish businessman Sabanci, the media are content to just cite him by name, whereas in the case of a Kurd from Turkey the adjectives "terrorist" or "separatist" will be added. If he is a Kurd from Iraq he’ll be described as a "tribal chief", always choosing humiliating adjectives". Giving his opinion on the short or long term settling of the `Kurdish question, Besikçi showed himself to be pretty pessimistic, indicating that Turkey’s status as candidate for membership of the European Union will, in itself change nothing regarding the settling of the Kurdish question.
Stressing the importance of the Kurdish language, which he considers is the only factor that distinguishes Kurds from Turks, Besikçi added that it is, for this reason, important to maintain its use a living language.
As for conditions in the outside world compared with the prison life he had suffered, he thought "a state of siege, of repression, still exists. It is thus not possible for people like me to make any sort of long-tern plans. It is perfectly possible that any work begun will be stopped half way in the event of arrest or similar reasons. You still cannot decide for yourself what you do – it is always others who decide for you".
The books he has written on the Kurdish question are still frowned upon by the authorities and are not freely sold or distributed, whereas a wide range of communist literature, previously tabooed in Turkey, now circulates without hindrance. Despite this, he plans to publish a book on the situation of the Kurds up to 1974, with a broad use of scientific ideas and, in particular calling to question the negation to which the Kurds are still subjected.
A lively controversy is stirring up the Turkish media around the personality and the art of the Kurdish film director Yilmaz Güney.
Everything started after an interview with the script writer Inci Aral, published in the 26 January issue of the Turkish daily Hurriyet, in which she talked about a planned film on the Güney’s life. The script she had written was shown to the film director Costa Gavras who read and liked it. She is at present putting the finishing touches to it. For her part, Mrs. Güney has made a whole number of contacts which encourage the idea that the film has every likelihood of being made in the near future.
The interview unleashed a whole series of noisy reactions in the Turkish conservative and nationalist media who are crying "a plot against Turkey". If a Greek, Costa Gavras, is making a film in praise of the film director Güney, well known as a communist and Kurdish separatist, the Turkish nationalist affirm, this is jut to internationalise the Kurdish question and denigrate Turkey. Immediately they poured a garbage truckload of insults over the dead film director. On the other hand, liberal intellectuals are taking up the defence of "an exceptional artist" without sharing his opinions. "Who has done more to soil Turkey’s image? The film director Güney who held up the mirror of his art to show the failings of our society, or those who, in the name of their country, have destroyed thousands of villages, killed thousands of innocent people and tortured little children?" asked the editorialist of the daily Cumhurriet of 28 January.
Angered by this controversy, Mrs. Güney has sued several Right Wing journalists for insults and defamation of character. At the same time she is preparing the public showing of two of the late film-makers masterpieces: Umut (Hope) and Sürü (The Flock), banned from Turkey’s screens since the Army coup d’état of 1980. The author of the unforgettable YOL, which won the Golden Palm of the Cannes Film Festival of 1982, died in exile in Paris in 1984 at the age of 47, after spending twelve years of his short life in the Turkish dungeons.
WE have just learnt of an open letter sent by Mohammad Karimiyan, Kurdish member of Parliament for Sardasht and Piranshahr, to President Khatami on the condition of the Kurds in the Islamic Republic of Iran. We publish below extensive extracts for our readers’ information:
"Your Holiness, during the official election campaign for the Presidency of the Republic (…) you pronounced some just and beautiful words (…) about the cultural freedom and the genuiness of the Kurdish people. Unfortunately, up to now, with regard to respect for Kurdish culture, civilisation and literature, which are amongst the most authentic in the land of Iran, and even with regard to the participation of Kurdish citizens and Suni Moslems in the administration at the higher levels of the State, and of major cities and small towns, nothing has changed and we make so bold as to say that the officials are not taking into account your political directives and that, from your point of view and that of objective reality, they are showing a certain disdain for your recommendations (…).
Despite numerous sessions of Parliament and of the higher levels of the State, apart from a few Kurdish members of Parliament, one cannot find a single Kurd or Suni Moslem holding office as Minister or Secretary of State, nor any responsible post either at the level of the State administration, nor in the judiciary. Do not doubt that public opinion in the Kurdish regions is vigorously critical of the government on this matter. Why is it that, under the previous government, despite all the criticisms that could be made of it, on this question of Shiism and Suniism and of the fact of being Kurdish, the selection of personnel was much easier than today and that confidence in Suni Moslems and Kurds was greater. As far as I am concerned, I cannot see what people who are not native (of Kurdistan) can know that those who are native to the region do not! One is obliged to ask this question – if one day a Kurd were to reach the highest level of study and if his experience and qualifications entitled him to be appointed governor or judge in a non-Kurdish town, would the people of that town be able to tolerate him or not? And if not, why not? And if yes, then why are the Kurds condemned to being forced to tolerate whatsoever other way of thought of other peoples and other races, their education and diverse family tastes, the inexperience and naiveté of such people – which is what be have met with hitherto (…)
In slogans, in speeches (…) and various occasions, apparently, all peoples are brothers, on an equal footing, "in the same boat". However, as far as sharing government jobs is concerned, there is no room for any Kurd or any Suni to participate in political, social economic or cultural affairs (…) The Kurds took a very active, very serious part at the beginning of the Islamic revolution, like their compatriots, in facing up to all the dangers to make a success of the revolution, to overthrow the "Pahlevis" and set up the Islamic State and Republic (…) Why can we not, instead of despising and criticising the young boys and girls, take advantage of their intellectual potential and let them develop? (…) Has the desire of young boys and girls to leave the country been taken into account and been remedied or even given studied? (…) Our courageous Kurdish women are amongst the forgotten potentialities of our nation, particularly in political, social and cultural matters (...) They must receive special atten-tion on the intellectual and emotional levels, and in the areas of work and sport (…) Essential initiatives in the direction of their emancipation must be undertaken (…)
I hope that God will allow you to succeed in rebuilding, with your head held high, a more hopeful future for our beloved people of Iran by setting up a harmonious cohabitation in the way of the sharia and the recognition of God in suppressing inequalities.
Hasan Cemal, editorial writer wrote in the 20 January 2000 issue of the Turkish daily Milliyet: "The Hizbullah is an organisation that, for many long years has used violent and terrorist methods. It kidnaps, carries out hold-ups, tortures, murders. (…)
It has money. It has arms, computer systems.And, since it has all these means, a question comes to mind: the external links of the Hizbullah…For some people it is possible to establish a link between Teheran and the Hizbullah, identical to that between Damascus and the PKK (…)"
As far a the Hizbullah is concerned, another hypothesis is pointed out: the "deep State"… It is said that: "Principally at the beginning of the 90s, Hizbullah was used as a weapon in the fight against the PKK. Several PKK sympathisers were assassinated in the South-East by the Hizbullah, for example at Batman. For this reason certain people in the heart of the State closed their eyes to the development of the Hizbullah at that time."
There follows the comment: "Now the deep State is washing its hands".
In the 25 January issue of the daily Sabah, Zülfü Livaneli, in an editorial headed "The State and Crime" was even more cutting. Extracts: "President Demirel states that the State does not commit crimes. Ah if only that were true! If only we really had a State of Laws. If only the State was not implicated is shady scandals. But, unfortunately, we cannot really affirm that. Thousands of events, testimonies and depositions show that, unfortunately the State is implicated in these dirty affairs. It is difficult to explain as simply a matter of "lack of vigilance" the existence of an organisation that, in a region like the South-East, where security measures are so strict that even birds can’t fly without permission, has been able to kidnap hundreds of people and kill them under torture. In a country where mafia godfathers travel with red (i.e. diplomatic) passports, where criminals are provided with identity cards saying "security officer", where Susurluk has revealed a strange network of relationships, where Ministers and criminals have telephone relation, where public contract are awarded in bizzare circumstances, even the best intentioned of people have reason to become suspicious(…)
According to Ismet Sezin (Editor’s note: former Minister of the Interior) "it must, unfortunately be recognised that the State uses certain criminals. In exchange the latter use the State and, consequently a complicated picture is drawn" (…)
The policy of hunting down dogs with other dogs has led some political leaders to collaborate with nationalist and religious activists firstly against the Left, then against the PKK. Criminals, encouraged a supported by State officials have committed massacres, and these protected crimes have remained in the shadows."
So long as: "those who fire bullets in the name of the State (Editor’s Note: the expression was coined by Mrs. Çiller when defending the "patriotic" mafia chiefs!) exist, it is not possible to discard suspicion."
Taha Akyol, editorialist on the daily Milliyet commented, on Tuesday 18 January 2000, on the evolution of the PKK and its chief. Extracts: "Turkey has only one serious problem and that is the Kurdish ques-tion. "The reactionary danger" is just a paranoiac concept and, in any case has been shown to lack substance.
The sentencing of Öcalan and the suspension, under certain conditions, of his execution by the government, is an absolute turning point. Turkey as much as for Öcalan and the PKK…
I consider important the declarations made by Öcalan and the PKK just after the suspension of his sentence on 14 January,
According to the Anatolia Press Agency, Öclan declared that, as from then the PKK will be constructive and added:
‘I am not a separatist, I have turned away from the historic mistakes made in the past…’
On the same day, in a communiqué to the press, the PKK Central Committee defended the concept of ‘Democratic Turkey’ (…) ‘Our party will not allow Turkey to be weakened and its interests harmed…’
Thus the thesis of Ismail Besikçi "Kurdistan: an international colony’ and of Öclan ‘the Turkish Republic’s colonialism’ were false(…)
I appreciate it when Öcalan says ‘I have turned away from the historic mistake’ which cost the lives of 30,000 people, I do not consider it a lie made to serve his interests. The PKK has realised that it was impossible to defeat Turkey today or in the future, neither militarily nor politically. The saw that and were influenced by that reality(…)".
•IN TURKEY, IT IS SAFER TO LIVE IN ISTANBUL: 17,547 CASES OF "UNSOLVED MURDERS", OF WHICH 10,842 ARE IN DIYARBEKIR. According to the latest figures of the General Directorate of Legal Cases and Statistics of the Ministry of Justice, there were, at the end of 1999, 17,547 cases of "unsolved murders" on file with the Turkish State Security Prosecutor’s Office. Diyarbekir, the Kurdish capital, is at the top of the list with over 10,842 cases. The report stresses that between 1 January and 31 December 1998 1,625 "unsolved murder" cases were filed with the different police departments in the country. Over 16,765 cases were still active on 1 January 1998, making a total of 18,390 active cases, but 150 had been solved (20 at Diyarbekir, 9 at Izmir, 46 at Malatya, 8 at Erzerum, 67 at Adana) and 693 others had been dropped because past the statute of limitations.
After Diyarbekir, the next highest figures were for the Kurdish province of Van with 3,115, Erzerum (also Kurdish) with 1,551, Malatya (Kurdish) with 1,203, Ankara with 482, Adana with 227, Izmir with 118 cases and, at the bottom of the list Istanbul with 9 cases. The report shows that the "unsolved murder" cases represent 65.2% of the cases before the 8 Turkish State Security Court jurisdictions. These figure break down to 81.5% for Diyarbekir, 67.3% for Malatya, 15.4% for Izmir, 42.3% for Ankara, 1% for Istanbul, 28.1% for Adana, 91.8% for Erzerum and 76.5% for Van.
In the Kurdish provinces these "unsolved murders" are, essentially, the work of the "death squads" of the Turkish paramilitary forces – the victims being suspected or potential Kurdish "separatists". It is thus hardly surprising that the Turkish courts make no particular effort to identify and punish the murderers.
•THE HUMAN RIGHTS ASSOCIATION HAS COUNTED 1964 "UNSOLVED" POLITICAL MURDERS. In a communiqué published on 24 January on the anniversary of the assassination of the journalist Ugur Mumcu, the President of the Turkish Human Rights Association (IHD), Hüsnü Öndöl, indicated that his association had been able to identify 1964 political murders, committed since 1989, whose authors have not been arrested. 80% of these murders had been perpetrated in the Kurdish South-East. The score, by year is shown below".
Year?Number of murders.
1989 -1991....................42 1992.........................210 1993.........................510 1994.........................292 1995.........................321 1996..........................78 1997.........................109 1998.........................192 1999.........................210
"In the course of the last 10 years in Turkey, the public authorities have classified certain groups and individuals having as pro-State ideological and political opinions and others enemies of the State and have given those groups or individuals classed as pro-State the privilege of committing crimes. This means that there is no State of Law" stated the President of IHD in his communiqué. If IHD has been able to draw up a list of 1964 "unsolved murders", these remain considerably less than reality, since it is generally estimated that there have been over 4,500 unsolved murders committed over the last ten years in Turkey. An exhaustive study of these murders still remains to be done.
• TURKISH FARCES: PROPOSALS TO SUPPRESS THE USE OF THE LETTERS "P" AND "K" IN TURKISH SCHOOL-BOOKS. The Turkish Minister of National Education has asked the publishers of the school text-book Can Matematik to remove the letters "P" and "K" from all equations and problems. The Minister demanded that the letters "E", "G", "F" and "H" be used in algebra, to avoid "unsuitable interpretations", considering that they could suggest the PKK (Kurdistan Workers’ Party) organisation. The matter had even be discussed in the Turkish Parliament, when a DYP (True Path Party) member, Saffet Arikan Beduk, asked the Education Minister, Metin Bostanciglu: "Do you think it is suitable for our children to write these letters, which lead one to think of the PKK, with their own pens". The latter lost no time in, firstly, calling for the withdrawal of this book from sale, then demanding the alteration, and informing the S.A. Bedak M.P. Will Ankara press its educational obsessions so far as to eliminate the letters "P" and "K" from its alphabet completely? Unabashed by ridicule, the Turkish authorities had already decided to change the green traffic lights by blue ones in the Kurdish provinces, since red, yellow and green are, traditionally, the "separatist" colours of the Kurdish flag.
•ASSESSMENT OF COMP-LAINTS AGAINST TURKEY BEFORE THE EUROPEAN COURT FOR HUMAN RIGHTS. The European Court for Human Rights has had foiled 3,880 cases of complaints against Turkey. Of these 51 have been heard, and Ankara has been sentenced to pay over 629 billion Turkish lire (TL) of which 159 billion TL have been paid so far. The majority of the cases before the Court, that is 2,250, are from Cypriots from the Southern part of the island accusing the Turkish authorities of having robbed them of property in the Northern, Turkish occupied, part of the island. The second largest group comes from Kurdish families that accuse the authorities of having burnt and destroyed their villages, 350 pleas are based on complains of torture, 22 for refusal of political asylum in Turkey and 455 for confiscation of property. The European Court for Human Rights has also received 134 cases regarding so-called "unsolved murders" and 75 cases regarding attacks on freedom of expression of opinion.
In addition to civilians, Turkish soldiers and officers, expelled from the Army as "reactionary dangers" following the National Security Council’s meeting of 28 February 1997, have also filed 67 cases before the Court. Moreover, 13 other cases, regarding the banning of political parties and Trade Unions, are also being investigated by the Court. Two countries, Denmark and Cyprus, are also suing Turkey before the Court. The first accuses it of having tortured one of its citizens, the latter has had its case rejected three times.
According to the documents placed before the Turkish Members of Parliament, of the cases already heard by the European Court, Turkey has been found guilty in 41 cases, 4 verdicts have gone in Turkey’s favour, and 6 others have been settled out of court. Turkey is said to have paid out, for the various sentences, 107 billion TL, plus FF 344,000 and £27,000 (totaling TL 158 billion). It still has to pay $ 788,643, FF 1,294,000 and £ 181,000 (totaling TL 629.5 billion).
•ISMAIL CEM BEING SUED FOR "SEPARATIST PROPAGAN-DA". According to the Turkish daily Sabah, of 4 January 2000, the Public Prosecutor’s Office of the Ankara State Security Court has received a demand for investigation of Ismail Cem, Turkish Foreign Minister, following the remarks the latter had made in the Turkish TV channel CNN-Turk, on 13 December 1999, in favour of Kurdish language TV broadcasts. The investigation follows a complaint by a chemist, living in the Turkish capital, who accuses the head of Turkey’s diplomatic corps of having violated an article of the Turkish Constitution stating that Turkish is the official language of Turkey. After investigating the matter, the Public Prosecutor, Talat Salk, decided to shelve the matter.
The Turkish President, Suleyman Demirel, had declared to the daily Milliyet, on 26 December 1999, that the introduction of Kurdish into the education system and the audiovisual media would be "inappropriate for national unity" and that "the maintenance of a single official language is one of the basic conditions for the unity of the country". Questioned on the status of candidate for membership of the European Union, granted to Turkey, he indicated that "Turkey, as a member of the European legal system, will have to correct all its shortcoming in matters of individual rights" while considering that this did not involve granting of collective rights to any particular group "which would encourage tribalism and open the way for separatist violence and terrorism" he added. A few days earlier he had maintained that the Kurdish language did not really exist and that the Kurds could not understand one another. And yet, after Medya-TV, broadcast from Europe, and Kurdistan TV, broadcast from Irbil, a third Kurdish language satellite broadcasting station (Kurdstat TV) based on Suleimaniah (Iraqi Kurdistan) started broadcasting on 1st January 2000.
•KURDISH ECONOMY, BASED ON AGRICULTURE AND STOCK REARING, HAS BEEN DEVASTATED BY THE TURKISH GOVERNMENT’S POLICY. The economy of the Kurdish provinces, essentially based on agriculture and stock rearing, today finds itself devastated by the Turkish government’s policy. On 13 September, the Turkish Minister of Agriculture, Hüsni Yusuf Gökalp, of the National Action Party (MHP – neo-fascist) sent out a circular calling for the closing of cattle markets in the Kurdish provinces of Hakkari, Van, Sirnak, Igdir and Agri and at the same time banning the export of animals from these provinces to other regions of Turkey. A quarantine of animals was thus imposed on these provinces, already suffering from shortages. Turkey, which had formerly been a meat exporting country, is now unable to satisfy its own needs. The Turkish authorities justify their policy by claiming to act against a large scale smuggling of sick animals from Iran and Iraq, but also against terrorists who obtain their supplies from this region. Others accuse the government of wishing to favour the economy of other regions by imposing a quarantine on the Kurdish provinces, which are the country’s main source of meat supply.
Moreover, Mr. Gökalp announced on 3 January 2000 that he had given the necessary orders for the rearing, in Turkey, of a new (and purely Turkish) breed of cattle.
• TURKEY DOESN’T KOW WHAT TO DO WITH ITS "VILLAGE PROTECTORS". Since the question of lifting the State of Emergency (OHAL) in the Kurdish provinces has been raised, the controvery over the ending of the system of "village protectors" has become more heated. The Kurdish regions – originally 13 provinces, now reduced to 5 – have been under a State of Emergency since 1987. Articles 74 and 75 of the rural code set up the "village protector" system in 1985, according to the Turkish authorities, to counter "terrorism" – but today the latter seem themselves to be overwhelmed and are no longer able to control these "protectors" who have got into the habit of arbitrarily imposing their of law on the population. The Turkish authorities are trying, today, to find them some other work so as to keep them under control. Thus at Silopi, in Sirnak province, 21 "village protectors" were hired by the international oil company Turkish Oil (TPIC) as security guards with the responsibility of checking the oil coming from Iraq via the Khabour border for tax purposes. With only a primary school education, these former "protectors" are paid a monthly wage of 250 million Turkish lire ($460).
There are today 67,507 "village protectors", of whom 17,440 are said to be volunteers and 50,067 "temporary". Over the last few years they have been accused of numerous crimes – kidnapping, smuggling, murder, swindling, extortion and robbery. About 3,000 of them have been tried or charged and 117 have been fired.
•RAIDS ON KURDISH OFFICE: ELEVEN ARRESTS. On 4 January 2000 the Police Directorate carried out raids on various offices of the People’s Democratic Party (HADEP) – in Diyarbekir, Agri, Kirsehir, Mus, Bulanik – but also on all the branches of the KESK Trade Union in Diyarbekir, the Women’s Cultural Centre at Dicle, on the newspapers Yeni Evrensel and Özgur Bakis and detained 11 members of HADEP. In the course of their searches, various papers and periodicals were impounded.
•12 DEATHS IN THE COURSE OF FIGHTING AT TUNCELI. Six Turkish soldiers and six PKK fighters met their deaths on 9 January 2000 in the course of clashes in Tunceli Province. A Sikorsky helicopter was seriously hit by the PKK fighters. The Turkish Prime Minister had declared last week that the fighting "was practically at zero level". A PKK statement of 7 January indicated that "these people are no longer connected to our group (…) The party is not responsible for their lives or for whatever they may do in the future".
Dissent is also coming to the fore amongst PKK sympathisers in Europe. Meeting in the context of a "Kurdish Initiative in Europe", some dissidents, claiming to be "intellectuals who are members and former members of the PKK in Europe" have indicated their opposition to "the new political line" of the organisation and criticised the abandoning of armed struggle recommended by Abdullah Öcalan. In a communiqué dated 11 January 2000, the group stated it had decided to "support Hamili Yildirim" commander of the Dersim (Tunceli) region and his forces. According to their communiqué, Hamili Yildirim, "member of the PKK Central Committee and one of the leaders of the military wing, as well as some historic leaders of the organisation, such as Mehmet Can Yuce and Meral Kidir, former members of the Central Committee who are still in prison after over 20 years, are ‘opposed to the new political line’ adopted by Öcalan and part of the organisation (…) The withdrawal from Turkey and abandoning of armed struggle can only follow negotiations and an agreement between the parties to the conflict".
The Central Committee of the PKK acknowledged, on 7 January 2000, that two armed groups of the PKK had refused to obey the party’s orders of last year to stop fighting and withdraw from Turkey in response to Abdullah Öcalan’s calls for "a peaceful and democratic" solution to the conflict.
A former PKK official in Europe indicated to AFP that the leading structures of "Kurdish Initiative in Europe", which is still being set up, should officially be made known in February". Amongst the members of this group there should be, in particular, former Kurdish representative officials in Europe and former members of the PKK Central Committee.
• GERMANY: THE SALE OF ARMS TO ANKARA JEOPAR-DIZED BECAUSE OF HUMAN RIGHTS. The German Government has decided to take human rights criteria into account in the sale of arms, even towards countries that are members of NATO.
In accordance with this decision, arms sales will not be allowed if it is concluded that the arms, destined for the defence of the countries concerned risk being used in internal conflicts and violations of Human Rights. These will be assessed not only on the basis of reports by the German authorities, but also from those prepared by the United Nations, OSCE and the European Union.
Mrs. Claudia Roth, President of the Human Rights Commission of the Bundestag and Vice-President of CILDEKT, commenting on this said: "in the present situation tanks cannot be sold to Turkey".
However, this decision will not affect joint production contracts signed earlier.
•THE TURKISH SECRET SERVICES (MIT), IN COLLA-BORATION WITH MOSSAD ARE SAID TO HAVE EAVESD-ROPPED MEETING OF THE EUROPEAN COMMISSION. According to the Austrian paper Die Presse of following rumours of the existence of a mole inside the European Commission, an enquiry revealed that the simultaneous interpreters’ cabins had been bugged.
These cabins, made by an Israeli company, are said to have been fitted, by MOSSAD with a spying system. The information collected is said to have been transmitted to the Turkish MIT. An official of the European Union, commenting this information stated: "In the light of these facts one can understand how Turkey was so quickly informed of the Commission’s conclusions regarding it".
• ACCORDING TO STANDARD & POORS, TURKEY’S MEMBER-SHIP OF THE EUROPEAN UNION IS UNLIKELY BEFORE 2015. One of the world’s most important financial consultants, Standard & Poors (S&P), in its latest International Bulletin of Finance, that came our in January 2000, considers that the Cyprus question and the "human rights violations in the civil war against the Kurdish minority" make Turkey’s entry to the European Union improbable before 2015.
According to Stéphane Gagne, S&P’s specialist, the phrase about Turkey’s Human Rights violations against the Kurdish minority gave rise to many protests from Turkish financial circles.