B u l l e t i n

c o m p l e t

Bulletin N° 189 | December 2000



THE Kurdish writer and journalist; Mahmut Baksi, died in Stockholm on Tuesday 19 Decembe at 7 pm, as a result of a long illness.

Mahmut Baksi was born in 1944; at Kuzluk, in Turkish Kurdistan. After his secondary schooling, he plunged into Trade Union activity and, as from 1976, journalism. His first novel was published in 1969. Called Mezra Botan, it was inspired by Kurdish life of his childhood. His writings, his activity on behalf of the Kurdish people and his Trade Unionism earned him a series of trials. Threatened with years of imprisonment in Turkey, he sought refuge, at first in Germany and then, in 1971, in Sweden where he became a well known writer and public figure.

He was, in particular, a journalist on the Social Democratic daily Aftonbladet and the sole member of foreign origin on the executive of the Union of Swedish Writers. A member of the Paris Kurdish Institute since 1986, he was a member of its Board of Directors from 1993 to 2000.

Author of about twenty books, some of which have been translated into foreign languages (Swedish, Norwegian, German, Finnish, Turkish and French), Mr. Baksi exercised his trade of journalist in the Swedish and Kurdish press almost until his death. He also did reporting and wrote documentaries for Swedish television.

The French publishing house Harmattan recently published his autobiographical account of his youth Mon enfance en Kurdistan (My childhood in Kurdistan).

A memorial service for him took place on Saturday 23 December in Stockholm, on the initiative of the Federation of Kurdistan Associations in Sweden, with the participation of the Kurdish Institute and in the presence of his family. In accordance with the terms of his will he will be buried in Diyarbekir.


ON 4 December, the European Union declared that they had finally avoided a serious crisis on the "membership partnership " offered to Turkey and forced an agreement between Greeks and Turks at the end of a effort described as a real piece of "jig-saw".

There was a "great deal of toil over the words " used in the "membership partnership " document, which defines the road Turkey has to to follow to join the E.U. It was "practically a piece of jig-saw ", commented French Foreign Minister Hubert Védrine, whose country is exercising the Presidency of the Union till the end of December 2000, to give an idea of the difficulty they had in finding a solution.

Ankara did not want any mention of the Cyprus problem amongst the short term political criteria to be achieved by Turkey before the end of 2001, in contrast to Greece. Turkey’s resentment and anxiety were all the stronger in that the achievement of the political aspects of the so-called "Copenhagen criteria " is an indispensible prerequisite for any candidate country to be able even to begin negotiations for membership of the Union.

According to European sources, however, the differences between Greece and Turkey remain in the document, but under the section of the "membership partnership " entitled "intensified political dialogue and political criteria " and an allusion to "territorial questions in the Ægean in accordence with the United Nations Charter ". This section is in line with the decisions of the Helsinki summit that had allowed Turkey to acceed to the status of candidate for membership before having begun the process of negotiating its conditions of membership.

On the eve of the Nice summit, an essential meeting for deciding on the enlarging of Europe, the Fifteen have thus avoided a serious crisis between Greece and Turkey.

However, Turkey remains on the sidelines of the convoy of countries considered for the enlargement at the end of the Nice Summit, after having passed its first year debating, without noteable advance, the political reforms required for joining the European Club. It is offended that it is not even mentioned in the conclusions of the Nice summit.

"They might at least have included a little explanation. It is evident that theu neglected this point. They might have paid more attention to this so as not to create un ease on our side " remarked a Turkish diplomat off the record.

"Turkey has not yet been given the status that, officially, was granted to it at Helsinki " recognised a European diplomat (also off the record). "In the background there are a whole number of hesitations " regarding this country, he added. "Moreover, Turkey has not done enough to show that it really does want to join " he considered.

"The fact that Turkey was not even mentioned strengthenes the camp of those in Turkey who are opposed to joining " judged the editorialist of the liberal daily Yeni Binyil.


ON the 61st day of the hunger strike launched by 250 detainees linked to Left wing groups protesting against the project of new prisons, the so called Type F (cells for 2 or 3 people, that the detainees call "coffins ", which will replace the dormitories of 50 to 60 people) the Turkish Army launched an assault on 19 December. The operation has caused at least 30 deaths, including 2 of the troops. The attempts at mediation had been broken off on 15 December.

It was with automatic weapons that the gendarmes invaded the prisons. Police, backed by gendarmes and army units responsible for ensuring security in the prisons, launched simultaneous "rescue " operations at 5 am on about twenty prisons across Turkey. They were, in particular the Bayrampasa and Umraniye Prisons in Istanbul, the Ulucanlar Prison in Ankara, as well as prisons in Ceyhan, Bursa, Aydin, Buca, Usak, Çanakkale, Kirsehir, Kahramanmaras, Nigde and Çankiri.

According to the Turkish Minister of Justice, Hikmet Sami Turk, at least 2 of the victims had committed suicide in the first hours of the assault by setting themselves on fire. One woman detainee at Umraniye is said to have ‘committed suicide’ by attacking the security forces who riposted by opening fire. Mr. Turk, moreover, confirmed that the transfers to the Type F prison at Sincar had begaun, although on 9 December he had postponed the entry into force of the new system to a later date.

"They have burned 6 women alive " hurled two women prisoners, whose faces bore burn marks, as they were being carried to hospital on streatchers. The scenes, broadcast by CNN-Turk seem to contradict the Justice Minister’s statements who, for his part, preferred to talk of the ‘suicide’ of the prisoners.

In Istanbul, the lawyer Eren Keskin, local officer of the Turkish Human Rights Association (IHD) and about 30 other people were detained, to be followed in the course of the day by many other arrests. The detainees families also zent to the scene demanding news of their relations. In the last fortnight the Kurdish ex-M.P.s Orhan Dogan, Leyla Zana, Hatip Dicle and Selim Sadak have also joined the protest movement. The gendarmes broke into their dormitory and wanted to take them to hospital. In the face of their refusal, they refrained from using force to oblige them.

According to evidence collected by the Turkish Human Rights Association, detainees have declared that "the police first sprayed us with some liquid then set us alight ". Leading officials of the Medical Council confirm this version.

It should be recalled that the victims are political activists, well known for their militancy, and perceived by the Turkish authorities as "agitators ". Everything leads one to believe that they were cold bloodedly murdered by the Army, under cover of the confusion resulting from the operation. During similar operations in Diyarbekir Prison a year earlier, a dozen prisoners were killed. More recently, during the attack on the Ulucanlar Prison in Ankara, about a dozen prisoners were slaughtered in the prison courtyard, in full view of the other powerless prisoners — including the jailed Kurdish Members of Parliament. The authors of these massacres have never been brought to trial.

Learning from past experience, the Turkish Army, this time, carried out its operations according to a detailed plan, meticulously prepared for over a year, including its diplomatic and media aspects. The unarmed hunger strikers were presented as very dangerous leftist extremists.

The Turkish press simply echoed official statements and the few recalcitrants were immediately brought to heel. Broadcasting of the NTV news chanel was interrupted by the police in the morning of 21 December while its corresponent was reporting the police operations live. The Director General of Prisons, Ali Suat Ertosun, vehemently attacked the Turkish journalists: "Do not ask any questions that cast doubt on the attitude and behaviour of the State " he warned.

The European Commission reacted cautiously, declaring that it was "concerned " by the attacks on Human Rights. The French Foreign Ministry spokesman, François Rivasseau, declared "we are aghast at the outcome of the hunger strikes in the Turkish prisons ".


Issue N° 2 of the Kurdish Institute’s six-monthly periodical, Etudes Kurdes , has just come out.

This issues contesnts are: The Merwanide Kurdish princes and the Syriac scholars , by Ephrem-ISA YOUSIF; Clothing as an indication of the integration of Iraqi Kurdish refugees , by Chirine MOHSEN; Some reflections on the development of Kurdish literature in Iraqi Kurdistan between 1991 and 1999 , Farhad PIRBAL; Which way democracy three minutes before the third millenium? Sami SEÇUK

A European research project on the Kurdish community in France , Salih AKIN; Two letters by Cherif Pasha to Benito Mussolini , Mirella GALLETTI; Kurdistan in the Shadow of History and The other Kurds. Yezidis in Colonial Iraq , Hamit BOZARSLAN; Three Obituaries : A. BABAKHAN, I. AHMET AND P. RONDOT; A Chronology of Events , Rüsen Werdi.

Etudes Kurdes is distributed by Editions Harmattan and the Kurdish Institute.


THE TURKISH ARMY INTERVENES IRAQI KURDISTAN, WHERE FIGHTING BETWEEN THE PKK AND THE PUK IS BECOMING MORE INTENSE. On the morning of 17 December, the Turkish Army deployed over 700 troops and heavy artillery in the Raniyah and Qandil region of Iraqi Kurdistan, about 300 Km inside its borders, to attack PKK camps in the region. This fresh Turkish incursion cannot even be justified by the alibi of "right of pursuit ", since the PKK is no longer fighting in Turkey, and it openly violates international law and the sovereignty of a neighbouring State.

According to the English language Arab daily, Al-Zaman , of 19 December, Ankara is said to has been called to the rescue by the Patriotic Union of Kurdistan (PUK) which had been getting the worse of the latest clashes with the PKK, involving 3,000 fighters in the region. On 21 December, in the Arabic language daily Al-Sharq al-Awsat , Adil Murad, one of the PUK leaders, totally denied this, stressing that "the situation in Raniyah is stable and peaceful. Regarding the Turkish Army, the whole world knows that for years the army has been entering Iraqi Kurdistan on the pretext of fighting the PKK ".

It remains difficult to determine the number of victims of this fighting, but accordinng to eye witness accounts received in Paris, there are said to be already several hundreds of them in the region. According to the daily Al-Hayat of 22 December, the PKK chief, Abdullah Ocalan, is said to have written to his brother, Osman Ocalan, based on the Iraqi-Iranian border, asking him "to avoid fighting the Turkish Army whatever the price ".

Moreover our Committee’s President, Mrs. Danielle Mitterrand, has just sent a letter to President Chirac, in which, in particular, she writes: "Can we still continue to consider the Turkish Government, with its policy of repression, as a democracy capable of joining Europe? You have recently ratified, at Nice, the European Charter of Fundamental Rights. Even if it does not completely satisfy us, this document stipulates the necessity of democratic, or at least humane, processes for any European power. I would remind you that the Turkish Army, in defiance of all international laws and conventions, has again made incursions into Northern Iraq… This appeal is also made to public opinion so that the massacres in the Turkish prisons may cease and the Turkish Army put an end to practices that endanger the peace of the whole region ".

ACCORDING TO FORMER CHANCELLOR HELMUT SCHMIDT, DEPRIVING THE KURDS OF THEIR STATE WAS "A SERIOUS INJUSTICE AND A HISTORIC MISTAKE ". In an article published by the German daily Berliner Tagesspiegel of ....., former Chancellor Helmut Schmidt considered that the 1919 Versailles Treaty, hindering the creation of a Kurdish State was a serious injustice and a historic mistake,

"From a geopolitical point of view, the question is as follows: in Turkey, a fifth of its population of 70 million inhabitants are Kurds. The two contendig parties engage in armed confrontations in Hamburg. The fact that the Kurds were not granted a State in the 1919 Versailles Treaty was a serious injustice. Is this conflict going to be introduced into the European Union? One would have to be called Joscka Fischer to support such a thing in the cause of European idealism " Mr. Schmidt declared. He furthermore stated that "giving Turkey the status of candidate for membership was s serious mistake… It was done on the basis of a false hope. Apart from the fact that it brings with it the danger of other immediate problems, it also leads to problems whose solution may well cost us very dearly ".

THE EUROPEAN HUMAN RIGHTS COURT JUDGES ABDULLAH OCALAN’S PETITION RECEIVABLE. The petition by Abdullah Ocalan’s petitio regarding the many violations of his rights during his trial in Turkey was judged receivable by the European Court for Human Rights in Strasbourg. A panel of 7 human rights judges declared Ocalan’s petition receivable in respect of the violations of his "right to life " to the "the forbidding of ill-treatment " to "freedom and security " to "a fair trial " and to "freedom of thought, conscience and religion as well as freedom of expression " . A. Ocalan also secured the Strasbourg Court’s agreement to examine his allegations regarding the violation of his right not to be sentenced "for an act that was not an offence at the time it was committed " and to "enjoy an effective right of appeal ". Moreover, the Strasbourg judges declared receivable Ocalan’s allegations regarding violations of his rights "to respect for his private and family life " and to "the banning of discrimination ", to the "limitation of the use of restriction of rights " and to "the right of individual appeal ".

On the other hand, the Court rejected Ocalan’s complaints regarding two secondary aspects of his appeal such as "the right of every person aprehended to be informed of the reasons for his arrest and all charges levelled against him ".

The seven judges decided, in view of the complexity of the case, to confide to the Upper Court (made up of 17 judges) the duty of ruling on the basis issues of the case. This decision cannot take place for several months, whereas Turkey has suspended Ocalan’s execution pending a ruling by the Human Rights Court. The abolition of the death sentence is one of the criteria for Turkey’s membership of the European Union.

Turkey has minimised the impact of the European Court’s acceptance of the petition, while his defence has welcomed the ruling. "It is only amatter of a decision on the receivability of the petition " the Turkish Minister of Justice, Hikmet Sami Turk, said laconically.

The lawyer, Hasip Kaplan, described the ruling as "an important step " welcoming the decision of the lower Court to confide the task of deciding on the essence of the case to the Upper Court of 17 judges.

• ACCORDING TO THE ANTI-TORTURE COMMITTEE (ATC) OF THE COUNCIL OF EUROPE: A "GOLDEN PRISON" FOR ABDULLAH OCALAN — TORTURE FOR THE OTHERS. According to a report published in Strasbourg on 7 December with the agreement of the Turkish Government, after a visit to Turkey by the ATC from 23 February to 9 March 1999, Abdullah Ocalan, detained in the Island prison of Imrali "has a 13m 2 cell, well lit by natural light, properly equipped with a bed, a desk, toilets shower, wash bassin and air conditioning, all ’of very good quality ". Subjected to rigorous isolation, he runs, however, no risk of ill-treatment, and four doctors are looking after him — a general practitioner, a heart speciallist, a specialist in internal medecine and an psychiatrist.

In addition, he can listen to broadcasts by the Turkish TRT-FM radio network and he regularly receives books, periodicals and daily newspapers. The Turkish Government, whose statement is attached to the report, states that Abdullah Ocalan can read any books he wants to, as well as publications and newspapers brought to him by his lawyers and family, who visit him regularly.

Furthermore, to attenuate the negative effects of isolation on Mr. Ocalan’s mental health, people specially trained in human relations "hold daily conversations with the prisoner at specific times ", according to Ankara.

In reply to the urgings of the ATC that they enlarge Abdullh Ocalan’s living space or break his isolation by allowing him to have cell mates, Ankara’s answer was a firm NO, partly for security reasons and partly because the Anti-Terrorist Act forbids it. Moreover, the Government stressed, the prisoner has available an exercise yard of 45m2 — whereas the cells reserved for "dangerous criminels " in certain Western prisons, in Germany, Norway and Finland "are much smaller ".

In the same report, the ATC reveals several new cases of torture and ill-treatment in the Istanbul and Izmir anti-terrorist police stations: "Palestinian hanging " (suspension by the arms), beating all over the body, electric shocks … The ATC’s doctors were able to verify some of these allegations. The ,ost serious case, acknowledged by Ankara, is that of the Trade Unionist Suleyman Yeter, tortured to death while in detention between 5 and 7 March 1999 in Istanbul. The three policemen, alleged to have carried out the torture have subject to proceedings, the Government said. "Decisive action must be taken to eradicate, once and for all, the use of torture and ill treatment by the police " of the Istanbul anti-terrorist police, says the ATC.

THE IMF PROMISES $ 10 BILLION TO TURKEY. On 6 December, the International Monetary Fund (IMF) flew to the help of Turkey by announcing help to the tune of $ 10 billion to settle its liquidity crisis, in exchange for an ecceleration of the reform of the Banking sector and of further privatisation. As a sign of the re-establishment of confidence, the Istanbul Stock Exchange took off and ended the day with an increase of 18.6% over the previous day, which itself had picked up, in anticipation of the IMF announcement, after two weeks of falls that had reached nearly 50%. And the overnight rate of interest steadied at about 200% after having peaked at 1,700% qt the height of the crisis.

The IMF General Manager, Horst Koehler, will ask the Board of Directors for credits of a little more than $ 10 billion, of which a first slice of $ 2.8 billion will be released on 21 December, the date of the Board meeting, the European Manager, Michael Deppler, announced in Ankara. Moreover, the World Bank’s chief economist, Nocholas Stern, had announced on 5 November, that the Bank would shortly be discussing an aid programme for Turkey of about $ 5 billion.

In exchange, the Turkish Prime Minister, Bülent Ecevit, announced a series of measures to accelerate the privatisation of Turk Telekom, Turkish Airlines (THY) and of the Electrical supply sector, strengthening the reform of the banking sector, which will be detailed in a letter of intent to the IMF, as well as a struggle to reduce inflation to 12% by the end of 2001 (it is running at 44% at present).

At the end of October 2000, ten banks, many of which were involved in corruption scandals, were placed under State supervision. On 5 Decemberm an eleventh banking establishment, Demirbank, whose difficulties had sparked off the crisis, joined them and yet another, Investment Bank had its licence woithdrawn. The financial crisi is linked to the fragility of the banking sector, which relied heavily on Treasury Bonds whose profitability melted away with the drop in interest rates and the success of the fight against inflation — and delays in the privatisation processm q component of the anti-inflation reforms started in December 1999 in agreement with the IMF, which had released $ 3.7 billion worth of credits over three years.

TURKEY FOUND GUILTY OF HOMICIDE COMMITTED BY POLICE OFFICERS. On 14 December, the European Human Rights Court found the Turkish Government guilty of homicide committed by three policemen who had fired volleys 50 to 55 bullets through the door of the victims appartment.

The judges unanimously ruled there had been a violation of Mehmet Gul’s right to life and made the point that the Turkish authorities had failed in their obligation to conduct an effective enquiry into the circumstances of his death.

The Court also unanimously sentenced Turkey to pay a total of 142,622.82 euros to Mehmet Gul’s family. His widow and three children will receive the sum of £st 35,000 material damages and £st 20,000 moral damages. The victim’s father, the sole petitioner, will receive £st 10,000 damages and £st 21,000 costs.

During the night of 7 to 8 March 1993, Mehmet Gul was riddled with bullets by three policemen during a house search in the context of an enquiry into the activity of the Kurdistan Workers’ Party (PKK). The man was hit even as he was unlocking the door of the appartment where he lived with his family in the small town of Bozova (Kurdistan).

In 1996, after an enquiry that had "important ommissions ", according tom the European Court, in particular the fact that the Public Prosecutor did not take any evidence from the policemen. According to the European judges, they were acquitted, the Sanliurfa Criminal Court judging that they had not committed any fault.

THE TURKISH POLICE REBELS AGAINST ITS CHIEFS AND THE GOVERNMENT. Taking as excuse an attack with automatic weapons, on 11 December, against a police coach in the Gazi quarter of Istanbul, which caused two deaths and several wounded, the Turkish police in several towns demonstrated, brandishing their weapons and shouting threats against the State authorities, civilian and illagal organisations, intellectuals and the hunger strikers. In several towns, including Istanbul and Izmir, the rioters manhandled their local police chiefs and threatened to lynch them. Here are some of the slogans shouted by the demonstrators: "We will sell whoever sells us out " "The government takes the amnesty law and destroys it " "Organisations (including civil ones) come down into the street — we have weapons " "Ankara, Ankara, listen to us. These are the agile steps of the police. We will betray those who betray us " " The police are here — where are the intellectuals? " "An eye for an eye, a tooth for a tooth. The State must not negotiate with traitors ".

Some have explained this movement by the very low living standards of the police but many are those who criticise their level of training. Fatih Altayli, journalist on the Turkish daily Hurriyet wrote, in this respect: "If they hadn’t become police they’d have been terrorists ". In fact, th bulk of the police were recruited from the ranks of the extreme Right with a view to fighting the Kurdish nationalists and the democratic left. According to Professor Dogu Ergil "these events are very serious but foreseeable. They have been led along this road (…) Their slogans reflect their own perceptions of the oppressive authority of an oppressive regime ".

Prime Minister B{ulent Ecevit declared that certain persons had pushed a button to unleach the discontent. All the press took up the idea, seeking everywhere to identify those guilty of having pushed the button, and Minister of the Interior Sadettin Tantan declared, on 18 December, that 64 policemen had been suspended for their active participation in the demonstrations.

THE TURKISH PRESIDENT HAS RATIFIED THE AMNESTY BILL. On 20 December the Turkish Parliament passed the Amnesty Bill on its second reading and in identical terms to the first. This Bill will allow the release of nearly half of the 72,000 prisoners in the country, despite the President’s opposition. The Turkish President, Ahmet Sezer, finally signed the Bill on 21 December since he cannot veto the same Bill twice.

This measure principally releases criminal law prisoners (rapist, murderers etc.…). Kurdish activists and the bulk of Turkish political prisoners sentenced for "crimes against the State " remain excluded from this peculiar ‘amnesty’ which even the President found "unfair and inequitable ".