|Monday, 6 April 2020|
TURKEY HUMAN RIGHTS PRACTICES, 1993
AUTHOR: U.S. DEPARTMENT OF STATE
DATE: JANUARY 31, 1994
Turkey is a constitutional republic with a multiparty parliament (the Turkish Grand National Assembly) which elects the President. Suleyman Demirel was elected President in May 1993. The Head of Government is the Prime Minister. Tansu Ciller, chairperson of the center-right True Path Party (DYP), became Turkey's first female Prime Minister in July.
A state of emergency declared in 1987 continued in 10 southeastern provinces where the Government continued to face terrorist violence from the separatist insurgency of the Kurdistan Workers Party (PKK) (see Section 1.g.). A regional governor retains authority over those 10 provinces, as well as 3 adjacent ones. The state of emergency allows the civilian governor to exercise certain quasi-martial law powers, including restrictions on the press and removal from the area of persons whose activities are deemed hostile to public order. The state of emergency decree with its stringent security measures was most recently renewed in November.
The Turkish National Police are responsible for maintaining public order in the cities, a responsibility which the Jandarma (gendarmerie) carries out in the countryside. Acknowledging persistent international, and growing domestic, concern about the actions of these security organs, the Ciller Government renewed the previous government's promise to establish a state of law based on respect for human rights and put an end to the use of torture by security forces. Despite these pledges, incidents of torture and excessive use of force by security personnel persisted throughout 1993.
The economy grew 7 to 8 percent in 1993. State enterprises account for nearly 40 percent of Turkey's manufacturing sector, but the Ciller administration has undertaken a privatization drive aimed at strengthening Turkey's market orientation. The economy continues to suffer from chronic inflation-- approximately 71 percent in 1993. High inflation and rapidly growing private consumption, as well as the growing costs of the war in the southeast, threaten Turkey's recent economic gains.
Turkey's primary human rights problems in 1993 continued to be the torture of persons in police or security forces custody during periods of incommunicado detention and interrogation; use of excessive force against noncombatants by security forces; restrictions on freedom of expression and association; disappearances and "mystery killings" that appear to be politically motivated; and terrorist acts by armed separatists, Islamic extremists, and unknown persons. Renewed PKK violence in May ended a 2-month cease-fire declared by the PKK but never acknowledged by the Government. Violence in southeast Turkey has since reached unprecedented levels. Actions by both Turkish authorities and the PKK contributed to the overall deterioration of the human rights situation.
The 1991 Anti-Terror Law, with its broad and ambiguous definition of terrorism, was used to detain alleged terrorists and a broad range of people on the charge that their acts or ideas promote separatism and "threaten the indivisible unity of the State." In late 1993, the Government sought to expand the definition of terrorism under the law and to increase the permissible length of pretrial detention; at year's end the law remained in committee.
The Criminal Trials Procedure Law (CMUK), passed in November 1992, reaffirmed a common criminal suspect's right to immediate access to legal counsel and shortened permissible prearraignment detention to between 1 and 4 days, with the possibility of judicial extension to 8 days. Its provisions, however, do not apply to those detained under the Anti-Terror Law, nor to those detained within the region under a state of emergency whose cases fall under the jurisdiction of state security courts. The law is widely believed to have been effective in improving attorney access for common criminals.
The Constitutional Court in August closed down the People's Labor Party (HEP), a pro-Kurdish political party, on grounds that it advocated separatism, and at year's end was investigating the successor Democracy Party (DEP) on the same charges. In July Parliament annulled the article of the Constitution under which the Government had a monopoly on radio and television broadcasting, opening up the way for private radio and television stations to operate legally, though regulating legislation has not been passed. In September the Ciller Government established by decree a human rights undersecretariat and a High Council for Human Rights, but the Constitutional Court declared unconstitutional the law granting the Government decree powers. Several weeks later, upon the application of the opposition political parties, the Court annulled the human rights decree, along with several others. The Government promised to introduce a bill into Parliament to establish the High Council but had not done so at year's end.
In December 1992, the European Committee for the Prevention of Torture publicly condemned Turkey for the widespread practice of torture and severe ill-treatment of persons in police custody. In November 1993, the United Nations Committee on Torture called on Turkey to end what it termed as the systematic torture of detainees.
RESPECT FOR HUMAN RIGHTS
Section 1 Respect for the Integrity of the Person, Including Freedom from:
a. Political and Other Extrajudicial KillingPolitical murders and extrajudicial killings in 1993, attributed to both government authorities and terrorist groups, continued to occur at the relatively high 1992 rates. Deaths attributed to government authorities included those in official custody, those that occurred when security forces opened fire on demonstrators, those of suspects in houses raided by security forces, and other types of civilian deaths in the southeast. The Human Rights Foundation of Turkey (HRF) claimed that government security forces were responsible for 91 extrajudicial killings in the first 9 months of 1993. A substantial number of "mystery killings," in which the assailant's identity was unknown, occurred as well. Human rights groups, journalists, and other independent observers continued to allege the complicity of security forces in a number of these killings.
Both local and international human rights organizations reported that 20 persons died in suspicious circumstances while in official custody, some allegedly as a result of torture. Of these, officials claimed that at least three committed suicide. Kutbettin Tekin who was detained by the Jandarma on April 20 in the southeastern province of Diyarbakir, reportedly upon his refusal to become a state-paid village guard (see Section 1.g.), died while in custody. The Government maintains Tekin was arrested for PKK membership. Jandarma officials claimed he committed suicide, but his relatives and the HRF maintain Tekin died during torture. According to the Government, the public prosecutor initiated an inquiry into Tekin's death. Police detained Vakkas Dost in Istanbul for unruly behavior, interrogated him at a nearby police station, and later told his relatives that he had died suddenly. Dost's family alleged that the police had tortured him to death and requested a formal investigation. Nurettin Ozturk, a policeman, was taken into custody and charged with torture in connection with the incident. After the court released Ozturk on his own recognizance, he disappeared and an arrest order was issued. The trial continued as of the end of the year. The Izmir state security court prosecutor opened an investigation into claims that Baki Erdogan, who died on September 22 in the custody of the Aydin Security Directorate, had been tortured to death. By law, authorities are obliged to investigate all death cases, but prosecutions of security force members for deaths in custody rarely occur. The case of Yucel Ozen, reported in 1992, is still continuing. In the Basalak case, also reported in 1992, a case is under way against 11 police officers.
Human rights groups and parliamentarians continued to accuse Turkish security forces of carrying out extrajudicial killings during raids on alleged terrorist safe houses rather than trying to arrest the occupants. During the first 9 months of the year, more than 40 people died in house raids, according to human rights groups. They noted that, while the authorities announced that the suspects were killed in shootouts, eyewitnesses often reported that no shots were fired by the suspects. Significantly, security forces are rarely killed or injured in the raids. Local human rights groups cited, for example a March 24 raid on an alleged Dev Sol (Devrimci Sol or the Revolutionary Left, a Marxist-Leninist terrorist group) safe house in Istanbul, in which police killed three suspects, and an April 23 shoot-out with alleged Dev Sol terrorists in Tunceli province, where security forces killed 12; A deputy of the Socialist Democratic Populist Party (SHP) claimed 6 of the dead were killed after they had surrendered.
Security forces also continued to be charged with using deadly force against unarmed civilians participating in peaceful demonstrations. In two separate incidents (in Kars and Mus provinces, respectively) during the weekend of August 14-15, Turkish security forces took allegedly defensive actions that resulted in the deaths of at least 18 civilians and demonstrators, with no security force casualties.
During the year, a trend was reported in the southeast in which Turkish forces, after being attacked by the PKK, retaliated against the closest village or town, terrorizing or even killing civilians and destroying property and livestock.
On October 23, after the PKK apparently killed a Jandarma brigadier general in Lice, the provincial governor sealed off the town and surrounding area, and the Jandarma reportedly retaliated against the village, killing civilians and carrying out wholesale property destruction. Human rights organizations estimate that 30 civilians were killed; the official government figure is 13. Human rights monitors, journalists, and the chairman of the Republican People's Party (CHP) were denied access to Lice in the days that followed, and telephone communications with the town were cut on October 23. On October 25, the Diyarbakir HRA reported that 28 wounded persons had been evacuated. Much temporary housing, put in place after an earthquake and not yet replaced with permanent housing, was destroyed.
Another credible allegation of extrajudicial killing concerns six villagers from Ozbasoglu reportedly shot by security forces on July 2. Five died, but the sixth survived and gave his account of the incident to a Member of Parliament (M.P.) who submitted a complaint to the Human Rights Commission of the Turkish Grand National Assembly. As of the end of the year, there has been no response.
The number of "mystery killings" increased during 1993, with more than 291 civilians assassinated during the first 9 months of the year. The Turkish Human Rights Association (HRA) claimed that 524 people were killed in 1993 by unidentified attackers mostly in the east and southeast of the country. The majority were leaders or prominent members of the Kurdish community, including journalists, physicians, human rights activists, local politicians, members of the People's Labor Party (HEP) and its successor, the Democracy Party (DEP), and others viewed as sympathetic to Kurdish causes. Some human rights organizations, religious leaders, Kurdish leaders, and local Kurds asserted that the Government acquiesces in, or even carries out, the murders of civilians. They cited frequent failures of officials to investigate these murders, the fact that some victims' bodies were discovered in "security zones" to which only Jandarma or security officials are permitted access, and the fact that some victims had previously been detained, abused, or threatened by security forces. Human rights groups reported the widespread belief that at least some "mystery killings" are carried out by a counterguerrilla group associated with the security forces.
On September 4, unknown persons fatally shot Mehmet Sincar, a DEP M.P. from Mardin, and Metin Ozdemir, the local DEP chairman, in the city center of Batman, wounded four others, including DEP M.P. Nizamettin Toguc, and escaped. Other DEP M.P.'s who were in Batman at the time of the killing reported that they were given police security the day before the killing, but the police security presence disappeared on the morning of the murder. The Government pledged to bring Sincar's assassin to justice and immediately arrested a score of suspects, most of whom were eventually released. A case was opened against seven suspects alleged to have assisted in the assassination, but at the end of the year no one had been charged with the murder itself. In the past 2 years, at least 54 members of the DEP and its predecessor, the HEP, have been assassinated. Amnesty International (AI) states that it has received persistent and credible reports of members of security forces threatening to kill Kurdish activists.
Other mystery killings included Elazig HRA chairman and attorney Metin Can and Dr. Hasan Kaya, whose bodies were found in eastern Tunceli province on February 27 with their hands tied behind their backs and each with a bullet hole in his head. Family and HEP members accused government officials of failing to search for the victims once their disappearance had been reported. Kemel Kilic, the Urfa representative for the pro-Kurdish daily Ozgur Gundem (Free Agenda) and a founding member of the Urfa branch of the HRA was shot dead on his way home from work. On the day of his death, Kilic had organized a press conference in which he denounced the attempts to stop distribution of Ozgur Gundem and the "police's silence." The body of Ferhat Tepe, 19-year-old Bitlis correspondent for Ozgur Gundem, was identified on August 9 in the Elazig state hospital morgue. Reportedly, an anonymous caller told his family after his disappearance on July 28 that the so-called Ottoman Turkish Revenge Brigade had kidnaped him. Ozgur Gundem and the leftist daily Aydinlik produced witnesses who claimed Tepe had been tortured to death in the Diyarbakir provincial Jandarma interrogation center. The Government expressed its condolences on Tepe's death but took no action; it considers Tepe's death a mystery murder.
In all, five journalists were assassinated in 1993. On January 24 prominent journalist and secularist Ugur Mumcu was killed by a bomb that had been placed under his car. Three different Islamic groups claimed responsibility for his killing. By year's end, none of these murders had been solved.
On September 21 Ali Sahap Samk, a teacher in Diyarbakir and member of the leftist teachers' union, Egit Sen, was shot and killed by unidentified persons outside his home. The Diyarbakir leader of the labor union blamed security forces for the murder.
In most cases, the Government failed to initiate any public inquiry or to press charges in connection with these murders. In September the regional governor for the southeast asserted that 200 mystery murders which occurred in the region between July 1991 and July 1992 had been solved. To date none of the cases has been prosecuted, and no evidence has been proferred to back up his claim. In May the press reported that the then Interior minister downplayed the 1992 murders of 15 journalists by claiming that only 4 of the 15 murdered journalists were "real" journalists, and the others were killed as a result of clashes between rival factions in the southeast.
A delegation of the International Federation of Journalists visited Turkey in March to investigate the increasing number of unsolved murder cases in the southeast; the head of the delegation said PEN believes that Turkey, where 15 journalists had been murdered over the last 15 months, posed a major danger to reporters.
A parliamentary committee investigated the mystery murders in 1993 but had issued no report by year's end. In early March, an SHP delegation submitted its report to the Ministry of Justice and suggested assigning a team of public prosecutors to Silvan, Batman, Nusaybin, Kiziltepe, and Midyat to investigate the mysterious murders. The report said local people had lost their confidence in the current prosecutors and other officials who have been unable to solve the murders so far. As of the end of 1993, the Justice Ministry had issued no public response.
Political murders carried out by terrorists occurred predominantly in southeast Anatolia. Victims of killings almost certainly perpetrated by the PKK included state officials (Jandarma, local mayors, and schoolteachers), paramilitary village guards (and family members), and persons suspected of supporting rightwing terrorist groups. According to Milliyet, a mainstream newspaper, in the period between June 1992 and June 1993, unidentified assailants murdered 20 teachers in the southeastern province of Diyarbakir alone. In early January, a group of alleged PKK militants stabbed to death Halis Sisman, an elementary schoolteacher in Yassica village, Bitlis. On September 21, unidentified persons shot and killed primary schoolteacher Ahmet Arcagok in Diyarbakir. Other victims were found with Turkish lira notes stuffed in their mouths, a signal that the person killed was thought to be a government collaborator.
On May 24 the PKK attacked a number of buses killing 33 unarmed recruits in civilian clothing, thus ending the PKK's unilateral spring cease-fire. In that action, as many as 150 PKK members blocked the Bingol-Elazig highway, stopped buses, pulled the recruits from the buses, and executed them. The PKK also targeted state-paid village guards. On August 4, for example, the PKK raided a radio relay station near Yuksekova in Hakkari province, killing eight soldiers and two village guards.
Religious officials also were political murder victims. PKK militants on May 4 reportedly kidnaped Abdulselam Eran, imam of Baloglu village, Kulp, from his home in Comlekci hamlet, and his body was found near the village a week later. There were incidents of religious violence; the worst occurred in Sivas on July 2 when a crowd of Islamic fundamentalists set fire to a hotel, killing 37 people. The purported target of their ire was well-known author and humorist Aziz Nesin, the translator of Salman Rushdie's "The Satanic Verses." Nesin escaped, but 37 people perished, and approximately 100 were injured. The crowd also toppled statues of Ataturk and martyred Alawi poet Abdal Pir Sultan. Many criticized the city government and police for failing to take adequate security measures in a timely manner, despite prior evidence of the potential for such violence.
Dev Sol, a violent Marxist-Leninist group, though substantially weakened by police actions against it in 1991 and 1992, resurfaced in August and September, claiming responsibility for several shootings, including the August 25 assassination of Recep Silo, an analyst with the Turkish National Intelligence Organization, as he watched a soccer game at his neighborhood field.
b. DisappearanceDisappearances continued to occur in 1993, while, with one exception, those reported in 1992 and earlier remained unsolved. Some disappeared after witnesses reported they had been taken into custody by security forces. In some of these cases, the person's body was later discovered, as happened in the disappearance of Ferhat Tepe (see Section 1.a.). Ayse Malkac, a correspondent working in Ozgur Gundem's Istanbul bureau, disappeared midmorning on August 7 after leaving her office and has not been seen since. Eyewitnesses claimed to have seen her being detained in the street by plainclothes police officers, but local authorities denied taking Malkac into custody. Human rights groups, journalists, and others alleged the complicity of security forces in this and other disappearances.
PKK terrorists continued their frequent abductions of local villagers, teachers, religious figures, and officials in the southeast, many of whose bodies were later discovered. The PKK expanded its kidnaping activities to include foreign tourists. Several Western tourists were kidnaped during the summer but eventually released unharmed, after periods of captivity ranging from 2 to 5 weeks.
c. Torture and Other Cruel, Inhuman, or Degrading Treatment or PunishmentDespite the Constitution's ban on torture, Turkey's accession to the U.N. and European Conventions Against Torture, and the public pledges of successive governments to do away with torture, the practice continued. Human rights attorneys and physicians who treat victims of torture state that most persons charged with, or merely suspected of, political crimes suffer torture, usually during periods of incommunicado detention in police stations and Jandarma headquarters before they are brought before a court.
Anecdotal evidence suggested that the implementation of the CMUK facilitated more immediate attorney access to those arrested for common crimes. However, human rights groups have not yet ascertained a related decrease in allegations of torture. The U.S.-based Helsinki Watch advised that its reports indicated that torture continued to be used in police interrogation centers against about half of ordinary criminal suspects. CMUK does not apply to those detained under the Anti-Terror Law. The HRF reported that there was no indication either of the amelioration of treatment of those charged under the Anti-Terror Law or of an overall decrease in the incidence of torture in 1993.
Human rights observers report that the system whereby the arresting police officer is also responsible for interrogating the suspect is conducive to torture because the officer seeks to obtain a confession that would justify the arrest. According to those familiar with Turkish police operations, in petty criminal cases, the arresting officer is responsible for following up on the case, whereas in major cases such as murder and political or terrorism-related crimes, "desks" responsible for the area in question are responsible for the interrogation.
Credible reports from former detainees and professionals who rehabilitate victims state that commonly employed methods of torture include: high-pressure cold water hoses, electric shocks, beating of the genitalia, hanging by the arms, blindfolding, sleep deprivation, deprivation of clothing, systematic beatings, and vaginal and anal rape with truncheons and, in some instances, gun barrels. HRA offices have also reported the use by police of tiny cells in which detainees are incarcerated for periods up to 10 hours to coerce confessions. Within the last 2 months of 1993, the HRF received three reports from former detainees who say they have been taken to a deserted construction site and tortured there.
Nilufer Koc, an interpreter who has lived in Germany for the past 20 years, was detained in Sirnak province while accompanying a German delegation in Turkey. She claimed that her torture included being hung by handcuffs from a hook for 2 hours, repeatedly hosed with cold water while naked, beaten, grabbed by the hair and having her head hit against the wall, and a weapon held against her forehead and told to make a last wish. Security forces believed her to be involved in PKK activities and wanted information about the activities of the PKK in Germany. After her release, Koc returned to Germany. The Turkish Government denied there was a problem.
Although the Government asserted that medical examinations occur once during detention and a second time before either arraignment or release, former detainees asserted that some medical examinations took place too long after the event to allow any definitive findings, some examinations were cursory, and some were done in the presence of police officials. Human rights groups reported that some doctors were occasionally under pressure to submit false or misleading medical certificates, denying evidence of torture. According to the HRF, practice varies widely; in some cases proper examinations are conducted, and in others doctors sign off on papers handed to them.
Authorities do not consistently investigate allegations of such abuses, and perpetrators are rarely sanctioned. Credible sources in the human rights and legal communities estimate that judicial authorities investigate only about one-half of the formal complaints involving torture and prosecute only a small fraction of those. Lawyers report harassment and threats for taking on torture cases, for example, anonymous telephone calls threatening they will suffer the same fate as Metin Can (see Section 1.a.).
In one case, however, five policemen charged in a 1986 torture case which occurred in the Sebin Karahisar township of Giresun on the Black Sea coast were sentenced by the Giresun criminal court to terms ranging from 10 months to 6 years and 8 months. Two officers were acquitted. The Court of Appeals upheld the sentences, leaving the convicted policemen no further legal recourse.
More typically, if law enforcement officers are convicted of torture, the sentences tend to be light, as was the case with three policemen convicted in March by the Ankara criminal court. Each received a 3-month prison sentence and was suspended from duty for 3 months. In many instances, cases drag on for years. Nazli Top, a nurse (pregnant at the time) who alleged she was tortured and raped with a truncheon during 10 days of detention in April 1992 before police released her without charge, filed criminal charges against her alleged torturers, but the case has yet to come to trial.
Under the Anti-Terror Law, officials accused of torture or other mistreatment may stay on the job while under investigation and, if convicted, may only be suspended. Special provincial administrative boards, rather than regular courts, decide whether to prosecute such cases, and suspects' legal fees are paid by their employing agencies. Under the state of emergency, any lawsuit directed at government authorities must be approved by the regional governor, which rarely happens, preventing legal pursuit of torture allegations.
As Turkey has recognized the jurisdiction of the European Court of Human Rights, Turks may file applications alleging violations of the European Convention on Human Rights with the European Human Rights Commission, and several have done so.
On December 15, 1992, the Council of Europe's Committee for the Prevention of Torture and Inhuman or Degrading Treatment or Punishment (CPT) issued an unprecedented public statement concerning Turkey, noting that torture and other forms of severe ill-treatment of persons in police custody remained widespread, that such methods were applied to both ordinary criminal suspects and persons held under antiterrorism provisions, and that torture was a deep-rooted problem. In both the Ankara Police Headquarters and the Diyarbakir Police Headquarters, the CPT reported finding furniture and equipment consistent with detainees' reports of how they were tortured. The CPT recommended several actions it considered necessary for the Government to take to deal with the problem and emphasized that legislative measures alone would not be sufficient to eradicate the phenomenon of torture.
On November 19, 1993, the United Nations Committee on Torture called on Turkey to end what it called the systematic torture of prisoners. "The Committee remains concerned at the number and substance of the allegations of torture received, which confirm the existence and systematic character of the practice of torture." The Government contested the accuracy of the report and stated that events were taken out of context and many examples were unconfirmed.
The CMUK, which went into effect on December 1, 1992, appeared to improve attorney access to detainees, but its efficacy in decreasing incidents of torture cannot yet be ascertained. Human rights groups criticized the CMUK because its allowable, maximum, prearraignment detention periods still exceed Council of Europe maximums, it codified two different classes of suspects with different rights, and the arresting officer had the power to determine whether or not the CMUK applied.
Besides CMUK, the Government did not appear to implement any other major initiatives that could contribute to a reduction of abuse. In November the Government introduced amendments to the Anti-Terror Law that would, among other things, broaden the definition of terrorism and increase the permissible length of incommunicado prearraignment detention. As of the end of the year, the bill was still pending in the Parliament's joint Justice-Interior committee.
As of September, 158 applications claiming torture, maltreatment, or arbitrary detention had been filed with the parliamentary Human Rights Commission (since its September 1991 inception), and the Commission had written to the public prosecutors in the provinces on each case, as well to the governor's office or that of the security directorate general for that province. It is unclear to what extent the Commission has followed up on these cases. The HRF's torture rehabilitation centers in Ankara, Izmir, and Istanbul reported that, within the first 6 months of 1993 they had received a total of 172 applications for treatment.
Prison conditions--and prison reform--remained an important issue in 1993. Prompted by a number of prisoner escapes, as well as hunger strikes by prisoners protesting conditions, the Government in February prepared a prison reform bill. As of the end of the year, the bill remained with the Justice Ministry and had not yet been formally submitted to Parliament.
Furthermore, while the incidence of torture in prisons has decreased in the last few years, there are continued reports of torture.
d. Arbitrary Arrest, Detention, or ExileIn order to take a person into custody, a prosecutor must issue a detention order, except in limited circumstances, as when a person is caught in the act of committing a crime. The detention period for those charged with common, individual crimes is 24 hours. Those detained for common, collective crimes may be held for 4 days, and the detention period may be extended for an additional 4 days. Under the CMUK, suspects are entitled to immediate access to an attorney and may meet and confer with the attorney at any time. In practice, attorney access under the CMUK improved for detainees charged with common crimes.
Persons detained for individual crimes which fall under the Anti-Terror Law must be brought before a judge within 48 hours, while those charged with crimes of a collective, political, or conspiratorial nature may be detained up to 15 days in most of the country and up to 30 days in the 10 southeastern provinces under a state of emergency. There is no guaranteed attorney access under law. The decision concerning access to counsel in such cases is left to the independent prosecutor, who routinely denies access, usually with the explanation that it would prejudice an ongoing investigation. The Justice and Interior Ministries generally have not intervened in prosecutors' decisions or police actions denying access to counsel. Although the Constitution specifies the right of detainees to request speedy arraignment and trial, judges have ordered a significant number of persons detained indeterminately, sometimes for years. While many cases involved persons accused of violent crimes, it is not uncommon for those accused of nonviolent political crimes to be kept in custody until the conclusion of their trials.
By law, a detainee's next of kin must be notified "in the shortest time" after arrest. Once formally charged by the prosecutor, a detainee is arraigned by a judge and allowed to retain a lawyer. After arraignment, the judge may release the accused if he presents an appropriate guarantee, such as bail, or order him detained if the court determines that he is likely to flee the jurisdiction or destroy evidence.
The detention of large numbers of people occurred on several occasions in 1993, including the demonstrations on August 14 and 15 in Digor, Kars province, and Malazgirt, Mus province (see Section 1.a.). In most such cases, the majority of detainees are subsequently released without charges being filed.
In the southeast there were several mass roundups of ethnic Kurds in the wake of a crime. For example, after a night watchman was killed in Adana in August, within 24 hours, police arrested large numbers of ethnic Kurds (estimates range up to 500). Police charged them under the Anti-Terror Law so the CMUK did not apply, enabling police to hold them in incommunicado detention for 15 days without access to a judge or lawyer (though they were released earlier). Some detainees alleged they were tortured. All were subsequently released without being charged.
There is no external exile, and Turkey's internal exile law was repealed in 1987. In 1990, however, under decree 430, the Government granted the southeast regional governor the authority to "remove from the region," for a period not to exceed the duration of the state of emergency, citizens under his administration whose activities (whether voluntary or forced) "give an impression that they are prone to disturb general security and public order." Although there were no known instances of the use of this broad authority in 1993, human rights monitors and residents of towns in the southeast report credibly that officials continued to rely on "administrative transfers" to remove government employees thought liable to "create trouble."
e. Denial of Fair Public TrialThe judicial system is composed of general law courts, state security courts, and military courts. Three martial law courts also remained, remnants of the 1980 military coup. Most cases are prosecuted in the general law courts, which include the civil, administrative, and criminal courts. Appeals are heard either by the High Court of Appeals or the Council of State. There is a constitutional court as well. Provincial administrative boards established under the Anti-Terror Law decide whether cases in which state officials are accused of misconduct should be heard in criminal court. Military courts, with their own appeals system, hear cases regarding infractions of military law by members of the armed forces. In December the Military Court prosecutor ordered the arrest of two television journalists, who hosted a program on military deserters and draft dodgers on a private station, arrested for encouraging people to evade compulsory military service. The journalists, who stated that the views they presented were those of their guests, were being tried in military court as of the end of the year. This was the first time that civilians have been arrested on the order of a military prosecutor and tried in a military court while Turkey was under civilian rule.
Eight state security courts, composed of five members--two civilian judges, one military judge, and two prosecutors--try defendants accused of crimes such as terrorism, drug smuggling, membership in illegal organizations, and espousing or disseminating ideas prohibited by law as "damaging the indivisible unity of the State." Their verdicts may be appealed only to a specialized department of the High Court of Appeals dealing with crimes against state security.
The Constitutional Court examines the constitutionality of laws, decrees, and parliamentary procedural rules. However, it may not consider "decrees with the force of law" issued under a state of emergency, martial law, or in time of war.
The Constitution requires that judges be independent of the executive in the discharge of their duties and provides for the security of their tenure. The High Council of Judges and Prosecutors, which is appointed by the President and includes the Minister of Justice, selects judges and prosecutors for the higher courts and is responsible for oversight of those in the lower courts. The Constitution also prohibits state authorities from issuing orders or recommendations concerning the exercise of judicial power. In practice, the courts generally act independently of the executive.
Defendants normally have the right to a public trial, and, under the Constitution, can only be proven guilty by a court of law. By law, the bar association must provide free counsel to indigents who make such a request to the court. Costs are borne by the association, although the bar association complained in 1993 that the funds promised them by the State for the increased workload resulting from the CMUK's implementation had not been forthcoming. There is no jury system; all cases are decided by a judge or panel of judges.
Defense lawyers generally have access to the independent prosecutor's files after arraignment and prior to trial (a period of several weeks). In cases involving violations of the Anti-Terror Law and a few others, such as insulting the President or "defaming Turkish citizenship," defense attorneys may be denied access to files which the State claims deal with national intelligence or security matters.
In 1993 state security courts predominantly handled cases under the Anti-Terror Law. The State claims these courts were established to try efficiently those suspected of certain crimes. In fact, however, the law provides that those accused of crimes falling under the jurisdiction of these courts may be detained twice as long before arraignment as other defendants. These courts may hold closed hearings and may admit testimony obtained during police interrogation in the absence of counsel. According to government figures, 3,792 people were detained under the Anti-Terror Law, and 811 people are serving sentences for violations of its provisions.
The Constitutional Court, upon examination of the constitutionality of several provisions of the Anti-Terror Law, (1) streamlined procedures and reduced the average fines imposed on the press from billions of Turkish lira to millions (approximately T.L. 14,000 to $1); (2) returned the assets and properties of the Turkish Confederation of Revolutionary Workers Unions (DISK) on January 27, 1993; (3) struck down a provision which had permitted the monitoring of meetings between prisoners involved in acts of violence and their lawyers; and (4) annulled a provision which limited to three the number of lawyers permitted to follow a given case in the state security court. In September the court struck down the law under which the Government was entitled to issue certain decisions by decree. Shortly thereafter, upon application of opposition parties, the Court annulled several government decrees, including one promulgated several weeks earlier to set up a human rights undersecretariat. In July the court closed the HEP on the charge that it advocated separatism (see Section 2.a).
At the start of 1993, three Martial Law Courts remained of those established after the 1980 coup. They were engaged in completing old cases. On December 27, Parliament passed a bill which ended the Martial Law Courts and transferred their remaining cases to civilian courts. Figures provided by the Government indicate that 22 cases continued in the three martial law courts as of the end of September.
In law and in practice, the legal system does not discriminate against either minorities or women, with the following two caveats: (1) as legal proceedings are conducted solely in Turkish, and the quality of interpreters varies, some Kurdish-speaking defendants may be disadvantaged; and (2) although women receive equal treatment in a court of law, some rarely enforced laws remain on the books. For example, the husband determines the legal domicile of the family, and a married woman needs her husband's consent to be a legal partner in a company. Draft civil rights legislation which would have eliminated all existing legal inequalities between men and women currently on the books fell victim to interparty wrangling and failed to pass in 1993.
The authorities construe a wide range of political activity, including speeches, petitions, and demonstrations, as "separatist" in nature, which may lead a politician or a political party to be charged under the relevant provisions of the Anti-Terror Law. Former deputy speaker of Parliament Fehmi Isiklar was the target of such a suit (and in fact lost his seat in Parliament), as was the People's Labor Party (HEP), ordered closed by the Constitutional Court in July on just such charges (see Section 2.a.).
Because of daily fluctuations in the number of detainees, human rights monitors hesitate to offer figures on the number of persons in custody who might reasonably be considered political prisoners. They can only estimate that "thousands" have been detained. In a January 1993 report, the HRF quoted Ministry of Justice statistics released in 1992 as stating that the number of political detainees (those detained for political activities, demonstrations, speeches, etc.) in 1991 was approximately 8,000 persons. Many of them were charged for attempting peacefully to exercise their right of freedom of speech, association, or some other internationally recognized human right.
f. Arbitrary Interference with Privacy, Family, Home, or CorrespondenceThe Constitution provides for the inviolability of a person's domicile and the privacy of correspondence and communication. Government officials may enter a private residence or intercept or monitor private correspondence only upon issuance of a judicial warrant. These provisions are generally respected in practice; however, in 1993 there were several complaints about violations of the privacy of correspondence, specifically, the delay in the arrival, or the nonarrival, of printed materials sent from abroad.
In the 10 provinces under a state of emergency, the governor (or regional governor) may empower authorities to search without a warrant residences or the premises of political parties, businesses, associations, and other organizations. It does not appear that police generally need a document to enter a house. Authorities in these provinces may also search, hold, or seize without warrant persons, letters, telegrams, and documents, a practice which the HRF states is unconstitutional. Roadblocks are commonplace in the southeast, and security officials regularly search vehicles and travelers.
There have been credible reports of forced evacuation and the burning of villages in the southeast by security forces allegedly seeking to prevent villagers from giving aid and comfort to the PKK (see Section 1.g.).
g. Use of Excessive Force and Violations of Humanitarian Law in Internal ConflictsSince 1984 the separatist Kurdistan Workers Party (PKK) has waged an increasingly violent insurgency that has claimed over 10,000 lives, as many as one-third of them during 1993. The PKK's campaign of violence in southeast Turkey is directed against both security forces and civilians who the PKK believes cooperate with the State. The actions of security forces and PKK terrorists, besides causing mutual casualties, resulted in the deaths of at least several hundred noncombatants (as of September 30). The HRF estimates that around 10 to 12 noncombatants are killed per day. (See Iraq report for information on the effects of Turkish raids on the PKK in northern Iraq)
As in past years, PKK terrorists attacked rural Jandarma posts, inflicting casualties, and conducted sporadic nighttime rocket attacks against Turkish towns, aimed ostensibly at security establishments, but in fact causing death, injury, and damage in surrounding neighborhoods. They continued to burn down schools and kill or threaten to kill teachers in many districts. A January 1993 report noted that, of a total of 17,000 teachers assigned to schools in the region, 6,000 had not reported because of their fear of terrorism and the lack of security. Regional officials conceded that some teachers had resigned rather than accept their assignments. Schools in 1,395 villages were unable to open their doors for the 1992-93 academic year, leaving some 500,000 children without primary school education. At least 600 schools--100 of which had been burned by the PKK--failed to open for the 1993-94 school year in southeastern Turkey. In November the PKK issued a threat against teachers in the southeast. In some instances, the Government ordered that schools destroyed by the PKK not be rebuilt.
There were a series of PKK attacks on oil exploration sites and storage facilities during 1992 and continued harassment of oil company employees in 1993. Mobil Oil ceased production in the southeast after PKK killings and kidnapings of their personnel.
Government security forces on many occasions fired on the homes of villagers suspected of harboring PKK terrorists, causing an unknown number of casualties and destroying villagers' property, including livestock. Villagers and human rights groups complained that the actions of Jandarma and security team searches for PKK terrorists and evidence of local support for them resulted in expulsions, beatings, torture, and the arbitrary killing of innocent civilians. In April Sirnak HEP deputy Selim Sadak submitted an interrogatory motion to the office of the speaker of Parliament, demanding that the Interior Minister investigate allegations by the people of Ormanici, a village in Sirnak's Guclukonak township, that security forces had burned down the village, killed a 5-year-old child, and taken into custody and tortured for prolonged periods 43 villagers, one of whom, Ibrahim Ekinci, allegedly died under police torture. Villagers were reportedly kept in a construction site near Jandarma headquarters for 12 days without shoes or adequate clothing and stripped naked for interrogations in subzero temperatures while they were subjected to various forms of torture. After having been subjected to falaka (beating on the soles of their feet), they were allegedly forced to stand barefoot for days on wet concrete in subzero temperatures. Many suffered severe frostbite that subsequently became gangrenous, requiring some cases of amputation of toes or feet. Villagers claimed they were hosed with cold water, raped with truncheons and bottles, that in some cases toenails and fingernails were pulled out with pliers, and that excrement was mixed with their food. The people of Ormanici referred their case to the European Commission of Human Rights which reportedly decided the case warranted investigation. The Government view is that any abuses of the sort alleged must be seen against the background of conflict between security forces and PKK terrorists. The Eruh public prosecutor is investigating the deaths of a 7-year-old child and of Ibrahim Ekinci, as well as the death of another village child and the wounding of a third, when a munition dump exploded two days after the incident.
There were credible reports that government security forces forcibly evacuated and burned down villages allegedly to prevent their inhabitants from providing aid and comfort to PKK guerrillas. Credible reports also note that security forces, after being attacked by the PKK, at times retaliated by attacking nearby villages. In February the daily Hurriyet reported that the state of emergency coordination committee had decided on several new measures, including evacuation of small, remote settlements, which the Government claimed had been used by the PKK as shelters or bases, and resettlement of the villagers to more centralized places. Other purported reasons for the evacuations included the difficulty in protecting the villages against terrorist attacks; the inhabitants' fear of being caught in the cross-fire; and the refusal of village men to participate in the paramilitary village guard system. In February the state minister responsible for human rights categorically denied allegations that security forces were following a scorched earth policy in order to force inhabitants to leave their homes. He stated that no villages in the area had been evacuated by force and that villagers left only by "force of circumstances."
The English-language Turkish Daily News reported that, as of September 17, approximately 70 villages and hamlets had been evacuated or burned in 1993. The article stated that, although the number of torchings had declined after mid-August, complaints continued. For example, Kurdish activists claimed that, on September 12, security forces torched 12 houses and the village mosque in Diyarbakir's Eloxuso (Kurdish name) hamlet. The article also reported that President Demirel had ordered a stop to the torching of villages. The HRA estimated that about 400 villages had been abandoned in the southeast through March.
Turkish security authorities have been charged with driving 200 Syriac Christians from the village of Hassana in Mardin province in November. According to reports from villagers, the order came to evacuate the village because of a statement by a local tribal leader that it was an Armenian village, and Turkish officials often accuse Armenians of supporting the PKK. The villagers were reportedly moved to a neighboring village, to Midyat, and to the city of Mardin. In a separate incident, village guards investigating an arson attack on an electricity station in Alagoz village in Mardin province allegedly seized seven Syriac Christian shepherds. The seven were released after a night in detention. A resident who saw them after their release claimed the shepards had been tortured and one had a cross burnt into his chest with molten plastic.
The Government organizes, arms, and pays for a civil defense force in the southeast known as the village guards. Participation in the paramilitary militia by local villagers is theoretically voluntary, but villagers are in effect caught between the two sides. If the villagers agree to serve, the PKK may target them and their village. If the villagers refuse to participate, government security forces may retaliate against them and their village. On June 21, several hundred Jandarma reportedly entered the village of Ortasar, Diyarbakir province, where the villagers had refused to join the village guard militia, rounded up all the inhabitants, male and female, and began beating them with their rifle butts. Some villagers were given electric shocks and burned with cigarettes. Several were detained, two of whom returned the following day "in an unrecognizable state" due to ill-treatment. On June 25, the Jandarma returned to the village and threatened to kill any villagers who complained to newspapers or the local human rights organizations.
There were also unsubstantiated claims of government forces preventing injured villagers or PKK members from seeking medical help, as well as instances of physicians who were prosecuted for giving medical care to alleged PKK terrorists, a practice that could deter other physicians from extending such aid. For example, Dr. Ilhan Diken was tried at Diyarbakir state security court for treating a wounded PKK militant, an offense for which the court demanded a 5-year sentence. As of the end of the year, the case has not concluded.
Throughout 1993 there were reports of an undeclared food embargo on the towns of Uludere and Guclukonak in Sirnak province. Initially, HEP deputies charged that security forces had imposed the embargo to intimidate the populace. When a Motherland Party delegation visited the head of the Siirt HRA branch in February, he claimed the embargo had been imposed because state-paid village guards refused to continue to serve. As of August, the villages were reported by the mainstream press to be suffering a food embargo at the hands of the PKK, which accused their inhabitants of collaborating with the State.
In mid-March the PKK declared a unilateral cease-fire; it claimed it no longer insisted on an independent Kurdish state and wanted to pursue its objectives through the democratic channels available in Turkey. For the most part, the PKK suspended its hostile operations, although it did not withdraw its guerrillas. The Government refused to open discussions with the terrorist PKK. Not recognizing the cease-fire, the Government continued its military operations against alleged PKK targets. On May 24, the same day the Government had approved a partial amnesty, the PKK abruptly terminated its own cease-fire with an ambush on a convoy of soldiers (see Section 1.a.). Although the PKK leadership later publicly expressed regret about the incident, the ambush signaled renewed hostilities, which were accompanied by a sharp increase in reports of human rights abuses by both sides in 1993.
On June 8, the Government put into effect a limited amnesty for PKK members. Under the terms of the amnesty, "those who are not members of an armed organization, but who are in the organization for another reason, will not be prosecuted if they have not committed any crime and if they give themselves up voluntarily." "For another reason" appears to mean that persons who were kidnaped, pressured into cooperation, or otherwise involuntarily involved in the PKK's activities will not be prosecuted. The burden of proof, however, appears to lie with those who surrender to the State. According to the Ministry of Foreign Affairs, 95 persons took advantage of the limited amnesty offer.
Government state of emergency decree 430, codified in 1990 and most recently renewed in November, imposes stringent security measures in the southeast. The regional governor may censor news, ban strikes or lockouts, and impose internal exile (see Section 1.d.). The decree also provides for doubling the sentences of those convicted of cooperating with separatists. Informants and convicted persons who cooperate with the State are eligible for rewards and reduced sentences. Provisions in the decree that specifically prohibited court challenges to the regional governor's administrative decisions were amended in 1992 to permit limited judicial review.
In November the Government introduced amendments to the Anti-Terror Law that would broaden the definitions of terrorism and collaboration, place more stringent restrictions on the press, and increase the permissible length of incommunicado prearraignment detention. As of the end of the year, the bill was still pending in Parliament's joint Justice/Interior Committee.
Section 2 Respect for Civil Liberties, Including:
a. Freedom of Speech and PressDespite constitutional provisions for freedom of speech and press, there were significant limitations on these freedoms, which came under increasing pressure in 1993.
The Anti-Terror Law and Penal Code provisions that make it a crime to insult Kemal Ataturk, secularism, Islam, the security forces, and the President, are used to restrict free expression. In some cases, the laws provide for increased punishment if the offense is committed in a publication. The press law permits prosecutors to halt distribution of a newspaper or magazine without a court order and requires that each publication's "responsible editors" bear legal responsibility for the publication's content.
After the leftwing daily newspaper Aydinlik announced on May 23 that it would publish excerpts from Salman Rushdie's book, "The Satanic Verses," its offices, vendors, and distributors were attacked several times in the following week. Reportedly, the newspaper asked for police protection but did not receive it. The Government confiscated all 12 issues of Aydinlik which printed the excerpts and brought the paper and its chief editor to trial under the Penal Code for insulting Islam. (See also Section 1.a.)
The unsolved murders of five journalists (see Section 1.a.) and the failure of the Government to charge a single suspect, even in a high-profile case such as that of Ugur Mumcu, led populace, officials, and international organizations alike to denounce government inaction. The International Federation of Journalists sent a delegation to Turkey to investigate the increasing number of unsolved murder cases affecting members of the press.
Several organized panel discussions were banned in 1993, including a symposium on the Kurdish issue, organized jointly by the HRA and a number of Turkish intellectuals, which was to be held in Ankara on June 25-27. President Demirel, the acting Prime Minister, and other political party leaders were to have delivered speeches on the Kurdish issue at the symposium. In a letter sent to the HRA, the Ankara deputy governor wrote that the symposium had been banned on the grounds that it could have "grave consequences in the light of the latest developments in the country." (See also Section 2.b.)
Throughout the year, state security court prosecutors ordered the confiscation of numerous issues of leftist and pro-Kurdish periodicals, including Yeni Ulke, Newroz magazine, Ozgur Gundem, and Azadi. Many editions of Kurdish-oriented periodicals were seized before they could be distributed nationally to newsstands. Court proceedings were instituted against several editors and publishers. PEN reported that as of mid-September more than 70 court cases were pending against Ozgur Gundem. Its editor in chief Davut Karadag was arrested at the behest of the Istanbul state security court on July 15 on charges of spreading subversive Kurdish propaganda in 30 news items in the daily's July 12, 13, 14, and 15 issues. Karadag was released from custody on September 17. No decision has yet been reached in that case, but in another case, Karadag was given a 5-month sentence.
The Anti-Terror Law, which provides that "written and oral propaganda...aiming at damaging the indivisible unity of the State of the Turkish Republic...(is) forbidden, regardless of the method, intention and ideas behind it," severely restricts freedom of speech. It had a chilling effect against writers, journalists, publishers, politicians, musicians, and students and has been used against them. A number of prominent, generally center-left and pro-Kurdish politicians were detained under, or otherwise affected by, the Anti-Terror Law in 1993 for speeches made both within Turkey and beyond the country's borders. The HEP and its successor, the DEP, representing Kurdish interests, are particularly targeted. For example, DEP chairman and Ozgur Gundem owner Yasar Kaya was ordered arrested in September by the Ankara state security court prosecutor for "separatist" language he had allegedly used in an August speech at a political party congress in Erbil, northern Iraq. This case was subsequently combined with another case against him for a speech he made in Bonn, Germany.
In July the Constitutional Court ruled that then SHP deputy and deputy speaker of Parliament Fehmi Isiklar be deprived of his seat in Parliament in connection with allegedly separatist speeches he had made in his role as HEP chairman in the runup to the October 1991 elections. Parliament permitted the ruling to take effect November 11. DEP parliamentarian Leyla Zana is reportedly under investigation for statements she made before the Congressional Helsinki Commission while visiting the United States in the spring. The Constitutional Court ordered the closing of the HEP on the grounds that it "defended the national existence, identity, and rights of the Kurdish people." Its members subsequently formed the DEP and were soon subjected to similar investigations. On November 8, 15 DEP executives were formally charged with spreading separatist propaganda. The Court has asked Parliament to lift the immunity of several DEP parliamentarians so they may be tried in the state security court.
Prosecutions against authors, publications, and publishers continued under the provisions of the Anti-Terror Law, under which both significant sentences and prohibitively expensive fines can be, and in practice are, imposed. For example, in January the Ankara state security court fined Fikret Ontal T.L. 1.5 billion ($107,000) for publishing Kahraman Demirkapi's book, "Developments in the World and in our Country." The book was condemned for "spreading subversive propaganda." The prosecutor in the same court brought a case against author Edip Polat, already serving time in an Ankara prison for prior writings, for his biology book entitled "Kurds and Kurdistan in Scientific Language," which claimed that the Turkish names of 83 plants and 9 animals are actually Kurdish. The charge again was "spreading subversive propaganda." The prosecutor demanded a sentence of from 2 to 5 years and a fine of T.L. 50 million ($3,570). According to Unsal Ozturk, owner of the Yurt publishing house, the same court demanded a T.L. 26 billion ($1.8 million) fine for the printing of allegedly pro-Kurdish books by author Ismail Besikci. Ozturk was sentenced to 2 years and 4 months, but the sentence was converted to a fine of T.L. 4,390,000 ($313). In September the Istanbul state security court sentenced journalist Selami Ince to 2 years' imprisonment and fined him T.L. 100 million ($7,140) for violating the Anti-Terror Law by publishing an interview with Besikci entitled "Kurds must Establish their own National Assembly" in the leftwing monthly Demokrat in December 1992. The court also imposed a 6-month prison term on the magazine's editor in chief and fined him T.L. 50 million ($3,570); the magazine's owner was fined T.L. 100 million ($7,140) as well.
Ismail Besikci himself served 10 years in prison between 1971 and 1987 because of his publications on the Kurdish question in Turkey. On May 28, he was again brought to trial at Ankara state security court under the Anti-Terror Law for disseminating separatist propaganda in his book "The Imperialist Repartition Struggle in Kurdistan 1915-1925." In a separate case in November, the Appeals Court upheld sentences of 20 months each and fines of T.L. 42 million each for his books "CHP Program 1931 - The Kurdish Problem" and "Thoughts on the PKK." On July 15, Besikci's book about his 1991 trial, "The Way Opened by Courts." was confiscated by the Istanbul state security court on the grounds that it disseminated separatist propaganda. For the year 1993, as of June 30, some 307 magazines and newspapers and 28 books had been confiscated by court decision.
Legislative reforms in 1991 partially removed the ban on the use of the Kurdish language. Kurdish-language cassettes and publications on Kurdish subjects continued to be available, although suppression continued as well. The Diyarbakir governorship, for example, banned the production and sale of 23 Kurdish cassettes in a 271-page decree. One Kurdish-language newspaper, Welat, is publishing currently. Several others publish in a combination of Turkish and Kurdish. There is anecdotal evidence that potential consumers are afraid to purchase Kurdish-language materials for fear that possession of such items may be seen as evidence of PKK sympathies. Kurdish- language broadcasts are still illegal. The Government monitors the Kurdish broadcasts of the Voice of America but has not attempted to jam the frequencies.
Journalists sometimes face harassment and mistreatment by police and other authorities. In May, for example, the Istanbul-based Press Council lodged a protest with the Istanbul governor regarding the Istanbul police's beating of seven reporters in three separate incidents in the city. Correspondents in the southeast, especially those for the pro-Kurdish press, were harassed and alleged that they were beaten and tortured in police stations during periods of detention. Police attacked the office of Ozgur Gundem in Van, destroyed the furniture, and detained two correspondents, two workers, and one visitor. Two days earlier, security forces had detained the daily's Van representative Yusuf Cacim. The newspaper has been harassed consistently since its April 1992 inception and was forced to close from January through April 1993, reportedly because of a shortage of funds due in part to numerous court cases and fines levied against it. In November the Istanbul state security court ordered Ozgur Gundem to suspend publication for 15 days for promoting separatism and printing the views of the banned PKK, an order that was still under appeal at year's end. Both the publisher and editor in chief were fined, and the latter was sentenced to 5 months in jail. Ozgur Gundem was unable to publish for three days after police raided its Istanbul office December 10 and detained all people present. All but 18 were released within the next 72 hours. Charges against Ozgur Gundem in various cases included "separatist propaganda," "portraying Turkish citizens as Kurds," and "using the words 'Kurd' and 'Kurdistan' in a way that breaches the Constitution in which Turkey is defined as a unitary state."
On September 30, the Istanbul state security court ruled to suspend the publication of Newroz magazine for a month for publishing articles deemed to be separatist propaganda. The court sentenced editor in chief Dogan Karakuzu to 6 months in prison and a fine of T.L. 50 million (approximately $3,570). At the end of the year, the case was on appeal, and the magazine was still publishing. As of October, all but two issues of the magazine had been the subject of prosecution. Eight court cases had been concluded, and 24 cases were still being tried.
Two foreign journalists were detained, one of whom was tried and sentenced, and both were released in 1993. On January 22, the Diyarbakir state security court convicted and sentenced German journalist Stefan Waldberg to 3 years and 9 months in prison for acting as a courier for the PKK. Waldberg accused the Turkish police of mistreating him in custody. On April 28, the High Appeals Court upheld the Diyarbakir court's decision, thereby exhausting Waldberg's appeals. The case, which attracted considerable attention among international journalist groups, was raised both during German Chancellor Kohl's May visit to Turkey, and Prime Minister Ciller's September trip to Germany. At the end of 1993, at the suggestion of a joint German-Turkish juridical experts' meeting, Waldberg applied for presidential pardon, which was granted December 23. In a separate case, the police detained British journalist Andrew Norman Penny as he entered Turkey from northern Iraq on May 17 on suspicion of being a PKK courier and for allegedly possessing illegal Kurdish documents and videotapes. Once international journalist organizations certified that Penny was, indeed, a journalist, the authorities dropped charges, returned Penny's materials, and allowed him to leave Turkey.
Nezahat Ozen, an Ozgur Gundem correspondent, was arrested on July 17 for a report she had prepared on a 17-year-old girl allegedly raped by the police. Ozen, who was detained until her formal arrest on a court order on July 21, was not allowed to see her lawyer or relatives during her initial detention period. She was released from custody on September 14.
The public prosecutors' aggressive application of the law also affected the content of Turkey's press. Publications must designate a "responsible editor" who is legally accountable for a publication's contents. Many have faced repeated criminal proceedings. Ozgur Gundem editor in chief Davut Karadag, for example, was confined for over 2 months in 1993. In September the Istanbul public prosecutor, claiming press reporting on the "Iski" waterworks scandal was prejudicial to the ongoing criminal investigation, placed a gag order on continued press coverage and threatened to bring charges against those who failed to comply. At year's end an estimated 55 journalists were in custody.
Turkish press coverage of the situation in the southeast tended to be unreliable, underreporting in some instances and grossly sensationalizing in others. Government decree 430 requires self-censorship of all news reporting from or about the southeast, and, upon the request of the regional governor, gives the Interior Ministry the authority to ban distribution of any news viewed as misrepresenting events in the region. In the event such a government warning is not obeyed, the decree provides for a 10-day suspension of operations for a first offense and 30 days for subsequent offenses.
In general, the mainstream Turkish-language press demonstrated its fidelity to self-censorship strictures by limiting its independent reporting of southeast-related news. Aside from Ozgur Gundem correspondents' access to the southeast and reporting in the English-language Turkish Daily News, most papers relied on official reports. Because of the security threat, some journalists are afraid to go to the southeast, and others know their editors will sanitize their reports. During a July 11 press briefing at the headquarters of the Turkish armed forces, the media were invited to support the Government and security forces by reporting events with a "unity of voice." Human rights groups expressed fears that this may involve a disinformation campaign. For instance, after 26 Kurdish nomads, including 14 children and 8 women, had been killed on July 18, the mainstream press immediately reported that their killers were PKK guerrillas. One of the papers later reported that survivors stated that the attackers spoke poor Kurdish and only began shooting after learning that this particular settlement had not joined the village guard system. In August the Government called in representatives of the mainstream newspapers, except Ozgur Gundem, and asked them to help the Government in the fight against the PKK.
In October the PKK placed a ban on press reporting from the southeast and threatened to retaliate against those journalists who did not comply. The ban was reportedly lifted a month later.
The Criminal Code provides penalties for those who "insult the President, the Parliament, and the army," ranging from a 3-year minimum sentence for insulting the President to a 6-year maximum for insulting other branches of government. Although judges generally examine evidence rigorously and dismiss many charges brought under these laws, police still detain people and prosecutors still charge them, often resulting in long and expensive trials. For example, on March 2, an Ankara civil court rejected a T.L. 100 million ($7,140) libel suit filed by then President Turgut Ozal against Turkish Daily News editor in chief Ilnur Cevik. Ozal had claimed he was personally insulted in two of Cevik's editorials.
Until mid-1993 Turkish Radio and Television (TRT) had a legal monopoly on broadcasting. Opposition figures asserted TRT broadcasts have a progovernment bias, despite coverage of opposition leaders and their parties. A government commission generally apportions party access to television and radio during election and referendum campaigns on the basis of the proportion of parliamentary seats that each party holds. With the increasing availability of satellite dishes and cable, many Turkish viewers may now watch foreign broadcasts, including several Turkish-language private channels.
Private radio stations began operating in Turkey in 1991. On January 22, the Ministry of the Interior issued a directive banning all private television and radio stations, which resulted in the closure of a few hundred radio stations and several television stations. On February 2, the Interior Minister issued a new directive permitting broadcasting via satellite from abroad. On March 31, the Government again ordered all privately owned radio and television stations to cease broadcasting. A few hundred radio stations and about 50 local television stations closed down. On July 8, however, Parliament voted to repeal article 133 of the Constitution, thereby eliminating the State's monopoly and permitting the establishment of private radio and television stations. At the end of 1993, 44 private radio stations were operating in Ankara and approximately 50 in Istanbul. The stations currently operate in a form of legal no-man's land as, at the end of 1993, no regulating legislation had been enacted.
While the Culture Minister lifted bans against all formerly prohibited books at the end of 1991, the Education Ministry continued to make recommendations on the "utility" of books proposed for school curriculums or libraries. Books declared "without utility" are not allowed. On October 1, the film "Yol," which had been banned for years, was permitted to be shown for the first time.
Academic freedom is also severely restricted in practice by the provisions of the Anti-Terror Law. For example, professors have been sentenced for books they have written. The Constitution and the law governing political parties proscribe student and faculty involvement in political activities.
b. Freedom of Peaceful Assembly and AssociationPeaceful assemblies are permitted upon prior notification to government authorities, who may restrict them to designated sites. Authorities may deny permission if they believe the gathering is likely to disrupt public order. For example, in the aftermath of the July 2 events in Sivas (see Section 2.c.), local authorities across Turkey prevented a number of demonstrations, including the laying of a black wreath in Antakya and a demonstration in Izmir province. In September the Ankara governorship refused to permit the DEP to conduct the funeral of assassinated DEP Deputy Mehmet Sincar as planned. Through stepped-up security measures, officials stopped groups of would-be mourners from entering Ankara, and security officials in Istanbul prevented some DEP supporters from even departing that city for Ankara. A serious instance of police overreaction also occurred in connection with Sincar's death when, in a clash in front of DEP's Ankara headquarters, police severely beat several demonstrators who had come to pay their last respects to Sincar, a scene aired across the country via private television.
Associations and labor unions are prohibited by law from having ties to political parties or engaging in political activities. Police raided a number of associations and organizations in 1993 and harassed some of their members. For example, police closed temporarily in May, and indefinitely in July, the Mersin office of the HRA on the grounds that it had sponsored an event at which allegedly separatist songs were sung. Earlier in January, the Adana HRA branch was allowed to reopen after a 2-month closure, although its president believes it is still under surveillance (see Section 4). In July the Istanbul governor's office closed the Istanbul-based Marmara Freedoms and Rights Association on the grounds that the organization "engaged in activity outside the scope of activities it was entitled to by law."
A gay and lesbian pride conference scheduled for July 2-6 in Istanbul was banned at the last minute by the governor of Istanbul on July 2, apparently on the grounds that it would be contrary to Turkey's "tradition and moral values" and that it might disturb the peace. He allegedly sent men to many hotels in Istanbul, instructing them not to provide lodgings for participants. The next day, Turkish authorities arrested 28 foreign delegates, most of them while they were on their way to participate in a press conference in protest of the ban. They were detained for over 5 hours, threatened with possible strip searches and human immunodeficiency virus (HIV) tests, and deported on a Turkish airline to Germany. The organizers had previously received approval of the event from the Interior Ministry.
Associations must submit their charters for government approval, a lengthy and cumbersome process.
c. Freedom of ReligionThe Constitution establishes Turkey as a secular state and provides for freedom of belief, freedom of worship, and private dissemination of one's religious ideas. Turkey's population is 99 percent Muslim. Under Turkish law, religious services may take place only in designated places of worship. In Adana, Turkey's fourth largest city, the only approved sites are mosques, one Jewish synagogue, and one Roman Catholic church. A Protestant expatriate group petitioned to have a house of worship designated for its use. The petition has been under consideration in Ankara since at least 1992.
Although Turkey is a secular state, religious instruction in state schools is compulsory for Muslims. Upon written verification of their non-Muslim background, non-Muslims are exempted by law from Muslim religious instruction, although students who wish to attend may do so with parental consent.
The Alawi Muslim minority (an offshoot of Shi'ite Islam) has expressed interest in Alawi religious instruction in schools. Some Alawis allege informal discrimination, in the form of failure to include any Alawi doctrines or beliefs in religious instruction classes and limits on university entrance and professional advancement.
Although the majority of Turkey's Alawi population--estimated to be at least 12 million--is Kurdish, there are no government- paid Alawi religious leaders in the southeast. No Religious Affairs Directorate funds go to the Alawi community. In Tunceli province, which is almost 100-percent Alawi and Kurdish, the Government built a cavernous mosque in the center of the city of Tunceli which is used solely by the Sunni employees of the central government working in Tunceli. Alawis are disgruntled by the Sunni bias in the Religious Affairs Directorate and the Directorate's tendency to view the Alawis as a cultural group, as opposed to a religious sect.
Many prosecutors regard proselytizing and religious activism on the part of either islamic extremists or evangelical Christians with suspicion, especially when they deem such activities to have political overtones. Since there is no law prohibiting proselytizing, Islamic extremists and evangelical Christians are sometimes arrested for disturbing the peace. Courts usually dismiss such charges. The Kayseri state security court, however, indicted members of an extremist organization called "Muslims" for attacking and setting on fire a hotel in Sivas in which satirist Aziz Nesin, translator of Salman Rushdie's "The Satanic Verses", was staying, causing a death toll of 37. The case's venue was later transferred to Ankara.
Police also continued their surveillance and detention of evangelical Christians. In July prosecutors urged an Istanbul court to send 14 Spanish members of a Protestant sect to prison for singing hymns and handing out Christian pamphlets outside a mosque during Muslim prayers. They were charged with disturbing the peace. The court released them on bail in late August and ordered them to stand trial.
Turkey's non-Muslim religious groups include some 50,000 Armenian Apostolic Christians, 25,000 Jews, 20,000 Syriac Christians, 18,000 Arab Orthodox, less than 5,000 Greek Orthodox, and 5,000 to 6,000 Roman Catholics and Chaldean Christians. Most religious minorities are concentrated in Istanbul, and the number of Christians in the south has been declining as the younger generation leaves Turkey for Europe and North America. Also there have been reports of intimidation of non-Muslims living in the southeast (see Section 1.g.). The number of Assyrian Christians in the Midyat-Mardin area has dropped from some 50,000 a decade ago to about 5,000 now. The status of only three minorities-- Armenians, Jews, and Greeks--was recognized under the Lausanne Treaty. Other religions may not acquire property for churches. The Catholic Church in Ankara, for example, is confined to diplomatic property. The State must approve the operation of churches, monasteries, synagogues, schools, and charitable religious foundations, such as hospitals and orphanages.
Turkey's Jewish community is well integrated into Turkish society, although, it fears the possibility of rising Islamic extremism. Aside from occasional stones lobbed at synagogue windows and petty thefts, the Jewish community reported no problems in 1993.
The activities of Armenian and Greek Orthodox churches and their affiliated operations are carefully monitored. The Ministry of Education tightly controls the curriculums in their schools. Since the Turks in western Thrace in Greece cannot provide their own schoolteachers and must bring them from Turkey, the Government is reportedly beginning to question whether teachers from Greece ought to be brought in to teach the few Greek residents here. The Greek Patriarchate (Istanbul is the see of the ecumenical Patriarchate of the Eastern Orthodox faith), whose seminary on the island of Halki in the Sea of Marmara has been closed since the 1970's when the State nationalized all private institutions of higher learning, has consistently expressed interest in reopening the seminary. Turkish officials, however, have used a variety of excuses to keep it closed, claiming most recently that the Greek community in Turkey is "too small" to justify a seminary. Armenian church officials complain of petty harassment from local officials (such as delays or refusals in receiving building permits) and growing encroachment by certain Muslim extremist groups on lands belonging to the Armenian community, especially on the Princes Islands in the Sea of Marmara near Istanbul.
Bureaucratic procedures relating to historic preservation impede repairs to some religious facilities. Ankara's sole remaining synagogue, for example, is sorely in need of renovation, a project currently under negotiation between the community and the Ministry of Culture because the community cannot afford meticulously to replicate the original interior decoration. Under Turkish law, religious buildings that become "extinct" (because of prolonged absence of clergy or lay persons to staff local religious councils) revert to government possession. Some non-Muslim minorities, particularly the Greek Orthodox and, to a lesser extent, shrinking Armenian Orthodox and Jewish communities, are faced with the danger of losing their houses of worship.
d. Freedom of Movement Within the Country, Foreign Travel, Emigration, and RepatriationTurkish citizens generally enjoy freedom of movement within Turkey and the freedom to travel abroad. The Constitution provides that a citizen's freedom to leave may be restricted only by the national economic situation, civic obligations (e.g., military service), or criminal investigation or prosecution. Each Turkish citizen (except those regularly working abroad) must pay a departure tax of $100 for every departure from the country. Travel in the southeast sometimes is restricted for security reasons. There have been allegations that security forces on occasion closed off villages and surrounding regions to hide evidence of government human rights abuses (see Section 1.a.). Roadblocks, set up by both Turkish security forces and the PKK, seriously impede travel in the region.
Although Turkey is a signatory of the U.N. Convention on Refugees, it officially accords refugee status only to claimants from Eastern Europe. Asylum seekers from elsewhere are referred to the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR) for third-country resettlement.
Turkey still hosts approximately 6,000 Iraqi refugees who are awaiting resettlement or who simply refuse to return to Iraq. Some 2,000 refugees remain in a camp near the Iraqi border, with another 4,000 living with temporary residence permits elsewhere. Other Iraqis, who entered Turkey after October 1991, are considered to be illegally in Turkey and are subject to deportation to northern Iraq, although few are actually deported.
Turkey also hosts a large and revolving population of Iranians, whose presence is generally tolerated. Those seeking refugee status are referred to UNHCR and resettled in third countries. In addition, at least 15,000 Bosnians have found temporary refuge in Turkey, with the majority living with friends and relatives and another 3,000 in camps established by the Turkish government with UNHCR support.
Section 3 Respect for Political Rights: The Right of Citizens to Change Their GovernmentTurkish citizens have the right and ability to change the1r government peacefully. Turkey has a multiparty parliamentary system, in which elections are held at least every 5 years on the basis of mandatory universal suffrage for all citizens aged 20 and over. There are no restrictions in law or practice against women or minorities voting or participating in politics, with the notable exception of the harassment of the Kurdish HEP and its successor, the DEP. Fifty-four party administrators of HEP and DEP have been killed in the past 2 years. Hundreds of DEP members have been detained in recent months on various charges of disseminating separatist propaganda and supporting the PKK. Party buildings in Erzurum, Bursa, Van, Agri, Siverek, and Hakkari were attacked. The DEP also alleges that mayors who are members of the DEP are attacked and their towns and municipal buildings raided by security forces. Several parliamentarians who represent the DEP are threatened with losing their parliamentary immunity to prosecution (see also Sections 1.a. and 2.a.).
As of October, 25 political parties were operating in Turkey, 10 of which were represented in Parliament. Several political parties banned after the 1980 military takeover benefited from a 1992 parliamentary decision permitting them to reorganize and resume custody of buildings and assets that had belonged to them before their closure, a process that was completed by January 1993.
The Turkish United Communist Party, decriminalized in 1991, was outlawed in 1992 along with the Socialist Party on grounds that they violated article 14 of the Constitution which prohibits "establishing the hegemony of one social class over others." As of the end of the year, the Constitutional Court had ruled for the closure of HEP (see Section 2.a.) and its interim successor OZDEP and was considering whether or not to ban HEP's successor, DEP.
The Grand National Assembly (Parliament) elects the President as Head of State every 7 years, or when the President becomes incapacitated or dies, as occurred in April when Turgut Ozal died and Suleyman Demirel was elected to succeed him. The 1991 parliamentary elections gave the True Path Party (DYP) a plurality of 27 percent of the vote and 178 seats in the 450-member unicameral Parliament. The DYP formed a coalition with the Social Democratic Populist Party (SHP) to achieve a parliamentary majority. In June, after Demirel's election as President, the DYP chose Tansu Ciller as its new chairperson, after which the President appointed her Turkey's first female Prime Minister.
To prevent political fragmentation, seats are allocated on a weighted proportional representation basis in which parties that poll less than 10 percent of the total national vote are excluded. The 1991 elections brought 5 parties into Parliament; however, party alignments have since changed, and 10 parties are now represented, alongside almost two dozen independent deputies, who resigned from the parties under whose banners they won election.
The Constitution provides equal political rights for men and women; however, only eight women, representing three parties, were elected to the Parliament in 1991. In addition to Prime Minister Ciller, there is one female Cabinet minister. Political parties now recruit female delegates for their party conferences and electoral lists. Women's committees are active within political party organizations.
In November the Turkish General Staff (TGS) urged the mainstream parties to field united slates for the March 1994 local elections in the southeast, lest PKK-supported candidates win as a result of divided opposition. The Government disavowed the army's intrusion into the political process, and the TGS said its statement had been a suggestion.
Section 4 Governmental Attitude Regarding International and Nongovernmental Investigation of Alleged Violations of Human RightsA nongovernmental human rights association (HRA), officially approved in 1987, has branches in 50 provincial capitals, including a branch in Mersin, which at year's end was closed indefinitely pending a court case against it. It claims a membership of about 20,000. In 1990 the HRA established its companion Human Rights Foundation (HRF) which, in addition to operating torture rehabilitation centers in Ankara, Izmir, and Istanbul, serves as a clearinghouse for human rights information. Human rights activists, including lawyers and doctors, are routinely threatened. There are credible reports of the involvement of security forces in these threats, which appear to be related to their human rights activities documenting human rights violations allegedly perpetrated by government forces.
Some government officials, including some prosecutors and police, punitively apply various laws to restrict HRA activities. For example, officials ordered various branches of the HRA closed for periods of weeks or months generally on charges that they had published allegedly separatist material or sponsored a speech that was allegedly separatist in nature. Police raided HRA branches in Mersin and elsewhere and confiscated written materials. An HRA president in southern Turkey said he and his board remained under surveillance. Many HRA branch officers spent time in detention or under arrest (see Section 2.b.), and one--Kemal Kilic, Urfa HRA steering committee member and former Ozgur Gundem reporter--was killed by unidentified assailants on the Urfa-Akcakale highway in February (see Section 1.a.). Reliable eyewitnesses observed the surveillance and harassment of one HRA branch office in the southeast and watched as security police entered another HRA office in the region uninvited and began, without permission, to make telephone calls. The president of the HRA office in Diyarbakir, Fevzi Veznedaroglu, who reported receiving death threats from plainclothes police officers, and the HRA Van president never returned from their 1992 "trips to Europe." The president of the Siirt HRA was arrested on February 26, 1993, and detained for 3 months on charges of giving aid and comfort to the PKK. The HRA representative in the town of Derik, Mardin province, was detained six separate times in 1993. Many of these investigations and prosecutions, as well as many arrests of human rights monitors, stemmed from alleged violations of the law on associations or the holding of illegal demonstrations. Surveillance and harassment of HRA members in the southeast appears to have become increasingly common.
In operation since 1991, Parliament's multiparty Human Rights Commission in February completed its report on allegations of widespread torture in Turkey. The report conceded that the practice of torture had continued since the DYP/SHP coalition came to power but denied allegations that torture was an official government policy. It sent a delegation to Diyarbakir to monitor the 1993 Kurdish new year celebration launched an investigation into the Sivas incident (Section 2.c.) and is investigating the incidents at Lice (Section 1.a.). The Commission is authorized to oversee Turkey's compliance with the human rights provisions of Turkish law and international agreements to which Turkey is a signatory, investigate alleged abuses, and prepare reports.
While representatives of diplomatic missions or foreign private organizations who wish to monitor the state of human rights in Turkey are free to speak with private citizens, official visitors to the southeast may be watched by security police, and the presence of security officials may have an intimidating effect upon those interviewed. Access to government officials or facilities at times has been restricted, although, in 1992 for the very first time, Helsinki Watch visitors obtained every appointment they requested, including access to detention facilities.
Section 5 Discrimination Based on Race, Sex, Religion, Disability, Language, or Social StatusThe Constitution proclaims Turkey to be a secular state, regards all Turkish citizens as equal, and prohibits discrimination on ethnic, religious, or racial grounds. The Government officially recognizes only those religious minorities mentioned in the Treaty of Lausanne (1923), which guarantees the rights of non-Muslim Greek Orthodox, Armenian Apostolic, and Jewish adherents. Despite constitutional provisions, discrimination remains a problem in several areas.
WomenWomen are improving their situation in Turkish society, including the professions, business, and civil service, although, they continue to face discrimination to varying degrees. While traditional values continued to discourage women from entering some career fields, there are numerous female judges, doctors, and engineers. Women comprise about 36 percent of the paid Turkish work force and generally receive equal pay for equal work. The Constitution prohibits women from engaging in physically demanding jobs and from night work, and applicable laws are effectively enforced. In the past there has been an arbitrary barrier to women becoming governor's and subgovernors (government appointed positions). Women may now take the examination necessary to become a subgovernor and several have been appointed. There is also one female governor.
Traditional family values in rural Turkey place a greater emphasis on advanced education for sons than for daughters. In principle, primary education reached all children in 1993, but far fewer girls than boys continued their education after primary school. In 1992 Parliament passed a law increasing universal mandatory education from 5 to 8 years. The law will be implemented gradually throughout the country. For the 1993-94 school year, it was put into effect in several pilot regions. A delegation of some 50 women representing the Women's Studies Center of Istanbul University and numerous other private organizations presented a petition to Parliament on February 17 calling for legislation to abolish the special position of husbands as head of family. As noted in Section 1.e., there are some seldom enforced laws that discriminate against women.
Spousal abuse is still considered an extremely private matter, although it is a widespread problem, interest in which is growing. Few women go to the police, who in any case are reluctant to intervene in domestic disputes. Turks of either sex may file civil or criminal charges but rarely do. Turkish law and courts make no discrimination between the sexes in laws concerning violence or abuse. In July 1992, the Purple Roof Foundation (for battered women) opened a "hello shelter" telephone line; it attracted 3,300 callers in its first 3 months, even under Transportation Ministry regulations restricting its operating hours to weekdays. The Purple Roof has since expanded its service to two lines, one of which focuses on helping battered women, and the other of which deals with a variety of other subjects. The Government also has opened shelters in major cities for abused women and their children who have left their homes.
Independent women's and women's rights associations exist, but the concept of lobbying for women's rights has not gained great currency.
ChildrenThe Government is committed to furthering children's welfare and is working to expand opportunities in education and health, including further reduction of the infant mortality rate.
Turkey's children have suffered greatly from the cycle of violence in southeastern Anatolia. School closings and the decision by many families to move westward, be it for economic reasons or to escape the violence, have uprooted children to cities which are hard pressed to find the resources to extend basic, mandatory services, such as schooling. The Government is exploring the possibility of establishing regional boarding schools to help combat this problem. Although primary schooling is mandatory, many young children, ages 9 to 12, can be seen on the streets hawking goods or shining shoes (see Section 6.d.).
National/Racial/Ethnic MinoritiesEthnic and religious minorities face various forms of societal discrimination. The minority of Turkish Kurds who were long-term residents in industrialized cities in western Turkey have been, for the most part, assimilated into the political, economic, and social life of the nation. Kurds who are currently migrating westward (including those displaced by the conflict between the Government and the PKK), bring with them their Kurdish cultural and village identity from the east. Most parliamentary representatives from southeastern Turkey are ethnic Kurds, but representatives of Kurdish ethnic origin have been elected from districts far removed from the southeast. Several cabinet ministers, as well as other government officials, claim an ethnic Kurdish background.
The increasing violence of the fighting in the southeast is polarizing ethnic Turks and Kurds and creating a climate of intolerance. Particularly, in cities such as Adana and Mersin, which have witnessed a large influx of Kurds fleeing the violence in the southeast, tensions are rising. For example, three friends in Adana were stopped by a policeman demanding to see their identification papers. The man from Sivas, a predominantly Turkish province, was allowed to proceed; the two friends from Mardin, a predominantly Kurdish province, were detained and taken to the local police station for questioning. Tensions have also begun to spread westward, for example, in a fight between a Kurdish construction worker and a grocer in the Aegean province of Kutahya, local inhabitants hurled stones at a cottage inhabited by eight Kurdish workers and shouted anti-PKK slogans.
The 1991 repeal of the law prohibiting publications or communication in Kurdish legalized some spoken and printed Kurdish communications. However, under the political parties law, all discussion which takes place at political meetings must be in Turkish. Kurdish may only be spoken in "nonpolitical communication." Court proceedings (and all government functions, including public education) continued to be conducted in Turkish, disadvantaging those Kurdish-speaking defendants who had to rely on court-provided translators. Moreover, materials dealing with Kurdish history, culture, and ethnic identity continued to be subject to confiscation and prosecution under the "indivisible unity of the State" provisions of the Anti-Terror Law.
The Gypsy population is extremely small, and no reported incidents of public or government harassment directed against Gypsies occurred during 1993. In January a Democratic Left Party deputy announced he had prepared a draft bill proposing the adoption of Turkey's Gypsies as Turkish citizens, but the legislation made no headway.
The Greek community complained of petty harassment by police, restrictions on freedom of expression and religion, discrimination in education involving teachers, books, and curriculum, limitations on the right to control their charitable institutions, and the denial of their ethnic identity. The Government approves teacher candidates and new textbooks in step with reciprocal approvals by the Greek Government for the Turkish minority in Thrace. (See also Section 2.c.)
People with DisabilitiesParliament established a commission to look into the problems of the disabled, but to date legislation dealing with the disabled is piecemeal, and there is little legislation regarding accessibility for the disabled. Certain categories of employers are required to hire disabled persons as 2 percent of their employee pool, although there is no penalty for failure to comply. One M.P., himself disabled, is working on a draft law which would fold all current provisions regarding the disabled into one piece of legislation. The draft reportedly will include educational provisions (currently there are special schools for the blind, deaf and mentally handicapped), provisions to educate the general public, a provision that municipalities not issue building permits unless the plans for the building provide for access for the disabled, and provide for an easing of customs regulations to allow for easier importation of special equipment.
Section 6 Worker Rights
a. The Right of AssociationMost workers have the right to associate freely and form representative unions. Exceptions are schoolteachers (both public and private), civil servants, the police, and military personnel. Upon taking office in November 1991, the Government of Prime Minister Demirel declared, as part of its pledge to bring Turkish labor legislation into conformity with the standards of the International Labor Organization (ILO), its intention to grant trade union rights to civil servants. Implementation requires a three-step process: parliamentary ratification of ILO Conventions 87 on freedom of association and 151 on freedom of association in the public sector; amendment of the relevant article of the Constitution; and revision of the law on trade unions. In 1992 the Government began the process by ratifying seven ILO Conventions, including Conventions 87 and 151.
Permission for civil servants to form trade unions and for unions to engage in political activity will require amendments to the Constitution--a procedure further complicated by the need to gain support among the opposition parties in order to secure the requisite two-thirds majority. The Government told the ILO's Committee on the Application of Standards in June that, with ratification of Convention 87, new legislative measures with regard to the right of civil servants to organize could be expected. At year's end, the Government finished its consultations with civil servant representatives and stated it planned to submit draft legislation that would legalize civil servant union organization to the Council of Ministers for review in early 1994.
The law states that unions and confederations may be founded without prior authorization based on a petition to the governor of the province where the union's headquarters are to be located. Although unions are independent of the Government and political parties, they must have government permission to hold meetings or rallies and must allow police to attend conventions and record the proceedings. Union officers may serve no more than eight consecutive 3-year terms in a given union position. The Constitution requires candidates for union office to have worked 10 years in the industry represented by the union.
Unions and their officers have a statutory right to express views on issues directly affecting members' economic and social interests, but the Constitution prohibits any union role in party politics (such as organic or financial connections with any political party or other association). In practice, unions have been able to convey clearly in election and referendum campaigns their support for, or opposition to, given political parties and government policies. Prosecutors may request labor courts to order a trade union or confederation into liquidation based on alleged violation of specific legal norms. The Government, however, may not summarily dissolve a union. The ILO's Committee on Standards noted in June that public servants who had been dismissed under martial law were being reinstated as a result of the Fight Against Terrorism Act of 1991, but expressed concern that the Act's broad definition of terrorism and propaganda could lead to workers' being deprived of employment on the basis of political discrimination.
During 1993, the assets and property of the Turkish Confederation of Revolutionary Workers Unions (DISK), which had been seized when DISK was banned after the 1980 military coup, were returned.
The right to strike, while guaranteed in the Constitution, is partially restricted. For example, workers engaged in the protection of life and property and those in the mining and petroleum industries, sanitation services, national defense, and education do not have the right to strike. Collective bargaining is required before a strike. The law specifies the series of steps a union must take before it may strike or an employer may engage in a lockout. Nonbinding mediation is the last of those steps. In sectors in which strikes are prohibited, disputes are resolved through binding arbitration. A party that fails to comply with these steps forfeits its rights. The struck employer may respond with a lockout but is prohibited from hiring strikebreakers or using administrative personnel to perform jobs normally done by strikers. Unions are forbidden to engage in secondary (solidarity), wildcat, or general strikes. The Government also has the statutory power to suspend strikes for 60 days for reasons of national security or public health and safety. Unions may petition the Council of State to lift such a suspension, but if this appeal fails the strike is subject to compulsory arbitration at the end of the 60-day period.
Some 45 strikes, involving about 6,900 workers, took place in the first 10 months of the year. All were peaceful, and most resulted in sizable wage and benefit settlements. The Government suspended 1 strike in 1993. This involved a strike by workers at a printing facility at the Prime Ministry which produces Turkey's official gazette. The Government invoked compulsory arbitration to end this strike and adjusted the wages of the workers to make them comparable to those of workers who had similar jobs in other establishments.
With government approval, unions may and do form or join confederations and international labor bodies, as long as these organizations are not hostile to Turkey or to freedom of religion or belief. The International Confederation of Free Trade Unions (ICFTU) approved DISK as an affiliate in December 1992. Turk-Is is a longstanding member. Hak-Is, the Islamic union confederation, applied for ICFTU affiliation in 1993. In its December 1993 meeting, the ICFTU postponed consideration of HAK-IS' application, pending further consultations with the European Free Trade Union Confederation and the ICFTU's Turkish affiliates.
b. The Right to Organize and Bargain CollectivelyAll industrial workers have the right to organize and bargain collectively, and most industrial activity and some public sector agricultural activities are organized. The law requires that, in order to become a bargaining agent, a union must represent not only 50 percent plus one of the employees at a given work site but also 10 percent of all the workers in that particular industry. This 10-percent barrier has the effect of favoring established unions, and particularly those affiliated with Turk-Is, the confederation that represents nearly 80 percent of organized labor in Turkey. The ILO has called on Turkey to rescind this 10-percent rule, and the recently relegalized DISK, which is seriously disadvantaged by it, raised the issue with the ILO in 1992. Both Turk-Is and the Turkish employers' organization favor retention of the rule, however, and the Government is not pursuing a change. Antiunion discrimination by employers is prohibited by law. An effective means for resolving complaints of such discrimination exists within the system of labor courts.
Union organizing and collective bargaining are permitted in the duty-free export processing zones at Antalya, Istanbul, Izmir, and Mersin. Workers in those zones, however, are not allowed to strike during the first 10 years of operation. Until then, settlements not otherwise reached will be determined by binding arbitration.
In its 1993 report, the ILO Committee of Experts on the application of conventions noted that it has expressed its concern over the years regarding legislative infringement of free collective bargaining, compulsory arbitration in cases of disputes other than those relating to essential services, and denial to civil servants of the right to bargain collectively.
c. Prohibition of Forced or Compulsory LaborCompulsory labor is prohibited by the Constitution and statutes and is not practiced.
d. Minimum Age for Employment of ChildrenThe Constitution and labor laws forbid employment of children younger than 15, with the exception that those aged 13 and 14 may engage in light part-time work if enrolled in school or vocational training. The Constitution also prohibits children from engaging in physically demanding jobs, such as underground mining, and from working at night. The Ministry of Labor effectively enforces these laws only in the organized industrial sector.
In practice, many children work because families frequently need the supplementary income. An informal and essentially unsupervised apprenticeship system provides work for young boys at low wages, e.g., in auto repair shops. Girls are rarely seen working in public, but many are kept out of school to work in indoor handicrafts, especially in rural areas.
Turkey is participating in the ILO's international program on the elimination of child labor (IPEC). In 1992, with technical assistance from the ILO, the Government established a child labor unit within the Ministry of Labor tasked with training labor inspectors for better enforcement of child labor laws. According to the Ministry of Labor, in 1993 the number of trained assistant inspectors for child labor had increased from 160 to 700. The ministry has held training seminars and workshops on the problems of child labor. The workshops have included representatives from the Turk-Is Labor Confederation and from employers. Turk-Is itself has established a child labor office within the confederation. A center in Ankara has also been opened to help children found working in the streets.
e. Acceptable Conditions of WorkThe Labor Ministry is legally obliged to set minimum wages at least every 2 years through a minimum wage board, a tripartite government-industry-union body. In recent years it has done so annually. On July 23, the minimum wage was increased by 70 percent over the year before. The monthly minimum wage rate (after taxes), effective August 1, is $138 (T.L. 1,563,000) for workers older than 16 and $99 (T.L. 1,116,000) for workers under 16.
Without support from other sources, it would be difficult for a single worker, and impossible for a family, to live on the minimum wage. Most workers earn considerably more. In addition to wages, workers covered by the labor law, who constitute about one-third of the total labor force, also receive a hot meal or food allowance daily; transportation to and from work; a fuel allowance; and other fringe benefits which, according to the Turkish employers' organization, makes basic wages alone only about 37 percent of total remuneration.
Labor law provides for a nominal 45-hour workweek, although most unions have bargained for fewer hours in the workweek. Labor law limits the number of overtime hours to 3 hours a day for up to 90 days in a year. The labor inspectorate of the Ministry of Labor in the unionized industrial, service, and government sectors effectively enforces wage and hour provisions.
Occupational health and safety regulations are mandated by law, but the Government has not carried out an effective inspection and enforcement program. In practice, financial constraints, limited safety awareness, carelessness, and fatalistic attitudes result in scant attention to occupational safety and health by workers and employers alike.