|Friday, 2 December 2022|
U.S. Department of State
Turkey Country Report on Human Rights Practices for 1996
Released by the Bureau of Democracy, Human Rights, and Labor
January 30, 1997
Turkey is a constitutional republic with a multiparty parliament, the Grand National Assembly, which elects the President. Suleyman Demirel was elected President in 1993. December 1995 elections led to an unstable coalition government that fell in the spring, and in July Necmettin Erbakan, leader of the Refah party, became the first Islamist Prime Minister in the Republic's history. He heads a coalition government with the secular, center-right True Path Party (DYP), whose leader, Tansu Ciller, is Deputy Prime Minister and Foreign Minister. The Government respects the constitutional provisions for an independent judiciary.
For over a decade, Turkey has engaged in armed conflict with the terrorist Kurdistan Workers Party (PKK), whose goal is a separate state of Kurdistan in southeastern Turkey. A state of emergency, declared in 1984, continues in 9 southeastern provinces where the Government faces substantial terrorist violence from the PKK. (The state of emergency was lifted in Mardin province in November.) A regional governor for the state of emergency has authority over the ordinary governors in the 9 provinces, as well as 2 adjacent ones, for security matters. The state of emergency allows him 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 was most recently renewed for 4 months in November.
The Turkish National Police (TNP) have primary responsibility for security in urban areas, while the Jandarma (gendarmerie) carry out this function in the countryside. The armed forces continued to combat the PKK in the state of emergency region, thereby taking on an internal security function. Although civilian and military authorities remain publicly committed to the establishment of a state of law and respect for human rights, some members of the security forces, particularly police "special teams," Jandarma, and TNP personnel, committed serious human rights abuses.
Turkey has a primarily market-based economy driven by an increasingly active private sector. The agricultural sector employs nearly one-half of the country's labor force but contributes only 15 percent of the gross national product (GNP) and total exports. The leading industrial sectors--textiles, iron, and steel--provide the leading exports. Impressive economic growth over the past 15 years has translated into an improved standard of living and the creation of a growing middle class. Per capita GNP is approximately $3,000. Such positive developments, however, have been accompanied by substantial macroeconomic imbalances. The Government had little success in implementing needed reforms to reduce the budget deficit and inflation. The introduction of populist economic measures pushed the budget deficit to nearly 10 percent of GNP, while inflation exceeded 80 percent. Persistently high inflation over the past decade has worsened income distribution. The conflict in the southeast and maintenance of a large national defense establishment continue to be a significant drain on the economy. As expected, implementation of the customs union with the European Union in January appears to have aggravated the trade deficit in the short term. Corruption has taken an economic toll and has sapped popular faith in the Government.
Serious human rights problems continued. The Government was unable to sustain improvements made in 1995 and, as a result, its record was uneven in 1996 and deteriorated in some respects. Human rights emerged as a priority public issue during the year. There was growing recognition in the Government, Parliament, the media, academia, big business, and the public at large that the country's human rights performance is inadequate and needs to be brought in line, not only with its international obligations and commitments, but also with popular aspirations and demands.
The situation in the southeast was of particular concern. The Government has long denied its Kurdish population, located largely in the southeast, basic cultural and linguistic rights. As part of its fight against the PKK, the Government forcibly displaced large numbers of noncombatants, tortured civilians, and abridged freedom of expression. The PKK has committed widespread abuses and regularly employed terrorism against the Government and civilians, mostly Kurds. In January a minibus carrying 11 people, including some supporters of a Kurdish political party, was ambushed in Sirnak province, and all were killed. The Government blamed the PKK, but an independent "Working Group for Peace" concluded that security forces were responsible.
Estimates of the total number of villagers forcibly evacuated from their homes since the conflict began vary widely: between 330,000 and 2 million. A credible estimate given by a former Member of Parliament from the region is around 560,000. Although the Government began a new resettlement program this year, its efforts to deal with and compensate the many internally displaced remained inadequate. As of October, 2,019 households with 15,314 people were resettled, according to government figures.
Human rights abuses were not limited to the southeast. Extrajudicial killings, including deaths in detention, from the excessive use of force, in safe house raids, and "mystery killings," continued to occur with disturbing frequency. Disappearances also continued. Torture remained widespread: Police and security forces often abused detainees and employed torture during periods of incommunicado detention and interrogation. Prolonged pretrial detention and lengthy trials continued to be problems.
In January journalist Metin Goktepe died from wounds he sustained while in police custody. Forty-eight police members were charged in his death; 14 of whom were dismissed from the force pending trial. In western Turkey, 10 police officers from the city of Manisa, including 2 superintendents, are being tried for torturing 14 people, mostly teenagers accused of ties to a leftist terrorist organization. In Istanbul, five police officers have been indicted for torturing Gulderen Baran and four others whom they suspected of being members of a terrorist organization. Prison conditions remained poor. At least 12 prisoners died during nationwide hunger strikes between March and July. At Diyarbakir prison, 10 prisoners were beaten to death by security forces called in to quell a disturbance in September; a parliamentary commission investigated and recommended that 68 police and security personnel be tried for their role in the violence. They were charged with manslaughter.
Limits on freedom of expression remained another serious problem. For example, at various times 135 journalists were detained, 11 of whom were formally arrested. Seven were reportedly attacked and one kidnaped. Academics, students, Members of Parliament, and intellectuals also had their freedom of expression limited. The Government continued to use the 1991 Anti-Terror Law, with its broad and ambiguous definition of terrorism, to detain both alleged terrorists and others on the charge that their acts, words, or ideas constituted dissemination of separatist propaganda. A book titled "The Euphrates Flows Sadly," published by a Kurdish former Member of Parliament (M.P.) from Erzurum, Abdulmelik Firat, was confiscated as separatist propaganda on orders of the Istanbul State Security Court prosecutor. Prosecutors also used Article 312 of the Criminal Code (incitement to racial or ethnic enmity) with increasing frequency. The translator and publisher of a Human Rights Watch report on the conflict in the southeast are being charged under Article 159 of the Code (defaming the military). Kurdish-language broadcasts remained illegal, despite the fact that Kurdish music broadcasts are growing. Despite these developments, private channel television programs and print media expanded the limits of debate on human rights and other issues of freedom of speech and the press. The number of licensed media rose substantially, the number of banned publications declined considerably, and the number of persons charged or convicted under the Anti-Terror Law fell significantly.
Four pro-Kurdish former M.P.'s who were convicted in 1994 on charges of separatism, and whose sentences were overturned on appeal in 1995, were retried and found guilty in April on similar charges. In September their sentences were upheld on appeal. Like the other M.P.'s from the Democracy Party (DEP) who were earlier convicted of separatism, they plan to appeal to the European Commission of Human Rights. The Ankara State Security Court pressed charges against three other former DEP Parliamentarians this year, also for promoting separatism.
In September and October, the Government prosecuted 43 members of the Pro-Kurdish People's Democracy Party (HADEP), including party chairman Murat Bozlak, based on an incident at the party's June 23 convention in Ankara, during which the Turkish flag was torn down and replaced by a PKK banner. The accused face minimum sentences ranging between 12 and 22 1/2 years, and the party itself may be declared illegal (as were two of its predecessors). Of the 43 defendants, 16 remain in custody; by year's end, the trial had not yet concluded.
Officials of various government agencies continued to harass, intimidate, indict, and imprison human rights monitors, journalists, and lawyers for ideas that they expressed in public forums. In May Mustafa Cinkilic, a representative of the Adana branch of the Human Rights Foundation (HRF), and Dr. Tufan Kose, who operated a center for the treatment of victims of torture, were charged with operating an unlawful health center. Human rights monitors alleged that the prosecution of Cinkilic and Kose was a government attempt to harass the HRF. There were several hearings during the year, and the case is set to resume in February 1997. In May Seyfettin Kizilkan, president of the Diyarbakir Medical Chamber, was arrested on the grounds that he had PKK ties. He was sentenced in June to a 3-year prison term by the Diyarbakir State Security Court but remains free pending the outcome of his appeal.
Prosecutions of police or security officers for killings and torture increased somewhat. However, the climate of impunity reflected in the relatively small number of convictions probably remains the single largest obstacle to reducing these troubling human rights abuses. The lack of early access to an attorney by those detained is also a major factor in the use of torture by police and security forces.
The Government expanded human rights training for the police and military. The military improved the training of its officers and noncommissioned officers, which human rights nongovernmental organizations (NGO's) reported led to a reduction in human rights violations. Human rights education in primary schools is mandatory; it is an elective in high schools. The Refah/DYP coalition Government initially abolished the position of State Minister for Human Rights, but recreated it in November, appointing Lutfu Esengun to the position and providing him with more personnel and resources than his predecessors. Some discrimination against women persists. Spousal abuse and child labor remain serious problems.
PKK terrorists murdered noncombatants, targeting village officials, teachers, and other perceived representatives of the State and committed random murders in their effort to intimidate the populace. The PKK brutally murdered seven primary school teachers in predominantly Kurdish areas and often targeted civilians in an effort to prevent them from collaborating with security forces or to coerce them into assisting the insurgents. The PKK was also responsible for at least 23 disappearances.
RESPECT FOR HUMAN RIGHTS
Section 1 Respect for the Integrity of the Person, Including Freedom from:
a. Political and Other Extrajudicial Killing
While accurate figures on the number of political and extrajudicial killings were unavailable, credible reports of such violations by government authorities continued. The Human Rights Foundation of Turkey, a respected nongovernmental organization, reported in its documentation center announcements a number of deaths under suspicious circumstances while in official custody, some as an apparent result of torture.
In January Metin Goktepe, a correspondent for Evrensel newspaper, died from wounds inflicted while in detention in Istanbul. Goktepe was detained by the police as he covered the funeral of a prisoner who died during a disturbance at Istanbul's Umraniye prison. Police initially denied that he had been detained, then later said that he died from a fall. Following large public demonstrations and a parliamentary outcry over the circumstances of his death, an investigation led to the arrest of 48 police officers, including 3 senior officers and a deputy commissioner. Some of these officers alleged that they were themselves tortured during interrogation. Fourteen of the accused were dismissed from the police force in October, and the case against all of the accused continued at year's end. The remaining police were suspended. (Some officers returned to work briefly, but due to public reaction they were again suspended.) In January a policeman shot and killed Cetin Karakoyun while the 14-year-old was in custody in Magazalar. Authorities are obliged by law to investigate all deaths in custody. However, the number of serious prosecutions of security force members, while increasing, remained low.
The Human Rights Association (HRA) and other human rights (NGO's) recorded several mystery killings, in which the assailant's identity was unknown, many with the alleged complicity of security forces. Most of the reports pertain to the southeast where some of the victims were leaders or prominent members of the Kurdish community, local politicians, or members of the HADEP. The 1995 recommendations of a Parliamentary Committee, designed to purge "illegal formations" within the State which the Committee said committed some mystery killings, were not implemented.
In November a fatal car crash occurred involving: Abdallah Catli, a rightwing militant wanted by Interpol on charges of murdering seven Labor Party members in 1980; Huseyin Kocadag, former Istanbul deputy police chief; Gonca Uz, a former beauty queen; and Sedat Bucak (the only survivor), an ethnic Kurdish M.P. and clan leader with an important stake in the Government's village guard program. The incident resurrected serious concerns about corruption and the abuse of power in the security forces. It also led to the resignation of the Interior Minister, Mehmet Agar, who had been linked to the victims of the accident. A parliamentary committee was formed to investigate reputed links among politicians, police officials, and organized crime bosses.
There was an increase in the number of reports of deaths attributable to government authorities due to excessive use of force. According to Amnesty International, four prisoners died from beatings received in January in Umraniye prison. The Parliamentary Human Rights Commission concluded after an investigation that security forces killed 10 prisoners with truncheon blows to the back of the head while quelling a disturbance in Diyarbakir on September 24. A total of 37 people, including prison officers, were wounded (see Section 1.c.). The Commission recommended that 68 police and security personnel be tried for their role in the violence, and in January 1997 they were charged with manslaughter. Several NGO's have credibly reported that government forces used excessive force during some raids on alleged terrorist safe houses. Police killed three protestors during violent May Day demonstrations in Istanbul (see Section 2.b.).
Following an investigation, six of eight police officers originally accused have been charged in the case of Sinan Demirtas, who died in 1995 while in police custody. The 1995 death of journalist Safyettin Tepe in custody was ruled a suicide. In April the Bitlis prosecutor transferred the case to the provincial administrative board to determine if any further investigation into the conduct of police officers who had detained Tepe was warranted. The 1994 death in detention of Can Demirag was also ruled a suicide. Turkish authorities have in the past frequently claimed that deaths in custody were suicides. The case of police officer Abdullah Bozkurt, charged with the 1994 murder of Vedat Han Gulsenoglu, continues; Bozkurt has been reassigned from Istanbul to Van while his case is being prosecuted. The 1994 investigation into the murder of Diyarbakir tradesman Serif Avsar revealed that he was killed by six village guards, some of whom were his relatives. One defendant confessed that Avsar was killed as the result of a family vendetta. The case in absentia continues concerning the death in detention in 1993 of Vakkas Dost; policeman Nurettin Ozturk, the accused murderer, is still at large. The trial of the 11 police officers in the 1992 Basalak case continues.
The following cases remain unresolved: the 1992 case of Yucel Ozen, the 1994 murder of HEP party official Faik Candan, and the 1993 murder of journalist Ugur Mumcu.
A law under which terrorists who surrendered were eligible for lighter sentences was not renewed, but the Government continues to encourage their surrender. The courts also are more lenient with such terrorists. The Government asserts that it treats surrendered PKK members well and that only PKK coercion and propaganda--claiming that the Government kills all surrendered terrorists--has prevented an increase in the number surrendering.
The PKK continued to commit political and extrajudicial killings, primarily in rural southeast Anatolia. Political killings perpetrated by the PKK have in the past included those of state officials (Jandarma, local mayors, imams, and schoolteachers), state-paid paramilitary village guards and their family members, young villagers who refused to be recruited, and PKK guerrillas-turned-informants. According to government figures, for the first 10 months of 1996 the PKK killed 447 people in several operations, including at least 109 unarmed civilians, and wounded 900 other people. This total included 7 schoolteachers, bringing the total number of teachers killed by the PKK over the last 12 years to 153. The PKK also destroyed 70 primary and middle schools. This year the PKK began a new campaign of suicide bombings by women, who had usually been drugged or coerced in other ways.
Turkish Hizbullah, an Islamist Turkish terrorist group (not related to Lebanese Hizbullah), also targeted civilians in the southeast, committing at least eight gruesome murders and injuring several other people in Diyarbikar. Four trials continued against 89 Hizbullah members charged with a total of 113 murders. The Foreign Ministry states that a case has been opened against Hizbullah for the 1993 murder of DEP parliamentarian Mehmet Sincar; human rights groups consider the case a mystery killing.
Accurate statistics on disappearances of those previously under dteention are hard to confirm; nonetheless, HRA figures indicate that such disappearances appear to have declined from a total of 221 in 1995 to 194 in 1996. Some persons disappeared after witnesses reported that security forces or law enforcement officials took them into custody. On September 16, at least five bodies were found on the outskirts of the village of Baharli, near Diyarbakir. Some of the victims had reportedly been in police custody earlier in September. The disappearances and deaths are under investigation; as yet no one has been formally charged.
For nearly a year, mothers who claim that their children have disappeared have gathered weekly in a square in Istanbul to ask for their return. In July police broke up one of these demonstrations, temporarily detaining at least 25 people and hitting others with truncheons, according to eyewitnesses. During the remainder of the year, the demonstrations took place unimpeded.
This year the Ministry of Interior created a missing persons bureau, which operates 24 hours a day. It has investigated disappearances reported by the HRA for 1995 and the first 5 months of 1996 and found that of 187 reported disappearances, 39 persons had since been found, 3 were fugitives from justice, 2 were killed by illegal groups, 82 who were allegedly in police custody had never been detained and were not being sought, 58 had been jailed for crimes, and 3 were active in terrorist groups.
The Government, human rights organizations, and the media report that the PKK routinely kidnaps young men or threatens their families as part of its recruiting effort. PKK terrorists continued their abductions of local villagers, teachers, journalists, and officials in the southeast. According to the Government, the PKK abducted 23 people through October, and killed at least 4 of them.
c. Torture and Other Cruel, Inhuman, or Degrading Treatment or Punishment
Despite the Constitution's ban on torture, the Government's cooperation with unscheduled foreign inspection teams, and public pledges by successive governments to end torture, it continued to be widespread. The HRF's torture rehabilitation centers in Ankara, Izmir, Istanbul, and Adana reported that they accepted a total of 354 credible applications for treatment in the first 6 months of 1996. A total of 713 applications were received in 1995. Human rights attorneys and physicians who treat victims of torture say that most persons detained for or suspected of political crimes usually suffer some torture during periods of incommunicado detention in police stations and Jandarma headquarters before they are brought before a court. Government officials admit that torture occurs. Although they deny that torture is systematic, they explain its occurrence by stating that it is closely tied to the State's fight against terrorism. The Government's draft legislation before Parliament includes provisions for reducing lengthy prearraignment/pretrial detention periods cited by human rights monitors as providing occasions for torture; by year's end this legislation had not been passed into law.
Many cases of torture, however, occur in western Turkey, outside the zone of conflict. For example, 10 police officers, including 2 superintendents from Manisa (western Turkey) are being tried for allegedly torturing a group of 14 teenagers whom they suspected of belonging to a leftist terrorist organization. The December 1995 incident came to light through the intervention of a Manisa M.P. Widespread press coverage led to public outrage. The police officials' trial is set to resume in February 1997. Meanwhile the separate trials of the 15 alleged victims ended in January 1997. Five of the students were sentenced to 12 1/2 years' imprisonment, one student was sentenced to 3 years, 9 months, and four students to 4 1/2 years. The other five were acquitted. Lawyers have announced that they will appeal the convictions. The timing of the police and teenagers' trials precluded consideration that the teenagers' confessions may have been based on torture. Amnesty International published a report in November citing the Manisa case, and other alleged incidents of torture of children. In Istanbul, five police officers from the antiterror department were indicted in criminal court. The police are accused of torturing Gulderen Baran and four other detainees during an interrogation about their alleged membership in a terrorist organization.
Private attorneys reported neither better treatment of those charged under the Anti-Terror Law nor an overall decrease in the incidence of torture in 1996. In 1996 women again charged that sexual abuses occurred while under detention by security officials. In the 1995 case of Leman Celikaslan, who alleged that she was sexually abused by antiterror police, no evidence of rape was found, and the investigation was dropped, according to the HRF. In February she was found guilty of being a member of the PKK and sentenced to prison.
The 1992 Criminal Trials Procedure Law (CMUK) facilitates faster attorney access to those arrested for common crimes; however, the CMUK's provisions for immediate attorney access do not apply to those detained under the Anti-Terror Law or for other "security" crimes. The CMUK's allowable maximum prearraignment detention periods exceed Council of Europe maximums.
Human rights observers report that because the arresting officer is also responsible for interrogating the suspect, some officers may resort to torture to obtain a confession that would justify the arrest. Commonly employed methods of torture alleged by the HRF's torture treatment centers include: high-pressure cold water hoses, electric shocks, beating on the soles of the feet, 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. Other forms of torture were sexual abuse, submersion in cold water, use of truncheons, hanging sandbags on detainees' necks, forcing detainees to stand on one foot, releasing drops of water on their heads, and withholding food.
The Government maintains that medical examinations occur once during detention and a second time before either arraignment or release. However, former detainees assert that some medical examinations took place too long after the event to reveal any definitive findings of torture. According to a 1996 report by the Physicians for Human Rights (PHR) based on interviews with 39 torture survivors, a survey of 60 physicians who officially examine detainees, and a review of more than 150 official medical reports on detainees, law enforcement officers frequently coerce physicians, through the use of violence and intimidation, not to report evidence of torture. Members of security and police forces often stay in the examination room when physicians are examining detainees, resulting in intimidation of both the detainee and the physician. Physicians responded to the coercion by refraining from examining detainees, performing cursory examinations and not reporting findings, or reporting physical findings but not drawing reasonable medical inferences that torture occurred. Sixty percent of the physicians surveyed believed that "nearly everyone who is detained is tortured." The report also found that doctors and other healthcare professionals in the state of emergency region have been killed, tortured, imprisoned, internally exiled, and legally sanctioned in the course of their professional duties.
The Government attempted to deal with the problem doctors face in reporting evidence of torture by making improvements in medical examination procedures during the year. The Ministry of Health added some reporting requirements designed to increase accountability. A Ministry of Health circular from July requires "health station doctors" to examine detainees every 48 hours in areas where forensic doctors are not available. This requirement was adopted to promote independent and objective exams. While there is no information about the implementation and impact of this regulation, the Turkish Medical Doctors' Union noted that practices in 1996 were "more positive" than in the past. Ministry of Health efforts to disseminate information on forensic medicine were generally successful; however, according to the Medical Doctors' Union, not all the new monitoring practices were in place, especially in the southeast.
Credible sources in the human rights and legal communities estimate that judicial authorities investigate very few of the formal complaints involving torture and prosecute only a fraction of those. Security personnel accused of violating human rights are held to a different standard than other citizens. The Anti-Terror Law provides that officials accused of torture or other mistreatment may continue to work while under investigation and, if convicted, may only be suspended. Special provincial administrative boards rather than regular courts decide whether to prosecute such cases. 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 state of emergency governor. Approval is rare. These constraints contribute to the paucity of convictions for torture.
Under the Administrative Adjudication Law, an administrative investigation into an alleged torture case is conducted to determine if there is enough evidence to bring a law enforcement officer to trial. Under the CMUK, prosecutors are empowered to initiate investigations of police or Jandarma officers suspected of torturing or mistreating suspects. In cases where township security directors or Jandarma commanders are accused of torture, the prosecutor must obtain permission to initiate an investigation from the Ministry of Justice, because these officials are deemed to have a status equal to that of judges.
In the first 9 months of 1996, seven complaints of torture or mistreatment were filed with the Parliamentary Human Rights Commission. This was a decrease from 1995 when 23 cases were filed during the same period. In each of the seven cases, the Commission wrote to the offices of the public prosecutor where the alleged incidents occurred. As prosecutors were not required to complete their investigations within strict deadlines, by year's end no further developments had occurred. There were no additional developments in the case of Baki Erdogan.
The Government accepted numerous unannounced visits by the Council of Europe's Committee for the Prevention of Torture (CPT) and is in regular dialog with the CPT. In December the CPT issued a very tough report about torture. The report acknowledged that progress had been made since 1992, but said that "although much of the legal framework necessary to combat torture is in place...in practice these measures are being ignored." The Government agreed that CPT reports on Turkey may be made public.
In December the European Court of Human Rights ruled against Turkey in the case of Zeki Aksoy. Specifically, the Court ruled that Aksoy had been tortured, detained for too long a time without being brought before a judge, and that he had not been provided with an effective remedy for his complaint of torture. The Court ordered Turkey to pay compensation, legal costs, and expenses. Aksoy did not live to hear the verdict, since he was murdered by unknown assailants in April 1994, reportedly after being threatened with death if he did not withdraw his petition before the Court.
The Turkish Medical Doctors Union states that women are no longer routinely subjected to virginity testing when they file complaints alleging sexual crimes.
Prison conditions remain poor. Prisons are overcrowded, and families often must supplement the poor quality food. Prisons are run on the ward system. Prisoners, often those of the same ideological bent, are incarcerated together and indoctrinate and punish their own. One of several examples of this practice was the death in August in Diyarbakir's central prison of PKK prisoner Emine Yavuz, who reportedly was strangled by other PKK militants for collaborating with the police. Torture in prisons decreased in the last few years, but security personnel continued to use excessive force in quieting disturbances. Four prisoners died of head injuries received in a January confrontation with security personnel, who also caused injury to 33 others. Ten prisoners were beaten to death in Diyarbikar in September by security forces called in to quell an uprising.
Hunger strikes in protest of prison conditions and poor treatment by guards occurred at many institutions throughout the year. In March prisoners at Diyarbakir prison, many convicted of terrorist-related crimes, began hunger strikes in protest of a government plan to transfer some prisoners to a new Western-style maximum security facility in Eskisehir, which would have broken up the ward system. According to Ministry of Health figures, by July an estimated 2,174 prisoners had gone on hunger strikes in 43 prisons in 38 cities. There were reports that some prisoners were forced by others to participate in the hunger strikes. Twelve prisoners who joined the hunger strikes eventually died. The strikes ended in August when an agreement rescinding the transfers was reached with the Justice Minister. As part of the accord, the Government agreed to the establishment of an independent "Prison Watch Committee," composed of prominent individuals such as novelist Yasar Kemal, to monitor negotiations and prison conditions.
Several monitoring groups, both domestic and international, carried out prison visits.
d. Arbitrary Arrest, Detention, or Exile
To take a person into custody, a prosecutor must issue a detention order, except in limited circumstances such as when a person is caught committing a crime. The maximum detention period for those charged with common individual crimes is 24 hours. Those detained for common collective crimes may be held for 24 hours. The detention period may be extended for an additional 24 hours. Under the CMUK, detainees are entitled to immediate access to an attorney and may meet and confer with the attorney at any time. In practice, this access continued.
Persons detained for individual crimes that 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 for up to 15 days in most of the country and up to 30 days in the 9 southeastern provinces under the state of emergency. Those detained and tried for the expression of views, generally for disseminating separatist propaganda, are charged promptly.
There is no guarantee of immediate access to an attorney under the law for persons whose cases fall under the jurisdiction of the State Security Courts; these include those charged with smuggling and with crimes under the Anti-Terror law. This lack of early access to an attorney is a major factor in the use of torture by police and security forces. The Government presented to Parliament draft legislation which, when passed, would grant more immediate access to an attorney, and return to the jurisdiction of the regular criminal courts some offenses now within the purview of the SSC system. By year's end, this legislation had not been passed into law.
The decision concerning access to counsel in such cases is left to the independent prosecutor, who often denies access on the grounds 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 detained indefinitely, sometimes for years. Many cases involve persons accused of violent crimes, but 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, a requirement observed in practice. 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 upon receipt of 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.
There is no external exile. Turkey's internal exile law was repealed in 1987, but in 1990 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 (now in its twelfth year), citizens under his administration whose activities "give an impression that they are prone to disturb general security and public order." There were no known instances of the use of this broad authority during the year. Human rights monitors and residents of towns in the southeast report that officials continued to rely on "administrative transfers" to remove government employees thought liable to "create trouble."
e. Denial of Fair Public Trial
The Constitution provides for an independent judiciary, and in practice the courts generally act independently of the executive. The Constitution requires that judges be independent of the executive in the discharge of their duties and provides for the security of 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.
The judicial system is composed of general law courts, State Security Courts, and military courts. There is also a Constitutional Court. 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. 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, and cases in which civilians are alleged to have impugned the honor of the armed forces or undermined compliance with the draft.
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.
State Security Courts (SSC) sit in eight cities. They are composed of panels of five members--two civilian judges, one military judge, and two prosecutors--and try defendants accused of crimes such as terrorism, drug smuggling, membership in illegal organizations, and espousing or disseminating ideas prohibited by law such as "damaging the indivisible unity of the state." There are 18 such SSC's. (In November changes in the relevant law abolished the SSC's in Erzincan, Konya, and Kayseri and established new ones in Ezurum, Van, and Adana. Cases have been redistributed among the new courts. The changes are meant to expedite existing cases by moving the courts closer to the cases.) SSC verdicts may be appealed only to a specialized department of the High Court of Appeals dealing with crimes against state security.
In 1996 SSC's predominantly handled cases under the Anti-Terror Law and Section 312 of the Criminal Code, which prohibits "incitement to racial enmity." The State claims that these courts were established to try efficiently those suspected of certain crimes. The heavy caseload often means that cases drag on for years. These courts may hold closed hearings and may admit testimony obtained during police interrogation in the absence of counsel. The trial of Diyarbakir lawyers charged with acting as couriers for the PKK continues at the Diyarbakir SSC, but the number of defendants has increased from 12 to over 20. There was no information available on the trial of nine Erzurum lawyers charged with similar crimes. None of the attorneys is being detained.
Defendants normally have the right to a public trial and, under the Constitution, can be proven guilty only in 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. There is no jury system; all cases are decided by a judge or a panel of judges. Trials may last for months or years, with one or two hearings scheduled each month.
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 asserts deal with national intelligence or security matters.
In law and in practice, the legal system does not discriminate against minorities. However, as legal proceedings are conducted solely in Turkish, and the quality of interpreters varies, some defendants whose mother tongue is not Turkish may be seriously disadvantaged. There are still some laws in effect that discriminate against women.
Turkey recognizes the jurisdiction of the European Court of Human Rights and the European Commission on Human Rights. Citizens may file applications alleging violations of the European Convention for the Protection of Human Rights and Fundamental Freedoms with the Commission. In September the European Court ruled against the Government in the case of Huseyin Adivar and six other Kurds, who claimed that the security forces had destroyed their homes in the village of Kelekci (see Section 1.f.). According to the Foreign Ministry, a total of 424 individual applications were made to the Commission as of August. Fifty cases were concluded, and 374 cases are still under review. The Commission has found 73 cases admissible to date. As of August, 6 new applications were made in 1996, compared to 71 new cases in all of 1995 and 96 in 1994. Bakir Caglar, a constitutional lawyer responsible for defending the Government's position before the European Court, resigned in the fall to protest the lack of progress on human rights.
There is no reliable estimate of the number of political prisoners. The Government claims that most alleged political prisoners are in fact security detainees, convicted of being members of, or assisting, the PKK or other terrorist organizations. The number of people charged, suspected, or convicted of offenses under the Anti-Terror Law was down significantly, probably because the late 1995 addition of an "intent" clause to the statute, as intended, made it more difficult to prosecute terrorist suspects. According to government statistics, during the first 10 months of 1996, 1,024 persons were in custody and an additional 1,943 were suspects not in custody related to offenses under the Anti- Terror Law. Eighty were convicted through October. Under the same law, 5,893 persons were arrested and charged with offenses in 1995, and 2,861 were convicted.
f. Arbitrary Interference with Privacy, Family, Home, or Correspondence
The 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 outside the state of emergency region.
A judge must decide whether to issue a search warrant for a residence. If delay may cause harm to the case, prosecutors and municipal officers authorized to carry out prosecutors' instructions may conduct a search. Searches of private premises may not be carried out at night, unless the delay will be damaging to the case or the search is expected to result in the capture of a prisoner at large. Other exceptions include persons under special observation by the Security Directorate General, places anyone can enter at night, places where criminals gather, places where materials obtained through the commission of crimes are kept, gambling establishments, and brothels.
In the 9 provinces under emergency rule, the regional state of emergency governor empowers security authorities to search without a warrant residences or the premises of political parties, businesses, associations, or other organizations. The Bar Association claims it is not constitutional for security authorities in these provinces to search, hold, or seize without warrant persons or documents. Roadblocks are common in the southeast; security officials regularly search vehicles and travelers. In August Parliament passed a law amending several laws affecting the security situation in the southeast. Key changes, which have been criticized by human rights activists, include authorizing security forces to shoot to kill when challenging a suspect, and granting all governors the power to declare a "state of emergency" and to call in security forces.
Security forces have forcibly evacuated villages in the southeast to prevent villagers from giving aid and comfort to the PKK (see Section 1.g.). The Government admits to village evacuations but claims that they occur as the consequence of pressures by and fear of the PKK and because security operations against the PKK in the region make continued occupancy unsafe. On September 16, the European Court of Human Rights ruled against the Government in the case of several Kurds who claimed that their human rights were violated when security forces destroyed their village. The Court ordered the Government to compensate the villagers (see Section 1.e.).
g. Use of Excessive Force and Violations of Humanitarian Law in Internal Conflicts
Since 1984 the separatist PKK has waged a violent terrorist insurgency in southeast Turkey, directed against both security forces and civilians, almost all of them Kurds, whom the PKK accuses of cooperating with the State. The TNP, Jandarma, and armed forces, in turn, have waged an intense campaign to suppress terrorism, targeting active PKK units as well as persons they believe support or sympathize with the PKK. In the process, both government forces and PKK terrorists have committed human rights abuses against each other and noncombatants. In August Hurriyet newspaper reported that since 1984, 12,984 PKK, 4,133 security force members, and 4,922 civilians lost their lives in the fighting. The "Repentance Law," pursuant to which members of terrorist organizations who turn state's evidence could have their sentences decreased or annulled, was not renewed by Parliament beyond July 1995, but authorities claim that it is still being applied in some cases. According to press reports, 364 PKK terrorists were captured alive, and 271 turned themselves in during 1996. The Government asserts that it treats PKK members who surrender well and that it is only PKK propaganda--alleging that the surrendered members are killed--that has kept the number of individuals who surrender from rising.
Government security forces forcibly evacuated and destroyed some villages. According to the Foreign Ministry, as of October 1996, approximately 2,400 villages and hamlets (settlements of 3 or 4 houses) had been evacuated by the Government. The Government's stated purpose was to protect civilians or prevent PKK guerrillas from obtaining logistical support from the inhabitants. Some villagers alleged that security forces had evacuated them for refusing to participate in the paramilitary village guard system. The Government denied these allegations. The emergency region governor stated that villages were depopulated "for various reasons," including for security reasons; residents leaving of their own accord for security or economic reasons; and departures because of PKK pressure. The PKK burned some villages to seek revenge on paramilitary village guards.
The exact number of persons forcibly displaced from villages in the southeast since 1984 is unknown. Most estimates agree that 2,600 to 3,000 villages and hamlets have been depopulated. A few nongovernmental organizations have put the number of people forcibly displaced as high as 2 million. Official census figures for 1990--before large-scale forced evacuations began--indicate that the total population for the 10 southeastern provinces then under emergency rule was between 4 to 4.5 million people, half of them in rural areas. Since all rural areas in the southeast have not been depopulated, the estimate of 2 million evacuees is probably too high. On the low end, the then Interior Minister stated in July that the total number of evacuees was 330,000. Rapidly growing demands for social services in the cities indicate that migration from the countryside has been higher than this figure. Although the urbanization is also accounted for in part by voluntary migration for economic or educational reasons also related to the conflict, the figure given by a former M.P. from the region--560,000-- appears to be the most credible estimate of those forcibly evacuated.
Whatever the actual number, government programs to deal with and compensate the forcibly evacuated villagers have been inadequate. The Foreign Ministry indicated that, as of October, 15,314 people or 2,019 households had returned to their villages in the southeast. The Ministry also noted that some of the displaced chose to resettle in urban areas and are receiving assistance there. The Government began a new "emergency support program" during the year to expedite resettlement in the southeast. The program is funded from the public budget and in September was allocated $2 million. The funds are used for rebuilding homes and roads, as well as for animal husbandry and beekeeping programs. Human rights activists dispute these figures, and officials overseeing these programs express dismay at the inadequacy of their funding.
There are credible allegations that serious security force abuses during the course of operations against the PKK continue. The Government organizes, arms, and pays for a civil defense force in the region known as the village guards. Participation in this paramilitary militia by local villagers is theoretically voluntary, but villagers are sometimes 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. The village guards have a reputation for being the least trained and disciplined of the Government's security forces and have been accused repeatedly of corruption, common crimes, and human rights abuses. In addition to the village guards, the Jandarma and police "special teams" are viewed as those most responsible for abuses.
A minibus containing 11 people, including 4 village guards, was ambushed on Sirnak's Guclukonak Highway on January 15. Its occupants were all killed and burned in the vehicle. Military officials claimed that it was a PKK attack, as many of those killed were supporters of the HADEP party. HADEP Vice Chairman Osman Ozcelik sought a parliamentary investigation of the incident, claiming that the victims had earlier been in the custody of security forces. The Diyarbakir HRA branch also said that the victims had previously been under police detention. An independent investigation concluded that the official explanation was inconsistent and laid the blame for the incident on security forces.
According to the Physicians for Human Rights 1996 report on torture, Law 169 of the Penal Code and Article 7 of the Anti-Terror Law, which prohibit assistance to illegal organizations or armed groups, have been used extensively to prosecute health professionals for providing care to individuals suspected of being members of terrorist organizations. Dr. Ilken Diken, convicted and imprisoned for failing to report that he had treated terrorists in 1994 and 1995, was released in 1996.
Government state of emergency decree 430, codified in 1990 and most recently renewed for 4 months in November, imposes stringent security measures in nine provinces in the southeast. The state of emergency was lifted in the province of Mardin on November 28. The regional governor for the state of emergency 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. Only limited judicial review of the state of emergency governor's administrative decisions is permitted.
As a result of an initiative by a coalition party M.P., seven soldiers being held by the PKK were released in November and December to a delegation that included their relatives and human rights activists. A prosecutor dropped charges that the members of the delegation were collaborating with the PKK during an earlier, unsuccessful effort to obtain the soldiers' release.
Although schools have remained open in most urban centers, in the southeast, rapid migration has led to severe overcrowding of schools and chronic teacher shortages. The PKK policy of murdering teachers exacerbated the situation (see Section 1.a.). Government officials claim that a significant effort is being made both to reopen schools and to build new schools in regions faced with acute overcrowding. For the 1995-96 school year, according to the Foreign Ministry, of 6,244 primary schools in the southeast, 3,455 are open, and 3,820 secondary schools are open.
In 1996 Turkish ground forces with air support conducted several preemptive operations into northern Iraq. These incursions, carried out by units of 1,000 to 2,000 men, were designed to destroy PKK infrastructure and to disrupt PKK supply lines. The most recent operation commenced December 31 and lasted 6 days (see Iraq report).
Section 2 Respect for Civil Liberties, Including:
a. Freedom of Speech and Press
The Constitution provides for freedom of speech and the press; however, the Government continued to limit these freedoms. The Criminal Code provides penalties for those who "insult the President, the Parliament, and the army." Numerous other provisions in various laws restrict freedom of expression to one degree or another; those most frequently employed include Article 8 of the Anti-Terror Law and Article 312 of the Criminal Code that forbids "incitement to racial or ethnic emnity." Judges generally examine evidence rigorously and dismiss many charges brought under these laws.
In 1995 the Anti-Terror Law was amended by adding a retroactive intent clause to the article that prohibits dissemination of separatist propaganda. According to the Foreign Ministry, that change led to the judicial review of thousands of cases, resulting in the release of 143 prisoners in 1995 and an additional 126 prisoners by mid-November. Sentences were reduced over this period for another 1,408 prisoners.
Domestic and foreign periodicals providing a broad spectrum of views and opinions are widely available. Government censorship of foreign periodicals is very rare. While the overall readership of the local press is not large for a country of 60 million, the newspaper business is intensely competitive and the product often sensationalist.
The electronic media reach nearly every adult, and their influence is correspondingly great. Radio and television have experienced explosive growth in the 5 years since privately owned broadcasting has been allowed: as of October, over 229 local, 15 regional, and 15 national television stations were registered, and 1,058 local, 108 regional, and 36 national radio stations were registered. Another 260 television stations and 1,202 radio stations have applied for broadcast licenses. Other television and radio stations broadcast without an official license. In 1994 Parliament passed regulatory legislation making it illegal for broadcasters to threaten the country's unity or national security and limiting the private broadcast of television programs in languages other than Turkish. The increasing availability of satellite dishes and cable television allows access to foreign broadcasts, including several Turkish-language private channels. Internet use is growing and faces no government restrictions.
Despite the restrictions noted, the media frequently criticizes government leaders and policies. Turkish media coverage of the situation in the southeast tended to be unreliable, underreporting it in some instances and sensationalizing it 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 that 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.
The Press Law permits prosecutors to seek a court order for the confiscation of a newspaper or magazine and requires that each publication's "responsible editors" bear legal responsibility for the publication's content. Many editors have faced repeated criminal proceedings. Ismail Besikci served 10 years in prison between 1971 and 1987 for his publications on the Kurdish situation in Turkey. He now has been in prison since November 1993 on a variety of new charges based upon his ongoing articles on Kurdish issues. In August he was remanded to Istanbul's Metris prison to serve out his latest sentence. SSC prosecutors ordered the confiscation of numerous issues of leftist, Kurdish nationalist, and pro-PKK periodicals, although most continue to publish. The pro-PKK newspaper Ozgur Ulke and its successor Yeni Politika were both closed by court order in 1995. A successor, Demokrasi, which began publishing in December 1995, is available.
According to the Turkish Journalists' Association, during the year 109 issues of newspapers and magazines and 8 books' press runs were confiscated on court order. These numbers are down significantly from 1995 when 1,443 publications (56 books, 784 journals, 602 newspapers, and 1 bulletin) were similarly confiscated. Forty newspapers and magazines were shut down for some period during the year, including the leftist daily Evrensel, which was ordered closed four times early in the year for publishing issues that the Government claimed "incited hatred" or "promoted racism."
Individual journalists are subject to harassment and police violence. At various times 135 journalists were detained. The Committee to Protect Journalists (CPJ) has documented 14 arbitrary detentions. Eleven journalists were formally arrested. The CPJ reports 19 instances where journalists were physically assaulted by police while practicing their profession. One journalist was reportedly kidnaped during the year.
Sanar Yurdatapan, a well-known musician and spokesman for freedom of expression, was arrested on October 17 and charged with "aiding members of an armed organization" (the PKK) when he participated in a discussion on the PKK-associated MED-TV and signed a statement condemning a reported assassination attempt against the PKK leader, despite the fact that Yurdatapan has also publicly denounced the aims and methods of the PKK. He was released on November 11 when the Ankara SSC claimed that it did not have jurisdiction to prosecute him. His case is now pending review in Istanbul.
In 1995 the Istanbul SSC charged prominent Turkish novelist Yasar Kemal in connection with the article, "Black Sky Over Turkey," which he published in a German news magazine, and later reprinted in Turkey in a book entitled "Freedom of Expression." In it, Kemal accused the Turkish Government of waging a "campaign of lies" in its comprehensive censorship of reporting on the Kurdish question. Kemal was charged both under Article 8 of the Anti-Terror Law and under Article 312 of the Criminal Code for "inciting to racial or ethnic enmity." The court acquitted Kemal in December 1995, finding that he had no intent to promote separatism or racial enmity, but he was tried again and convicted in March on virtually the same charge. He was fined and given a 20-month suspended sentence, which he appealed; his appeal was denied in October. The 99 writers originally being tried for their involvement with the same book have been joined by many others. Currently, 1,000 individuals are involved. The case against them continued at year's end as testimony is being collected.
In May author Turgut Inal was acquitted of charges under Article 159/3 of the Criminal Code for "insulting the laws of the Turkish Republic" in his article "We Protect Human Rights with an Imperfect Constitution and Laws." The entire board of directors of the HRF, which published Inal's article in a book entitled "A Present to Emil Galip Sandalci," also was acquitted (see Section 4).
In August a Kurdish former M.P. from Erzurum, Abdulmelik Firat, was brought to trial for calling the Turkish Parliament the "most useless and characterless institution (in Turkey)" during an interview. On September 29, Firat was acquitted of the charges. A book that Firat wrote, however, was confiscated as separatist propaganda in September on orders of the Istanbul SSC prosecutor. HRA deputy secretary general Erol Anar, who wrote a book entitled "History of Human Rights," was charged in August by SSC prosecutors with disseminating separatist propaganda. At the request of the defense, the trial was moved from Ankara to Istanbul and was set to resume in February 1997.
In October Ertugrul Kurkcu and Ayse Nur Zarakolu, respectively the translator and publisher of a November 1995 report by the Human Rights Watch arms project, "Weapons Transfers and Violations of the Laws of War in Turkey," were charged under Article 159 of the Turkish Penal Code for "defaming the state's security and military forces." In December the prosecution decided to focus its case on only one section of the translated report, an unconfirmed comment attributed by HRW to an unnamed U.S. official describing police special counterinsurgency forces as "thugs." The trial is set to resume in February 1997.
Seven pro-Kurdish former DEP M.P.'s and one independent M.P., convicted in 1994 on charges ranging from disseminating separatist propaganda to supporting or being a member of an armed band or gang, appealed their sentences in 1995. The 15-year sentences of four of the defendants for being members of a terrorist group were upheld; they are appealing their case to the European Commission on Human Rights. The court overturned the sentences of the other four in 1995, but they were retried and found guilty in April on the reformed Article 8 charges. In September the Court upheld these sentences on appeal. These four defendants also plan to appeal to the European Commission of Human Rights; the Government pledged to abide by its decision.
In December the Ankara SSC prosecutor charged Mehmet Sever, Mahmut Uyanik, and Muzaffer Demir, former DEP M.P.'s, with assisting the PKK. The charges stem from a 1991 incident during which the accused publicly termed the parliamentary swearing-in oath as "racist, chauvinistic, antidemocratic, and a violation of human rights." Additionally, during the swearing-in ceremony the three defendants wore handkerchiefs in colors associated with the PKK. This new trial is apparently unrelated to the earlier DEP trials. The three defendants left the DEP party prior to its being banned in 1994 and remained in Parliament as independents until their terms expired in 1995. Until that time, they had parliamentary immunity and could not be tried for alleged offenses. The delay of a year between the end of the defendants' terms in Parliament and the bringing of charges is not considered unusually long, given the sensitive nature of the case. If convicted, they could face prison terms ranging from 4 to 7 1/2 years.
The Government prosecuted 41 members of the pro-Kurdish People's Democracy Party (HADEP), including party chairman Murat Bozlak, based on an incident at the party's June 23 convention in Ankara, in which the Turkish flag was torn down and replaced by a PKK banner. The accused face minimum sentences ranging between 12 and 22 1/2 years, and the party itself may be declared illegal (as were two of its predecessors). Of the 43 defendants, 16 remain in custody. Hearings were held in September, October, November, and December, and the trial is set to resume on an undetermined date. The chief judge has denied a defense motion for acquittal and refused requests for the release of the defendants. Following the party's convention, three party members were murdered by unknown assailants, and party offices were bombed.
In 1995 independent M.P. Hasan Mezarci was charged with insulting modern Turkey's founder, Kemal Ataturk, but the criminal court dropped the charges. Following this decision, Mezarci again was brought to court in January on similar charges, had his parliamentary immunity lifted, and was sentenced to 18 months in prison. In August the new verdict was upheld by the appeals court. Mezarci left the country and a warrant was issued for his arrest. He returned on December 26 and was arrested. Press reports indicate that he is being held at Istanbul's Metris prison.
Although the 5-month sentences of well-known journalist Mehmet Ali Birand and two other journalists for "harming the image of the military" were overturned in 1995 by the military court of appeals, they were retried in early 1996 on the same charges. The military court of appeals again overturned the sentences in June. According to current law, Birand may be retried one more time on the same charges.
Kurdish-language cassettes and publications on Kurdish subjects continued to be widely available, although suppression continued. The Kurdish-language weekly, Welate Me, continued to be available. Some potential customers are afraid to purchase Kurdish-language materials because possession of such items may be interpreted as evidence of PKK sympathies. Kurdish-language broadcasts are still illegal. Can-TV, a private station based in the southeast, broadcasts Kurdish-language music from a list of songs approved by security officials. In August police raided Can-TV offices during a live Turkish-language broadcast of a panel discussion on "Peace and the Kurdish Issue." The detainees were released within 2 days of the raid, and no charges were filed. Pro-PKK Med TV, based in Belgium and England, broadcasts via Intelsat and can be received by satellite dish in the southeast.
In February there was a large conference in Istanbul entitled "The Kurdish Problem and a Democratic Solution," which was attended by academics, human rights monitors, politicians, and labor leaders. The conference highlighted the growing visibility of these issues and the increasing discussion of the Kurdish issue in a democratic context. University professor Dogu Ergil continued throughout the year to publish articles and papers on the Kurdish issue without government interference.
Until 1995 the Constitution and the law governing political parties proscribed student and faculty associations and labor union involvement in political activities. Constitutional amendments passed by Parliament in 1995 provided for participation in political activities by students age 18 years or older and professors. No implementing legislation has been passed. Nonetheless, some students have been politically active.
Academic freedom is respected.
b. Freedom of Peaceful Assembly and Association
The Constitution provides for freedom of assembly, but authorities may deny permission if they believe the gathering is likely to disrupt public order. Prior notification of gatherings is required, and the authorities may restrict meetings to designated sites.
Police committed serious abuses during crowd control situations. A May Day demonstration in Istanbul, attended by as many as 10,000 people, including hundreds of members of illegal leftist and Kurdish organizations, turned violent and resulted in some looting, destruction of stores, and armed clashes with the police. Police handled the demonstration very poorly and shot three demonstrators to death, in reaction to the serious beating of a police officer by rioting demonstrators. At the end of the rioting, 89 people were wounded (including 52 police officers) and 354 were arrested. Although complaints of excessive use of force were made against the police, none was prosecuted.
On November 6, university students took to the streets to protest the Higher Education Council's control over student life and academic curricula. Protests in Istanbul, Ankara, and Balikesir turned violent, and according to eyewitnesses and the media, police used excessive force to disperse the crowds. In Istanbul 545 students reportedly were detained, and 7 students and 3 police were wounded. In Ankara approximately 100 students were detained and 7 wounded. Nearly all students were released within 48 hours
The Constitution provides for freedom of association, but associations and foundations must submit their charters for government approval, a lengthy and cumbersome process.
c. Freedom of Religion
The Constitution establishes Turkey as a secular state and provides for freedom of belief, freedom of worship, and private dissemination of religious ideas. The Government generally observed these provisions in practice. About 99 percent of the population is Muslim. Under the law, religious services may take place only in designated places of worship.
Although Turkey is a secular state, religious instruction in state schools is compulsory for Muslims. Upon written verification of their non-Muslim background, Lausanne Treaty minorities (Greek, Armenian, and Jewish) are exempted by law from Muslim religious instruction, although students who wish to attend may do so with parental consent. Syriac Christians are not officially exempt because they are not an official Lausanne Treaty minority. However, according to a church official, because the community is mentioned in the Treaty, its members have not been forced to follow any specific curriculum.
Turkey's Alawi Muslim minority (an offshoot of Shi'ite Islam) is estimated to number at least 12 million. There are, however, no government-salaried Alawi religious leaders, in contrast to Sunni religious leaders, and no Religious Affairs Directorate funds go to the Alawi community. Some Alawis allege discrimination in the form of failure to include any Alawi doctrines or beliefs in religious instruction classes. Alawis are disgruntled by what they regard as the Sunni bias in the Religious Affairs Directorate and the Directorate's tendency to view the Alawis as a cultural group rather than religious group.
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 explicitly prohibiting proselytizing, police sometimes arrest Islamic extremists and evangelical Christians for disturbing the peace. Courts usually dismiss such charges. If the prosyletizers are foreigners, they may be deported, but generally they are able to reenter the country easily.
Twice this year the armed forces dismissed groups of soldiers for prohibited religious and political activities. Some of these soldiers have indicated that they will bring their cases to the European Court of Human Rights.
Most religious minorities are concentrated in Istanbul. The number of Christians in the south has been declining as the younger Syriac generation leaves for Europe and North America. Minority religions not recognized under the Lausanne Treaty may not acquire additional 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.
The Government formed in July has sought a more cooperative relationship with religious minorities, particularly in Istanbul, according to prominent members of these communities. The state ministry responsible for the religious minority communities gave the Armenian Patriarchate permission to rebuild a church in Anatolia and informed the Patriarchate that requests to restore some other properties would be approved immediately. These requests have all been approved without delay.
The authorities monitor the activities of Eastern Orthodox churches and their affiliated operations. The Ecumenical Patriarchate in Istanbul has consistently expressed interest in reopening the seminary on the island of Halki in the Sea of Marmara. The seminary has been closed since the 1970's when the state nationalized most private institutions of higher learning.
Bureaucratic procedures relating to historic preservation impede repairs to some religious facilities. Under the law, religious buildings that become "extinct" (because of prolonged absence of clergy or lay persons to staff local religious councils or for lack of adherents) revert to government possession. Some non-Muslim minorities, particularly the Greek Orthodox and, to a lesser extent, the shrinking Armenian Orthodox and Jewish communities, are faced with the danger of losing some of their houses of worship.
d. Freedom of Movement within the Country, Foreign Travel, Emigration, and Repatriation
Citizens generally enjoy freedom of movement domestically and the freedom to travel abroad. The Constitution provides that a citizen's freedom to leave may be restricted only in the case of a national emergency, civic obligations (military service, for example), or criminal investigation or prosecution. The overseas travel $100 departure tax was repealed in March, spurring a boom in foreign travel.
Travel in the southeast often is restricted for security reasons. Roadblocks, set up by both security forces and the PKK, can seriously impede travel in the region. The PKK, in an effort to draw attention to its cause, kidnaped foreign tourists and other travelers in the region for short periods.
When Turkey ratified the 1951 United Nations Convention Relating to the Status of Refugees, it exercised the option of accepting the convention's obligations only with respect to refugees from Europe. It has not subsequently lifted the geographic limitation of its treaty obligation. As a result, the Government does not recognize non-European asylum seekers as refugees and requires that they register with the authorities within 5 days of entering the country. The Government screens these applicants, determines those that it considers bona fide, and then refers them to the U.N. High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR). It provides only very limited first asylum opportunities designed to allow non-European applicants time to process for onward resettlement. A negative decision usually leads to immediate expulsion. The UNHCR representative and foreign diplomats in Ankara continued to protest the turning back of Iranian and Iraqi asylum seekers, many of whom claimed religious persecution in their home countries. Since Turkey implemented new asylum regulations in 1994, more than 150 Iranians and Iraqi UNHCR- recognized asylum seekers were forcibly returned to their countries.
The Government declined numerous offers from the UNHCR to assist in establishing reception centers for undocumented asylum seekers in key border areas. The offer included funding and training for officers conducting interviews.
At the end of the year, Turkey facilitated the humanitarian evacuation from northern Iraq and immediate transit to the United States of some 6,700 employees and Iraqi political oppositionists who faced potential persecution.
Due to the cessation of fighting in the former Yugoslavia, the number of Bosnian refugees in Turkey decreased significantly. At year's end, it was estimated that fewer than 5,000 refugees remained, down from a peak of 15,000 to 20,000 in the early 1990's. As "guests" there is no restriction on the period that they are allowed to remain. They are not allowed to work or attend school; however, many do.
Section 3 Respect for Political Rights: The Right of Citizens to Change their Government
The Constitution provides citizens with the right to change their government peacefully, and citizens exercise this right in practice. Turkey has a multiparty parliamentary system, in which national elections are held at least every 5 years on the basis of mandatory universal suffrage for all citizens 18 years of age and over. As of October, there were at least 30 political parties, 7 of which were represented in Parliament. The Grand National Assembly (Parliament) elects the President as head of state every 7 years or when the incumbent becomes incapacitated or dies.
The Government neither coerces nor forbids membership in any political organization, although the Constitutional Court may close down political parties for unconstitutional activities. In March the Court closed down the tiny pro-Kurdish Democracy and Transformation Party (DDP) on these grounds.
There are no restrictions in law against women or minorities voting or participating in politics. The Constitution calls for equal political rights for men and women. There were 13 women in the 550-seat Parliament. In addition to Deputy Prime Minister Ciller, there were three other female ministers. Some political parties now recruit female delegates for their party conferences and electoral lists. Women's committees are active within political party organizations.
Section 4 Governmental Attitude Regarding International and Nongovernmental Investigation of Alleged Violations of Human Rights
The nongovernmental Human Rights Association has branches in 50 provincial capitals. The HRA claims a membership of about 17,000. HRA branches in the southeast, closed at different times in 1994 and 1995 by the authorities, were reopened; nonetheless, periodic harassment continued. In March Adana's then acting provincial governor shut down the local HRA for a period of 15 days on the grounds that it possessed "illegal publications." As of October, HRA branches in the southeast were operating in Diyarbakir, Adiyaman, Malatya, Mardin, and Sanliurfa. HRA branches in Batman and Hakkari remain closed by the authorities.
In 1990 HRA established the Human Rights Foundation, which operates torture rehabilitation centers in Ankara, Izmir, Istanbul, and Adana and serves as a clearinghouse for human rights information. Other domestic nongovernmental organizations include the Istanbul-based Helsinki Citizens Assembly, the Ankara-based Turkish Democracy Foundation, human rights centers at a number of universities, and the Islamist-oriented Mazlum Der, the Association of Human Rights and Solidarity for Oppressed Peoples.
Government agents have harassed human rights monitors as well as lawyers and doctors involved in documenting human rights violations. According to a 1996 report by the Lawyers' Committee for Human Rights, "there is a close connection between the Turkish Government's hostility toward those who expose human rights violations, and its attacks on the integrity of the legal profession, and the persistence of severe human rights problems." Some human rights monitors have been aggressively prosecuted. Turgut Inal and members of the board of directors of the HRF were acquitted of criminal charges brought against them in 1995 for the publication of a book entitled "A Gift to Emil Galip Sandalci" (see Section 2.a.).
In May Mustafa Cinkilic, the Adana HRF representative, and Dr. Tufan Kose, who operated one of the HRF centers for the treatment of victims of torture, were charged with operating an unlawful health center. The case is scheduled to resume in February 1997. Similar charges had been leveled against the operators of the other HRF torture treatment centers. Charges in Izmir and Ankara were dropped; in Istanbul, the criminal court found that insufficient evidence had been presented to warrant the charges, and the defendant was acquitted.
In May Dr. Seyfettin Kizilkan, director of Diyarbakir's state insurance hospital and president of the southeast region's chamber of doctors was arrested after police allegedly found bomb materials and PKK documents in his home. In June the Diyarbakir SSC sentenced him to a 3-year, 9- month prison term. His family and local activists allege that the police planted the evidence. Kizilkan is free pending an appeal. In May the Diyarbakir SSC acquitted the HRA representative in Hakkari, Abdulkerim Demirer, who was on trial for being a member of a terrorist organization.
In December the Ankara SSC acquitted HRA head Akin Birdal, Mardin HRA branch head Cemil Aydoagn, and Ihsan Aslan, Vice President of the Islamist human rights group Mazlum Der, of charges that they had collaborated with the terrorist PKK. The three men, together with Refah party M.P. Fethullah Erbas, had sought the release of seven Turkish soldiers being held captive by the PKK. (Erbas had parliamentary immunity and so was not charged.) The soldiers were eventually released.
Since 1991 Parliament has convened a Human Rights Commission. The Commission is authorized to oversee compliance with the human rights provisions of domestic law and international agreements to which Turkey is a signatory, investigate alleged abuses, and prepare reports. Previously underfunded and lacking the power to subpoena witnesses or documents, the Commission this year has asserted itself. It was instrumental in pressing for criminal charges against 68 security personnel for excessive use of force in the killing of 10 prison inmates in Diyarbakir.
Representatives of diplomatic missions who wish to monitor human rights are free to speak with private citizens. However, security police usually place such visitors in the southeast and the east under visible surveillance, intimidating those they meet.
Section 5 Discrimination Based on Race, Sex, Religion, Disability, Language, or Social Status
The Constitution proclaims Turkey to be a secular state, regards all citizens as equal, and prohibits discrimination on ethnic, religious, or racial grounds. Discrimination nevertheless remains a problem in several areas. The Government officially recognizes only those religious minorities mentioned in the Treaty of Lausanne (1923), which guarantees the rights of Eastern Orthodox, Armenian Apostolic, and Jewish adherents.
Spousal abuse is serious and widespread. However, it is still considered an extremely private matter, involving societal notions of family honor. Few women go to the police, who in any case are reluctant to intervene in domestic disputes and frequently advise women to return to their husbands. Turks of either sex may file civil or criminal charges but rarely do so. Laws and ingrained societal notions make it difficult to prosecute sexual assault or rape cases. Penalties may legally be reduced if a woman was not a virgin prior to a rape, or if a judge deems the woman to have acted provocatively.
During the year, a series of high-profile "honor murders"--the killing of women who are suspected of being unchaste--in rural areas or among recent immigrants to cities, has focused attention on some of the inequalities in the legal code as it applies to women. In one case, 16- year-old Sevda Gok was murdered by her family because she allegedly had dishonored them by behaving too independently and consorting with boys. Often family members refuse to press charges and task minor family members with the actual killings. In this case, Gok's 14-year-old cousin did so and was sentenced to only 2 years in jail for the crime. The two men who held Sevda Gok down were never identified.
According to the Prime Ministry's Family Research Institute, beating is one of the most frequent forms of violence against women in the home. New figures were not available for 1996, but in the past the Institute has noted complaints of beatings, threats, economic pressure, and sexual violence.
There are several shelters for battered women, and at least two consultation centers--Istanbul's Purple Roof Foundation and Ankara's Altindag center city shelter. New NGO's have been formed to address women's issues, including honor murders.
The Civil Code, which prohibits granting gender-based privileges or rights, retains some discriminatory provisions concerning marital rights and obligations. Because the husband is the legal head of household, the wife automatically acquires the husband's surname with marriage; the husband is authorized to choose the domicile and represents the conjugal unit. As parents, husband and wife exercise joint child rearing rights, but when they disagree, the husband's view often prevails. Women's groups have lobbied to change this provision. A single woman who gives birth to a child out-of-wedlock is not considered automatically to be the legal guardian of her child. A court decision may be required. Divorce law requires that the divorcing spouses divide their property according to property registered in each spouse's name. Because in most cases property is registered in the husband's name, this can create difficulties for women who wish to divorce. Under inheritance laws, a widow generally receives one-fourth of the estate, her children the rest. There are reliable reports that under the current Government, female judges have been shifted from courtroom to administrative jobs.
The literacy rate for women has been revised upward to approximately 79 percent. Particularly in urban areas, women continue to improve their position, including in the professions, business, and the civil service, although they continue to face discrimination to varying degrees. Numerous women have become lawyers, doctors, and engineers since the 1960's. Women make up between 43 and 50 percent of the work force. They generally receive equal pay for equal work in the professions, business, and civil service jobs, although a large percentage of women employed in agriculture and in the trade, restaurant, and hotel sectors work as unpaid family help. Women may take the examination required to become a subgovernor. Several have been appointed subgovernors; one governor is a woman.
Independent women's groups and women's rights associations exist and are growing, but the concept of lobbying for women's rights is still in its infancy.
The Government is committed to furthering children's welfare and works to expand opportunities in education and health, including further reduction of the infant mortality rate. The State Minister for Women's and Family Issues oversees implementation of the Government's programs for children. Education for children is mandatory and government- provided through fifth grade, or the age of 10. Traditional family values in rural areas place a greater emphasis on advanced education for sons than for daughters. Far fewer girls than boys continue their education after primary school.
Children have suffered greatly from the cycle of violence in the southeast. The migration--forced or voluntary--of many families, terrorism against teachers, and school closings in the southeast have uprooted children to cities that are hard pressed to find the resources to extend basic, mandatory services such as schooling. Many cities in the southeast are operating schools on double shifts, with as many as 100 students per classroom (see Section 1.g.). The Government is establishing regional boarding schools to help combat this problem, but these are insufficient. In practice, in rural Anatolia and the southeast, the literacy rate for girls is very low, and many do not complete primary school. The literacy rate for boys, most of whom complete primary school, is higher. Some continue on to middle and high school, for which they generally must travel or live away from home.
Instances of child beating and abuse are more frequently reported than in previous years, according to women's groups. The increase may be attributable to greater public awareness of the problem.
People with Disabilities
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.
Extremist groups target minority communities from time to time. According to press reports, during an anti-Israel demonstration in October, Refah party officials in Ankara declared Jews to be the enemies of Muslims. Refah party journals also frequently publish anti-Semitic diatribes.
During the last few years, there have been instances of graffiti, stones tossed over the walls, and press attacks on the Ecumenical Patriarchate and the Patriarch. On September 30, a hand grenade was thrown over the wall of the Ecumenical Patriarchate compound in Istanbul causing minor damage. On December 17, a small pipe bomb exploded at St. Anthony's Catholic Church in Istanbul. The police responded promptly in both cases and are investigating the incidents. The Armenian Patriarchate also reported incidents of harassment against Armenian churches in Istanbul, and church officials complain of growing encroachment by certain Muslim extremist groups on lands belonging to the Armenian community, especially on the Princes' Islands in the Sea of Marmara. The police have responded with intensified security measures.
All religious minority groups fear the possibility of rising Islamic extremism.
The Constitution does not recognize the Kurds as a national, racial, or ethnic minority. There are no legal barriers to ethnic Kurds' participation in political and economic affairs, but Kurds who publicly or politically assert their Kurdish ethnic identity risk harassment or prosecution. Some M.P.'s and senior officials and many professionals are ethnic Kurds. Kurds who are 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, and there has been much intermarriage over many generations. Kurds who are currently migrating westward (including those displaced by the conflict in the southeast) bring with them their culture and village identity, but often little education and few skills; many simply are not well prepared for urban life.
The 1991 repeal of the law prohibiting publications or communications in Kurdish legalized private spoken and printed communications in Kurdish. Under the law on political parties, however, all discussion that takes place at political meetings must be in Turkish. Kurdish may be used only in "nonpolitical communication." Materials dealing with Kurdish history, culture, and ethnic identity continue to be subject to confiscation and prosecution under the "indivisible unity of the state" provisions of the Anti-Terror Law (see Section 2.a.).
The Ministry of Education tightly controls the curriculum in foreign- language schools. Many Greek-origin students report difficulty in continuing their education in Turkey and go to Greece, often never to return.
The Romani population is extremely small, and there were no reported incidents of public or government harassment directed against them.
Section 6 Worker Rights
a. The Right of Association
Workers have the right to associate freely and form representative unions, except police and military personnel. Constitutional amendments in 1995 gave civil servants, including schoolteachers, the right to form legally recognized unions; however, implementing legislation has not yet been enacted. (Even prior to passage, civil servants' unions existed and worked for legal recognition, collective bargaining, and the right to strike through demonstrations and 1-day work stoppages.) Parliament added language to Article 53 of the Constitution stipulating that civil servants' unions could bring cases to court on behalf of members, carry out collective talks with the Government to secure their objectives, and sign an understanding with the Government if agreement is reached. The amendment language did not mention strikes.
The Constitution stipulates that no one shall be compelled to become or remain a member of, or withdraw from, a labor union. The law states that unions and confederations may be founded without prior authorization based on a petition to the governor of the province of the prospective union's headquarters. 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. The Constitution requires candidates for union office to have worked 10 years in the industry represented by the union. Slightly over 12 percent of the total civilian labor force (15 years old and above) is unionized. There are three confederations of labor unions: the Turkish Confederation of Workers Unions (Turk-Is), the Confederation of Turkish Real Trade Unions (Hak-Is), and the Confederation of Revolutionary Workers Unions (DISK). Unions and their officers have a statutory right to express views on issues directly affecting members' economic and social interests.
Prosecutors may ask labor courts to order a trade union or confederation to suspend its activities or to go into liquidation for serious infractions, based on alleged violation of specific legal norms. The Government, however, may not summarily dissolve a union.
The right to strike, while provided for 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 steps a union must take before it may strike or before an employer may engage in a lockout. Nonbinding mediation is the last of those steps. A party that fails to comply with these steps forfeits its rights. The employer may respond to a strike with a lockout but is prohibited from hiring strikebreakers or using administrative personnel to perform jobs normally done by strikers. Article 42 of Law 2822, governing collective bargaining, strikes, and lockouts, prohibits the employer from terminating workers who encourage or participate in a legal strike. Unions are forbidden to engage in secondary (solidarity), political or general strikes, or in slowdowns. In sectors in which strikes are prohibited, disputes are resolved through binding arbitration.
The Government has the statutory power under Law 2822 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. If this appeal fails, and the parties and mediators still fail to resolve the dispute, it is subject to compulsory arbitration at the end of the 60-day period. The International Labor Organization's (ILO) Committee of Experts and the Committee on the Application of Standards regard the Government's application of the law as too broad and have called on the Government to limit the application of the law and recourse to compulsory arbitration to essential services in the strict sense of the term. The Government asserts that the law does not contradict the committees' principles.
During the first 7 months of 1996, there were 31 strikes involving 1,160 workers, which resulted in approximately 114,010 lost work days. During the same period there were 2 lockouts involving 660 workers, resulting in 69,564 lost work days. No strikes or strike decisions were suspended by the first or second coalition governments since their formation following the December 24, 1995, general elections.
In some instances labor union members have been the subject of government limits on freedom of speech and assembly (see sections 2.a. and 2.b.). Implementing legislation for certain provisions of constitutional amendments, to permit the legal unionization of the civil service, has not yet been enacted. However, some civil service organizations continued to demonstrate for the right to strike and for higher salary. In response to these protests, the Ankara public prosecutor's office initiated two separate court cases against Turk-Is in 1995, charging that August 8 and September 20 demonstrations held by Turk-Is in Ankara to protest the deadlock in collective bargaining negotiations were illegal. In the first case, the public prosecutor demanded prison terms for the Turk-Is officials of a minimum of 6 months in accordance with Article 72 of Law 2822. In the second case, the prosecutor's office accused Turk-Is management of violating the associations law when it announced its support for opposition parties before the 1995 general elections. The trials began in the Ankara court of first instance on June 21. The Turk-Is president stated in his defense that he and other officials actually calmed down the workers during the demonstrations. Judicial officials postponed the trials to a later date to hear the testimony of other Turk-Is officials who were not present at the first trial.
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 1992. Hak-Is applied for ICFTU affiliation in 1993; however, its application has been held up by the international labor federation due to opposition expressed by Turk-Is, a longstanding member of the ICFTU. The application is still pending.
b. The Right to Organize and Bargain Collectively
All 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, particularly those affiliated with Turk-Is, the confederation that represents nearly 80 percent of organized labor.
The ILO has called on Turkey to rescind this 10 percent rule. Both Turk-Is and the Turkish employers' organization favor retention of the rule, however. The Government informed the ILO Committee on the Application of Standards that the Ministry of Labor and Social Security proposed to remove the 10 percent numerical restriction and that it had communicated its proposal to the social partners. The ILO took note of the Government's statement that it continued to study removal of this requirement despite objections from employer and worker organizations.
The law on trade unions stipulates that an employer may not dismiss a labor union representative without rightful cause. The union member may appeal such a dismissal to the courts, and if the ruling is in the union member's favor, the employer must reinstate him and pay all back benefits and salary. These laws are generally applied in practice.
In November thousands of teachers staged a protest march in Ankara to demand better treatment and salaries, better working conditions, and "cessation of exile to remote areas of the country of teachers who engage in union activities." Minister of Education Mehmet Saglam said that the Ministry of Labor had begun reviewing the government prohibition of teachers' gaining union rights and pledged to examine the cases of teachers who had been punished for union activity.
c. Prohibition of Forced or Compulsory Labor
The Constitution and statutes prohibit compulsory labor. The laws are enforced.
d. Minimum Age for Employment of Children
The Constitution and labor laws forbid employment of children younger than age 15, with the exception that those 13 and 14 years of age 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 need the supplementary income. An informal system provides work for young boys at low wages, for example, in auto repair shops. Girls are rarely seen working in public, but many are kept out of school to work in handicrafts, especially in rural areas. The bulk of child labor occurs in rural areas and is often associated with traditional family economic activity such as farming or animal husbandry. It is common for entire families to work together to bring in the crop during the harvest.
The Government has recognized the problem of child labor and has been working with the ILO to define its dimensions and to determine solutions. The Ministry of Labor, the Ankara municipality, the Turk-Is labor confederation, and the Turkish Employers Association are among the institutions participating in the ILO's International Program on the Elimination of Child Labor (IPEC), a project to solve the problems of working children. The Ministry of Labor and the ILO have jointly produced a study showing that almost one-half (44 percent) of the children working in Turkey are below the age of 15, are paid less than the minimum wage, and have no insurance.
According to a study conducted by the Turk-Is child workers bureau released in September, for every 100 workers, 32 were between the ages of 6 and 19. Children employed at work sites and homes constitute 5 percent of the total working population and were mostly employed in the metal, shoe, woodworking, and agricultural sectors. The young workers employed on a monthly or daily wage payment basis worked over 40 hours a week, and those employed at home and not receiving a wage payment worked less than 40 hours per week. The study said that 56 percent of these workers were uninsured. It added that the total number of working young people between the ages of 12 and 19 was 3.5 million, and 45 percent of them were under the age of 16.
e. Acceptable Conditions of Work
The 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. In August the nominal minimum wage was increased by approximately 101 percent over the year before. The monthly gross minimum wage rates, which became effective on September 1, are approximately $200 (tl 17,010,000) for workers older than 16 years of age and about $170 (tl 14,400,000) for workers under the age of 16.
It would be difficult for a single worker, and impossible for a family, to live on the minimum wage without support from other sources. Most workers earn considerably more. Workers covered by the labor law, who constitute about one-third of the total labor force, also receive a hot meal or a daily food allowance and other fringe benefits which, according to the Turkish Employers' Association, make basic wages alone account for only about 37 percent of total remuneration.
Labor law sets a 45-hour workweek, although most unions have bargained for fewer hours. The law prescribes a weekly rest day and limits the number of overtime hours to 3 a day for up to 90 days in a year. The Labor Inspectorate of the Ministry of Labor effectively enforces wage and hour provision in the unionized industrial, service, and government sectors, which cover about 12 percent of workers.
Occupational health and safety regulations are mandated by law, but the Government has not carried out an effective inspection and enforcement program. Law 1475 sets out procedures under which workers may remove themselves from hazardous conditions without risking loss of employment. The law also allows for the shutdown of an operation if a five-man committee, which includes safety inspectors, employee, and employer representatives, determines that the operation endangers workers' lives. 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.