|Wednesday, 6 December 2023|
TURKEY HUMAN RIGHTS PRACTICES, 1994
AUTHOR: U.S. DEPARTMENT OF STATE
DATE: FEBRUARY 1995
Turkey is a constitutional republic with a multiparty Parliament (the Grand National Assembly) which elects the President. Suleyman Demirel was elected President in 1993, and Tansu Ciller, chairperson of the center-right True Path Party (DYP), became Turkey's first female Prime Minister in the same year.
For the past decade, Turkey has engaged in armed conflict with the terrorist Kurdistan Workers Party (PKK), whose stated goal is the creation of a separate state of Kurdistan in southeastern Turkey. A state of emergency, declared in 1987, continued in 10 southeastern provinces where the Government faces substantial terrorist violence from the PKK (see Section 1.g.). A regional governor retains authority over those 10 provinces, as well as 3 adjacent ones. A state of emergency allows the civilian governor to exercise certain quasi-martial law powers, including restrictions on the press and removal from the area of persons whose activities are deemed hostile to public order. The state of emergency decree was most recently renewed in November 1994.
The Turkish National Police (TNP) are charged with maintaining public order in the cities, a responsibility which the Jandarma (gendarmerie) carries out in the countryside. In 1994 the regular Turkish armed forces, mainly the army, took on a primary role in combatting the PKK in the state of emergency region and thus assumed a greater internal security function than in previous years. Despite the Ciller Government's pledge in 1993 to end torture and to establish a state of law based on respect for human rights, torture and excessive use of force by security personnel persisted throughout 1994.
Turkey has a mixed economy in which state enterprises account for nearly 40 percent of the manufacturing sector. A series of economic crises culminated in the announcement on April 5 of a major economic reform program, including the privatization of state-owned enterprises. Although the balance of payments improved and inflation slowed, prices still increased over 100 percent in 1994. The size of the state bureaucracy, the budget deficit, the inadequate tax system, and the inefficient state sector block economic growth. The conflict in the southeast continued to be a major drain on the economy.
The human rights situation in Turkey worsened significantly in 1994. The police and security forces often employed torture during periods of incommunicado detention and interrogation, and the security forces continued to use excessive force against noncombatants. PKK terrorists murdered noncombatants, targeting village officials and teachers and also committing random murders in their effort to intimidate the populace.
Parliament lifted the immunity of pro-Kurdish Democracy Party (DEP) members of Parliament (M.P.'s), opening the way for indictment and prosecution of five DEP M.P.'s and one independent, largely for the expression of views during their tenure as M.P.'s. The Constitutional Court subsequently closed the DEP, allowing two other M.P.'s to be prosecuted. The trial concluded on December 8 with convictions for disseminating separatist propaganda and for supporting or being a member of an armed band, which resulted in sentences ranging from 3 years and 6 months (suspended) to 15 years.
Various agencies of the Government continued to harass, intimidate, indict, and imprison human rights monitors, journalists, lawyers, and professors for ideas which they expressed in public forums. Disappearances and mystery murder cases continued at a high rate in the southeast. The PKK and the radical Islamic Hizbullah (not related to the Lebanese Hizbullah) appear responsible in some cases. In other cases, however, the evidence implicated government security forces. In many human rights cases, the targets of abuse were ethnic Kurds or their supporters. Moreover, the Government infrequently prosecutes police or security officers for extrajudicial killings, torture, and other abuses; in the cases which produce a conviction, lenient sentences were usually given. The resulting climate of impunity that has been created probably remains the single largest obstacle to reducing unlawful killing, torture, and other human rights abuses.
The Government used the 1991 Anti-Terror Law, with its broad and ambiguous definition of terrorism, to detain both alleged terrorists and a broad range of people on the charge that their acts, words, or ideas promote separatism and "threaten the indivisible unity of the State." In September the Government formed a Committee on Freedom of Thought to examine changes to the Anti-Terror Law and other laws that severely restrict freedom of expression. By mid-October the Committee had made recommendations to Parliament which, if enacted and properly implemented, could significantly expand freedom of expression. However, at year's end, Parliament had not enacted these changes.
While the Criminal Trials Procedure Law (CMUK), passed in November 1992, has improved attorney access for those charged with common crimes, certain of its provisions, such as early attorney access, do not apply to those detained under the Anti-Terror Law or within the state of emergency region. In 1993 Parliament annulled the article of the Constitution under which the Government had a monopoly on radio and television broadcasting, and in April 1994 passed regulatory legislation for the legal operation of private broadcasting.
RESPECT FOR HUMAN RIGHTS
Section 1 Respect for the Integrity of the Person, Including Freedom from:
a. Political and Other Extrajudicial KillingPolitical murders and extrajudicial killings attributed to Government authorities and terrorist groups continued at the relatively high 1993 rates. Government authorities were responsible for the deaths of detainees in official custody; suspects in houses raided by security forces; and other types of civilian deaths in the southeast. The Human Rights Foundation of Turkey (HRF), a Turkish nongovernmental organization which documents the human rights situation, claimed that government security forces were responsible for 33 extrajudicial killings in the first 10 months of 1994. A substantial number of "mystery killings," in which the assailant's identity was unknown, also occurred.
Human rights organizations also maintain that security forces were complicit in a number of these "mystery killings." The Government maintains that the Hizbullah, an Islamic terrorist group, carried out 107 "mystery killings" in the first 9 months of 1994. The number of "mystery killings" remained high during the first 10 months of 1994 and, according to the HRF, 316 civilians were assassinated by unknown attackers, mostly in the east and southeast of the country. Many were leaders or prominent members of the Kurdish community, physicians, human rights monitors, local politicians, and members of the Democracy Party (DEP). In the past 2 years, at least 26 members of the DEP and its successor, the People's Democracy Party (HADEP), have been murdered.
A parliamentary committee, which commenced its investigation in 1993, continued to investigate mystery murders which have occurred since 1970, but had issued no report by year's end.
The HRF reported that 18 persons died under suspicious circumstances while in official custody in the first 9 months of 1994, some as a result of torture. Of these, officials claimed that at least five committed suicide, a claim they have made frequently in past cases of deaths in custody. In one such case, Can Demirag, detained by Istanbul police in connection with a murder, was found dead on August 23 in his cell in the Kadikoy security directorate where he was being interrogated. Police claimed Demirag had committed suicide by hanging himself with a sheet on the iron grating of the ventilation window in the cell; the Istanbul prosecutor's office opened an investigation into his death, but by year's end had not released any information.
By law, authorities are obliged to investigate all deaths in custody, but prosecutions of security force members for such deaths are rare. In one case, however, in September, the Istanbul Beyoglu district prosecutor's office brought murder charges against police officer Abdullah Bozkurt on the grounds that in March he shot to death university student Vedat Han Gulsenoglu in the Istanbul Kasimpasa district police station. The prosecution requested a 30-year sentence for murder.
In the southeast there were a number of murders of persons who, according to the authorities, had been released or were not in custody, but whose families were certain they were being held. For example, the Diyarbakir State Security Court (SSC) took Necati Aydin into custody in March. On April 4, the judge signed a release for Aydin, but he never emerged to meet his waiting family. On April 9, the bodies of Aydin and a friend, Mehmet Ay, were found buried to their necks near a river along the Diyarbakir/Silvan road. The Government states that the Diyarbakir Third State Security Court released Aydin and Ay on their own recognizance, and that they later turned up dead.
In April, five village guards (a government-employed paramilitary force in the southeast) abducted Diyarbakir tradesman Serif Avsar in broad daylight. Avsar's family followed them to a Jandarma station, yet authorities denied they were holding Avsar. He was found dead on May 7. The village guards and an informant are on trial for Avsar's murder. The Government maintains the murder resulted from an interclan dispute.
Regarding other ongoing cases, in the death in detention of Vakkas Dost, the policeman Nurettin Ozturk is still at large, and the trial is continuing. The trial in the case of Yucel Ozen in continuing. The trial of the 11 police officers in the Basalak case is ongoing.
Human rights groups and parliamentarians continued to accuse Turkish security forces of carrying out extrajudicial killings and using excessive force during raids on alleged terrorist safe houses rather than trying to arrest the occupants. During the first 10 months of 1994, 27 people died in such raids, according to human rights groups. In Istanbul, two trials were started against police who had participated in two Dev Sol (Devrimci Sol, a Marxist terrorist group) safe house raids in November 1993 in which three persons died. In another case stemming from a May 1991 safe house raid in Istanbul in which 2 died, 12 security officers were acquitted.
In an April 1993 shoot-out in Tunceli, 12 Dev Sol militants were killed. No investigation was initiated; according to security forces, an investigation was unnecessary since it was an armed clash.
Prominent credible human rights organizations, Kurdish leaders, and local Kurds asserted that the Government acquiesces in, or even carries out, the murders of civilians. Government officials appeared to be investigating more of the reported murders than in past years. Some victims had previously been detained, abused, or threatened by security forces. Human rights groups reported the widespread and credible belief that a counterguerrilla group associated with the security forces had carried out at least some "mystery killings." The Government maintains that two factions of the Hizbullah committed most "mystery killings." In June the Diyarbakir SSC prosecutor's office launched the first trial against 35 members of Hizbullah's Menzil faction, claiming that the defendants were responsible for 39 armed attacks, resulting in 25 deaths and 32 injuries. A second trial against members of Hizbullah's Ilim faction began at the Diyarbakir SSC in July.
On September 4, 1993, unknown persons fatally shot Mehmet Sincar, a DEP member of Parliament (MP) from Mardin, in the city center of Batman. Twelve persons were arrested in connection with the murder, and the case is currently being tried. Sincar's widow has accused government forces of committing the murder and has brought the case before the European Human Rights Commission.
Four members of the HADEP, successor party to the banned DEP (see Section 2.b.), were assassinated in the southeast during September. No evidence as to the identity of the perpetrators has been brought to light, and no arrests were made in these cases. Faik Candan, former Ankara provincial Chairman of DEP predecessor HEP, was found dead on December 14, shot four times in the head, neck, and chest, according to press reports.
In contrast to 1993, there were no assassinations of journalists in 1994, but at least one journalist disappeared (see Section 1.b.). A distributor of the pro-PKK newspaper Ozgur Ulke was killed in the explosion that ripped through the paper's Istanbul building on the night of December 3. Moreover, as of October, none of the five murders of journalists committed in 1993, nor those previously, had been solved.
Although terrorists carried out political murders primarily in rural southeast Anatolia, they also launched several deadly attacks during 1994 in urban areas. On January 14, bombs killed three on intercity buses in central Turkey, and on February 12, an explosion at Istanbul's Tuzla train station killed 5 cadets and wounded 26. The PKK claimed responsibility for the Tuzla incident, but did not publicly claim responsibility for the bus explosion, although most people believe it was responsible.
Killings perpetrated by the PKK included those of state officials (Jandarma, local mayors, imams, and schoolteachers), state-paid paramilitary village guards and their family members, young villagers who refuse to be recruited, and PKK guerrillas-turned-informants. On January 1, the PKK intercepted two buses on the Diyabakir-Elazig highway, took eight people into a field and shot them. On July 30, the PKK killed seven village guards in an attack on Konalga village in Van province. The PKK publicly claimed to have killed "179 village guards, including a leading village guard and 32 of his relatives" and "66 collaborators, agents, counterguerrilla organization members, (and) police officials," during the month of June. Teachers continued to be a main target of terrorist activities. During the year the PKK killed 20 teachers.
b. DisappearanceDisappearances continued in 1994, while most of those reported in 1993 and earlier remained unsolved. Some disappeared after witnesses reported that security forces had taken them into custody. In March, Nazim Babaoglu, Urfa correspondent for the pro-Kurdish daily, Ozgur Gundem, disappeared. The Government maintains that Abdulvahap Timurtas, who disappeared in August 1993 in Yenikoy village, Sirnak province, was not taken into custody, and that a village by that name does not exist. His father accuses the security forces of abducting him. His brother Tevfik Timurtas died under torture on January 5, 1991, in Cizre, according to the HRF. The Government says it received 28 claims of missing relatives in the first 9 months of 1994.
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. PKK terrorists continued their abductions of local villagers, teachers, journalists, and officials in the southeast. For example, on January 26 the PKK kidnaped two journalists and held them for 4 months. The PKK again kidnaped two foreign tourists during the summer and eventually released them unharmed.
c. Torture and Other Cruel, Inhuman, or Degrading Treatment or PunishmentDespite the Constitution's ban on torture, Turkey's accession to the U.N. and European Conventions Against Torture, and public pledges of successive governments to end torture, the practice continued. Human rights attorneys and physicians who treat victims of torture state that most persons charged with, 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. The HRF and private attorneys reported that there was no indication of either the amelioration of treatment of those charged under the Anti-Terror Law or an overall decrease in the incidence of torture in 1994. In 1994 women again charged sexual abuses while under official detention by security officials.
Although the implementation of the CMUK on December 1, 1992, facilitated more immediate attorney access to those arrested for common crimes, its provisions of immediate attorney access do not apply to those detained in the state of emergency region nor to those detained under the Anti-Terror Law. Some attorneys in the southeast reported that some common criminals are booked on political charges, thereby depriving them of access to or by an attorney. The CMUK's allowable, maximum prearraignment detention periods still exceed Council of Europe maximums.
Human rights observers report that the system whereby the arresting police officer is also responsible for interrogating the suspect is conducive to torture because the officer seeks to obtain a confession that would justify the arrest. According to those familiar with Turkish police operations, in petty criminal cases, the arresting officer is responsible for following up on the case, whereas in major cases such as murder and political or terrorism-related crimes, "desks" responsible for the area in question are responsible for the interrogation.
Commonly employed methods of torture reported by the Human Rights Foundation'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. In southern Turkey, a security official boasted of having deprived a suspect of sleep for 6 days to obtain a confession.
In a case in Istanbul in July, Yelda Ozcan, a former representative of the HRF, stated to several human rights organizations that a chief commissioner at the Beyoglu security directorate had stripped and beaten her. She obtained a medical report and lodged an official complaint against the commissioner. In another case, in April a 17-year-old female student stated she had been beaten, hosed with pressurized water, and raped with a truncheon by police at Istanbul's Bahcelievler station, then released without charges having been filed.
Although the Government asserted that medical examinations occur once during detention and a second time before either arraignment or release, former detainees asserted that some medical examinations took place too long after the event to reveal any definitive findings. According to the HRF, practice varies widely: In some cases proper examinations are conducted; in others, doctors sign papers handed to them; some examinations are cursory, some are done in the presence of police officials, and some doctors are at times under pressure to submit false or misleading medical certificates, denying evidence of torture.
Credible sources in the human rights and legal communities estimate that judicial authorities investigate only about one-half of the formal complaints involving torture and prosecute only a small fraction of those. Under the Anti-Terror Law, 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 in such cases, and suspects' legal fees are paid by their employing agencies. Under the state of emergency, any lawsuit directed at government authorities must be approved by the regional governor. Because approval is rare, this blocks legal pursuit of torture allegations. Under the Administrative Adjudication Law, an administrative investigation into alleged torture cases is conducted under the civil service adjudication law to determine if there is enough evidence to bring a law enforcement officer to trial. Under the CMUK, while prosecutors are empowered to initiate investigations of police officers or Jandarma suspected of torturing or maltreating 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.
According to the Government, in the first 9 months of 1994, prosecutors considered 963 complaints of torture or maltreatment. Of those, 314 cases were opened, 355 were in preparation, 187 were dropped, in 25 cases the court decided it did not have the authority to pursue the case, and in 47 cases the court referred the case to another court. There were 11 convictions, 22 acquittals; in one case the complaint was withdrawn. Most of these cases were in Istanbul and Ankara; few were in the southeast.
In the few instances in which law enforcement officers are convicted of torture, sentences tend to be light. In July Ekrem Guner, a noncommissioned officer, was convicted of torturing two persons in Ordu in 1989, sentenced to 2 years in prison, suspended from duty for 5 months and 15 days, and fined TL 375,000 (roughly $12). In July the Ankara administrative court ordered the Interior Ministry to pay Mediha Curabaz TL 10 million (roughly $300) in compensation for torture she sustained in August 1991 by the Adana police. The Adana provincial administrative commission had refused to try the police officers involved on charges of rape and torture, despite a medical report which confirmed the charge of rape. The trial of six security officers accused of torturing Baki Erdogan (who died in custody) in Soke district of Aydin province in August 1993 began in May and was continuing at year's end. In April the torture conviction of two officers and two noncommissioned officers in the 1985 torture and death of schoolteacher Siddik Bilgin was overturned on appeal, and the officers were acquitted on retrial.. The case of Nazli Top, a nurse (pregnant at the time) who alleged she was tortured and raped with a truncheon in April 1992 before police released her without charge, came to trial in December 1993. The trial continues.
As Turkey recognizes the jurisdiction of the European Court of Human Rights and the European Commission of Human Rights, Turkish citizens may file applications alleging violations of the European Convention on Human Rights with the Commission. Some 250 cases are currently before the Commission. In February the Government promised the Commission to pay compensation to the villagers of Yesilyurt in Cizre province whom Jandarma troops forced to eat human excrement in January 1989. A total of 300,000 French francs in compensation is to be paid.
In January authorities sent a Prime Ministerial circular to the Ministries of Justice, Interior, and Foreign Affairs, directing that police prepare monthly reports on the incidence of ill- treatment and torture and ensure that medical examinations are carried out carefully to provide accurate forensic evidence. While statistics generally have been submitted as required, there is no evidence that the reporting requirement has had any effect on the incidence of torture.
As of September, 4,149 applications claiming torture, maltreatment, or arbitrary detention had been filed with the parliamentary Human Rights Commission, since its September 1991 inception. In each case, the Commission had written to the offices of the public prosecutor, the governor's office, and the security directorate general, and there is no indication that these communications have had any effect or that the Commission has followed up on these cases. The HRF's torture rehabilitation centers in Ankara, Izmir, and Istanbul reported that, within the first 6 months of 1994, they had received a total of 196 applications for treatment.
Police continue to force women in custody and others to undergo virginity testing even though the state minister in charge of women's affairs condemned the practice in 1992. The tests are imposed particularly on women who file a criminal complaint alleging a sexual crime. Although legally only a court or a prosecutor may order them, police continue to impose the tests to on female detainees. Though women may refuse the exams, they are rarely informed of that right.
Prison conditions remained another problem area in 1994. As recently as early November, the Justice Ministry announced plans to build new prisons and upgrade old ones to deal with the increase in the number of inmates convicted of terrorist crimes. The refurbished Eskisehir Prison and four others were to reopen by the end of the year. As in 1993, groups of inmates carried out hunger strikes to protest poor conditions and their treatment by prison guards, and one inmate was killed and several injured in an October riot at Diyarbakir Security Prison. The Government promised prison reform in 1993, but at the end of 1994 Parliament had not enacted it. Torture in prisons has decreased in the last few years, but continues to occur.
d. Arbitrary Arrest, Detention, or ExileIn order to take a person into custody, a prosecutor must issue a detention order, except in limited circumstances such as when a person is caught in the act of committing a crime. The detention period for those charged with common, individual crimes is 24 hours. Those detained for common, collective crimes may be held for 4 days, and the detention period may be extended for an additional 4 days. Under the CMUK, suspects are entitled to immediate access to an attorney and may meet and confer with the attorney at any time. In practice, this access continued to improve for detainees charged with common crimes.
Persons detained for individual crimes which fall under the Anti-Terror Law must be brought before a judge within 48 hours, while those charged with crimes of a collective, political, or conspiratorial nature may be detained for up to 15 days in most of the country and up to 30 days in the 10 southeastern provinces under a state of emergency. There is no guaranteed attorney access under law 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. Attorneys and human rights organizations affirm that this lack of access is a major factor in the continuing, widespread use of torture by police and security forces.
The decision concerning access to counsel in such cases is left to the independent prosecutor, who generally denies access, usually with the explanation that it would prejudice an ongoing investigation. The Justice and Interior Ministries generally have not intervened in prosecutors' decisions or police actions denying access to counsel. Although the Constitution specifies the right of detainees to request speedy arraignment and trial, judges have ordered a significant number of persons detained indefinitely, sometimes for years. While many cases involved persons accused of violent crimes, it is not uncommon for those accused of nonviolent political crimes to be kept in custody until the conclusion of their trials.
By law, a detainee's next of kin must be notified "in the shortest time" after arrest. Once formally charged by the prosecutor, a detainee is arraigned by a judge and allowed to retain a lawyer. After arraignment, the judge may release the accused 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.
Authorities detained large numbers of people on several occasions in 1994, including the detention in February of 100 people at the funeral of Cengiz Arguc, a Communist militant, in Adana (all but 5 were released within a day); and the detention during Nevroz (Kurdish New Year) of 200 persons in Diyarbakir after a celebrant reportedly shot at a police car. In most such cases, the majority of detainees are subsequently released without charges being filed; many have reported being tortured during such detentions. In the southeast there were several roundups of ethnic Kurds in the wake of a crime. For example, after 5 PKK militants killed 1 policeman and wounded 5 near Igdir in April, police reportedly captured the 5 militants and claimed that "175 PKK supporters" were captured in the ensuing security operations.
There is no external exile, and Turkey's internal exile law was repealed in 1987. In 1990, however, under decree 430, the Government granted the southeast regional governor the authority to "remove from the region," for a period not to exceed the duration of the state of emergency (now in its eighth year), citizens under his administration whose activities (whether voluntary or forced) "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 in 1994. 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 TrialThe judicial system is composed of general law courts, state security courts (SSC), 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. In 1993 and 1994, the military court tried several cases of civilians charged with speech that purportedly discouraged military service (see Section 2.a.).
Eight state security courts composed of five members--two civilian judges, one military judge, and two prosecutors--try defendants accused of crimes such as terrorism, drug smuggling, membership in illegal organizations, and espousing or disseminating ideas prohibited by law as "damaging the indivisible unity of the State." Their verdicts may be appealed only to a specialized department of the High Court of Appeals dealing with crimes against state security.
The Constitutional Court examines the constitutionality of laws, decrees, and parliamentary procedural rules. However, it may not consider "decrees with the force of law" issued under a state of emergency, martial law, or in time of war.
The Constitution requires that judges be independent of the executive in the discharge of their duties and provides for the security of their tenure. The High Council of Judges and Prosecutors, which is appointed by the President and includes the Minister of Justice, selects judges and prosecutors for the higher courts and is responsible for oversight of those in the lower courts. The Constitution also prohibits state authorities from issuing orders or recommendations concerning the exercise of judicial power. In practice, the courts generally act independently of the executive. Defendants normally have the right to a public trial, and, under the Constitution, can be proven guilty only by a court of law. By law, the bar association must provide free counsel to indigents who make such a request to the court. Costs are borne by the association. There is no jury system; all cases are decided by a judge or panel of judges.
Defense lawyers generally have access to the independent prosecutor's files after arraignment and prior to trial (a period of several weeks). In cases involving violations of the Anti-Terror Law and a few others, such as insulting the President or "defaming Turkish citizenship," defense attorneys may be denied access to files which the State asserts deal with national intelligence or security matters.
In 1994 state security courts predominantly handled cases under the Anti-Terror Law. The State claims these courts were established to try efficiently those suspected of certain crimes. In fact, the law provides that those accused of crimes falling under the jurisdiction of these courts may be detained twice as long before arraignment as other defendants, and 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. According to government figures, 1,277 persons were tried under the Anti-Terror Law, and 8,682 people are serving sentences for terrorist crimes. The trial of 12 Diyarbakir lawyers charged with acting as couriers for the PKK continues at the Diyarbakir State Security Court. The attorneys were released on their own recognizance in December 1993 and January 1994. The trial of nine Erzurum lawyers, charged with similar crimes, began on November l6.
In law and in practice, the legal system does not discriminate against either minorities or women, with the following two caveats: (1) as legal proceedings are conducted solely in Turkish, and the quality of interpreters varies, some Kurdish-speaking defendants may be seriously disadvantaged; and (2) although women receive equal treatment in a court of law, some discriminatory laws remain on the books, although most have been rendered inoperative by a constitutional court decision. Under the civil code, the husband is the head of the household and determines the legal domicile of the family. Draft civil rights legislation which would have eliminated all existing legal inequalities between men and women has been stalled in Parliament since 1993. In 1994, civil service security clearance procedures were changed, which should allow numerous professors who were blackballed in the late 1970s to be reemployed.
Human rights monitors hesitate to estimate the number of persons in custody who might reasonably be considered political prisoners. They estimate only that "thousands" have been detained. According to government statistics, 1,277 persons were charged under the Anti-Terror Law though October 1, 1994. Many are charged for attempting peacefully to exercise their right of freedom of speech, association, or some other internationally recognized human rights.
f. Arbitrary Interference with Privacy, Family, Home, or CorrespondenceThe Constitution provides for the inviolability of a person's domicile and the privacy of correspondence and communication. Government officials may enter a private residence or intercept or monitor private correspondence only upon issuance of a judicial warrant. These provisions are generally respected in practice outside the state of emergency region.
A judge must decide whether to issue a search warrant for a residence. If delay may cause harm, 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 or the search will result in the capture of a prisoner at large. 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 10 provinces under emergency rule, the Regional Governor can and does empower security authorities to search without a warrant residences or the premises of political parties, businesses, associations, or other organizations. According to the HRF, the practice of security authorities in these provinces to search, hold, or seize without warrant persons, letters, telegrams, and documents is unconstitutional. Roadblocks are commonplace in the southeast, and security officials regularly search vehicles and travelers.
Security forces have compelled the evacuation of villages in the southeast to prevent villagers from giving aid and comfort to the PKK (see Section 1.g.). The Government admits to village and hamlet evacuations but claims 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.
g. Use of Excessive Force and Violations of Humanitarian Law in Internal ConflictsSince 1984 the separatist Kurdistan Workers Party (PKK) has waged an increasingly violent terrorist insurgency that has claimed over 15,000 lives, as many as 2,000 of them during 1994. The PKK's campaign of violence in southeast Turkey is directed against both security forces and civilians, most of whom are Kurds, whom the PKK accuses of cooperating with the State. The TNP, Jandarma, and armed forces, in turn, have waged an increasingly intense campaign to suppress terrorism, targeting active PKK units as well as those they believe support or sympathize with the PKK, and committing many human rights abuses in the process. According to government figures, in the first 10 months of 1994, 3,577 PKK, 963 security force members and 940 noncombatants were killed. In that same period, 1,563 civilians, 2,308 security force members and 137 PKK were wounded.
Government security forces forcibly evacuated and sometimes burned villages, for the purpose of preventing their inhabitants from providing aid and comfort to PKK guerrillas or in retaliation for a PKK raid on a nearby Jandarma post. Some villagers who migrated to the cities told reliable sources that they had been evacuated for refusing to participate in the paramilitary village guard system. Some lost all their belongings when their houses were burned.
In May the Interior Minister, replying to a question in Parliament, stated that 871 villages and hamlets in the state of emergency region had become empty since July 1987. The Interior Minister asserted that the villages and hamlets were emptied because of PKK pressure or economic reasons. The Minister of Defense that same month stated that to control PKK activity in the region, 50 settlement centers, displacing approximately 10,000 persons around Mount Ararat and Tenduruk Mountain, would be evacuated and that those regions would be declared a military zone. These statements were the first official confirmations of village evacuations in the southeast, including evacuations at government behest. In October, 17 village evacuations in Tunceli Province finally brought the issue into the national spotlight. According to government figures, as of October 1, 1,046 villages and hamlets had been evacuated: 75 by the regional governorship for security reasons; 125 of the residents' own accord for security reasons; 812 because of PKK pressure; and 34 for economic reasons. According to a government report, to date approximately $227,000 in compensation has been paid to villagers displaced in the southeast, largely as a result of PKK activity, and $545,000 was to be spent in 1994 to construct housing for displaced villagers in Sirnak and Bingol provinces. The Government has stated that it is providing housing and financial assistance to those displaced in Tunceli Province.
On March 26, a Turkish air force plane bombed up to four villages in Sirnak province, killing approximately 20 persons, according to press reports. Journalists were not allowed into the area. The Government stated that the inhabitants had left the villages some time before and that the PKK had then moved in, along with some civilians. When the PKK was hit, the Government explained, there was perforce some collateral damage.
During the first 6 months of 1994, approximately 10,000 Turks of Kurdish ethnic origin left the southeast for northern Iraq, claiming the Government had forced them out. The Government believes the villagers moved to northern Iraq at the behest of the PKK and views most of them as PKK supporters.
The Government organizes, arms, and pays for a civil defense force in the southeast known as the village guards. Participation in the paramilitary militia by local villagers is theoretically voluntary, but villagers are 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 disciplined of the Government's security forces.
There were instances in which physicians were prosecuted for giving medical care to alleged PKK terrorists, a practice that could deter other physicians from extending such aid. For example, Dr. Ilhan Diken was tried in Diyarbakir State Security Court for treating a wounded PKK militant, an offense for which the prosecution demanded a 5-year sentence. Diken's sentence of 3 years 9 months, of which he will serve 33 months, was affirmed by the Court of Appeals.
Government state of emergency decree 430, codified in 1990 and most recently renewed in November, imposes stringent security measures in the southeast. The regional governor may censor news, ban strikes or lockouts, and impose internal exile (see Section 1.d.). The decree also provides for doubling the sentences of those convicted of cooperating with separatists. Informants and convicted persons who cooperate with the State are eligible for rewards and reduced sentences. Provisions in the decree that specifically prohibited court challenges to the regional governor's administrative decisions were amended in 1992 to permit limited judicial review.
The year 1994 witnessed a series of PKK attacks on Turkish petroleum wells and power transformers, temporarily halting oil production. In August post and telecommunications (PTT) publications revealed that the PKK had caused $2 million in damage to the domestic PTT network in the Southeast and its radio link stations in Hakkari, Diyarbakir, Igdir, Mus, and Agri Provinces.
For the 1993-94 school year, according to the Education Minister, 4,000 schools were closed in eastern and southeastern Turkey. Alternate government figures indicate that 3,395 schools were closed during that period: 1,839 due to lack of security and fear of terrorism, 2,202 for lack of teachers, 89 for insufficient students, 92 because of the migration or evacuation of residents from the area, and 213 because they had been attacked and burned. In Tunceli province alone, 12 teachers were killed and 273 of 314 schools remained closed throughout the 1993-94 school year. Although the Government opened more regional boarding schools, promised to reopen closed schools for the 1994-95 school year, and maintains that a supplementary TL 1876 billion ($5,340,000) allocation was made to schools in the region, the Education Minister in September announced that 4,000 schools in the southeast were closed due to village evacuations undertaken for security and other reasons.
Villagers and human rights groups complained that Jandarma actions and security forces' searches for PKK terrorists and their supporters resulted in expulsions, beatings, torture, and the arbitrary killing of innocent civilians. Government security forces on many occasions fired on the homes of villagers suspected of harboring PKK terrorists, causing an unknown number of casualties and destroying villagers' property, including livestock.
Section 2 Respect for Civil Liberties, Including:
a. Freedom of Speech and PressDespite constitutional provisions guaranteeing freedom of speech and press, the Government increasingly restricted these freedoms.
For those who "insult the President, the Parliament, and the army," the Criminal Code provides penalties ranging from a 3-year minimum sentence for insulting the President to a 6-year maximum for insulting other branches of government. Judges generally examine evidence rigorously and dismiss many charges brought under these laws. Konya metropolitan Mayor Halil Urun was sentenced to 1 year for "insulting Ataturk, the founder of the Turkish Republic" at a Refah Party meeting in Konya province in 1992. The sentence was commuted to a fine of TL 1,825,000 (approximately $50). In some cases, the laws provide for increased punishment if the offense is committed in a publication. The press law permits prosecutors to halt distribution of a newspaper or magazine without a court order and requires that each publication's "responsible editors" bear legal responsibility for the publication's content. Many have faced repeated criminal proceedings. As of September, an estimated 100 persons were in custody for freedom of expression crimes. The State claimed that, as of September, 36 court cases were under way against a total of 19 journalists, all under the Anti-Terror Law.
Throughout the year, SSC prosecutors ordered the confiscation of numerous issues of leftist and pro-Kurdish periodicals, including Aydinlik, Emegin Bayragi, Denge Azadi, Ozgur Gelecek, Gercek, Newroz, Hedef, Ozgur Gundem, and Ozgur Ulke, although most continue to publish. Many editions of Kurdish-oriented periodicals were seized before they could be distributed nationally to newsstands.
Court proceedings were instituted against a number of editors and publishers. The Anti-Terror Law, which provides that "written and oral propaganda...aiming at damaging the indivisible unity of the state of the Turkish Republic...(is) forbidden, regardless of the method, intention and ideas behind it," severely restricts freedom of speech and has been used against writers, journalists, publishers, politicians, musicians, and students. Ismail Besikci served 10 years in prison between 1971 and 1987 because of his publications on the Kurdish question in Turkey. He has been brought to court more than 100 times and has been in prison again since November 1993. The Court of Appeals has upheld a total of 14 years and 6 months in prison terms and TL 850 million ($26,500) in fines. Were all the sentences and fines against him to be upheld, they would total 51 years and 11 months in prison and TL 3.45 billion ($108,000) in fines.
A number of pro-Kurdish politicians were detained under, or otherwise affected by, the Anti-Terror Law in 1994 for speeches made both within Turkey and beyond the country's borders. Those affiliated with the pro-Kurdish Democracy Party (DEP) were particularly targeted. In March, based on a request from the Ankara SSC chief prosecutor, Parliament partially lifted the immunities of six DEP, one independent, and one Islamist Refah Party (RP) member. RP deputy Hasan Mezarci is being tried for insulting Ataturk; the lifting of the immunity of one of the six DEP M.P.'s was overturned; and the other five DEP M.P.'s (who lost their status as M.P.'s when the DEP was disbanded in June) and the independent were tried for treason in the Ankara SSC. The bulk of the prosecution's case appeared to rest on speeches and expression of opinions.
After the Constitutional Court closed the DEP in June, two other former DEP MP's were arrested on July 1 and an indictment on similar charges was issued against them. Their trial commenced on October 26 and was later merged with that of the original six defendants. On December 8, the eight defendants were convicted of a combination of charges, including dissemination of separatist propaganda, being a member of an armed society or band, and knowingly supporting such a band. The sentences ranged from 3 years and 6 months (suspended) to 15 years. Both defense and prosecution plan to appeal the decision. Six others left the country and are currently in Europe.
An April resolution of the Council of Europe's (COE) parliamentary assembly strongly criticized the lifting of immunity of the deputies. In a written statement, the Turkish parliamentary delegation to the COE, including the current Foreign Minister, opposed the resolution, asking that their colleagues respect the Turkish Parliament's legitimate proceedings and emphasizing Turkey's right to combat terrorism.
In another case, trade union chairman Munir Ceylan, convicted of disseminating separatist propaganda, began serving a 20-month sentence for an article that appeared in the July 21, 1991, issue of Yeni Ulke. In June journalist Haluk Gerger began serving a 20-month prison term for a message he sent to a meeting held in Ankara on May 22, 1993. On March 18, Dr. Fikret Baskaya began serving a 20-month term in connection with his book, "Bankruptcy of the Paradigm: An Introduction to Critics of the Official Ideology." In July the Konya SSC sentenced Seydi Bayram, president of the Kuthaya branch of the HRA, to 20 months' imprisonment for using the word "Kurdistan" in an article in a local newspaper. In February Mehmet Ali Baris Besli, owner and editor in chief of Ogni magazine, which is published in the Laz dialect, was put on trial at the Istanbul SSC on charges of separatism relating to articles published in the November 1993 issue of the magazine. On May 13, former mayor of Diyarbakir Mehdi Zana was imprisoned for testimony he had given to the Human Rights Subcommittee of the European Parliament. The Appeals Court upheld the sentence on November 3. According to government figures, 407 newspapers, 490 periodicals and 35 books were confiscated during the first 9 months of 1994.
Military courts tried several cases against journalists and antiwar activists whose activities were alleged to discourage compulsory military service. Erhan Akyildiz and Ali Tevfik Berber were each sentenced to 2 months in prison for a program they produced in December 1993 on a private television station. The military appeals court later overturned the conviction and remanded the case to the military trial court. The retrial ended in acquittal. In November the military court sentenced respected journalist Mehmet Ali Birand and two others to 5 months in prison for a television program on military service during which military personnel spoke; they will appeal. As of the end of the year, actress and musician Bilgesu Erenus was to stand trial in a military court on charges of speaking out against military service at a 1993 meeting.
Legislative reforms in 1991 partially removed the ban on the use of the Kurdish language. Kurdish-language cassettes and publications on Kurdish subjects continued to be widely available, although suppression continued as well. In April the Tunceli governorship banned the sale of 39 Kurdish- language cassettes. One Kurdish-language weekly, Welat, is publishing currently; its editor in chief was brought to court in the spring on charges of violating the Anti-Terror Law. Several others publish in a combination of Turkish and Kurdish. 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, though in June Prime Minister Ciller stated that the possibility of private broadcasting and education in languages other than Turkish might be discussed. By year's end, however, the Government had taken no further action. President Demirel stated that Kurdish television and education would constitute concessions to terrorists and should be allowed only after the terrorism ends.
Newspaper correspondents and distributors in the southeast, especially those for the pro-Kurdish press, were harassed and reported being beaten and tortured in police stations during periods of detention. The pro-PKK Ozgur Gundem was harassed consistently since its April 1992 inception. It closed permanently in April 1994 when the appeals court began to ratify a series of closure orders against the paper for promoting separatism and printing the views of the banned PKK. Most of Ozgur Gundem's staff moved to Ozgur Ulke, which opened shortly after its predecessor's closure and continues to publish.
Turkish press coverage of the situation in the southeast tended to be unreliable, underreporting in some instances and grossly sensationalizing in others. Government decree 430 requires self-censorship of all news reporting from or about the southeast, and, upon the request of the regional governor, gives the Interior Ministry the authority to ban distribution of any news viewed as misrepresenting events in the region. In the event such a government warning is not obeyed, the decree provides for a 10-day suspension of operations for a first offense and 30 days for subsequent offenses.
In general, the mainstream Turkish-language press limited its independent reporting of news related to the southeast. Aside from the access of Ozgur Gundem and Ozgur Ulke correspondents to the southeast and reporting in the English-language Turkish Daily News, most papers relied on official reports. In response to growing criticism, the Justice Minister in September established a commission to define freedom of thought and propose changes in the law, in particular the Anti-Terror Law. Journalists also face security concerns, including threats from the PKK which, for a time in late 1993, "banned" journalists and distributors from the Southeastern region.
Until mid-1993 Turkish Radio and Television (TRT) had a legal monopoly on broadcasting. Private radio stations began operating in 1991. In July 1993, Parliament voted to repeal Article 133 of the Constitution, thereby eliminating the State's monopoly and permitting the establishment of private radio and television stations. In April 1994, Parliament passed, and the President signed, regulatory legislation, pursuant to which it is illegal for stations to threaten the country's unity or national security and limiting the private broadcast of television programs in languages other than Turkish. However, state-run cable television carries a number of European stations. At the end of 1994, some 40 private radio stations were operating in Ankara and approximately 60 in Istanbul. Countrywide, there were 20 private television stations. With the increasing availability of satellite dishes and cable, many Turkish viewers may now watch foreign broadcasts, including several Turkish-language private channels.
While the Culture Minister lifted bans against all formerly prohibited books at the end of 1991, the Education Ministry continued to make recommendations on the "utility" of books proposed for school curriculums or libraries. Books declared "without utility" are not allowed.
Academic freedom is also severely restricted in practice by the provisions of the Anti-Terror Law. For example, professors have been convicted and sentenced for books they have written. The Constitution and the law governing political parties proscribe student and faculty involvement in political activities, although the Ciller Government's democratization package, before Parliament since May, would lift those restrictions.
b. Freedom of Peaceful Assembly and AssociationPeaceful assemblies are permitted upon prior notification to government authorities, who may restrict them to designated sites. Authorities may deny permission if they believe the gathering is likely to disrupt public order. For example, the Izmir governorship refused to allow a meeting planned on the first anniversary of the Sivas incidents in which 37 were killed in an antisecular riot.
Security forces forcibly broke up a number of planned demonstrations in 1994. On January 13, 5,000 civil servants gathered in downtown Ankara to protest low wages. They were met by police barricades; the police dispersed the demonstrators through kicking and the use of truncheons, injuring 30 persons. On May Day, a demonstration in downtown Ankara turned violent when police beat demonstrators, including M.P. Salman Kaya. Ten persons, three of whom were police, were injured in the melee. Following the May Day demonstration, Ankara security director Orhan Tasanlar, who assaulted some demonstrators in the January civil servants' demonstration, was suspended from duty pending an investigation but reinstated on May 18. On September 4, police detained, and released 5 hours later, 24 persons participating in a World Peace Week festival on Istanbul's Besiktas wharf. Those detained carried posters stating "Peace Now" in five languages.
In June the Constitutional Court ordered the closing of the DEP on the grounds that it "acted in a separatist manner and functioned against the Constitution and laws." Many of its members formed the HADEP (People's Democracy Party) and were soon subjected to similar investigations.
Associations and labor unions are prohibited by law from having ties to political parties or engaging in political activities (see Section 6.a.). Police raided a number of associations and organizations in 1994 and harassed some of their members. For example, on May 7 the Iskenderun governorship closed the Iskenderun office of the Human Rights Association (HRA) on the grounds that, through a press statement, the HRA had "acted against the associations law and functioned to incite people." In May the Adana governorship closed the Adana HRA branch for 15 days, as well as the Ozgur Der association, because it had in its possession some "documents with ideological content." On December 28, the Diyarbakir Governor closed the Diyarbakir Branch of the HRA for 1 month.
Associations must submit their charters for government approval, a lengthy and cumbersome process.
c. Freedom of ReligionThe Constitution establishes Turkey as a secular state and provides for freedom of belief, freedom of worship, and private dissemination of religious ideas. About 99 percent of Turkey's population is Muslim. Under Turkish law, religious services may take place only in designated places of worship. In Adana, Turkey's fourth largest city, the only approved sites are mosques, one Jewish synagogue, and one Roman Catholic church. A Protestant expatriate group petitioned to have a house of worship designated for its use. The petition has been "under consideration" in Ankara since at least 1992. In February 1994, the Peace and Tolerance Conference, involving a wide range of religious figures, took place in Istanbul.
Although Turkey is a secular state, religious instruction in state schools is compulsory for Muslims. Upon written verification of their non-Muslim background, non-Muslims are exempted by law from Muslim religious instruction, although students who wish to attend may do so with parental consent.
Turkey's Alawi Muslim minority (an offshoot of Shi'ite Islam) is estimated to number at least 12 million. There are, however, no government-paid Alawi religious leaders, no religious affairs directorate funds go to the Alawi community, and some Alawis allege informal 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 a religious sect.
Many prosecutors regard proselytizing and religious activism on the part of either Islamic extremists or evangelical Christians with suspicion, especially when they deem such activities to have political overtones. Since there is no law prohibiting proselytizing, police sometimes arrest Islamic extremists and evangelical Christians for disturbing the peace. Courts usually dismiss such charges.
Most religious minorities are concentrated in Istanbul, and the number of Christians in the south has been declining as the younger generation leaves Turkey for Europe and North America.
The status of only three minorities--Armenians, Jews, and Greeks--was recognized under the Lausanne Treaty. Other religions 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 Jewish community is well integrated into Turkish society, although it fears the possibility of rising Islamic extremism. The only problems the Jewish community reported in 1994 were petty thefts; facsimiles sent early in the year by the Muslim fundamentalist terrorist organization Ibda-c, urging Turks to cease doing business at Jewish-owned establishments; and some damage to tombstones.
The activities of Greek Orthodox and Armenian churches and their affiliated operations are carefully monitored and closely calibrated to the state of political relations between Turkey and Greece and between Turkey and Armenia. In November, the Istanbul Deputy Governor for the first time called in and questioned the Armenian Patriarch on the Church's activities.
The Ministry of Education tightly controls the curriculums in foreign-language schools. Greek educators complain that the Turkish Ministry of Education is extremely slow to approve Greek-language textbooks, including those in such noncontroversial subjects as mathematics and the natural sciences. They claim that, rather than allowing the use of texts from Greece, the Ministry wants them to use Greek translations of Turkish textbooks. In September the Turkish and Greek Governments eased a longstanding problem of schoolteachers for Istanbul's Greek community and for Turks in Western Thrace. Because there was no physical education teacher at one of the Greek high schools, a few graduating seniors were initially denied their diplomas. The problem was worked out in time for them to enroll in university in the fall, but many Greek students report difficulty in continuing their education in Turkey and go to Greece, often never to return.
The Greek Patriarchate (Istanbul is the see of the ecumenical Patriarchate of the Eastern Orthodox faith) 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 all private institutions of higher learning. Turkish officials, however, have used a variety of excuses to keep it closed.
During the last few years, there have been instances of graffiti, stones tossed over the walls, and press attacks on the Patriarchate and the Patriarch. In May three bombs were found inside the Patriarchate walls. Police defused them, and since then have provided enhanced protection for the Patriarchate. While the Patriarchate views the Turkish authorities as responsive to its needs, it has undertaken its own security improvements.
The Armenian Patriarchate has reported similar attacks against Armenian churches in the city as well as problems similar to those of the Greek Patriarchate. Armenian church officials also complain of petty harassment from local officials (such as delays or refusals in receiving building permits) and growing encroachment by certain Muslim extremist groups on lands belonging to the Armenian community, especially on the Princes' Islands in the Sea of Marmara.
The Islamic terrorist organization Ibda-c claimed responsibility for bombs which exploded on May 19 in front of Istanbul's Santa Maria and Saint Antoine churches, causing some damage.
Bureaucratic procedures relating to historic preservation impede repairs to some religious facilities. Under Turkish law, religious buildings that become "extinct" (because of prolonged absence of clergy or lay persons to staff local religious councils) revert to government possession. Some non-Muslim minorities, particularly the Greek Orthodox and, to a lesser extent, 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 RepatriationCitizens generally enjoy freedom of movement within Turkey and the freedom to travel abroad. The Constitution provides that a citizen's freedom to leave may be restricted only by the national economic situation, civic obligations (e.g., military service), or criminal investigation or prosecution. Each Turkish citizen (except those regularly working abroad) must pay a departure tax of $100 for every departure from the country. This tax is to be phased out in 1995.
Travel in the southeast sometimes is restricted for security reasons. Roadblocks, set up by both Turkish security forces and the PKK, can seriously impede travel in the region. Allegedly, security forces on occasion closed off villages and surrounding regions making it impossible to investigate reports of human rights abuses.
Although Turkey is a signatory to the U.N. Convention on Refugees, it officially accords refugee status only to claimants from Eastern Europe and the former Soviet Union. Asylum seekers from elsewhere are referred to the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR) for third-country resettlement.
The Government has cooperated with the UNHCR in dealing with large groups of Iraqis and Iranians seeking to qualify as refugees. Since July 15, 1994, Turkey has exercised its right to make decisions on the qualifications of individual refugees. The Turkish Government now screens Iranians who claim asylum before referring those it considers bona fide to UNHCR for resettlement. During the screening process, UNHCR may provide technical assistance to the Turkish Government. In addition, at least 15,000 Bosnians have found temporary refuge in Turkey, the majority living with friends and relatives and another 3,000 in camps established by the Turkish Government with UNHCR support.
Section 3 Respect for Political Rights: The Right of Citizens to Change Their GovernmentAccording to the Constitution, citizens have the right and ability to change their government peacefully. Turkey has a multiparty parliamentary system, in which elections are held at least every 5 years on the basis of mandatory universal suffrage for all citizens aged 21 and over. As of October, at least 25 political parties were operating in Turkey, 10 of which were represented in Parliament. The Grand National Assembly (parliament) elects the President as Head of State every 7 years, or when the President becomes incapacitated or dies.
There are no restrictions in law against women or minorities voting or participating in politics, but the Government has made repeated efforts to frustrate political activities of those who emphasize their Kurdish ethnicity. As noted in Section 2.b., the Constitutional Court closed the pro-Kurdish DEP in 1994. It immediately reformed as HADEP. Additionally, the Constitution forbids students, university faculty members, and trade unionists from active participation in party politics.
In February the Interior Ministry discharged three democratically elected mayors in the southeast, all from the DEP: Kozluk (Batman province) mayor Abdullah Kaya; Kurtulan (Siirt province) mayor Cemil Akgul; and Lice (Diyarbakir province) mayor Nazmi Balkas. In September the Istanbul SSC sentenced Kaya and Balkas to 20 months in prison each and fined them TL 210 million ($700) each for allegedly separatist statements they had given to the newspaper Ozgur Gundem.
In the runup to nationwide local elections held on March 27, there were serious threats to the safety of candidates in the southeast. A number of DEP candidates were threatened and a few killed, and party offices of several political parties were bombed. As of the end of the year, none of the perpetrators had been apprehended. On February 24, the DEP withdrew from the elections, claiming it was not safe for its candidates. On March 1, the PKK demanded that people boycott the elections and threatened to kill both candidates and voters who went to the polls. The elections went forward peacefully throughout the country.
Apart from banning the DEP, the Constitutional Court formally closed the small Greens party on the grounds that its executives had not submitted their financial accounts and other necessary documents for the year 1988; and it also closed the Turkish Socialist Party because its platform allegedly aimed at destroying the unity of the country and its people.
The Constitution calls for equal political rights for men and women; however, only eight women representing three parties were elected to the Parliament in 1991. In addition to Prime Minister Ciller, there is one female Cabinet Minister. Political parties now recruit female delegates for their party conferences and electoral lists. Women's committees are active within political party organizations, although formal youth and women's wings are not permitted under the Constitution.
Section 4 Governmental Attitude Regarding International and Nongovernmental Investigation of Alleged Violations of Human RightsA nongovernmental Human Rights Association (HRA), officially approved in 1987, has branches in 50 provincial capitals, but at year's end 13 had been closed, all of them in the east and southeast. It claims a membership of about 20,000. In 1990 the HRA established its companion Human Rights Foundation (HRF) which, in addition to operating torture rehabilitation centers in Ankara, Izmir, and Istanbul, serves as a clearinghouse for human rights information. Other nongovernmental organizations include the Ankara-based Turkish Democracy Foundation, the Istanbul-based Helsinki Citizens Assembly, and human rights centers at a number of universities.
Government agents have increasingly harassed human rights monitors, as well as lawyers and doctors involved in documenting human rights violations. Some have reported receiving death threats from unknown parties. At least one human rights monitor was killed. A number have been aggressively prosecuted as well. In December, a SSC trial opened against Yavuz Onen, President of the HRF, and Fevzi Argun, head of the HRF'S Documentation Center, for allegedly separatist language in the booklet "File of Torture." They were acquitted in January along with four defendants from the HRA who had been indicted for their publication of "A Cross-Section of Burned-Down Villages." In December three members of the board of the Diyarbakir HRA were arrested on charges of separatism and four others were being sought for their 1992 publication of "Report On The State Of Emergency Region, 1992."
Some government officials, including some prosecutors and police, punitively apply various laws to restrict the HRA's activities. For example, officials ordered various branches of the HRA closed for periods of weeks or months generally on charges that they had violated the associations law through publication of a press statement or allegedly separatist material (see Section 2.b.). An HRA president in southern Turkey said he and his board remained under surveillance, and one in eastern Turkey noted that many board members had left the city or resigned because they were concerned about their personal safety.
The president of the Siirt HRA, who was arrested on February 26, 1993, and detained for 3 months on charges of giving aid and comfort to the PKK, was again arrested on January 21, 1994, after which the local branch closed. He was released in October, but charges against him have not been dropped. Sedat Aslantas, chairman of the Diyarbakir HRA branch and vice chairman of the Turkish HRA, was arrested on May 13 by the Ankara SSC on charges related to a joint press statement issued in May 1993 by Diyarbakir union and association leaders. That trial continued as of the end of the year. On December 5, he was imprisoned for 3 years based on an earlier case involving his speech during an HRA congress in October 1992. The HRA representative in the town of Derik, Mardin province, who was detained six separate times in 1993, has moved away, and the local HRA office is closed. Muhsin Melik, founder of the Sanliurfa branch of the HRA and former president of the DEP branch office, was shot and killed on June 2. Before his death, he identified his assailants as police officers. There have been no arrests in connection with this case. Other HRA offices closed for similar reasons include those in Sirnak, Nusaybin, Tunceli, Dogubeyazit, and Cizre. Many of these investigations and prosecutions, as well as many arrests of human rights monitors, stemmed from alleged violations of the law on associations or the holding of illegal demonstrations. Surveillance and harassment of HRA members in the southeast continues on a regular basis.
Since 1991, Parliament has had a Human Rights Commission. The Commission is authorized to oversee Turkey's compliance with the human rights provisions of Turkish law and international agreements to which Turkey is a signatory, investigate alleged abuses, and prepare reports. Claiming it is underfunded and lacks the necessary powers to subpoena witnesses or documents, the Commission has been inactive and ineffective. In August the State Minister in charge of human rights announced the establishment of a human rights advisory department connected to the Prime Ministry would be established to investigate allegations of human rights violations and monitor international human rights developments.
While representatives of diplomatic missions who wish to monitor the state of human rights in Turkey are free to speak with private citizens, security police may place such visitors in the southeast and the east under surveillance, and the presence of security officials may have an intimidating effect upon those interviewed. Access to government officials or facilities has been restricted at times, although in 1993 and 1994 high-level visitors obtained most of the appointments they requested, including access to detention facilities. However, in August a delegation from Human Rights Watch/Helsinki was unable to obtain the cooperation of the Regional Super Governor's office to investigate PKK human rights abuses outside of Diyarbakir. In September Amnesty International's principal researcher for Turkey was declared persona non grata. Also in September, the Foreign Minister announced his intention to restrict foreign visitor access to judges and prosecutors.
Section 5 Discrimination Based on Race, Sex, Religion, Disability, Language, or Social StatusThe Constitution proclaims Turkey to be a secular state, regards all Turkish citizens as equal, and prohibits discrimination on ethnic, religious, or racial grounds. The Government officially recognizes only those religious minorities mentioned in the Treaty of Lausanne (1923), which guarantees the rights of Greek Orthodox, Armenian Apostolic, and Jewish adherents. Despite constitutional provisions, discrimination remains a problem in several areas.
WomenTraditional family values in rural Turkey place a greater emphasis on advanced education for sons than for daughters. Far fewer girls than boys continue their education after primary school. The illiteracy rate for women is approximately 29 percent, some 10 percent higher than for the population as a whole. Turkey's 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 their rights jointly, but when they disagree, the husband's view prevails. Women's groups have lobbied to change this provision. 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. With regard to inheritance laws, a widow generally obtains one-fourth of the estate.
Although spousal abuse is a serious and widespread problem, 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. A combination of laws and ingrained societal notions make it difficult to prosecute sexual assault or rape cases. By law, penalties may be reduced if a woman was not a virgin prior to a rape. Penalties may also be reduced if a judge deems the woman to have acted provocatively. There are several shelters for battered women, and at least two consultation centers, Istanbul's the Purple Roof Foundation and Ankara's Altindag Center. In a 1-year period, 400 women applied to one major city shelter.
Particularly in urban areas, women are improving their position overall, 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. In March a woman for the first time was elected chief justice of a court of appeals. Women comprise about 36 percent of the work force; approximately 80 percent of working women are employed in agriculture. 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. The arbitrary barrier to women becoming governors and subgovernors (government-appointed positions) has been breached, and women may now take the examination required to become a subgovernor. Several have been appointed subgovernors, and one governor is a woman.
Independent women's and women's rights associations exist, but the concept of lobbying for women's rights has not gained currency.
ChildrenThe Government is committed to furthering children's welfare and is working to expand opportunities in education and health, including further reduction of the infant mortality rate.
Children have suffered greatly from the cycle of violence in southeastern Anatolia. School closings and the migration of many families, forced or voluntary, have uprooted children to cities which are hard pressed to find the resources to extend basic, mandatory services, such as schooling. The Government is establishing regional boarding schools in the southeast to help combat this problem but not enough to meet the need. The HRF claims that 78 children were subjected to torture between January 1989 and July 1994.
National/Racial/Ethnic MinoritiesThe Constitution, following the Treaty of Lausanne, does not recognize the Kurds in Turkey as a national, racial, or ethnic minority. Many human rights abuses are targeted at Kurds who insist on publicly or politically asserting their Kurdish ethnic identity, and their supporters.
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. Kurds who are currently migrating westward (including those displaced by the conflict in the southeast), bring with them their Kurdish culture and village identity; many simply are not prepared for urban life.
Most parliamentary representatives from southeastern Turkey are ethnic Kurds, but representatives of Kurdish ethnic origin have been elected from districts far removed from the southeast. Several Cabinet Ministers, more than 25 percent of M.P.'s and other government officials claim an ethnic Kurdish background.
The increasing violence of the fighting in the southeast is polarizing ethnic Turks and Kurds and creating a climate of intolerance. Particularly in cities such as Adana and Mersin, which have witnessed a large influx of Kurds fleeing the violence in the southeast, tensions continue to rise. With PKK bombings in Aegean resort towns and Istanbul, tensions have also spread westward, making it difficult, for example, for some otherwise qualified new migrants to find work in the western cities.
The 1991 repeal of the law prohibiting publications or communication in Kurdish legalized some spoken and printed Kurdish communications. Under the political parties law, however, all discussion that takes place at political meetings must be in Turkish. Kurdish may be spoken only in "nonpolitical communication." Court proceedings (and all government functions, including public education) continue to be conducted in Turkish, disadvantaging those Kurdish-speaking defendants who have to rely on court-provided translators. Moreover, 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.
The Roma population is extremely small, and there were no reported incidents of public or government harassment directed against Roma during 1994.
People with DisabilitiesTo date legislation dealing with the disabled is piecemeal, and there is little legislation regarding accessibility for the disabled. Certain categories of employers are required to hire disabled persons as 2 percent of their employee pool, although there is no penalty for failure to comply.
Section 6 Worker Rights
a. The Right of AssociationMost workers have the right to associate freely and form representative unions. Exceptions are schoolteachers (both public and private), civil servants, the police, and military personnel. Upon taking office in June 1993, the Government of Prime Minister Ciller renewed the pledge to bring Turkish labor legislation into conformity with the standards of the International Labor Organization (ILO), and its intention to grant trade union rights to civil servants (including teachers). In early 1994, the Government introduced in Parliament a bill to grant to civil servants the legal right to form unions, which includes some collective bargaining rights. The draft law would also allow the Government to determine whether to permit a particular strike by civil servants. In May a combination of center-right and Islamist-right political party deputies voted against the draft in parliamentary committee. The Government and Parliament must now reconcile their differences on this legislation. Permission for civil servants to form trade unions and for unions to engage in political activity will require amendments to the Constitution --a procedure further complicated by the need to gain support among the opposition parties in order to secure the requisite two-thirds majority.
The law states that unions and confederations may be founded without prior authorization based on a petition to the governor of the province where the union's headquarters are to be located. Although unions are independent of the Government and political parties, they must have government permission to hold meetings or rallies and must allow police to attend conventions and record the proceedings. The Constitution requires candidates for union office to have worked 10 years in the industry represented by the union. Some 14 percent of the total civilian labor force (aged 15 and above) are unionized. There are three confederations of labor unions in Turkey: 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). There are also some independent unions.
Unions and their officers have a statutory right to express views on issues directly affecting members' economic and social interests, but the Constitution prohibits any union role in party politics (such as organic or financial connections with any political party or other association). In practice, unions have been able to convey clearly in election and referendum campaigns their support for, or opposition to, given political parties and government policies. In May the Government proposed a "democratization" package. One of its proposals would allow unions and other groups (women and students, for example) to have formal links to political parties. Prosecutors may request labor courts to order a trade union or confederation into liquidation based on alleged violation of specific legal norms. The Government, however, may not summarily dissolve a union.
The right to strike, while guaranteed in the Constitution, is partially restricted. For example, workers engaged in the protection of life and property and those in the mining and petroleum industries, sanitation services, national defense, and education do not have the right to strike. Collective bargaining is required before a strike.
The law specifies the series of steps a union must take before it may strike or an employer may engage in a lockout. Nonbinding mediation is the last of those steps. In sectors in which strikes are prohibited, disputes are resolved through binding arbitration. A party that fails to comply with these steps forfeits its rights. The struck employer may respond with a lockout but is prohibited from hiring strikebreakers or using administrative personnel to perform jobs normally done by strikers. Article 42 of Law 2822, governing collective bargaining, strikes, and lockouts, prohibits the employer from terminating workers encouraging or participating in a legal strike. Unions are forbidden to engage in secondary (solidarity), wildcat, or general strikes.
The Government also has the statutory power to suspend strikes for 60 days for reasons of national security or public health and safety. Unions may petition the Council of State to lift such a suspension, but if this appeal fails the strike is subject to compulsory arbitration at the end of the 60-day period. Some 24 strikes, involving about 1,800 workers, took place in the first 10 months of 1994. The Government did not suspend any strikes in 1994.
With government approval, unions may and do form or join confederations and international labor bodies, as long as these organizations are not hostile to Turkey or to freedom of religion or belief. The International Confederation of Free Trade Unions (ICFTU) approved DISK as an affiliate in December 1992. Turk-Is is a longstanding member. Hak-Is applied for ICFTU affiliation in 1993. The application remains pending with the ICFTU.
In June the Parliament reapproved ILO Convention 158 (termination of employment at the initiative of the employer), a measure which the late President Ozal had vetoed in 1992 after the Parliament had passed it. President Demirel signed the measure. As mentioned in Sections 2.a. and 2.b. above, in some instances labor union members have been the subject of government limits on freedom of speech and assembly.
b. The Right to Organize and Bargain CollectivelyAll industrial workers have the right to organize and bargain collectively, and most industrial activity and some public sector agricultural activities are organized. The law requires that, in order to become a bargaining agent, a union must represent not only 50 percent plus one of the employees at a given work site but also 10 percent of all the workers in that particular industry. This 10-percent barrier has the effect of favoring established unions, and particularly those affiliated with Turk-Is, the confederation that represents nearly 80 percent of organized labor in Turkey.
The ILO has called on Turkey to rescind this 10-percent rule. Both Turk-Is and the Turkish employers' organization favor retention of the rule, however, and the Government has not until now pursued a change. However, the government representative informed the ILO Committee on the Application of Standards that the Ministry of Labor and Social Security now proposes to remove the 10-percent numerical restriction, and that its proposal had been communicated to the social partners.
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.
Union organizing and collective bargaining are permitted in the duty-free export processing zones at Antalya, Istanbul, Izmir, and Mersin. Workers in those zones, however, are not allowed to strike during the first 10 years of operation. Until then, settlements not otherwise reached will be determined by binding arbitration.
c. Prohibition of Forced or Compulsory LaborThe Constitution and statutes prohibit compulsory labor. The laws are enforced.
d. Minimum Age for Employment of ChildrenThe Constitution and labor laws forbid employment of children younger than 15 years of age, with the exception that those aged 13 and 14 may engage in light part-time work if enrolled in school or vocational training. The Constitution also prohibits children from engaging in physically demanding jobs, such as underground mining, and from working at night. The Ministry of Labor effectively enforces these laws only in the organized industrial sector.
In practice, many children work because families frequently need the supplementary income. An informal system provides work for young boys at low wages, e.g., in auto repair shops. Girls are rarely seen working in public, but many are kept out of school to work in handicrafts, especially in rural areas. Turkey is participating in the ILO's international program on the elimination of child labor.
e. Acceptable Conditions of WorkThe Labor Ministry is legally obliged to set minimum wages at least every 2 years through a minimum wage board, a tripartite government-industry-union body. In recent years it has done so annually. In July the nominal minimum wage in Turkish lira (TL) was increased by approximately 67 percent over the year before. The monthly minimum wage rate (after taxes), which became effective September 1, is approximately $86 for workers older than 16 and about $73 for workers under 16 at the exchange rate prevailing in September.
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, daily food allowance; transportation to and from work; a fuel allowance; and other fringe benefits which, according to the Turkish employers' organization, make basic wages alone only about 37 percent of total remuneration.
Labor law provides for a nominal 45-hour workweek, although most unions have bargained for fewer hours. The law prescribes a weekly rest day. Labor law limits the number of overtime hours to 3 hours a day for up to 90 days in a year. The labor inspectorate of the Ministry of Labor effectively enforces wage and hour provisions in the unionized industrial, service, and government sectors.
Occupational health and safety regulations are mandated by law, but the Government has not carried out an effective inspection and enforcement program. Law 1475 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.