|Wednesday, 29 November 2023|
Title: Turkey Human Rights Practices, 1995
Author: U.S. Department of State
Date: March 1996
TURKEYTurkey is a constitutional republic with a multiparty Parliament, the Grand National Assembly, which elects the President. Suleyman Demirel was elected President in 1993; Tansu Ciller, leader of the center-right True Path Party, became the first female Prime Minister the same year. Parliamentary elections in late December gave no single party a majority. The existing coalition Government continued in caretaker status, while efforts continued to form a new government.
For over a 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, continues in 10 southeastern provinces where the Government faces substantial terrorist violence from the PKK. A regional governor retains authority over those 10 provinces, as well as 3 adjacent ones, for security matters. The state of emergency allows the civilian governor to exercise certain quasi-martial law powers, including restrictions on the press and removal from the area of persons whose activities are deemed hostile to public order. The state of emergency decree was most recently renewed in October 1995.
The Turkish National Police (TNP) are charged with maintaining public order in the cities, a responsibility carried out by the Jandarma (gendarmerie) in the countryside. The regular armed forces, particularly the army, continued their lead role in combating the PKK in the state of emergency region in the southeast, thereby taking on an internal security function. Civilian authorities remain publicly committed to the establishment of a state of law and respect for human rights, but torture, excessive use of force, and other serious human rights abuses by the security forces persisted throughout 1995.
Turkey has a primarily market-based economy driven by an active private sector. Agriculture and industry are both important to the overall economy. The agricultural sector employs nearly half the country's labor force, but contributes only 15 percent of the gross national product and total exports. The leading industrial sectors--textiles, iron and steel--also provide the leading exports. Reforms implemented over the past 15 years have opened the economy to global competition and eliminated most aspects of state control. One result has been impressive economic growth, which has translated into an improved standard of living. In 1995 the economy recovered from the previous year's economic crisis, although the Government had little success in combating persistent inflation and budget deficits. While a long- stalled privatization program picked up steam, state enterprises continue to account for almost 40 percent of manufacturing sector output. The conflict in the southeast continued to be a substantial drain on the economy.
The human rights situation improved in a number of areas, but very serious problems remain. The situation in the southeast was of particular concern. Government security forces and the PKK continued to forcibly evacuate and sometimes burn villages, though at a significantly lower level than in 1994. Various sources estimate that as many as 2 million people have left their homes in the southeast over the past 7 years; village evacuations have been one significant contributing factor and economic reasons were another. Government programs to deal with and compensate the many internally displaced have been very inadequate. In Tunceli province, police "special teams" harassed and mistreated civilians. Public outcry by Members of Parliament (M.P.'s) caused the special teams to be transferred and led to fewer abuses. There appears to have been a substantial increase in the number of PKK terrorists who were captured or surrendered; in the past, very few were taken alive.
The number of deaths in detention, safe house raids, "mystery killings," and disappearances was down considerably from 1994. Some other forms of extrajudicial killings rose, including those associated with crowd control situations. Torture also continued to be a very serious problem. Police and security forces often employed torture during periods of incommunicado detention and interrogation. Prison conditions remained poor.
Limits on freedom of expression remained another serious problem, although Parliament's October revision of Article 8 of the 1991 Anti- Terror Law (which has been used frequently to limit freedom of expression) and the subsequent court-ordered release of 143 detainees were significant positive steps. The Government continued to use 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 constituted dissemination of separatist propaganda. Prosecutors also used Article 312 of the Criminal Code (incitement to racial or ethnic enmity) with increasing frequency. There were a number of significant acquittals in freedom of expression cases, including novelist Yasar Kemal and American journalist Aliza Marcus. Television programs expanded the limits on debate on human rights and other issues of freedom of speech and the press.
On October 26, the Appeals Court announced its decision in the case of seven former pro-Kurdish Democracy Party (DEP) Members of Parliament (M.P.'s) and one independent who had appealed their convictions for disseminating separatist propaganda and for supporting or being a member of an armed band. Two of the original eight received suspended sentences and were fined and released in 1994. The 1995 decision affirmed the convictions of four of the M.P.'s for being members of an armed band but overturned the convictions of two and ordered that they be retried under the revised Article 8 of the Anti-Terror Law.
The four whose convictions were affirmed are appealing to the European Human Rights Commission: the Government has publicly affirmed that it will respect that body's decision. In its written ruling, the Appeals Court stated that it was not a crime to take the parliamentary oath in Kurdish, to wear accessories in the Kurdish colors, or to claim Turkish as a foreign language in Parliament.
Officials of various government agencies continued to harass, intimidate, indict, and imprison human rights monitors, journalists, and lawyers for ideas which they expressed in public forums. Serious prosecutions of police or security officers for extrajudicial killings and torture continued to be rare, although the number of convictions in torture cases increased modestly. The climate of impunity that the relatively small number of convictions creates probably remains the single largest obstacle to reducing unlawful killing, torture, and other human rights abuses.
In October Parliament amended Article 8 of the Anti-Terror Law by introducing an implied intent standard, reducing minimum and maximum sentences, and allowing first offenses to be converted to fines. In July Parliament passed a package of 16 constitutional amendments which substantially broadened political participation by unions, academicians, and students. In March the Prime Minister issued a second circular stating the unacceptability of torture (the first was in January 1994); the State Minister for Human Rights intervened personally in several torture cases to ensure that they were brought to trial. The State Minister's academic advisory committee produced a report on appropriate interrogation methods employed in various Western countries, and the leader of the committee stated that some of the report's recommendations are being implemented. Human rights education in primary schools was made mandatory; it is optional in high schools. The Government expanded human rights training for the police and military.
In July the National Security Director announced the creation of contact teams to act as liaison between families and their relatives who are detained. Offices have been opened in Ankara and Istanbul, and their telephone numbers were publicized. The offices serve those who are detained for State Security Court crimes.
Spousal abuse remains a serious problem.
PKK terrorists murdered noncombatants, targeting village officials and committing random murders in their effort to intimidate the populace.
RESPECT FOR HUMAN RIGHTS
Section 1 Respect for the Integrity of the Person, Including Freedom from:
a. Political and Other Extrajudicial KillingPolitical and extrajudicial killings credibly attributed to government authorities and terrorist groups continued but at substantially lower rates overall than in previous years. The number of deaths in detention and mystery killings was down significantly in 1995. The Human Rights Foundation of Turkey (HRF), a Turkish nongovernmental organization, reported that 6 persons died under suspicious circumstances while in official custody in the first 9 months of 1995, some as a result of torture; the number for the same period in 1994 was 18. Of the 1995 deaths, officials claimed that at least two committed suicide, a claim they have made frequently in past cases of deaths in custody. In one such case, government officials stated that Safyettin Tepe, a correspondent for pro-PKK Yeni Politika hanged himself from the cell door grill with his underwear while in detention at the Bitlis security directorate on August 25. According to Interior Ministry information, Tepe was a PKK member. Tepe's family asked that the body be exhumed and a second autopsy performed; the second autopsy has not yet been performed. In the 1994 death in detention of Can Demirag, the prosecutor did not open a case although the Istanbul prosecutor had opened an investigation in 1994.
By law, authorities are obliged to investigate all deaths in custody. However, there were few serious prosecutions of security force members. Following the death of university student Sinan Demirtas in Elazig, the police claimed that Demirtas, who was summoned to the police station on July 21 to deal with matters related to his upcoming military service, committed suicide in custody by banging his head against the wall. Demirtas's family claimed that he had been tortured to death and filed a complaint at the chief prosecutor's office. Autopsy results showed that Demirtas died from trauma due to a heavy blow to the head. The public prosecutor filed suit against eight policemen for causing his death by torture. The case of police officer Abdullah Bozkurt, charged with the murder of Vedat Han Gulsenoglu, is continuing; Bozkurt has been reassigned from Istanbul to Van while his murder case is being prosecuted.
A number of mystery killings, in which the assailant's identity was unknown, also occurred, but the total was substantially lower than in previous years. Human rights organizations maintain that security forces were complicit in a number of these mystery killings. According to the HRF, in the first 9 months of 1995, 98 civilians were assassinated by unknown attackers, mostly in the east and southeast of the country; in 1994, the number for the first 10 months was 316. Many were leaders or prominent members of the Kurdish community, local politicians, or members of the pro-Kurdish People's Democracy Party (HADEP). Four trials continued against 89 members of Hizbullah, a Turkish terrorist group not related to Islamic Hizbullah. The 89 members are charged with a total of 113 murders.
A parliamentary committee, which commenced its investigation in 1993, completed a report on mystery killings in May, but the report was not made public. Excerpts which appeared in the press stated that "illegal formations" within the State bear some responsibility for mystery killings; they must be "cleansed," the report said, and brought to justice.
There was an increase in the number of deaths attributable to government authorities due to excessive use of force, including during crowd control situations. The HRF says that security forces were responsible for 55 extrajudicial killings in the first 9 months of 1995. The HRF states that 21 people were killed in rioting in Istanbul (see Section 2.c.). The HRF also credibly reports that government forces used excessive force during some raids on alleged terrorist safe houses rather than trying to arrest suspects, which resulted in 17 deaths. In 1994 the number for the first 10 months was 33.
In April, citing three deaths in a safe house raid in Ankara's Batikent district, the State Minister for Human Rights stated that the police had committed extrajudicial killings. A number of trials continued of police who participated in safe house raids in which suspects died. In two cases--one of which had been ongoing for 6 years--the police were acquitted. In a separate case, 13 Adana policemen were acquitted of similar charges. Prosecutors brought at least three other such cases, including one against five policemen who participated in a September 1994 raid on a cafeteria in Istanbul's Besiktas district in which three persons were killed.
Proceedings continued in other ongoing cases. The trial continues concerning the death in detention in 1993 of Vakkas Dost; policeman Nurettin Ozturk, the accused murderer, is still at large. The trial in the 1992 case of Yucel Ozen is continuing, as is the trial of the 11 police officers in the 1992 Basalak case. The trial of five village guards for the 1994 murder of Diyarbakir tradesman Serif Avsar continues. No case has been opened in the 1993 fatal shooting of Mehmet Sincar, a Democracy Party (DEP) M.P. from Mardin, in the city center of Batman; the HRF considers it a mystery killing. In a July security force operation against Hizbullah 11 persons were arrested; the September murder of 4 HADEP members is among the crimes with which they are charged. The HRF views the case of former Ankara Provincial Chairman of (DEP predecessor) HEP, Faik Candan, found dead in December 1994, as a mystery killing. The authorities did not open a case.
There were no assassinations of journalists; however, journalist Safyettin Tepe died in detention on August 25. According to the Government, the murders of four journalists have been "solved:" Kemal Kilic (killed in 1993, solved in 1994); Ibrahim Tuncay (killed in 1992, defendant currently on trial); Namik Taranci (killed in 1992, Hizbullah defendants currently on trial), and; Halit Gungen (killed in 1992, solved in 1995). The murders of most well-known journalists, including Ugur Mumcu in 1993, remain unsolved.
Unidentified terrorists committed extrajudicial killings primarily in rural southeast Anatolia. For example, in May they perpetrated a bomb attack at a bus stop in Batman which killed 11, including 4 children. They also launched several deadly attacks in urban areas, including a bombing in a cafeteria in Izmir on September 17 which killed 5 and injured 25. Political 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. In the years 1987-1994, 142 teachers were murdered: the PKK killed 91, and unknown assailants another 46. In 1995 the PKK killed three teachers.
b. DisappearanceThe HRF reports three disappearances, which ended in death. However, accurate statistics on disappearances are hard to confirm; figures for the year varied widely. The HRF number is substantially down from 1994, when the total for the same period was 28. Those disappearances reported in 1994 and earlier years remained unsolved. Some persons disappeared after witnesses reported that security forces or law enforcement officials had taken them into custody. No one has been formally charged in any disappearance cases.
On March 21, Hasan Ocak disappeared in the aftermath of rioting in Istanbul's Gaziosmanpasa neighborhood (see Section 2.c.). Officials claimed that he was not in custody, although several released suspects claimed to have seen him. His body was found in the unidentified persons' cemetery in Istanbul on May 16. His death appeared to be caused by strangulation. The investigation continued at year's end.
In April a group of relatives of persons who disappeared began a series of demonstrations in Istanbul. In June the Human Rights Association (HRA) started a campaign on disappearances, which included demonstrations and sit-down protests. Families of some of the disappeared persons allege that they are themselves subjected to torture, humiliation, and intimidation when they attempt to determine their missing relatives' whereabouts. To combat such assertions, the National Security Director General in July directed that "contact groups" be established to communicate with detainees' families. According to the Interior Ministry, in the first 8 months of 1995, 75 reports of missing persons were filed in Diyarbakir province, 46 of whom were subsequently located alive. In Istanbul province, 322 disappearances were registered during the same period; 137 people were located alive. Diyarbakir is a city of over 1 million inhabitants; Istanbul, over 10 million.
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. On March 31, the PKK kidnaped two photojournalists; it released them on April 26.
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 by successive governments to end torture, the practice continued. The HRF's torture rehabilitation centers in Ankara, Izmir, Istanbul, and a newly opened center in Adana reported that they received a total of 713 applications for treatment during the year. 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 but deny that it is systematic. They claim that it is closely tied to the State's fight against terrorism. Many cases, however, occur in western Turkey, outside the zone of conflict.
The HRF and private attorneys reported that there was neither better treatment of those charged under the Anti-Terror Law nor an overall decrease in the incidence of torture in 1995. The HRF stated that the number of applications to its torture rehabilitation centers was up in 1995. That could have meant that their services were more widely known, not necessarily that the incidence of torture was up. In 1995 women again charged that sexual abuses occurred while under official detention by security officials.
The implementation of the 1992 Criminal Trials Procedure Law (CMUK) facilitated more immediate attorney access to those arrested for common crimes (although some detainees accused of common crimes are tortured); however, the CMUK's provisions of 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, the officer may resort to torture to obtain a confession that would justify the arrest.
Commonly employed methods of torture reported 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. They also report treatment that falls short of torture, such as cursing, slapping, and threats. In March the State Minister for Human Rights listed a series of torture methods employed in police and Jandarma stations. These included suspension on a "Palestinian hanger" (hanging by the arms), tying detainees to a magnetic telephone which transmits electric shocks, blindfolding, sexual abuse, submergence in cold water, use of truncheons, electric shocks, hanging sandbags on detainees' necks, stripping them naked in front of their relatives, forcing them to stand on one foot, releasing drops of water on their heads, sleep deprivation, withholding food, forcing detainees to clean corridors and toilets, keeping them in salty water, and forcing them to stand in cold water below the waist.
In January in Ankara, a 12-year-old girl, detained for 5 days for stealing bread, was tortured by beating and electric shock at the Ankara security directorate theft desk. She later applied to the HRF for treatment. In the 1994 Yelda Ozcan case, Istanbul's Beyoglu district public prosecutor opened a case which continued at year's end. In April in Kurucayir hamlet an eyewitness alleged that 20 villagers were severely beaten by Jandarma troops. The same witness alleged that seven other villagers were taken into a house and tortured (see Section 1.g.).
The Government maintains that medical examinations occur once during detention and a second time before either arraignment or release. However, former detainees asserted that some medical examinations took place too long after the event to reveal any definitive findings. According to the HRF, the medical examination 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 pressured to submit false or misleading medical certificates that deny evidence of torture.
The State Minister for Human Rights in September called for an independent medical examiner's office and better forensic equipment and training. Implementation of these recommendations was delayed by political developments late in the year. In July the Istanbul Medical Chamber Board suspended Taner Apaydin from the practice of medicine for 6 months for falsifying medical reports in nine torture cases.
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 fraction of those. 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 regional governor. Approval is rare. These conditions contribute to the paucity of convictions for torture.
Under the Administrative Adjudication Law, an administrative investigation into alleged torture cases 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 officers or Jandarma 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.
According to the Government, in the first 7 months of 1995, 547 complaints of torture or mistreatment were filed. Of those, 337 cases reached the stage of administrative investigation; 210 cases were opened. There were 15 convictions and 28 acquittals. The number of convictions is up modestly from 1994.
In instances in which law enforcement officers are convicted of torture, sentences tend to be light. In May the Appeals Court reduced a 5-year prison sentence imposed by the Bolvadin civil court on Hasan Belek, a deputy chief of police, to the minimum sentence of 1 year per person tortured, or 2 years total. The Appeals Court stated that Belek had obtained "no personal satisfaction" from the violence; he had proceeded "in the interest of furthering his investigation." In May an Ankara court dismissed charges against two policemen accused of beating M.P. Salman Kaya during a 1994 May Day demonstration for lack of "compelling and persuasive evidence." In February, upon the intervention of the State Minister for Human Rights, seven policemen went on trial for allegedly torturing a suspect detained for car theft. The prosecutor demanded prison terms of up to 5 years for each of the defendants. The trial of six security officers accused of torturing Baki Erdogan began in May 1994 and continues. The case brought by Nazli Top, a nurse (pregnant at the time) who alleged she was tortured and raped with a truncheon in 1992, ended in acquittal in 1994.
In the first 9 months of 1995, 23 complaints claiming torture or mistreatment were filed with the Parliamentary Human Rights Commission. In each case, the Commission wrote to the offices of the public prosecutor, the governor, and the security directorate general. Of the 23 cases, prosecutors declared 11 inactionable because there was insufficient evidence, and in another six, they determined that there had been no mistreatment. In the remaining 6, prosecutors opened cases: four continue; one police officer was acquitted; and one was convicted of mistreatment, sentenced to 2 months and 15 days' imprisonment, and had his civil service status suspended (the punishment was converted to a fine).
Police continue to force women in custody and others to undergo virginity testing even though the State Minister for 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 on female detainees. Women may refuse the examinations but are rarely informed of that right. In July Leman Celikaslan alleged that she was sexually abused by anti-terror police while in custody. An investigation is under way.
In March the Prime Minister sent a circular to law enforcement offices on the unacceptability of torture. Successive State Ministers for Human Rights have focused on the issue of torture and the need to end it. One intervened directly in several cases in western Turkey to ensure that the alleged perpetrators were brought to trial; another had his academic advisory commission prepare a report, drawing on the laws of several Western countries, which detailed acceptable interrogation methods. The Government has accepted numerous visits by the Council of Europe's Committee for the Prevention of Torture (CPT) and is in regular dialog with the CPT.
Torture in prisons has decreased in the last few years, but prison conditions remain poor. Groups of inmates carried out hunger strikes to protest poor conditions and their treatment by guards. Prisons are overcrowded, and families often supplement the poor quality food. A strike by 300 inmates of Buca prison near Izmir ended on February 6 following an agreement reached between the inmates and prison authorities. Prisons are run on the ward system. Prisoners, often those of the same ideological bent, are incarcerated together and may punish their own. An example of this was the death in March in
Istanbul's Bayrampasa prison of Dev Sol (Devrimci Sol, a Marxist terrorist group) prisoner Latife Ereren, who was throttled by other Dev Sol militants for collaborating with the police. In July a search of Istanbul's maximum security Bayrampasa prison revealed 28 mobile phones, 8 guns, 55 knives, and 50 grams of hashish. On September 21, a violent clash between inmates and security officials in Izmir's Buca prison cost the lives of three inmates. Several monitoring groups, both domestic and international, carried out prison visits in 1995. A major prison rehabilitation project scheduled to be completed in 1994 was delayed because of internal political opposition.
d. Arbitrary Arrest, Detention, or ExileTo 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. The detention period may be extended for an additional 4 days. 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 for detainees charged with common crimes. In July the bar association temporarily stopped providing duty attorneys to deal with CMUK cases because they were not receiving their promised reimbursement from the Government. The problem was later resolved.
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 the state of emergency. Those detained and tried for the expression of views, generally for disseminating separatist propaganda, are charged promptly.
There is no guaranteed 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 access is a major factor in the 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 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, which is 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.
Authorities detained large numbers of persons on several occasions, including 242 at the opening of the trial of 4 HADEP members in Ankara in June. All but 16 were released within 72 hours; the 16 have been charged and await trial. In most such cases, the majority of detainees are subsequently released without charges being filed. Many report being tortured during such detentions.
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 ninth 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 TrialThe 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. 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. In 1995 the military court tried several cases of civilians charged with speech that purportedly discouraged military service (see Section 2.a.).
State Security Courts 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 as "damaging the indivisible unity of the state." There are 18 such State Security Court panels. 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.
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 1995 State Security Courts 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. Those accused of crimes falling under the jurisdiction of these courts may be detained twice as long before arraignment as other defendants. 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 12 Diyarbakir lawyers charged with acting as couriers for the PKK continues at the Diyarbakir State Security Court. The trial of nine Erzurum lawyers charged with similar crimes continues as well. None of the attorneys is under arrest.
In law and in practice, the legal system does not discriminate against either minorities or women, with the following caveats. As legal proceedings are conducted solely in Turkish, and the quality of interpreters varies, some Kurdish-speaking defendants may be seriously disadvantaged. And 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).
Turkey recognizes the jurisdiction of the European Court of Human Rights and the European Commission on Human Rights. Turkish citizens may file applications alleging violations of the European Convention for the Protection of Human Rights and Fundamental Freedoms with the Commission. Fifty-four cases have been declared admissible before the Commission.
There is no reliable estimate of the number of political prisoners, but some human rights groups alleged that many of those arrested could correctly be categorized as such. The Government claims that most alleged political prisoners are in fact security detainees, suspected of being members of, or assisting, the PKK or other terrorist organizations. According to government statistics, during the first 9 months of 1995, 5,893 persons were under arrest charged with offenses under the Anti-Terror Law, and 2,861 had been convicted.
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 bar association, it is not constitutional for security authorities in these provinces to search, hold, or seize without warrant persons or documents. Roadblocks are commonplace in the southeast; 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 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.
g. Use of Excessive Force and Violations of Humanitarian Law in Internal ConflictsSince 1984 the separatist PKK has waged an increasingly violent terrorist insurgency that has claimed over 17,000 lives. The PKK's campaign of violence in southeast Turkey is directed against both security forces and civilians, almost all of whom are 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, they have committed many human rights abuses. According to then-emergency region governor Unal Erkan, between July 1987 and October 1, 1995, a total of 17,739 persons lost their lives. This includes 10,632 PKK, 3,259 security force members, and 3,848 civilians. Parliament extended until July the "Repentance Law," pursuant to which members of terrorist organizations who turn state's evidence could have their sentences decreased or annulled.
Civilians and M.P.'s for Tunceli province in July charged police special teams with harassing and mistreating civilians there. The National Security Director instituted an investigation into the charges and ordered a number of the special team members reassigned to other posts. Although no charges appear to have been brought against special team members for abuses, the public attention to this issue seems to have resulted in fewer abuses by the remaining special teams.
Government security forces forcibly evacuated and sometimes burned villages. The Government's stated purpose was to protect civilians or prevent PKK guerrillas from obtaining logistical support from the inhabitants. Some villagers told reliable sources that security forces had evacuated them for refusing to participate in the paramilitary village guard system. According to the Interior Minister, as of March, 2,297 villages had been evacuated or burnt down. In July the emergency region governor stated that 987 villages and 1,676 hamlets (settlement units of 3 or 4 houses) had been depopulated "for various reasons," including residents evacuated by security forces for security reasons; residents who left of their own accord for security or economic reasons; and residents who left because of PKK pressure. The PKK burned some villages to seek revenge on paramilitary village guards.
As many as 2 million persons have been displaced. Government programs to deal with and compensate the many internal migrants have been very inadequate. Many migrants are living in overcrowded quarters with relatives in the larger cities in the southeast. Apparently as a result of serious overall budgetary problems, much 1994 aid promised by the Government was not disbursed, and there was little provision for assistance in the 1995 budget.
In July the State Minister for Human Rights announced a government emergency aid program to be applied in 22 provinces in the east and southeast and more economic support to the region. To date, few villages have been resettled. According to statistics provided by the Foreign Ministry, a total of $5.7 million (TL 287 billion) of various forms of aid (housing, food, clothing, health, and education) has been provided to 32,260 citizens in the southeast.
There appears to have been a substantial increase in the number of PKK terrorists taken alive or who have turned themselves in; in the past, very few were taken alive.
There are credible allegations that serious abuses during the course of operations against the PKK continue. A former infantry soldier has alleged that he witnessed Jandarma troops severely beat 20 villagers in Kurucayir hamlet on April 19. Seven other villagers were later beaten more severely, according to this witness (see Section 1.c.). The witness states that the incident occurred in the presence of the general officer commanding all forces in the southeast. The Government confirms that a military operation against the PKK did take place in that general area on April 14 but disputes some of the eyewitness's statement.
The Government organizes, arms, and pays for a civil defense force in the southeast known as the village guards. Participation in this 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 and have been accused of repeated human rights abuses.
According to a report released by the Turkish Medical Doctors' Association, in some instances, physicians have been prosecuted in State Security Courts for giving medical care to alleged PKK terrorists, a practice that could deter other physicians from extending such aid. Dr. Ilken Diken, convicted of failing to report that he had aided a terrorist as well as of aiding terrorists in 1994, remains in prison.
Government state of emergency decree 430, codified in 1990 and most recently renewed in November 1995, 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. Only limited judicial review of the regional governor's administrative decisions is permitted.
Although schools have remained open in most urban centers, rapid population migration due in part to village evacuations and fear of terrorism has led to severe overcrowding and chronic teacher shortages, particularly in urban centers in the southeast. Government officials claim a significant effort is being made both to reopen schools which were closed during the 1994-95 school year and to build new schools in regions faced with acute school overcrowding. For example, the Diyarbakir governor reports that more than one-third of the 600 schools closed in 1994 in Diyarbakir province have reopened. In addition, 12 new schools in Diyarbakir opened in September. For the 1994-95 school year, according to the Education Minister, 119 schools were closed in eastern and southeastern Turkey, while 98 opened.
On March 20, some 35,000 Turkish troops moved into northern Iraq to destroy the infrastructure, disrupt the supply lines, and capture the weapons of the PKK bases there (see Iraq report for details).
Section 2 Respect for Civil Liberties, Including:
a. Freedom of Speech and PressThe Constitution provides for freedom of speech and the press. Changes to Article 8 of the Anti-Terror Law, the article that prohibits dissemination of separatist propaganda, caused the courts to review hundreds of cases. By year's end, courts had ordered 143 prisoners released, either because their sentences were shortened under the revised law or because they had no intent to promote separatism. However, throughout the year the Government continued to restrict constitutional freedoms providing for freedom of speech and the press.
The press is generally free to criticize government leaders or policies and, except for certain issues concerning the southeast, it exercises this freedom. The Criminal Code, however, provides penalties for those who "insult the President, the Parliament, and the Army." Judges generally examine evidence rigorously and dismiss many charges brought under these laws. However, an Ankara civil court ordered Motherland Party Deputy Chairman Ekrem Pakdemirli to pay approximately $100,000 (TL 5 billion) in damages to President Demirel in a libel suit for insulting the President during a press conference.
Numerous 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. 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 editors have faced repeated criminal proceedings.
On November 8, the Ankara Public Prosecution Office brought criminal charges under Article 159/3 of the Criminal Code for the article "We Protect Human Rights with an Imperfect Constitution and Laws," which appears in a book published by the HRF entitled "A Present to Emil Galip Sandalci." This Criminal Code article states that "those who publicly insult laws of the Turkish Republic and the decisions of the Grand National Assembly are sentenced to 15 days to 6 months in prison." Turgut Inal, author of the article, was charged, along with the entire HRF board of directors; the first hearing is scheduled for January 1996.
In February the Istanbul State Security Court charged prominent Turkish novelist Yasar Kemal in connection with his article, published in the German news magazine Der Spiegel, which was later reprinted in Turkey in a book entitled "Freedom of Expression." Kemal was charged both under Article 8 of the Anti-Terror Law and with inciting to racial or ethnic enmity under Article 312 of the Criminal Code. The trial began in May; the court acquitted Kemal in December, finding that he had no intention of promoting separatism or racial enmity. To make a political point, 1,000 writers and intellectuals, 99 of whom are on trial at the Istanbul State Security Court, claimed responsibility for the book in which the article appeared. Their trial continued at the end of the year. In July the Istanbul State Security Court indicted Reuter reporter and U.S. citizen Aliza Marcus under Article 312 of the Criminal Code in connection with a November 1994 Reuter article on village evacuations in Tunceli province. The Court acquitted Marcus in November.
Court proceedings were also instituted against a number of editors and publishers. The Anti-Terror Law, as revised, now contains an implied intent standard. Previously, defendants could be charged and convicted "regardless of the method, intention, and ideas behind" what they wrote. The revised Article 8 language provides that "written and oral propaganda...aiming at damaging the indivisible unity of the State...(is) forbidden." As such, it continues to restrict freedom of speech. Both the old and revised versions have been used against writers, journalists, publishers, politicians, musicians, and students. Increasingly, prosecutors applied Article 312 of the Criminal Code, which forbids "incitement to racial or ethnic enmity." Ismail Besikci served 10 years in prison between 1971 and 1987 for his publications on the Kurdish question in Turkey. He now has been in prison since November 1993, and there are numerous Article 8 cases outstanding against him which the courts are reviewing under the revised Article 8 language.
The High Court of Appeals heard the appeal of 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. In October the court affirmed the 15-year sentences of four of the defendants for being members of a terrorist group. It overturned the sentences of Ahmet Turk and Sedat Yurtdas, who are to be retried on Article 8 charges. It ordered the trial court to adjust the fines of the two who had been released in 1994 for time already served in detention. The four whose sentences were affirmed will appeal to the European Commission of Human Rights; the Government has pledged to abide by its decision.
Independent deputy Hasan Mezarci was tried for insulting Ataturk. In February the Bandirma Criminal Court dropped the charges. In October Ibrahim Askoy, honorary chairman of the Democracy and Transformation Party, was arrested on an earlier conviction for disseminating separatist propaganda upon his return to Turkey. After the changes to Article 8, the court ordered his sentence reduced from 20 to 10 months. Two other Article 8 sentences, totaling 4 years, remain outstanding against Askoy.
In January trade union chairman Munir Ceylan, convicted of disseminating separatist propaganda, finished 15 months of a 20-month sentence and was released. In May Dr. Fikret Baskaya ended a similar term and was released. Professor Haluk Gerger was released from prison in October after paying the fine that accompanied his sentence. In the case of the former mayor of Diyarbakir, Mehdi Zana, the State Security Court in November reduced to 2 years his Article 8 sentence which had been based on testimony Zana had given to the human rights subcommittee of the European Parliament; it released him for time served. In May trade union chairman Atilay Aycin started serving a 20-month sentence in connection with a speech he delivered during a December 1992 HRA- organized meeting in Istanbul. The court ordered him released in November based on the changes to Article 8. One faculty member was convicted under the Anti-Terror Law and spent a short time in prison.
Military courts tried several cases against journalists and antiwar activists whose activities were alleged to discourage compulsory military service. In August these courts convicted Arif Hikmet Iyidogan, Mehmet Sefa Fersal, and Gokhan Demirkiran, members of the War Opponents' Association, under Article 155 of the Criminal Code and sentenced them to between 2 and 6 months in prison. In April the military court of appeals overturned the trial court decision of a 5- month sentence against well-known journalist Mehmet Ali Birand and two others for a television program on military service during which military personnel spoke; the trial court renewed the conviction in July. The case is again on appeal. In June the military trial court convicted actress and musician Bilgesu Erenus and sentenced her to 2 months' imprisonment for saying "Mothers, do not send your sons to the army," at a 1993 meeting. The military appeals court affirmed the sentence in November and ordered Erenus to serve 24 days.
Throughout the year, State Security Court prosecutors ordered the confiscation of numerous issues of leftist, pro-Kurdish, and pro-PKK periodicals, although most continue to publish. Many editions of pro- Kurdish periodicals were seized before they could be distributed nationally to newsstands. Pro-PKK newspaper Ozgur Ulke and its successor Yeni Politika were both closed by court order; Ozgur Ulke in February, Yeni Politika in August. A successor, Demokrasi, began publishing in December. According to credible press reports, over the past year 1,443 publications (56 books, 784 journals, 602 newspapers, and 1 bulletin) were confiscated on court order.
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. Courts closed the Kurdish-language weekly, Welat, which reopened under the name Welate Me. 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. Pro-PKK "Med TV" now broadcasts from England daily and can be received by satellite dish in the southeast.
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 August Ankara university professor Dogu Ergil published a thorough study on the problems in the southeast entitled "The Eastern Question" which the Ankara State Security Court prosecutor's office concluded on December 6 was not actionable. During the year, numerous politicians and academicians spoke out in favor of greater freedom of expression.
A few journalists have challenged government control over media reports from the southeast. In late summer Fatih Altayli, a journalist who works for Hurriyet and for Show TV, visited Tunceli province and investigated allegations against security forces and one special police unit in particular. He wrote about his impressions and allegations in the daily newspaper and broadcast them on his talk show program, following which the National Security Director agreed to appear live on his program to respond to the allegations.
The media are generally both free and freewheeling. While the overall readership of the daily press is not large for a country of 60 million, the newspaper business is intensely competitive and often sensationalist. Radio and television have experienced explosive growth in the 4 years since privately owned broadcasting has been allowed, although all of the new stations are not yet fully legal. The electronic media reach nearly every adult, and their influence is correspondingly great.
In April 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. As of August, there were some 150 registered television stations, 18 of which broadcast nationwide, and 68 registered radio stations, 33 of which broadcast nationwide. Other television and radio stations broadcast without an official license. The increasing availability of satellite dishes and cable allows access to foreign broadcasts, including several Turkish-language private channels. There is no prohibition on the receipt of foreign publications nor jamming of radio broadcasts.
Until July the Constitution and the law governing political parties had proscribed student and faculty involvement in political activities, but constitutional amendments passed by Parliament on July 23 now allow students ages 18 years or older and professors to participate in political activities.
b. Freedom of Peaceful Assembly and AssociationThe 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 authorities may restrict meetings to designated sites.
Police crowd control appears to have improved, despite the Gaziosmanpasa riots (see Section 5). However, in June a demonstration by garbage workers protesting their dismissal from jobs at Istanbul's Sisli municipality turned violent when police attempted to prevent the workers' protest march. During the 30-minute clash, 17 workers and 11 police officers were wounded. There were accusations of excessive use of force.
Adana province has seen a marked improvement in police handling of protest gatherings and demonstrations. In most instances, police have shown restraint and professionalism in such situations. One significant exception occurred on August 11, when a protest in Adana turned violent after police prevented protesters from marching to a government building. While demonstrators chanted antigovernment slogans, police attempted to disperse the group by force, beating and kicking many of the protesters. Dozens were injured and sent to hospitals, and more than 50 demonstrators were arrested. All were subsequently released without being charged.
Until July associations and labor unions were prohibited by law from having ties to political parties or engaging in political activities (see Section 6.a.). With Parliament's passage of the constitutional amendments package, associations and labor unions may now engage in political activities. They did so in the December elections.
Police raided a number of associations and organizations and harassed some of their members (see Section 4). 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. 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. In late 1994, a Protestant group--although not a recognized minority-- was granted permission to open a house of worship in Adana.
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 a Lausanne Treaty minority.
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 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 religious group. In September representatives of the Haci Bektas Veli cultural association, an Alawi cultural organization, termed obligatory religious courses in schools antidemocratic and antisecular and proposed that religion courses be elective.
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, then order such persons deported. Generally they are able to reenter the country easily.
Most religious minorities are concentrated in Istanbul. The number of Christians in the south has been declining as the younger generation leaves for Europe and North America. The status of 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.
Turkish authorities carefully monitor the activities of Eastern Orthodox and Armenian 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 all private institutions of higher learning, and the Government has used a variety of arguments to keep it closed. Armenian church officials complain of petty harassment from local officials, such as delays or refusals in receiving building permits.
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) revert to government possession. Some non-Muslim minorities, particularly the Eastern 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 (military service, for example), or criminal investigation or prosecution. Each citizen traveling abroad (except those regularly working abroad and those traveling for the Government on official business) must pay a $100 departure tax. In June Parliament passed a law that allows Turks living abroad and naturalized in their country of residence to retain their civil rights in Turkey.
Travel in the southeast often is restricted for security reasons. Roadblocks, set up by both Turkish security forces and the PKK, can seriously impede travel in the region. On April 28, security forces declared a military zone for 6 months in northeastern Kars province to prevent PKK infiltration.
When Turkey ratified the 1951 U.N. Convention Relating to the Status of Refugees, it accepted 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, Turkey does not recognize non-European asylum seekers as refugees.
The Government requires non-European asylum seekers to register with authorities within 5 days of entering the country. The Government screens these applicants, determines those it considers bona fide, and then refers them to the U.N. High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR) for resettlement. Between January and mid-October, the Government deported to their home countries 33 Iranians and 26 Iraqis whom the UNHCR determined met international refugee criteria, but whom the Government did not consider bona fide asylum seekers. It deported an additional 12 Iranians and a number of Iraqis who wished to apply for temporary asylum without giving them the opportunity to do so.
Estimates of the number of Bosnians in Turkey range between 10,000 and 20,000. The majority continue to live outside organized camps. As "guests" they have no restriction on the period they are allowed to remain in Turkey. They are not allowed to work or attend school; however, many do work and some children do attend school.
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. In July the voting age was lowered to 18. 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 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. One very small party was closed in 1995.
Until July constitutional provisions forbade students, university faculty members, and trade unionists from active participation in party politics. The constitutional amendment package Parliament passed on July 23 lifted those restrictions and broadened the scope for political participation by such persons.
Several political parties complained that the 7-day period provided to register for the December elections was inadequate and that bureaucratic obstacles and long registration lines discouraged or prevented many from registering. There was particular concern that the 1 to 2 million persons displaced since the last census of 1990 were not provided with adequate time or assistance for registration and that their views were not, therefore, reflected in the election results. There were some complaints of voting irregularities in rural areas of the southeast. Even if substantiated, these irregularities do not appear to have been sufficient to alter the outcome.
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. However, only 8 women representing 3 parties were elected to the 450-member Parliament in 1991, and 13 were elected to an expanded 550-seat Parliament in the December elections. In addition to Prime Minister Ciller, there was one female cabinet minister. Some political parties now recruit female delegates for their party conferences and electoral lists. Women's committees are active within political party organizations. Formation of formal youth and women's wings, formerly prohibited by the Constitution, was legalized with the passage of the constitutional amendments package.
Section 4 Governmental Attitude Regarding International and Nongovernmental Investigation of Alleged Violations of Human RightsThe nongovernmental Human Rights Association, officially approved in 1987, has branches in 50 provincial capitals. As of October, authorities had closed all branches in the southeast except one. The HRA claims a membership of about 20,000. In 1990 the HRA established its companion Human Rights Foundation which, in addition to operating torture rehabilitation centers in Ankara, Izmir, and Istanbul and a newly opened center in Adana, serves as a clearinghouse for human rights information. Other indigenous nongovernmental organizations include the Istanbul-based Helsinki Citizens Assembly, the Ankara-based Turkish Democracy Foundation, and human rights centers at a number of universities.
Government agents have harassed human rights monitors, as well as lawyers and doctors involved in documenting human rights violations. Some of these monitors have reported receiving death threats from unknown parties. A number of human rights monitors have been aggressively prosecuted. In November the Ankara prosecutor's office brought criminal charges against the HRF for its publication of a book entitled "A Gift to Emil Galip Sandalci" (see Section 2.a.). In December 1994, HRF president Yavuz Onen and Fevzi Argun, head of the HRF's documentation center, were tried for using 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 report entitled "A Cross-Section of Burned-Down Villages." In February a trial opened at the Diyarbakir State Security Court against four members of the board of the Diyarbakir branch of the HRA who were accused of aiding the PKK; the case focuses mainly on the publication of the booklet "Emergency Situation--1992." The trial continues; in April the defendants were released from detention. The case of three other HRA members was later joined to that case. The HRA representative in Hakkari, Abdulkerim Demirer, is on trial for being a member of a terrorist organization.
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 of allegedly separatist material (see Section 2.b.). Several HRA officials in southeastern Turkey said that they are routinely kept under surveillance by security personnel. The Adana HRA branch, which provincial authorities closed in September 1994, reopened in February after the public prosecutor dropped charges against the organization. On July 24, police raided the HRA branch in Malatya, which was preparing to launch a public campaign protesting past disappearances of detainees in police custody. Police seized documents and shut down the office. It remained closed at year's end.
Since 1991 Parliament has had 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. Underfunded and lacking the power to subpoena witnesses or documents, the Commission has been ineffective. An August 1994 initiative to establish a human rights advisory department connected to the Prime Ministry never materialized.
While representatives of diplomatic missions who wish to monitor the state of human rights 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 intimidate those interviewed. In 1995 high-level visitors obtained most of the appointments they requested.
In June government officials declared Amnesty International researcher Helmut Oberdiek persona non grata and deported him. They based the order on security instructions dated August 10 and December 14, 1994, which stated that Oberdiek was not permitted to enter Turkey. Officials did not harm Oberdiek, but they made copies of his notes. Also in June, Human Rights Watch/Helsinki (HRW) announced that it was suspending one particular mission to Turkey because of a statement by the Interior Minister, in which he purported to speak for Human Rights Watch/Helsinki. HRW completed a separate research project in June/July on human rights abuses involving foreign supplied arms without interference from authorities.
Section 5 Discrimination Based on Race, Sex, Religion, Disability, Language, or Social StatusThe Constitution proclaims Turkey to be a secular state, regards all 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 Eastern Orthodox, Armenian Apostolic, and Jewish adherents. Despite constitutional provisions, discrimination remains a problem in several areas.
WomenSpousal abuse is a serious and widespread problem. 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. 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.
According to a study made public in May by the Prime Ministry's Family Research Institute, the two most frequent forms of violence against women in the home are beating and cursing. The study claims that 84 percent of women interviewed reported having been cursed and 78.9 percent beaten. In addition, 29.3 percent reported threats; 17.5 percent economic pressure; and 9.1 percent sexual violence. According to women's responses, physical violence was used in 29.6 percent of families; according to the men, in 34 percent.
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. In January the Altindag municipality attempted to close down the Altindag consultation center and shelter to regain the building; the Purple Roof Foundation was forced to move for the same reason.
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 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. Under inheritance laws, a widow generally receives one-fourth of the estate.
The illiteracy rate for women is approximately 29 percent, some 10 percent higher than that of the population as a whole. 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 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. 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, but the concept of lobbying for women's rights has not gained currency.
ChildrenThe 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. Traditional 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.
There are some instances of child beating and abuse, as illustrated by the case of a young child whose abuse and death the newspaper Cumhuriyet documented in March. A report released in May by the Prime Ministry's Family Research Institute stated that, in families where violence was used against the wife, there was approximately a 46 percent chance that the children would be beaten, too.
Children have suffered greatly from the cycle of violence in the southeast. School closings in the southeast 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. Many cities in the southeast are operating schools on double shifts, with as many as 100 students per classroom. 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.
In January Turkey ratified the U.N. Convention on the Rights of the Child; Parliament had not yet passed implementing legislation by year's end.
People with DisabilitiesLegislation 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.
Religious MinoritiesThere were several instances of religiously motivated violence by alleged nationalists, including the beating in February of eight students at Istanbul's Marmara University for eating during the Muslim fasting month of Ramadan. In July the head of the bar association in Gumushane was murdered by a man angry about a ban on female lawyers wearing headscarves in court.
In March in Istanbul, two instances of religiously motivated rioting occurred in two heavily Alawi neighborhoods of Istanbul. The combined death toll of the Gaziosmanpasa riots was around 30. Although the rioting appeared to be sectarian, it was not aimed at Sunni institutions. Rather, it appeared to reflect Alawis' desire for the State to do more to defend secularism in Turkey and counter the threat they perceive from resurgent Sunni extremism.
The Jewish community is well integrated into Turkish society, although it fears the possibility of rising Islamic extremism. The only problem the Jewish community reported in 1995 was a car bombing in Ankara in April, which targeted the head of Ankara's tiny Jewish community. He escaped with minor injuries.
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. The Armenian Patriarchate has reported similar attacks 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.
National/Racial/Ethnic MinoritiesThe Constitution, in line with the Treaty of Lausanne, does not recognize the Kurds in Turkey as a national, racial, or ethnic minority. Many human rights abuses have been targeted at Kurds who publicly or politically assert their Kurdish ethnic identity. 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 culture and village identity; many simply are not prepared for urban life.
The 1991 repeal of the law prohibiting publications or communications in Kurdish legalized some 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 spoken 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.
The High Court of Appeals, in rendering its decision on the former DEP Members of Parliament, ruled that taking the Parliamentary oath in Kurdish, wearing Kurdish colors to the oath-taking ceremony, and stating that Turkish was a foreign language for them (all actions taken by the former M.P.'s) were not crimes (see Section 2.a.). The courts have given permission for a cultural foundation to be established in Istanbul and to use the word "Kurdish" in its name.
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 texts. Many Greek 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 Roma.
Section 6 Worker Rights
a. The Right of AssociationMost workers have the right to associate freely and form representative unions. Exceptions are police and military personnel. Until July the law did not explicitly give civil servants, including schoolteachers, the right to form legally recognized unions. This situation changed with Parliament's passage of a package of constitutional amendments on July 23. (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.) Within the package of amendments broadening democratic participation in Turkey, there is language which, in effect, recognizes civil servants' unions. Parliament added language to Article 53 of the Constitution stipulating that unions formed by civil servants could bring cases to court on behalf of their members, could carry out collective talks with the Government to secure their objectives, and could sign an understanding with the Government if agreement is reached. The language does not mention strikes. The amendment also suggests that Parliament will pass follow-on laws to regulate these procedures. However, as noted below, branches of one civil servants' union were closed in 1995.
The Constitution stipulates that no one shall be compelled to become or remain a member 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 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. Slightly over 12 percent of the total civilian labor force (aged 15 and above) is 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. With passage of the constitutional amendments package in July, Parliament lifted restrictions on unions engaging in political activity by completely repealing article 52 of the Constitution (see Section 2.b.). However, even before this change, in practice unions were able to convey clearly in election and referendum campaigns their support for, or opposition to, given political parties and government policies. Prosecutors may request labor courts to order a trade union or confederation 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 series of 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 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.
Some 64 strikes, involving 26,361 workers, took place in the first 6 months of 1995. The Government suspended one strike in 1995. On February 23, the Government suspended the planned strike by the Airline Workers Union against Turkish Airlines, the publicly owned national carrier, on grounds that a strike would adversely affect national security.
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.
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.). In June in Ankara, during demonstrations by civil servants for the right to form legally recognized unions with collective bargaining and strike rights, four civil servants' union presidents were briefly detained for questioning, then released. The public prosecutor subsequently filed charges against 37 leaders of a civil servants' trade union who had organized the demonstrations. However, in September an Ankara criminal court dismissed these charges. The court found that the organizers had not intended to violate the law on demonstrations and assemblies. There were no incidents between police and demonstrators during the demonstrations, which lasted for several days.
Some branches of a civil servants' communications union were closed by court order on the grounds that it was an illegal organization. Branches were closed in July and August after an appeals court upheld the ruling of an Istanbul court that civil servants unions' are illegal. The court's actions occurred when Parliament amended the Constitution to recognize civil servants' unions. Observers believe that further legislation is needed to clarify the situation.
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, 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, and the Government has only recently pursued a change. Last year the government representative informed the ILO Committee on the Application of Standards that the Ministry of Labor and Social Security has proposed to remove the 10-percent numerical restriction, and that its proposal had been communicated to the social partners. The ILO Committee of Experts and the Committee on the Application of Standards urged the Government again to remove the 10 percent rule. 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 applied in practice.
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 are 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 age 15 years, with the exception that those ages 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, 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 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 new 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 age 15, are paid less than the minimum wage, and have no insurance whatsoever. The Labor Minister said in a September speech that there are 3.5 million working young people between the ages of 12 and 19, and that 51 percent of them are uninsured.
In a 1994 study on child labor in rural Turkey, also undertaken under the IPEC program, a Middle East Technical University professor reported that children in the rural work force are largely unpaid family workers engaged in agriculture and related activities. Since many children work because their families need additional income, the study concluded that solving the problem of rural child labor required a simultaneous improvement in adult employment opportunities to raise standards of living in rural households while expanding educational opportunities (both general academic and vocational training) for rural children.
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 August, after some disagreements among the board members about wage levels and the timing of implementation, the nominal minimum wage was increased by approximately 103 percent over the year before. The monthly gross minimum wage rates which became effective on September 1 are approximately $176 (TL 8,460,000) for workers older than age 16 and about $148 (TL 7,087,050) for workers under age 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; transportation to and from work; a fuel 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 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, 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 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. However, after a mine accident in a private company in which 39 miners died, 2 managers were reportedly arrested and charged with causing the accident through negligence.