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Message-Id: <199712181818.NAA07733@hermes.circ.gwu.edu>
Date: Wed, 17 Dec 97 10:31:06 CST
From: Arm The Spirit <ats@locust.etext.org>
Subject: Statement From Kurdistan Parliament In Exile To The EU
Article: 24191

Letter submitted to the members of the European Union at a meeting in Luxembourg

By the Chair of the International Affairs Committee of the Kurdistan Parliament in Exile [17 December 1997]

Dear Representatives of the European Union,

With your kind permission I would like to tell you about the latest developments in Turkey, in relation to the Kurdish issue.

The Turkish state's aggressive and chauvinist policies on the Kurdish issue continue unabated. The conflict in the southeast of Turkey has now spread into northern Iraq (south Kurdistan) as a result of Turkey's incursion into northern Iraq on May 14, 1997. Thus, war now continues both in south Kurdistan and in the southeast of Turkey (north Kurdistan). High ranking Turkish officials have stated frequently that they will continue to keep their military forces in northern Iraq. Recently, the Turkish President Suleyman Demirel, during a visit to Amman and the United Arab Emirates, declared that Turkey would not withdraw its troops from the region (northern Iraq) as long as the Kurdistan Workers Party (PKK) forces are in the region. These statements should be taken seriously and must be considered to be signals of a permanent occupation, as was the case in Cyprus. 10,000 Turkish troops with heavy artillery are still in northern Iraq, and even though Turkey denies it she is setting up a security zone along the border. A company called 'Dogu Insaat' (East Construction) has been given the contract to build the necessary sites along the border. Turkish air strikes as well as ground attacks are affecting the civil population, forcing them to flee.

Turkey, intervening in the internal affairs of Kurdish organizations, is provoking conflict between different Kurdish organizations. Because of the obstruction caused by the geo-political structure of the region, lack of communication, and the lack of international observation, Turkey is free to act with impunity. Turkey is also benefiting from the vagueness of U.S. policy on Iraq and the weaknesses in the region. The war continues with utmost severity in north Kurdistan. According to Turkish officials, there are around 400,000 armed soldiers positioned in the area. Dozens of Turkish soldiers and/or Kurdish guerrillas die daily during clashes. Death squads organized by the state continue their activities in Kurdistan. Village burnings continue. On the one hand Turkey is convicted of human rights abuses at the European Court of Human Rights, and on the other Turkey continues to commit the same crimes. Recently, the village of Ciline in Surgucu district of the city of Mardin, which was the subject of an Urgent Action by Amnesty International, was razed to the ground by the Turkish army on November 15, 1997.

The Turkish state has also destroyed the economic infra-structure of the region, causing extreme poverty. In Diyarbakir, the biggest city of north Kurdistan, there are 311,000 unemployed, as opposed to 127,000 employed. 70.94% of the population is unemployed and 57.94% of the employed do not have a permanent job, but struggle to survive on a day-to-day basis. Annual income per person in Turkey is $4,000 whereas the figure in Diyarbakir is $238. Infant mortality in Turkey is 2.5 per thousand whereas the figure in Diyarbakir is as high as 9.5 per thousand.

Human rights abuses constantly continue as set out in the balance sheet for October (see appendix).

Thought is still a crime and freedom of assembly and organization is restricted. Despite its acknowledgment and promises by each one of the new governments, torture is systematic in Turkey, a fact confessed to by Prime Minister Mesut Yilmaz himself.

Over 9,000 political prisoners are faced with torture, deadly diseases, and even death. As distinguished lawyers have emphasized repeatedly, the independence of the judiciary simply does not exist in Turkey. For example, the State Security Court in Diyarbakir recently released the members of what is known as the Yuksekova Gang. It was revealed that the Yuksekova Gang, consisting of high-ranking gendarmerie officials and Kemal Bilgic, an ex-PKK defector working as hit-man for the state, was responsible for drug trafficking, kidnapping, and numerous murders in the Kurdish region. Also, the suspects in the Susurluk Affair, which exposed high-level state involvement in drug trafficking and the extra-judicial killings of dissidents, were all released one by one after the new government came to power. Moreover, the judges in the Susurluk case have resigned in protest at the pressure they were put under. The high-ranking army officials and civil bureaucrats exposed as the instigators of the gangs within the state apparatus continue to work for the state.

Turkey, instead of changing its constitution in order to rid itself of anti-democratic elements and to democratize itself, is taking steps in an absolutely opposite direction. Since the soft military coup against the fundamentalists and the setting up of the new government, the army has become the significant determining factor in Turkey's politics. The National Security Council has dictated the new political targets for the new government and made the government adopt it. On September 1, 1997, the Crisis Administration Center was set up, giving authority to the General Secretary of the National Security Council to act in place of the prime minister in case of a crisis. This excludes the Turkish Grand National Assembly from any meaningful function.

Newspapers are closed down, pressure on local TV and radio stations escalate. The president of the Radio Television High Commission (RTUK) has recently resigned as a result of not coping with pressure from the National Security Council. As publications in the Kurdish language are banned, newspapers published in the Turkish language such as 'Ulkede Gundem' are trying to publicize the Kurdish issue. However its distribution in Kurdistan is prevented without any court decision or warrant. Ulkede Gundem copies are regularly confiscated at the airport and not allowed in Kurdish cities.

Attacks against the People's Democracy Party (HADEP), successor of the now banned Democracy Party (DEP), continue non-stop. HADEP members and officials are systematically taken into custody and the party offices raided arbitrarily. On November 24, a HADEP public meeting in the city of Siirt was banned and many people who wanted to attend the meeting were taken into custody.

The Mesopotamian Cultural Center (MCC), which works to promote Kurdish culture and language, is also under attack. The Urfa branch of the MCC, which was officially opened in September 1997, was closed down. Similarly branches of the Human Rights Association (IHD) in Diyarbakir, Malatya, and Urfa still remain closed down.

The case of Esber Yagmurdereli is proof of the state of freedom of expression in Turkey. Yagmurdereli, who was to serve 22 years in prison, had his sentence suspended for a year because he is blind. This is a cosmetic act. There are at the moment dozens of prisoners who are on the verge of death.

As the Council of Europe demands and awaits signs of democratization and rule of law in Turkey, the realities facing progressive forces convey the opposite message. Despite the fact that Turkey's full membership of the EU depends on democratization and the resolution of the Cyprus issue, Turkey does not even make an effort to achieve these expectations. With this kind of behavior, Turkey is violating the principles of the Council of Europe, of which she is one of the founding members.

The situation in Turkey has been under surveillance of the monitoring committee of the Parliamentary Assembly of the Council of Europe. The Assembly adopted decision No. 1266 on June 23, 1995, based on four fundamental issues. At the time Turkey had once again invaded south Kurdistan and thus firstly the Assembly called for the immediate and unconditional withdrawal of Turkish troops. Secondly, The Assembly had called for the release of the four imprisoned DEP MPs, Leyla Zana, Hatip Dicle, Orhan Dogan, and Selim Sadak. Thirdly, the Assembly called for amendments to the Turkish Constitution, particularly Article 8 of the Anti-Terror Law. Fourthly, instead of a military solution, a political solution was demanded to the Kurdish question.

When we look back now, we see that nothing has been done to abide by the above decisions. I believe it is clearer now that the few cosmetic changes made were to deceive the Council and to gain time. The past has proven that unless concrete action is taken against Turkey expectations of change will remain no more than a big dream.


1. Regarding the work and report(s) of the Monitoring Committee, which consists of two members, this Committee should be increased to five members. This Committee should not only visit Ankara but also go to Kurdistan and speak to the people, as well as to civil organizations in the region.

2. It is clear that without serious concrete measures Turkey will not take a single serious concrete step forward. Thus Turkey's membership in the Council of Europe should be suspended.

3. Turkey must immediately and unconditionally withdraw from northern Iraq.

4. All four DEP MPs must be released.

5. Since it is obvious that without a political solution to the Kurdish question it is impossible to achieve a solution to any problem in Turkey, the Assembly should act in the same as it did in the cases of Chechnya, Palestine, and Israel; it should bring the Kurdish question into discussion.

I thank you for your time.

With kind regards,

Mahmut Kilinc Kurdistan Parliament in Exile Chair for the International Affairs Committee

Balance Sheet Of Human Rights Abuses For October 1997

Killings by unknown persons: 14
Extrajudicial killings, deaths under torture/detention: 6
Attacks against civilians: 16 dead, 37 injured
Disappearances: 2
Torture cases: 29
People detained: 3,687
Arrests: 71
Evacuated villages: 1
Closed down associations, trade unions, and publications: 9
Raids on associations, trade unions, and publications: 15
Press members detained: 25
Publications confiscated: 28
Demanded prison sentences and fines: 253 years imprisonment and 1 billion TL fines
Prison sentences and fines ruled: 127 years imprisonment and 1 billion 28 million TL fines
Prisoners of conscience: 116