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by Garbis Altinoglu
Thursday, Mar. 18, 2010 at 11:58 AM
At 5 A.M. on March 4, Belgian police raided the offices of ROJ TV, the voice of Kurdish people, BDP’s European office and several other addresses in Belgium.
Europe Attacks Kurds
Garbis Altinoglu, 13-15 March 2010
Facts and Fallacies
At 5 A.M. on March 4, Belgian police raided the offices of ROJ TV, the voice of Kurdish people, BDP’s European office and several other addresses in Belgium. 30 people were taken into custody, including Remzi Kartal and Zubeyir Aydar and several journalists. Belgian media sources said around 300 officers took part in raids in Brussels, Antwerp and other Belgian cities. The Belgian police put hoods on the heads of Mr. Kartal, Mr. Aydar and their comrades, dragged them and treated them as if they were dangerous criminals. Computers and other equipment belonging to the ROJ TV were damaged during the operation.
Belgian authorities shut down ROJ TV to the consternation of the Kurdish people. This so-called anti-terrorist operation follows similar operations in Italy and France and seems to be coordinated throughout Western Europe and actively encouraged and supported by the United States and Turkey. Remzi Kartal and Zubeyir Aydar, who were former members of the DEP (=Democracy Party) and members of Turkish parliament had been compelled to leave their country due to political repression and for the peaceful solution of the “Kurdish problem”. They had been conducting political and diplomatic activities with regard to the national and democratic rights of Kurdish people, who have suffered for decades under the military yoke of Turkish reactionaries. The arrests Kartal and Aydar and others are falsely presented as “an operation against terrorism”. In reality, however, it is an operation aimed at appeasing the United States and Turkey, an operation against Kurdish people and its democratic and national aspirations.
Belgian and European authorities have indicted the persons involved with supporting the PKK (=Partiya Karkeren Kurdistan/ Workers’ Party of Kurdistan), training Kurdish youths in camps, with taking part in a terrorist enterprise, financing terrorist activities and violating gun laws, as well as drug-trafficking, people smuggling and extortion. In so doing they are repeating the well-worn demagogic statements of Turkish authorities, who themselves have been involved for years in this sort of dirty work as documented times and again by international agencies. (1)
It is obvious that Belgian authorities could not have decided upon such a drastic action by themselves alone. It is highly probable that a Europe-wide consensus has been established to crack down on Kurds. But, what is the political meaning of such a move? Does it serve to the cause of the peaceful solution of the “Kurdish problem”? Or does it serve the aggressive policies of Turkish reactionaries, who insist on maintaining their despotic yoke over the Kurdish people through white terror? Obviously it does the latter. Notwithstanding its very serious shortcomings, PKK is an organization fighting against a despotic and reactionary state to ensure the basic rights of oppressed Kurdish people and this is what counts. Besides, it has strong and widespread support among the Kurdish population of Turkey and the large Kurdish diaspora in Europe. Let’s not forget that, at the root of this conflict lies the barbaric repression of Kurds by the Turkish state, which has blocked all means of peaceful resistance of this oppressed people, until very recently denied its very existence and banned the use of its mother tongue. One might not condone PKK’s political line and could criticize its policies and some of its actions and might even oppose its strategy and political line. This, however, detracts nothing from the just and legitimate character of the struggle of the Kurdish people for their democratic and national rights. Therefore leaving aside the legal technicalities and the not so important details of this subject, one has to ask a simple question and answer it in an honest and straightforward manner: Who are the real terrorists? The PKK, Kurdish people OR the Turkish reactionaries and militarists?
The original source of such accusations against the PKK is the Turkish state itself. One cannot but be shocked by the extremely hypocritical efforts of Turkish reactionaries to blame their own terrorist mentality and practices on various peoples they have oppressed and have been oppressing. The demagogy of Turkish reactionaries, who have systematically practiced state terrorism, matches only their barbarism. They are not content with the Kurdish massacres they have conducted in the 1920s and 1930s; with denying the existence of the Kurdish nation, banning the use of the Kurdish language and suppressing Kurdish culture for decades; with systematic destruction of Kurdish intellectuals and other community leaders; with evacuating millions of Kurdish peasants from their villages, burning their houses and forests, killing their cattle and sheep; with torturing and murdering of thousands of unarmed Kurdish people and dumping their remains into unidentified mass graves; with posing with the heads of dead guerillas they have decapitated, with desecrating the stripped bodies of dead women guerillas and with heavily bombarding Kurdish towns. Despite all this, they still complain of Kurdish terrorism!
It is the Kurdish people and Kurdish guerillas that have borne the brunt of the fighting in this long war. According to the data provided by Turkish authorities, since 1984 more than 50,000 people have been killed as a result of armed clashes between PKK guerillas and security forces and their Kurdish allies, that is, the so-called Village Guards. Turkish official propaganda blames the PKK for these killings, despite the fact that Kurdish civilians and guerillas constitute more than 75 percent of those who have lost their lives in this conflict. Thousands of villages and hamlets in Turkish Kurdistan have been forcibly evacuated and/or burned and millions of poor people of Kurdish origin have been forced to flee to urban areas or abroad. Turkish authorities do not deny the fact that the majority of those who lost their lives in this dirty war are PKK guerillas and Kurdish civilians killed by “security” forces. For instance, according to a Ministry of Internal Affairs report published in the daily Milliyet on 16 January 1998, a total of 23,190 people were killed between 15 August 1984, when the Kurdish guerilla activity began and 1 September 1997 as a result of armed clashes. Of this total, the report says, 3,965 were civilians, 4,389 “security” personnel and 14,836 PKK guerillas. According to a similar statement made by Aydin Arslan, the Governor of OHAL (=Turkish Kurdistan), between 19 July 1987 and 31 December 1997, the number of guerillas killed in action amounted to 19,927, while 5,168 guerillas were captured alive. The same source gave the number of soldiers killed in action as 4,459, that of the police as 173 and that of the civilians as 4,287, for the period under consideration. This brought the total number to 28,846.
In June 2000, Yavuz Önen, the Chairman of TIHV (=Human Rights Foundation of Turkey) stated that during the last decade about one million people were tortured, most of whom were of Kurdish origin. Speaking at a press conference to mark the tenth anniversary of the organization, Mr. Önen stressed the fact that torturers could not be prosecuted owing to the obstruction of authorities; he also added that torture aimed not only to terrorize the victims, but also at the destruction of their personalities.
Here I have to remind the readers once again that, whatever its very serious shortcomings from a consistent democratic and internationalist viewpoint, the PKK has for quite a long time been for the peaceful solution of the “Kurdish problem”. The Turkish state, on the other hand, has consistently stood for armed confrontation. Since 1993 the PKK has several times offered to cease fire, declared unilateral ceasefires times and again and called and worked for the peaceful solution of this question. All these efforts to secure the peaceful solution of the question, however, have been ignored, dismissed and rejected by the authorities. Turkish reactionaries have always demanded total surrender of the PKK, unconditional disarmament of its guerilla force without any pledges for democratic reforms and been bent on the destruction of all institutions of Kurdish people, including their legitimate parliamentary parties. (2) At present both the PKK and the BDP (=Peace and Democracy Party) continue to appeal for such a peaceful resolution of the question in return for some very modest reforms; but Turkish authorities insist on their “traditional way” of dealing with the Kurdish people, that is the use of brute, systematic and indiscriminate terror coupled with calls of surrender, despite all the demagogical talk on the so-called democratic opening by the AK Party government.
Neither the so-called secular armed forces, nor the “moderate Islamist” AK Party government are for the peaceful solution of the “Kurdish question”. If they had had such an intention, they would have shown a minimum amount of respect towards peace initiatives and would at least have met with the parliamentary representatives of the Kurdish people. But they have always chosen to criminalize such initiatives, outlaw legal parties and stifle the voice of the Kurdish people. Recent history has witnessed several examples of this reactionary attitude. Let’s dwell on two examples.
An interesting example of the brutal character of Turkish reactionaries was demonstrated during the “Musa Anter Peace Train” campaign in August 1997. (3) The train was planned to depart from Brussels on 26 August and arrive at Diyarbakir in Northern Kurdistan on 1 September, the World Peace Day. The campaign was organized and supported by tens of peace activists, parliamentarians, artists, human rights fighters from Europe and all around the world, including Jose Ramos Horta, Bishop Desmond Tutu, Gassan Solomon of the ANC (=African National Congress) and Kurdish and Turkish democrats. But Turkish authorities blatantly declared their intention not to allow the train to enter Turkish territory, vilifying the initiative as “terrorist”! Thereupon, the peace delegation comprising several European, Turkish and Kurdish members flew to Istanbul and proceeded by land to Diyarbakir. The peace delegates occupying a seven bus convoy were systematically harassed, prevented and even intimidated by “security” forces all along the road. When they arrived at Siverek, a town near Diyarbakir, they were stopped and compelled to return to Istanbul. But, they had not yet seen all. On 4 September, peace delegates and press correspondents accompanying them, came under the attack of the police as they tried to make a press statement at Mim Hotel in İstanbul. As soon as the press statement was made, Mehmet Chaglar, the Vice-Security Director of Istanbul directed the police to take all peace delegates and press correspondents into custody. 24 people, including part of the peace delegates from Europe and press correspondents were beaten, detained and taken to Mecidiyeköy Police Station. They were threatened and beaten again in custody. Later, some of them, including Ute Steinberg and Rosa Maria Stoffe had to be treated at hospital. The remaining delegates were quarantined at the hotel cafeteria and were only released after the arrival of British, Italian, German and Spanish consulate officials. If they could do this to foreign delegates in front of the Turkish and international press, one could imagine their attitude towards people in military and police custody, isolated peasant communities at faraway villages or political inmates in prisons.
12 years after this incident DTP (= Democratic Society Party), which had won a clear victory in the local elections on 29 March 2009, was targeted by Turkish “security” forces once again. 53 senior DTP activists and members, including vice co-presidents of the party, were arrested in an operation launched in the early hours of 14 April 2009.
After the DTP was closed by Turkish Constitutional Court on 11 December 2009, 94 mayors, members of provincial assemblies and members of city councils joined the BDP (=Peace and Democracy Party) on 23 December 2009. In the morning hours of 24 December 2009 however, “security forces” carried out an operation against the BDP. Turkish authorities took more than 80 people including mayors and former members of parliament, took them into custody, handcuffed and paraded them as if they were dangerous criminals. This provocative act of Turkish authorities was a repetition of the detention of 6 Kurdish MPs on 2 March 1994. Then, Orhan Dogan, Hatip Dijle, Leyla Zana, Ahmet Türk, Sırrı Sakik ve Mahmut Alinak had been stripped of their deputy status by Turkish State Security Court and taken unceremoniously under custody as they had left the Turkish parliament.
A Look at History
To shed more light on this question and expose the unjust, unacceptable and indefensible nature of the attitude of Western European states towards the Kurdish people, we briefly have to review the historical record and let the public opinion decide on whom to call “terrorist”.
The history of the formation of the Turkish state since the beginning of the 20th century has been the history of ethnic cleansing, white terror, unbridled violence and massacres against non-Turkish peoples, including Kurds. In fact, Turkish state and its Ottoman precedent have been and the real and foremost terrorist organizations in the Balkans and the Middle East. The massacre or genocide of 1-1.5 million Armenians in 1914-15 and later in 1918-23 by Ottoman-Turkish reactionaries is well known and widely documented. But that was not all. Ottoman-Turkish reactionaries were also responsible for the massacre of hundreds of thousands of Assyrians in 1914-20, the massacre of hundreds of thousands of Greeks and deportation of millions of them to Greece in an unprecedented effort to “ethnically cleanse” the country. The Assyro-Chaldean National Council stated in a December 4, 1922, memorandum that the total death toll was unknown, but it estimated that about 275,000 Assyro-Chaldeans died between 1914 and 1918. In 1918, according to the Los Angeles Times, Henry Morgenthau, US Ambassador to Turkey, estimated that the Ottoman-Turkish authorities had massacred 2,000,000 men, women, and children of Christian origin, of whom 1,500,000 were Armenians, 250,000 Greeks and another 250,000 Assyrians. According to Greek sources, the Greek death toll, including those who lost their lives in Western Anatolia, Pontos (Eastern Black Sea region) and Cappadocia was much higher. (4)
Turkish reactionaries did maintain their tradition of attacking, deporting and massacring non-Turkish peoples. In the 1920s and 1930s Kurds became the main target of aggressive Turkish nationalism; during these years of repression, rebellion and resistance tens of thousands of people of Kurdish origin were massacred. The last link in this chain of massacres took place in Dersim (present day Tunjeli) in 1937-38, where according to various sources around 30,000 people were killed by the Turkish army. (5)
One of the most high profile acts of terror arranged by Turkish reactionaries took place in 6-7 September 1955 in Istanbul. Mobs, incited and organized by the authorities attacked the houses, shops and places of worship of Christian minorities, especially of Greeks on this date, without any provocation whatsoever. According to official Turkish accounts, during these two days of almost complete anarchy, three people were killed and 30 wounded. 85 places of worship were partially or totally destroyed and 5,538 shops and houses were damaged and looted, while “security” forces did nothing to stop the mobs. Several cemeteries of Christian minorities were desecrated in those days and unknown number of girls and women were raped. The real and probably much higher figures are not known, since the Turkish governments have imposed a conspiracy of silence over the event. (Greek sources give much higher numbers.) This pogrom had begun after Prime Minister Adnan Menderes himself made a provocative speech on the radio. He had “informed” the public about the bombing of the house where Kemal Atatürk, the founder of Turkish republic, was born. As it later emerged, the attack on that particular house in the Greek city of Salonica was arranged by the MIT (=National Intelligence Organization) and carried out by an agent called Oktay Engin to incite anti-Greek feelings in Turkey. Turkish authorities who themselves were behind the plot immediately declared a state of emergency, blamed the attack on “communists” and arrested dozens of progressive people. The detainees were publicly accused by Prime Minister and the martial law authorities, held in solitary confinement for months and later released without any explanation or compensation.
What is more, agents of Turkish state have for decades been involved in illegal activities and conducted several terrorist acts on European soil itself. The high-profile assassination attempt on Pope John Paul II on 13 May 1981, was only one of such acts. The pontiff was shot and seriously wounded by Mehmet Ali Agca, a member of fascist-terrorist MHP (=Nationalist Action Party). On 23 November 1979, however, this murderer and hit-man was deliberately set free from Maltepe Military Prison in Istanbul under conditions of martial law, while serving his term for killing Abdi Ipekchi, a well-known liberal journalist; his escape to Europe on a false passport was arranged; he was housed, provided and financially supported in Europe and lastly he had been prepared, equipped and taken to the scene of the crime for this purpose. Ugur Mumju, a prominent investigative journalist who himself would be a victim of a still unsolved murder later, had written the following:
“I do not have the slightest doubt. An armed rightist organization snatched Agca from prison. This organization established contact with the prison authorities; the two prepared a plan together and realized it...” (Cumhuriyet, 27 November 1979) The attempt on Pope’s life was organized by the Turkish state and the agents of Turkish intelligence, most probably with encouragement and support from the CIA.
The most hideous manifestation of Turkish state terrorism in recent history revealed itself in Diyarbakır Military Prison. Readers may find it shocking to hear the fact that between 1981 and 1984, thirty-four Kurdish political captives had died or been killed and hundreds were maimed and wounded by elements of Turkish Gladio in this Gestapo camp, called “prison”. For months and years, a Kontrgerilla team headed by Captain Esat Oktay Yildiran, under the direct command of Diyarbakir Martial Law authorities, deprived Kurdish political inmates even of the extremely modest amenities usually available to all prisoners for decades in Turkish prisons, such as the rights to buy food at the prison canteen, to receive visitors etc. During the military dictatorship period (1980-83) all political prisoners were deprived of almost all these rights and felt the full impact of the brute repression, which lasted long after Turkey’s return to “civilian rule”. Mr. Yildiran and his team however, were not content with ordinary repression. Kurdish political inmates in Diyarbakir became targets of continuous insult and abuse and were subjected to daily and systematic beating and torture, were compelled to say prayers, memorize and chant dozens of chauvinistic and military songs, and salute even ordinary soldier-guards who systematically abused and tortured them. They were put into cells filled with human excrement, forced to drink their own urine, after being denied water for days, forced to kiss the clubs they were beaten or were to be beaten with. They were forced to beat each other and to eat their own and their comrades’ excrements, forced to copulate with each other and perform several similar utterly humiliating, disgusting and horrible acts, befitting Turkish Nazis. Denial or restriction of food and even of water could be considered an ordinary, and maybe an “innocent” exercise under those circumstances. For the presumed advantages of Turkish membership in the EU and that of lucrative commercial and financial relations, this black page of history has been convenienty forgotten by almost all European states and parties.
The following account gives a rough idea about the conditions of political prisoners in Turkish prisons during the 1980s and 1990s. On January 25th, 1995, three political captives (Ercan Hachin, Cengiz Kaya and Yusuf Temel) were transferred from Erzurum Special-Type Prison and Erzurum E-Type Prison to Bartin Special-Type Prison. They described the horrendous conditions in Erzurum prisons in a letter they sent out. Here is a resume of their letter:
“On August 15th, 1994, soldiers, commandos, elements of Special Teams and prison guards brandishing chains, iron clubs, cudgels attacked on us and brutally beat and tortured all political captives. Many of us lost consciousness as a result of the attack and all were thrown into cells. Our belongings, including clothes, books, journals, radios, pictures were destroyed and rendered unusable. Starting from this date, all political captives were forced to confess and defect under systematic torture. Those who resisted, were taken to prison bath and forced to endure various sorts of torture, such as traditional Turkish falaka (beating of soles by clubs), application of electrical current to different parts of the body, forced crawling on the cement ceiling without any clothing on, dousing with cold water etc. Almost all political captives were isolated from each other and held in their cells. Those who had to go to court or hospital were being tortured regularly at the entrance to the prison. Inmates, who were bodily harmed as a result of torture were not treated and left to die. There were an unknown number of political captives who had attempted suicide. Selami Zor had lost his life by hanging himself on August 30th, 1994. The prison authorities tried to shift the blame for his death on his comrades; they tortured Erdal Bektash, Nurullah Koch and Shervan Ahmet to accept responsibility for Zor’s death. Later, Arap Köseoğlu also tried to hang himself, but was saved when the rope was broken, injuring his neck permanently in the attempt. Ismet Orhan set himself on fire, but did not die. Afterwards he was dubbed deranged and sent to a mental institution in Elazig, despite the fact that his body was half burned and he was left untreated. Abdullah Kaya had tried to strangle himself using his own prison uniform, but was saved and heavily injured in the attempt. Those who go on hunger strike to protest against these atrocities were forced to quit the action under torture.” (Atilim, 11-18 February 1995)
On September 24th, 1996, ten PKK fighters were massacred at Diyarbakir E-Type Prison. This attack was carried out by Special Teams, gendarmes and prison guards armed with iron bars, wooden clubs and firearms. During this massacre, Edip Direkchi, Nimet Chakmak, Erkan Perishan, M. Sabri Gümüsh, Ridvan Bulut, Hakki Tekin, Ahmet Chelik, Kadir Demir, Mehmet Batuge and Cemal Cham were killed and a great many of their comrades wounded. Almost all those killed and wounded had received heavy blows almost exclusively on their heads; a fact which definitely proved the homicidal intent of the “security” forces who carried out the attack. Their hands and feet in chains, 25 wounded political inmates were transferred to Gaziantep Special-Type Prison immediately after the massacre without even being provided with the most rudimentary medical care. What is more, they were beaten and tortured during the journey, as a result of which one other inmate (Kadir Demir) lost his life and two of them seriously wounded. To hide their crime Turkish reactionaries charged the Parliamentary Commission on Human Rights with the task to investigate the matter. The 16 page-long report of the Commission published later, confirmed the murderous intent of the aggressors. The report told that the deaths were “caused by 30 soldiers and 38 policemen who had exceeded the limit of their authority in the quelling of the rebellion.”
Ulujanlar massacre is another example of the infamous history Turkish state terrorism. During the early hours of September 26th, 1999, hundreds of Turkish soldiers and members of the Special Teams of the police mounted an armed attack against political captives at Ankara Central Closed Prison (otherwise known as Ulujanlar Prison), who bravely defended themselves with the extremely limited means at their disposal. 10 of them (Aziz Dincher, Ahmet Savran, Nevzat Chiftchi, Abüzer Chat, Mahir Emsalsiz, Zafer Kirbiyik, Önder Genchaslan, Ismet Kavaklioglu, Halil Türker and Ümit Altintash) were killed during the totally unequal struggle. The killers tried to justify themselves by falsely arguing that inmates prevented them from conducting a general search in the wards and fired upon the search party! Of course this was one of countless big lies of Turkish reactionaries. In fact, none of the fascist murderers were even seriously hurt, let alone killed, while 10 political captives were killed through gunfire and torture and more than 30 of them gravely injured. During the furst phase of the operation some of the inmates were killed and several of them wounded by the attackers who used guns, tear gas, chemical foam and water cannon. Towards noon, soldiers armed with guns, iron clubs and cudgels began to enter the wards. They immediately started to torture the defenseless, wounded and almost suffocated inmates. Later they took them to the prison bath and this time round applied a more systematic torture. Most of the political captives were brutally beaten and tortured for hours in the prison bath by the police and soldiers brandishing knives, acid, firearms, iron clubs and burning cigarette butts. None of the inmates, including those who had bullet wounds, were “neglected”. Most were killed due to the blows they received on their skulls. Their bodies, faces and heads were so disfigured that later, even some of the parents could not recognize their beloved and dead sons. That was the reason why the authorities did not permit the lawyers to attend the postmortem examination of the remains of the martyrs. (6)
This massacre was followed by a more widespread attack on political inmates. On 19 December 2000, around 10,000 soldiers stormed 20 prisons all over Turkey. In some of the prisons, part of the political prisoners had been on hunger strike for more than two months. 30 inmates and 2 soldiers lost their lives and dozens of inmates were seriously wounded during the clashes where “security” forces generously used high kinetic energy weapons, other firearms and special chemicals. Later it was revealed that two soldiers were shot dead by their comrades in the confusion. Criticizing the authorities, Human Rights Association of Turkey, Turkish Medical Association, Human Rights Foundation of Turkey, Association of Contemporary Jurists said:
“Reports and testimonies included in the dossiers of court cases launched against convicts and prisoners on remand who are indeed the victims, demonstrate that:
1. Excessive and disproportionate force have been used by the security forces,
2. Arms and equipment which have been developed to destroy human life have been used,
3. Prison wings were set on fire and the security forces did not try to extinguish the fire,
4. Security forces led prisoners to die under fire,
5. The majority of prisoners died by gun-fire of security forces, blows or being burnt down.”
Turkish reactionaries themselves have from time to time talked about their “feats” and made self-confessions. For instance, in 1987, a report was prepared by Mehmet Eymür, the Chief of Counter-Trafficking Division of MIT and made public by the weekly 2000’e Dogru on 7 February 1988. The report implicated several Turkish dignitaries, including generals, MPs, businessmen, police chiefs and MIT functionaries. This report officially confirmed cooperation of these dignitaries with criminal elements and their involvement in all sorts of extra-legal affairs, including drug trafficking, extortion, financial fraud, terrorism, gun running, preparation of forged documents, use of illegal wiretapping for personal gain etc. and once more exposed the criminal character of the Turkish ruling classes. The names mentioned in the report included retired general Tahsin Shahinkaya, one of the four generals, who led the 12 September 1980 military coup d’etat, retired general Necdet Urug, former head of the Istanbul Martial Law Command and former Chief of Staff of the Turkish armed forces, Hadi Urug, his son, Shükrü Balci, former police chief of Istanbul, Unal Erkan, former Governor of OHAL, Mehmet Agar, former Chief of General Security Directorate and former Minister of “Justice” and Minister of Internal Affairs, Nevzat Ayaz, former Governor of Istanbul, Nuri Gündes, former MIT chief of Istanbul and others.
In 1991, General Sabri Yirmibesoglu, one of the architects and veterans of the Turkish gladio admitted to the bombing of Kemal Atatürk’s house in 1955. In an interview he gave to the author of a book on the pogrom of 6-7 September 1955,
“Of course. 6-7 September events too were the work of the Special War Department” he said. “And that was a splendid organization. It hit the target...” (Fatih Güllapoglu, Tanksiz Topsuz Harekat, 1991, p. 103)
Algan Hacaloğlu, in his capacity as the spokesman for the Turkish Parliament’s Commission of Inquiry on Internal Migration made a statement in August 1997 on the plight of internally displaced Kurdish peasants, who were forcibly evacuated from their villages. He told that, a fund to the tune of 5 billion US dollars would be needed for the resettlement of these impoverished and traumatized people. In his statement, he conceded the fact that, 900 villages and 3,200 smaller residential units were evacuated and part of them were burned for “security” reasons. “These people are hungry and destitute” he said. “They are living in tents and shelters and under extremely unhealthy conditions. Families, amounting to 10-15 people have to be content with just one room, without a kitchen, toilet or bathroom.” (Hürriyet, 8 August 1997)
23 October 1999 issue of daily Milliyet carried a revealing statement by Sadik Avundukluoglu, himself a reactionary MP and the head of the Parliamentary Commission for the Investigation of Unsolved Political Murders. This Commission, first of its kind in the history of the Turkish Republic, was established in 1993, following the murder of prominent journalist Ugur Mumju, on January 24th, 1993. In his statement Mr. Avundukluoglu told that, none of the 908 unsolved political murders committed between 1975 and 1993, which had come to the attention of the Commission had been solved. According to the report, 412 people had “disappeared” in police custody between 12 September 1980 and June 1985. The report also admitted the fact that JITEM (=Intelligence and Counter-Terror Bureau of Gendarmerie involved in extra-judicial murders of Kurdish people in particular) and other repressive bodies of the state were involved in arms and drug trafficking, in extra-judicial murders and extortion directly or through criminal gangs composed of “Village Guards” and PKK defectors under their control. The report underlined the suspicion hanging over the death of General Eshref Bitlis, Commander-General of Gendarmerie, on 17 February 1993, together with four soldiers and a civilian when his military plane crashed just after taking off from a military airfield in Ankara. It also confirmed the widely-known ties between Turkish Hizbullah murderers and the armed forces, who trained, armed and directed the former in their dirty war against the PKK and Kurdish people. At the end of a two year-long work, the above-mentioned Commission had finished its job and was ready to present its 200 page-long report to the Turkish Parliament. The report was prepared with the support of various experts and together with several appendices amounted to more than 10,000 pages. However, this report and its appendices were never discussed at the Parliament; they were not even brought to the agenda of this body. Some government ministers went so far as demanding the deletion of passages accusing “security” forces in the report. Judge Akman Akyürek, a specialist attached to the Commission retorted them and told:
“All of the allegations in our report are documented and probably the report covers a small portion of the incidents.” According to the 9 December 1997 issue of daily Hürriyet, Judge Akman Akyürek was killed in İstanbul in a “car accident”, the day before.
According to official sources Turkish Hizbullah was founded in 1987 by Hüseyin Velioglu, with the support of Turkish armed forces. At the end of the 1980s and the beginning of the 1990s PKK was at the height of its strength and influence. Its guerilla army was growing and holding its ground successfully against the attacks of the Turkish army. So Hizbullah, which was seen as a counterbalance factor by Turkish authorities was mobilized with the active participation of military intelligence officers, including Major Jem Ersever from JITEM. Hizbullah murderers were being recruited from among the politically most backward sections of the people of the region and PKK defectors; they were being organized in and around mosques, given military training and armed by the Turkish Gendarmerie and Special Teams. The Hizbullah systematically abducted, imprisoned, tortured and killed thousands of PKK sympathizers and Kurdish progressive people, including hundreds of religious personnel and pious people who had not openly supported the state in its fight against Kurdish rebels. Its aim was simply to terrorize the whole population, in coordination with Turkish “security” forces.
Turkish authorities have implicitly and reluctantly admitted the connection between the state and the Hizbullah on several occasions. A 71 page report prepared by General Directorate of Security in 1992 by an intelligence officer called Halil Tug and prefaced by the then General Director Yilmaz Ergun, said:
“... PKK organization, representative of a mentality that aims massacring Muslims, cooperating with Armenians, serving communism and striving to split the Umma (=the religious community) is perceived by the Hizbullah as an enemy to be fought against and even destroyed.” Again in 1992, Teoman Koman, former MIT chief and top commander of Turkish Gendarmerie said:
“Which Hizbullah? There is a Hizbullah in Iran. And there are pious citizens defending themselves from the attacks of PKK.”
In January 2000, when Turkish state decided to dismantle Hizbullah, Mesut Yilmaz, former prime minister and the Chairman of ANAP (=Motherland Party), one the three parties forming the coalition government of the time told:
“It is not possible for an organization, not in collaboration with some traitors inside the state and not enjoying the logistical support of foreign states to do the things done by Hizbullah. There cannot exist an organization killing, torturing, interrogating and burying 34 people in a number of provinces of Turkey, without exposing itself and hiding all these acts from the state and security forces for months.” (Hürriyet, 26 January 2000)
And in November 2009, in the midst of a polemic with the opposition CHP (=Republican People’s Party) Prime Minister Rejep T. Erdogan implicitly accepted the fact that there had been a massacre and deportations in Dersim during the fateful years of 1937-38.
* * * * *
As I end this entirely inadequate portrait of Turkish state terrorism, I have to remind the readers that Turkey still lives under the shadow of a fascist coup d’etat made by generals on 12 September 1980 with the support of the United States. In 1982, a constitution was drafted by the lackeys of Turkish generals and adopted in 1983 under conditions of military rule. Those generals have never been called to account and their present-day successors wield extensive power and enjoy privileges, despite certain steps the AK Party government has taken to curb their special status. Now, almost thirty years after the fascist coup d’etat, the 1982 constitution of the generals still remains in force in a country that has acquired candidate membership in the EU at the Helsinki Summit held in December 1999. The last attacks of European police on Kurdish leaders and journalists show that much remains the same; Western European states continue to give priority to their economic, political and military interests and continue courting Turkish reactionaries whose hands are stained with the blood of hundreds of thousands or rather millions of children, women and men.
(1) Involvement of Turkish authorities and the armed forces in drug trafficking was confirmed in the report of OGD (=Observatoire geopolitique des drogues/ Geopolitical Drug Watch), a Paris-based anti-narcotic body, published on 25 September 1997. OGD report described Turkey’s evolution from a transporting country for the drug incoming from Iran, Pakistan and Afghanistan in the 1970s and 1980s to a drug producing, processing and exporting country in the 1990s. The report said that the amount of heroin seized in Turkey amounted to about 22 percent of the world total; on the other hand, the amount of seized, but not officially reported and stashed away heroin was estimated to be 800-1,200 kilograms. In its report, OGD told that the “dirty war” Turkish army was conducting against Kurdish people was costing 10 billion US dollars yearly and drug trafficking was the main source of finance the army was tapping for this purpose. The armed forces were directly involved in drug trafficking, the report said, and military personnel themselves carried large amounts of drug in helicopters, armored personnel carriers and even on battleships!
A news item published in daily Milliyet on 28 February 1999, referred to a U. S. State Department report entitled “International Narcotics Control Strategy 1998” In this report Turkey was still dubbed as an important bridge in the transport of drug to the European market. The report told:
“The amount of heroin and other illegal drugs is not known; but according to the estimates of DEA (=Drug Enforcement Administration), around for to six tons of heroin is consigned to Europe every month. And about 75 percent of heroin seized in Europe has a Turkish connection; it has been transported through Turkey or it has been processed in Turkey or its connection with Turkish criminal gangs has been established at the time of their seizure.” The report also mentioned the fact that, as of 30 September 1998, the amount of dirty money deposited in Turkish banks was about 4.3 billion US dollars.
(2) Between 1993 and 2009, that is in the space of 16 years 7 parliamentary parties of Kurdish people have been banned by Turkish authorities. These are HEP (=People’s Labor Party) banned on 14 July 1993, ÖZDEP (=Freedom and Democracy Party) banned on 23 November 1993, DEP (=Democracy Party) banned on 16 June 1994, DDP (=Democratic Change Party) banned on 19 March 1996, DKP (=Democratic Mass Party) banned on 26 February 1999, HADEP (=People’s Democracy Party) banned on 13 March 2003 and DTP (=Democratic Society Party) banned on 11 December 2009.
(3) Musa Anter (1920-1992) was a veteran and much respected Kurdish journalist and poet. He was shot dead in 1992 by the agents of Turkish Gladio in Diyarbakir, while attending festival, organised by the local council. Orhan Miroglu, a friend who was accompanying him, was seriously wounded in the attack. Turkey was found guilty of this murder in 2006 by the European Court of Human Rights and was sentenced to pay a fine of 28,500 euros.
(4) Part of the Kurdish population led by their feudal lords have taken part in the massacres conducted against Armenian and Assyrian peoples, This, however, does not in any way lessen the responsibility of Ottoman-Turkish reactionaries who were the real architects of these vicious crimes.
(5) Dr. Nuri Dersimi, who wrote a book (Kürdistan Tarihinde Dersim= Dersim in Kurdish History) later in Syria, tells the way Turkish troops killed women and children, whose husbands and fathers had already been massacred. Dersimi explains how troops bricked up the entrances of the caves where women and children had taken refuge, how they lit fires that led to the death of those inside through suffocation and how those who tried to escape were bayoneted by the troops.
(6) After the massacre, a parliamentary subcommittee was founded to investigate the matter. On May 2nd, 2000, the report prepared by this subcommittee attached to the Parliamentary Human Rights Commission was made public. Commenting on the findings of the subcommittee, Sema Pishkinsüt, an MP of Bülent Ejevit’s DSP (=Democratic Left Party) and the head of the Parliamentary Human Rights Commission, told the following:
“The backs of three or four prisoners have been riddled with gunshots. Further, we came across widespread postmortem data, including internal dermal hemorrhage and burns, which were not mentioned in forensic reports...” (Milliyet, 3 May 2000) Ms. Pishkinsüt also told about the burns encountered on the faces of several political captives murdered at Ulujanlar Prison. “These marks” she said, “resembled very much those that arise as a result of acid burns... There is the likelihood that these marks have come about owing to the use of various chemical materials, such as foam and tear gas simultaneously and in an airless environment.” (Ibid)
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