Cover picture (click on it to enlarge)
Students being arrested in Istanbul
in April 1988. A number of students have recently been arrested and interrogated
Over a quarter of a million people
have been arrested in Turkey since 1980 on political grounds and almost
all of them have been tortured.
Thousands are now in jail. Some
were convicted for no more than expressing their opinions, many others
because they confessed to crimes of which they were innocent to escape
the agony of torture.
Most of these prisoners did not
receive a fair trial. Some were sentenced to death. Today almost 200 people
await a decision on whether they will go to the gallows.
Turkey was under martial law for
over three years. Military rule began to be phased out at the end of 1983
and it has now been lifted entirely. But human rights violations remain
The military have seized power repeatedly
in Turkey during the last three decades, most recently in September 1980.
Unprecedented political violence
had erupted throughout Turkey in the late 1970s. Over 5,000 people were
killed. Most were members of left-wing or right-wing political organizations,
then engaged in bitter fighting. The most militant right-wing organization,
known as "Grey Wolves", claimed they were supporting the state security
In December 1978 martial law was
imposed in 13 provinces in response to violent riots in the south-eastern
city of Kahrarnanmaras, during which over 100 people were killed. During
the nine months after the Kahramanmaras riots the govemment extended martial
law to cover 20 provinces. However, political violence and killings increased
in those areas under military rule.
Inside Mamak Military Prison in
Ankara. Thousands of people have been jailed for political offences since
1980, many of them solely because they exercised their right to freedom
of expression and most after unfair trials.
On 12 September 1980, Turkey's military
leaders seized power under General Kenan Evren. Martial law was extended
throughout the country. The generals abolished parliament, suspended the
Constitution and banned all political parties and trade unions, and most
other organizations. For the next three years the Turkish armed forces
ruled the country through the National Security Council.
Immediately after the coup, the
number of political killings decreased substantially. However, the level
of human rights abuses increased dramatically.
Tens of thousands of men and women
were taken into custody. More than 30,000 were jailed in the first four
months after the coup.
During the following years, Amnesty
International received thousands of allegations of torture including reports
of over 100 deaths as a result of torture.
Trade unionists were arrested en
masse. Fifty-two leading members of the Confederation of Progressive Trade
Tanks patrol lstanbul 's deserted
streets after the 1980 military coup.@ Camera Pre
were seized immediately after the
coup. By the time the military court delivered its verdict in 1986, the
DISK trial had 1,477 defendants.
The DISK trial was one of many mass
trials that progressed ponderously through the military courts, presided
over by high-ranking officers of the Turkish armed forces. Most took years
to reach a verdict, and many of the defendants stayed in prison from the
day of their arrest. Some of these trials are still in progress.
People from most sectors of Turkish
society were put on trial, teachers for their lessons, writers for their
books, journalists for articles they had written, trade unionists for organizing
workers, Kurds for separatist activities, religious leaders for their sermons,
and students for attending seminars. Even lawyers have been arrested and
imprisoned for defending their clients.
In 1983 martial law restrictions
were eased. From May 1983 the military authorities allowed limited political
activity and this was followed by general elections in November.
Three parties were allowed to field candidates.
The conservative Motherland Party
(ANAP), led by Turgut Özal, won a majority of seats in the Grand National
Assembly of Turkey (TBMM), the parliament. Turgut Özal was appointed Prime
Minister. From December 1983 military rule was gradually withdrawn. It
was finally lifted throughout Turkey in July 1987.
Although Turkey returned to civilian
rule some five years ago, the government has failed to ensure that human
rights are protected. Political prisoners are still tried by military courts.
State security courts, intended to replace military justice, have failed
to give defendants a fair trial. Some have been sentenced to death after
Torture continues, despite Turkey
having signed and ratified the United Nations Convention against Torture
and Other Cruel, Inhuman or Degrading Treatment or Punishment and
the European Convention for the Prevention of Torture and Inhuman or Degrading
Treatment or Punishment.
Although in recent years fewer people
have been detained than in the years immediately after the coup, Amnesty
International believes that any person who is detained on political grounds
is in great danger of being tortured.
Mustafa Dilmen, the president of
the Mersin branch of the glass-workers' trade union, Kristal-ls, was detained
at the beginning of June 1988. He was interrogated at Ankara Police Headquarters
and held incommunicado for more than a week. After his release he
made the following statement:
"When I was taken to the capital,
Ankara, I felt quite relaxed. I knew that the anti-torture convention had
become law. Parliament had ratified it.
"However I could not perceive any
The trade union president said he
had been subjected to various forms of torture. He concluded:
"I believe that there are certain
things one human being should not do to another. Torture is first among
these. It is my wish that torture, the disgrace of humanity, will be prevented
and that those who carry it out do not get away with it."
Mustafa Dilmen, tortured in June
The Turkish security forces
Most allegations of torture cite
two branches of the Turkish police: the political police and the department
for capital offences and violent crimes.
The political police include special
teams trained to deal with particular political organizations. These teams
have extended powers which, for example, allow them to follow suspects
beyond the borders of the province in which they are based. There have
been frequent allegations that some members of these special teams are
trained as torturers.
In rural areas, police duties are
carried out by the gendarmerie, which is part of the military structure:
members of the gendarmerie serve as professionals or conscripts, as in
the army. They have also been accused of torture.
Allegations of torture are not restricted
to the official police force: the National Intelligence Organization (MIT)
has also been named in torture allegations. MIT's operations are shrouded
The police force in Turkey increased
significantly between 1984 and 1987 - by 50 per cent according to the Turkish
newspaper Cumhuriyet- far outstripping the growth of the population as
a whole. This is also reflected in the large increase in the number of
police premises: an 89 per cent increase in the number of police headquarters
and a 60 per cent increase in the number of police stations.
Many new prisons have also been
built. Since 1982 the total number of prisons has been increased to 644
and their capacity from 55,000 to over 80,000 prisoners.
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