Mass Trials and Death Penalties

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Partly before the military coup on 12 September 1980 but mainly after September 12th many militants and cadre of legal and illegal organization were detained, tortured and afterwards either released or put in prison to stand trial at military courts. The Human Rights Association estimates that 650,000 people were dtained on political grounds and interrogated under torture.

In Germany the group called alternative aid for Turkey (alternative Turkey help (ath) published a bi-weekly newsletter called infodienst between April 1981 and September 1985 and issued material on specific subjects, In October 1982 a special report on mass trials called Sonderinfo 2: Massenprozesse in der Türkei was released. In June 1986 a report was compiled listing trials that had resulted in death penalties. The aim was to see, who might be executed next and not to list all possible court cases against political organizations.

First figures

The türkei-infodienst of 23 September 1985 included the following figures:

  • 50 people (including 27 political prisoners) were executed since 12 September 1980
  • Since the declaration of martial law (December 1978) 549 death penalties have been passed
  • Since 12.09.1980 demands for the death penalty were made in 6270 cases
  • The sum in Sonderinfo 2 (October 1982) was 20,705 defendants in political trials. For 3,790 the death penalty was demanded.

Possible mistakes

The information was taken from newspapers. Other sources could rarely be consulted. Possible mistakes are:

  • The papers may have given wrong names for organizations or convicts (it is also possible that the ath misspelled the names, but that is not as likely as mistakes of the newspapers).
  • The dates refer to the edition of the newspapers. The verdict may have been earlier (at least one day before). Some items did not carry a date. In that case a medium date between the item before and after was taken.
  • In several cases no information was given on the total of defendants. If such a figure could not be established by other means the known figures (number of convicts for instance) as the total of defendants.
  • In some cases no organization is mentioned by name. If only one or two defendants were sentenced to death the item was not included. For a group in Bulancak district (Giresun province) the paper said "separatist organization". Yet, it is most likely that it was a trial against Devrimci Yol, since that organization had a unit by that name.
  • The list of persons mentions four persons twice. It is unlikely that there were two persons by the same name. It is possible that the Military Court of Appeal quashed first death penalty and the retrial was merged with other cases. It is also possible that more than one trial was conducted against these people.

Abbreviations for the organizations

You can find an incomplete list of illegal organizations in the English Wikipedia. If you want to get confused about the variety of organization you can look at the family tree of illegal organizations in Turkey. The abbreviations in the table mean (T=Turkey, Turkish; P=People, Rev=revolutionary, Nat=nationalist, ML=Marxist-Leninist):

Name Türkçe/Kırmanç Deutsch English
Acil THKP/C Acilciler Stoßtrupp "Raiders"
DHB Devrimci Halkın Birliği Rev. Volksunion Rev. People's Union
DHY Devrimci Halkın Yolu Rev. Weg des Volkes Rev. Path of the People
DS Devrimci Sol Rev. Linke Rev. Left
DY Devrimci Yol Rev. Weg Rev. Path
HDÖ Halkın Devrimci Öncüleri Rev. Avantgarde des V. P.'s Rev. Avantgarde
HK Halkın Kurtuluşu Befreiung des Volkes People's Liberation
HY Halkın Yolu Weg des Volkes People's Path
KAWA KAWA mythologischer Held mythologic hero
Kivilcim Kıvılcım Funke Spark
KSD Kurtuluş Sosyalist Dergi Befreiung Liberation
KUK Kürdistan Ulusal Kurtuluşları Nat. Befreiung Kurdistan Nat. Liberation Kurdistan
MHP Milliyetçi Hareket Partisi Partei der Nat. Bewegung Nat. Movement Party
MLSPB ML Silahlı Propaganda Birliği ML Bew. Propagandaeinheit ML Armed Propaganda Unit
Partizan Partizan Partisan Partizan
PKK Partiya Karkerên Kurdistan Arbeiterpartei Kurdistan Kurdish Workers' Party
Rizgari Rizgari Befreiung Liberation
TDY Türkiye Devrimin Yolu Rev. Weg der Türkei Rev. Path of Turkey
Tekosin Tekosin Revolution Revolution
THKO Türkiye Halk Kurtuluş Ordusu Volksbefreiungsarmee der T. People's Liberation Army of T.
THKP/C T. Halk Kurtuluş Partisi /Cephe Volksbefreiungspartei/Front People's Liberation Party/Front
TIKB Türkiye İhtilalcı Kom. Birliği Rev.-kom. Union von T. Rev-comm. Union of Turkey
TIKKO T. İşçi Köylü Kurtuluş Ordusu Arbeiter-Bauern Befr.armee Workers-peasants lib.army
TKEP T. Komünist Emek Partisi Kom. Arbeiterpartei der T. Comm. Labour Party of T.
TKP T. Komünist Partisi Kommunistische Partei Communist Party
TKP/ML T. Komünist Partisi/ML Kommunistische Partei/ML Communist Party/ML
Ülkücü Ülkü Ocakları Idealistenverein Idealist Association

The Tables

There are two tables

  1. sortable List on Mass Trials (additional information on the time after 1986)
  2. sortable table with names of People sentenced to death
  3. sortable table with the sums on defendants and death penalties
Org. Defendants Death Penalties
Acil 129 12
DHB 426 10
DHY 58 2
DS 1646 199
DY 6277 225
HDÖ 147 14
HK 655 9
KAWA 515 5
Kivilcim 17 4
KSD 451 21
KUK 280 3
MHP 1147 39
MLSPB 448 7
PKK 3259 142
Rizgari 202 0
TDY 11 1
Tekosin 11 2
THKO 23 2
THKP/C 289 18
TIKB 187 6
TKEP 160 5
TKP 572 0
TKP/ML 498 35
Ülkücü 506 30
17914 791

Since only trials in which death penalties were passed have been listed the sum of defendants is lower than the sume in Sonderinfo 2 of October 1982. It is, therefore, obvious that only a small proportion of cases were included.

Further reading: