Prosecution of Religious Activists
AI INDEX: EUR 44/74/87
The number of people prosecuted for their religious activities in Turkey increased substantially during 1987. At Istanbul State Security Court alone 44 trials of 128 defendants began during the first seven months of 1987. Laicism (separation of religion and state affairs) is one of the founding principles of the Turkish Republic and anti-secular tendencies have been prosecuted under Article 163 of the Turkish Penal Code since its introduction in 1926. This article has never been used to prosecute those using violence and these defendants should not be confused with members of militant Muslim groups operating in Turkey and other countries.
In 1983 the maximum sentence for an offence under Article 163 was more than doubled to 15 years' imprisonment. In February 1987 a draft amendment to the Penal Code provided for a maximum punishment of life imprisonment.
Those on trial include participants in peaceful demonstrations, members of legal political parties, journalists and writers as well as members of Islamic brotherhoods. A main target for prosecution were leading members of Islamic associations among Turkish workers abroad, mainly based in the Federal Republic of Germany. Although these associations are legal outside Turkey their members are prosecuted once they enter the country. Amnesty International considers all people imprisoned for the non-violent expression of their beliefs to be prisoners of conscience.
Compared to the thousands of allegations of torture in detention Amnesty International receives from Turkey, there are relatively few allegations of torture and ill-treatment of religious activists in police custody. But it has been alleged that Hüseyin Kurumahmutoglu died in July 1987 after he had been beaten by a guard in Mamak Military Prison (Ankara) for refusing to take off his prayer cap.
- This summarizes a nine-page document, TURKEY: Prosecution of Religious Activists, AI Index:EUR 44/74/87, issued by Amnesty International on 10 November 1987. Anyone wishing to have further details or to take action on this issue should consult the full document.
- 1 TURKEY: PROSECUTION OF RELIGIOUS ACTIVISTS
- 2 Recent Developments
TURKEY: PROSECUTION OF RELIGIOUS ACTIVISTS
Amnesty International is currently observing an increase in the number of arrests and trials concerning religious activists in Turkey. Though some of these trials have resulted in acquittal many defendants who have not used or advocated violence have been sentenced to terms of imprisonment. Among those prosecuted for religious activities are members of Islamic brotherhoods, legal political parties, members of associations existing legally outside Turkey, participants in peaceful demonstrations and other acts of non-violent protest as well as journalists and writers. Amnesty International considers all such people who are imprisoned to be prisoners of conscience.
Most religious activists are tried for offences under Article 163 of the Turkish Penal Code (TPC) which prohibits "leadership and membership of an association for the purpose of converting the State to religious principles and beliefs, or propaganda for this purpose". In January 1983 the sentences for these offences were increased substantially, currently providing for a maximum imprisonment term of 15 years. A draft amendment to the Turkish Penal Code that was made public in February 1987 provides for life-imprisonment for someone convicted of leadership in more than one of the above described organizations.
The Secular State and Religion in Turkey
Laicism (the separation of politics and religion in a secular state) has been one of the basic principles of the Turkish Republic since its foundation in 1923 by Mustafa Kemal Atatürk (father of the Turks). With measures such as a ban on religious schools and an order that men had to wear a cap (sapka) rather than a hat (fez) Atatürk tried to reduce the influence of religion on public life. -
Article 24 of the 1982 Constitution of the Turkish Republic guarantees freedom of conscience, religious belief and conviction. Restrictions of this freedom refer mainly to the provisions of Article 163 TPC (see next chapter). With a majority of more than 90 percent Muslims in Turkish society, Islamic principles have not only dominated private life but still have strong effects on public life, too. Politicians traditionally visit a local mosque during their election campaigns and the President, said to be a strict follower of secular principles, includes quotations from the Koran in his speeches.
The two main Islamic streams in Turkey are Sunni and Alevi (Note). The Alevi follow the line of the seet of the Shi'i with their roots based on the conflict between Ali, cousin of the prophet and Uthman, an early convert to Islam and member of the tribe of Ummaya. The supporters of Ali founded the Shi'i movement and held that sovereignty belonged after Ali to his offspring through his marriage to Fatima, the daughter of the prophet.
Note: The spelling of names for Islamic groups mentioned in this report follows basically the Turkish spelling, because some exist only in Turkey.
The Shi'i legal doctrine developed a unique character. While the Sunni agreed that the Koran could be interpreted and new problems solved, through juristic reasoning, the majority of Shi'i reject the role of human reason. Sunni Muslims are usually regarded as heretics by Shi'i but in Turkey Alevi are regarded as heretics by the Sunni majority and considered to be politically left-wing. In fact, the tradition of the Alevi not only contains Islamic elements, but is influenced by the ancient shamanism of nomad tribes and Asian polytheism, too. The leaders of Turkey's neighbour, Iran, follow the doctrine of Shi'i while in Turkey Alevi are the minority, estimated at 17 percent of the Muslim population. In the late 1970's many violent clashes were based on the conflict between the two Islamic orientations. In December 1978 right-wing militants in Kahramanmaras stirred up feeling amongst the Sunni population against the Alevi inhabitants of the town, resulting in the killing of more than 100 citizens.
Exact figures on the non-Islamic population in Turkey are not available. Some sources estimate the Christian population between three and five percent. Their communities mainly exist in Istanbul with Armenian and Greek-Orthodox Christians; in southeastern Turkey other groups like the Syriacs and Yezidi (a syncretistic faith) can be found. In the big cities Jewish and other communities such as the Jehovah's Witnesses exist.
Legal Background of Prosecution
After the foundation of the Turkish Republic a separate law for the punishment of religious activities with political aims was introduced in 1925. When a penal code was introduced in 1926 this law became Article 163 of the Turkish Penal Code (TPC). The legislation is based on a fear that the sheria (canonical law) might be institutionalized in Turkey. According to Islamic belief all aspects of life are ruled by the principles of the sheria. Fundamentalist associations therefore argue that State affairs, legislation and other aspects of public life should be organized according to Islamic principles.
Article 163 does not refer to the means used to establish such a fundamentalist rule and the legislation under this article never included an act of violence in the attempt to change the secular nature of the State. The Turkish Penal Code has other provisions for violent attempts to change the current constitutional system, namely Article 146, providing for the death penalty. Law No. 2787 of 22 January 1983 increased the sentences for offences under Article 163 substantially. Membership of a fundamentalist organization, which formerly led to a minimum of six months' imprisonment, currently provides for a sentence of five to 12 years. Leadership of such an organization, which was formerly punished by prison sentences of between two and seven years, has been increased to eight to 15 years. Anti-secular propaganda carried a sentence of between one and five years until 1983. Now the sentences range from five to 10 years. In short, the minimum sentences were quadrupled and the maximum sentences were doubled.
In a draft amendment to the Turkish Penal Code which was presented to the press and professional organizations, like the Union of Turkish Bars, for discussion and comment, a further provision was added to the first paragraph of Article 163. If a person is convicted of leadership in more than one of such organizations the required sentence is life-imprisonment. Such a provision existed already in Article 141 of the Turkish Penal Code which prohibits membership of associations who try to establish the dominance of one social class over others. The sentence provided for leadership in two or more such organizations is currently the death penalty; in the draft amendment this sentence is changed to life¬ imprisonment.
Among other articles of the Turkish Penal Code under which religious activists as well as other critics of State authorities are frequently tried are Article 140 which provides for the imprisonment of anyone "working against Turkish interests abroad", Article 158 (insulting the president) and Article 159 (insulting the government or the army). Amnesty International believes that these articles have been used to imprison people in violation of their right to freedom of expression in contravention of Article 10 of the European Convention on Human Rights to which Turkey is a State Party. Finally, charges without any obvious connection to freedom of expression are sometimes brought against religious activists under for example Article 261 of the Turkish Penal Code which provides sentences of between six months and two years' imprisonment for anyone illegally opening schools.
With a change in Martial Law No. 1402 after the military coup of 12 September 1980, a number of offences were subjected to trials by military courts. They included the so-called "crimes against the State" (Articles 125 to 173 of the Turkish Penal Code) except for offences against foreign State representatives (Articles 164 to 167). Fundamentalists charged under Article 163 had therefore to be tried by military courts.
On 1 May 1984 state security courts were established in eight provinces to try offences "against the supremacy of the State", including anti-secular activities, in areas where martial law had been lifted. Since all 67 provinces of Turkey are now under civilian rule (on 19 July 1987 martial law was lifted in the remaining four provinces) offences under Article 163 are now tried by state security courts throughout the country.
The intensified prosecution of religious activists may be illustrated by figures from Ankara and Istanbul State Security Courts (DGM). At Ankara DGM three trials under Article 163 started in 1984, in 1986 the number of trials under this article was already 13. At Istanbul DGM two trials with one defendant each were opened in 1984. In the first seven months of 1987 44 trials involving a total of 128 defendants had been initiated.
After the death of Atatürk in November 1938 and closer links to the Western world after the Second World War the strict line of banning all aspects of religion from public life was changed. In 1948 religion became a subject at school. In 1949 a faculty of theology was founded in Istanbul. In 1951 special grammar schools for priests (imam hatip liseleri) were introduced. The 1961 Constitution made religion an optional subject at school, but the 1982 Constitution provides for an obligatory religious education.
At the end of 1986 articles on the "danger of reaction" (irtica tehlikesi) started to appear in the Turkish press. Figures on the number of grammar schools for priests were given to show the increasing influence of religion. While in the 1950s the number of religious grammar schools had been seven there are currently said to be 386.
On 30 November 1986 President Kenan Evren gave his first public reaction to the apparent rise of religious influence with a speech in Denizli. It had been reported that in the district of Tavas in Denizli province alone, nine boarding schools, led by members of the Süleymanci brotherhood, existed with 452 pupils, 133 of them girls. In his speech President Kenan Evren said: "Pretending to do good, some of the associations are brainwashing young people. ...If we do not want to lead our children on the wrong path, the administration of these boarding houses has to be handed over to the State."
On 3 December 1986 Prime Minister Turgut Özal who had been a candidate in the 1977 election for the fundamentalist National Salvation Party (MSP) responded by saying that no "danger of reaction" existed in Konya or Denizli. This was shown in reports he had received. Still, the controversy went on for months coming to a head on 8 January 1987, when President Kenan Evren, in a speech in Adana, described Islamic fundamentalists as "evil forces" and warned that unless they stopped "their evil initiatives... their heads might be squashed". On the same day a ban on the wearing of headscarves by female students, regarded as a symbol of traditionalism, was announced. Although this was only a reinforcement of the law on "contemporary dressing at universities" dating back to 1981, the ban aroused a storm of protest.
The Ban of Headscarves
Thousands of telegrams were sent to the offices of the President and the Prime Minister from all over Turkey. A number of protestors, mainly students, were detained under Article 159 on charges of "Insulting the State authorities". One, Adem Karakus had sent a telegram on 10 January 1987 from Bursa to the President of Parliament saying "I do not know what I can say to the attack on human belief and rights. Find it [the appropriate punishment] from Allah." Adern Karakus was arrested and tried at Bursa Criminal Court No. 3. On 30 March 1987 he was sentenced to one year's imprisonment. According to the Law on Execution of Sentences he should have been released in June 1987.
Between 17 and 20 January 1987 spontaneous non-violent demonstrations against the ban on headscarves took place in various towns in Turkey. Some demonstrators were detained and later tried for offences under Article 163 and the Law on Demonstrations and Meetings. Seven of eight defendants in Istanbul stayed in pre-trial detention until 27 March 1987. At Konya State Security Court (DGM) three different trials were initiated for a total of 34 defendants. Although all of them were subsequently released after a maximum imprisonment of two months, some of them were later sentenced to 18 months' imprisonment. The appeal court quashed the sentences and in July 1987 the defendants remained free awaiting a verdict in their retrial.
Targets of Prosecution
Defendants prosecuted solely on account of their religious activities include members of Islamic brotherhoods, legal political parties, members of associations existing legally outside Turkey, participants in peaceful demonstrations and other non-violent protest as well as journalists and writers.
Militant groups with close links to neighbouring states like Syria and Iran have from time to time operated in Turkey. Their violent activities appear to have been carried out by foreigners with only occasional help from local individuals. Members of these groups, such as Hizbullah or Islami Cihad have been charged with violent acts and not simply because of their religious beliefs. Members of such groups should not be confused with the prisoners of conscience dealt with in this paper.
There are a number of different brotherhoods or religious schools in Turkey. Some have their origins in the 13th or 14th century. Others have only recently been established. The common purpose of these brotherhoods is to unite the individual with God (Allah). They try to achieve this by common prayer meetings and other spiritual practices. Most of the brotherhoods were formed around one leading person who might be an imam (priest) or a sheih (leader of a tribe). In most cases the death of the leading figure caused the dissolution of the tarikat. In other cases their students became leaders of new groups. Almost all brotherhoods belong to the Sunni sect. Sometimes the Alevi are regarded as a special brotherhood themselves, but there is only one well-known brotherhood among the Alevi, called Bektashi. They have their roots in the 13th century and are concentrated in Kirsehir and Nevsehir. Their founder is called Haci Bektas Veli. Since the Alevi were always strict followers of laicism this group has not been a target for state prosecution.
The Sunni brotherhood of the Süleymanci was founded by Süleyman Hilmi Turnahan, born 1888 in Romania, who died 1959 in Istanbul. It appears to be currently the most influential group with a large number of supporters amongst Turkey's migrant workers in Europe. The current leader, Kemal Kayar, is married to a daughter of Süleyman Hilmi Turnahan and was a deputy for the Justice Party (AP) prior to the military coup of September 1980. It was reported in 1987 that two of four deputies for Antalya province represent the Süleymanci brotherhood which is said to be educating some 100,000 pupils in Koran courses all over Turkey.
This is seen to constitute a challenge to the State monopoly on education and therefore charges of violating Article 261 of the Turkish Penal Code (illegally opening schools) have been brought against members of the Süleymanci. On 9 December 1986 eight wardens and the director of a boarding school in Selyikler village in the province of Usak were arrested by Sivasli Criminal Court charged with offences under Article 261 but were later acquitted. In addition to that they were facing a trial at Izmir State Security Court (DGM) for offences under Article 163. They were released on 20 January 1987 and on 28 April 1987 finally acquitted.
Similarly nine members of an association called "Aid for Pupils" running a boarding school in the town of Kizilcabölük in Denizli province were indicted in January 1987 at Tavas Criminal Court on charges under Article 261 and in April 1987 at Izmir DGM on charges under Article 163. Only one was temporarily arrested, and all were finally acquitted in June 1987.
The brotherhood of the Nurcu is based on ideas of Saidi Nursi, born in Bitlis in 1873, who died in Urfa in 1960. He wrote a book called Risale-i Nur (Journal of Religious Enlightenment). Members of the Nurcu brotherhood are said to work privately in medreseler (unofficial religious schools). This brotherhood became influential after 1952 and later split into four groups. One of these groups is called Fetullahçi after their leader Fetullah Gülen who was arrested and tried at Izmir DGM in 1986. Following his release in October 1986 he was finally acquitted.
Detentions and arrests of Nurcu in 1987 are reported from various parts of Turkey. Ahmet Arici, Cemil Yaman, Ali Görgülü, Ahmet Çivelek, Mevlüt Köksöz, Hamza Koca and Mehmet Ceylan, teachers and wardens at a boarding school in Çay in the province of Eskisehir, were detained on 17 April 1987 and taken to Konya Closed Prison on charges of anti-secular activities. Some books with religious contents had been found in the boarding school and although the possession of these books is not illegal in Turkey the public prosecutor at Konya DGM concluded that they contained propaganda for the Nurcu brotherhood. Charged with membership in an anti-secular association under Article 163 the defendants remained imprisoned in August 1987. Amnesty International considers them to be prisoners of conscience and has called for their immediate and unconditional release.
Shop-keeper Yusuf Karademir was detained on 3 February 1987 in Izmir. He had been distributing books in Usak, Kütahya and Eskisehir and copies of the book Risale-i Nur had been found in his car. He was detained at Buca Prison and tried at Izmir DGM on charges of making anti-secular propaganda. In May 1987 he was sentenced to four years' and two months' imprisonment, but released pending appeal. A final decision by the Appeal Court in Ankara had not been made by August 1987.
More short term arrests and trials of members of these and other brotherhoods such as Kadiri and Naksibendi have been reported from various parts of Turkey.
Religious groups in Turkey have traditionally not been directly involved in politics, but rather are known for their support of particular political parties. In the 1970s the National Salvation Party (MSP) was the first influential party with religious motives. Although the number of deputies was fairly small the party played a key role in various coalitions. After the military coup of 12 September 1980 its President, Necmettin Erbakan, was taken into "protective custody". Later, other leading members of the party were arrested, too, and Necmettin Erbakan and 34 others were charged with offences under Article 163 at Ankara Military Court. In February 1983 Necmettin Erbakan was sentenced to four years' imprisonment; 22 defendants got sentences between two and three years' imprisonment and 12 defendants were acquitted. The sentences were quashed by the Military Appeal Court in May 1985 and after retrial all defendants were finally acquitted.
Like many other parties the "Wealth Party" (RP) was not permitted to participate in the first general election following the military coup of September 1980 which took place in November 1983. This party was judged to be a follow-up organization to the banned MSP. On 12 October 1985 the party organized a meeting for the general public in a cinema in Izmir. The prosecutor at Izmir State Security Court (DGM) brought charges against five members of the party: Ömer Cihat Kaya, Erol Camtakan, Eyüp Menderes (members of the organizing committee for the meeting), Bülent Arinç and Cengiz Kantarci (members of the Executive Committee of RP) accusing them of "anti-secular" behaviour. As requested by the Prosecutor of the Supreme Court, 20 leading members of RP left the party, amongst them the five indicted members, on 19 November 1985.
Nevertheless, the trial against them continued, with a first court hearing on 26 November 1985 at Izmir DGM. The prosecutor demanded sentences of five to 10 years for an offence under Article 163/3. In the indictment he claimed that the defendants tried to exploit the religious feelings of the people for political aims. At the October meeting in Izmir men and women in the audience had been seated separately and a man had taken the part of a woman in a theatre play that was performed as part of the event. Special stress was laid on the fact that during this theatre play the actors performed a morning prayer. This was interpreted as being religious propaganda for political aims.
On 21 January 1986 four of the defendants were sentenced to four years' and two months' imprisonment, with the exception of Cengiz Kantarci, who was acquitted. The defendants remained free pending a decision by the Appeal Court. In December 1986 the Appeal Court confirmed the sentences of Ömer Cihat Kaya, Erol Camtakan, Eyüp Menderes and the acquittal of Cengiz Kantarci, but quashed the sentence of Bülent Arinç who had to be retried. Izmir DGM reinstated its first verdict on 24 February 1987, so that the case of Bülent Arinç will have to be reconsidered by the Appeal Court. If the verdict is confirmed he will have to go to prison as well.
On 5 February 1987 Ömer Cihat Kaya, Erol Camtakan and Eyüp Menderes were sent to Tire Prison, where they are currently serving their sentences. According to the amended Law on Execution of Sentences of 19 March 1986, they should be released in October 1988. Amnesty International has adopted all three as prisoners of conscience.
Groups outside Turkey
Parallel to the different views represented by brotherhoods and sects in Turkey, Turkish Muslims have founded various organizations outside Turkey. Most of them have their stronghold in the Federal Republic of Germany (FRG) which has a large number of migrant workers from Turkey. The best known groups are followers of the Süleymanci brotherhood and the Wealth Party (RP). The association Milli Görüs (National View) in the FRG is said to have links with the RP. In October 1986 their former Secretary General, Hasan Damar, was arrested in Turkey.
Hasan Damar came to the FRG in 1971 and joined Milli Görüs after its foundation in 1977. In February 1979 he set up a publishing house in Frankfurt which published a journal called Hicret (emigration, flight of Muhammed to Medina) which was connected to the organization Milli Görüs. At the same time Hasan Damar was Secretary General of Milli Görüs until 1982.
On 27 October 1986 he returned to Turkey and was immediately arrested and charged under Article 163/4 for a speech he made at a meeting in Mainz on 2 August 1981. On 11 December 1986 he was sentenced by Ankara Criminal Court No. 2 to 25 months' imprisonment with bail set at 500,000 TL (estimated at $ 500). Although the sum was paid, Hasan Damar was not released because in the meantime Ankara State Security Court (DGM) had issued an arrest warrant on similar charges. Hasan Damar is currently being tried for leadership in an anti-secular organization, namely Milli Görüs, although it is legal in the FRG. Although several court hearings at Ankara DGM have been held a verdict had not been announced by August 1987 and Hasan Damar remained imprisoned in Ankara Closed Prison. Amnesty International has called for his immediate and unconditional release.
Osman Coskun is currently serving a sentence of seven years', three months' imprisonment in Aydin E-type Prison. He had gone to the FRG in 1980 and worked in various Islamic communities as imam (priest). During his time in the FRG he wrote two articles in Avrupa'da Hicret (emigration in Europe) and Teblig (message) on cultural alienation of migrant workers. After his return to Turkey he was detained on 7 August 1986, tried at Ankara Criminal Court No. 2 and on 6 November 1986 he was sentenced to seven years' and three months' imprisonment. Amnesty International has adopted him as a prisoner of conscience.
The journal Avrupa'da Hicret was published by a group within Milli Görüs. They later separated from Milli Görüs with the foundation of an ¬association called Islam Cemiyet ve Cemaatler Birligi (ICCB, Union of Islamic Associations and Communities) and published Teblig.
Writers and Journalists
Amnesty International has adopted as prisoners of conscience some journalists and writers of religious books and articles. Among them are Mehmet Çoban, a journalist for the Ankara-based journal Iktibas (Quotation), and Emine Senlikoglu, a 35-year old writer. On 3 May 1985 she was sentenced by Istanbul DGM to six years' and three months' imprisonment under Article 163 for her book Gençligin Imanini Sorularla Çaldilar (They Stole Youth's Faith With Questions). She is serving her sentence at Sagmalcilar Prison, Istanbul.
Mehmet Çoban was charged under Article 163 for an article which appeared in September 1985 in Iktibas, entitled "Fundamentals Guiding Our Paths". In February 1986 he was sentenced to six years' and three months' imprisonment by Ankara DGM. He is currently serving his sentence at Bursa E-type Prison.
Amnesty International has also received a few reports of court proceedings against Christian individuals and groups.
In June and July 1984 thirty-one adherents of the Jehovah's Witness faith were taken into custody in Ankara and subsequently charged under Article 163. Eleven of them were formally arrested. When the trial started in August 1984 at Ankara DGM a further 12 were imprisoned. In December 1984 23 defendants were sentenced; 18 to four years', two months' imprisonment and five to six years', eight months' imprisonment. The sentences were not confirmed by the Appeal Court and the defendants, who were released in June 1985, had to be retried. Finally in April 1987 the Panel of Judges at the Appeal Court ruled that all the defendants had to be acquitted, thereby acknowledging that the Jehovah's Witness faith was a legal religious group of no threat to the secular nature of the state.
On 27 January 1987 ten people charged with membership of, and propaganda for, a Protestant group were taken into police custody in Ankara. After some days they appeared at Ankara State Security Court and were released. Subsequently the charges were dropped.
M.A., a Greek Orthodox teacher in Mersin lost her job in March 1987 and is currently facing two different trials at Mersin Criminal Court on charges under Articles 175 and 176 of the Turkish Penal Code for "abusing and insulting religious institutions and practices" and at Malatya DGM under Article 163. She allegedly said during lessons things like "the prophet was married to more than one woman", "the existence of Allah cannot be proven scientifically" or "Greeks and Armenians are more civilized". The final sentence might well be a term of imprisonment.
In the light of the thousands of torture allegations received by Amnesty International relating to the detention period, the number of allegations of torture and ill-treatment of religious activists while in police custody is comparatively few. After their formal arrest and transfer to prison these prisoners appear to be treated much the same as other political or common criminal suspects or convicts.
All 31 Jehovah's Witnesses who were imprisoned in 1984 and 1985 said that they had been ill-treated during interrogation at Ankara Police Headquarters. In the court hearing of 27 August 1987 the lawyer of Hasan Damar made a complaint that his client had been tortured while being interrogated by the police. Hasan Damar had been taken to the police station while his trial was going on and for a period of 15 days plus another two days later he had been tortured in order to force him to sign the statement that could lead to his conviction. The lawyer based his complaint on a recent decision by the Constitutional Court to cancel Article 5 of the Police Law No. 3233. This article gave the police the right to take defendants back to the police station for interrogation even if their trial was in progress. However Ankara DGM refused to take up the complaint and suggested that Hasan Damar and his lawyer made a personal complaint to the prosecutor's office.
On 17 July 1987 Zaman reported the death of Hüseyin Kurumahmutoglu. He had been sentenced to 36 years' imprisonment in Bafra MHP (Nationalist Movement Party) trial and was awaiting confirmation by the Appeal Court of this verdict in Mamak Military Prison. His brothers, Ali and Dursun, reportedly said that Hüseyin was beaten in March 1987 by a prison guard who did not want him to wear a prayer cap. Hüseyin Kurumahmutoglu was transferred to Mevkii Hospital in Ankara some time after this incident but his life could not be saved. His brothers claim that the death was caused by the severe beatings four months before Hüseyin Kurumahmutoglu died. When on 25 August 1987 reporters were allowed to visit Mamak Military Prison they were informed that Hüseyin Kurumahmutoglu had died from an "insufficiency of the kidneys".