Extra-judicial Executions

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AI Index: EUR 44/45/90

15 March 1990


Unprecedented political violence 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. In December 1978 martial law was imposed in 13 provinces in response to violent riots in Kahramanmaraş, during which over 100 people were killed. By September 1980 martial law had been extended to cover 20 provinces. However. political violence and killings increased in those areas under military rule. In the 21 months following the Kahramanmaraş events, 3.710 people were killed. On 12 September 1980 the military seized power and put all 67 provinces of Turkey under martial law. Immediately after the coup, the number of political killings decreased substantially. However, the level of human rights abuses increased dramatically.

In the eight years after the coup over a quarter of a million people were arrested on political grounds and almost all of them were tortured. Official reports recorded 330 politically motivated killings between 12 September 1980 and 15 February 1982. A report issued by the General Staff covering the same period added the deaths of 202 "terrorists", killed during clashes with the security forces.

Although detailed information on most of these deaths is not available. in a few cases people who survived such clashes and were put on trial as members of illegal organizations, were able to provide details that give grounds for believing that at least some of these killings were intentional shootings of opponents either after detention or in a situation where they could have been detained and brought to trial.

Article 1 of the Annex to Resolution 1989/65, adopted by the United Nations Economic and Social Council on 29 May 1989, provides that "exceptional circumstances including a state of war or threat of war, internal political instability or any other public emergency may not be invoked as a justification of such [extra-legal, arbitrary and summary] executions", while Article 8 imposes the responsibility on all governments to "make every effort to prevent extra-legal, arbitrary and summary executions".

EJE allegations in Dev-Sol trial

Two possible cases of extrajudicial executions were mentioned during the Istanbul Devrimci Sol (Revolutionary Left) trial (see Amnesty International report: Turkey: The Istanbul Devrimci Sol trial - 1,203 defendants on trial in Istanbul Military Court; AI Index: EUR 44/149/89). One of the defendants, Harun Kartal, said in the hearing of 21 August 1981 that he had been subjected to severe torture. He and Selim Mehmet Yücel had been put under pressure to confess to violent activities. However, neither of them had confessed. Thereupon the police had taken Selim Mehmet Yücel and had shot him behind the post office in Karaköy (according to Amnesty International's information this happened on 3 April 1981). After that Harun Kartal had confessed to the killing of former Chief of Istanbul Police, Mahmut Dikler, having been threatened that he would also be killed.

On the same day, 21 August 1981, Ahmet Fazıl Ercüment Özdemir said in court that he had been tortured for 50 days and had been threatened with being killed like Selim Mehmet Yücel and Zeki Yumurtacı. The police officers had told him that they had taken Zeki Yumurtacı to Avcılar where they had killed him (according to Amnesty International's information this happened on 17 September 1980). Amnesty International does not know whether any of these claims were ever investigated and, if so, what the results were.

Four alleged militants of MLKP killed in 1981

For most incidents clear facts are difficult to establish, although in some cases the information available indicates that police officers may have deliberately shot political suspects. One such incident happened during the night of 6 to 7 June 1981 in Istanbul. Four alleged members of the militant organization Marxist-Leninist Armed Propaganda Unit (MLSPB) were killed in the early hours of 7 June. Istanbul Political Police had been "tipped off" and given two addresses where they could find leaders of that organization. The contradictory reports in the Turkish press on the incident leave many questions unanswered.

According to the daily news paper Tercüman of 10 June 1981 several police cars set out at 3am in an operation called "The Silent Lightning Operation" to capture MLSPB militants (the newspaper Hürriyet of 10 June 1981 called the operation "Broom Operation"). Officers in the car that went to a shop in Sefaköy did not find anyone, but allegedly discovered a substantial number of arms. The police officers waited in the shop and towards dawn a person, later to be identified as Tamer Arda, aged 22, one of MLSPB's alleged leaders, approached the shop. Once he realized that the police were about to detain him, he allegedly fired shots and tried to run away. According to the article in Tercüman another alleged MLSPB militant, Tayfun Bilgin, who according to Amnesty International's information was never detained, also shot at the police. However, none of the officers was wounded, but soon afterwards Tamer Arda reportedly was killed while trying to escape among a crowd of pedestrians (none of whom were injured). According to Hürriyet the second MLSPB member was Yavuz Akkuş who was detained with injuries.

Yet another report in the newspaper Cumhuriyet of 9 June 1981 said that two people had approached the shop in a car. The car had not stopped when ordered to do so by the police officers. One person had managed to run away while the other one, Tamer Arda, had been shot.

Another alleged MLSPB militant, Atilla Ermutlu, an engineer aged 29, was also killed that day. According to Tercüman he approached a traffic control point near Istanbul Airport in his car. He abandoned the car and tried to run away. He was allegedly carrying two bombs and was shot on a runway. He died on the way to hospital. Cumhuriyet, however, reported that he was killed when he walked towards the shop in Sefaköy.

According to Tercüman on the same day two police cars had gone over the Bosphorus Bridge and officers surrounded a flat in Maltepe. Here the police officers found two more alleged MLSPB activists, Dogan Özzümrüt, aged 23, and Ercan Yurtbilir, aged 20, who allegedly refused to surrender and opened fire. Reportedly police officers wearing bullet-proof vests walked into the flat and killed both men. Again, none of the officers was wounded.

The weekly magazine Yankı of 15 June 1981 revealed elements of possible extrajudicial executions. A photograph showed four people lying half-naked in a room. The caption under the articl e reads: "MLSPB - The anti-terror squad had direct orders to shoot". The article also stated that the operation in Maltepe had lasted only 15 minutes. It was argued that the official announcement by the martial law command of Istanbul had created the impression that Atilla Ermutlu had been killed at home and there were serious doubts as to whether Tamer Arda could have been shot in a crowded street without anyone else being injured. According to Amnesty International's information there was no investigation into the circumstances of these deaths. Tercüman reported that the police officers involved in this incident received awards.

15 alleged militants of KAWA killed on Syrian soil

Most cases of possible extrajudicial executions went unmentioned in the Turkish press, in particular in the first weeks and months to follow the military coup. Short notices stating that "a number of terrorists were captured dead" or "a member of an illegal organization was killed in an armed clash" gave little information as to how actually the person/s had died. One such news item was published in the daily Millivet of 16 December 1980. The article simply said that "During a raid on a flat in Kamışı district in Syria 15 militants of an organization were killed."

This case could have had larger implications because it happened on foreign soil, but apparently Syria never officially complained. Only nine years later further details of this incident emerged when two witnesses gave testimony. The two witnesses who survived the raid were Ahmet Coşar and Heybet Açıkgöz. Ahmet Coşar was put on trial for violent activities for the illegal Kurdish organization KAWA and sentenced to 20 years' imprisonment. Having served 40% of the sentence he was released in 1989. Heybet Açikgöz who had been injured during the shooting managed to to Europe where he is living as a political refugee. They told the weekly Sokak the following story (published on 10 December 1989):

"Çernik village is situated between Nusaybin [on the Turkish side] and Kamışlı [on the Syrian side], 700 metres from the Turkish border. On 12 December 1980 a commando unit of 50 people came silently into the village when everyone was asleep. The people in the house they surrounded and attacked by hand-grenades and firearms could not even get out of their beds. In the end Hüseyin Aslan, born 1957 in Mazgirt, Mehmet Emin Mutlu, born 1954 in Nusaybin, Necla Baksi Aslan (f), Ramazan Songür, Müslüm Yıldız, Hasan Akbaba, Abdülkerim Yılmaz, Mustafa Dursun and two children were dead. An informer nicknamed 'drunkard Kemal' from Nusaybin had shown the police the house where the central committee members of KAWA. Hüseyin Aslan and Mehmet Emin Mutlu, were staying."

Ahmet Coşar added:

"I only survived by chance. We did not know that 'drunkard Kemal' was an agent. He had come to our place and asked for arms to be used for an action in Diyarbakir. We gave him all our rifles. Following the operation the commando chief wrote in his report 'they were not given the chance to use their arms', omitting to say that we were completely unarmed. During our trial we repeatedly mentioned the incident, but on orders of Diyarbakir Martial Law Commander Kemal Yamak there was no investigation, because in his eyes the incident had been carried out by 'patriotic citizens'. We want an investigation to be carried out into this case. Heybet Açıkgöz and I are prepared to testify."

Four alleged militants of TIKKO killed in 1988

Possible extrajudicial killings by the security forces have continued in Turkey since the return to a civilian government in 1983, but only very few of these incidents have actually been investigated. Therefore, trials conducted against members of the security forces engaged in deliberate shootings are very exceptional. In one such case 16 police officers are on trial in Istanbul. On 7 October 1988 four political suspects, Ismail Hakkı Adalı, born 1965 in Ovacık, Fevzi Yalçın, born 1960 in Elazıg, Reha Şen, born 1958 in Banaz, and Kemal Sogukpınar, born 1959 in Zara, were killed in their car under a bridge on the motorway from Istanbul to Izmit. The case became known as the "Tuzla incident" because it happened near the motorway exit for Tuzla. The four young men travelling in a car with a West German number plate drove into the layby because of what seemed to be a routine traffic control. Shortly afterwards their car was hit by 283 bullets and all four died instantly.

Only Hakkı Adalı had a political record. He had been in prison for four and a half years as a member of the Turkish Workers' and Peasants' Liberation Army, TIKKO. The event left various questions unanswered. First reports did not clarify whether the car was moving or stationary and, second, whether the victims had been in possession of arms and, if so, had used them. Some newspapers reported that one pistol had been found in the car, others, referring to the official police report, stated that two pistols had been in the possession of the four persons killed. On 16 October 1988 2000e Doqru wrote that several eye witnesses had seen that the car had stopped before the shots were fired. All papers agreed that none of the police officers had been injured.

In an interview with the newspaper Cumhurivet, Istanbul Chief of Police, Hamdi Ardalı, said on 12 October that the people killed had driven straight towards the police officers and had opened fire. They had emptied a magazine of bullets. Later, on 12 November the tabloid Tan reported him as saying that he had instructed the officers to shoot. Kartal Prosecutor's Office started an investigation and on 17 October indicted 16 police officers for deliberately killing more than one person. The trial started on 24 November in Kartal Criminal Court and has continued ever since. In the hearing of 18 April 1989 the report by the Physical/Ballistic Department [part of the Forensic Institute under the Ministry of Justice] dated 21 February 1989 was read out.

This report concluded that the fatal shots had been fired from close range [in the case of a pistol 30 to 45 cm, in the case of a rifle 75 to 100 cm]. Ismail Hakkı Adalı had received 20 bullet wounds, one of them from close range, Fevzi Yalçın's corpse showed seven bullet wounds, one from close range, Reha Şen had been hit by 49 bullets, several of them from close range, and Kemal Sogukpınar had been hit by 66 bullets, several of them from close range. It had been possible to conclude the range from the different reactions of the clothes in places of bullet entries and other parts to treatment with nitric acid and nitrate.

This report was damaging for the police officers standing trial. On 6 June Kartal Criminal Court decided to ask the Forensic Institute whether or not the report had been prepared according to the latest scientific knowledge. In separate reports on each individual dated 21 July 1989 the First Council of Experts (like the Physical/Ballistic Department, part of the Forensic Institute under the Ministry of Justice) concluded that it was impossible to establish the range of the shots, because any form of clothing would not only show a certain reaction to gunpowder, but also to ashes, fertilizers or any form of colouring. It was thought feasible that the bullets had carried colour from the inside of the car and that such colour might have caused the positive reaction.

Finally, a third report issued by the Physical/Ballistic Department at the end of December 1989 confirmed the results of their earlier tests but acknowledged that the reaction of the clothes could have been caused by substances other than gunpowder. According to these reports there is no definite answer to the question of whether the police officers had continued shooting after the victims had surrendered or were defenceless. The testimony of witnesses, including that of many police officers not on trial, has been very contradictory. Amnesty International continues to monitor the trial.


On 15 August 1984 the illegal Kurdish Workers Party, PKK, started a guerrilla war with attacks on gendarmerie (rural police) stations in Eruh and Şemdinli killing seven soldiers and three civilians in Eruh and three soldiers in Şemdinli. Since then more than 1,700 people have been killed in southeastern Turkey as a result of armed clashes between Kurdish guerrillas and the Turkish security forces.

In August 1984 martial law was still in force in almost all provinces in southeastern Turkey, where most of Turkey's Kurdish population, estimated at 10 million, is situated. Martial law was phased out slowly and in July 1987 it was lifted in the four remaining provinces in southeastern Turkey. Since then emergency legislation has remained in force in eight provinces in that area, for which a regional governor with increased powers was appointed by the Cabinet on 19 July 1987.

The powers of the Emergency Legislation Regional Governor are laid down in a decree with the power of a law, based on Article 121 of the 1982 Constitution and Article 4 of Law No. 2935 of 25 October 1983 on the Competences of Governors which was passed under military rule in Turkey. His increased powers include the right to command regular and special security forces, to change posts of civil servants including military personnel, to resettle and deport individuals and whole villages. Three provinces were later added to his brief, but only eight of the 11 provinces in the southeast ruled by the Governor are currently under a State of Emergency.

In an attempt to counter the guerrilla attacks the Turkish authorities stepped up their military presence. In addition to regular troops from the armed forces, in particular the gendarmerie, special teams were trained in anti-guerrilla warfare. According to official figures there are some 50,000 regular troops (members of the gendarmerie) and some 2,500 members of special teams operating in the area of close combat (mainly Hakkari, Siirt, and Mardin provinces; close to the Iranian, Iraqi and Syrian borders).

In addition, there are some 20,000 so-called village protectors, armed civilians who are paid by the authorities to fight the guerrillas. Their duty is based on the Village Law No. 442. Article 36, providing that "village protectors capture anyone who acts against the law or harms the property of the village and hand them over to the authorities". These provisions were taken from a law dating back to 1923.

Most of the population in the rural areas of southeastern Turkey lives in tribes. At the beginning of the fighting only members of "friendly tribes" were chosen to become village protectors. Since then there have been frequent allegations that some of them misuse their power and carry out private ventures such as kidnapping women or killing members of a rival tribe as part of a blood feud.

Three parliamentary requests

Three such cases became the subject of parliamentary questions. On 8 November 1988 SHP-deputy for Diyarbakir, Fuat Atalay, filed two separate requests for information. In the first he asked whether it was correct that M. Emin Akyıldız had been killed on 17 October 1988 in Tahtok settlement of Konurtepe village in Siverek district. He also wanted to know whether the killing had been carried out by a village protector from Kuşlukçayırı village in Çermik district, a member of the Gül tribe, who had been accompanied by the chief of the local gendarmerie station and other village protectors who had been told that a conflict with M. Emin Akyıldız about land ownership needed to be settled.

In his written request Fuat Atalay pointed out that the conflict between M. Emin Akyıldız and the village protector had been reported to the authorities on 14, 15 and 19 September and asked why no measures had been taken accordingly.

The second request for information referred to two cases. Musa Dinç from Alımlı village in Mardin province had been killed on 5 October 1988, hit by 40 bullets when he was leading a donkey carrying a heavy load. Fuat Atalay wanted to know whether Musa Dinç had been killed by village protectors. Similarly he asked whether on the same day Isa Aslan had been killed by a village protector from Özbilek village, Ergani district in Diyarbakır province and whether these two incidents had occurred as a result of blood feuds.

Amnesty International is not aware of any answer to these questions and/or investigations into these allegations.

Three cases of "disappearances"

Three cases of "disappearance" and possible extrajudicial executions, reported in June 1989 from the area of Eruh in Siirt province, were attributed to village protectors. Osman Esendemir, aged 52 and father of nine children, was reportedly detained on 3 June by village protectors since when he has "disappeared". On or around 18 June his identity papers were found close to the remains of a burned corpse. A first autopsy disclosed that the death had occurred some 10 to 15 days earlier. On 21 June the corpse was sent to Istanbul for another autopsy. Amnesty International wrote to the Turkish authorities on 25 July asking whether the findings of the autopsy allowed any conclusion as to the cause of death and whether there had been any investigation into the circumstances in which the death occurred.

In the same letter Amnesty International also asked for information about the circumstances of the "disappearance" of Ömer Savun and Hüseyin Demirtaş, who were reported missing in that area.

Ömer Savun from Ormaniçi village, aged 36 and father of three children, had been detained on 6 May and interrogated at Fındık Gendarmerie Station. The village headman, Halil Ekin, later stated that he had handed Ömer Savun in, only to be detained himself four days later. Halil Ekin alleged that over the four days of his detention at Güçlükonak Gendarmerie Station he had been severely tortured. Later he went to inquire about Ömer Savun and was told by Siirt Deputy Governor Zülkarnin Öztürk that Ömer Savun had only been held for one and a half hours and that he might have left to join the PKK.

Fellow inhabitants of Ormaniçi village reported that Ömer Savun's brother, Mehmet, an active PKK member, had been killed by the security forces on 10 May 1989. Another brother, Ahmet Savun, alleged that Bahattin Aktug, a village protector, was responsible for the death of his brother Ömer, Hüseyin Demirtaş and Osman Esendemir in retaliation for the killing of one of his nephews on 1 May by guerrillas.

Hüseyin Demirtaş was reportedly detained on 26 May by the gendarmerie who handed him over to the village protector. Following allegations that he was held in the house of Bahattin Aktug, his wife went to the village protector and asked about her husband. He reportedly replied by saying: "Maybe you can find his corpse in one of the rivers."

On 22 January 1990 Amnesty International received a reply from the Turkish authorities about these three deaths. They stated that Ömer Savun had been detained between 1 July and 1 August 1985 on suspicion of supporting the PKK, but had been released afterwards. Osman Esendemir and Hüseyin Demirtaş had never been detained. Ömer Savun and Hüseyin Demirtaş had disappeared in May 1989, but there was no indication that they were dead. On 18 June a corpse destroyed by animals had been found near Ormaniçi village. Next to it the identity papers of Osman Esendemir had been found. The corpse had been sent to the Forensic Institute to establish the identity and the cause of death, but this had not been finalized yet.

Zübeyir Aydar, a lawyer and former President of the Social Democratic Populist Party (SHP) in Siirt tried to investigate these deaths and "disappearances", but he and a further seven people from Siirt and the surrounding area, including three SHP members, were ordered to leave the 11 provinces under the command of the regional governor on 2 September 1989. After three months they were allowed back, but Zübeyir Aydar has so far been unable to make any progress with these cases.

Members of SHP, the main opposition party, have criticized the government's village protector scheme from the beginning. One of their main arguments was that this scheme had split the population into state supporters and state enemies and created an atmosphere in which Kurds were killing each other. Information about how this division was reflected in official documents was produced in the weekly 2000e Doqru (Towards 2000) of 7 May 1989. A chart compiled on 203 tribes in the provinces of Diyarbakır, Hakkari, Mardin, Siirt, Şanllurfa and Van divided them according to three main categories: a) close ties to the state (50 tribes); b) supporting Kurdish activities (50 tribes) and c) not to be trusted (66 tribes). The remaining 37 tribes' orientation had not been established. The chart was part of a "Guide for Internal Security Education" issued by the Command of the Land Forces on 25 February 1986.

At first only members of tribes with "close ties to the State" were armed, but later the distribution of arms became a test for tribes with unidentified orientation to see whether they were willing to support the security forces against the guerrillas or not. Amnesty International has received a number of reports that villagers who refused to take up arms were ill-treated or forced to sign statements that they wanted to be village protectors.

The death of Nedim Ömer

In one case it was alleged that the brother of a tribe's leader who refused to take up arms was killed by the security forces. Nedim Öner, married with three children, was killed on 2 October 1989 in Yukarıbeşparmak settlement in Gürpınar district. On 4 October the Regional Governor stated that security forces had come under fire from a vehicle leaving the settlement. In the ensuing clash six terrorists had been captured, one dead [Nedim Öner] and another one injured [Mehmet Öner; a cousin of Nedim Öner]. However, Nedim Öner's mother, Fatma, told a different story. She said that Nedim Öner had been home for several hours when he answered the door. He had seen soldiers shooting at sheep and shepherds in the distance. He had told the commander of the unit who had called at the door that these were not terrorists and offered to get them for questioning. The commander, who knew Nedim Öner, had accepted the offer, but as soon as Nedim Öner had moved into his car six soldiers had opened fire. He had been hit by 26 bullets.

The mother of Mehmet Öner, who had been injured during the incident. said that both men had stepped outside the house together. Mehmet Öner had not yet moved into the car and had been able to reach the house again once the shooting started, but he had been injured. In hospital he signed a statement confessing that he and Nedim Öner had clashed with the security forces. Relatives, however, alleged that he had been forced to sign the statement. All in the village agreed that neither of them had any connection with the guerrillas. The brother of Nedim Öner. Kaya Öner, leader of the Şidan tribe, said that his brother was killed in retaliation for his tribe's refusal to take up arms as village protectors. Gürpınar Prosecutor's Office was reported to have started an investigation, but Amnesty International has not received any information about the results.

The distribution of arms by the authorities divided the population according to their willingness to take up arms and qualified them as either supporting the Turkish State or the Kurdish guerrillas. Accordingly, those supporting the state became targets for guerrilla attacks and those believed to support the guerrillas became targets for the security forces.

The guerrillas are reported to have attacked the civilian population, taken prisoners, in particular village protectors and people believed to be police informers and tortured and killed some of them. As a matter of principle Amnesty International condemns the killing of prisoners whether carried out by governments or non-governmental entities.

During the last year the number of casualties in southeastern Turkey increased substantially. Most of those killed were either members of the security forces or PKK militants, but the victims also included a large number of civilians. While the official figures for deaths in the year following the 1984 attacks in Eruh and Şemdinli were 97 "terrorists", 63 civilians and 56 members of the security forces, the official figures for the first nine and a half months of 1989 indicated that 108 "terrorists", 112 civilians and 88 members of the security forces had been killed. The number of alleged extrajudicial executions also increased in 1988 and 1989.

The death of Ali Ay

One of the latest cases is that of Ali Ay. On or around 7 November 1989 Ali Ay was shot in Şuruç. Quoting Şanlıurfa Deputy Prosecutor, Abidin Ünsal, Cumhurivet reported on 15 November that a PKK militant had been killed in an armed clash when he refused to obey an order to stop. The local Human Rights Association, however, stated that he had been shot while sitting in the house of his uncle Izzet Ay. Following the raid on his house, during which Ali Ay had been killed by a single shot, Izzet Ay had been detained and charged with membership of PKK. The Human Rights Association made a formal complaint, but it is not known whether an investigation into the alleged deliberate killing was carried out.

In an area with many small remote settlements and a reportedly high level of intimidation of the population, including members of the legal profession (see above the example of Zübeyir Aydar) it is very difficult to gather reliable information. Deputies of the SHP have frequently visited the area trying to obtain information on human rights abuses, but even they have often been unable to collect vital details about such cases, and answers they received from the government to their questions were in many cases not accurate.

The death of Güllü Zeren

One such request for information was tabled by Fuat Atalay, SHP deputy for Diyarbakir, concerning Güllü Zeren, aged 45, a widow with four children aged between eight and 16, who was killed on 14 May 1988 in the town Hani in Diyarbakır province. The official version was that when she passed the building of the Forests' Department, she did not react to an order to stop and was shot. On 13 October 1988 Fuat Atalay asked whether an investigation into the circumstances of her death had been carried out. He also asked whether it was true that one of Güllü Zeren's sons, Zülküf Zeren, who had gone to the police station to complain about this incident, had been held there for two days and had been beaten to intimidate him and others concerned about Güllü Zeren's death.

Amnesty International does not know whether there has been any investigation into the suspicious circumstances of Güllü Zeren's death and the alleged ill-treatment of her son.

Three persons killed in September 1989

Another case was reported in 2000e Doğru of 24 September 1989. On 16 September Hasan Utanç, aged 28, Tahsin Sevim, aged 25, and Hasan Caner, aged 39, were abducted on their way home shortly after they had left Şırnak. Near Kumcati village their car was stopped; witnesses saw their hands being tied and all three men being taken away by car. This happened around 7pm. Their corpses were found later near Özbek village in Mardin province and the time of their deaths was established to have been at about 11pm.

Officals claimed that these three people had been killed by guerrillas. Relatives doubted this version because there were several road blocks between the place of their abduction and the place where their bodies were found. Guerrillas operating on foot, therefore, would have had to take another route, but the walking distance is some eight hours between the two places with a big river in between. The villagers suspected that the killings had been carried out by members of the security forces who could easily cross the army control posts on the road.

Most close combat operations are carried out by special teams, usually supported by regular troops. In some cases extrajudicial executions have been attributed to conscripts, soldiers or gendarmes acting as the rural police. One such case concerns Mahmut Yaşar.

The death of Mahmut Yaşar (14)

On 28 July 1989 Fuat Atalay asked in parliament about the alleged deliberate killing on 19 July of Mahmut Yaşar, believed to be aged 14. He named one witness. Mahmut Yaşar, a shepherd from Kemerli village in Şırnak province, had been sleeping under a tree when gendarmes passed at some distance. His brother Abdurrahman had gone to supply the sheep with water. According to the witness the gendarmes fired at Mahmut Yaşar without even asking a question. On 14 August 1989 an official reply concerning the death of Mahmut Yaşar was published in Cumhurivet. Referring to earlier reports in the newspaper the official explanation was that Mahmut Yaşar, whose age was given as 16, did not respond to an order to stop. However, an investigation into the incident had been initiated and was continuing at the offices of the Şırnak Governor and the state prosecutor. Amnesty International has no information about the results of these investigations.

The special teams consisting of between 10 to 20 people are officially part of the police force and trained to fight in close combat. However, many under-cover actions are also attributed to these special teams. Many of their activities are shrouded in secrecy and appear to be carried out quite independently from the local authorities. There are frequent reports that smaller units of three to five people able to speak Kurdish move into villages dressed as guerrillas asking for food. Subsequently those villagers who provide food are arrested and charged with supporting the PKK. Similarly Kurdish guerrillas are reported to carry out actions dressed as members of the security forces. Therefore, it is often impossible to establish clear responsibility for specific acts of violence. Two cases in which involvement of special teams is well documented happened in July and September 1989.

Three persons killed in July 1989

On 18 July 1989 three inhabitants of Yoncalı village, Hakkari province, were killed. The villagers and members of the security forces gave two completely different versions of the incident. A report signed by 13 members of a special team (commando unit), allegedly written immediately after the event, stated that intelligence information had suggested that terrorist activities were being carried out in the region. A patrol had set out on foot beyond Yoncalı village. At 7.30am the unit had come under fire and two soldiers had been killed. With the help of heavy armament and helicopters the terrorists had been surrounded and some of them had been injured while throwing stones [at the security forces] or by falling from rocks in an attempt to escape.

The clashes had continued until 4.30pm and in the end eight terrorists had been captured, two of them dead, four lightly and two seriously injured. Those injured had been taken by helicopter to Hakkari State' Hospital where one of them later died. The surviving five people were later put on trial in Diyarbakir State Security Court and charged under Article 125 of the Turkish Penal Code with violent activities attempting to "separate part of the Turkish State". For this offence the prosecutor demanded the death penalty.

On 23 July 15 inhabitants of Yoncalı village including the village headman signed a petition addressed to the regional command for public order describing the event as follows:

"Some people working outside the village saw armed men approaching. Under the impression that this was a guerrilla attack some tried to run away, but the commando unit immediately opened fire killing Bünyamin and Sabri Orhan. Soon afterwards we realized the mistake and six from our village went to the unit identifying themselves as Sadık, Siddik, Salih, Aziz (Izzettin), Abdullah and Şehmuz Orhan.

The commando chief killed Şehmuz Orhan. The remaining five from our village were beaten heavily and had to be treated in hospital. None of the eight persons had any connection with the terrorists. The soldiers burned the corpses of Bünyamin and Sabri Orhan after the incident and did not hand them over to us for a proper funeral. Being afraid of further attacks all of us have left the village."

A similar complaint addressed to the prosecutor in Hakkari was made by Bünyamin Orhan's wife on 21 July. She stated that her husband and Sabri Orhan had been shot without warning and that the corpses had not been handed over to their families.

Meanwhile the five villagers testified at Hakkari Prosecutor's Office on 24 July and at the prosecutor's office in Diyarbakir State Security Court on 4 August. All five independently stated that on 18 July between 8 and 9am they had been called by two fellow villagers to come from the fields to the commando unit waiting some distance away. They had reached the unit by a walk of between half an hour to an hour. There they had been asked to sit down and remained for about two hours next to some 30 soldiers.

They had not heard any shooting in the area, but some of them had overheard information coming in over a walky-talky that one soldier had been killed in an armed clash nearby. The gendarmes started to beat them and when a helicopter arrived forced them to move into it. Şehmuz Orhan who had been first in line was hit with a pistol butt by the commander and lost consciousness. All of them were seriously injured and had to be treated in hospital.

On 25 July 1989 Amnesty International submitted the case of Şehmuz Orhan to the Turkish authorities asking to be informed of the circumstances of his death. The case was included in the report Turkey: Torture and Unfair Trials of Political Prisoners (AI Index: EUR 44/101/89; 31 October 1989). On 7 November the organization received a reply stating that the allegations of the villagers were incorrect. Şehmuz Orhan had been injured in an armed clash on 18 July and had died in Hakkari State Hospital. An autopsy report existed confirming this cause of death.

On.14 November Amnesty International wrote again to the authorities asking whether an independent and impartial investigation into the villagers' allegations of torture had been carried out and, if so, what the findings were. The letter asked in particular whether the testimony of witnesses, five of whom were named, had been taken. A reply received on 22 January 1990 stated that the investigation carried out by Hakkari Administrative Council had concluded that there were no grounds for the prosecution of civil servants. The case had been forwarded to the Supreme Administrative Court (Danıştay).

On 14 March the organization received a copy of an autopsy report on Şehmuz Orhan attached to an official reply on several cases of alleged torture. This autopsy was carried out on 19 July 1989 by Hakkari Forensic Institute and certified injuries to the head, concluding that the death had been caused by a cerebral trauma inflicted by a hard object.

The so-called Silopi incident

In another case the killing of six villagers on 17 September 1989 near Derebaşı village, Silopi district, Mardin province, became known as the Silopi incident. They were Fevzi Beyan, born 1954, Reşit Eren, born 1967, Üzeyir Arzik, born 1962, Abbas Çigdem, born 1962 and married with four children, Sadun Beyan, born 1962 and married with one child, and Münir Aydın, born 1967. The case started an intense discussion in Turkey as to whether the security forces were not only hunting guerrillas, but also deliberately killing civilians. The first official announcement by Emergency Legislation Deputy Regional Governor Nafız Kayalı came on the same day saying that nine terrorists who had not obeyed an order to stop had been killed near Derebaşı village. The corpses were shown on State television the same night.

The following day doubts were raised as to whether all nine people had indeed belonged to a fighting unit of the PKK as claimed by the authorities. Six of them were said to be simple villagers, easily identifiable by their different clothing. Minister of Interior Abdülkadir Aksu insisted, however, that all nine people had been killed in a clash around 2am on 17 September.

Emergency Legislation Regional Governor Hayri Kozakçıoglu made an announcement on 21 September, reacting to allegations that the six people had been taken to guide the security forces and had been killed later. He said that around 2am two teams had clashed with about 15 to 20 terrorists. Two more teams had been called in and they had taken three guides from Derebaşı village. However, all three had returned before they actually reached the place of fighting. Their testimony was to be revealed later.

According to the Regional Governor the terrorists had continued to fire from a higher spot. The number of casualties on the terrorists' side had first been four or five, but in the end nine of them were dead and two injured. There had been traces of blood and about seven to eight terrorists had escaped.

On 23 and 24 September Cumhuriyet reported interviews with the three witnesses in question. Hasan Beyan, Selim Oktay and Hasan Adıyaman said that they had been forced to accompany soldiers who had arrived after six villagers had already been taken as guides by a previous team of soldiers. At about 9am they had reached a place where they saw three corpses which they could not identify. Then they had been allowed to go back. On a hill opposite the village they had seen the other six villagers standing with their hands behind their heads. About one or one and a half hours later these six and the accompanying soldiers had disappeared over the hill and they had heard shots being fired.

A similar statement was given by the father of one of those killed. Cemalettin Beyan, father of Sadun Beyan, said that he and others had been on their way to town where they wanted to sell some of their goods. It had been early in the morning when a special team had stopped them. Since he was old and had one arm amputated after a snake bite when he was young, he had been allowed to go back, but his son and three others, Üzeyir Arzık, Reşit Eren and Münir Aydın had been asked to accompany the soldiers. On their way they had also asked the shepherds Fevzi Beyan and Abbas Çigdem to accompany them.

On 22 September Silopi Prosecutor's Office decided that the case had to be dealt with by the local administrative council. On 27 September two state secretaries of the Ministry of Interior arrived to interview 13 soldiers and witnesses of the incident. Lawyers of the villagers were critical that the questioning was carried out in the garrison and not in a neutral environment. The findings of both investigations, the one by the Ministry of the Interior and the one by the administrative council, were kept confidential. In December the Turkish press reported that the case had reached the Supreme Administrative Court (Danıştay), but by the end of February 1990 no decision had been made as to whether or not to bring charges against members of the security forces.

Lawyers acting on behalf of relatives of victims of human rights abuses have frequently complained about the investigation procedures. Under the jurisdiction of the regional governor any offence by a state employee including members of the security forces has to be investigated by local administrative councils. Members of these councils are chosen among civil servants in the municipality. Lawyers have not only pointed out that these people are members of the executive without any legal knowledge, but also that they are easily influenced by local commanders of the security forces. In addition, their investigation is confidential, and complainants and their lawyers have no possibility of following their cases closely. Only when the administrative council decides that a case has to be forwarded to a court, can complainants and lawyers participate again.

Article 9 of the Annex to Resolution 1989/65. adopted by the United Nations Economic and Social Council on 29 May 1989, provides that "there shall be a thorough, prompt and impartial investigation of all suspected cases of extra-legal, arbitrary and summary executions... It shall include an adequate autopsy...and statements from witnesses." Article 11 provides that "in cases in which established investigative procedures are inadequate because of lack of expertise or impartiality..., Governments shall pursue investigations through an independent commission of inquiry or similar procedure".

The death of Ramazan Dağ (13)

Despite difficulties with the investigation procedures in Turkey. It has been possible in a few cases to bring offenders to justice. One such case was that of Ramazan Dag. In October 1988 Interior Minister Mustafa Kalemli answered a parliamentary question by the SHP deputy for Hakkari, Cumhur Keskin. He acknowledged that 13-year-old Ramazan Dag had been shot by gendarmes on 30 June 1988 at 11pm near Uludere village in Hakkari province. The security forces had been hiding, waiting for guerrilla troops to pass by. They had opened fire when Ramazan Dag had not responded to their warning to stop and had tried to run away instead. Several gendarmes had been put on trial for unlawful killing.

The death of Halil Ülkü

The case of Halil Ülkü, married with eight children and the brother of a village protector, turned out to be somewhat more complicated. He was killed on 14 or 16 July 1988 in Igneli settlement near Yenidogan village in Siirt province. On 9 August Fuat Atalay filed the following questions with the Presidency of the Turkish Grand National Assembly, TBMM:

"# Is it true that on 14 July the gendarmes fired warning shots from the roof of a house in İğneli settlement following an argument among young people about the hunting of pigeons?

  1. Is it true that the gendarme Tarık Kuru went into the home of Halil Ülkü and shot him without Halil Ülkü showing any resistance? If so, how is it possible that he is still on duty?
  1. Are there any results of an investigation as of 9 August?"

The reply received on 29 September from Interior Minister Mustafa Kalemli stated that the allegations of shots having been fired on 14 July in Igneli settlement following an argument about pigeon hunting were not true. Mahmut Zengin from Yeniaydın village had come to ask for help from gendarmes who were guarding machines used for road work. The gendarmes hap realized that some villagers were fighting when they heard shots being fired from the direction of the bulldozer. They reacted by firing warning shots. Halil Ülkü, who had tried to separate those fighting, might have been killed by these shots. Three gendarmes, including Tarık Kuru, and four village protectors who had fired during the incident had been questioned and the local director for education in Pervari had taken over the investigation which had not been finalized.

Before this another reply had come from the Regional Governor. Cumhurivet, which had reported the incident on 5 August, published his statement on 13 September. It said that on 16 July at 6pm Mahmut Zengin from Yeniaydın village had come running to a gendarmerie unit waiting outside the village shouting that some people were trying to kill him. Two to three shots had been fired after him. The gendarmes were taking him to their station when, as they passed Igneli settlement, shots had been fired from there. The gendarmes had moved carefully into the settlement. Once the situation was under control they had realized that a person named Halil Ülkü had been killed. This report also stated that an investigation ordered by Pervari Governor was carried out by the local director for education and had not been concluded.

Eye witnesses from the settlement described the incident differently. They said that there was a fight in the village about the road work during which some villagers threw stones at each other. However, Halil Ülkü did not participate in this fight. After the fight two gendarmes came to Halil Ülkü's house where he was resting. He was asked to step outside but before he got dressed one of the gendarmes killed Halil Ülkü with two shots. According to Amnesty International's information a trial concerning the incident is proceeding at Pervari Criminal Court, but detailed information about it is not available.

The death of Fehmi Yarar

Another case about which there were conflicting accounts is that of Fehmi Yarar. In November 1988 Fehmi Yarar, a Christian Syriac, was killed in Midyat. The police said that he had been killed in an armed clash when the police tried to catch him. However, his wife Necbah Yarar who witnessed the incident testified that her husband had been killed deliberately and knowingly by a deputy commissioner. Only afterwards had the police fired many shots in the air trying to create the impression of an armed clash.

One month later the deputy commissioner was put on trial, but after the first trial hearing he was released. On 1 December 1989 Cumhurivet reported that he was on duty in Kirşehir, although his trial had not finished.

Amnesty International has asked the Turkish Government to provide information on the methods and findings of investigations into alleged extrajudicial executions and to initiate impartial and independent investigations in cases which so far have not been properly investigated. The organization urges that the findings of all these investigations should be made public.