Why is Turkey killing innocent Kurdish Muslims

Political murders of Kurds

An Analysis of Extrajudicial Executions in Turkey

From Dr. Tarik Ziya Ekinci

The writer Dr. Tarik Ziya Ekinci is the former general secretary of the Workers' Party of Turkey (TIP) and was a member of parliament for the city of Diyarbakir from 1965-69. His brother, lawyer Yusuf Ekinci, was murdered in Ankara in February 1994. So he is a victim of the so-called unsolved political murders. Mr. Ekinci was in Germany in November and gave this lecture at several events.

A war between the Turkish armed forces and the PKK has been going on in Turkey for over ten years. To quote the former chief of staff Dogan Güres, this war has developed into an "all-out war". This dirty war, which is directed against all Kurds and encompasses entire areas of life, continues mercilessly. The most hideous thing about it is that this war is being waged underhandedly: Both the mass extermination of Kurds and the material and spiritual damage has so far been kept secret from the Turkish public and the world public. The media in Turkey are indoctrinated and partisan about this war. The public has been incited chauvinistically and desensitized to the suffering of the Kurds. It was also prevented that the repression against the Kurds and the misery and suffering of the Kurds could penetrate the outside world. We live in the age of communication. Events and human dramas that take place anywhere on the globe reach the whole world in a very short time. But the events in the east of Turkey are kept secret by means of state control and presented to the world public as a banal criminal event. Turkey's allies are helping. (...) This "total war" that is being waged in Turkey against the Kurds is characterized by three approaches:

1. Armed struggle against the PKK

There is an armed struggle against the PKK. Fighter planes, helicopters equipped with heavy weapons, various artillery shells and other war material are used here. This war is not aimed at incapacitating or arresting PKK activists. Rather, it is designed to kill and destroy them.

2. Expulsion of the Kurds

The Kurdish population who did not take part in the war were forced to flee their hometowns. The procedure here is that communities and localities in which a PKK shelter or support for them is suspected are destroyed with heavy weapons, burned down and made uninhabitable, so that the population is forced to flee. In this way, the provincial town of Sirnak and the district towns of Cizre, Nusaybin, Dargecit, Lice and Kulp were destroyed and most of their residents were forced to move away. Since the aim of these operations is primarily the destruction of the residential units, the population is informed informally and secretly of the time of the attack, so that they can hide and the number of deaths is limited. However, since the buildings are becoming uninhabitable and their facilities are rendered unusable, moving away is inevitable.

Such operations are carried out particularly in villages. According to the statement of the Interior Minister Nahit Mentese in response to an inquiry, a total of 2,115 villages and inhabited areas were evacuated in this way between November 30, 1991 and December 8, 1994 (Cumhuriyet December 9, 1994, p. 5). Another method of evacuating municipalities and district towns is through the food embargo. The respective access routes of the communities are kept under control and the import of food outside the prescribed quantities is prohibited. As the permitted quantities of food are extremely scarce, many families at risk of food shortages are leaving their villages and settling on the outskirts of large cities.

On the other hand, the villages, which are under the supervision of the village guards deployed by the Turkish state, have been hit by PKK rocket attacks, so that fire and devastation have made these villages uninhabitable. The villagers who save themselves from these attacks are also migrating to other regions. In addition to the mass exodus caused by violence, the departure of individual families can often be observed, which is caused by repression, torture, surveillance, death threats and the like.

Reconstruction and resettlement of the evacuated villages is prohibited. The refugee Kurdish population has no chance of returning. There are considerations to convert the evacuated villages into new settlement units as part of a central village project and to settle these with non-Kurdish populations. This is intended to prevent Kurds from living together in a territorial unit and to finally “solve” the problem.

The following press release:

“The settlement project of the Administration for General Settlement Issues (Toplu Konut ldaresi) planned for the population who fled from the east and south-east is to have a new content in line with the MHP proposals [MHP = Gray Wolves Party, editor's note]. According to reports, a committee has been set up from the Prime Minister's office under the leadership of a bureaucrat close to the MHP. This plan to form a (Kurdish-free) triangular region between the Kurdish population in Adiyaman. Diyaibakir and Tunceli the settlement of Turkish-born Gagauz and Abkhazians (...) It is also reported that the talks with the Gagauz and Abkhaz Turks, whose settlement in the planned settlement units in Adiyaman, Diyarbakir and Tunceli are planned as part of this work, continued. (Esra Yener, Cumhuriyet, October 11, 1995, pp. 1-17)

Geographical unity is the decisive element of the national question. The transition from national consciousness to nation is objectively impossible for an ethnic community without territorial unity.

The leading forces of the Turkish Republic have recognized this sociological fact and, as a radical solution to the Kurdish question, adopted the basic political attitude of depriving Kurds of their territorial unity and assimilating them within the Turkish majority population in the West. Forcing the Kurds to flee is a powerful tool in this policy.

3. The so-called unsolved murders

Another approach in the context of the "total war" against Kurds is the murder of unknown perpetrators of Kurdish leaders, intellectuals and business people. The physical liquidation of people who are important to the national and democratic demands of the Kurds, especially leading dynamic forces in the Kurdish movement such as Kurdish intellectuals and business people, is an important means of weakening and suppressing the democratic Kurdish national movement. The term “murders of unknown perpetrators” is only used for crimes planned and committed by organizations that have established themselves within the state and have usurped state authority. Since these murders are carried out with the consent of the respective political leadership, the perpetrators remain protected and can never be traced. Despite the presence of important evidence and testimony, the investigative proceedings for these crimes are often discontinued with no results and declared "crimes of unknown perpetrators".

To create total confusion, the term is also used to refer to the crimes committed by ideological, illegal organizations. Both the organizations and the perpetrators of these crimes are known. The term “murders of unknown perpetrators” should only be used for crimes against Kurdish intellectuals, business people and cadres that were planned and carried out by organizations with state connections. Since all the murders committed to date, the perpetrators of which the security forces could not or did not want to track down, have common characteristics, it becomes clear that this term can only be used for crimes against Kurds.

The statement by today's President and former Prime Minister Süleyman Demirel regarding the assassination attempt on the well-known journalist Ugur Mumcu read: “There are only three crimes whose perpetrators are unknown. These will be found. ”(Milliyet, 25.01.1993, p. 11). Demirel was referring to the murders of Bahriye Ügok, Muammer Aksoy and Qetin Emec. Instead, according to official information, up to that date the number of crimes committed by unknown perpetrators was over a thousand. In 1992 alone the number of crimes of this kind was given as 732 (Milliyet, May 14, 1994, p. 1)

When Demirel in his above-mentioned statement only describes the murders carried out by illegal and ideologically oriented organizations, the perpetrators of which could not be caught, as "crimes of unknown perpetrators", he is indirectly expressing that all the other crimes are linked to the state stand and the perpetrators are protected.

It is widely believed that the murders of Kurdish intellectuals, business people and regional executives were carried out by some organizations under the protection and knowledge of the state. This view is for the most part supported by testimonies and serious, factual evidence. There is also the perception that calling these crimes “murders of unknown perpetrators” would not correspond to reality. This is why some circles suggest using the term “murders of known perpetrators” instead of the term “murders of unknown perpetrators”. The latter is preferred, for example, by the Diyarbakir Bar Association. Undoubtedly, this also hits the core of reality. However, since the term “crimes of known perpetrators” also implies indeterminacy, it has met with little interest.

In summary, it should be said that both for the crimes that are known to be committed by ideologically oriented, illegal organizations, the perpetrators of which cannot be captured, as well as for the crimes pending in legal proceedings, the perpetrators of which cannot be identified, the designation “crime not detectable perpetrator "is used. For the politically motivated crimes, the perpetrators of which are under the protection of the state, we should use the term "murders of unknown perpetrators" until an adequate term is found.

It is known that the lecturer Dr. Bahriye Ücok, Prof. Muammer Aksoy, the journalists Qetin Emec and Ugur Mumcu and the writer Turan Dursun were killed by activists from radical Islamic organizations. Finally, on January 24, 1995, the head of the Istanbul Security Authority, Neodet Menzir, reported in the 7 pm news of the ATV television station that three suspects had been arrested in the case of Qetin Emec. He went on to say: “… in the cases of Bahrfye Ücok, MuammerAksoy, Turan Dursun and Ugur Mumcu, it is known that these crimes are linked to foreign countries and that they were committed by members of an Islamic terrorist organization. (...) "

In a report by the news center of the daily Milliyet, based on information from the parliamentary committee of inquiry to clarify the crimes of unknown perpetrators, the number of crimes of this type is given as 1,796 (Milliyet, May 14, 1994, p. 116). 1,488 of these crimes have occurred in the eastern and southeastern provinces. 203 of the remaining 308 crimes were committed against Kurdish intellectuals and business people in Istanbul. The remainder were perpetrated in other large provinces such as Adana, Ankara, Antalya, Izmir, Bursa and Eskisehir. The reality revealed by this investigation is that these “murders of unknown perpetrators” are particularly concentrated in the east and south-east provinces, where the majority of Kurds live. These crimes are second most common in large cities, where intellectuals and business people of Kurdish origin have preferred to settle. From this it can be seen that the figures of the parliamentary commission of inquiry also confirm that the "murders of unknown perpetrators" of Kurdish executives, intellectuals and business people represent a systematic annihilation.

The information released by this commission of inquiry to clarify the crimes of unknown perpetrators makes it clear that these crimes are not due to the arbitrary and irresponsible behavior of some groups, but rather indicate a connection with the political leadership of the state. In fact, the number of such crimes, which was 44 in 1990 and 68 in 1991, and thus relatively low, rose rapidly during the period of the coalition of DYP and SHP and rose to 732 in 1992. The rapid increase continued unabated in 1993, 1994 and 1995. These crimes, previously committed against Kurdish executives in the east and south-east, were extended to Kurdish intellectuals and business people in major cities in 1993 and 1994. Today the number of murders committed by unknown perpetrators against Kurds is over 3,000.

The sudden increase in the number of attacks on Kurds since 1992 and its spread to intellectuals and business people is no accident. Rather, it is obvious that the increase is related to the political decision made by the DYP / SHP coalition in the context of the “total war”.

How are “murders of unknown perpetrators” committed?

These murders are planned by various circles (such as the counter-guerrilla, Turkish Gladio, the Office for Special Warfare in the Army, Jitem, etc.), which are organized within the state, and carried out using different approaches. According to witness statements, it is clear that five different methods are used in the execution of the planned crimes. The aim of choosing different approaches is to mislead the public as to where the attacks started and to divert suspicion of state-affiliated organizations.

The most common approaches to crimes are:

1. Crimes committed by the civilian police or by employees of the special forces
2. Crimes committed by the Hezbollah organization activists
3. Crimes committed by renegade former members of the PKK
4. Crimes committed by the village guards
5. Crimes committed by mafia militants such as gray wolves

Targets of the murders of unknown perpetrators

→ By liquidating the executives from the people, the Kurdish movement is to be weakened and robbed of its influence.

→ By spreading fear and panic, Kurdish intellectuals and business people should be seduced into passivity and kept from political struggle.

The increase in the number of murders of unknown perpetrators of Kurdish executives, intellectuals and business people in the past two to three years and the simultaneous increase in the number of people fleeing to western provinces and abroad are evidence of how effective this method is in driving leadership cadres to flee.

Does the failure to investigate the murders of unknown perpetrators have anything to do with the inadequacy of the security forces?

The answer to this question is definitely no. The Turkish security forces, especially the police, have been extremely successful in solving criminal offenses and apprehending perpetrators. This thesis can be substantiated with many examples:

→ The mass crime in Tuzla in 1994, in which PKK activists secretly and without leaving any traces, placed a bomb in the garbage can at the train station and caused it to explode, was solved within a month thanks to the careful work of the police and the perpetrators were caught.

→ The activists who planted bombs in the Pyramit amusement center in Kadiköy and in the military casino Fenerbahce without leaving any traces on June 26, 1994, and killing two police officers in the explosion, were caught within 20 days.

→ The activists of the DevSol organization, who murdered the former Justice Minister Mehmet Topac with a silenced pistol on September 29, 1994 without leaving any traces, were caught within five days.

→ The activist organization THKPC, who murdered the military doctor Major Fuat Cik in his practice in Elazig on December 15th, 1994 without leaving any traces, were caught within a month.

→ The perpetrators, who carried out a bloody action in Izmir / Gaziemir on September 17th, 1995 by exploding a bomb placed in a garbage can, were caught within ten days.

The perpetrators of thousands of murders committed against Kurds in the past five years have not been caught or wanted to be caught despite serious evidence.

Some examples:

→ The murder of Vedat Aydin, who was abducted from his home by two security officers and later killed. has not been cleared up. Although his wife and children provided information about the perpetrators and the vehicles, the perpetrators were not caught.

→ The Ismail Kocakaya case, who was taken away in official vehicles (with the registration number “21 EC 589” and “21 EF 916”) and later murdered by civil security officers, was discontinued as a crime by unknown perpetrators.

→ The murderers of business people Feyzi Aslan and Sahin Aslan, who were picked up from a tea house in Istanbul by civil security officers in the presence of five eyewitnesses, were also not found.

→ The murderers of the famous writer Musa Anter and Mehmet Sincar, member of parliament for the province of Mardin (for DEP), were also not found or they were not wanted to be found. In these two cases, too, there was sufficient evidence and descriptions of the perpetrators.

Hundreds of similar murder cases, in which concrete information about the crime and descriptions of the perpetrator are available from eyewitnesses, were covered up and declared as "murders of unknown perpetrators".

Political analysis of the murders of unknown perpetrators

As I mentioned above, the so-called unsolved murders committed against Kurds are crimes advocated by the political rulers and planned and carried out by secret circles within the state, the perpetrators of which are under protection. In that sense, they are political murders. In the public consciousness, the state is held responsible for this. The state will be responsible for this as long as these cases are not resolved and the perpetrators are not caught.

The terror, the arbitrary disappearance and so-called unsolved murders, which are carried out today on behalf of the state in Turkey, shake social trust in the state and call its legitimacy into question. In particular, the illegal practice on Kurds has completely destroyed their trust in the state. That is why Kurdish executives, intellectuals and business people live with the feeling that they are without any state security and with the fear of being killed.

The meaninglessness of terms such as “law and the rule of law” for the ruling class in Turkey has historical connections. The understanding that the state is accorded "holiness" still plays an important role. This is a tradition from the Ottoman Empire in which sheikhs, viziers, high-ranking Islamic judges and other high-ranking bureaucrats were murdered for the sovereign interests of the state. The right to exercise state authority, which was ascribed to God in the Ottoman state system, was claimed by Ottoman rulers as representatives of God on earth. In Turkey, it is still an unbroken tradition to declare the state power, which was transferred to the nation's declaration of will by the transition from the Ottoman state system to the republic, as "holy". Here is a quote from the Chief Public Prosecutor of the Ankara State Security Court:

“You have to arrest and hang anyone who rises against the state. This is how Ataturk and the Yavuz Sultan Selim also practiced it in their time. "(Sabah Gazetesi January 23, 1995, p. 3)

The burning down and destruction of thousands of Kurdish villages and the relentless expulsion of their helpless residents are in the sovereign interest of the “holy” state. The bestial murders of Kurdish executives, intellectuals and business people are also among the incomprehensible practices that are carried out in the sovereign interest of the “holy” state.

A regime that regards the state as “holy” and declares the sacrifice of people and groups of people in the sense of “man exists for the state” to be legitimate is fascist. Since the transition from the sultanate and caliphate to the republican form of government in Turkey is not based on an internal dynamic development process, nothing has changed in terms of the understanding that state authority emanates from God. This understanding of the “sovereignty of the nation” could not be internalized by society and become a social norm of values. The understanding that the state is viewed as a “holy” entity is widespread both among those in power and among broad masses of the people. After all, this understanding is also reflected in the 1982 constitution, in whose preamble the sanctity of the state was enshrined. This twisted understanding of the state is one of the greatest obstacles in Turkey's drive for democratization and modernization. In a democratic country, the killing of a single person would cause a shock in the interests of the state. The people should exert pressure with the result that the responsible government would have to resign. Although more than 3,000 innocent people have been brutally murdered in Turkey so far, no one has moved; neither the media nor the population reacted.

Although the Gladio of the anti-communist terrorist organizations were exposed and disbanded after the Cold War, the Turkish Gladio can continue its existence in the name of the “Office for Special Warfare”. The tasks and competencies of this organization, which are laid down in the provisions of the "Office for Special Warfare" ("Sahra Talimatnamesi 31-15"), are as follows:

“Killing, bombing, armed robbery, torture; Causing disability, spreading terror through kidnapping, provoking events, retaliation, hostage-taking, arson, sabotage, propaganda and disseminating false reports, use of force, blackmail ... "

Paragraph 9 of this provision says: "The members of this counter-regular underground armed force generally have no legal status." This stipulates that this organization is not subject to any law and operates outside the legal area. This paragraph 9 alone casts a shadow over the legitimacy of the state or even makes the Turkish state illegitimate.

In order for the Turkish state to gain trust and reputation in the international community, all “murders of unknown perpetrators” must first be cleared up, the perpetrators brought to justice and the functioning of the rule of law guaranteed. This is only possible if the democratic forces of Turkey lead an organized and political fight against the illegal understanding of the state, in the sense of a democratic constitutional state that respects human rights. The peoples and states who are well-disposed towards Turkey can support the aspirations of the democratic forces through solidarity and cooperation.

Kurdistan Today No. 17, January / February 1996