Extra Judicial Killings By The Turk

kurd-l at burn.ucsd.edu kurd-l at burn.ucsd.edu
Wed Nov 27 16:34:54 GMT 1996

From: Arm The Spirit <ats at locust.cic.net>
Subject: Extra Judicial Killings By The Turkish Government

From: AKIN <akin at kurdish.org>

Security Forces Allegedly Involved in Turkish Criminal Gang

By Kelly Couturier

Wednesday, November 27, 1996
The Washington Post

YUKSEKOVA, Turkey -- This bleak, gritty town near the Iranian border sits
deep in Turkey's southeastern guerrilla war zone, a harshly beautiful
mountain region that has been battered by 12 years of armed conflict
between government forces and Kurdish separatists.

Like many other towns in Turkey's southeast, Yuksekova is full of former
villagers who have come here after losing their homes and livelihood, if
not their loved ones, to the war. More than 21,000 people have been killed
in the government's campaign against the Marxist Kurdish Workers Party
(PKK), a conflict that is costing Ankara billions of dollars and has come
to affect every area of Turkish policy, from economics to foreign

And just like throughout this region, there are people here who have
personal nightmares, stories of killings, torture, kidnappings and other
crimes against them or their families that have left them tense and
untrusting. Both sides in the war have committed human rights abuses
against the civilian population, rights groups say, although the state has
denied allegations of security force excesses.

But here in Yuksekova, authorities recently uncovered a gang that includes
several members of security force special counterinsurgency teams and
village guard contingents who have been arrested on charges of involvement
in a kidnapping-extortion case. And, in a highly unusual development, a
group of lawmakers, including a prominent former cabinet minister, is
demanding a government investigation to "reveal the true extent of the
involvement of the security forces" in the gang, which the lawmakers say
was involved in extrajudicial killings, extortion and drug trafficking.
Two reports by the lawmakers, citing eyewitness testimony, point to the
involvement of an armed forces officer in the gang.

No charges have been filed against the officer named in the report, Maj.
Mehmet Emin Yurdakul, who has been transferred to a foreign assignment,
according to his former brigade commander. The lawmakers' report quotes
Yurdakul's commander as describing him as a "very successful" soldier and
denying any allegations of wrongdoing involving the major.

But Ercan Karakas, a former culture minister and one of the authors of the
report, alleges a coverup in the Yuksekova gang case to protect any
high-ranking officers who may have been involved. "Clearly the military
must be involved in some way" in the gang, Karakas said recently in his
office at the National Assembly.

Such allegations against the security forces by members of the assembly are
extremely rare, given the privilege and power of the Turkish armed forces,
considered by many to be the country's most respected institution. Others
who have made similar allegations, including rights groups and journalists,
have been accused by state officials of spreading PKK propaganda and often
have landed in jail.

The government largely has been supported by the Turkish public and the
mainstream press in its military campaign against the PKK, which began
fighting for an independent Kurdish state in 1984. The United States also
has supported Turkey against PKK acts of terrorism, though it has been
critical of human rights abuses committed by the government.
But as the war drags on, the state no longer appears as immune from
domestic criticism of its anti-PKK fight as it once was.

Karakas, a member of the opposition Republican People's Party who said he
has been approached by private citizens who want the war stopped, claims a
"war lobby" is now in place in Turkey "which is firmly opposed to ending
the conflict in the southeast, because a lot of people are making a lot of
money from it."

Many of the alleged human rights abuses by the security forces in the
southeast, including in the Yuksekova gang case, are blamed on the special
counterinsurgency teams and local Kurdish village guards enlisted by the
government to fill the particular needs of a guerrilla war. A large number
of special team members and village guards have criminal records, according
to Karakas.

In the botched kidnapping case that uncovered the Yuksekova gang, a phone
call by the kidnappers, who had passed themselves off as members of the
PKK, was traced to the headquarters of a local special team, according to
the report.

The village guard system, in particular, has been criticized heavily by
rights groups for putting villagers in a dilemma: either to join the guards
and risk being killed by the PKK, who frequently target village guards and
their families, or to refuse to join and risk reprisals by security forces.
For many villagers in the southeast, according to reports by rights groups
and others, problems begin when security forces enter their village and
give the men an ultimatum: Become village guards or we will evacuate and/or
destroy your village.

That is what happened to Abdullah Canan, a wealthy businessman from a
village near Yuksekova, according to the lawmakers' report.
Canan had filed suit against members of the security forces who had
destroyed several homes in his village after the men there refused to
become village guards, according to the report and accounts given by his

According to the lawmakers' report, Canan was warned by Maj. Yurdakul to
drop his complaint against the security forces. When Canan failed to do so,
he disappeared. His mutilated body was found a month later.
"What bothers me most was the signs of torture on his body," Canan's son,
Vahap, said recently in Yuksekova.

"They had carved pieces off his face and ears. Bits of his fingers were
burned away by electric shocks. They had slit his throat and stuck his
identity card inside," he said. "A very professional job.

The lawmakers' report accuses the Yuksekova "gang in uniform" of Canan's
death and calls for the National Assembly to investigate similar
extrajudicial killings in the southeast, of which there have been hundreds,
according to rights groups.

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