Veteran politician Murat Karayalçın, who served as the deputy prime minister between 1993 and 1995, has implied that the government of the time was inactive against unsolved murders, which he believes is an indication that there was a lack of political authority to solve these incidents.
Karayalçın's remarks are being interpreted as a major confession as Turkey rarely witnesses politicians who criticize the policies of their own governments. Karayalçın's government was a coalition between the True Path Party (DYP) and the Social Democratic People's Party (SHP) led by Prime Minister Tansu Çiller between 1993 and 1995.
“The existence of unsolved murders means the inexistence of a government in a country. It means the inexistence of a political authority. This is the case for me at least. And for me again, this is not something to be accepted. I am not just saying this considering the reaction to come from the public. Citizens of the country which is entrusted to you are being killed. And you feel unease in the face of the law, family, society and more importantly, your conscience. I felt this anytime during the time my government was in office. I felt this for every unsolved murder,” Karayalçın stated.
Turkey's recent history is full of the murders of prominent figures including journalists and academics in addition to thousands of people who disappeared in the '90s in the Kurdish-dominated Southeast and some eastern cities of the country. According to records from the Diyarbakır Chief Prosecutor's Office, 9,719 cases from 1988 until the present day remain unsolved. The majority of the unsolved murder cases -- 4,521 cases -- occurred between 1992-1994.
Karayalçın also said he had heard on many occasions about JİTEM, an illegal unit inside the gendarmerie, but its existence was always officially denied.
“I was always in pursuit of the reality about JİTEM. I exerted efforts for the revelation of the truth behind that formation within the opportunities of my government. I was the deputy prime minister of the state. I spoke to the president, prime minister and commanders [of the time] about JİTEM. They always told me JİTEM did not exist,” he noted.
Though the existence of JİTEM has long been denied, it is believed that this clandestine intelligence unit is responsible for many crimes against residents of the Southeast in the 1990s. The unit is also said to be behind the disappearances of countless Kurds in southeastern Turkey. JİTEM is also thought to be an instrumental arm of the illegal organization Ergenekon, which is charged with plotting to overthrow the government. Although the existence of JİTEM has always been denied, none of the institutions have managed to convince the public that the group does not exist.
Karayalçın, who often visited the East and Southeast during his term in office, said what he learned from those visits was that the statements by people in those regions and the official discourse of the state were highly contradictory.
“I traveled to Tunceli's Ovacık district after some villages were evacuated by the state after clashes between security forces and terrorists there. … When I received information about the incidents from locals and the governor, I saw that what the governor told me was in contradiction to what locals spoke about. I did not witness this only in a single incident. I witnessed this in an incident in Diyarbakır, too,” he added.