17 April 2014, Thursday
Today's Zaman

JİTEM’s illegal actions cost Turkey a fortune

27 August 2008, Wednesday /MELİK DUVAKLI
Turkey ranks second after Russia in the list of countries with the largest number of human rights violation cases open at the European Court of Human Rights, with 9,000 cases currently pending.

Two-thirds of the applications made to the European court regard violations of fair trial and property rights. There are currently 440 cases opened against Turkey regarding torture, ill treatment and violation of the right to live.

According to statistics from the Foreign Ministry, Turkey was sentenced to 33 million euros in 567 different cases between 1990 -- when Turkey allowed individual applications to the European court -- and 2006. A majority of these cases are related to events that took place in southeastern Anatolia when it was declared that the region was in a state of emergency. This label was officially applied to the Southeast between July 1987 and November 2002 due to terrorist activities perpetrated by the outlawed Kurdistan Worker's Party (PKK).

Turkey, which accounts for 9.5 percent of the cases at the European court, has been fined many times due to the violations of human rights that took place in the Southeast at that time, where JİTEM -- a secret and illicit military intelligence agency -- was active. JİTEM has now come up again on Turkey's agenda after retired Col. Arif Doğan was detained in the investigation into Ergenekon, a criminal network suspected of plotting a coup against the government.

Doğan confessed during his interrogation that he was the founder and head of JİTEM. The Yüksekova Gang was an illegal organization formed in the Yüksekova district of Hakkari, headed by three high ranking military personnel and various politicians, that smuggled drugs and weapons. The gang's activities -- first revealed in 1996, causing the name of JİTEM to be mentioned in a court record for the first time -- are only one part of the JİTEM activities that have been sent to the European court, which in total have cost Turkey a fortune. Doğan was one of the suspects tried in the frame of the Yüksekova Gang, known by the public as "the gang with uniforms." Though local courts sentenced the members of the Yüksekova Gang to imprisonment many times, all of these punishments were cancelled by the Supreme Court of Appeals. The European court then fined Turkey 103,000 euros for its decisions about the Yüksekova Gang.

Doğan is also mentioned in the investigation of the murder of Kurdish writer Musa Anter, who was killed at the age of 72 in 1992 in Diyarbakır, where he had gone to participate in a festival. Abdulkadir Aygan, a defected PKK terrorist who was a JİTEM member for 10 years, explained many years after the Yüksekova case that one of the JİTEM teams, which were under control of Doğan and Cem Ersever (who was also later killed by the Ergenekon gang in 1993), killed Musa Anter in 1992 in his hotel room. Aygan was also with the team that killed Anter. Turkey was found guilty of this murder 14 years after it took place and was ordered by the European court to pay a total of 28,500 euros in 2006.

One of the most famous decisions of the European court against Turkey concerned an incident in which the resident's of the village of Yeşilyurt in the Cizde district of southeastern Anatolia province Mardin were forced to eat excrement during an operation administrated by Maj. Cafer Tayyar Çağlayan in 1989. Çağlayan was tried in Turkey after the villagers complained, and he was sentenced to three months of imprisonment. However, this punishment was delayed and later commuted to a monetary fine. The villagers then applied to the European court, which fined Turkey 300 French francs in 1994 for torture.

Hundreds of court cases from Turkey

Turkey, which ratified the European Convention of Human Rights in 1954, accepted the right to apply to the European court individually in 1987. Turkey agreed to accept the decisions of the European court and to pay the fines it was leveled in 1989, and this agreement became valid in 1990. The first individual application to the European court from Turkey was made in 1993, and the European court made its first decisions on Turkey in 1995. The number of decisions that the European court has made since then is as follows: three in 1995, five in 1996, eight in 1997, 18 in 1998, 19 in 1999, 39 in 2000, 218 in 2001, 99 in 2002, 123 in 2003, 171 in 2004, 290 in 2005 and 300 in 2006. 

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