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Susurluk accident discussed in the parliamentary budget talks
|Susurluk accident discussed in the parliamentary budget talks » Rectors' secularism drive angers government » Ankara security forces hit heavily against PKK in last decade » Court begins hearing Gures libel case » Isik Yurtcu: In jail with pride until the next century » High court okays Toprak divorce; rejects compensation » Susurluk commission will hear ANAP and IP chairmen » Ciller orders casinos closed » Explosion in St. Antuan Church » Kazan orders chief prosecutors to prepare immunity reports|
|Turkish Daily News Electronic Edition, Domestic News Section, Dec 19 1996
Domestic News Page Contents
Susurluk accident discussed in the parliamentary budget talks
TDN Parliamentary Bureau
ANKARA- Aftershocks of the controversial Susurluk accident that disclosed scandalous state-mafia connections became the hottest topic on the last day of the parliamentary budget debates. The nation was shocked by the Nov. 3 accident in which a senior police officer and a right-wing terrorist suspect were killed and a deputy from the ruling coalition partner, the True Path Party (DYP) was injured.
While attacking at DYP leader and Deputy Prime Minister Tansu Ciller, the opposition parties called on Prime Minister Necmettin Erbakan, the senior coalition partner Welfare Party (RP) chief, to take necessary measures to expose the alleged government conspiracies.
Mesut Yilmaz, the leader of the main opposition Motherland Party (ANAP), said criminal gangs were scheming to control the government. "The government has no right to violate laws while struggling with bandits," Yilmaz said, referring to the elite security forces trained to fight against rebels of the outlawed Kurdistan Workers' Party (PKK).
Yilmaz fired indirect accusations at Ciller for her alleged involvement in a state-mafia link scandal, referring to corrupt viziers in Arabian Nights tales.
The ANAP leader said the state could not be strengthened by covering up the truth. "The country's problems cannot be solved unless the mafia's arms within the government and political arena are uncovered."
Complaining that the government had provided little evidence so far, with one-and-a-half months having passed since the accident occurred, Yilmaz urged the state remove its protection of those who were allegedly involved in the scandalous links.
The main opposition leader said a brave and determined leader who would not fear losing his or her power could reveal such conspiracies. He said current probes would fail to identify those who are in top government positions.
To achieve a complete investigation, Yilmaz said, the prime minister should set up an institution with special powers.
While Yilmaz continued speaking, a scuffle arose between DYP deputy Hasan Denizkurdu and ANAP deputy Ibrahim Yasar Dedelek but was halted by other deputies.Baykal: 'I cannot tolerate Ciller's words'
Republican People's Party (CHP) chairman Deniz Baykal said that he could not tolerate DYP Chairwoman Tansu Ciller's statement which said, "Those who fire shots for the state are, for us, as respectable as those who get shot for it." Noting it as an example of political weakness, Baykal remarked, "I wish these words were the result of Ciller's usual slip of the tongue or grammatical mistakes, but they are not."
Asking who would give the order to fire shots for the state, Baykal said, "So those who fire shots are respectable; what about Abdi Ipekci and Ugur Mumcu? What about the millions of Turkish citizens who live honestly on a salary of TL 30 million?"
Baykal underlined that peace could not be established in a country where the deputy prime minister [Ciller] deemed those involved in narcotics, smuggling and murder respectable.RP calls for 'clean' administrators
Omer Vehbi Hatiboglu, speaking on behalf of the RP parliamentary group, noted that Turkey had witnessed examples of ignoring the law by carrying out attacks on behalf of the state. "There are not any gangs in a state based on principles of law, and no one can substitute himself for the state."
Noting that it was the administrators who must be clean, Hatiboglu stressed that the problem would be solved when dirty hands were cleaned. Budgetary dream
Both Yilmaz and Baykal stressed in their speeches that the 1997 budget is a dream. Yilmaz said it was clear that the current government would not undertake anything positive in the economy, while Baykal, calling the budget schizophrenic, said that the International Monetary Fund (IMF) dropped Turkey's credit rating because Erbakan, who is insisting on a balanced budget, could not convince the organization of confidence in Turkey.
Baykal recalled that the government had announced that Operation Provide Comfort (OPC) would be removed starting Dec. 31. However, he noted, this only means that OPC will come out of Parliament with a different name.
The opposition criticized Erbakan's absence during Yilmaz's and Baykal's statements on the budget. Deputy Prime Minister Ciller was also absent from the meetings since she is in Moscow. DYP criticizes Yilmaz, DSP concerned with unemployment
DYP Isparta Deputy Aykon Dogan, speaking on behalf of the DYP parliamentary group, noted that the state would never seek help from gangs and that such a search for help would never stay secret.
Dogan, objecting to Yilmaz's proposal with respect to investigations, said, "No one has the right to ask for investigations and trials according to his own wish." He also urged those who possess documents and information relating to the traffic accidents which took place near Susurluk on Nov. 3 to hand these over to the prosecutors without delay.
Democratic Left Party (DSP) Ankara Deputy Hikmet Ulugbay, in his speech emphasized the high rate of unemployment in the country. He noted that while the government announced the rate of unemployment as 16 percent, the International Labor Organization (ILO) pegged it at 26.5 percent.
Rectors' secularism drive angers government
TDN Parliament Bureau
ANKARA- Reacting against university rectors' and High Education Board (YOK) warnings of the move being a threat to secularism, the government is poised to change the YOK law. The coalition partners want to take full control of YOK. Under the new law, the current YOK president will be dismissed and his successor will no longer be appointed directly by Turkey's president. Instead, the board's president will be appointed by a government decree. As well, the number of board members will be dropped from 24 to 15, with eight of the 15 to be selected by the government.
The draft YOK law, prepared jointly by Welfare Party (RP) and True Path Party (DYP) parliamentary group officials, was submitted to the parliament speakership. RP parliamentary group leader Salih Kapusuz stated the new YOK Law will be passed by Parliament before the New Year.
In the new set up, only three professors will be selected by the president, as opposed to seven previously. Cabinet will elect eight members from among high-level bureaucrats -- at least four of them should be professors suggested by the Ministry of National Education. Under the current law, cabinet elects only two of the YOK members. General Staff headquarters will still have one nominee, while the Council of Universities will elect three members instead of the current seven. The YOK president will be elected from among the board members with a joint government decree.
The former YOK president and members of the board will leave their positions a month after new appointments under the new law. The government's decision to change the YOK law followed on the heels of a warning to the coalition by university rectors about safeguarding the secular Turkish Republic. The current YOK President Kemal Guruz is known to be a supporter of main opposition Motherland Party Chairman Mesut Yilmaz. Political observers believe that the new law is borne from DYP Chairwoman Tansu Ciller's determination to erode Yilmaz' influence in every way possible.
Ankara security forces hit heavily against PKK in last decade
Turkish Daily News
ANKARA- Turkish security forces have inflicted heavy blow against the separatist Kurdistan Workers' Party (PKK) in the last several years, killing 13,255 militants, injuring 244 and capturing nearly 2,000.
During the period from 1987, when emergency rule was implemented in Turkey's southeastern region, nearly 1,700 separatists surrendered, and approximately 3,900 security force members were killed.
According to official government figures, the PKK have killed nearly 4,000 civilians injuring around 5,000 in its raids on villages such as in Dargecit, Yuvali and Efeler. The separatist organization has also been accused of killing more than 130 teachers in the Southeast.
Security forces also seized 17,000 rifles, 5,700 pistols, 1,037 rocket launcher, 9,500 mortars, 14,500 hand grenades, six anti-aircraft weapons, 2,000 mines, 13 blaze guns, 20,000 tons of food and 16,000 medical equipment materials and medicine.
Referring to the seized materials, a high level Turkish official said that during "Operation Steel," that was initiated in northern Iraq, security forces seized nearly 5 tons of heroin and hashish, adding that the PKK is earning huge amounts of money through drug smuggling and from extorting money from some businesses in the Southeast. He said that the PKK is a very rich terrorist organization from its illegal activities, which he said are linked to the mafia and terrorism. He said that the PKK usually uses a route from Afghanistan through northern Iraq to Syria's Latakia (Lazkiye) harbor to transport drugs.
Court begins hearing Gures libel case
Turkish Daily News
ANKARA- An Ankara court on Wednesday began hearing evidence in the libel suit filed by three women against True Path Party (DYP) Kilis deputy Dogan Gures -- the former Chief of General Staff -- on charges of defaming the character of Turkish women, the Anatolia news agency reported.
Erhan Buyukerk, Gures' attorney, claimed that the case was an attempt at sensationalism. "It is neither right nor suitable to file a complaint against someone who dedicated his whole life to his country, and to dress him up in skirts in newspapers," he said.
The three women who filed the complaint said that their attorney was not present and that they would be ready for the next hearing, upon which the judge postponed the case until a later date to give both parties time to collect their evidence and complete their preparations for the trial.
The case involves press statements Gures made in October saying that he would approve of the censure motion vote relating to Prime Minister Necmettin Erbakan's Libyan trip. "You will see what I will do on Wednesday. If you do not like my decision, you can dress me in a skirt. If you like it, you can dress me in a men's suit," he had said.
"The meaning behind these words is clear. The words of the defendant are an attack on the character of Turkish women and all women because these words were uttered to tell the public that women do not keep their word, and that a man who does not keep his word should be punished by being dressed in a skirt," the petition of the three women read.
Noting that Gures had rejected the censure motion, thus causing the press to punish him by dressing him in a skirt, the petition said that the deputy's statements were a serious attacks on women's rights as well as human rights.
The three women are demanding a total of TL 330 million.
Isik Yurtcu: In jail with pride until the next century
By Ertugrul Kurkcu / TDN Guest Writer
ISTANBUL- Journalist Isik Yurtcu, the jailed editor in chief of the banned pro-Kurdish daily Ozgur Gundem, has won the Paris-based Reporters Sans Frontiers' Journalist Of The Year award.
This is the second international award for Yurtcu this year. In November, he was cited by the New York-based Committee for the Protection of Journalists, along with colleagues from Mexico, Palestine and India.
"I feel the death breaths of my assassinated colleagues, from Musa Anter to Ugur Mumcu and from Metin Goktepe to Huseyin Deniz, as I receive this honorable prize," said Yurtcu.
The fifty-two year old has spent two years in Sakarya prison and is currently in his third year of prison.A Turk, he has edited Ozgur Gundem from its inception in June 1991 to its permanent closure in 1994.
Being a "responsible managing editor," as it is called in Turkish, means being liable before the authorities for every article and news item printed in the paper.His various convictions total 10 years' imprisonment and fines of $10,000, which if he does not pay he faces a further three years in prison.
Yurtcu will probably be freed in 2002, but will never be able to sit at another editor's desk, since Turkish law prohibits employment of "responsible editors" who have been convicted.
Yurtcu sees himself as the victim of the judiciary's "double standard", by which he sees pro-Kurdish journalists discriminated against.A life spent in journalism
Born in the southern city of Adana as the son of a veteran journalist, he began working for newspapers while a law student, and left school for his first full-time job at the Ankara-based daily Yenigun in 1969.
Before Ozgur Gundem, Yurtcu worked for a number of newspapers including Cumhuriyet, Yenigun, Ulus, Yeni Halkci, Politika, Gunes and Demokrat, all critical of the establishment.
Yurtcu has collected many professional awards from Turkish journalist associations, and one of the most common remarks about Yurtcu from colleagues is "he is a proper journalist".Due in large part to the respect accorded him by his peers, the RSF launched a campaign in 1994 to free Yurtcu.The darkening page of Liberation
The RSF took out a full page in the French daily Liberation last week, calling on Liberation readers to send letters to Suleyman Demirel, President of Turkey, reminding him that Turkey is signatory to the International Human Rights Convention, including the Article 19, which secures infinite freedom of expression for all."
Behind the advertisement's text a gloomy Isik Yurtcu looks out at Liberation readers.Every day the page is darker and darker, turning black on the last day of the advertisement.
The campaign bore fruit in the form of a Wednesday meeting last week between Turkey's media and a European Parliamentary delegation in Strasbourg headed by the Greens' Claudia Roth.
Influenced by the widespread campaign for Yurtcu in the European media, Turkish journalists are reportedly preparing to launch a similar campaign in the Turkish media.
RSF Turkey representative Nadire Mater says "Unfortunately, Turkish journalists are behind their Western counterparts in showing solidarity with Yurtcu.Nevertheless, even delayed, attention in the domestic media is increasing."RSF campaign works
"Until Isik is free, we are determined to continue the campaign," said Robert Menard, the RSF Secretary General, noting that the RSF has had a part in the freeing of over 100 jailed journalists worldwide.
An RSF campaigner, Marie-Guy Baron, a French journalist from Le Figaro said he was denied access to Yurtcu "but could send him a box of chocolate."
The RSF is also campaigning for the release of six other Turkish journalists -- Naile Tuncer, Salih Bal, Emine Buyrukcan, Guray Ulku, Alper Gormus and Muteber Yildirim.
Further RSF objectives include the repeal of Article 8 of the Anti-Terrorism Law and Article 312 of the Turkish Penal Code, under which over 3,000 Turkish journalists and authors have been tried.
Saying he was "extremely satisfied" to receive the RSF award along with the others, Yurtcu noted that "in a country where freedom of expression do not exist, no other freedom could be enjoyed," concludes Yurtcu.
High court okays Toprak divorce; rejects compensation
Turkish Daily News
ANKARA- The High Appeals Court has upheld the section of the lower court decision divorcing Halis Toprak from Ayse Toprak but reversed the part ordering the payment of TL 5.1 trillion in compensation, the Anatolia news agency reported on Wednesday.
Both Halis Toprak and Ayse Toprak had earlier appealed the lower court decision on different grounds. While Halis Toprak had appealed the ruling for the amount he was ordered to pay, Ayse Toprak had objected to the divorce decision itself.
Custody of the children was given to Ayse Toprak, but the high court cancelled the section of the lower court decision awarding her TL 5.1 trillion as "material and emotional" compensation, holding that a reasonable amount should be determined in view of their financial situation during marriage.
If the lower court insists on its earlier decision on the TL 5.1 trillion compensation figure, the United Civil Chambers of the High Appeals Court will look into the case and decide accordingly. This decision will be final and will have a binding effect on both the plaintiff and the defendant.
Susurluk commission will hear ANAP and IP chairmen
Turkish Daily News
ANKARA- The parliamentary commission formed to investigate "the ties between illegal organizations and the state, the traffic accident in Susurluk, and the links involved in the accident" decided on Tuesday in favor of hearing the statements of Motherland Party (ANAP) chairman Mesut Yilmaz and Labor Party (IP) chairman Dogu Perincek, the Anatolia news agency reported.
Commission Chairman Mehmet Elkatmis, a Welfare Party deputy, speaking at a press conference after the commission's Tuesday meeting, announced that Yilmaz, Perincek, and the deputies who were first to sign the proposal to form a commission would testify on Dec. 24. On Dec. 26 the commission is to hear from Mehmet Eymur and Korkut Eken of the National Intelligence Service (MIT), as well as the coordinator of the Prime Ministry's investigative commission.
Noting that the commission would decide what action to take after these people testified, Elkatmis said, "We will ask for the testimonies of all those who need to testify. No matter who they are -- it could be the president, the prime minister, Ciller or Agar. Our commissionhas the right to call people to testify."
Ciller orders casinos closed
By Hakan Aslaneli / Turkish Daily News
ISTANBUL- The casinos of Turkey's five-star hotels, which employ around 20,000 people and reportedly gross $2 billion yearly, are facing closure on the orders of Deputy Prime Minister Tansu Ciller. It is thought that Ciller's husband, Ozer Ciller, has had an important role in the shock decision, announced Tuesday.
After the murder last summer of Omer Lutfi Topal, the owner of the Emperyal casino chain known as the "Casino King," the crisis that began in the casinos has finally been concluded. It is thought that claims saying that Ciller's husband had played a role in Topal's murder finally forced her to make such a decision.
The uncertain situation of casinos, which was added to after the Susurluk car accident and the hidden conflicts that revealed, had made the casinos' owners the subjects of continuing government hostility.
The government's first attack on the casinos was the decision recently that Turks were not allowed to visit casinos, which was followed by another government announcement that casinos would be moved out of town.
Erhan Akbulut, the chairman of the Gambling Association, said that around 20,000 people would become jobless with this radical decision and added that it would cause a deep scar on the Turkish economy.
On Tuesday, Tansu Ciller gave Interior Minister Meral Aksener and tourism Minister Bahattin Yucel an order to shut down the casinos. This order has come like a bomb to the casino world. Casino owners and the Gambling Association's chairman held an emergency meeting in Ankara in order to evaluate the situation, and the Association's executive board members said that they would hold a press conference about this drastic decision afterwards.
After Ciller's surprise statement, the Interior and Tourism ministries have now started working on measures to close the casinos. Ciller said that if a law change was required they would bring a proposal to the Council of Ministries.
"I gave an order to the Interior and Tourism ministries," Ciller said. "We will handle the situation with our partner, with whom we do not have any different point of view. Casinos only damage Turkey. It is a sector which does not pay tax. Casinos which put families in difficult conditions should absolutely be closed," she continued.
Tourism Minister Bahattin Yucel is reportedly shocked by the three different decisions made by Ciller over the last three months. First he worked on legislation to prohibit Turks from casinos, then he worked on gathering the casinos into three geographical centers.
Yucel has also come up against the casino owners again after the latest decision, saying casinos should be gathered in one center. He claims he has even worked under death threats.
"The social damage of casinos has risen day by day, and therefore I support the final decision," he said, adding that: "The amount casinos pay in tax does not reflect the facts." He also said that they had found it difficult to control the casinos and that he would make Ciller's decision come into force immediately.
Explosion in St. Antuan Church
Turkish Daily News
ISTANBUL- There was an explosion inside St. Antuan's Roman Catholic Church on Istiklal Caddesi Tuesday afternoon around five o'clock.
According to Father Alphonso Sammut of St. Antuan's there had been a small bomb set beside one of the confessionals.No one was injured, and there was no serious damage reported.
"We heard a big bang, and people ran out of the building," Father Alphonso told the TDN."I did not realize the explosion was inside the church, I thought it came from the courtyard.I realized it was inside when I saw people running out."
He said the church had received no phone calls, threats, claims of responsibility or information either before or after the explosion."It must be a mad man's job," he claimed.
A local resident said "I heard a huge sound around 6.30, but did not pay any attention because it's always happening on Istiklal."
Father Alphonso said he was grateful no lives were lost and no serious damage sustained to the historic building.
Kazan orders chief prosecutors to prepare immunity reports
Turkish Daily News
ANKARA- Justice Minister Sevket Kazan has issued a circular demanding that all reports regarding the lifting of legislative immunities be prepared and sent to his office by the chief prosecutors themselves, the Anatolia news agency reported on Wednesday.
In his circular of Dec. 10 to all chief prosecutors assigned at regular courts and state security court, Kazan ordered his personnel to abide by the rules set forth in the circulars released by former Justice Minister Oltan Sungurlu in October, 1990 and by Kazan himself in July, 1996.
The most recent circular said that a study of documents sent to the Justice Ministry had shown that prosecutors at regular courts had prepared reports without having collected all evidence in favor or against the individual concerned.
A prosecutor, namely Nihat Artiran, said on Monday that he would no longer be working on the case of former Interior Minister Mehmet Agar. Artiran was assigned the responsibility of preparing a report in regard to the lifting of the legislative immunity of former Interior Minister Mehmet Agar that could pave the way for his prosecution in a security scandal linking the state, police and the mafia.
The Justice Ministry had earlier rejected Artiran's report on the grounds that it was incomplete. The report asked that legal steps be taken to lift Deputy Mehmet Agar's parliamentary immunity.
Artiran said that the Justice Ministry had wanted the chief prosecutor to complete the missing points in the report and that the report should be prepared by the chief prosecutor himself. He said that, under the regulations, the report must be prepared by the prosecutor who carries out the investigation.
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