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State Gangs Like a Garbage Dump Waiting to Explode
|State Gangs Like a Garbage Dump Waiting to Explode » Minister Tasar: 'Bag It or Else'|
|politics 30 August , 1998, Turkish Probe issue 294, Copyright © Turkish Daily News
State Gangs Like a Garbage Dump Waiting to Explode
Gangs within the state remind me of the Mamak garbage dump, located in the eastern section of Turkey's capital, Ankara. The mountain of garbage that has accumulated through years of governmental neglect has developed into the source of a huge stench in Ankara. Government officials have been unable to perceive the smell; however the dump has steadily became a threat to public health. Smoke created by the occasional fire at the site envelops the blue sky, sending a warning to those in positions of responsibility that if the necessary precautions are not taken within a reasonable period of time, the entire dump will explode like a bomb, and all that filth will blanket Ankara, just like the incident experienced at Istanbul's Umraniye garbage dump.
The government is now fully occupied with another source of filth similar to the one in Mamak. The state gangs, which have developed into an enormous problem through years of neglect, emitting the bad odor of a warning signal for a long time, have finally developed into a blaze that has not been able to be extinguished for the last two years, and as a result could not be hidden from the public. If the government continues to neglect the stench and fails to abandon its usual ignorant approach, it will be faced with a "methane" explosion that will claim many lives and, at the very least, will smear filth onto countless people.
Two years ago, a traffic accident that occurred in the Susurluk township of Balikesir exposed the existence of a state-mafia-politics triangle. A super-luxurious Mercedes ran full-speed into a truck, killing Chief of Police Huseyin Kocadag, an "ultra-nationalist" gang leader, along with alleged murderer Abdullah Catli and his girlfriend, Gonca Us. True Path Party (DYP) Urfa deputy and clan chieftain Sedat Bucak escaped the accident with some injuries.
Special assassination guns, special bullets, forged identifications and false gun licenses signed by Mehmet Agar, the former minister of the interior, were found scattered about the car. The ominous incident, which occurred while a fugitive gang leader and a multiple-homicide suspect, a senior member of the police and a parliamentary deputy were sharing the same vehicle, was instrumental in disclosing the state-mafia-politics triangle. Two years have passed since the accident, but the after-effects of this conspiracy, later called the "Susurluk Gang," are still being felt. The recent arrest of Alaattin Cakici in France made it mandatory for the government to probe the state structure to ascertain the gang leaders' connections within the government. When Cakici was apprehended along with his private guard and his girlfriend, he was carrying a diplomatic passport, which suggested that the Susurluk Gang maintains high-level relationships within the government.
Cakici's arrest was carried out as a result of highly confidential cooperation between the National Intelligence Organization (MIT) and the French police. The date of this arrest coincided with the date of a wedding reception arranged for the son of former Interior Minister Agar, whose name has often surfaced in connection with state-mafia cooperation, suggesting that the housecleaning operation was very carefully engineered.
The wedding reception was turned into a show of "reconciliation with the government and a purification of the allegations of crime" by Agar. It was announced beforehand that Kenan Evren, leader of the Sept. 12 coup and the ensuing period's president, as well as current President Suleyman Demirel were both invited to be witnesses for the bride and groom. Those who had decided to destroy the gangs within the government, however, arranged for Cakici's being apprehended in France on the same day, preventing the reception from accomplishing its purpose. Upon being informed of the arrest, Demirel changed his mind at the very last minute and did not attend the reception. Once they heard about the arrest, many influential businessman left the reception.
Although Cakici was apprehended during the day, the operation was kept secret until 8:30 p.m., the time of the marriage ceremony, seen as a part of the plan. A red diplomatic passport found on Cakici made it inevitable that the state gang would be the target. During an investigation conducted by the parliamentary commission on the Susurluk incident, Hanefi Avci, the deputy chief of intelligence, had divulged connections and the names of senior officials who were providing protection to gang leaders. Avci explained to the commission that the first official to contact Cakici in 1987 was Senkal Atasagun, currently serving as undersecretary of the MIT, and that this relationship had been perpetuated through Yavuz Atac, also a senior official with the MIT. Avci also revealed a connection of a questionable nature between Cakici and Mehmet Eymur of the MIT.
Following a brief investigation, it was easily substantiated that the red passport found on Cakici had been illegally prepared and issued by the MIT's Atac. It was also reported that Cakici had travelled to Beijing just to pick up the passport, but Atac later stated that the passport had been delivered to Cakici in Malaysia. Due to his continued affiliation with the mafia, Atac was supposedly "exiled" to Beijing a year ago, where he was able to steal the red passport. Allegations pertaining to this theft were at first vigorously denied by the Foreign Ministry; however it was soon discovered that a passport was in fact missing.
It was also indicated that the passport had initially been prepared by Atac to be provided to Mehmet Can Kulaksizoglu, suspected of being the mastermind behind the assassination attempt on Human Rights Association (IHD) Chairman Akin Birdal.
While the official procedures are ongoing for the extradition of Cakici, whose name has also surfaced in connection with the assassination of acclaimed columnist Ugur Mumcu, killed by a bomb planted in his car, many other fugitive gang leaders from the ultra-nationalist wing have been apprehended one after another by security forces, every one of whom has been accused of multiple homicides and kidnappings as well as extortion and illegally manipulating state tenders. The National Security Council (MGK), defining the ultra-nationalist wing as a "primary threat," has been instrumental in identifying the proper approach to the issue of gangs.
Cakici stayed at the Buyuk Ankara Hotel on Jan. 22-23, 1993 in rooms 704 and 806; Ugur Mumcu was assassinated on Jan. 24. Tevfik Diker, a member of the investigation committee, was able to locate the hotel invoices. It is also reported that on Oct. 31, three days prior to the Susurluk accident, both Agar and Cakici stayed at the Princess Hotel in Kusadasi. According to hotel records, Cakici stayed in Room 1242, while Huseyin Kocadag, Abdullah Catli, and Sedat Bucak were also among the hotel's guests.
Cakici's girlfriend, Asli Yaka, the daughter of celebrated designer Canan Yaka and well-known singer Selcuk Ural, was with Cakici at the time of his arrest in France. The friendship between Cakici and Asli Yaka's father is purported to go back many years. Ural's name had previously come to light when underworld personality Tevfik Agansoy was murdered upon Cakici's orders. It has been suggested that it was Ural who informed Cakici of Agansoy's arrival at the Deniz Cafe, the scene of his murder. During the incident, Ural barely saved his life by jumping into the sea; however his female companion was killed, and Ferda Temel, Tansu Ciller's bodyguard who accompanied Agansoy at the time, was injured. Temel was caught red-handed by police only last week in the course of committing extortion with his gang.
Cakici was married to Ugur Kilic, the daughter of another mafia leader, Dundar Kilic; however he also had her killed Bursa's Uludag district. Kilic stated that he tried everything in his power to avenge his daughter's death, but his men were unable to locate Cakici anywhere in the world. Kilic indicated that Ural had often visited Cakici when married to his daughter.Avci revealed MIT links a year ago
Hanefi Avci, the former deputy chairman of the Security Department's intelligence section, disclosed the mafia's relations with the MIT and named names when he testified at the special Susurluk Commission a year ago. During his testimony, Avci described the establishment of mafia-state relations as follows:
"As the outlawed Kurdistan Workers' Party's (PKK) activities speed up and became more serious, some state officials began to think that the state could not fight effectively enough against PKK members and those who supported the illegal organization by legal means. They began to believe that the PKK should be combatted by making use of illegal methods. For the first time, Cem Ersever, a member of the Gendarmerie's Intelligence and Anti-terror Unit (JITEM), undertook such [illegal] activities. Ersever was killed, along with his girlfriend and bodyguard, and the murderer has not been found. Groups which were meant to operate illegally have been established, particularly in order to fight against the financiers and drug smugglers in Istanbul that have allegedly been financially supporting the PKK. Active elements providing support to the PKK have been silenced [Avci is referring to the murder of Behcet Canturk and Savas Buldan]. However, as the groups later completed their work and there was no concrete base [i.e. enemy] to fight against, these groups, consisting of officials and civilians, engaged in mafia-style illegal activities in order to obtain a profit for themselves."
Avci stated that these illegal groups were formed from various state organs and were controlled by various state authorities. The illegally established group within the Security Department was under the authority of then Security Department Chairman Mehmet Agar, Avci said, adding that this group consisted of special policemen, tied to Special Action Department Deputy Chief Ibrahim Sahin, and of civilians associated with retired Lt Col. Korkut Eken. Avci stressed that one head of a similar illegal group within the MIT was Mehmet Eymur.
Explaining that these groups had silenced businessmen and drug smugglers of Kurdish origin, such as Behcet Canturk and Savas Buldan, Avci asserted that the bombing of daily Ozgur Gundem, a pro-Kurdish newspaper defending the PKK, had been carried out by them as well. The police and gendarmerie had not yet interfered in the activities of these groups, which then began to extort money from rich businessmen, Avci stressed. Mahmut Yildirim, code-named "Yesil," who has long been sought in connection with various murders, was used by MIT member Eymur and his friends, declared Avci.
According to Avci's statements, an escape on the part of Nurullah Tevfik Agansoy (who was later killed at the order of his close friend, Cakici) had been engineered by MIT officer Atac, and the MIT also helped Cakici and his comrades. Avci also attested to the fact that Erol Evcil, a businessmen from Bursa, had hired Cakici on several occasions. Most recently, Evcil agreed to give $2 million to Cakici in order to wipe out people who had prevented him from opening a bank. Avci said that Cakici had spoken to MIT official Atac and that they had devised a plan together to eliminate these people. According to Avci's testimony, Hadi Ozcan, whose name is associated with the Kocaeli gang has also had relations with the MIT. Noncommissioned officer Duran Firat, working at the MIT, was Eymur's representative for his dirty dealings with the illegal gangs and mafia groups, doing Eymur's errands, Avci claimed.
Disagreements occurred between Agar's and Eymur's groups concerning the murder of MIT member Tarik Umit and the kidnapping of one Mehmet Ali Yaprak, Avci explained. A certain "political group played a role in the appointment of Orhan Tasanlar" to the Istanbul Security Department, and later, with the support of the gambling mafia, Tasanlar was appointed governor of Bursa, Avci alleged.Eymur always had a leading role
The name of Mehmet Eymur initially came to light with the first MIT report in 1987. Being the author of this controversial report, Eymur was subsequently forced to retire on June 10, 1987, and later went into the ice-producing business in Antalya in partnership with retired Lt Col. Korkut Eken, however, this partnership ended in a fight between the two partners. After Tansu Ciller became prime minister in 1995, Eymur was assigned back to the MIT as head of the counter-terrorism office.
During the investigations related to the Susurluk incident, Eymur accused Ibrahim Sahin, head of the Special Operations department, and some police officers on the Special Team of being responsible for the murder of Tarik Umit. Eymur also indicated that the murder was committed by Catli at the order of Sahin and pointed out that fugitive Mahmut Yildirim was under Sahin's protection as well.
Following Mesut Yilmaz's becoming prime minister, Eymur was removed from his duties and assigned to Washington, however, he was called back to Turkey in June 1998 to consult with investigators on a report against Senkal Atasagun, the undersecretary of the MIT.
Eymur's spouse, Janset Eymur, reported that her husband repeatedly had requested to remove Atac from his duties with the MIT due to his affiliation with mafia organizations, and made it known that Atac was leaking confidential information to the mafia. "Despite my husband's efforts, Atasagun always protected Atac. As a result of Atasagun pitting Atac against my husband, Atac walked into my husband's office with a handgun under his belt, resulting in a physical confrontation and a fist fight. Disciplinary action was taken unjustly against my husband, while Atac, on the other hand, was sent abroad by Atasagun with his girlfriend, Neyzi, to conduct an operation with Alattin Cakici," she alleged.
Janset Eymur further indicated that these incidents are known by all MIT administrators and their spouses, adding that these accusations would be publicized in the near future. She said: "Who issued the red diplomatic passport? Who delegated authority to Cakici, and who is providing protection to Mehmet Kulaksizoglu, the key figure in the attempted murder of IHD Chairman Akin Birdal? And which MIT administrators are protecting characters like Yavuz Atac and Kasif Kozanoglu? All this will eventually be made public."
Kozanoglu is known to be a major in the military, and the periodical Aydinlik once claimed that he was the liaison between a special organization established by Ciller and the special state organizations. Kulaksizoglu was found to be the mastermind behind the Birdal assassination attempt and is known to be involved in activities for the revitalization of the illegal Turkish Revenge Brigade (TIT). Semih Tufan Gulaltay, one of the gang leaders involved in the Birdal assassination attempt, stated at a court hearing that Kulaksizoglu had maintained close cooperation with MIT member Atac. "Kulaksizoglu often went to Beijing to visit Atac," disclosed Gulaltay. Another fugitive, Oya Kaya, once told the police that her boyfriend, Kulaksizoglu, was so loyal to Atac that he "would not hesitate to kill his own children if Atac ordered him to do so."Multi-pronged interrogation
Gangs within the state were also on the agenda of the National Security Council (MGK) meeting on Monday. An MGK decision to clean up ultra-nationalist gangs was looked at once again. Cakici, an ultra-nationalist gang boss, has been arrested in France. Deputy Prime Minister Bulent Ecevit admitted on Sunday that Atac had provided Cakici's red passport. Atac, a close friend of Cakici, had been "sent into exile" on Oct. 24, 1997, to Beijing. It has been discovered that Cakici went to Beijing in Nov. 1997 in order to get the red passport from Atac. At Prime Minister Mesut Yilmaz's order, Atac was recalled to Ankara. MIT Undersecretary Atasagun, has presented a dossier to Yilmaz which recommends discharging Eymur and Atac from their posts.
Another ultra-nationalist gang chiefs, Kursat Yilmaz, has been arrested in Bulgaria. At the same time, Hadi Ozcan has been arrested and is being tried for commanding the Kocaeli gang. The day Cakici was arrested in France, Sedat Peker came to Turkey on a special airplane and surrendered to the police. Peker's interrogation continues. Another detainee, Kasim Gencyilmaz, is being tried for his illegal activities in Ankara and its environs.
Due to state gangs having direct connections to the MIT, it is very hard to sustain the struggle against the gangs. And furthermore, cooperation between gangs and the politicians represent a real obstacle in weeding out the gangs from the government. The action initiated against gangs by President Demirel indicating that "the issue should be pursued right to the end" has apparently run into a solid wall. It is not yet known whether the clean-up operation initiated within the MIT be concluded. It is assumed that MIT Undersecretary Atasagun really meant business when he stated that the senior officials having connections with the underworld would all be fired. His approach to the issue has vital importance for Atasagun's professional career. If the operation ends with no result, he will be forced to resign.
Until 1992, the MIT had always been administered under an undersecretariat chaired by a general; however this practice was changed by late former President Turgut Ozal. The dirty MIT-mafia cooperation started during the same time period. Many mafia leaders accused of homicides, kidnappings, extortion and of illegally manipulating state tenders were used by the MIT and the entire situation got completely out of control. It is assumed that the Susurluk scandal is the main reason why "resuming the old structure within the MIT and its being placed under the supervision of a general' is often being voiced.
Minister Tasar: 'Bag It or Else'
Nelleke M. v.d. Schoor-Basar
Ankara - Turkish Daily News
For the last few weeks one of the most important issues besides inflation and the other daily scandals has been the bagging or wrapping of bread. "B-day" was Aug. 20 and the problems have been numerous -- from melted plastic bags to questionable transactions concerning the sale of these pouchettes.
This must seem very strange to people who are visiting our country to find bread so unhygienicaly sold, for wrapped bread has been around for many years in Western countries. Why it has never been done before in Turkey, God only knows.
According to the minister of Agriculture, Mustafa Tasar, "All over the world, bread is sold in hygienic packages. Why should my countrymen eat bread that is handled by a lot of people." We don't know either.Daily consumption
The Turkish people love their tasty bread, and feel insufficiently filled if there is not a slice with their meal. The daily consumption of bread in Turkey is approximately 70 million loaves, which is produced in about 40,000 bakeries nationwide.
Under the new arrangements, bread loaves are to be put in packages which provide information on the weight of the bread and the production date. To make sure that all the conditions laid out by the Ministry of Agriculture are followed, officials from the ministries of Health and Agriculture will be inspecting bakeries and sale outlets.
According to information obtained from officials from the Agriculture Ministry, inspectors from the ministry will check if bread in bakeries has been properly wrapped, and officials from the Health Ministry will inspect markets to make sure that bread is sold in bags. Bakeries and stores that sell bread without packaging will be fined anywhere between TL 100 million ($364) and TL 6 billion ($21,834), Agriculture Ministry officials said.
Ministry officials assert that everything is being done to assure that bread is sold wrapped to protect the health of the citizens. Responding to claims by bakeries that bread must sit for six hours before being wrapped, officials assert this is not true and that depending on the wrapping process used, bread can be wrapped after a much shorter period. For example, if the so-called cold shock method is used, bread can be wrapped immediately after it is baked.
A one-year-old decree by the ministry set an Aug. 20 deadline for all bakeries to sell bread in packaging, requiring them to install costly packaging machines. Despite the government's determination to go ahead with the plan, bakers argue that they have neither the financial resources to buy packaging machines nor enough time to install them in their bakeries.Minister Tasar
"I call on the public to protest bakers who have not wrapped bread by not buying unpacked bread," Tasar said. Despite charges by bakers who say the plan is unfeasible, bread will be sold in bags, for reasons of hygiene.Public Opinion
Nurdan Erbug, president of Des Tanitim Hizmetleri, a public relations company that has been behind the two-year packaging campaign, said that, "Bread has always been sold in Turkey in the open without any packaging... exposed to dust, smoke, environmental pollutants and human contaminants." Erbug, in a written statement, said that recyclable paper packages would protect the bread from external elements, preserve its nutritional value and maintain sanitary conditions.
On the other hand, independent consumer organizations in a joint press conference called on buyers not to buy unwrapped bread. They claimed that bakers failed to prepare for the new regulations, although they were informed earlier that they were to sell bread in bags as of Aug. 20.Some benefit
One interest group is set to gain a clear advantage by the new law: the Turkish packaging industry, which is already beginning to increase its market share as a result of the new legislation.
The law will reportedly swiftly increase the demand for packaging, bringing with it concerns that bakeries may increase their prices to cover this added cost. Bakeries have also complained about the speed of the new regulation's implementation, saying they haven't been given enough time to install the necessary equipment. They are calling on the government to postpone the new regulation for one month.
Head of the Izmir Branch of the Bakeries Association, Mustafa Duran, criticized this law to the Turkish Daily News. Duran said that with 40,000 bakeries in Turkey selling about 70 million loaves of bread each day, not every bakery will be able to afford packaging machines. "It is impossible to find 40,000 packaging machines at this time," he complained, urging the government to accept the need for more time and postpone implementation of the law.
The Agriculture and Rural Affairs Ministry has declared that all bakeries must follow this rule and that bakeries will be forced to discontinue production until they establish packaging departments. The ministry has made it clear that the bread packaging law will not be postponed.
The board of one packaging company, Bak Packaging, has expressed an interest in creating a fund to assist bakeries with financing investment in the needed machinery. Bak Packaging's parent company, the Izmir-based Bak Holding, estimates that the g new bread law will create a 50 percent increase in demand for packaging, increasing its packaging division's share in the Turkish market, of which it already has 25 percent.'B-day'
When the big day arrived most of the bakeries and stores selling bread did not wrap it, and those that did wrap it had to do it manually. It is difficult to wrap millions of loaves of bread by hand in a short time, and bakeries and stores did not have the necessary infrastructure to accomplish this on time.
Just to show how easy it all was when you are organized Minister Mustafa Tasar inspected a bread factory in Ankara on Thursday and wrapped bread with plastic gloves on his hands.
"I warn the governors' offices, they should close bakeries that produce bread in unsanitary conditions," Tasar said, reasserting that bakeries and stores that do not follow the new regulations could face hefty fines.Views of bakeries and bread-selling stores a day after
The ways in which the different bakeries and stores dealt with the date for wrapping were quite different. For example, lots of bakeries which do not have wrapping machines sent bread to stores unwrapped.
Some of the wrapped bread, however, got extremely soft and stuck to the nylon bags, because it had been wrapped while still hot, immediately after baking.
Due to the insistence of some that bread must be left out for at least six hours before wrapping in order to maintain freshness, Bakeries in Konya, for example, which left bread out for some time in order to wrap it "properly" by hand, sent the bread to stores so late that a scarcity of bread was experienced during the morning hours.
One sly baker in Ankara wrapped old bread and sent it to stores. Customers discovered the bread was old when they took the "wrapped" bread home for breakfast and unwrapped it.
"Before wrapping, was bread being produced in hygienic conditions?" the Anatolia news agency quoted the Food Engineers' Chamber (GMO) Chairman Berrin Senoz as asking.
A spokesperson for the Standardization Institute of Turkey (TSE) said that people who buy wrapped bread should take it immediately out of the nylon bag; otherwise, it will become mouldy. "The bags should be air permeable and people should not touch the bread when wrapping it," the TSE representative said.
Bread producers in Konya, Bursa, Edirne, Erzurum, Erzincan, Agri and several different provinces of Turkey stressed that they were not ready to wrap bread due to a lack of necessary equipment.
Meanwhile, some bakeries reportedly interpreted the rules on bread-wrapping differently. Certain bakeries thought loaves of bread had to be put into the usual plastic bags one by one, and they started to do it, until officials came and explained that the bags had to be air permeable.Cleanliness first
It is wonderful to see bread being wrapped, but I do wish that the conditions under which the bread dough is being made and the condition of the people that work in the bakeries were more closely inspected. There is a famous saying "Cleanliness is next to Godliness." So lets make sure that the bakeries are in sanitary conditions and then bag the bread.
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