"The truth is plain to see. Banning the truth does not eradicate it."
~ Nadire Mater, in a statement at her trial for writing Mehmedin Kitabı.
~ Nadire Mater, in a statement at her trial for writing Mehmedin Kitabı.
Last week Taraf published a report about a book written by a former TSK non-commissioned officer, in which he names names and lists dates and crimes committed by Turkish special operations personnel in Turkish-occupied Kurdistan during the 1990s.
These kinds of confessions are not new, not even the part about throwing Kurds out of helicopters. In 1998 Nadire Mater published her book Mehmedin Kitabı: Güneydoğu'da Savaşmış Askerler Anlatıyor, in which she collected interviews with former soldiers who had served in The Southeast. The book has been available in English for several years--and is highly recommended . . . trust me. Mater's book created quite a stir when it was first released in Turkey.
While I said that the information in the Taraf article is not new; what is new, and what was not included in Mater's book, are the names, dates, and places for the war crimes witnessed by the author and documented in Being a Soldier While a Sergeant, by Kasım Çakan.
One thing that Mater and Çakan have in common is prosecution by the Ankara regime for publishing the truth. Mater faced charges in an Istanbul court for a violation of Article 159 of the old Turkish penal code (insulting military forces of the state through publishing). Mater was eventually acquitted of the charge.
Now, however, Çakan and his publisher have been charged and are undergoing a trial in Istanbul. Charges were brought by the chief prosecutor of Istanbul when Çakan's publisher used the book to bring charges against the special operations commandos and police named as war criminals in the book.
Isn't that how it's supposed to work? You bring information about crimes to the prosecutor and he turns around and charges you with a "crime"? So much for democracy.
Terrifying confession of a sergeant
"They threw a PKK member from a helicopter . . . A police special operations member raped the dead body of a female PKK member . . ." Former sergeant Çakan wrote this, including the name, date, and place, in his book; however, he was the one prosecuted.
Former Sergeant Kasım Çakan assembled information in his book on murders he witnessed which were committed by unknown perpetrators while he was on duty in The Southeast. Demanding that Çakan's book be accepted as an informant's document, Çakan's publisher, Mehdi Tanrıkulu, made a criminal complaint against the soldiers and police named in the document.
Being a Soldier Wile a Sergeant
Kasım Çakan, who used to work in the East and Southeast as a sergeant, compiled information about incidents that happened to him just after he was discharged from the army, in a book called Being a Soldier While a Sergeant. While Cakan wanted the incidents mentioned in his book to be considered as an informant documentation, Istanbul's chief prosecutor charged Çakan and his publisher with the charge of "making terror propaganda" [Article 7/2 of the new and improved Anti-Terror Law]. The trial of Çakan and Tevn Publications owner, Mehdi Tanrıkulu, is still ongoing.
A criminal complaint
Publisher Mehdi Tanrıkulu made a complaint to the Istanbul chief prosecutor's office based on the writing in the book. Tanrıkulu did so with the rationale that starting an investigation about such incidents would reveal several murders by unknown perpetrators. In his complaint, he mentioned the following claims from Çakan's book:
They threw from a helicopter
"I started my duty in July 1992, in Kars-Kağızman in the 7th Mechanized Brigade, 1st Mechanized Battalion, 1st Mechanized Company. On 4 April 1993, around noon, there was a clash between PKK militants and the soldiers in the battalion between the two Ağrı Mountains. A militant named Doğan, who was originally from Malatya and left İnönü University in his second year, was captured while he was wounded. He was taken by military officials to Erzurum by helicopter. However, I learned from both civilian and military sources that Doğan was thrown from the helicopter and died, since he didn't 'confess'."
Raping a corpse
"We were on duty in the 7th Mechanized Brigade, 1st Mechanized Battalion. On 27 May 1994, around 0920 hours, there was an ambush by PKK against military patrols. Eight troops and one sergeant died. One female and one male PKK members were dead and their corpses were left in the valley. The next day, special forces units went to the area where the clash occured; after them, there were our forces. When we arrived there, the special forces police were beside the two corpses. The male's body was torn apart from bullets that targeted his body; the female was shot in the head. While my team went beside those [special forces police], there was this police, Ramazan, from Adana. Our company commander, Captain Mehmet Özpolat asked him, 'What are you doing?' Police Ramazan yelled, 'Don't come, I'm dealing with the dead terrorist.' The captain said, 'How come? Don't be silly. Can it be done to someone who's dead?' And again, he [the captain] continued, 'It can't be. You guys are crazy. There can't be such craziness.' I lost myself. I cursed at Ramazan. Ramazan pulled his gun and attacked the captain. Right at that moment, I removed the safety on my rifle and shot at the sky twice."
The death of Private Huseyin
"I started my duty in Demirköy with the 3rd Border Battalion on 18 September 1989. Tuncay Baydur was the company commander in this unit. While playing soccer, Baydur beat one of the company's soldiers called Huseyin, from Doğubeyazıt. On the same night, Huseyin ran away and three days later his body was found. I arrived at my new duty station, Şırnak, in April 1993. On 7 July 1993, around 1000 hours, the Kayseri Commando Unit returned to its base. There were four handcuffed villagers with them. They had been kept in the shelters at their [the commando unit's] base until morning. On 8 July 1993, they took those four villagers along with them and went on duty. On 9 July, when they returned, one of those young villagers was absent. The other three villagers were being dragged and beaten by a commando sergeant, two soldiers, and a second lieutenant. I asked one of those youngsters where the other [fourth villager] was. He replied, 'They [referring to the soldiers] constantly asked him to tell where the terrorists were, and he said 'I don't know'. Commando Captain Mustafa said, [ordering the other soldiers] 'Remove his handcuffs to let him escape.' Since he didn't escape, they shot him with twenty bullets. They shot the son in front of his father.' The next morning, they took the remaining three villagers and they never brought them back."
Mehdi Tanrıkulu, in his criminal complaint, wanted the soldiers and the police named in the book to be judged for the following crimes: killing more than one qualified manslaughter, omittance of duty, torture, desecration of a corpse, and forming an illegal armed gang within the army. Tanrıkulu pointed out that with the investigation, several other incidents would be revealed.
For more on the crimes of Turkish security forces, particularly JITEM, in The Southeast, see Wednesday's post.
There have been other revelations in recent years from retired Turkish military about the terror they committed against the population of The Southeast. Retired TSK general Altay Tokat admitted in an interview that he had "a few bombs" thrown at civil servants in order to impress upon them the seriousness of the situation in The Southeast. In short, they weren't afraid enough and Tokat was not above committing terrorism himself.
Then retired TSK colonel Erdal Sarızeybek wrote a book in which he described the terrorism he inflicted on the population of Şemdinli.
Now, tell me, who are the real terrorists?