This report is based on close monitoring by Human Rights Watch of the trial of retired colonel Cemal Temizöz and six other defendants in Diyarbakır’s specially authorized heavy penal court no. 6. A Human Rights Watch researcher attended many of the 36 trial hearings (up to June 2012). At the time the report was completed, on July 2, 2012, the parliament of Turkey had passed a judicial reform bill abolishing specially authorized heavy penal courts for future cases and introducing in their place regional courts authorized under the Anti-Terror Law. Ongoing trials, such as that examined in this report, will continue to be heard in the specially authorized heavy penal courts and a separate network of regional heavy penal courts will hear all future cases. The reform amounts to little more than a change of name and for the foreseeable future there will be two sets of courts operating in parallel. A discussion of the full implications of this measure falls outside the scope of this report.
In December 2009, February and July 2010, and March 2012 Human Rights Watch conducted interviews in Şırnak province, focusing on Cizre and also in some villages nearby and in the towns of Silopi and Şırnak itself. Altogether we interviewed 55 individuals, whose relatives had disappeared or been murdered in the province in the early 1990s. Human Rights Watch also interviewed lawyers acting for the families of victims, non-government organizations, activists working on past abuses, and two prosecutors working on these investigations. Interviews were conducted in Turkish or through an interpreter in Kurdish.
During the course of the research, Human Rights Watch also examined 140 of the complaints to the Şırnak Bar Association and the public prosecutors’ offices in Cizre, Silopi and Şırnak of enforced disappearances and unresolved killings in Şırnak province suspected by victims’ relatives to have been carried out by state perpetrators. The Diyarbakır prosecutor’s investigation of these complaints is ongoing at the time of writing.