Background Briefing

Methods used by damage assessment commissions to reduce or avoid payment

In the March 2005 report “Still critical”: Prospects in 2005 for Internally Displaced Kurds in Turkey,Human Rights Watch warned that civil servants might, in order to protect their own career, be reluctant to pay out large sums of state money to displaced Kurds, and might seek unfair ways to force payments down. This concern seems to have been borne out by events. Two Bingöl lawyers reported that an official [whom they named] responsible for administering compensation had said that he found it “normal” that the security forces should burn a village to combat insurgency, that he did not believe in the compensation process and wanted no part of it, that the figures were big, and that he dared not sign for them.37 This section describes some of the devices officials are using to reduce the “big figures.”

Adding insult to injury, in some areas villagers themselves are obliged to finance the operation of the provincial damage assessment commissions, and these expenses are substantial. Article 12 of the implementing regulation for the Compensation Law states that operating expenses are to be paid from the Interior Ministry budget. In practice, the villagers are underwriting the process. O.H., from a village near Dicle, Diyarbakir province, said that payments for transport by taxi, meals, and paper over the two weeks that it took the commission to complete the survey came to TL 4,000 ($2,680), and that this cost was shared by 100 households of displaced people. “They get us every time—when I went to the provincial agriculture directorate to get a map for the survey, I had to buy a cartridge for their printer. It cost me TL 70 [$47].”38

House price scales manipulated to reduce property values

The government admits that at least 41,381 households were internally displaced from the southeast from 1987 to 2002.39 It is well documented that most of the houses in which these households lived were destroyed as punishment for those who refused to join the village guard corps and in order to prevent the buildings being used by the PKK. Proper compensation for the destruction of 41,381 homes would be a very large allocation of government funds, but the civil servants who make up six of the seven members of each damage assessment commission are adept at finding ways to whittle the liability down.

Although the Compensation Law requires that provincial damage assessment commissions assess house values on the basis of compulsory purchase rates (kamulaştırma), in Diyarbakır and Bingöl commissions have used the lower public works (bayındırlık) rates. Within this lower scale the commissions then select the lowest unit rate they can possibly apply to a dwelling. Diyarbakır lawyer Mahsuni Karaman showed conciliation assessments for villagers in which the value of their houses had been calculated at TL 89 per square meter. This is the unit price for a cattle shed, according to the “2005 Approximate Unit Construction Costs for Use in Calculations for Architects and Engineers,” published by the Housing Ministry.40 The same list sets the value of a prefabricated dwelling of the sort used to provide relief after earthquakes and similar natural disasters at TL 193 per square meter.

The damage assessment commissions further prune the compensation figure by means of depreciation scales. The Bingöl lawyer Hanifi Budancamanak described how this is done:

The state’s experts go out on the surveys: a building inspector, an agricultural engineer, and a cadastro [land registry] official. They are state officials. They go and work out what the loss is. When we go to the commission, we find they have reduced it. They say they have subtracted 25 percent for the subcontractor’s profit [the profit the builder of the original house would have], and 18 percent in depreciation, and if it is still too high they reduce it further.41

N.B. of Suçıktı village, Kocaköy, Diyarbakır province, had the value of his buildings estimated at TL 12,460 for the house, and TL 4,692 for the stable, giving TL 17,132 ($11,478) in total. The commission reduced this by applying a depreciation scale (based on the age of the house) to reduce it by 45 percent, to TL 9,423 ($6,313).42

The housing scales are quite complex, and the damage assessment commissions seem to be ready to use every possible assumption, including false ones, in order to lower the figure. For example, according to the table of rates issued by the Diyarbakır Housing Directorate that were shown to Human Rights Watch, the value of a 16- to 20-year-old building is reduced by 32 percent, but if the building is made of sun-baked clay bricks, it is reduced by 45 percent. A damage assessment board classed all houses in Ağıllı village, near Kulp, in Diyarbakır province, as sun-baked clay brick, though this is not a material used in that area and the houses of Ağıllı were almost exclusively built of stone.43

Arbitrary reductions in valuations

The damage assessment commissions make a show of objective calculation on the basis of official unit prices and income tables, and of using aerial photographs and measuring tapes, but where the figures in survey reports still come out too high, they are often simply ignored.

Lawyer Nushattin Döner of Bingöl expressed the view that the commissions in that province are making up rules as they go along: “At the moment, the housing ministry’s unit figure for building a house is TL 193 per square meter, so if a house is 100 square meters, the cost is TL 19,100 [$12,800]. If you add barns and outhouses it may come to TL 30,000 [$20,100] or so. But the commissions in Bingöl are now saying that they will under no circumstances pay more than TL 16,000 [$10,720] for all such structures taken together.”44

Döner also reported that a damage assessment commission in Bingöl province had assessed the loss of villager R.G. at Aslanbey, Solhan, at more than TL 40,000 ($28,800) but had subsequently reduced the conciliation offer to TL 14,000, without giving a reason for the cut.45 Lawyer Abdullah Kaldık said that his client Z.K. in Kıraçtepe, near Karlıova, had received an expert assessment of TL 200,000 ($134,000), but the damage assessment commission then reduced the sum to TL 45,000 ($30,150). An assistant governor subsequently reduced the sum to TL 30,000 ($20,100), and finally a newcomer to the commission said that Z.K. had made “a low tax declaration” in 1990 prior to being forcibly displaced, and on those grounds reduced the payment to TL 25,000 ($16,750).46

Underestimation of land holdings

Damage assessment commissions’ duties include calculating villagers’ loss of income resulting from their inability to access their lands for a decade or more. This should be done by taking the area of land held by a villager and multiplying it by an annual unit rate for the crop that would have been raised on the land. But the circumstances of the region complicate this process, resulting in further reductions of the villagers’ compensation.

Problems begin with the question of ownership. The land registry (cadastro) office is gradually building up a full record of land ownership in Turkey, but its work is far from complete, and is particularly patchy in the southeast. Its usual practice is to visit a village, and create a permanent record of ownership by taking statements from the owner, other villagers, village elders, and the muhtar, taking into account paper records of ownership and longstanding land use. The majority of villages burned in the 1990s had not been surveyed by the land registry, and consequently there is considerable scope for dispute about the extent of land holdings. Lawyers and villagers complain that the damage assessment commissions are using the state’s own tardiness in registering land ownership as a handy tool to keep payments low.

Diyarbakır lawyer Mahmut Vefa gave two examples of assessment commissions bargaining down the extent of landholdings on the grounds that land had not been registered, commenting: “The problem for these villages is that no cadastro survey had been carried out. They have ploughed, fertilized, and used these fields but the fields are not counted [into assessments].”47 In Yorulmaz village, near Lice, villagers were between them cultivating 10,000 decares, but the damage assessment commission would only accept claims on land amounting to 1,900 decares. Akçabudak village, near Lice, has seven outlying settlements with land totaling 15,000 decares, but the damage assessment commission would only accept claims on land amounting to 1,910 decares.

A lawyer gave a detailed account of an attempt to reduce the area of property at Ulukaya village in Muş province, where there were 318 applications. The lawyer heard an assessment commission official say to the villagers that according to the gendarmerie intelligence service, there were 70 families in the village when it was evacuated.48 The official proposed that if the villagers could reduce the applications to 70, then he would pay TL 13,000 ($8,710) per application. But if they insisted on making 318 applications, then he would only pay TL 6,500 ($4,355). The villagers refused the “deal” and the applications were unresolved at the time of writing.49

Since land registry data is unavailable for much of the affected region, damage assessment commissions in Diyarbakır are using an aerial photographic survey carried out in 1952. This document, which records the extent of cultivated land 40 years before the displacements took place, is a cause of great resentment: “The commission is treating the whole of Çiftlibahçe, a mountain village, as forest,” said lawyer Sedat Aydın. “The commission says that all the orchards and gardens they had there, which you can still see as burned stumps, cannot be counted, because the area is shown as forest on the 1952 map.”50 Many other lawyers complained that their clients’ claims had been unreasonably depressed on the basis of the aerial survey.

Suçıktı village, near Kocaköy, in Diyarbakır province, had been scanned by the land registry, but here another set of problems arose. Suçıktı was originally the property of feudal lords who in the last century sold the land to the sharecroppers who had worked it. Because the villagers could not afford the added per-decare cost in stamp tax, they did not register their ownership, but they did record the change of ownership with the notary public and could have used this document at any time to formalize ownership at the land registry. They showed this evidence of their ownership to the damage assessment commission, but the commission refused to give any payment for the villagers’ inability to access their land throughout the 1990s because the land had not been registered. The commission was prepared to pay only for the villagers’ destroyed houses. By April 2006, the Suçıktı villagers, who hold a total of 5,000 decares, had refused to sign the conciliation agreements for eight months. The lawyer acting on their behalf was not optimistic about the outcome: “The villagers may start the conciliation process [by signing] or they may do nothing, and the commission’s proposal will be eventually counted as having been de facto rejected. The villagers would like to go to court but if they have property, they will not qualify for legal assistance.”51 Villagers are disqualified for legal assistance if they hold property—even if this is property that they have been or still are denied access to, and they are otherwise destitute.

Once the commissions have decided the area of the land held by villagers, they have to choose a rate for the net return per decare. Villagers told Human Rights Watch that the rates chosen by the commissions were out of step with current agricultural values. The lawyer Abdullah Yavuz explained, “On dry farming land planted with wheat, the yield is 280kg/decare. One kilogram of wheat is currently TL 0.36, giving an income of TL 100/decare. After costs, they should pay approximately TL 75 per decare. But [the damage assessment commissions] give TL 26-35.”52

Insufficient compensation for orchards

In southeast Turkey, a good deal of villagers’ capital, income, and subsistence is derived from trees. Orchards and plantations were almost always destroyed when villages were emptied, and in subsequent years they were repeatedly burned by security forces to reduce cover and food for PKK militants, or cut down by village guards for their own use and income.

Lawyer G.Z., representing the Diyarbakır Bar Association on a damage assessment commission in Diyarbakır, stated: “Since the beginning of 2006 the attitude of the state has changed. They have started to say that they will not compensate for destroyed fruit trees unless the villagers produce a tax report for their earnings from selling fruit [prior to displacement] … And when they make such requirements lawyers have to abandon the demand.”53

Diyarbakır lawyer Mahsuni Karaman complains that major losses sustained by his clients at Ağıllı village are being unjustly set aside:

Now they will not pay [for lost income] on trees that are still alive, and will not pay for dead trees unless you can show a burned stump. The village of Ağıllı’s income was largely from selling walnuts. They had about 3,000 walnut trees. The governor says we should accept TL 20 per tree, which makes TL 60,000 [US$40,200] in all. I tried to find out what the rate was from the Provincial Agriculture Directorate using the freedom of information law, but they did not answer. I warned them that I would take them to court and then they sent me a list showing the productivity, costs, income, timber value etc., giving a total value of TL 1,980 per tree. If you multiply that by 3,000, it comes out to TL 5,940,000 [$3,979,800]. Yes, it is a lot of money, but if you go and burn my walnut tree, you have committed a tort. If I sue you, the court will go and check these figures, and apply them to you. This shows that the governor is acting arbitrarily. There is no legal basis for the rate being offered.54

Diyarbakır lawyer Mahmut Vefa gave a practical example of how payments for walnut trees could be pushed down. He and the damage assessment commission had made a conciliation agreement for the inhabitants of Çaldere village, near Silvan, Diyarbakır.

We signed, [the commission] signed, and then just after the Içyer judgement, they came back with an attempt to knock off money. They wanted to knock TL 410,000 [$274,700] off the conciliations for 88 households. These people had been growing lots of walnuts, but suddenly the commission said we should bring evidence of income for walnuts. They knocked TL 33,000 [$22,110] off the assessment of one villager [name withheld], saying that he could not show that he had been earning money from walnuts. But who in the southeast gets a receipt when they sell walnuts? It is not surprising that [the damage assessment commission] has hung a copy of the Içyer judgment on the wall of their office.55

Lawyer N.H., Diyarbakır Bar Association, representative on another damage assessment commission, said: “In the … region they are taking the following approach: if you show me the stump, I'll give you TL 20, but nothing for [inability to access and crop] a growing tree. They will give you TL 20 for the dried stump of a poplar, but then, after ten years a poplar does not even show a stump.”56

Exclusion of stock and stockkeeping

Damage assessment commissions go into considerable detail in calculating agricultural yields for these villages, but for many of the destroyed villages agriculture was just a sideline, and their main income was derived from animal husbandry. It is, then, unfortunate for them that commissions in Diyarbakır and Bingöl refuse to pay anything either for stock destroyed in the course of the displacement, or for income lost because villagers were denied access to their pasture for a decade or more. There are no grounds for this practice: the Compensation Law does not exclude livestock and animal husbandry from compensation, and article 15 of the October 2004 implementing regulations explicitly includes them.

The displacements carried out by the security forces were punitive operations, and in many cases they machine-gunned sheep and cattle, or burned them in their pens. The lawyer Remziye Efe asked a damage assessment commission to provide a sum in consideration of cows and sheep burned alive in a barn at the house of a villager at Şaklat, Kocaköy, in 1993. She was told by the assistant governor that the commission could not pay for animals or loss of income from stockkeeping “because there is so much room for lying.” Remziye Efe obtained a court order forcing a survey of the site. During the survey, the ruins of the cattle shed were excavated, revealing the bones of three cows and 74 sheep, confirming the villager’s account. In spite of this, the commission proposed a figure for the loss of just 10 animals, and the villager had little choice but to accept.57

Over the course of a week of interviews with displaced villagers in Istanbul, Diyarbakır, Bingöl, and Elazığ, Human Rights Watch did not hear of a single applicant who had been compensated for being deprived of his livelihood as a stockkeeper.

Exaggeration of compensation or assistance already received

Article 5c of the Compensation Law provides that payments should be reduced to reflect payments already received from public resources. Some villagers who returned to their villages in recent years received modest grants of building materials. Such grants usually consisted of 2,000 bricks, 500 kilograms of cement and two tons of steel reinforcement, reportedly to a value of TL 1,500 (US$1,005).58 In Diyarbakır these grants have been uniformly assessed by damage assessment commissions as worth TL 17,000 ($11,390). A villager from Kurşunlu village, near Dicle, M.O., described the impact of this rule on a returning villager: “Some people… went back and accepted a few blocks, iron, and cement. This is now valued at TL 17,000. They say ‘your damage is TL 20,000 and now, after we subtract the TL 17,000, you get TL 3,000.’”59

Article 2c of the October 2004 implementing regulations directs that commissions should not indemnify losses for which payment has already been made on the basis of judgments or friendly settlements at the ECtHR. But at least one assessment commission operates this provision as an automatic bar on any conciliation with successful ECtHR plaintiffs. Villager H.F. had a grocery shop in the town of Lice, which was burned down by security forces in 1993. H.F. complained to the ECtHR and won his case, receiving substantial damages. He also had a house in the village of Ağıllı, near Kulp, Diyarbakır province, and security forces burned this down in 1994. The destruction of this house was not included in the ECtHR action. His lawyer Mahsuni Karaman showed Human Rights Watch the commission’s list of offers, which indicates that H.F. deserves nothing for the destruction of his home. Karaman’s inquiries revealed this was because of the payment he had already received from the government on the basis of the ECtHR complaint, which was for the destruction of his shop.

The single-person “rule”

Another automatic exclusion with no basis in the Compensation Law, or indeed in common sense, disqualifies any applicant who was running a household as a single person at the time of the displacement. When lawyers questioned this, commission officials claimed that a single man cannot live separately in the cultural environment of the rural southeast. Lawyers in Bingöl said that the automatic exclusion for single-person households is having a damaging impact because many villagers in that province are married with imam nikahı, a religious ceremony with no official records, and the males are therefore viewed in law as single men.

A related “rule” is that no single male born after 1970 could possibly have owned a house independently. Mahsuni Karaman gave a specific example of the unfair impact of this exclusion: “The story of T.C. is well known in Ağıllı village. In 1994 he had just come back from military service, and built a house for his future wife. A week or so before he was going to bring his bride to her fully appointed home, the soldiers came and burned the lot. The damage assessment commission is now questioning whether he had a house at all, although the stones are there to be seen.”60

The “rule” concerning children born away from the village

Another ad hoc across-the-board exclusion applied in Bingöl is that families who have children born after 1987 in a place distant from the place of application are deemed to have left the village for social or economic reasons and therefore to be ineligible for compensation. This “rule” may also result in injustices. Families who for any reason happened to have children born in neighboring provinces may be unfairly disqualified from compensation for the destruction of their home and loss of income.

B.P. stated that security forces burned down his village, Geyikdere, near Genç, Bingöl, in 1994, but he had already left two years earlier. “I was young, and there was a great deal of pressure on young men. When one side or another came to the village, it was very dangerous for us. Consequently only two of my three children were born in the village, and I don’t know what the commission’s attitude is going to be to that.”61

Exclusion of applicants displaced prior to July 1987

The Compensation Law indemnifies losses sustained between July 19, 1987 and July 17, 2004. This is an injustice to villagers displaced prior to July 1987, who are treated as conventional economic migrants and excluded not only from payments for damage arising in the displacement, but also from payments due to them for their inability to access their lands. Examples of these early displacements in Tunceli province were noted by a Human Rights Watch fact-finding mission to Turkey in June 1987, and published in a report entitled Turkey: State of Flux in December that year.

In April 2006 Human Rights Watch’s researcher attempted to enter the province of Tunceli to speak to inhabitants of the displaced settlements around Hozat mentioned in the 1987 report. On April 10 gendarmes turned the researcher back at the Tunceli provincial boundary on the grounds that he was not authorized to conduct such research—although no authorization is required under Turkish law. The following day the researcher spoke to two displaced inhabitants of these villages who travelled out of Tunceli province to Elazığ for the interview.

N.Z., of Kavuklutepe, described as a “snuffed out village” in Turkey: State of Flux, 62 said that illegal armed militants had repeatedly visited the village in the 1980s demanding food:

We said we could not comply because there were local security checks that limited the amount of flour, sugar, and provisions that we could bring in. The PKK said “You are going to bring it. We will give you five days to bring it. Or you will die here.” They would come in a group of 40 or 60, heavily armed. And if the state heard that you were supplying them, they would come and perhaps take you up to the top of some mountain and finish your business [kill you]. The PKK would call you an informer, the state would say you were PKK, and then you would disappear. Some people left in 1987, I stayed on until 1993. I applied under the Compensation Law, and it is now with [the officials]. I have no idea whether they are going to pay it.63

D.F. left the Dereköy district of Boydaş village, Hozat, in 1987. It was in the same district as those described in Turkey: State of Flux, though not referred to by name:

Our permanent home was in Dereköy, but after the terror started we began to get frightened. It was hellish, because you would go out to graze your sheep and there were soldiers and guerrillas all over the place. Until 1994 we used to travel to Dereköy to sow and reap, and we put our house out to rent, but in 1994 the terror was getting worse, with more and more clashes, and the state and the other side started to destroy villages. The PKK killed teachers. The military took a villager from Dereköy, Hasan Çiçek, and we found his bones three months later. The gendarmerie told his wife that the PKK had taken him. I saw the soldiers take him in broad daylight. I have not seen my home since 1994.

In October 2005 he learned that his application under the Compensation Law had been completely rejected on the pretext that he left the village for social and economic reasons. “I was living with the dream that I would be paid some money and be able to return to the village. I am getting older. I thought about this all the time, and I suffered a big crisis when the application was rejected. I have two girls at university, one working in the textile industry, and I have three children belonging to a brother who died, and my mother who is 75. I am looking after all of these.”64

1999 closure of conflict “rule”

The Compensation Law sets July 17, 2004, as the terminal date for damages subject to compensation payments, but in Diyarbakır and Bingöl provinces, damage assessment commissions will not pay losses resulting from inaccessibility of agricultural lands after 1999. The commissions assert that by this date full security had been re-established and villagers were free to return.

It is difficult to see how the authorities can make such a claim, when the state of emergency was only finally lifted in November 2002, and the government still insists (in the face of domestic and international criticism) that security threats oblige them to maintain a paramilitary force of more than 88,000 professional and voluntary village guards.65 As Human Rights Watch indicated in its reports on Turkey’s internally displaced (Displaced and disregarded, 2001, and Still Critical, 2004), the rate of return to villages has been slow because villagers were kept at bay by official obstruction and persistent dangers. Until 2002 many communities were still prohibited by gendarmes from returning, and others still dare not return for security reasons, including threats from neighboring village guards. Village guards have killed 13 people in the past four years, most of them returning villagers.66 Meanwhile, village guards are frequently killed in PKK attacks on their communities.

Akımlı village, near Yedisu, in Bingöl province, is still considered so insecure that the damage assessment commission was unable to carry out a site survey in the village and made its decisions on the basis of a map and the account given by the village muhtar. Human Rights Watch spoke to two villagers from Akımlı, C.P. and I.N., who are still unable, for security reasons, to return to their homes, yet received conciliation offers drawn up on the basis that peace and order had returned in 1999.

C.P. said that he had been present when soldiers burned Akımlı village in 1993. Since then he has moved around in the districts north of the village with his five children. He says he has made regular applications to the governor and the Ministry of the Interior to return, but received a reply in 2005 saying that the village was not safe for return. “The last time we saw the village was on a visit in 2000. It was a stone two-storey house and we had nut and fruit trees. Now we are living in a derelict building, since I just could not earn enough to pay rent anywhere.” The expert assessment calculated his loss at TL 40,000 ($26,800), but the damage assessment commission has offered him TL 13,000 ($8,710).67

I.N. told Human Rights Watch, “I had 2,000 poplars, and 20 walnut trees, and a mill too. On that day the soldiers took me up into the mountains. They insulted me and ill-treated me, and when they brought me back it was all burning. They offered me village guard service but by that time the village was burned and I did not accept. If there was any chance of going home I would go. Now we have to pay for everything. That is the problem. We have to pay for food and firewood, absolutely everything… The neighbors give us some yogurt.” The expert assessment calculated his loss at TL 30,000 ($20,100), but the damage assessment commission has offered him TL 12,000 ($8,040).68

They were clear that they would accept the offers, however unsatisfactory. C.P. stated: “If we went to court they would swindle us. I have just no choice at all but to accept.” 69

Exclusion of rent from conciliation payments

Akımlı villager C.P., quoted immediately above, told Human Rights Watch, “the last time I paid rent was in 2000 – TL 150 a month.”70 C.P. would have paid the equivalent of approximately TL 16,500 (US$11,055) in rent alone in the nine years before he and his family took up residence in a derelict building. I.N., also quoted above, stays in rented accommodation a few kilometers from his home. He pays TL 500 a month in rent, so he would have paid the equivalent of approximately TL 84,000 ($56,280) during the 14 years of exile.71

Damage assessment commissions almost never pay rent for the decade or more that villagers were deprived of their homes. The Diyarbakır lawyer Abdullah Yavuz asked the reason for the restrictive policy on rent, and was told by a deputy governor that this was because there was no way of confirming that rent had been paid.72

Other assessment commission officials have said that they would be willing to pay rent costs provided that the applicant can show a rental agreement. The difficulty is that landlords rarely provide a formal rent contract because this would cost them a stamp fee and commit them to paying tax on the rental income. Lawyers protest that a rent contract is unnecessary from an evidential point of view. If a family did not own property in Diyarbakir, or wherever they fled after the displacement, then they must have been living in rented accommodation, and deserve compensation for this expense.

Every villager interviewed pointed out that they have paid massive sums in rent over the years as a direct consequence of their displacement, quite aside from their loss of income and the destruction of their property:

  • A villager from Ziyaret, near Lice, Diyarbakır, deprived of his house, lands, and livelihood as a stockkeeper for 13 years, is now paying TL 200/month in rent. He has paid approximately TL 31,200 ($20,900) in rent alone over the course of his displacement. He was initially offered TL 40,000 ($26,800) for his entire loss, but the damage assessment commission has now said that it wants to reduce that sum.73
  • A villager from Kurşunlu village, Dicle, Diyarbakır, estimates he has paid approximately TL 15,000 in rent alone, but has been offered TL 8,900 for loss of income and the destruction of his home.74
  • A villager from Suçıktı village, near Kocaköy, Diyarbakır, has paid TL 21,600 in rent alone. He has been offered TL 35,000 for inability to access his 500 decares of land for a decade, and the destruction of his house and three agricultural buildings.75
  • A villager from Islamköy has been offered TL 7,000 for the loss of his house and livelihood. In the 13 years since he was expelled from his home, he has paid the equivalent of TL 10,920 in rent alone.76
  • Another villager from Islamköy, in Diyarbakır province, paid rent for nine years after 1993, and was last paying TL 120 a month, giving a total payment of approximately TL 12,960. He has been offered TL 5,000 to cover the destruction of his house and 56 decares of tobacco, and a decade’s loss of income from his silkworm business.77

Clearly, paying compensation for rent in the absence of any documentary evidence poses a genuine practical challenge for damage assessment commissions, unless they adopt a fixed sum approach, as indicated in the relevant section.

37 Human Rights Watch interview with two lawyers, names withheld, Bingöl, April 8, 2006.

38 Human Rights Watch interview with O.H., Diyarbakır, April 4, 2006.

39 “Return to Village and Rehabilitation Project – Provincial Statistics for 12 Provinces,” supplied by the Interior Ministry to Human Rights Watch under a cover letter by Ambassador Duray Polat, Director General for Multilateral Political Affairs, November 24, 2004.

40 Official Gazette No. 25714, February 1, 2005.

41 Human Rights Watch interview with lawyer Hanifi Budancamanak, Bingöl, April 7, 2006.

42 Human Rights Watch interview with displaced villager N.B., Diyarbakır, April 5, 2006.

43 Human Rights Watch interview with lawyer Mahsuni Karaman, Diyarbakır, April 5, 2006.

44 Human Rights Watch interview with lawyer Nushattin Döner, Bingöl, April 8, 2006.

45 Ibid.

46 Human Rights Watch interview with lawyer Abdullah Kaldık, Bingöl, April 7, 2006.

47 Human Rights Watch interview with lawyer Mahmut Vefa, Diyarbakır, April 4, 2006.

48 Official statistics for pre-displacement village populations are unreliable. See section on “Under-recording initial displacement” in Human Rights Watch, “Still critical”: Prospects in 2005 for Internally Displaced Kurds in Turkey, vol. 17, no. 2(D), March 2005,

49 Human Rights Watch interview with lawyer, name withheld, Bingöl, April 7, 2006.

50 Human Rights Watch interview with lawyer Sedat Aydın, Diyarbakır, April 4, 2006.

51 Human Rights Watch interview with lawyer Abdullah Yavuz, Diyarbakır, April 5, 2006.

52 Human Rights Watch interview with lawyer Abdullah Yavuz, Diyarbakır, April 5, 2006.[Ibid.] Human Rights Watch was interested to learn how the Turkish authorities' justified the working methods of the damage assessment commissions, and sought interviews with provincial governors responsible for damage assessment commissions in Bingöl and Diyarbakır. Unfortunately, as noted above, Human Rights Watch’s researcher was arrested and deported on April 13, 2006 , before these interviews could take place.

53 Human Rights Watch interview with lawyer G.Z., Diyarbakır, April 3, 2006.

54 Human Rights Watch interview with lawyer Mahsuni Karaman, Diyarbakır, April 5, 2006.

55 Human Rights Watch interview with lawyer Mahmut Vefa, Diyarbakır, April 4, 2006.

56 Human Rights Watch interview with lawyer N.H., Diyarbakır, April 3, 2006.

57 Human Rights Watch interview with lawyer Remziye Efe, Diyarbakır, April 4, 2006.

58 Human Rights Watch interview with lawyer Abdullah Yavuz, Diyarbakır, April 5, 2006.

59 Human Rights Watch interview with displaced villager M.O., Diyarbakır, April 4, 2006. Name withheld for safety reasons.

60 Human Rights Watch interview with lawyer Mahsuni Karaman, Diyarbakır, April 5, 2006.

61 Human Rights Watch interview with displaced villager B.P., Bingöl, April 8, 2006.

62 Other villages mentioned in the report as having been displaced are: Ormanyolu, Yenibaş, Casitli, Karaçavuş, Esenevler, Kurukaymak, Koru, Kavuktepe, Koçkozluca near Hozat, and Oymadağ, Kuşhane, Otlukaya, Öreniçi, Dallıbel, Ataçınar, Alhan, Dayılar, İbnimahmut, Sarıkoç, Güleç, Koyukuşağı, Dedebağ, and Akdöven, near Mazgirt.

63 Human Rights Watch interview with displaced villager N.Z., Elazığ, April 11, 2006.

64 Human Rights Watch interview with displaced villager D.F., Elazığ, April 11, 2006.

65 Statement of Interior Minister Abdulkadir Aksu, reported in the monthly bulletin of the Turkish Human Rights Foundation, August 2004. Turkish Grand National Assembly Record of Debates, parliamentary question from Diyarbakır deputy Mesut Değer, January 27, 2004.

66 See letter from Human Rights Watch, to Interior Minister Abdulkadir Aksu, calling for the abolition of the village guards, June 8, 2006,

67 Human Rights Watch telephone interview with displaced villager C.P., April 11, 2006.

68 Human Rights Watch telephone interview with displaced villager I.N., April 11, 2006.

69 Human Rights Watch telephone interview with displaced villager C.P., April 11, 2006.

70 Human Rights Watch telephone interview with displaced villager C.P., April 11, 2006.[Ibid.]

71 Human Rights Watch telephone interview with displaced villager I.N., April 11, 2006.

72 Human Rights Watch interview with lawyer Abdullah Yavuz, Diyarbakır, April 5, 2006.

73 Human Rights Watch interview with displaced villager K.U., Diyarbakır, April 3, 2006.

74 Human Rights Watch interview with displaced villager O.H., Diyarbakır, April 4, 2006.

75 Human Rights Watch interview with displaced villager N.B., Diyarbakır, April 5, 2006.

76 Human Rights Watch interview with displaced villager N.Z., Diyarbakır, April 5, 2006. This man described how he had carried his flock of sheep through one meter deep snow when he was expelled from his home by security forces. He left them in a paddock by the road and went to hire transport from Diyarbakır. When he returned, his entire flock had been slaughtered by wolves.

77 Human Rights Watch interview with displaced villager B.Z., Diyarbakır, April 5, 2006.