Human Rights Developments
Respect for human rights deteriorated markedly in Turkey in 1991. In comparison with 1990, more people died in detention under suspicious circumstances, and more people were shot and killed by security forces in raids on houses, attacks on demonstrations and other suspicious circumstances. Torture continued to be rampant. Writers were detained and prosecuted. Journals were banned and confiscated. And the freedoms of assembly and association were frequently infringed.
Turkey's Kurdish minority, in particular, continued to suffer. As the Turkish government launched attacks on the Kurdish Workers' Party (PKK) _ a militant separatist organization which has been waging a guerrilla war against the Turkish government since 1984 _ villagers were detained, arrested, tortured and sometimes killed by official security forces. In addition, hundreds of civilians were forced to abandon their villages because they refused to provide armed village guards as directed by the security forces.
On the positive side, thousands of political prisoners were released from prison, some of whom had been in prison for as long as ten years. The Turkish Grand National Assembly repealed several onerous provisions of the Penal Code, but unfortunately replaced them with an equally onerous Anti-Terror Law.
Torture continues to be used routinely in Turkey, largely in the political sections of police headquarters during the investigative phase of a case. During 1991, Helsinki Watch received regular allegations of torture in detention, including beatings; spraying naked and blindfolded prisoners with highly pressurized cold water; suspending prisoners by their wrists or arms; applying electric shocks; rape and attempted rape; forcing a truncheon into the vagina or anus; squeezing genitals; falaka (beating on the soles of the feet); sleep deprivation; denial of food or water; dragging prisoners along the ground; placing prisoners in a tire and beating them; forcing prisoners to sleep on a wet floor; forcing prisoners to listen to others being tortured; spitting in prisoners' mouths; denying permission to use the toilet; and pulling or burning hair.
Torture is practiced on children as well as adults. Helsinki Watch has received credible reports of children between the ages of eleven and seventeen who were detained by police and beaten in custody for such offenses as writing political slogans on walls, taking part in demonstrations, or belonging to illegal organizations.
Although then-Prime Minister Turgut Ozal issued a decree in September 1989 requiring that detainees have immediate access to attorneys, access is almost never granted. Prompt access to an attorney and family members could be an important step toward ending the practice of torture during police investigations.
In some recent cases, torture appears to have resulted in death. Helsinki Watch received reports of deaths in detention under suspicious circumstances of fifteen people in 1991. In three of these cases, Turkish authorities alleged that the prisoners had killed themselves.
In six of the fifteen cases, authorities reported that the deaths were under investigation. In a seventh case, two security-force members are on trial for killing a detainee. Helsinki Watch has received no reports of prosecutions of police, gendarmes or soldiers. Torturers and others responsible for deaths in detention are rarely investigated and tried and almost never convicted. Abdulkadir Aksu, the former minister of the interior, reported that in the past ten years only thirty of 382 security officers tried on charges of inflicting torture were convicted. Many of those convicted were sentenced to no more than a fine. Major Cafer Tayyar Caglayan, for example, who was convicted of forcing residents of Yesilyurt village in Cizre, Mardin, to eat human excrement, was initially sentenced to one year in prison, but on July 18, 1991, his sentence was commuted to a fine and then suspended.
During 1991, Helsinki Watch received reports of forty-five fatal shootings by police or gendarmes in raids on houses, attacks on demonstrations, and other suspicious circumstances. In some cases, government authorities characterized these incidents as shoot-outs between security forces and terrorists, or as responses to provocation on the part of demonstrators or others.
Nineteen of the forty-five fatalities were people who were killed in raids on houses in Istanbul, Izmir and Ankara. In each case, police alleged that the houses were used by militant left-wing groups. Police accounts in most of these cases conflicted with those of eyewitnesses as to whether the police had been fired upon. However, no police were reported killed in any of these raids, which strongly suggests that the killings were summary executions.
In addition, ten people, including children aged eleven and thirteen, were killed by police using live ammunition as a method of crowd control during demonstrations in 1991. Most of these demonstrations were apparently peaceful. In one case, during a demonstration at the funeral for human rights activist Vedat Aydin, whose murder is described below, police fired live ammunition into a crowd of thousands in Diyarbakir, killing seven people. The police claimed, but eyewitnesses denied, that stones had been thrown at security forces. Whichever is the case, the throwing of stones would not have justified the use of lethal force. The U.N.'s Basic Principles on the Use of Force and Firearms by Law Enforcement Officials prescribe that "[l]aw enforcement officials shall not use firearms against persons except in self-defense or defense of others against the imminent threat of death or serious injury...and only when less extreme means are insufficient to achieve these objectives. In any event, intentional lethal use of firearms may only be made when strictly avoidable in order to protect life."
Helsinki Watch also received reports from southeastern and western Turkey of sixteen extrajudicial killings in 1991 under other suspicious and often unexplained circumstances.
On April 12, the Turkish Parliament enacted an extremely disturbing Anti-Terror Law. The law defines terrorism so broadly that almost anyone can be convicted, including, for example, anyone who presses for changes in Turkey's economic or social system. Terrorism is defined as "any kind of action conducted by one or several persons belonging to an organization with the aim of changing the characteristics of the Republic as specified in the Constitution, the political, legal, social, secular and economic system."
The Act contains other troubling provisions as well, which:
o Limit the right of counsel for those charged with terrorism.
o Make it more difficult to convict police or other government officials responsible for acts of torture.
o Exempt police officers who have taken a confession from testifying in court about the circumstances of the confession.
o Restrict prison privileges for convicted terrorists.
o Limit meetings and demonstrations.
o Curtail press freedom.
Since enactment of the Anti-Terror Law, Helsinki Watch has received many reports of people prosecuted for hanging political posters, holding meetings of relatives of prisoners, publishing articles or books concerning Kurdish questions, and similar offenses.
During 1991, scores of journalists, editors and writers were investigated, charged, tried and sometimes convicted for what they had written, edited or published. The Turkish Daily News reported in May 1991 that members of the press had faced a judge 586 times during 1990, and had received final sentences totaling over 126 years in prison. Statistics for the number of cases prosecuted in 1991 are not yet available, but Helsinki Watch has seen no indication of a decrease in the number of journalists and others who have been prosecuted.
In the early months of 1991, journalists and writers were frequently charged under Articles 141, 142 and 162 of the Penal Code, which were aimed at combating communism, separatism and advocacy of a religious state. After the repeal of these articles, and the release from prison of dozens of journalists and writers who had been charged under these provisions, journalists began to be charged under the new Anti-Terror Law. Writers have been tried for such offenses as "criticizing" or "insulting" President Ozal, printing "anti-military propaganda," "criticizing the Turkish judicial system," and "humiliating the spiritual dignity of the government via publication."
Turkish authorities also confiscated and banned dozens of issues of small, mostly left-wing journals, raided editorial offices, and detained and tortured journalists. The target of this abuse was mostly journals that report on the situation in southeastern Turkey. Decree 413, issued in April 1990, and its successor decrees, 424 and 430, have sharply restricted press coverage of the Kurdish struggle in the southeast. The journals 2000'e Dogru (Towards 2000), Hedef (Target), Deng (Voice), Yeni Cozum (New Solution), Mucadele (Struggle) and Yeni Ulke (New Land) have been particularly at risk.
Freedom of assembly continues to be restricted in Turkey. During 1991, dozens of meetings, demonstrations and marches were banned, and dozens of demonstrators and marchers were prosecuted. In addition, as noted, police have used live ammunition as a method of crowd control, shooting and killing with no apparent justification ten people during large demonstrations.
Turkish associations continue to be restricted and, in some cases, closed. In February 1991, the Turkish Human Rights Association reported that, during 1990, the government had closed twenty-seven associations, raided fifty-nine others, and detained hundreds of association members. Statistics for 1991 are not yet available.
Associations closed during 1991 include: Ozgur-Der (the Association of Fundamental Rights and Freedoms); the Kadikoy, Istanbul, branch of People's Houses; the Construction Workers' Solidarity Association; and the Cankaya and Kecioren People's Houses. Other branches of the People's Houses were raided, as was the Revolutionary Youth Association in Istanbul. In addition, eight members of the Nurses' Association were tried for a lunch boycott organized to protest a ban on public officers organizing a union.
The Kurdish minority in Turkey continues to be a target of government abuse in 1991. Thousands of villagers in the southeast have abandoned their homes, fields and animals rather than comply with government orders to provide armed village guards to assist security forces. Kurdish villagers are frequently caught between the separatist guerrilla group, the PKK, and security forces. Village guards are particularly targeted by the PKK, but the PKK killed civilians as well. In addition, Kurdish villagers were detained, tortured and imprisoned by security forces.
The Turkish government continues to deny the ethnic identity of the Kurdish minority. Although a law outlawing the use of the Kurdish language was repealed in April, Kurdish continues to be forbidden in official settings, at public meetings, and in prison meetings between lawyers and their clients. No books, magazines or other written materials are permitted to be published in the Kurdish language, and restrictions on Kurdish music and dance remain in force.
The Right to Monitor
A large human rights association, with branches in nearly every province, continues to operate legally in Turkey, but human rights monitors, particularly those in southeastern Turkey, were under attack during 1991. On July 5, former teacher Vedat Aydin, one of the founders of the Diyarbakir branch of the Human Rights Association (HRA) and the president of the People's Labor Party (HEF) in Diyarbakir, was taken from his home by several armed men who identified themselves as police officers. On July 8, his body was found at a roadside outside of Diyarbakir; his skull was fractured, his legs were broken, and his body contained fifteen or sixteen bullet wounds. No one has been charged with his slaying.
Aydin's murder was the fourth violent incident directed at members of the Human Rights Association in southeastern Turkey during June and July. On June 18, an explosive device destroyed the car of lawyer and HRA member Mustafa Ozer, which was parked outside his house. On June 25, at midnight, the Diyarbakir office of the HRA was bombed, causing extensive damage. On July 2, a car bomb exploded in Batman, injuring Siddik Tan, a board member of the Batman HRA, his ten-year-old son and a friend. Earlier, the Siirt branch office of the HRA was destroyed and the secretary of the Urfa branch of the HRA, Ramazan Ferat, was beaten.
Activities of three HRA branches _ in Batman, Gaziantep and Urfa _ were suspended by provincial governors during 1991. The Mersin branch was closed by the government in May.
Members of the HRA continue to be detained and sometimes charged. In two cases, in Ankara and Gaziantep, board members of the association were acquitted of charges involving their association activities.
Despite reported behind-the-scenes efforts to persuade the Turkish government to make changes, and public criticism of Turkey's human rights practices by the State Department and the U.S. Embassy, the Bush Administration has had no visible impact on the human rights situation in Turkey. This inability to promote an end to serious human rights violations was due in large part to the Administration's unwillingness to link aid and human rights, as required by U.S. law.
Turkey continues to be an important U.S. ally, a fact highlighted in 1991 by the Turkish government's active support of the United States during the Persian Gulf conflict. President Bush's visit to Turkey in July was the first by an American president in over thirty years. He emphasized the need for "a new strategic relationship based on closer political, security, and economic links," and went on to say:
We value Turkey's NATO partnership, its commitment to democracy, and its integral position in the Western community. And Turkey played a critical role, as we all know, in the international coalition that liberated Kuwait, valiantly serving our common interests in a lawful, international order and a stable region.
President Bush praised Turkey and President Ozal throughout his visit. During a state dinner, President Bush said, "There has been no country as resolute as Turkey and no ally like President Ozal." He referred to Turkey as his "second home."
According to the State Department, President Bush noted in his arrival speech in Turkey that human rights are a priority for the United States. State Department sources assert that human rights were raised during the president's meetings with President Ozal. Following the meetings, a senior White House official said in reference to President Bush's advocacy of respect for human rights, "There's really not much else we can do," although the president had made no public mention of such specific abuses as torture, repression of Kurdish civilians, or restrictions on freedom of expression and association.
Greater specificity was found in the chapter on Turkey in the State Department's Country Reports on Human Rights Practices in 1990, which described more accurately than previous reports the appalling human rights picture in the country. Issued in February 1991, the report stated that torture "remains one of Turkey's principal human rights problems." The report also described in some detail restrictions on freedom of expression, proscriptions against Kurdish culture and language, overcrowded prisons, and the use of excessive force against noncombatants in the southeast.
However, the report seriously understated Turkey's human rights abuses. For example, it stated that "many persons charged with political crimes are tortured and...significant numbers charged with ordinary crimes are subjected to police brutality." But Turkish lawyers, human rights activists and former detainees report that approximately ninety percent of political detainees and fifty percent of criminal suspects are tortured. The report also stated that "it is unclear whether any people died of torture during 1990." But Helsinki Watch has the names of seven people who died in suspicious circumstances during detention at various police station. The report also understates the government's repressive actions against Turkish Kurds in southeastern Turkey: forcibly evacuating mountain villages in which villagers have refused to serve in the security forces as village guards; sending eight Kurdish "troublemakers" into internal exile in late 1989 and early 1990; and detaining large numbers of Kurdish civilians with no known connection to the PKK.
Despite even the serious and ongoing human rights violations in Turkey described in the Country Reports, the State Department continues to assert that progress is being made, apparently to discourage questioning of the massive U.S. aid program. In March, in a report to Congress justifying military aid to Turkey, the State Department described Turkey as "an open, democratic society with an improving human rights record," although it went on to concede:
[S]ignificant problems remain. Chief among them are torture, certain restrictions on freedom of expression, proscriptions against Kurdish culture and language, overcrowded prisons, and the use of excessive force against noncombatants in the southeast to suppress terrorism.
The same month, in a written response to questions raised by Representative Lee Hamilton, chairman of the House Subcommittee on European and Middle Eastern Affairs, the State Department elaborated on the problem of torture in Turkey:
Ambassador [Morton] Abramowitz has raised at the highest levels of the Turkish Government our concern over the continuation of torture. The President, Prime Minister, cabinet ministers, and leading parliamentarians are all aware of the seriousness with which we view this issue. Ambassador Abramowitz has made human rights a priority issue for the Mission and the importance assigned to it has not gone unnoticed by the Turkish Government, media, and people. He has frequently spoken about it in speeches. Embassy contacts note the concern expressed at high government levels filters down to working level security officials.
The Turkish government is opposed to torture. This practice is not condoned by the Government and has been widely condemned both publicly and privately, by officials from the President on down. The Minister of Justice has said torture is intolerable and that the Government is committed to "an all-out fight" against it.
Nevertheless, credible reports of torture persist throughout Turkey. Torture and mistreatment tend to be directed at political detainees during periods of incommunicado detention. Prosecution of torture allegations is increasing and the percentage of convictions in 1990 showed a small increase over 1989. However, acquittals exceed convictions, a large portion of allegations are dismissed after the preliminary investigation, and those found guilty generally receive light sentences.
At the same time, there are signs that progress is being made. There is free and open debate on human rights issues _ in the Government, in the press, and among private citizens. The media give generous coverage to human rights reports by such organizations as Amnesty International, Helsinki Watch, and the State Department. The Turkish Government has made efforts to curb the practice of incommunicado detention during which most torture is alleged to occur. Nevertheless, attorney access to political detainees is still frequently denied. The Government has been responsive to our inquiries for information on specific cases of concern to Senators, Congressmen, and human rights activists.
In March, James Dobbins, acting assistant secretary of state for European affairs, told Chairman Hamilton that there were improvements in the treatment of the Kurds in Turkey in that they had "received some additional freedom to use their language, and...more is being proposed by the government." In fact, as noted above, the Kurdish language is still forbidden in official settings, at public meetings, and in prison meetings between lawyers and their clients _ even when the clients do not speak Turkish. In addition, no books, magazines or other written materials are permitted to be published in Kurdish, and Kurdish music and dance continue to be restricted. The "more [freedom] proposed by the government" has yet to be announced.
Chairman Hamilton continued his exchange with the State Department about human rights abuses in Turkey in a July 17 letter. According to Chairman Hamilton, the August 5 response from Janet Mullins, assistant secretary of state for legislative affairs, spoke of positive advances on human rights issues, but failed to mention developments that "undermined the impact of some of these steps." Secretary Mullins made no mention of torture; the use of live ammunition as a method of crowd control; harassment; arrest, torture and imprisonment of Turkish Kurds; forced evacuation of Kurdish villagers who refuse to serve as village guards; the enactment of the draconian Anti-Terror Law; and restrictions of freedom of expression.
At the September meeting in Moscow of the Conference on the Human Dimension, part of the Conference on Security and Cooperation in Europe, U.S. Ambassador Max Kampelman stated, in reference to Turkey:
Police brutality and torture are much too prevalent. These and related incidents of violence by government inaction do unnecessary damage to Turkey's reputation in the international community. Turkey, in these days of dramatic change and rising expectations, has an opportunity to exercise world leadership.
However, despite the Administration's and his own assessment of the importance of human rights, Ambassador Abramowitz did not publicly criticize the enactment of the Anti-Terror Law, the suspicious deaths in detention, the use of live ammunition for crowd control, continued restrictions on freedom of expression, or the abuse of the Kurdish minority in the southeast. Concerning the deaths of suspected terrorists in police raids, Ambassador Abramowitz sharply criticized Helsinki Watch for issuing a newsletter calling for an end to such practices and suggested that the actions of the Turkish authorities were justified by the terrorist acts carried out by the militant group, Dev Sol, even though international law forbids summary execution regardless of the crime attributed to the victim. Ambassador Abramowitz wrote:
Dev Sol has nothing to do with human rights. Dev Sol has murdered two innocent Americans and wounded a third in the past year. The group has murdered dozens of high ranking Turkish officials, bombed the American Cultural Center in Izmir and the American Consulate in Adana....As a result of the Turkish action against this group, I am glad to say they were not safe to attack the President or other Americans.
Despite its open acknowledgment of at least the pattern of torture in Turkey, the Administration has failed to comply with Section 502B of the Foreign Assistance Act of 1961 (as amended), which prohibits military and other forms of security assistance to a country that "engages in a consistent pattern of gross violations of internationally recognized human rights." Section 502B requires the Administration, if it wishes to provide aid to such a country, to submit to Congress a written statement by the president explaining the "extraordinary circumstances warranting provision of such assistance." Neither the Bush Administration nor any previous Administration has submitted such a statement to Congress, let alone cut off security assistance to Turkey.
The U.S. government is also required by Section 701(a) of the International Financial Institutions Act of 1977 to oppose loans from multilateral lending institutions to countries that engage in a pattern of gross violations of internationally recognized human rights. Nevertheless, in the first six months of 1991, the Administration approved nine loans to Turkey totaling $652.6 million from the International Bank for Reconstruction and Development, the International Development Association, and the International Finance Corporation.
Turkey continues to be the third largest recipient of U.S. aid, after Israel and Egypt. In fiscal year 1991, Turkey received $500 million in military aid plus $3,400,000 for military training. This was a slight increase over military assistance in fiscal year 1990, which totaled $497,850,000. Half of the 1991 military aid, $250 million, was to enable the Turks to acquire F-16 fighter jets. The rest, according to the State Department, was used for modernization programs for frigates and tanks, spare parts, and operation and maintenance expenses. In a special grant, Turkey also received an additional $82 million to compensate it for some of the expenses incurred during the Persian Gulf War, plus allied air defense equipment was donated to Turkey during the crisis. Other economic assistance in fiscal year 1991 was $50 million, up from $14,200,000 in the 1990 fiscal year, and about $300,000 to combat drug trafficking.
The Administration has asked Congress to authorize $703.5 million in military and economic assistance for fiscal year 1992, a considerable increase. Some of the money would help Turkey to acquire more F-16 fighter jets. The Administration has also announced its intention to provide excess military equipment to Turkey during fiscal year 1992. In testimony in March before the House Subcommittee on European and Middle Eastern Affairs, Defense Department spokesman Bruce Weinrod indicated that the value of such equipment provided in 1990 and 1991 totaled $128 million.
Ambassador Abramowitz, until he left his post in August, continued to raise human rights concerns in speeches to Turkish groups, and to describe the protection of human rights as a major objective of the Embassy and the U.S. government. Under his direction, the Embassy also took a number of steps relating to human rights:
o In May, it assisted the Turkish-American Association in sponsoring a human rights seminar entitled "Sharing Strategies for Human Rights Legislation." Two American speakers addressed the seminar: U.S. District Judge Mark Wolf, of Boston, who spoke on the role of an independent judiciary in implementing human rights, and Professor Burt Neuborne of New York University School of Law, who spoke on civil liberties. Turks who took part included Eyup Asik, chairman of the Parliamentary Human Rights Commission; Fuat Atalay, a parliamentarian from the Social Democratic People's Party; and Nevzat Helvaci, president of the Human Rights Association (HRA).
o Embassy officers met with representatives of the HRA, the Human Rights Foundation, the Contemporary Lawyers' Association, and the Parliamentary Human Rights Commission.
o Embassy staff attended the HRA's "Human Rights Week" programs in December 1990, met with HRA branches in Istanbul and Bursa in September 1991, and visited the Human Rights Foundation's Center for the Rehabilitation of Torture Victims in May 1991.
o Embassy staff attended the trial of sociologist Ismail Besikci in October, and plan to attend the forthcoming trials of attorneys Murat Demir, Bedeyii Karagici and Fethiye Peksen.
o An Embassy officer attended an October symposium on the International Protection of Human Rights, attended by European human rights institutional personnel and Turkish officials and academics.
o Embassy officials report that they have investigated dozens of cases alleging human rights abuse and have protested discriminatory laws, regulations and practices to Turkish officials.
The U.S. Ambassador-designate to Turkey, Richard Barkley, took a useful first step in October by requesting meetings with both Helsinki Watch and Amnesty International to hear their evaluations of the human rights situation in Turkey.
Helsinki Watch recommends that the U.S. government publicly condemn the human rights abuses detailed in this report and, as required by Section 502B of the Foreign Assistance Act, state clearly what, if any, extraordinary circumstances warrant provision of military and security assistance to Turkey in light of its consistent pattern of gross violations of human rights. In addition, we recommend, as we have in the past, that the Administration use its best efforts, including linkage to aid, to persuade the Turkish government to:
o Acknowledge the pattern of torture in police detention centers and take aggressive steps to end it.
o Enforce the September 1989 decree guaranteeing detainees the right to be represented by attorneys from the moment of detention.
o Prohibit the use in court of confessions obtained by torture.
o Prosecute and increase sentences for torturers.
o Allow the International Committee of the Red Cross and other international organizations to visit detainees and prisoners on a regular basis.
o Release from custody all those held for the peaceful expression of their political views.
o Deploy nonlethal methods of crowd control and, in particular, end the use of live ammunition except when necessary to prevent a threat to life.
o Punish appropriately security force members who kill civilians without justification during demonstrations.
o When conducting police raids on suspected terrorists' houses, abide by international standards requiring law enforcement officials to use lethal force only when absolutely necessary and in proportion to the immediate danger faced.
o Stop all legal actions brought by the government against the press, writers and publishers based on the views they express in their writings or the factual material they report.
o Rescind the decrees that succeeded Decree 413 and restore the rights to freedom of expression and movement suspended by those decrees.
o Repeal the Anti-Terror Law.
o Acknowledge the existence of the Kurdish minority in Turkey and grant its members the civil and political rights held by other Turks.
o End restrictions that deprive Kurds of their ethnic identity, including restrictions on the use of Kurdish language, music and dance.
o Abolish the village guard system.
o End efforts to relocate civilians from troubled areas except in instances in which the security of the civilians or imperative military necessity so demand.
o Punish appropriately the abuse and humiliation of civilians by security forces.
The Work of Helsinki Watch
During 1991, Helsinki Watch continued its attempts to improve human rights in Turkey by focusing attention on Turkey's dreadful human rights record and trying to persuade the Bush Administration to pressure the Turkish government to end human rights abuses.
In February, Helsinki Watch issued two newsletters _ "Turkey: Five Deaths in Detention in January," and "Turkey: Two More Deaths in Detention in February" _ which detailed the suspicious deaths in detention of seven people. A third newsletter the same month reported on a violent crackdown on anti-war demonstrations which resulted in two deaths and many injuries.
In June, Helsinki Watch issued a newsletter, "Turkey: New Restrictive Anti-Terror Law," which described and explained the new Anti-Terror Law and its restrictive uses. The same month, Helsinki Watch issued a newsletter, "Freedom of Expression in Turkey: Abuses Continue," which detailed scores of violations of freedom of expression _ in the press, publishing and the arts.
In July, a newsletter, "Turkey: Human Rights Activist Killed; Police Shoot and Kill Three at his Funeral: Human Rights Association Attacked," was issued describing the killing of human rights activist Vedat Aydin, other violent attacks on human rights monitors and officials, and the fatal shooting by security forces of seven participants in Aydin's funeral procession.
At the end of July, Helsinki Watch released a newsletter, "Turkey: Torture, Killings by Police and Political Violence Increasing," which condemned increases in torture, killings by police and political violence. The newsletter described a marked increase in the number of suspicious deaths in detention, as well as killings of demonstrators by security forces and of suspected terrorists in police raids. The newsletter also described and condemned an increase in violent acts of political terrorism, including assassinations of thirteen people during 1991, and attacks by the PKK on civilians in the southeast.
Some of Helsinki Watch's newsletters were covered in the Turkish press.
At the time of President Bush's visit to Turkey, an op-ed article written by Helsinki Watch appeared in Newsday, and editorials based on Helsinki Watch's monitoring in Turkey appeared in The New York Times and The Washington Post.
Throughout the year, Helsinki Watch sent protests to Turkish officials concerning detentions, trials and abuses of human rights activists, journalists and lawyers. Some of these protests were reported in the Turkish press.