The U.N. Guiding Principles provide that international humanitarian organizations and other appropriate actors have the right to offer their services in support of internally displaced persons, and that such organizations should have unimpeded access to internally displaced persons (Principles 25 and 30).
A genuine project for the return of Turkey's forcibly displaced villagers would be a huge undertaking with enormous financial, planning, and humanitarian implications. Consequently, the government would need to benefit from the experience, expertise, and energy that local and international nongovernmental organizations and intergovernmental organizations have to offer. The representatives of GAP and TSBD spoke enthusiastically of their "participative" approach, and local governors echoed this theme. But in practice, the government has consistently cut non-state agencies out of the whole process. Professional associations have semi-official status, but they have also been kept entirely in the dark about the government's return plans and have never been invited to give their input.
A representative of the Diyarbakır Chamber of Architects (who asked for his name to be withheld for reasons of safety) lamented the potential waste of public funds:
A member of the Diyarbakır Chamber of Engineers (who also asked that his name be withheld) told Human Rights Watch:
A representative of the Diyarbakır Chamber of Agricultural Engineers (who also requested anonymity) said:
When asked if the Prime Minister's Office had consulted with him over the Village Return and Rehabilitation Project, Dr. Necdet İpekyüz of the Diyarbakır Medical Association replied: "No, neither the emergency region governor, nor the Diyarbakır provincial governor, nor the Office of the Prime Minister has consulted with Diyarbakır Medical Association nor with our Ankara headquarters, to my knowledge, or approached us for advice or assistance on the issue."196
Far from providing "appropriate actors" access to the internally displaced, the authorities have relentlessly persecuted organizations that take an interest in them. At the moment, access by nongovernmental organizations to the southeast is extremely difficult. The three local organizations most interested in the problems of the internally displaced are the HRA, the Göç-Der, and HADEP. The authorities view all three with great suspicion, and local security forces subject them to constant harassment. Almost every day a branch of HADEP is raided, members detained and often ill-treated. In January 2001 HADEP officials Serdar Tanış and Ebubekir Deniz, who were trying to establish a branch of the party in Şırnak province, "disappeared" after being summoned to a gendarmerie station. The authorities first denied and then admitted that the HADEP officials visited the gendarmerie, but claimed they had left after half an hour. In October 2001 Burhan Koçkar, a HADEP member, was allegedly extrajudicially executed by masked security forces in Ağrı in eastern Turkey.197
The HRA reports that it is also subject to constant persecution by security forces-particularly when it ventures into more remote areas to investigate abuses in villages. When Osman Baydemir, president of Diyarbakır HRA, travelled with a joint delegation to Şırnak to investigate the forced evacuation of Asat and Ortaklı villages, he was detained together with a villager he had interviewed. The detained villager reported that gendarmes tortured him in order to make him sign a statement alleging that the delegation had bribed him to give them false testimony incriminating the security forces.198
Göç-Der offices are constantly under police surveillance and have been repeatedly raided. In May 2001 police entered the Istanbul office, confiscated documents, and detained then President Mahmut Özgür and a member of the board, Metin Çelik, who was held incommunicado for two days. It was plain that the authorities were unhappy that Göç-Der was bringing unwelcome information about the Village Return and Rehabilitation Project into the public arena. The police scolded Göç-Der officials saying: "You bring shame upon Turkey by letting victims talk to foreigners, and also you break your statute by having relations with foreign organizations."199 On June 22, 2002 police raided Göç-Der branches preparing for a week of public events aiming to draw attention to the difficulties of the internally displaced, confiscated materials, and detained two staff at the Istanbul headquarters. Many of their activities were banned by local governors. The board is also facing a series of ongoing trials for breaking the Law on Associations, "insulting the armed forces,"200 and "separatist propaganda"201 in respect of their news bulletin.
When Human Rights Watch asked whether the Migration and Humanitarian Assistance Foundation (GİYAV) had been asked for its input into the government's return plans, the spokesperson Mehmet Barut laughed and said that in a way it had, since the police came and confiscated their official records and the hard disk from their computer a month previously, saying that they would have to keep them for a year for examination by experts.202 GİYAV is currently under investigation on unspecified allegations by the Adana State Security Court prosecutor.
Professor Erik Siesby and Jonna Dalsgaard of the Danish Helsinki Committee have developed a project for the return and reconstruction of twenty villages, in collaboration with Göç-Der and the professional chambers of Diyarbakır. They hope to obtain funding from the European Union or the World Bank. This is very much an "alternative to the official path" as described by the spokesperson of the Chamber of Engineers, and as he suspected, the official reception has not been warm. Press reports in May 2002 stated that the Turkish government has submitted to E.U. states a list of seventeen Europe-based nongovernmental organizations that it claims "support the PKK," including the Danish Helsinki Committee.203
198 Joint press statement of delegation members, representatives of HRA, Mazlum-Der, Turkish Chamber of Architects and Engineers (TMMOB), Turkish Human Rights Foundation (TIHV), Turkish Medical Association (TTB), Göç-Der and the Diyarbakir Democracy Platform, Diyarbakir, August 10, 2001.