Turkish minister confesses to massacres committed by Turkish State


Former Turkish State Minister confesses: Massacres blamed on PKK were committed by the Turkish State

Ekmen confessed it: The Güçlükonak massacre was conducted by the state.

The former state minister responsible for human rights, Adnan Ekmen, had important statements about the Güçlükonak massacre.  These statements shed light on the reasons for leaving the Kurdish question unresolved and point out the who provoked, and why, the declared ceasefire.

The confession came after 13 years

The minister responsible for human rights in the 52nd government, in which Tansu Çiller was prime minister and Deniz Baykal was foreign minister, Adnan Ekmen made statements to Yeni Aktüel magazine by saying, “My conscience makes me uncomfortable”: “Although we knew the background of the event, unfortunately we could not explain it to the public. According to the hearings from the region and from the relatives of the people who were killed, we realized that the situation was not the same as the security forces were talking about. The event that took place was in a location where the security forces had full control anyway; It was impossible for PKK to conduct an operation. Yet the ID cards of the murdered were in the hands of the security forces, people were burned; however, somehow, their ID cards were never damaged. Apparently the people who burned them took their ID cards before burning them. To me, this was the point that exposed them.

“We sat and talked about what we could do together with the ministry’s bureaucrats. I called a village guard chief and tribal leader who I trusted, and told him what I had heard. He said to me, ‘I cannot lie to you; whatever you heard is true. The official statement ofthe security forces does not reflect the truth.’ I asked him whether he would be willing to tell us the truth if we went to Güçlükonak; ‘This is not possible. If we tell the truth we cannot protect ourselves, and neither can you,’ he said. After he said that we changed our minds about going to Güçlükonak.

“I offered Deniz Baykal the things that I knew, to tell Prime Minister Çiller. When he said ‘It is up to you, but the Prime Minister is very busy nowadays,’ I changed my mind.”

“I told the event to the chairman of CHP, of which I was a member, and I told him that I wanted to share what I heard with the public. He asked me why they were putting the blame on PKK. In Europe there would be a very important vote about the Kurds. By blaming this incident on PKK, I said to him that they might want it to give a message to the association which would hold the election.”

First ceasefire, first provocation

Özal wanted it, a ceasefire was declared.

President Turgut Özal conveyed his ceasefire demand to PKK through the PUK leader Celal Talabani. The Kurdish people’s leader, Abdullah Öcalan, responded to Özal’s demand positively. On 17 March 1993 in Lebanon’s Bar Eliyas town, Öcalan and PUK leader Celal Talabani, as mediator, came out in front of the press and declared a 25-day ceasefire.

Özal expressed his satisfaction to Talabani, who visited him after the ceasefire, by saying: “For ten years it is the very first time I slept peacefully.” After Özal’s positive reaction, one day after the limited ceasefire, on 16 April, in Bar Eliyas, Öcalan came out in front of the press one more time and declared that they had extended the unilateral ceasefire indefinitely.

Özal’s suspicious death and the 33 soldiers incident

Özal, who had sympathy for most of the demands that were mentioned in the ceasefire, including a general amnesty, died suddenly, one day after the indefinite ceasefire, on 17 April 1993. It was stated that Özal suffered a heart attack. However, many people, primarily his family, and including Öcalan, said “Özal was murdered”. On 24 May 1993, the news of the massacre came. Åžemdin Sakık, who blocked the Bingöl-Elazığ highway and killed 33 unarmed soldiers, declared the end of the first ceasefire. Öcalan said that incident of the murder of 33 soldiers was not related to them [PKK] and he refused to take responsibility. Öcalan mentioned this truth many times on Ä°mralı and he called for the enlightenment of this incident.

Second ceasefire, second provocation

This time Çiller wanted it

After Özal’s death, Süleyman Demirel became president and Tansu Çiller became prime minister. Çiller sent a letter to Öcalan, again through Talabani, and wanted Öcalan to declare a ceasefire. After that, PKK declared the second unilateral ceasefire on 15 December 1995.

11 villagers were raked with gunfire and burned

One month after the ceasefire, on 16 January 1996, this time the news came from Şırnak’s town, Güçlükonak. The Koçyurdu minibus, which contained 11 villagers, was raked with gunfire and the corpses were then burned. The general staff and government officials declared the operation was conducted by PKK. PKK, on the other hand, defined the incident as “provocation through state-related contra groups” and despite this incident, declared the “continuation of the ceasefire”. However, for the very first time the general staff took journalists, including foreign journalists, to the scene and made anti-PKK statements. However, the general staff did not let the journalists talk to the villagers.

Intellectuals blamed the state

The Together for Peace Working Group members, intellectuals, and journalists, went to the scene twice and found clues. They focused on the fact that the incident was related to the state. They sued, however not only did they receive no result, but also they were countersued by the charge of “insulting the army” and were convicted to ten years in prison.

Two days after the massacre, the EU parliament would assemble for a ceasefire.

During the Güçlükonak incident, the European parliament had assembled for an important agenda. Turkey conducted its military operation despite the PKK’s unilateral ceasefire. However, the ceasefire issue became a hot debate in the international arena. The European parliament called PKK and Turkey for a democratic solution to the Kurdish question on 13 December 1995. The ceasefire decision was given as a response to this call. In fact, a proposition related to Turkey was accepted unanimously during the 18 January 1996 session. One of the articles in the proposal was about the ceasefire: “The European parliament greets the unilateral ceasefire declared by Öcalan and accepts this initiative as a positive response to the European parliament’s decision on 13 December 1995. At the same time it [the European parliament] hopes Turkey considers this gesture as a step towards a peaceful solution and accepts it as an opportunity to initiate a national-level dialog to overcome the problem in the Eastern Anatolian Region.” Just two days before the meeting at which this decision was made, the Güçlükonak massacre took place.

Villagers were detained

It was revealed that some of the villagers who were murdered were detained and were held in the TaÅŸkonak Jandarma Battalion, and some of them were taken from their homes on the day of the incident. Among the people who were killed, Halit Kaya’s daughter from YataÄŸankaya village, Ramazan Oruç’s son, and Ali Nas’s nephew from Çevrimli village had previously joined the PKK guerrillas.

Third ceasefire, third provocation

Everyone wanted a ceasefire

Prime minister ErdoÄŸan made moderate statements related to the Kurdish question in 2005 and showed attempts to make PKK declare a ceasefire. Many parties, including the US, the EU, KDP, PUK, AKP and DTP, made various attempts toward this issue. On 1 October 2006, PKK declared a ceasefire. However no improvement was made after the ceasefire.

Massacre in the first year of the ceasefire

One year passed and the ceasefire was still in effect. On 29 September 2007, the news of the massacre came from Şırnak’s Beytüşşebap. Twelve people in a minibus going to BeÅŸaÄŸaç (Hemkan) village were ambushed. The general staff and the government made a statement that “PKK did it” about the massacre, which resembled the Guclukonak incident. PKK on the other hand declared that “the massacre was committed by JITEM, which is linked to the army”. Villagers also said that the incident was conducted by village guards and JITEM; the information received confirmed this claim. After this date, not only did the hope for a solution to the Kurdish question weaken but it was also the start of the cross-border operations. Thus the policies of violence entered a new stage.

Kaplan: The state prosecutor must act

DTP’s Şırnak parliamentarian Hasip Kaplan expressed his views regarding the statements made by the former minister responsible for human rights at that time, Adnan Ekmen, and wanted the state prosecutor to take action. Kaplan said, “The investigation and evidence previously found by the intellectuals and the NGOs is today confirmed one more time by the statements of someone who has been at the ministry level. The prosecutor must immediately begin an investigation, listen to Minister Ekmen, the intellectuals, and the NGOs who have previously made such investigations. Because this is a massacre case, a case of provocation, the case must be reopened.” Mentioning that they would take this issue to the parliament’s attention, Kaplan said: “Previously we had given question and investigation proposals to the parliament regarding extrajudicial murders and massacres. We are going to keep a close eye on these. We will bring up this incident too.”

Ozgur Gundem – English Translation by Mizgin Yilmaz