U.S Military Equipment and Human Rights Violations
The Department of State submitted this report to the Chairman of the Senate Foreign Relations Committee on 1 July 1997, pursuant to Senate Committee Report 104-295, accompanying H.R. 3540
1. This report is submitted to the Committees on Appropriations in accordance with a request made in the Senate Appropriations Report 104-295 to accompany H.R. 3540, the FY 97 Foreign Operations Export Financing and Related Programs Bill, that the Secretary of State update an earlier report on allegations of human rights abuses by the security forces.
2. This report is a follow-up to a 1995 State Department which addressed the issue of human rights abuses by the Turkish security forces using U. S.-supplied weapons (hereinafter "1995 report"). This report broadly covers the period beginning January 1, 1995, assesses the use of such equipment, and describes Administration efforts to monitor its end-use. It incorporates information gained in discussions with Turkish military officers and other government officials, with international and Turkish human rights non-governmental organizations (NGO's), and visits throughout Turkey, with a special emphasis on the southeastern "state of emergency" region, the primary area where the government is fighting with Kurdistan Workers' Party (PKK). The report should be read in conjunction with the Department's annual human rights reports on Turkey, which review all aspects of human rights in Turkey. The report contains some illustrative examples of suspected misuses of U.S. equipment.
3. The bulk of U S military equipment in Turkey is used by the Turkish military, but some is used also by the Jandarma, a Ministry of Interior paramilitary force responsible for security in rural areas, with a still smaller amount belonging to the Turkish National Police (TNP), which includes police special operations teams. No U.S. military equipment is provided to the paramilitary village guards, who, along with Jandarma and police special operations teams, are cited in most allegations of human rights violations in Turkey. The Jandarma, Village Guards and regular military troops participate in combined operations in the nine-province "state of emergency" region in the southeast.
4. The government's strategic objective is to eliminate the terrorist threat posed by the PKK. In pursuit of this end, the security forces have adopted a practice of evacuating villages in the southeast which could provide the PKK with logistical support, recruits or easy targets. The potential for civilian casualties has been reduced since most of the fighting now occurs in sparsely populated areas. At the same time, the village evacuations have imposed real hardships on those populations displaced without adequate compensation. An upsurge of mystery killings and terrorist attacks in the southeast in the summer and fall of 1996 casts some doubt, however, on the permanent success of government efforts to force the PKK away from populated areas.
5. Human rights violations by some security forces personnel do occur and have been documented in the annual human rights country reports. Under Turkish law, these abuses are crimes subject to prosecution; in addition, the Turkish General Staff (TOS) considers violations of policies on the use of appropriate force or proper treatment of civilians as punishable violations of military discipline. The Turkish government has adopted policies intended to improve the human rights performance of its security forces, but implementation has been uneven. More needs to be done to punish violators and compensate victims.
6. The United States requires the same end-use assurances from Turkey as it does from other arms purchasers, which in turn permits the use of U.S.-supplied military equipment by Turkey for internal security. No resources are available generally to implement special programs to monitor continuously the end-use of U.S.-supplied weapons. Our mission, however, follows closely reports of human rights violations in Turkey, and works to reduce abuses through a human rights action plan. Mission officers travel throughout the country, including in the southeast.
7. The United States remains Turkey's most important and largest foreign supplier of defense equipment and technology, accounting for a significant majority of Turkeys foreign arms purchases. In FY 95, via government-to-government sales under the Foreign Military Sales (FMS) Program, the Government of Turkey took delivery of U.S. weapons valued at $345 million, and in FY 96, Turkey took delivery of U. S. weapons valued at $6l8 million. Further, the Department of State authorized commercial licenses for sales of military equipment to Turkey for $649 million in FY 95, and $557 million in FY 96. The Turkish armed forces have extensive inventories of U.S. equipment, such as tanks, ships, armored personnel carriers (APCs), artillery systems, and aircraft, including helicopters and fighters. Currently the U.S. is transferring to Turkey through commercial exports, FMS sales, and co-production arrangements, F-16s, KC-130 tanker aircraft and armored fighting vehicles, among other items. The TNP possesses some American-made helicopters, M-16's, and M-203 grenade launchers used by SWAT teams and other TNP rapid reaction forces. This equipment was purchased commercially under license. The Jandarma commando units use much the same type of equipment as TNP rapid reaction forces . As noted in the 1995 report, the use of U.S.-origin APCs and helicopters by Turkish security forces is common, but their supply of U.S. trucks and wheeled vehicles is dwindling.
8. Democracy, Human Rights, and Labor Assistant Secretary Shattuck has stated that U.S. policy is to restrict the sale of arms that clearly could be used to repress a civilian population. such as small arms and violent crowd-control devices. Turkey now produces the majority of its own pistols, rifles and hand held automatic weapons. The U.S. has not sold violent crowd-control devices to Turkey in several years. Arms sales are reviewed on a case-by- case basis .
9. Most U.S.-supplied military equipment is bought for use by the three armed services under the authority of the Turkish General Staff (TGS); Turkish Land Forces (TULF), Turkish Naval Forces (TUNF) and lurking Air Force (TUAF). The Jandarma, a paramilitary force responsible for security in rural areas, and the Turkish National Police, which is responsible generally for security in the cities and larger towns, have also purchased U.S military equipment (e.g., Blackhawk helicopters and M-16 rifles) in the past through licensed commercial sales. Mission personnel have seen some of this equipment which is still in service. The village guards are primarily armed with Russian-and Turkish-manufactured weapons.
10. Whenever the United States provides military equipment to a foreign government. it requires assurances about its use. These assurances include a commitment undertaken by the recipient country to use the provided defense articles "solely internal security, for legitimate self defense, for participation in regional or collective (defense) arrangements or for measures consistent with the charter of the United Nations." Turkey provides these assurances whenever it purchases U.S. defense articles.
11 Mission personnel traveling throughout the southeast region have witnessed an improvement in the security situation there since January 1995. An upsurge in mystery killings and terrorist incidents in the southeast in the summer and fall of l996 raised doubt, however, concerning the government' s complete success in driving the PKK out of population centers. It is in this context of fighting in the southeast, marked by pauses and sudden spikes of activity, between the Turkish security forces and the PKK, that the problem of human rights violations and the likely misuse of U.S.-supplied equipment arises.
12. Large-scale operations against the PKK often involve the use of major military equipment, such as APCs and helicopters. As noted in the 1996 human rights report, there are credible reports that serious abuses are committed by security forces during operations against the PKK. Use of U.S. equipment for transportation and command and control during such operations is likely. Amnesty International stated in its "1996 Human Rights and U.S. Security Assistance Report" that U.S.-made helicopters have been used in operations against villages during which disappearances occurred.
13. Eyewitness accounts alleging use of U.S. equipment in extra-judicial killings or torture are difficult to substantiate. The Human Rights Association (HRA) and other human rights NGOs recorded several mystery killings, in which the assailant's identity was unknown, but the complicity of the security forced was alleged. Most of the reports pertain to the southeast where some of the victims were leaders or prominent members of the Kurdish community. local politicians, or members to the Pro-Kurdish People's Democracy Party (HADEP). The l995 recommendations of a Parliamentary Committee, designed to purge "illegal formations" within the State which the Committee said committed some mystery killings, were not implemented. Given the nature of the abuses, we believe the use of U.S.-supplied military equipment in torture cases is improbable.
14. The 1995 Report also details, however, several credible accounts by eyewitnesses, as collected by U.S. NGOs and others, of misuse of American equipment in the course of military operations through 1994. There are eyewitness and press reports of other such incidents since then. In one example cited in the 1995 State Department's Human Rights report, and reported in the now defunct newspaper "Yeni Politika," a former Turkish infantry soldier alleged that he witnessed Jandarma troops severely beat 20 villagers in Kurucayir hamlet on April 19, l995. Seven other villagers were later beaten more severely with fists and gun butts, according to this witness, who also states that the village was burned and villagers displaced. According to the Human Rights Watch Report "Weapons Transfers and Violations of the Laws of War in Turkey," the same witness also reported that he later heard that a suspected PKK member apprehended during this operation was summarily shot . According to the eyewitness, the commander of the operation arrived on the scene in a U.S.-designed Huey helicopter carrying at U.S.-designed M-16 assault rifle. According to the same Human Rights Watch report, other security forces personnel involved in this incident used Turkish or third-country designed weapons and vehicles.
15. The state of Emergency Law (OHAL), dating from October 27, 1983, and in effect in nine southeastern provinces, permits authorities to resettle villagers for their own protections. The scale and total number of evacuations and the small rate of return to previously evacuated villages and hamlets suggests a conscious Turkish government effort to deny the PKK a logistical base in the countryside. Evacuation of villages began in the mid-to-late 1980s, and reached a high point in late 1994 and early 1995. Because so many villages have already been evacuated, and because the fighting has now moved to the mountains, there are now fewer new large-scale forced evacuations of villages by security forces. Smaller-scale forced evacuations from remote areas continue. The total number of villages and hamlets evacuated over the course of the last decade continues to climb. The 1996 Human Rights Report stated that, according to most estimates, 2,600 to 3,000 villages had been evacuated; a credible estimate of the number of displaced villagers is 560,000. As of March l997, the Interior Ministry recorded that, since the beginning of 1996, 19,879 persons had returned to their homes in l08 villages and 90 hamlets -- a village return rate of approximately seven percent. (Before 1996, very few villages were resettled.)
16 . Compensation to those evacuated by the Turkish government, as noted in the 1996 Human Rights Report, has been insufficient, with officials overseeing resettlement and compensation programs expressing dismay at the inadequacy of funding . The Government recently announced a new $100 million project, which, if implemented, would pay for construction of 10,000 units of low-income housing for those who have been made homeless by the conflict in the southeast.
17. Human rights groups continue to highlight forced evacuations. In addition, in September 1996, the European Court of Human Rights ruled against the government in the case of several Kurds who claimed that their human rights were violated when security forces destroyed their homes in the village of Kelekci in 1992. The court ordered the government to compensate the villagers. As noted above, given the extensive use of U.S. equipment by the Turkish military, it is likely that U.S.-supplied military equipment was used for command and control and transportation of security forces during some forced evacuations. Some villages are later burned down.
18. Turkish officials have stated that, on occasion, security forces will blockade villages in order to deny the PKK access to food supplies. According to Amnesty International, in April 1997, members of the Turkish security forces surrounded the hamlet of Tepe near Lice in Diyarbakir province. Local human rights workers stated that the village was blockaded by the Turkish military for at least two months in reprisal for the PKK murder of a village guard. It is not known whether U.S.-supplied military equipment was used in any way in the enforcement of the blockade.
19. The Turkish government organizes, arms, and pays for a civil defense force in the southeast region know as the village guards. Participation in this paramilitary militia by local villagers is theoretically voluntary, but villagers are sometimes coerced into joining. If the villagers refuse to participate, government security forces may retaliate by forcibly evacuating their village. However. if villagers agree to serve, the PKK may kill them or target their village. The village guards have a reputation for being the least trained and disciplined of the governments security forces. The local population bears tremendous resentment against the village guard system which it views as both ineffective and corrupt. According to official statistics, nearly 3,700 of the approximately 60,000 village guards have been fired in the last two years for illegal activities including murder, drug smuggling, and supporting the PKK. The village guards are not issued U.S.-origin weapons, even when participating in joint operations with regular land forces.
20. The police anti-terror department, and police and Jandarma "special teams" have been specifically cited by human rights monitors and the departments human rights reports for human rights abuses. Unlike the regular police (TAP), these special teams have access to U.S.-made M16s (and the civilian version, AR-15s). These team also employ U.S.-designed M-203 grenade launchers and some American helicopters . In July 1995, in Tunceli province, following the death of several of their comrades, members of these special teams went on a rampage, indiscriminately firing on shops and residential buildings and attacking individuals at random. The National Security Director instituted an investigation into the charges and ordered a number of the special team members reassigned to other posts. In a separate and unrelated incident, according to an Amnesty International report, and as reported in "Yeni Politika," special teams killed Serdar Ugras, age 20 on July 4, 1995, allegedly in revenge for the killing of two soldiers by unknown assailants. Armored vehicles and troop carriers were reportedly used in this attack. A government investigation continues.
21. In recent years the military has adopted some new policies pertaining to conduct, tactics, and training designed to win greater public support and improve its human rights performance. In 1994, for example, the military issued a "Guide to Principles of Behaviors." These principles, distributed to all military personnel in the southeast, required soldiers and officers alike to know and respect the local people and customs. They, inter alia, discouraged the use of village guards to search residences without strict supervision and instructed forces to pay compensation for any damage caused during searches. Discussions with officers in the region, including a number with the Jandarma, confirm that these principles are understood by commanders there. Nevertheless, these principles are not always applied consistently.
22. Also in 1994, Turkish military authorities adopted some new tactics to fight the PKK. Turkish officials tell us they introduced a principle of "appropriate force" to ensure that only that force necessary to defeat the identified enemy would be employed. U.S. officials' conversations with civilians in the region and press reports suggest that "collateral damage" to civilians and private property has been reduced, in part because of the shift of the conflict to the mountains. The number of cited PKK terrorists taken alive has increased substantially since these "appropriate force" policies were adopted.
23. Turkish units developed the capability to fight at night and put more emphasis on infantry and commando operations, thereby better targeting the PKK, and interdicting terrorists before they entered populated areas. This initiative appeared to have further reduced the incidence of unintended harm to civilians.
24 . Human rights training incorporated into the curriculum of the service academies and other military schools, including those of the Jandarma, also reflects a commitment on the part of the Government at Turkey to improve its human rights performance. In 1996, teams of instructors began traveling to the state of emergency region and elsewhere to hold human rights training seminars for both officers and enlisted personnel. The TNP recently instituted training for new recruits on proper techniques for interviewing and interrogating suspected terrorists. However, according to local and international NGO's, torture continues to occur .
25. Despite these efforts, press reports and independent groups continue to record attacks on civilians. For example, a pro-Kurdish "Demokrasi" report described the December 8, 1996 firing by planes and helicopters on civilians in Mardin province, in which a shepherd was wounded.
26. In an unrelated incident, a minibus was ambushed and 11 people were killed in a minibus on January 15, 1996 near Sirnak. "Working Group for Peace," a group of independent investigators which included a German Member of Parliament and human rights monitors investigated the incident and concluded that it was committed by security forces, most likely Jandarma. Long barreled guns, rocket launchers, and radios were all reported to have been used in this attack, which was also said to be supported by a helicopter. U.S. officials met with members of the Working group and found them to be careful and credible. The Turkish Government, however, disputes the group's findings and claims that the PKK was responsible for the attack. In following up these conflicting versions, Human Rights Watch reports that Turkey's then-Minister for Human Rights was intimidated by the security forces and prevented from interviewing military personnel about the incident. Transparency and cooperation by security forces in the investigation of violations plays a critical role in improving Turkey's human rights record.
27. Local support for the security forces varies. Several village leaders (muhtars) indicated to U.S. officials in Turkey in the spring of 1997 that the military is no longer viewed widely as a threat, and in some case, the military is viewed as the only organization making improvements in the local infrastructure. Nevertheless, in the areas of greatest PKK activity, local resentment of the security force grows out of the imposition of harsh security measures. The police and Jandarma special teams continue to be viewed with fear by local residents in the area of conflict.
28. As noted previously, most of the fighting against the PKK now occurs in remote mountainous areas. Recent U.S. visitors to the region confirm life in the cities, particularly at night:, increasingly has returned to normal. The PKK retains the ability to hit targets in populated areas with small teams, such as with the October 1, 1996 murder of four school teachers in Hantepe village near Diyarbakir, and the late 1996 introduction of suicide bombers in Tunceli and Adana. However, as mentioned earlier, security forces now conduct large-scale anti-PKK operations primarily in remote locations, minimizing the possibility of civilian casualties.
29. According to Jandarma officials in the region, these operations can combine village guard, Jandarma and regular military troops. U.S. military equipment, particularly utility helicopters, is used regularly to move commandos. Press reports add that attack helicopters and fighter aircraft, most often of U.S. origin, are used to target PKK concentrations. These attacks are usually mounted in connection with large-scale operations, such as those in remote areas of Tunceli province in fall l996 and spring 1997, and in mountainous Hakkari province in September 1996.
30. Fighter aircraft and helicopters are used frequently when attacking large concentrations of PKK in northern Iraq. There are some credible media reports of civilian casualties during such operations. For instance, Agence France Presse, quoting the Iraqi National Congress, stated on March 26, 1995 that one civilian was killed, and two were wounded in a Turkish bombing raid on the village of Kashan. The same agency, quoting the Kurdistan Democratic Party, reported on April 30, 1995 that a Turkish air raid on nine villages destroyed many houses and injured four civilians. Voice of Iraqi Kurdistan reported on May 4, 1996 that Turkish artillery and aircraft wounded many civilians, heavily damaged houses and killed cattle in the village of Tarwansh.
31. Fighter aircraft and helicopters have been used in the Turkish military's new operation launched on May 14, 1997, against PXK strongholds in northern Iraq. The military has strictly limited press access to the region. One group of journalists representing three major U.S. newspapers was given controlled access to the Zap valley area in northern Iraq and filed reports on what they saw there, including evidence of PKK infrastructure and weapons. These reports and reports obtained by the U.S. mission in Turkey from Kurdish and UN Sources suggest that the security forces have minimized civilian collateral damage. A press release by the Patriotic Union of Kurdistan (PUK), however, states that the incursion has not been without. civilian casualties. On May 29, the PUK alleged that six Turkish F-16's bombed several villages in the Rawanduz sector of northern Iraq, resulting in seven deaths and five injuries to villagers. The Turkish government later reiterated that it targets only the PRK in northern Iraq, not any other groups or civilians. Both publicly and privately, U.S. officials have urged that the Turkish operation in northern Iraq be limited in scope and duration, and be scrupulous in protecting civilians and their property.
32. The Government of Turkey does not monitor the use of U.S. weapons per se. The TGS rules view violations of the 1994 principles and Turkish military doctrine as breaches of discipline and law. In addition, Articles 243 and 245 of the Penal Code specifically prohibit public officials, including security force personnel, from torturing or abusing individuals. Nevertheless, some abuses by security forces do occur. According to statistics provided by the TGS (see Annex), close to a thousand complaints for torture or maltreatment were filed against security officials in both 1994 and 1995 (the last year for which figures are available). The law permits penalties of up to five years hard labor and disqualification from holding future public office. Investigations or trials continue in the large majority of these cases. To date, the conviction rate has been well under 3 percent of the total number of cases filed; the paucity of convictions contributes to the climate of impunity for human rights violators.
33. Security force officers have recently begun to concede that in waging a war against terrorists, abuses can happen. In such cases, the government has a mechanism to compensate the victims. Court records show that awards are made solely based on damage sustained by government and/or PKK action, without regard to whether the loss was due to intentional or unintentional acts or which side was responsible. However, many human rights organization and government officials maintain that the amount budgeted to pay compensation claims is inadequate. The key to reducing abuses by security officials clearly will be to enforce all laws and military discipline, to prosecute violators vigorously, and to compensate adequately victims of human rights violations.
34. The U.S. mission has no way to monitor physically the use of U.S. supplied military equipment in Turkey. Nevertheless, the U.S. Mission in Turkey follows allegations of human rights violations closely, including those involving the use of U.S.-supplied defense items.
35.U.S. mission personnel travel regularly within Turkey and speak to a broad cross section of people to obtain information about the human rights situation there. In order to research this report, for example, mission officers made a series of trips to the southeast:
36. In addition, our Consulate in Adana follows and reports on human rights developments in the southeast, including specific allegations of human rights abuses. Consulate personnel travel regularly in the region, including in the provinces of Icel/Mercin, Adana, Hatay, Kilis, Gaziantep, Sanliurfa, Adiyaman, Osmaniye, Kahramanmaras, Malatya, Elazig, Tuncerli, Bingol, Diyarbakir, Mardin, Hakkari, Van, Sirnak, Siirt, Bitlis, Mus, and Batman.
37. In the current fiscal year. U.S. officials undertook trips to the following places, which resulted in general human rights reporting:
U.S. officials also traveled throughout the southeast region in 1995 and 1996 on similar trips.
38. In addition to obtaining firsthand reports about the situation in the southeast, our mission personnel engage in frequent and close contact with sources in Ankara, Adana, and Istanbul. Preparations for this report, for example, included several lengthy conversations with TGS officers (on March 14 and June 5) and MPA officials (on May 7 and June 5); communication by diplomatic note; library searches; contacts with Turkish and international human rights NGO's; and a meeting with village muhtars in Ankara in March. Contacts of these sorts contribute significantly to information mission personnel nave regarding individual allegations of human rights.
39. We make an effort to confirm allegations ourselves or with local NGOs and other observers. Credible allegations are raised with the Turkish government at all levels, reported to Washington officials, and included in the Department's annual human rights report. We follow closely Government of Turkey actions and efforts to remedy problems.
40. In addition to documenting human rights violations, and raising them with Turkish officials, the U.S. mission in Turkey is implementing specific human rights objectives from the mission program plan.
1. Turkey continues to be of great strategic importance to the United States. It remains a pivotal country affecting U.S. interests in Europe, the Middle East, the Caucasus, and Central Asia. Turkey is a key regional player in a broad range of issues of concern to the U.S., including Cyprus and the Aegean, Bosnia, Albania, NATO, Iraq and Iran, counter-terrorism, counter-narcotics, the Caucasus, the Middle East Peace Process, and environmental issues.
2. According to U.S. security assistance provisions, Turkey has the right to use U.S.-supplied weapons for self-defense and internal security. This includes combating criminal acts directed against the state and terrorism.
3. The PKK, a terrorist organization, represents a threat to Turkey's security. Since 1984, the Kurdish separatist PKK has waged a violent terrorist campaign in southeastern Turkey. Over 22,000 people have been killed in this conflict, including terrorists, security force members and noncombatants.
4. We believe some allegations of serious human rights abuses by security forces during operations against the PKK are credible. In the period covered by this report, U.S.-origin equipment -- which accounts for many major items in the Turkish military inventory -- has likely been used in operations against the PKK during which human rights abuses have occurred.
5 While the emergency zone ("OHAL") legislation provides a legal basis for the government to relocate temporarily citizens if it is unable to protect them where they reside, the Turkish government appears to have pursued a conscious strategy of limiting local logistical support to the PKK by evacuating villages. It is likely that U.S. equipment was used in support of the evacuation of villages. Turkish Government compensation to the displaced and resettlement efforts have been highly inadequate.
6. The Government of Turkey's approach to combating the PKK has been until recently largely military. The lawful conduct of military operations, concern for human rights, and political and socio-economic approaches to the problems in the southeast will be required to end the conflict.
7. Recent legal reforms regarding detainees, the Turkish Armed Forces' "Principles of Behaviors" doctrine and human rights training for officers and enlisted men are examples of progress in respect for human rights. However, these policies are not always applied consistently. The key to further progress will be firm implementation of these standards, monitoring of behavior in field operations, transparency and cooperation with investigations of abuses, and aggressive prosecution and stiff sentences for violators. Plans, intentions and principles must be accompanied by action and conviction.
8. Respect for democracy and human rights, as noted in the 1955 Report, will continue to be an integral element of the U.S.-Turkey relationship. Emphasis on unilateral and cooperative steps to eliminate human rights abuses will remain an important focus of our ongoing dialogue with the Government of Turkey.
Legal Proceeding against Security Forces Personnel for Torture or Maltreatment.
NO. OF CASES FILED_________________________1194
NO. OF CASES UNDER INVESTIGATION_________431
NO . OF CASES REJECTED BY THE COURTS______235
NO. OF TRIALS UNDER WAY___________________418
NO. OF CASES FILED____________________________962
NO. OF CASES UNDER INVESTIGATION__________275
NO. OF CASES REJECTED BY THE COURTS________242
NO. OF TRIALS UNDER WAY______________________291
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