By Ismet Berkan
Monday, December 9, 1996
(There are a number of inaccuracies in this piece. One thing is quite clear: he
cites documents to discredit his Turkish subjects but he relies relies on
complete hear-say to do the same with the Kurdish side of his argument. But
because it was allowed to be printed in Turkey, we thought you should see it.)
In essence everything can be traced to the beginning of 1992. Then the
Turkish Chief of Staff adopted new strategic measures in its fight against the
PKK. Up until then the Turkish soldiers would respond to the attacks and
once the fighting was over pursue the attackers. It was decided then that the
Turkish soldiers needed to be trained like the guerrilla forces and do the same
by attacking them before their attacks on the Turkish installations. These
strategic changes soon began to bear fruit. The attackers now were the
Turkish soldiers not the PKK. The PKK was on the run and the Turkish
soldiers were on their tail.
Over time, the PKK withdrew from its bases among the population
centers and took to the mountains to hide itself. But the government of
Turkey continued to go on with its war on terrorism. This time, the
[Kurdish] villages were evacuated to deny the PKK its logistical base through
which it was sustaining itself. These measures did weaken the PKK
considerably and there were those who thought that [indeed] it would
These measures, however, did not just envision the plan of turning
the conflict in the southeast [Turkey] into a “low intensity conflict.” A
decision was taken to “actively” pursue the termination of the sources of help
that were sustaining this source of terror. Then some could even project that
by “Spring [of 1992],” this thing would come to an end.
The plan that was to be implemented was actually a brain child of the
British. This new tactic had two legs. The first required that you catch the
terrorist before he/she commits his/her deed and if need be you kill him/her.
The second leg of the tactic required that you equate all those who support
these terrorists as terrorists.
These strategic changes were on the agenda of the National Security
Council towards the end of 1992.
The author of these lines was permitted to see a National Security
Council document which laid down the plans for the formation of an
organization of this nature with the names of some individuals who could
take part in it. Abdullah Catli was one of those names. The others included
the members of the Special Teams [crack Turkish units], some soldiers and
some friends of Mr. Catli.
This new tactic ran into opposition at first at the National Security
Council. The President of Turkey, Turgut Ozal, and the Commander of the
Turkish Armed Forces, Esref Bitlis opposed the suggestion that the state work
together with the fugitives.
Perhaps it is not unrelated to this, but, it is, an interesting coincidence
that the opponents of this plan, General Bitlis and President Ozal, soon died.
One had an accident; the other had a heart attack.
Suleyman Demirel became President and Tansu Ciller the Prime
Minister. Prime Minister Ciller in her first days was rather soft. She would
mention the Bask model as a solution and would pay visits to the leaders of
the opposition parties.
But suddenly Prime Minister Ciller changed. She became the toughest
of all and an inimitable hawk beside. She would always say, “We will
eradicate them and we will eradicate them.” She would not say anything else.
It was obvious that she believed that it would soon end.
This plan no longer had opponents and it could again be discussed at
the National Security Council. It was discussed and approved in the fall of
1993. You may want to call it “the Gladio [or the Death Squads],” I will call it a
“secret organization” which was established by a decision of the assembled.
The Turkish government, according to figures released then, was
spending some 8 billion dollars annually to combat the PKK. The PKK too
was not far behind in its expenditures: some of the Turkish officials at the top
were quoting a figure of 3 billion dollars.
When Mrs. Ciller became the Prime Minister, the PKK had two sources
of income: 1. drugs and extortion money. 2. the donations that were being
collected in Europe.
At first, the European money dried up. At first Germany and then
France closed down the associations belonging to the PKK and prevented
them from collecting money. PKK in both countries went underground.
There was also the drug money. Here then the secret organization
needed to display its work.
We all remember the invocations of Prime Minister Ciller in those
days. “We are going to dry up the sources of support for PKK.”
Behcet Canturk, Savas Buldan, Yusuf Ekinci, Haci Karay, Adnan
Yildirim, Medet Serhat and Omer Lutfu Topal.
All these names one way or another were implicated with the drug
trafficking. None is present to shed some light on this issue. They either
were selling drugs on behalf of PKK or were forced to share part of their
income with it. In any case, some money was earmarked for PKK. All were
put out of commission [murdered].
Ozgur Ulke, the daily newspaper, was the voice of PKK. Abdullah
Ocalan would write articles in it with a nom de guerre, Ali Firat. The
headquarters of this paper in several cities were bombed. According to some,
some of the bomb throwers were caught by Istanbul Police, but they were
released immediately by orders that came from the “top”.
I write these lines based on the document that was shared with me
with the condition that I do not make a copy of it or take notes about it. I was
told to read it fast and I did.
I have weighed the accuracy of the information in the document
relative to the events that have taken place [over the course of these years]
and wish that the “news” was incorrect. I have no doubts that today, as soon
as this writing reaches you, you will also be told that it is completely untrue.
My only wish is that, I hope, those who will wrong me will tell you the truth.
(Translated by the staff of the American Kurdish Information Network)