EXTERNAL (for general distribution) AI Index: EUR 44/111/93
UA 410/93 Death Penalty 19 November 1993
TURKEY Seyfettin Uzundiz
Amnesty International is most seriously concerned about reports that for the
first time in over nine years the Judicial Commission of the Turkish parliament
has approved a death sentence. This move opens the way for what would be the
first execution in Western Europe in over nine years.
On 17 November 1993, nine out of 15 members of the Judicial Commission (Adalet
Komisyonu) approved the death sentence of Seyfettin Uzundiz. The other six
members of the Commission were absent. Reportedly Seyfettin Uzundiz was
convicted in 1992 by a criminal court in Istanbul of murder and armed robbery.
His file will now be sent to the plenary of the Turkish Grand National Assembly
(TBMM - parliament) for approval, which requires a simple majority. Execution
is by hanging and may be carried out immediately the death sentence has been
ratified by parliament.
This latest development must be seen in the context of the "total war" which
the Turkish state and its security forces have declared on the guerrillas of
the outlawed Kurdish Workers' Party (PKK) fighting initially for an independent
Kurdish state and more recently for some degree of Kurdish autonomy. Armed
activities by the guerrillas have steadily increased since they carried out
their first attack in 1984 and so has the response by the security forces,
leading to the loss of more than 10,000 lives and an equally steady increase
in human rights abuses by both sides. In July 1993, the Turkish Government
declared all-out war on the Kurdish insurgents in the southeast where 10
provinces have been under emergency rule since Martial Law was lifted there
in 1987. Hundreds of Kurdish people are standing trial in State Security Courts,
accused of belonging to, or supporting, the PKK, and a number of death sentences
have been handed down in recent months as the first of these trials came to
an end. Many more can be expected to be imposed, and the State Prosecutor in
Ankara is currently seeking to have the immunity of 17 Kurdish members of
parliament lifted so that they can also be tried on charges of separatism,
under Article 125 of the Turkish Penal Code, which on conviction carries a
mandatory death sentence.
In the present political climate, the lobby in favour of the death penalty
in Turkey is very vocal and public opinion is moving in the same direction.
The Prosecutor at Ankara State Security Court, which tries political offences,
recently stated that in his opinion all death sentences should be carried out.
It appears that ratification of the death sentence of an ordinary criminal
may serve to clear the way for executions of people convicted of politically