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UA 174/94 - Turkey: "disappearance" / fear for safety: Yavuz Yilmaz

, Index number: EUR 44/032/1994

Kurdish lawyer Yavuz Yilmaz has "disappeared" after being detained on 29 April 1994 in Istanbul by eight men in plain clothes. They allegedly introduced themselves as members of the "political police" in Elazig. They took him to the police headquarters in Istanbul, then a few days later he was transferred to the Police Headquarters in Elazig. The authorities, however, have denied that he is being held. He is a member of the Democracy Party (DEP) and has previously been the victim of detention, torture and death threats.

EXTERNAL (for general distribution) AI Index: EUR 44/32/94
Distr: UA/SC
UA 174/94 "Disappearance" / Fear for safety 3 May 1994
TURKEY Yavuz Y_lmaz, lawyer, aged 40
Kurdish lawyer Yavuz Y_lmaz has "disappeared" after being detained at his office
in Istanbul on 29 April 1994 by eight men in plain clothes. Amnesty
International fears for his safety.
According to office staff, the eight men introduced themselves as members of
the "political police" in Elaz__, eastern Turkey. They took Yavuz Yilmaz to
the Police Headquarters in Istanbul, where he was apparently held for one or
two days before being transferred to the Police Headquarters in Elaz__.
However, when his lawyer, his family and the deputy Remzi Kartal made inquiries,
the authorities denied that Yavuz Y_lmaz was being held.
Yavuz Y_lmaz, who is married with two children, was born in Karakoçan near
Elaz__. He worked in Karakoçan as a lawyer until August 1993. He is a member
of the Contemporary Lawyers' Association and of the Elaz__ Bar. He was president
of the local branch of HEP (People's Labour Party) from the party's foundation
until its closure in July 1993. He then became a member of the party's successor
DEP (Democracy Party), which like HEP is a party defending the rights and
interests of Turkey's Kurdish minority. In August 1991, Yavuz Y_lmaz was
detained for 68 days and reportedly seriously tortured. The State Security
Court in Erzincan then ordered his release.
In August 1993, Yavuz Y_lmaz was summoned to the Police Headquarters in Karakoçan
and allegedly told that he should leave the town or he would be killed, and
that this warning would only be issued once. He left his home town and has
since been living in Istanbul where he set up a lawyer's practice.
BACKGROUND INFORMATION
The Democracy Party (DEP) is the only legal Kurdish party in Turkey. Six out
of the 18 deputies which represent it in the Grand National Assembly had their
immunity lifted in March 1994 and are currently awaiting trial on sedition
charges which carry the death penalty. More than 60 leading officials and members
of HEP and DEP have been assassinated in the past two years in a wave of killings
which included the murder of parliamentary deputy Mehmet Sincar on 4 September
1993. None of these murders have been solved and the perpetrators punished.
Scores of DEP members have been detained on charges of making separatist
propaganda and supporting the guerrillas of the outlawed Kurdish Workers' Party
(PKK).
During 1993 and 1994 there has been a striking increase in reports of
"disappearances" - particularly in the southeastern provinces. Procedures laid
down in the Turkish Criminal Procedure Code for the prompt and proper
registration of detainees, and for notification of their families, are almost
universally ignored in the southeastern provinces where a State of Emergency
is in force, and increasingly disregarded in the cities in the rest of Turkey.
Lack of proper registration and notification is not only extremely distressing
for families, but creates conditions which facilitates "disappearances" and
torture. The European Committee for the Prevention of Torture (ECPT) and the
UN Committee against Torture (UN CAT), both of which are mechanisms of
international human rights instruments to which Turkey is a State Party, have
published reports to the effect that torture is widespread and systematic in
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Turkey.
Turkey has a Kurdish ethnic minority which is estimated to number some 10 million
people, living mainly in southeastern Turkey. Since 1984, when guerrillas of
the PKK started armed attacks against the security forces, more than 11,000
lives have been lost on both sides and among the civilian population in the
context of fighting throughout the entire region. A state of emergency continues
to be in force in 10 provinces in the region, but was lifted in Elaz__ province,
and the Emergency Legislation Governor in Diyarbakir has extraordinary powers
over three additional provinces.
RECOMMENDED ACTION: Please send telegrams/telexes/faxes/express and airmail
letters either in English or in your own language:
- expressing grave concern for the safety of lawyer Yavuz Y_lmaz who
"disappeared" after being detained at his office in Istanbul on 29 April and
his subsequent transfer to Elaz__ where the authorities deny holding him;
- urging that immediate steps are taken to establish his whereabouts;
- appealing that his interrogation should be conducted by the State Prosecutor
only, in accordance with current legislation covering the legal profession;
- seeking assurances that Yavuz Y_lmaz is not subjected to torture or any form
of ill-treatment;
- requesting to be informed of his whereabouts and any charges brought against
him.
APPEALS TO
1) Minister of Justice:
Mr Seyfi Oktay
Ministry of Justice
Adalet Bakanl___
06659 Ankara
Telegrams: Adalet Bakanligi, Ankara, Turkey
Faxes: +90 312 425 40 66
Salutation: Dear Minister
2) Minister of the Interior:
Mr Nahit Mente_e
_çi_leri Bakanl___
06644 Ankara, Turkey
Telegrams: Interior Minister, Ankara, Turkey
Faxes: +90 312 428 4346
Salutation: Dear Minister
3) Prime Minister:
Mrs Tansu Çiller
Ba_bakanl_k
06573 Ankara, Turkey
Telegrams: Prime Minister, Ankara, Turkey
Telex: 44061/44062/44063 bbmt tr; 42099 basb tr; 42875 bbk tr
Faxes: +90 312 417 04 76 PRIME MINISTER
+90 312 230 88 96 (attn: Prime Minister)
Salutation: Dear Prime Minister
COPIES OF YOUR APPEALS TO:
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President of the Parliamentary Human Rights Commission:
Mr Sabri Yavuz
_nsan Haklar_ Ara_t_rma Komisyonu Ba_kan_
TBMM
Ankara, Turkey
Faxes: +90 312 420 5394
and to diplomatic representatives of Turkey accredited to your country.
PLEASE SEND APPEALS IMMEDIATELY. Check with the International Secretariat,
or your section office, if sending appeals after 14 June 1994.

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