Humanitarian situation of the Kurdish refugees and displaced persons in

South-East Turkey and North Iraq


Doc 8131  

3 June 1998

Committee on Migration, Refugees and Demography

Rapporteur: Mrs Ruth-Gaby Vermot-Mangold, Switzerland, Socialist Group



This report seeks to understand the reasons for the large-scale displacement

of population of mainly Kurdish ethnic origin both within and from northern

Iraq and south-east Turkey and to assess their humanitarian situation and

needs. Concluding that the lack of security and difficult economic and

social conditions which characterise these regions have prompted such

population movements, the report recommends that confidence-building

measures be introduced in the framework of the Council of Europe programmes,

and that the Turkish Government take steps to bring about a peaceful

settlement of the armed conflict in which it is engaged in the south-east of

the country. Moreover, the report calls on the member states of the Council

of Europe to use their influence with the European Union to step up its

economic development aid in the region, and to increase both their

humanitarian aid to North Iraq and their efforts, through the United Nations

Security Council, to promote peace between the conflicting parties in that

region. The report also calls on the Committee of Ministers of the Council

of Europe to draw up a series of measures designed to combat the conditions

which foster clandestine migration in all its forms.


I. Draft recommendation


1. The Parliamentary Assembly recalls and reaffirms its Recommendation 1150

(1991) on the situation of the Iraqi Kurdish population and other persecuted

minorities, Recommendation 1151 (1991) on the reception and settlement of

refugees in Turkey, Resolution 1022 (1994) on the humanitarian situation and

needs of the displaced Iraqi Kurdish population, Recommendation 1348 (1997)

on the temporary protection of persons forced to flee their country,

Recommendation 1211 (1993) on clandestine migration: traffickers and

employers of clandestine migrants and Recommendation 1306 (1996) on

migration from the developing countries to the European industrialised



2. The Assembly notes that one of the acute problems that most of the member

countries of the Council of Europe are facing today is the general question

of clandestine migration due to the social, economic and demographic

differences between the developing and the industrialised countries and also

to humanitarian causes in the regions concerned.


3. The Assembly notes with great anxiety the precarious humanitarian

situation of the people of Kurdish and other origins in northern Iraq and in

the south-eastern provinces of Turkey. The lack of security and difficult

economic and social situation in these regions have resulted in large-scale

internal and external population displacement and movements.


4. The Assembly strongly condemns the violence perpetrated by the Kurdistan

Workers’ Party (PKK), which has contributed to population displacement and

movements, and urges this organisation to stop all armed activities. The

Assembly also condemns the evacuation and burning of Kurdish villages by the

Turkish armed forces, and considers that the operation of the village guard

system raises serious human rights concerns.


5. The Assembly is concerned that the number of asylum-seekers and illegal

migrants of Kurdish origin has increased in certain European countries.


6. The Assembly considers that the scale of the humanitarian plight of the

Kurds fully justifies the involvement of the Council of Europe and of other

relevant international organisations, and that all governments concerned

should be urged to take effective steps to improve the situation, and, in

the case of Turkey, to comply fully with the Council of Europe’s principles.


7. The Assembly underlines once more with great concern that the problem of

illegal trafficking in human beings also stirs up racism, xenophobia and



8. The Assembly stresses once more that although this phenomenon is of great

concern for receiving countries, it is also disturbing for the countries on

the transit route.


9. The Parliamentary Assembly therefore recommends that the Committee of


i. take steps to promote dialogue and reconciliation in the

provinces of south-eastern Turkey inhabited mainly by Kurdish

people, through appropriate action in the framework of the

programme of confidence-building measures, and in particular

through an immediate and bilateral cease-fire;

ii. instruct its appropriate committees to intensify their efforts

to remedy the concrete problems connected with migration movements

of Kurds;

iii. draw up a series of measures designed to combat the

conditions which foster clandestine migration in all its forms,

with provision for penalties for traffickers and employers who

exploit illegal immigrants, in consultation with the Budapest


iv. invite Turkey:

a. to stop using the armed forces against the civilian Kurdish


b. to expedite and intensify its efforts to promote the economic

and social development of the south-eastern provinces;

c. to sign and ratify the Framework Convention for the

Protection of National Minorities and the European Charter

for Regional and Minority Languages;

d. to adopt policies and take adequate measures to enable

Turkish citizens of Kurdish origin to exercise their cultural

and political rights;

e. to restore the rule of law in the south-east of the country,

and in particular to lift emergency rule in the south-eastern

provinces, to ensure effective protection of villages, to

exercise civilian control over military activity in the

region including the keeping of records and observance of

human rights, and to prosecute members of the armed forces

charged with human rights violations;

f. to abolish the village guard system;

g. to undertake additional effective measures aimed at the

reconstruction and revival of the economy in the

south-eastern provinces;

h. to take further steps to reconstruct schools and hospitals in

the area;

i. to implement, in cooperation with international humanitarian

organisations, a major programme with a view to encouraging

the return of the Kurdish population to their homes;

j. to ensure particular protection for returning women, children

and elderly people;

k. to present reconstruction projects to be financed by the

Council of Europe’s Social Development Fund, in the framework

of return programmes;

l. to adopt measures to integrate those displaced persons of

Kurdish origin who wish to settle in other parts of Turkey,

and provide them, as well as returnees, with compensation for

property damaged by the Turkish armed forces where the case


m. to grant access to the region for international humanitarian

organisations, and provide them with support from local


n. to continue to facilitate the transfer of supplies for

humanitarian purposes to Iraq;

o. to lift the geographical limitation to the 1951 Convention

relating to the status of refugees and its 1967 Protocol, and

in particular abstain from deportation of asylum-seekers

without prior consultation with the Office of the United

Nations High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR), and abolish

the 5-day-limit for making asylum applications;

p. to refrain from all military incursions into northern Iraq,

and seek an agreement with the Government of Iraq concerning

the security of refugees in that region;

v. urge the member states:

a. to encourage the strengthening of aid programmes for

development in the countries of origin and also in the

countries of transit with a view to providing increased

economic and technical assistance for migration-related

development projects;

b. to step up their humanitarian aid to northern Iraq through

the appropriate agencies;

c. to adhere scrupulously to the principle of non-refoulement in

accordance with their international obligations;

d. to offer temporary protection, in consultation with UNHCR, to

those who do not qualify for refugee status under the 1951

Convention relating to the status of refugees and its 1967

Protocol but who have been forced to flee because their lives

or safety were endangered;

e. to ensure that all asylum-seekers are treated with dignity

and sheltered in healthy conditions;

f. to continue efforts to conclude repatriation and readmission

agreements with the countries of origin and with the

countries of transit, provided that the people concerned are

not returned against their will;

vi. use its influence with the European Union:

a. to ensure that any action taken to strengthen border controls

or to combat clandestine trafficking do not infringe or

undermine international law on the protection of refugees;

b. to resume promised financial cooperation with a view to

fostering economic development in Turkey, particularly in its

south-eastern provinces, and step up its provision of

humanitarian aid to northern Iraq;

vii. set up, together with the European Union, a joint programme

of cooperation with Turkey aimed at providing assistance in

relation to the Kurdish people;

viii. use its influence with the United Nations Security Council

to obtain an effective lifting of sanctions on Iraq and more

intensive efforts to ensure peace between the parties concerned.


II. Draft order


1. The Assembly refers to its Recommendation * (1998) on the humanitarian

situation of the Kurdish refugees and displaced persons in South-East Turkey

and North Iraq.


2. The Assembly considers that it should play a more prominent role in

promoting peace and reconciliation in the Kurdish regions of south-eastern

Turkey and elsewhere. For this purpose, it instructs the appropriate

committees to study the question more actively within their own areas of

competence, and to organise an international parliamentary conference on the

Kurdish question in all its aspects with the participation of all parties



3. The Assembly instructs its Committee on the Honouring of Obligations and

Commitments by Member States of the Council of Europe to study the issue of

the Kurdish minority in the framework of the monitoring procedure concerning





III. Explanatory memorandum by Mrs Vermot-Mangold


1. Introduction

2. Situation in Turkey

a. Situation in the south-eastern region of the country

b. Internally displaced persons of Kurdish origin and

refugees from Turkey in Iraq

c. Prospects for return; position of the Turkish


d. Role of the international organisations

3. Situation in North Iraq

a. Assessment of the humanitarian situation and needs

b. Activities of the international humanitarian


4. Influx of Kurdish migrants and asylum-seekers in Europe

a. Recent increases

b. Causes

c. Response of the European Union

5. Conclusions

Appendix: Dissenting opinion of the Turkish members of the

Committee on Migration, Refugees and Demography presented by MM.

Dinçer and Mutman




1. Introduction


1. The Parliamentary Assembly has followed the humanitarian situation of

refugees and displaced persons of Kurdish origin with anxiety for many years

now. It has adopted a number of texts relating to the subject, in particular

Recommendation 1150 (1991) on the situation of the Iraqi Kurdish population

and other persecuted minorities and Resolution 1022 (1994) on the

humanitarian situation and needs of the displaced Iraqi Kurdish population.

Moreover, in Order No 460 (1991), the Assembly instructed its Committee on

Migration, Refugees and Demography to follow closely developments in the

Iraqi Kurdish refugees’ situation.


2. In addition, on 4 May 1992 the Committee on Migration, Refugees and

Demography was seized of a motion for a resolution on the situation of the

Kurds, which referred directly to the situation in North Iraq and in

South-East Turkey. In the preparation of the present report, the Rapporteur

visited Geneva on 20-21 November 1996 for meetings with the humanitarian

organisations concerned (UNHCR, ICRC, IFRC, UNICEF and the UN Human Rights



3. The Rapporteur’s intention was to visit the region concerned. On her

proposal, on 29 January 1997 the Committee on Migration, Refugees and

Demography set up an ad hoc committee for a fact-finding mission to Turkey

and Iraq, but the Bureau did not authorise the visit.


4. In order to gather more information, the Sub-Committee on Refugees

organised a parliamentary hearing on 17 November 1997 with the participation

of representatives of intergovernmental and non-governmental organisations

operating in the region. Unfortunately the Turkish delegation to the

Committee did not attend. The fact that the Turkish Government did not reply

to the invitation sent to it demonstrates its lack of consideration for the



5. During the January 1998 part session of the Assembly, Mrs Aguiar, the

then Chairperson of the Committee on Migration, Refugees and Demography, and

others, including the Rapporteur, reacting to the increasing number of

arrivals in Italy and Greece of migrants and asylum-seekers of Kurdish

origin, requested a debate under urgent procedure on the influx of migrants

and asylum-seekers of Kurdish origin in Europe. Since this request was

rejected by the Assembly, the Committee subsequently agreed that the

Rapporteur should also cover this aspect in her report on the humanitarian

situation of the Kurdish refugees and displaced persons.


6. Finally, it should be noted that a monitoring procedure in respect of

Turkey, under Order No 508 (1995) on the honouring of obligations and

commitments by member states of the Council of Europe, was opened in April

1996 on the basis of Assembly Recommendation 1298 (1996) on Turkey’s respect

of commitments to constitutional and legislative reforms, and that the

Committee on the Honouring of obligations and commitments by member states

of the Council of Europe is preparing a report which covers certain aspects

of the Kurdish question.


7. The Rapporteur is of the opinion that the dramatic humanitarian situation

of the Kurdish refugees and displaced persons in south-east Turkey and north

Iraq, as well as the influx of Kurdish asylum seekers in Europe, which is

one of its direct consequences, stem from the political problems in the

region. Thus it proved impossible to discuss, or make recommendations on how

to improve the humanitarian plight of the population concerned in

abstraction from the political causes.


2. Situation in Turkey

a. Situation in the south-eastern region of the country


8. Martial law was established in the south-eastern provinces of Turkey as

early as the 1970s in response to the activities of a variety of Kurdish and

leftist political movements, both armed and peaceful. However, serious armed

conflict in the region began in 1984, when the Kurdistan Workers’ Party

(PKK), attacked two police stations. The Turkish armed forces responded with

repression and the establishment of the village guard system (Koruculuk).


9. The village guards are a force of approximately 50 000 ethnic Kurdish

villagers armed and paid by the Government to fight the PKK. The village

guard system continues to raise the most serious human rights concerns

expressed on many occasions by human rights organisations including Amnesty

International and Human RightsWatch. In February 1997, Mr Unal Erkan, member

of the Turkish Parliament (True Path Party- DYP) and former governor of the

areas of South-East Turkey under emergency rule, stated that village guards

often operated outside the control of the gendarmerie, and that many

villagers faced pressure to enter the system.


10. In theory becoming a village guard is voluntary, but in practice refusal

is followed by reprisals by the security forces, ranging from detention of

villagers(1) to forced evacuations of whole villages. On the other hand,

joining the village guard system entails the risk of retaliation against the

whole village by the PKK. The overwhelming majority of the Kurdish

population in the region face such a dramatic alternative which allows

nobody to remain neutral and uninvolved.


11. The evacuation of villages refusing to join the village guard system is

carried out by the army with extreme brutality and no civilian supervision.

It is frequently accompanied by the destruction of property and further

violation of human rights such as sexual assault and humiliation, beatings

and extrajudicial executions.


12. The Turkish authorities until recently have denied responsibility for

these operations, claiming that the PKK was to blame for the destruction of

villages and that individuals had left voluntarily, or under pressure from

the PKK. However the complicity of the Turkish authorities was confirmed in

two recent rulings of the European Court of Human Rights: on 16 September

1996 in the case of Akdivar and others vs Turkey, and on 28 November 1997 in

the case of Mentes and others vs Turkey, in which Turkish security forces

were found guilty of burning houses in villages in south-eastern Turkey,

causing the villagers to flee.


13. In another case, that of Isiyok vs Turkey concerning the destruction of

a village, both parties accepted on 31 October 1997 a so-called friendly

settlement proposed by the European Commission of Human Rights, according to

which the Turkish authorities paid compensation to the applicants(2).


14. Undoubtedly, the PKK has some responsibility for the burning of

villages, in particular those run by village guards or refusing to support

the PKK. Attacks are often targeted against those whom the PKK accuses of

´  cooperating with the state ª such as civil servants, teachers and village

guard families. According to the Amnesty International Report 1997, armed

members of the PKK were responsible for more than 40 deliberate and

arbitrary killings in 1996. The victims included civilians, as well as

captured soldiers and village guards.


15. However, the responsibility of both parties, the PKK on the one hand,

and the Turkish armed forces on the other, should be viewed in appropriate

proportions. In the Rapporteur’s opinion the Turkish authorities bear more

blame for the uncontrolled escalation of violence in the region, first

because the provocative nature of their suppression of the rights of the

Kurdish minority lies at the origin of the conflict, and secondly because

they have at their disposal the whole machinery of the state, which they use

abusively against the Kurdish population in the region.


16. A step towards the clarification of this important question has been

undertaken by the Turkish Parliament. At the request of one of its members,

Mr Algan Hacaloglu of the Republican People’s Party (CHP), a former state

minister for human rights, the Turkish Parliament set up a Committee on

Migration in 1997 to investigate the causes of displacement and to provide

aid to the displaced.


17. On 28 July 1997, the Chairman of this Committee, Mr Seyit Hasim Hasimi,

held a press conference in Diyarbakir. He announced that forced evacuation

of villages and hamlets by the Turkish armed forces in the region had

resulted in large numbers of displaced people and potential refugees. He

confirmed that 364 742 inhabitants of 3 185 villages and hamlets had been

forced out since 1990 in the framework of the fight against terrorism. These

figures were publicly confirmed later by Mr Bülent Ecevit, Deputy Prime

Minister, who said that the villages had been emptied "for security

reasons". The US State Department cited 560 000 as "a credible estimate" of

the number of people deprived of their homes as a result of the evacuations.


18. According to Human Rights Watch the majority of villages and hamlets in

the region were forcibly emptied between 1993 and 1995. After that the

large-scale evacuations ceased, but smaller operations by the Turkish armed

forces continued in 1996 and 1997. The most probable reason for the lower

rate of evacuations is that there are now very few ´  frontline ª villages

left outside the village guard system and the process of depopulation is

virtually complete.


19. The tragic record of the region would not be complete without giving the

number of people killed in the conflict, which illustrates the state of

dreadful insecurity that prevails. According to Turkish military sources,

some 19 000 people have been killed since the PKK began its campaign in 1984

— 3 000 members of the security forces, 11 000 ´ terrorists ª and 5 000

civilians. In a speech in October 1995 President Demirel spoke of 20 663

dead and 13 577 injured. Kurdish sources speak of 35 000 dead, including at

least 5 000 civilians.


b. Internally displaced persons of Kurdish origin and refugees from Turkey

in Iraq


20. The dramatic situation in the south-eastern part of Turkey has resulted

in the forced displacement of the Kurdish population within the country and

outside Turkey. Exact figures for internal and external displacement are

impossible to obtain, as no exhaustive statistics are held on the subject.

The extent of these movements is so massive that certain human rights

organisations do not hesitate to speak of a deliberate policy of dispersal

of the Kurdish population carried out by the Turkish authorities.


21. Estimates of the number of internally displaced persons of Kurdish

origin in Turkey range, depending on the source, from 370 000 to 10 million.

The big discrepancy results from the difficulty to differentiate between

natural migration movements which may be observed in many countries and

which have mainly economic causes (eg rural depopulation), and forced

displacement. Whereas the Kurdish human rights organisations have a tendency

to include all people of Kurdish origin living outside south-east Turkey in

the category of forcibly displaced persons, the Turkish authorities limit

this number to dislodged inhabitants of destroyed villages and hamlets. The

exact definition of a displaced person with regard to the Kurdish population

is very difficult to establish. Individual decisions on migration are often

based on a number of factors. The armed conflict, general insecurity in the

region, economic instability: all these factors contribute to the

depopulation of the region, and it is nearly impossible, given the lack of

reliable statistics, to distinguish between forcibly displaced population

and voluntary migrants who have no intention to come back.


22. According to Mr Nezan, President of the Kurdish Institute in Paris, the

number of persons displaced within south-east Turkey over the last 20 years

amounts to 2.5-3 million. The population of Diyarbakir, for example, rose

from 380 000 in 1990 to 1 million in 1996. Concerning displacement

throughout the rest of Turkey, the figure is approximately 8 million, of

whom some 3 million are in Istanbul alone.


23. The majority of the displaced rural population of Kurdish origin now

live in urban centres in dramatic conditions and extreme poverty, creating

specific integration problems for local communities. The main problem is

usually a total lack of financial resources which would enable the displaced

population to lead a normal life in new surroundings. They have most often

been deprived of their property for which they have received no

compensation. They usually have no prospects for employment. Having no means

of subsistence they are compelled to live in shanty towns with no health or

social care. It is common that children are forced to work. Needless to say

these disastrous living conditions have resulted in an increase in crime, in

particular among young people, and growing support for radical movements.


24. According to Médecins sans Frontières, the vast majority of these

displaced persons are considered a population at risk from the public health

point of view. Primary health care is severely deficient with an almost

complete lack of medical services, which may be illustrated by the following

statistics: while the average number of consultations per person per year in

1992 was 2.4 for the whole of Turkey, it was 0 .26 in Diyarbakir. The infant

mortality rate, which was officially 60 per 1000 for the whole country in

1990, was 87 per 1000 in Diyarbakir and 98 per 1000 in Hakkari in the same

year. A number of communicable diseases such as typhoid, para-typhoid,

trachoma, brucellosis and amoebic dysentery are endemic throughout the

region. The vaccination coverage is low and decreasing. The nutritional

status of the displaced population is borderline.


25. Besides the internally displaced, there are also a number of Turkish

refugees of Kurdish origin who fled to North Iraq. Following the closure for

security reasons of the so-called Atrush A refugee camp, close to the

Turkish border, in 1995, and of Atrush B in December 1996 due to the

presence of the PKK, these refugees now find themselves in several groups.


26. One group of approximately 6 800 people who were refused asylum in Iraq,

were until recently in a kind of no-man’s land between the area of North

Iraq controlled by the Kurdistan Democratic Party (KDP) led by Mr Barzani,

staying in Ain-Sufni camp(3) under the protection of UNHCR, which provided

them with basic humanitarian assistance, including food, health care,

sanitation and temporary shelter. On 14 February 1997, due to the lack of

security, they left the camp, leaving behind only 70 people (who were

subsequently assisted by UNHCR and the local authorities to relocate to the

Governorate of Dohuk). They tried once again to enter Iraqi territory, but

were not admitted. At the time of drafting the present report, they were

camped near the Iraqi checkpoint, in the no man’s land, on the side of the

road and on the road itself, surrounded by areas infested with land mines.

They are provided with basic assistance by UNHCR, and awaiting the outcome

of the UNHCR’s negotiations both with the Iraqi Government and with the

KDP’s local Government in Dohuk, or some alternative solution in case the

Iraqi Government sticks to its negative position.


27. It should be noted that the majority of this group are women and

children and constitute a particularly vulnerable category of refugees. They

are more often in danger of human rights violations including threats to

their physical safety and sexual assault, and have specific health problems

and needs. Therefore the greatest importance should be attached to remedying

the present dramatic situation.


28. Another group of some 4 000 Turkish refugees of Kurdish origin are

located in 19 settlements in Dohuk governorate, and one settlement in Erbil

governorate. They have received humanitarian assistance from UNHCR which

also provides assistance to the host communities in order to facilitate



29. Moreover, some 1 000 refugees returned to Turkey in 1997. However, the

prospects for further voluntary repatriation are very limited.


30. The security of the refugees in Northern Iraq is highly unsatisfactory,

mainly because of Turkish military incursions and non-respect of the

so-called ´ security zone ª established after the 1991 Gulf War. In

addition, as a result of the recent Gulf crisis, Turkey is reported to have

set up a 15 km buffer zone in Northern Iraq. According to the newspaper

Sabah, as many as 30 000 Turkish troops have already been sent to Iraqi



31. A considerable number of Turkish citizens of Kurdish origin seek asylum

in European countries. This question is examined in Section 4 below.


c. Prospects for return; position of the Turkish authorities


32. According to figures released in March 1997 by the Turkish Ministry of

the Interior, approximately 20 000 internally displaced persons of Kurdish

origin returned to their homes in 108 villages and 90 hamlets in the

south-east region in 1996.


33. As mentioned above only some 1 000 of over 10 000 Turkish refugees of

Kurdish origin at present in Iraq returned in 1997. The others are waiting

for amnesty in Turkey, and for adequate reintegration assistance measures.

34. The new Prime Minister, Mr Mesut Yilmaz, who took office in July 1997,

and many of his ministers have made positive statements about improving the

situation. Shortly after taking up his duties, Deputy Prime Minister Bulent

Ecevit led a delegation to Diyarbakir, the centre of Turkey’s

ethnically-Kurdish regions, to announce job creation programmes, housing for

the forcibly displaced and increased education opportunities. The aim of the

Turkish authorities is to establish 400 regional schools before 2000.

Special premiums are paid to teachers willing to come to the region, but out

of 6144 teachers designated to teach in the region in 1997, 3173 have

already resigned. Since 1992, 122 teachers have been killed and 17 wounded.

2076 schools are closed because the villagers or tutors have left. 117 000

students cannot attend school.


35. All these declarations seem to point to a new policy in south-east

Turkey. It should be noted, however, that already in the past,

representatives of newly established governments have made promises and

declarations concerning the Kurdish population, which have not been

subsequently observed. The reason seems to be the lack of civil control over

the army and the security forces which, in practice, constitute the only

authority in the region. Therefore, it is necessary to judge the Government

according to its actions.


36. For the time being however conditions in the region do not allow any

large-scale returns to be envisaged. The main reason is continuing lack of

security. The armed conflict in south-eastern Turkey between the security

forces and the PKK is in its 14th year with both sides committing serious

abuses including torture, extrajudicial killings, and indiscriminate burning

of property. Although at present much of the fighting has moved to remote

mountain areas or to northern Iraq, nevertheless repatriation would still

mean putting lives at risk.


37. Another serious problem results from the disastrous economic and social

situation of the whole region. Systematic destruction of the infrastructure,

economic resources, livestock, crops, houses, tractors etc. have made large

areas of the region uninhabitable. The region has always suffered from a

lower level of economic and social development than other parts of Turkey;

the conflict has much increased this gap. The rate of illiteracy is 35 % in

the Kurdish regions, whereas at the national level it is 19,3%; over 60% of

the Kurdish population in the south-east region live below the poverty line

compared to approximately 30 % in other regions, and the mortality rate is

50% higher than in other parts of the country. Before mass return could be

foreseen, measures to revive the local economy would have to be undertaken.


38. In addition there is a food embargo in the province of Tunceli, and

partly in Diyarbakir and Bingol provinces, that limits the amount of food

villagers can purchase, allegedly to cut off the PKK’s access to supplies.


39. Although the state of emergency begun in 9 south-eastern provinces in

1984 was lifted in 3 provinces in October 1997, the state of emergency

decree was renewed for 4 months for all provinces in November.


40. One may consider all the problems mentioned above as symptoms of a more

general political conflict. It must be remembered that a population of 13.2

million (22% of the total population in Turkey) is, despite claims to the

contrary by the Turkish Government, denied the right to maintain its

cultural identity and traditions, to use its language, and to develop its

own links. The position of the Turkish authorities in this respect has not

changed: the Turkish Constitution does not recognize distinctions as to race

or ethnic origin. This attitude seems to justify the suppression of

minorities’ cultural expression.


41. The Constitution of Turkey prohibits the use of a ´language prohibited

by lawª (Art. 26 and 28). In fact there are at least 13 laws which forbid

the use of the Kurdish language and the expression of Kurdish culture.

Articles 8 of the anti-terrorist law and 311, 312 and 159 of the Penal Code

restricting freedom of opinion are in force. In particular Article 8 which

outlaws advocacy of separatism continues to be used to prosecute and

imprison people for peacefully expressing their opinions. Articles 168, 169

and 312 of the Turkish Penal Code are used to prosecute writers, journalists

and political activists who challenge the government’s policies in the

south-east. Human rights defenders in the area have been tried on manifestly

fabricated charges of membership of, or support for, armed opposition

groups(4). Since 1995 the European Court of Human Rights has announced as

many as 12 judgements regarding violations of human rights of people of

Kurdish origin by the Turkish authorities.


42. The detention of 6 Kurdish members of parliament (Mr Sirri Sakik, Mr

Ahmet Türk, Mr Mahmut Alinak, Mrs Leyla Zana, Mr Mehmet Hatip Dicle and Mr

Orhan Dogan) is a well known fact, now being examined by the European Court

of Human Rights(5).


43. All these violations constitute part of the broader question of the rule

of law and human rights. They should therefore be carefully examined by the

Monitoring Committee.


d. Role of the international organisations


44. The main problem encountered by the humanitarian organisations is lack

of access to the south-east of Turkey. For example, Médecins sans Frontières

is systematically refused the possibility to give medical assistance in the

region. The International Committee of the Red Cross (ICRC) has no access to

Turkey, therefore no possibility to monitor compliance with international

humanitarian law or to visit detainees. At the hearing on 17 November 1997,

Mr Kilic from the Red Cross of Kurdistan (not affiliated with the

International Federation of Red Cross and Red Crescent Societies) accused

the Turkish Government of not admitting to the region lorries with medicines

sent by this strictly humanitarian organisation.


45. Despite these difficulties a number of humanitarian organisations run

projects mainly in the nutritional, health and educational fields. For

instance UNICEF, in co-operation with the authorities and local civil

society, has introduced income-generating projects and training programmes.


46. Other organisations assist displaced persons in other parts of the

country and refugees outside Turkey (in particular in Iraq). An interesting

example of such activities is the project carried out since 1994 by the

Helsinki Federation for Human Rights. It aims at improving interaction and

co-operation between local NGOs and those municipalities in Turkey which

receive large numbers of Kurdish displaced persons, and therefore are faced

with the problems of integration. These efforts have been successful to some

extent, which may be illustrated by the example of an Organisation called

´ Help and Solidarity with the Migrants ª, effective in its co-operation

with local authorities.


3. Situation in North Iraq

a. Assessment of the humanitarian situation and needs


47. The failure of the Kurds to establish a stable government in the

exclusion zone in North Iraq after they took control of the area following

the Gulf War was followed in 1994 by armed conflict between the two main

Kurdish parties, the Patriotic Union of Kurdistan (PUK) and the Kurdistan

Democratic Party (KDP). External pressure and support for both opponents

resulting from national rivalries in the region largely contributed to the

outbreak of the hostilities. Over 3 000 fighters and civilians were

reportedly killed as successive cease-fires were broken by one party or

another. By the end of 1995, the PUK controlled 70 % of Iraqi Kurdistan,

including the seat of government, Arbil. Conflict continued throughout 1996

and 1997 despite US attempts to bring about a lasting cease-fire.


48. The subsequent incursions of the Turkish armed forces into North Iraq to

seek and destroy armed elements of the Kurdistan Workers’ Party (PKK) and

those of Iraqi Government forces in support of the KDP add to the insecurity

of the region.


49. There is no effective rule of law in the region. Serious violations

including the detention of political opponents, torture, executions

following summary trials, unlawful killings, execution of prisoners etc have

been committed by the main parties since 1991. Moreover the area is infested

with anti-personnel mines.


50. The Kurds in North Iraq suffer a double embargo: that imposed by the

United Nations on Iraq in 1990 and a partial internal embargo imposed by the

Government of Iraq. Security Council Resolution 986(1995) (´oil for foodª)

has been implemented since December 1996, but has been subject to delay.

Consequently, the Kurdish population in the region live in extreme poverty.

It is to be hoped that the benefits resulting from the doubling of the sales

limit in February 1998 will reach them.


51. Even if humanitarian supplies are exempted from the United Nations

embargo, these are still subject to piecemeal approval by the UN Sanctions

Committee, and there is a particular problem about deliveries due to

insecurity on the roads, including shelling of convoys. Moreover, UNHCR

encounters difficulties in shipping supplies (tents etc) from the UNHCR

store in Alexandruna, Turkey, since the Turkish Government believes this

material will be used to assist Kurds of Turkish origin.


52. The population of North Iraq is dependent on foreign humanitarian

assistance. The economy is in a disastrous state as a consequence of the

political and military situation. The weakness of the economy is

characterised by lack of infrastructure and financial resources.


53. The health and nutrition situation in North Iraq remains critical: child

mortality is very high, malnutrition is common, the health of the whole

population is deteriorating. An outbreak of diphtheria has been reported.

Deterioration in the quality of drinking water results in an increase in

diseases like typhoid and hepatitis. The problem is aggravated by the

dilapidated state of hospital infrastructure, the lack of equipment,

medicines and staff.


54. Renewed armed conflict, sustained insecurity and recurrent displacement

of the population have created additional barriers to children’s access to

school, which is a chronic problem in the whole of the country. The number

of street children is on the rise, and many other children are out of

school. The educational level in the north is thus steadily deteriorating.


55. The number of internally displaced people of Kurdish origin in November

1997 stood at over 80 000. They were staying in collective townships, in

prefabricated housing or in abandoned public buildings. The main problem of

this rural population is the lack of land: the majority of their village

lands are still mined or in front line or border areas. Therefore they are

totally dependent on continuing relief.


56. On 4 December 1997 about 20 000 Turkish soldiers entered Iraqi

Kurdistan. This was Turkey’s 57th incursion into North Iraq, and obviously

contributed to a new wave of displacement of the Kurdish population. Figures

are not available.


57. The Turkish military operations undertaken in 1997 considerably slowed

the pace of returns of people displaced during earlier fighting. Moreover

every new incursion or operation brought about new uncontrolled movements of

population, creating considerable dislocation to rehabilitation programmes

as relief agencies sought to assist those directly affected.


58. Apart from the internally displaced population of Kurdish origin there

are 22 600 Iranian refugees of Kurdish origin in North Iraq. Of these, 3 700

are assisted by UNHCR, in collaboration with other agencies and local NGOs.

The only durable solution for these refugees which has been envisaged so far

is resettlement in third countries. Over 1 500 were resettled to Sweden,

Finland, Denmark, the Netherlands, New Zealand and Switzerland in 1997.

UNHCR plans 2 000 resettlements for 1998.


59. The situation of the Turkish refugees of Kurdish origin in North Iraq

was described in Section 2 above.


60. Recent developments in the Gulf area, and in particular Turkish

preparations to create a so called ´ buffer zone ª in North Iraq compelled

many people from the concerned areas to seek protection either in Turkey or

in Iraq. In their attempts to enter the territory of one of these countries

they encounter serious problems.


61. It should be mentioned that the Turkish authorities carry out forcible

returns of asylum-seekers to their country of origin, including Iraq and

Iran. These refoulements, criticised by UNHCR and Amnesty International,

result from inflexibility of the asylum procedure in Turkey which allows

deportation of asylum seekers who do not submit their applications to the

authorities within five days of their arrival in the country. In addition

persons entering Turkish territory illegally must submit their application

for asylum at the border city. Due to the lack of information and also

ignorance of these rules on the part of local authorities, asylum-seekers

are not aware of these rules, or are reluctant to contact local authorities.

Turkey applies the geographical limitation to the 1951 Geneva Convention and

1967 Protocol, which means that all non-European asylum applicants are

referred to UNHCR. Nevertheless, Turkey is bound by the principle of

non-refoulement under international law.


b. Activities of the international humanitarian organisations


62. The United Nations remains committed to the protection of the Kurdish

region of North Iraq in accordance with UN Security Council Resolution 688,

and implements the programme ´ Provide Comfort ª through the intermediary of

its agencies, NGOs and national institutions. The Office of the UN

Humanitarian Coordinator in Iraq is responsible for assisting internally

displaced persons, together with ICRC, WFP, United Nations Children’s Fund

(UNICEF) and some NGOs.


63. UNICEF is the lead humanitarian agency for North Iraq, under overall

United Nations Department of Humanitarian Affairs coordination from Baghdad.

UNICEF has developed a map of all human settlements in North Iraq, to show

access to basic services, health, education, water, electricity etc. This

allows resources to be distributed fairly and according to need, and is

especially useful in implementing Security Council Resolution 986 (1995)

(´oil for foodª).


64. UNHCR is mainly concerned with refugees from Turkey and Iran, although

it also helps internally displaced persons in the framework of inter-agency

co-operation. The scale of efforts undertaken by UNHCR may be illustrated by

the following figures: in late 1996 about 119 000 were assisted in their

return to North Iraq from Iran, while in 1997 the number amounted to 8 000.

These operations were carried out in co-operation with the Government of

Iraq and the local authorities in the North.


65. The International Federation of Red Cross and Red Crescent Societies

(IFRC) supports the relief work throughout Iraq of the Iraqi Red Crescent

Society, which has a branch in Suleimanyah. Although North Iraq has been a

battlefield for a number of armed groups, those controlling the area have

been in general supportive of the efforts of the Iraqi Red Crescent to

establish and operate branches. The most recent relief work started in the

aftermath of the Gulf war in 1991. The Iraqi Red Crescent, supported by the

Federation, has been carrying out a large scale operation targeting three

areas: distribution of food to families, nutritional feeding programme for

children, and distribution of medicines and medical supplies to hospitals.

Northern Iraq receives 27 % of total assistance provided by IFRC for Iraq.


66. The Kurdistan Red Crescent Society, created by the PUK in 1993, is now

mainly active among the Iraqi Kurdish diaspora outside North Iraq. It has

projects in the social, health and educational fields.


67. ICRC has been present in North Iraq, including Arbil, Dohuk and

Suleimanyah since 1991. Apart from assisting the internally displaced and

visiting prisoners, it is in the process of rehabilitating the water

distribution and treatment system in Iraq. ICRC has also just opened an

orthopaedic centre in Arbil (there is another in Mosul run by the Iraqi Red

Crescent) to help the large number of amputees, many of them victims of

anti-personnel mines.


68. Insufficient and unreliable data make it difficult to assess the joint

efforts of national institutions, NGOs and UN agencies. However, given the

overall highly precarious situation in the region, the relief and

rehabilitation programmes carried out by UN agencies and by local and

foreign NGOs — like Oxfam and Save the Children Fund from the United Kingdom

— have been quite successful.


4. Influx of Kurdish migrants and asylum-seekers in Europe

a. Recent increases


69. For many years Turkish or Iraqi migrants of Kurdish origin have been

arriving in Europe. Their number is estimated at 3 million, but precise

statistical evidence is hard to come by for a number of reasons, including

the fact that migration statistics are broken down by national rather than

ethnic origin. A significant number of Kurdish migrants are not taken into

account in any statistics because of their illegal status.


70. Over recent months several member states have reported a significant

increase in the number of ethnic Kurds, mostly of Iraqi nationality,

arriving as illegal migrants and asylum-seekers, and this despite the

overall downward trend since the peak year 1992. Most of them transit

through Turkey, and pay large sums of money to traffickers connected with

organised crime rings.


71. Since December 1997 there has been a surge in the number of illegal

landings by such migrants on the coasts of Italy, as well as Greece. Some of

these have sought asylum in the countries of arrival, others have expressed

the wish to continue their journey to other European countries with already

substantial Kurdish communities.


72. According to the Italian Ministry of the Interior, the total number of

ethnic Kurds having landed on Italy’s shores illegally from 1 July 1997 to 1

January 1998 was 2,436. The number of ethnic Kurds whose asylum applications

had been registered between 1 January 1992 and 31 December 1997 (not

including the 26-27 December landing) was 763. Of these, 528 (69%) were of

Iraqi nationality, 205 (27%) were of Turkish nationality, 17 were Iranians,

11 Syrians, 1 Palestinian and 1 Sudanese. Of these asylum applications, 3

had been presented in 1992, 33 in 1993, 43 in 1994, 172 in 1995, 131 in 1996

and 381 in 1997.


73. According to available figures, the total number of Turkish nationals

who applied for asylum in Greece in 1997 was 172 (1996: 257), while the

number of Iraqi nationals was 3,808 (1996: 993). For the last quarter of

1997 the total number of Turkish asylum seekers was 23 and Iraqi

asylum-seekers 1,421.


74. Increased numbers of asylum-seekers were reported in the second half of

1997 and the beginning of 1998 notably in the following countries: Denmark,

France, Germany, the Netherlands, Sweden, Switzerland and the United



75. Germany is a pole of attraction for Kurdish migrants arriving in Europe

because of the Kurdish community of between 450,000 and 600,000, 80% of whom

are Turkish Kurds. There are around 100,000 Kurds in France and between

120,000 and 130,000 in the Benelux countries. Greece, Italy and France allow

the Kurds to continue their journey north as long as they do not stop.


b. Causes


76. The precise causes of the increase in influx of migrants and

asylum-seekers of Kurdish origin movements are hard to pinpoint. The

dramatic humanitarian situation described earlier in the report obviously

constitutes an important incentive for migration. Further reasons are the

lack of economic prospects and discriminatory policies in both Iraq and

Turkey towards the Kurdish minority.


77. On 6 January 1998 the President of the Turkish Human Rights Association,

Mr Akin Birdal, issued a statement to the effect that policies pursued over

decades in Turkey had made this massive migration inevitable. The internal

migration which had been experienced over the past 5-6 years had now turned

abroad. Those forced to migrate faced serious unresolved problems, with

regard to accommodation, nutrition, work, health and education. The recent

migrations showed that the Kurdish question had now become an international

issue, rather than a problem internal to Turkey. It was a human rights

problem, thus a problem for the international community.


78. Mr Kendal Nezan, Director of the Kurdish Institute in Paris, who

contributed to the hearing on the humanitarian situation of the Kurdish

refugees and displaced persons in South East Turkey and North Iraq organised

by the Assembly's Sub-Committee on Refugees on 17 November 1997, said in an

interview published in Le Monde (8 January 1998) that, given that Turkey was

virtually a police state, it was inconceivable that so many Iraqi and

Turkish refugees could leave Turkey without the state apparatus being

accomplice to the fact, in connivance with the Turkish mafia. Not only was

there money to be made through trafficking, but it fitted in perfectly with

the policy of depopulating Kurdistan. This policy amounted to cultural

genocide. Some 7 million out of a total Kurdish population officially

estimated at 12 million Kurds in Turkey, but more likely 15 to 20 million,

had been displaced. 4000 members of the intelligentsia had been assassinated

and thousands more imprisoned or forced to leave.


79. The reason for the recent surge in departures from South East Turkey,

according to Mr Nezan, was that the hopes for greater autonomy that its

Kurdish inhabitants had pinned on the Refah (Welfare) Party, which was based

on the fraternal religion of Islam, had been dashed by the resignation of

the Prime Minister, Mr Erbakan, and the substantial loss of influence of the

Kurdistan Workers' Party (PKK).


80. As for the Iraqi Kurds, who had left in greater numbers, they also saw

no future, fearing the return of the Iraqi administration in the North, and

disillusioned by the fighting between the main rival Kurdish factions and by

repeated Turkish military incursions. For the most part these were young

professionals. Some 6,000 had left in 1996 following the incursion into the

"exclusion zone" by Iraqi forces in support of the Kurdistan Democratic

Party (KDP) in their fight against the Patriotic Union of Kurdistan (PUK). A

few hundred of these had worked for the United States Central Intelligence

Agency, but most had simply worked for non-governmental organisations and

feared being considered CIA agents.


81. The Rapporteur has received a statement on "illegal trafficking of human

beings" from the Turkish Permanent Representation to the Council of Europe

deploring this "morally repugnant crime" often linked to "extremist and

terrorist groups", specifically to the PKK [Kurdistan Workers’ Party] which,

according to the statement, finances its operations through extortion, arms

and drugs smuggling and trafficking in migrants. Being a Turkish national of

Kurdish origin, the statement continued, was not sufficient to be considered

subject to discrimination or persecution as shown by several decisions of

the German Administrative Courts and the decision of the European Commission

on Human Rights in the case of A.G. against Sweden (application No.

27776/95). In any case, it was difficult to verify the identity and country

of origin of many of the migrants concerned. The root cause of the recent

inflow was the economic situation, especially the high unemployment, in

northern Iraq and southern Turkey. This was mainly attributable to the

economic embargo imposed on Iraq. That their main motive was economic could

be judged from the fact that most of the migrants did not ask for political

asylum. Turkey was ready to co-operate against all forms of trafficking in

human beings, and had concluded security co-operation agreements with 30

countries including Italy. The problem could only be solved through dialogue

and co-operation between the interested countries.


82. The Turkish Government has criticised the Italian Government for its

readiness to consider asylum applications from Kurds favourably, asserting

that it was thereby encouraging illegal migration for economic ends. The

Italian Government responded by requesting a Turkish commitment to put an

end to illegal departures and to deal with the root causes of the problem.


83. Both the Office of the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees

(UNHCR) and the European Council on Refugees and Exiles (ECRE) have reacted

to the increased flow of Kurdish migrants expressing their concern, and

calling on the states concerned to investigate asylum applications case by



c. Response of the European Union


84. On 12-13 December 1997, the Luxembourg European Council asked the

Justice/Home Affairs Council to work out and rapidly implement an action

plan in response to the massive influx of Iraqi migrants.


85. On 7 January 1998 the European Commission reviewed the situation and

called on member states to step up the harmonisation of asylum procedures

and to respond favourably to its proposal for a Joint Action on Temporary

Protection. It noted Italy's position on asylum and current immigration law

reform. It considered how best to use its technical and financial resources

in such emergency situations with a view to strengthening external border

controls and with regard to the delivery of humanitarian aid and measures to

address the root causes of the crisis.


86. On 8 January 1998 police chiefs and senior officials from Austria,

Belgium, France, Germany, Greece, Italy, the Netherlands and Turkey met in

Rome and reached agreement on ways to combat illegal immigration "at

preventive and repressive level". Including intensified surveillance and

control of external borders and land and sea routes, thorough investigations

of suspected criminal organisations involved in trafficking of migrants, and

their assets, greater co-operation regarding policing of readmission

agreements, more intensive collection, storage and exchange of fingerprints

of illegal immigrants, increased liaison and sharing of information etc.


87. On 15 January 1998 the European Parliament adopted a Resolution on

Kurdish refugees and on the position of the European Union. While expressing

support for the humanitarian approach adopted by the Italian Government

towards the asylum-seekers, the Parliament called among other things for a

common Union policy on immigration and refugees, notably the rapid adoption

of the Convention on external border controls; a Commission proposal for

burden sharing; intensification of the fight against trafficking in

migrants; and an international initiative to find a political solution to

the Kurdish problem.


88. The Action Plan requested by the Luxembourg European Council was adopted

by the General Affairs Council (Ministers of Foreign Affairs) on 26 January

1998. It contains the following main elements: improved analysis of the

causes and origins of the influx, development of contacts with the

Government of Turkey and with UNHCR, ensuring that humanitarian aid makes an

effective contribution, effective application of asylum procedures,

preventing abuse of asylum procedures, tackling the involvement of organised

crime, combating illegal immigration, ensuring coherent and co-ordinated

implementation, monitoring and review.


89. The 46-point Action Plan has raised some criticism from the human rights

organisations pointing out that it makes no mention of obstacles encountered

by asylum-seekers trying to use legitimate means to flee from persecution,

such as strict visa requirements and heavy fines imposed on airlines which

transport passengers without the required entry documents. Moreover the

Action Plan does not mention the fact that Iraqi Kurds may not apply for

refugee status in Turkey as a result of the geographical limitation to its

application of the 1951 Geneva Convention and 1967 Protocol. Finally, the

Action Plan does not propose alternative forms of protection for Turkish

Kurds even though the Council acknowledges the causes of their flight.


90. The situation was reviewed by the Justice/Home Affairs Council on 19

March 1998, and by the General Affairs Council on 30 March. The latter

agreed that overall implementation of the Action Plan was proceeding

satisfactorily, and welcomed the co-operation being developed by the

European Union with Turkey and with the UNHCR.


5. Conclusions


91. Concerning the situation in Turkey, recognition of the rights of the

Kurdish minority is a precondition for a return to peace in the south-east

of the country. The Kurdish population should have the right to use and

sustain their natural language and cultural traditions which is entirely in

accordance with the principles of the Council of Europe’s Framework

Convention for the Protection of National Minorities and the European

Charter for Regional and Minority Languages. Therefore the Turkish

Government should adopt policies and take adequate measures to enable

Turkish citizens of Kurdish origin to exercise their cultural and political

rights as a minority.


92. Effective restoration of the rule of law in the south-east of the

country is a condition without which no mass return of displaced people and

refugees can be envisaged. To this end, emergency rule in the south-eastern

provinces should be lifted. The authorities should ensure effective

protection of villages. At the same time control over military activity

should be exercised by the Government. This includes the keeping of records

and observance of human rights (medical examinations, respect for rules

etc), as well as prosecution of members of the armed forces for human rights

violations. The village guard system should be abolished, as it is highly

abusive. At present there is no civil control over it.


93. Effective measures aiming at the reconstruction and revival of the

economy in the region are indispensable for mass returns. The Government’s

declarations in this respect are most welcome, but they must be followed by

concrete action. Possible loans from the Social Development Fund, if

granted, could be used to finance the reconstruction of village housing as

part of a major programme of reconstruction and investment with a view to

the internationally monitored return of the Kurdish population to their

homes in the South-East.


94. Measures should also be foreseen to integrate those displaced persons

who wish to settle in other parts of Turkey. Villagers whose property has

been damaged by the Turkish armed forces should be provided with



95. Humanitarian organisations should be granted access to the region, and

provided with support from local authorities. Also the transfer of supplies

for humanitarian purposes to Iraq should not be hindered.


96. The Turkish Government should lift the geographical limitation to the

1951 Geneva Convention and its 1967 Protocol. In particular no deportation

of asylum-seekers should be carried out without prior consultation with

UNHCR in order to find out whether the persons in question have been found

to be persons of concern to UNHCR. Abolishing the 5-day-limit for making

asylum applications — which may result in violations of the principle of

non-refoulement — is essential.


97. An agreement between Turkey and Iraq concerning the security of refugees

in North Iraq is a matter of urgency. The Turkish military incursions into

the territory of Iraq should be stopped.


98. The Government of Iraq should stop all military incursions to the

northern part of the country. It should also be urged to allow entry to the

Kurdish refugees seeking asylum on its territory.


99. Humanitarian assistance for the population of Kurdish origin in Iraq

should be stepped up, and the Government of Iraq should lift the embargo on

the North, and co-operate fully in the implementation of Security Council

Resolution 986 (1995) ("oil for food") ensuring that humanitarian relief

also reaches the North.


100. The situation in South-East Turkey and North Iraq is a direct cause of

growing numbers of migrants of Kurdish origin arriving in Europe. Although

many of them undoubtedly have economic motives for leaving their countries,

many are in genuine need of international protection. The Assembly must urge

all member states to ensure that they adhere scrupulously to the principle

of non-refoulement, as required by the 1951 Convention relating to the

Status of Refugees and its 1967 Protocol. In deciding to examine

applications for asylum on a case-by-case basis, the Italian Government is

to be congratulated on fulfilling its international commitments and acting

in line with Resolution (67) 14 of the Committee of Ministers which asks the

member states to "act in a particularly liberal and humanitarian spirit in

relation to persons who seek asylum on their territory".


101. In this spirit, those member states concerned are urged to offer

protection to all those asylum-seekers deemed not to meet the 1951

Convention criteria for refugee status but who have been forced to flee

because their lives and safety were seriously threatened.


102. The Assembly should also urge all member states to ensure that

salubrious conditions are maintained in their reception facilities for

refugees and asylum-seekers and that these are treated with dignity at all



103. As for the question of clandestine migration and trafficking, the

Parliamentary Assembly in its Recommendation 1211 (1993) on clandestine

migration: traffickers and employers of clandestine migrants called on the

Committee of Ministers to draw up a Convention designed to address the

problem of clandestine migration. However, the Committee of Ministers

replied that such matters were best dealt with by others. No other body has

since undertaken this work in the wider Europe, and it is time for it to



104. While the European Parliament's Resolution on the Kurdish refugees and

on the policy of the European adopted on 15 January 1998 is to be welcomed,

all steps to harmonise migration and refugee policies within the Union

should be carefully coordinated with third European countries on a

multilateral basis in the framework of the Council of Europe. The European

Union’s Action Plan adopted on 26 January 1998 is also generally welcome.

However, it must not result in any attempt to prevent the departure from

their countries of those who may wish to apply for asylum abroad on the

grounds of well-founded fear of persecution.


105. Moreover, the strengthening of border controls in Europe must go hand

in hand with the implementation of a preventive policy consisting in

increasing development assistance designed to alleviate the poverty which

generates migration, and in stepping up the promotion of human rights,

democracy and the rule of law.


106. In this connection, the Assembly should play a more prominent role in

promoting peace and reconciliation in the Kurdish regions of south-eastern

Turkey and elsewhere. For this purpose, the Assembly’s Committees should

more actively study the question within their own areas of competence. In

particular, the Monitoring Committee should continue to examine the Kurdish

question in the framework of its monitoring procedure in respect of Turkey.


107. Finally, the Assembly should organise an international conference on

the Kurdish question in all its aspects, from political to cultural.





Dissenting opinion of the Turkish members of the Committee on Migration,

Refugees and Demography

Presented by Mr Dinçer and Mr Mutman


I. Introduction


The Turkish members of the Committee on Migration, Refugees and Demography

disagree with the content of the report, entitled "The humanitarian

situation of the Kurdish refugees and displaced persons in South-East Turkey

and North Iraq" for the following reasons:

* The report deals with separate subjects at one time.

* The report attaches wrong priorities to subjects which do not have

relevance within the mandate specified for the study.

* The report contains false elements and insufficient information.


For all these reasons the conclusions reached in the report are wrong and



II. The content of the report in general


The report is a reflection of what the rapporteur seems to have in mind with

regard to Turkey. It is drafted in such a manner that it is contrary to the

principle of impartiality, which should govern our work in the committee,

and the requirements of objectivity and sincerity in dealing with issues

entrusted to us.


The content of the report does not conform with the mandate given to prepare

this study.


The mandate is based on Assembly Order No. 460 (1991), which required the

monitoring of developments with regard to "the situation of the Iraqi

Kurdish population and other persecuted minorities", which was felt

necessary following the first Gulf crisis in 1991, which also led the

Assembly to adopt two recommendations with regard to the humanitarian

consequences of the Gulf crisis. These were Recommendation 1150 on the

situation of the Iraqi Kurdish population and other persecuted minorities

and Recommendation 1151 on the reception and settlement of refugees in



In the follow-up to Order No. 460 (1991) the Assembly debated the issue

again in January 1994 and adopted Resolution 1022 (1994) on the humanitarian

situation and needs of the displaced Iraqi Kurdish population, in which

along with the Kurds in northern Iraq, the Turcomans, the Assyrians and even

the Marsh Arabs in the south were given due consideration.


All these Assembly texts refer only to the situation in northern Iraq, with

a view to finding remedies to the humanitarian situation of the Kurds in

particular, but also the Turcomans, the Assyrians and even the Marsh Arabs

in the south.


The only text which tries to incorporate Turkey into the picture is a 1992

motion for a resolution tabled by Mr Eisma (and others) entitled "The

situation of the Kurds". The Bureau referred this motion to the Committee on

Migration, Refugees and Demography. The committee appointed Mr Eisma as

rapporteur but no follow-up was given until

Mrs Vermot-Mangold volunteered to take over from Mr Eisma in August 1995.


On the other hand, during the January 1998 part-session, the Assembly voted

against a request for the examination under "urgent procedure" of an item

entitled "Influx of migrants and asylum seekers of Kurdish origin in

Europe". This request stemmed from the arrival of two ships of migrants in

Italy through illegal means in December 1997.


The Committee on Migration, Refugees and Demography, during its meeting of

29 January 1998, decided to combine this item with the results of the

"hearing" held in Paris on 17 November 1997 on "the humanitarian situation

of the Kurdish refugees and displaced persons in South-East Turkey and North



Notwithstanding the importance of the problem of clandestine migration for

Europe, which definitely requires the effective co-operation of all parties

involved, the aforementioned events, which led the Bureau to request the

Assembly to take up the issue under urgent procedure, were seized as an

opportunity to justify the long-lasting efforts to bring the so-called

"Kurdish question" onto the agenda.


The present report is nothing but the product of this attempt.


Apart from the introductory and the concluding parts, the report is composed

of three main sections under the following headings:

* "Situation in Turkey" (39 paragraphs, plus 13 paragraphs which deal

with Turkey in the following sections);

* "Situation in North Iraq" (15 paragraphs, of which 7 paragraphs are

exclusively on Turkey);

* "Influx of Kurdish migrants and asylum seekers in Europe" (22

paragraphs, of which 6 paragraphs are exclusively on Turkey).


The above breakdown alone is sufficient to indicate that this report deals

almost exclusively with Turkey.


Because of its content and the context in which it was prepared, this text

cannot be accepted by the Turkish parliamentarians.


III. Comments on the report section by section

1. Introductory section

It is interesting to note that in paragraph 1, while there are references to

all relevant Assembly texts, there is no mention of Assembly Recommendation

1151 on "the reception and settlement of refugees in Turkey". It should be

mentioned because this recommendation recognises the efforts made by Turkey

to remedy the humanitarian situation of the Kurds fleeing from northern Iraq

in consequence of the Gulf crisis. The number of north Iraqis who fled to

Turkey for shelter, for food and for all sorts of humanitarian protection

during the first Gulf crisis was over 500 000. Turkey, with all its scarce

resources and despite its geographic clause to the 1951 Geneva Convention

spared no effort to remedy the humanitarian needs of these people.


It is also worth noting that all these Assembly texts date back to 1991 and

were relevant to the requirements of those years. The Eisma motion as well,

on which the present report mainly based itself, also dates back to 1992 and

even then was not followed up although its author continued to be a member

of our Assembly until 1995.


In paragraph 3 it is mentioned that the rapporteur's intention to visit "the

region concerned" was not authorised by the Bureau. As a matter of fact this

request was rejected by the Bureau (see meetings in January 1997 and in

March 1997). This is an indication that the appropriate organs of the

Assembly did not agree with the rapporteur on the appropriateness of such a

visit. This visit was neither found agreeable by the Turkish

parliamentarians, as long as it was meant to be a "mission". Nevertheless,

there was an offer from the rapporteur's Turkish colleagues to organise a

private visit to Turkey, but this was not accepted.


There is a reference in paragraph 4 to the "hearing" organised in Paris in

November 1997. The reason neither the Turkish members of the committee nor a

representative of the government participated in the hearing was certainly

not due to lack of consideration for the committee as it is asserted in the

report. It was due to the fact that the hearing was organised to serve the

aims that we criticise this report for.


The majority of the non-governmental organisations invited to take part in

the hearing were either those who directly advocate the so-called "Kurdish

issue" and/or indirectly affiliated with the terrorist organisation PKK. It

was only natural for the Turkish parliamentarians not to take part in such a

forum. The President of the Assembly, Mrs Fisher, was informed of the

concern of the Turkish parliamentarians before the hearing. In the Council

of Europe, as the widest European organisation, we should know perfectly

well what such motivations may mean to the security of our continent and to

the territorial integrity of member states.


In that "hearing", as reflected in the records (document AS/PR/Ref (1997) PV

5 revised), with all due respect to the presence of some of the members of

this committee, the persons and institutions who are well known for their

continuing stance to openly or tacitly defend the cause of PKK terrorism,

had found a free playground for themselves. Now, the present report is

nothing but a duplication of the contents of the "hearing" records.


Perhaps the most critical point which is clearly seen in paragraph 7 and

reflected throughout the report is that there is a constant reference to a

"region", which is understood to be somewhere encompassing a part of Turkish

territory and Iraq. Added to it is that the report makes a correlation

between this "region" and a "political problem" or a "political cause". This

is where the Turkish parliamentarians are most sensitive since such wordings

may imply the questioning of the territorial integrity of a member state.

(The connection of this issue with the PKK is explained in the following



2. The section on the "situation in Turkey"

First and foremost it is not in conformity with the above-described mandate

to allocate a whole chapter under this title.


As the report itself admits in paragraphs 6 and 43, there is a monitoring

procedure going on in Turkey. The rapporteurs of the Monitoring Committee

have visited Turkey three times now. Contrary to the response given (by the

Bureau) to a similar request of the rapporteur of this present report, the

rapporteurs of the Monitoring Committee did not face any difficulty to go to

all areas they wanted to and to meet anybody they wished to. The coverage of

the Monitoring Committee is so wide that it makes this present report



Particularly in this section, and throughout the report as well, mention is

made of a "Kurdish issue". Apart from Turkey's geographical proximity to the

no-man's-land in northern Iraq, and the PKK's terrorist activities in this

area, to talk about a "Kurdish issue" with regard to Turkey is either

refusing to acknowledge the realities, or an attempt to support the cause of

PKK terrorism, or both.


At the very outset of this section, in paragraph 8, there is a description

of being "armed and peaceful". This description does not even deserve a

comment, except that it perfectly serves as an example to indicate the

general quality of the whole study.


The report underestimates the threat of PKK terrorism and instead attempts

to place this terrorist organisation on an equal footing with the Turkish



Throughout the report there are repeated references to the PKK. However, not

even with a single word does it talk about the fact that the PKK is a

terrorist organisation. As a matter of fact, the rapporteur, whilst

presenting her report during the meeting of our committee in Prague on 13

March 1998, clarified her position that she sees the PKK not as a terrorist

organisation but as one "fighting for the Kurdish people's rights"

(AS/PR (1998) PV 2). This is totally unacceptable. The report tries to

introduce a political question which endangers the territorial integrity and

political unity of Turkey.


What Turkey has been encountering and struggling with for years, is the

question of separatist terrorism.


PKK terrorism began in 1984 not with an attack on two police stations as it

is stated in the report, but with the aim of creating an independent state

encompassing Turkey's south-eastern provinces. As a matter of fact the PKK

was established in 1978. Its systematic campaign of terror has, since then,

targeted not only the Turkish security forces, but also many innocent



The PKK is also described as a terrorist organisation by the United States

and many European states such as France and Great Britain, and its

activities are banned in Germany. Our Assembly debated and adopted a report

in September 1997 (Doc. 7876), in which the PKK is clearly referred to as a

terrorist organisation, and Turkey as among the countries which suffers from



The PKK's strategy is based on the use of terrorism and violence for a dual

purpose: to intimidate and to terrorise the local population and thereby

gain some degree of support, and to deter the Turkish Government from

bringing more economic and social services to the region.


As a result of the terrorist attacks of the PKK since 1984, some 25 000

people have lost their lives. More than 5 000 of them are members of the

local population, including women, children and in many instances babies.

The PKK kills civilians because it wants to force the local population to

accept its demands.


Not only does the PKK kill innocent people, but it also attacks all kinds of

civilian targets in order to make the region unliveable for those who remain

alive. The PKK also destroys schools, kills teachers, set forests on fire,

blows up railways and bridges, plants mines on roads, burns down

construction machinery and demolishes health centres.


To finance its terrorist and propaganda activities the PKK is heavily

engaged in various types of illegal undertakings, including extortion of

money, arms smuggling and trafficking of narcotic drugs and human beings.

The illicit activities of the PKK are mostly concentrated in some western

European countries.


It is true that the south-eastern provinces of Turkey are relatively

backward regions. However, Turkey is determined to resolve this problem of

underdevelopment by improving the economic conditions of these provinces

which are being violently exploited by the PKK. That is why the Turkish

authorities have been allocating considerable sums for the development of

these regions and investing in huge projects such as the South-eastern

Anatolian Project (GAP). That is also why the PKK has been targeting

civilians and economic and social installations. Its aim is both to

terrorise the local population and to keep the region economically backward.

By doing this the PKK aims to recruit more militants into its own ranks.


Many local people, as a result of the PKK's indiscriminate terrorist

attacks, have moved to other regions of the country which offer better

prospects. It is not possible to give the numbers of such people as there is

unlimited freedom of movement within Turkey and no statistics are held on

that score.


Consequently it would be extremely unjust to talk about a deliberate policy

of dispersal of the local population by the Turkish authorities, as alleged

in the report. To claim that there are up to 10 million internally dispersed

Kurds in Turkey is simply absurd. Perhaps the most striking example to show

the lack of seriousness of the report is the statement in paragraph 22 that

"some three million" of our citizens of Kurdish origin, who live in

Istanbul, are forcibly displaced population.


It is true that there are some cases where some villages and hamlets have

been evacuated by the Turkish security forces, because they served as

shelters for the PKK terrorists. But such individual cases should not be

manipulated to create a false picture of the situation.


Contrary to how it is described in the report, the village guard system was

established by the Turkish authorities, in co-operation with the local

population, as one of the measures to counter terrorism. This system is

exclusively based on voluntary participation.


It is true that we have witnessed some cross border operations by the

Turkish security forces in northern Iraq. But these operations did not aim

to endanger the territorial integrity of Iraq. They were exclusively carried

out in self-defence against the PKK terrorists, who are known to be based

there, and carrying out hit-and-run attacks and ambushes from there. Rumours

about a security or buffer zone within Iraqi territory are completely

unfounded. The Turkish forces have always returned to their posts in Turkey

upon the completion of their operations carried out with the limited

specific aim of destroying the PKK camps and terrorists.


The report also distorts the facts about the constitutional and legal system

in Turkey.


Constitutional citizenship is one of the founding principles of the Turkish

nation-state and it clearly determines all the social, political and legal

aspects of the state and society. The Turkish Constitution stipulates that

the state and the nation are indivisible, and that all citizens,

irrespective of their ethnic, racial or religious origin, are equal before

the law.


The citizens living in southern-eastern provinces of Turkey are an integral

part of our nation. They are the individuals of a nation which has shared

and is determined to preserve the same values with respect to language,

religion, culture, national identity, common history and the will for a

common future.


It is of cardinal importance to distinguish between militant separatism

which resorts systematically to terrorism and all kinds of organised crime

and the phenomenon of Kurdish ethnicity. It is evident that not all the

people of Kurdish ethnic origin are militant and seeking separation. On the

contrary an overwhelming majority, widely scattered throughout Turkey, are

law-abiding citizens. Most of them live in western Turkey, the economic

attraction of which draws even greater numbers. This overwhelming majority

is totally integrated into society and economic, social and cultural life.

In Turkey there are countless citizens of all ethnic origins who have risen

to the highest political positions and ranks such as cabinet ministers and

members of parliament.


It is also surprising to see in the report an allegation concerning the

prohibition of Kurdish language in Turkey. Presently, there are no

restrictions on languages other than Turkish to be used in Turkey. It is

true that following the military intervention in 1980, Law No. 2932 was

enacted to prohibit the use of languages other than Turkish as the mother

tongue and of activities to publicise them. That law, adopted in that

exceptional period in Turkey, had even then no effect in practice. This law

was repealed in 1991.


The social fabric of Turkey is a typical example of the realisation of the

internationally accepted principle which stipulates that "not all ethnic,

cultural, linguistic or religious differences necessarily lead to the

creation of national minorities". Our citizens of Kurdish ethnic origin are

not discriminated against, and they feel themselves to be part of society.


It is very important to note that in the context of the Lausanne Peace

Treaty of 1923, which created the modern Turkish Republic, the minorities in

Turkey are defined only in religious terms. However, thanks to the

non-discriminatory stipulations of the Turkish Constitution, everyone in the

country enjoys equal rights, obligations and opportunities before the law.

There can be no special treatment in favour of or against any citizen and no

one can claim that there is discrimination based on ethnic origins.


In fact, the people of south-eastern Anatolia, like all the other people in

other regions of Turkey, actively participate in the political life of the

country. They can make their voices heard in local administration as well as

the national parliament and central government through their

democratically-elected representatives.


The report also gives false information about the UNHCR camps in northern



The Atroush Camp was established by the UNHCR. However, it gradually fell

into the hands of the PKK, lost its civil character and became a base of the

terrorist organisation. The UNHCR accepted that Atroush had lost its

character of being a refugee camp and decided to close it down on 21 January



The Turkish Government has made several announcements to the people in the

Atroush Camp and to those living dispersed in the region who wish to

repatriate voluntarily.


The government has recently made the same call for voluntary returns from

the Ain-Sufni Camp as well. For this purpose, the Turkish Government has

launched an information campaign in co-operation with the UNHCR.


The UNHCR, upon request, can easily provide all the essential information

about this campaign. According to recent UNHCR statistics, since July 1996,

1 217 Turkish citizens have been voluntarily repatriated and all the

necessary accommodations have been provided to them by the Turkish



There are also references in this section to the work of the European

Commission and the European Court of Human Rights.


The interpretation of the judgments of the European Court of Human Rights in

paragraph 12 on the cases of Akdivar and others and Mentes and others is

nothing but a biased attitude since it does not take into consideration the

contents and the reasoning of these two judgments, which would otherwise

equally lead to different conclusions. The Government of Turkey had made

public its observations on the legal defects of the judgment of the European

Court of Human Rights in the case of Akdivar and others which was prior to

the judgment in the case of Mentes and others. The report does not bother to

make any reference to the reaction of the government to the said judgments,

even for the sake of pretended fairness.


In paragraph 13 the report goes further to misrepresent the process of

friendly settlement envisaged by the European Convention on Human Rights.

The Commission is one of the most respectable organs of the Council of

Europe. In the conduct of its work, the Commission has several means at its

disposal. It is therefore very disappointing to see the wrong connotation

attached to the "friendly settlement" – in the case of Ysiyok and others –

by implying that the government paid "compensation" to the applicants. To be

accurate in legal terms, the payment made within the context of friendly

settlement cannot be referred to as "compensation" because the term

"compensation" may come into question only when a party to a litigation is

held responsible or a violation is attributed to one side of a legal

dispute. As regards a solution reached in accordance with the process of

friendly settlement, none of the parties are held responsible whatsoever.

There is a clear distinction between the implications of a violation as an

outcome of a legal dispute and a solution reached as a result of friendly



The assertion in paragraph 41 that "since 1995 the European Court of Human

Rights has announced as many as twelve judgments regarding violations of

human rights of people of Kurdish origin by the Turkish authorities" is

totally incorrect. First of all, the total number of the judgments in

relation to the allegations arising from the incidents that took place in

south-east Anatolia is four. They are the cases of Aksoy, Akdivar and

others, Kaya, Aydin, and Mentes and others. It is noteworthy to state that

neither the Commission of Human Rights nor the Court of Human Rights have

found any indication that the alleged violations were against people of

Kurdish origin. Moreover, this is a mere allegation raised by the terrorist

organisation, PKK, and its affiliates which both the Commission and the

Court have dismissed on every occasion.


There are other judgments of the European Commission of Human Rights which

could be of relevance for this section of the report, but it is

disappointing to see no reference to them.


The European Commission of Human Rights, in one of its decisions

(Application No. 27776/95) (A.G. and others against Sweden), stated clearly

that there is no discrimination applied against a part of Turkish citizens

in Turkey. The above-mentioned decision, relating to a request for

non-expulsion from Sweden to Turkey, reads as follows: "The Commission

concludes that is has not been established that there are substantial

grounds for believing that the applicants would be exposed to a real risk of

being subjected to treatment contrary to Article 3 of the Convention in

Turkey". (Article 3: "No one shall be subjected to torture or inhuman or

degrading treatment or punishment".)


In another recent decision, the European Commission of Human Rights

(Application No. 33124/96) (X against Netherlands) stated that the mere fact

that the applicant is of Kurdish origin is not in itself sufficient ground

to believe that he has reason to fear persecution. The decision stipulated

that, although accepting that the applicant was politically active in the

past, it cannot be said that, if expelled to Turkey, the applicant would

have reason to fear persecution or would run a risk of treatment contrary to

Article 3 of the Convention.


The decisions of the European Commission or Court of Human Rights also

affirm that the ethnic origin of Turkish citizens is not a cause of



Another example is a ruling of the Karlsruhe Administrative Court. According

to a report published in the Süddeutsche Zeitung on 23 December 1997, the

Karlsruhe Administrative Court ruled in its decisions A7K13114/95 and

A7K10026/96 on 17 September 1997, that belonging to the Kurdish community

was not in itself sufficient to claim refugee status and that each

individual application had to be considered on its own merits. On the other

hand, the Schleswig-Holstein State Administrative Court has ruled in a

similar sense more recently by its decisions 5A233/94 and 5A175/96.


The Karlsruhe Administrative Court in its above-mentioned decision also

stated that: "Because of their ethnic origin, the Kurdish people in Turkey

have neither in the past nor today been under persecution and even pressure

at the regional level. Kurdish people in Turkey have the opportunity of

moving to the western regions of the country."


As such, to claim that Turkish citizens of Kurdish origin migrate abroad

because of the policies of the Turkish Government, as alleged throughout the

report, is equally false. If such a claim were to be true it would be

impossible to explain why so many Turkish citizens of Kurdish origin live in

the western part of Turkey only because they prefer to. This fact indicates

clearly that the reason for migration from the south-east of Turkey either

to the west of the country or abroad is basically the economic situation

which deteriorated drastically as the result of the embargo against Iraq.


3. The section on the "situation in North Iraq"


With regard to this section it is very disturbing to see the persistent

criticism towards Turkey, even though this section should have been the most

elaborated part if we recall the mandate given to prepare such a study.


Even in the very limited paragraphs which are devoted to the situation in

northern Iraq, there are serious and important mistakes or omissions.


We in the Council of Europe should be very careful in employing certain

terminology, particularly with regard to sensitive areas.


The right description for the area is either north of the 36th parallel, or

northern Iraq; but definitely not "North Iraq" as stated in the report, as

if we were giving it a separate country status.


A very serious point contained in paragraph 47 is the attribution of

"government" status to the people living in the area. The Gulf crisis

resulted in a power vacuum and instability in northern Iraq. But there has

never been a reference in other international fora to a "government" status.


Another false approach is that, while talking about the population in the

area the only reference is made to the "Kurds". This is another example of

how we lose sight of the mandate given to us to prepare this study. Almost

all the Assembly documents upon which this study should have been built

refer to "Iraqi Kurdish population and other persecuted minorities", in

which along with the Kurds in northern Iraq, the Turcomans, the Assyrians

and even the Marsh Arabs in the south were given due consideration.


4. The section on the "influx of Kurdish migrants and asylum seekers in


The migration of "Kurds" to Europe is part of the general problem of



Global economic changes have made Europe an attractive location for

movements of goods, capital and persons. People of all ethnic origins from

all countries which are relatively poorer have moved to western Europe, not

only from east to west, but also from south to north. Although this

phenomenon is of great concern for the receiving country, it is also

disturbing for the countries on the transit route. We need to pay particular

attention to the countries on Europe's sea or land borders. It is worth

noting here that Spain refused entry at its borders to around 150 000

illegal migrants from North Africa in 1997.


What is important here is not the ethnic origins of migrants but the

phenomenon of migration itself. To reduce the question to an ethnic one will

result in overlooking its socio-economic aspects or will fail to find a

satisfactory response to the question as to why so many people with a wide

variety of ethnic origins are migrating to western Europe.


One of the most acute problems the western European countries are facing

today is the question of illegal migration. The recent incident of two ships

bringing migrants to Italy through illegal means is only an example of this



This event was a blatant case of illegal trafficking in human beings, an

extremely serious form of organised crime. It is based on the exploitation

by international organised crime gangs of people's understandable desire to

have a better life.


In fact, the Action Plan adopted by the General Affairs Council of the

European Union on 26 January 1998 underscored this problem. According to the

information furnished by the British chairmanship to the press on the Action

Plan "it would seem there is an organised trafficking racket" … "… given the

extent of the current inflow of migrants and the itineraries they are

taking, there is no doubt that a large part of the illegal immigration is

planned and organised in advance by traffickers, which is why the Action

Plan approved by the General Affairs Council provides for all the

information relating to the participation of criminal organisations in this

field, including the production of false documents, should be collected,

analysed and duly exploited".


The Parliamentary Assembly of the Council of Europe has dealt with the same

problem before. The Assembly's Recommendation 1211 (1993) reiterated that

"clandestine migration is due, in particular, to the growing demand in

Europe for unskilled, poorly-paid labour, and can neither resolve employment

problems in western Europe nor stimulate economic growth in the less

developed countries." In the same recommendation it is also stated that

"faced with the current restrictions and difficulties in entering western

Europe, would-be immigrants are increasingly resorting to traffickers and

organised networks …", "traffickers and organised networks are generally

well-established both in countries of origin and in receiving countries:

they put migrants in touch with employers offering clandestine work", "the

migrants, victims of unscrupulous traffickers, are not always aware of their

illegal migrant status or of the strict entry conditions in force in the

host countries …", "the trafficking and employment of clandestine migrants

are often linked to other forms of international organised crime".


Illegal migration has always been a source of concern for Turkey as well.

She has consistently sought multilateral co-operation against all forms of

organised crime and international terrorism. She has drawn attention to

their interrelation, to the funding of terrorism by organised crime like

human trafficking and to the international networks of crime established in

many countries under various guises.


Turkey has been subject to several migration waves during the course of

history. It should be recalled that in 1988 and in 1991 more than half a

million refugees from northern Iraq found shelter in Turkey. Iranian masses

fleeing the newly-established radical Islamist regime, Bulgarian Turks and

Bosnians were also welcomed in Turkey.


The report talks about the geographical reservation of Turkey to the 1951

Geneva Convention. In the convention, signatory states were given the option

of adhering to the convention with geographic preference. Turkey, in the

light of this option, became a party to this convention with a declaration

of geographic preference. It assumed responsibility only for refugees

originating from Europe. The main reason for this preference is our

country's geographic location. In fact, the "safe third country" concept

adopted by the European Union in the 1990s made the geographical preference

of Turkey all the more important.


Nevertheless, the Turkish authorities are expending every effort to fulfil

their responsibilities to "temporary asylum seekers". Contrary to what is

indicated in the report, asylum seekers from Turkey's eastern borders are

being admitted on humanitarian grounds, and solutions to their problems are

being sought in close co-operation with the UNHCR. An exclusive regulation

was issued by the Turkish authorities in 1994 in order to facilitate this

procedure. It is a fact that the vulnerable geographic location of Turkey

leads to illegal entries from its borders with Iran and Iraq. The

difficulties do not emanate from their entry into Turkey by illegal means

but arise from non-compliance with this regulation.


There are several factors which make Turkey a transit route in the eyes of

the migrants. The main reasons for this are:

* common borders (Turkey has a 378 km long border with Iraq, a 529 km

long one with Iran, out of a total of 2 875 km long land borders also

with Greece, Bulgaria, Syria, Nahjevan, Armenia and Georgia, as well as

6 000 km long sea shores);

* the geographically bridging location of Turkey between Asia and Europe;

* extremely liberal policies of most European countries (in this respect,

Europe has become a magnet for illegal migrants who enter Turkey from

neighbouring or far-away countries. Those who realise that some of

their relatives and friends have been easily granted refugee status in

some European countries are tempted to follow suit. These people do not

mind using the illegal services of organised crime gangs as long as

they are able to reach Europe and acquire refugee status there. Thus,

Turkey inevitably becomes a springboard for them due to its geographic


and last but not least,

* the presence of the terrorist organisation, PKK, hand-in-hand with

international crime organisations engaging in trafficking in drugs and

human beings.


There are some migrants who use Turkey as a transit route to western Europe,

by entering Turkey ostensibly as tourists with valid passports and travel

documents, and then leaving for the West. There are others who enter Turkey

with the use of forged passports and visas through the legal ports of entry,

and some others who arrive on Turkish soil via illegal means. No matter how

they have entered the country, they almost invariably fall into the hands of

the international organised crime gangs which are specialised in trafficking

them to the West.


In short, on the one hand there are people originating from different

countries and seeking a better life in Europe, and on the other, organised

crime gangs helping them to achieve their goal. In between, Turkey becomes a

transit route.


The problem should be diagnosed correctly so that the right remedies can be

found. Human trafficking generates huge sums of income which attract the

organised crime gangs and terrorist organisations. In other words, terrorism

and organised crime work hand-in-hand. Turkey has for a long time been not

only trying to explain this phenomenon to its friends in Europe, but also

fighting with the organised crime gangs with all the means available to her.

At the same time, she has concluded agreements with thirty-two countries,

including Italy, in order to combat terrorism and organised crime.

Obviously, more needs to be done in this field at both bilateral and

multilateral levels.


In 1996 a total of 18 804 migrants, mainly from Iraq, Iran, Pakistan, India,

Bangladesh, Syria and Rwanda, who had entered Turkey through illegal means,

were apprehended by the Turkish security authorities. 67.5% of them were

Iraqis. In 1997,

22 429 such persons were captured, 70.6% of them from Iraq.


There is a huge amount of evidence shared within Interpol underlining the

fact that the PKK is actively involved in human trafficking as well as other

organised crimes. Notwithstanding all this evidence, in the case of Ararat

it is very important to note a statement issued via the Italian News Agency

ANSA by ERNK, the political wing of this terrorist organisation, two days

before this ship ran aground near Italian shores, saying that "a ship

carrying some 800 Kurdish refugees was on its way to Italy". Thus, exactly

two days before this ship was detected by the Italian authorities, the PKK

had already made this incident public for the first time.


A recent and striking example of the PKK connection in human trafficking was

in the "Report" programme aired by the German ARD television channel on 19

January 1998, which included statements by a gang member convicted of human

trafficking. In his own words the convict said: "Our organisation is not

directly linked with the PKK, but on several occasions we had to pay ransom

to the PKK in order to do our job. The PKK itself is also involved in human

trafficking. In Greece there is no permission to the others. My organisation

can only smuggle people into Greece, but from Greece onwards it is

exclusively a PKK job".


It is indeed important to recall that in the first days of the Ararat

incident, there were some reports in the Italian press that the ships

carrying illegal migrants were set on course by the PKK in co-operation with

mafia groups. In the following days, however, the incident started to be

presented to the public as a manifestation of the Kurdish problem.


Relatively low standards of living and unemployment in certain regions of

Turkey initiate emigration from Turkey also, as is the case in many other

countries. In other words, there are also Turkish citizens who migrate to

western Europe, almost exclusively to attain a better life in economic

terms. According to the figures announced by the UNHCR spokesperson in

Geneva on 6 January 1998, 224 000 new asylum applications were lodged in the

European Union in 1996, of which around 116 000 were lodged in Germany

alone. Of this overall number, around 22 000 were Iraqis, half of whom filed

applications in Germany. Around 35 000 Turkish citizens sought asylum in

western Europe in the same year.


These people try to portray themselves as genuine asylum seekers so as to

obtain refugee status. In most cases, declaring that they are Kurds is

sufficient to obtain this status. Such policies on the part of some European

countries obviously encourage other economically deprived people to follow

suit and illegally migrate to those countries. So long as such refugee

policies are in force, the waves of people flowing into Europe will not

cease. It is an open secret that many of these people, once they have

obtained refugee status, visit Turkish consular missions in order to obtain

Turkish passports.


As to the Ararat and Cometa incidents, it is hard to understand why the

people on board have been referred to as Kurds. The Turkish citizens on

board constituted a small minority and the rest were composed of Iraqis, Sri

Lankans, Bangladeshis, Pakistanis, Iranians, Afghanis and Azerbaijanis. If

one assumes that all the people coming from Iraq were of Kurdish origin, the

percentages would still be too low for the event to be regarded as "influx

of Kurdish refugees".


Besides, those who are coming from northern Iraq are not necessarily of

Kurdish origin.


As a matter of fact, on 9 February 1998 the Turkish gendarmerie captured

eighty-six Iraqis and three Sri Lankans in Marmaris, Mugla district, aiming

at fleeing to Greece and then to other western European countries through

illegal means. The gendarmerie found out that all of these Iraqis were of

Turkmen origin. Or is there also an assumption that all those Turkish

citizens were Kurds, so as to present the problem as a political one?


IV. Why we oppose the present report


The concern of the Bureau to request the inclusion on the agenda of the

January part-session of the Parliamentary Assembly of an item dealing with

the recent flow of migration to Europe was justifiable as long as it was

meant to look for remedies to the problem of illegal migration.


The real issue is the urgent need for effective co-operation among the

countries who directly or indirectly suffer from the illegal flow of

migration. We should not lose sight of the fact that this co-operation

cannot be realised without the effective participation of all countries

involved, including Turkey.


We need a clear definition of what we are aiming at. The report is uncertain

whether the main concern can be described in "humanitarian" terms. As a

matter of fact, the inclinations seem to be rather "political" in most parts

of the document. As such, it is a misrepresentation, is partially and

totally misleading, and is thus totally unacceptable.


Last year, during the September part-session, our Assembly debated and

adopted a report prepared by Mr López Henarez, with regard to co-operation

in the fight against terrorism, in which we once more reiterated our

"forceful and unreserved condemnation of acts of terrorism …". This report

clearly referred to the PKK as a terrorist organisation, and Turkey as among

the countries which suffers from terrorism.


We are all here to pursue the aim of the Council of Europe, which is to

achieve greater unity among us for the purpose of safeguarding and realising

the ideals and principles which are our common heritage and facilitating our

economic and social progress. No one can argue that supporting the cause of

terrorism is among the ideals and principles referred to in Article 1 of the

Statute of the Council of Europe.



Note: 1 For example in January 1997 there were reports of large-scale

detentions by the gendarmerie in the Lice district of Diyarbakir based on

the refusal of villagers to become village guards (1997 Human Rights Watch

Report). Journalists and human rights monitors were not permitted to enter

the village.


Note: 2 Currently the UK-based Kurdish Human Rights Project has assisted

over 50 applicants in their applications to the European Commission of Human



Note: 3 Sometimes referred to as Ninive or Ninova Camp


Note: 4 eg. Dr Seyfettin Kizilkan, President of Diyarbakir Medical

Association, or Sanar Yurdatapan, spokesman for the organisation promoting

reconciliation in the south-east ´ Together in Peace ª , charged under

Art.169 with supporting the PKK.


Note: 5 On 26 November 1997 the Court decided that the Turkish authorities

had violated Articles 5.3, 5.4 and 5.5 of the European Convention relating

to the excessive length of detention pending trial.



Reporting committee: Committee on Migration, Refugees and Demography.

Budgetary implications for the Assembly: taken into account in the budgetary

appropriations of the Assembly.

Reference to committee: Order No. 460 (1991), Doc. 6604 and Reference No.

1785 of 4 May 1992.

Draft recommendation and draft order adopted by the committee on 29 May 1998

with respectively 11 votes in favour, 5 votes against and 0 abstentions and

10 votes in favour, 3 votes against and 3 abstentions.

Members of the committee : Mr Díaz de Mera (Chairman), Mr Iwiñski,

(Vice-Chairman), Mrs Aguiar, MM. Akselsen, Amoruso, Andres, Árnason, Mrs

Arnold, MM. Atkinson, Aushev, Beaufays, Billing, Bogomolov, van den Bos,

Brancati, Mrs Brasseur, Mrs Busiæ, MM. Cardona, Christodoulides, Chyzh,

Clerfayt, Connor, Debarge, Dinçer, Mrs Fehr (Alternate: Mrs Vermot-Mangold),

MM. Filimonov, Fuhrmann, Mrs Garajová, MM. Gremetz, Jakic, Mrs Johansson,

Lord Judd, MM. Junghanns, Kalus, Kozlowski, Kukk, Mrs Kusnere, Mr Laakso,

Mrs Langthaler, MM. Lauricella, Laurinkus, Làzàrescu, Le Jeune, Liapis

(Alternate: Korakas, Vice-Chairman), Loukota, Luís, Melo, Mészáros,

Micheloyiannis, Minkov, Molnár, Mutman, Rakhansky (Alternate: Khunov),

Ruffy, von Schmude, Sincai, Mrs Soutendijk-van Appeldoorn, MM. Tahir,

Vangelov (Alternate: Tripunovski), Wray (Alternate: Lord Ponsonby), N*

(Alternate: Mrs Guirado, Vice-Chairperson).

N.B. The names of those members present at the meeting are printed in


Secretaries of the committee: MM. Newman and Adelsbach.