A Bird's Eye View of Turkey

by Lynn E. Webb on . Posted in Fethullah Gülen: Is There More to Him Than Meets the Eye?

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Turkey has experienced no serious war in the past 75 years since this country was declared a republic in 1923. In regard to her natural wealth and agricultural produce, which is her prime source of livelihood, she has taken her place among the world's richest countries. But more important than anything else, as heir to a state that ruled the world for at least four centuries, in these last 75 years Turkey has not been a power worth mentioning either in regard to the economy or the world balance of power. Within this long period of time Germany, for example, entered two world wars and was defeated and destroyed in both of them. But after only 18 years following World War II, Turkey began to send workers to Germany rather than Germany sending them to Turkey. Similarly, Japan was also defeated in World War II and became a victim of the atom bomb. However, despite its population twice as great and a land surface half as big as Turkey's, she became a world economic giant within a short period of time.

The problems of education and health, which have been Turkey's two most important issues since the period of the Ottoman State, continually grew larger during the republican period and, worse than that, became tools for political goals. Especially, ideological and political concerns rather than logic and science ruled almost all the decisions made in the field of education. During this time, Turkey never became a noteworthy country in the international arena. To the contrary, the universities, which should have made high-level scientific work, each became a point of political focus and were in the forefront of the three military coups d'etat.

Military Coups D'etat

One of the most significant matters in the 75-year history of the Turkish Republic are the military coups, the door of which was opened by the May 27, 1960 coup which was a legal comedy and, in fact, scandal that resulted in the execution of the prime minister and two ministers. The price of the last coup d'etat of September 12, 1980 is as follows:

650,000 people were arrested.

Files were made on 1,000,683 people.

230,000 people were tried in 210,000 cases opened.

The death penalty was asked for 7,000 people. Of these 517

were sentenced to death and 49 of these were executed. 388,000 people were denied a passport. 30,000 people were fired due to their being "suspicious." 14,000 people lost their citizenship. 30,000 people sought political refuge in other countries. The death of 171 people due to torture was documented. 14 people died in prison as a result of hunger strikes. 937 films were censored as "dangerous." The activities of 23,677 associations were terminated.

3,854 teachers, 120 university faculty members and 47 judges were fired.

The sentencing of 400 journalists was requested and the journalists found guilty were given a total of 3,315 years and 6 months imprisonment.

Newspapermen were asked to pay reparations of 12 billion

848 million TL (in the money value of that time). 303 cases were opened for 13 large newspapers. 39 tons of "-dangerous" newspaper was destroyed. 927 publications were prohibited.

299 people died. 144 deaths were suspicious, 14 were from hunger strikes, 16 people were shot while escaping, 95 in cross fire, 73 from "natural" causes, 43 from suicide and 171 as a result of torture.

Of course, the costs of the nation's lost prestige and the wounds suffered by democracy and basic freedoms—in other words, the spiritual price of this coup d'etat —are not included in this bill.

As we mentioned above, the door to the military coups d'etat was opened by the inauspicious coup d'etat of May 27. The individual price of this coup d'etat was never less than that of September 12; in fact, it was greater. Before anything else, the Yassiada trials, which resulted in the hanging of a Prime Minister and two ministers, went down in history as a legal scandal. Secondly, this coup d'etat destroyed the military hierarchy. That period's Commander of the General Staff was imprisoned. Mass discharges from the army were made in a previously unheard of way. On June 22, 1960, only 25 days after the coup, 14 officers were retired (10 of which were generals) and 8 generals were arrested. On July 15, I960, close to 150 officers, 34 of which were generals, were retired. On August 3, 1960, 235 generals and admirals were retired, and one day later in a mass discharge close to 5000 officers were retired. Those who made the coup d'etat divided into two groups, which resulted in the appearance of a group made up of 14 people. Later in addition to MBK (National Unity Committee), other units like the Armed Forces Union were organized in the army. 147 faculty members were retired from the Istanbul University, which was one of the central bases of the coup d'etat. A disgrace to the state, gold and other kinds of aid were gathered from the people for months. Football tournaments were arranged to provide income to the state.

The claim (as a justification for the coup d'etat} that during the university disorder of April 28, 1960 and the days following it many students were sent to the soap factory and died there from torture has gone down in history as a state lie. To prove these lies all the graves of people buried in Istanbul between April 28 and May 27 were opened to find these murdered students, but not one was found. Slander and lies of the state like Menderes' preparing to sell out Turkey to Russia, moreover, that he offered Ardahan to Russia in exchange for their help, and that President Bayar had decided to punish the whole Military College in Ankara were published in the press and distributed as if they had been officially documented. Even if this period was publicized as a time of independence, all the institutions that are obstacles to the administration's reflecting the will of the people remain as products of this period. In addition, the door to communist activities that resulted in the events of March 12 and September 12 were fully opened and speeded up secretly during this period. The most important years of the Turkish nation and several generations were consumed by anarchy—lives were lost, blood was spilt and years were spent.

Any coup d'etat is banned by the 146th article of the TCK (Turkish Criminal Code)

Any coup d'etat is banned by the criminal code and constitution prepared after the coup d'etat of September 12.

It's stated in the 146th article of the Turkish Criminal Code: "Anyone altering and modifying or annulling or silencing the Parliament that was created with this code or attempting to forcefully prohibit it from doing its duty will be sentenced to death." The article continues: "As delineated in article 65, anyone acting alone or with several persons who verbally or in written form or actively creates disorder or publicly makes a speech or writes and prints placards encouraging these crimes, and even if just an attempt is made to create disorder, will be sentenced to death."

Turkish President Suleyman Demirel said in a statement that appeared on February 24, 1997 in the Hurriyet newspaper, "There's no benefit to Turkey from a debate regarding a coup d'etat. Look, a coup is actually an event requiring punishment according to the 146th article of the Turkish Criminal Code."

Related to this issue there is also another law in article 311 of the TCK. It reads as follows: "Anyone publicly inciting the enactment of a crime will be punished in the manner written below. 1) If the punishment for the crime that was incited is greater than a major sentence, then it is three to five years' imprisonment. If the incitement is made by any kind of means of mass communication or other tools of the press, the major punishment that was determined will be increased once over."

Also it's stated in TCK article 151, "Anyone aware of crimes written in previous articles must immediately inform the government."


During the 75-year period of the republic, Turkey has been shaken by anarchist events, especially those taking the form of student unrest between May 27, 1960-September 12, 1980 and later religious and ethnic sensitive events that spread to the cities. After 1980, PKK (The Party of the Workers of Kurdistan) terror especially became one of Turkey's greatest problems.

The Price of PKK Terror

The ten-year cost of PKK terror between the years 1984-1994 was officially recorded as follows:

During cross-fire and operations 4,644 security personnel were killed; these included 244 officers, 621 non-commissioned officers (astsubay), 275 policemen, and the remaining were village guards and privates. In addition, 4,036 civilians lost their lives. On the other hand, 6,443 PKK terrorists were killed. During operations 2 war planes and 3 helicopters fell, 5 tanks were destroyed and an undetermined number of guns and munitions were left out of order. Many security personnel were wounded; of these 170 officers, 264 non-commissioned officers, 400 special sergeants and 795 privates remained crippled. The national treasury's loss was 4.2 quadrillion TL. The region's contribution to the national treasury decreased by 370 trillion TL from the previous year. Due to operations, the region's ecological balance was destroyed and the figures regarding damage to natural resources are of immeasurable dimensions. It's not possible to regain the lost natural wealth.

In July, 1994 army commander Dogan Cures, the Commander of the General Staff of that period, said that the number of security forces opposing the PPK had reached 220,000. According to the information given by Nahit Mentese, the Interior Minister of that period, 2,297 villages had been emptied by the end of 1994. 285 villages and rural residential places smaller than villages were burned; 37,752 people's houses burned and 225,283 people were homeless for other reasons. According to a survey made by the Turkish Agricultural Association, there was an economic loss of 12-13 trillion TL as a result of villages being emptied and sown fields and forests being burnt. In the province of Mardin alone an agricultural area of 371,492 hectares lies idle because the villages have been emptied. 115,447 hectares of meadow and pasturage have remained unused. 70,000,000 m2 of areas sown with grain were razed. The fruit of 120,000 trees was left ungathered. A decrease of 31.2% occurred in livestock raising. In Diyarbakir the number of animals decreased by 50% and forest areas decreased by 60%. During this period around three million people left the land they were born and raised on. As a result of migration, the population of district centers like Adana, Mersin, Tarsus, Diyarbakir and Gazi Antep has increased extraordinarily. During this same 10-year period more than 500 cases have been opened against Turkey at the Strasbourg Human Rights Court, and in many cases the state had to pay compensation to its own citizens.

According to information in the TBMM (Turkish Parliament) Southeastern Commission Report, 5% of the 1994 GNP was set aside for the fight against terror. In ten years the money spent against terror was 2 quadrillion, 135 trillion, 500 billion TL. This figure was five times greater than the investment to be made in GAP (Southeastern Anatolia Project), which is Turkey's greatest investment and a significant one by world standards. In 1993 of the 3,596 (daily average of 10) terror incidents, 2,202 of them took place in the Martial Law District.

The wages of the village guards was 5 billion TL in 1987. In 1994 payments of 5 trillion were made to 45,000 village guards. The cost of 8,000 police living quarters, 55 jails, 353 gendarme headquarters and 700 gendarme living quarters in the region was 30 trillion TL. The amount of compensation made to public officials working in the Martial Law Region was 4 trillion TL. Salaries to military and court personnel and MIT agents who are paid from a clandestine fund totaled 7 trillion TL. One Northern Iraq operation costs 15 trillion TL. The tourism sector's loss is 20 trillion TL. The incentive for Southeastern Anatolia fell from 23% to 1.5%. There was an increase of 50% in work-place shutdowns. Due to terrorism, the GAP project and other big projects have come to a standstill. Prices are rising constantly in an inflationary environment. The government is continually taking on more debt. (Figures are taken from the 1994 Report by Human Right Association.)

These figures are 1984-1994 figures. In order to comprehend fully the price of terror, it's necessary to add another 50% to these figures. In addition, after the "final" operation in the area of terror's backbone, in which 24 generals and 40,000 soldiers moved against 500 terrorists, terror struck the Eastern Anatolia, Interior Anatolia, Karadeniz and Akdeniz regions. On top of everything, terror gave birth to a terror economy. Within this period there was a drug movement of frightening proportions. The country was shaken by gangs that have sprung up everywhere, and this shock has been felt deeply.


It's obvious to everyone living in Turkey that in recent years Turkey has been shocked by the prevalence of gangs. One newspaper asks, "Can Gangs Be Prevented?" and gives this answer:

Actually these gangs have not made nests only in the police force. A great part of the government's internal debt is to this segment. They lend the credit they got from the government banks from different funds and heroin money to the government at high interest rates. It's estimated that there are around 2,500 partners to this plundering. They have a hit team of approximately 800 people deriving from 100 cells. It appears that today's government has surrendered to them and they are making preparations for a step by step Panama type of silent civil coup d'etat.

Meanwhile at least twice this number of local Mafia groups came into being. In fact, the gangs, which have even infiltrated the schools, have formed an underground army. Prisons function as schools of training for these people. Independently involved in the heroin trade, collection of checks and promissory notes, threats, blackmail and bodyguard work, these people are getting increasingly stronger.

Erosion of Social and Moral Values

Turkey has experienced heavy erosion of social and moral values especially in recent years. For example, in a newspaper (Radikal) dated March 2, 1997, the following information was given under the headline, "Crime Exploded in Turkey":

Turkey is experiencing a crime explosion. Chief of Police Alaattin Yuksel said that in the last ten years events that required the involvement of police have increased sevenfold totaling 90,658. According to the figures Mr. Yuksel gave, 1800 of these events occur every day, 75 every hour, and 1 every minute.

Giving information regarding crimes investigated by the police, Chief of Police Alaattin Yuksel stated that there was a trend toward increase in both the number of crimes and the variety of crimes. Mr. Yuksel pointed out that while the number of the crimes that the police investigated in 1987 was 90,092, this number had multiplied seven times by 1996 reaching a figure of 658,072. According to the information the Chief of Police gave, there were 564 narcotics cases in 1988; this figure increased 4 times by 1996 to 2,672 cases.

Crimes regarding property were 667 in 1988, but this number increased 11-fold to 7,467 in 1996. It was stated that there were a total of 2,800 terror incidents in 1996. The record number of cases investigated by the police was held by social protests.

Comprised mainly of public meetings, demonstrations, protest marches and strikes, social protest events totaled 606 in 1988. It can be seen that this figure multiplied 12 times to a total of 7,537 last year. In Turkey an average of 21 social protest events occur everyday.

In addition to this "crime explosion" in Turkey, constantly growing economic inequality, common misuse of authority and gang activities are another dimension of the country's landscape. As an example, the following important news that was published in a newspaper (Yeni Safak) gives sufficient information on this subject: An example: Diyarbakir and "blood speculators"

The place that best reflects Turkey's photograph is Diyarbakir. The painful results of economic policies in force, the practical face of the inequality of income distribution and what the double standard means can best be seen here. The Ofis district is Diyarbakir's Switzerland. Ofis is a very luxurious district. According to findings, the cost of an average flat there is between 10 and 15 billion TL. It's possible to find a Mercedes and BMW in front of almost every door. The average price of these cars is not less than 20 billion TL. In the last two years 2,160 Opel cars have been sold in Diyarbakir. The cost of an Opel is at least 3 billion TL. It's necessary for Toyota customers to wait because the Toyota distributorship has only been open for five months. In addition, Nissan, Mitsubishi and Mazda automobile models are in great demand. If we assume that the other models sold as well as Opel, then in two years around 15,000 luxury cars have been sold in Diyarbakir. Alongside this, when you think of who buys the luxury flats and which branch of work they are in, you have, in the words of Diyarbakir's Sur district's Mayor Cemal Toptanci, "blood speculators". Who are these blood speculators? The best answer to this is the gang recently identified as the "Yuksekova Cetesi (Gang of Yuksekova)" in which were found persons misusing their duty as public officials. As is known, the Yuksekova Cetesi earned trillions by taking drugs like hashish and heroin out of the region by means of military and city government vehicles. Who knows how many other gangs there are like the Yuksekova Cetesi and what astronomic amounts they put in their pockets by means of dark scenarios.

Source of the Problems

Actually, what is responsible for this negativity seems, according to some Turkish intellectuals including especially Taha Akyol, a famous columnist writing for both Milliyet and Gazete Pazar, the erosion of conservative values that stem from religion and tradition, the formation of which religion is one of the major factors. In the following lines belonging to Taha Akyol, this erosion is seen in an American example, and I believe a great majority of Turkish people will agree that, within a framework of unchange able universal principles, the same landscape is true for Turkey as well.

In an American example, Graham Fuller demonstrates vividly that industry is one of civilization's main problems:

What are the reasons for social decay that has appeared in the form of the constant growth of an underclass with the disintegration of the family and degeneration of education in the technical age? Why is there a high and increasing rate of trends that are socially dangerous like murder, divorce, drugs, unsuccessful education, rapidly increasing juvenile crime, pornography, sexual promiscuity, intrigues, street violence, increasing violence in films, a decrease in the esteem of almost every kind of authority, compared with other countries a reduction of patriotism, the weakening of idealism, alienation, a decrease in the awareness of public duty, pollution, the weakening of the feeling of individual responsibility, the retardation of organized religion and, finally, the ridiculing of morality regarding politics and elections?

Thirty years ago in his book entitled Academic Freedom and Academic Anarchy, which he wrote in 1969, Professor Sidney Hook pointed out that the weakening of American university students' feeling of responsibility towards their families and country and their carrying Vietkong flags instead of American flags to protest the Vietnam war were signs that the youth had no sense of meaning in their lives or sense of history and that it was this generation that made the "student uprising".

According to Professor Hook, although there are more postgraduate students than ever before, their strength for intellectual work is less. Compared to former students, their ideas excite them less. Although their appearance, speech and life styles are more eccentric, the originality of their individual views is very slight and they suffice with repeating customary patterns or participating as a group in protest activities. When there's no true intellectual independence, protest can be as much a reflex as silent obedience.

The American FBI had scientists make an investigation. In preparation for this report, which was published as Sex Murders: Examples and Motives, they investigated the family pasts of those committing the sex murders. The "problem family" and "disintegrated family" were found in the past of a large number of them. The picture is very interesting. Because more than one family problem can be found in the past of a sex murderer, the sum of the percentages exceeds 100.

In the pasts of sex murderers there were found such problems as alcoholism in 69% of the cases, negative sexual relations in 72 % of the cases, unstable settlement in 68%, guilt in 50%, and abandonment of the home by the father in 47% of the cases.

In another article, Taha Akyol examined the subject of a "Crisis of Values" (Gazete Pazar, January 18, 1998). In that article Akyol gives this noteworthy information and analysis:

Sociologist Steven Vago says that as a result of a variety of factors, urban people developed a characteristic personality make-up and behavior. Due to the variety of lifestyles and groups in the cities, urban man adopted a relative perspective in place of the former uniform value system. Urban man became secularized and torn from his internal ties. No feeling of integrity or participation has remained for him. Thus, the city has become anomic. The individual feels alone in the midst of a crowd; he is on edge with feelings of conflict, apprehension and individual failure.

That's not all. The activity and cosmopolitan variety of the city and the formality and lack of continuity in relationships have awakened the feeling of self-distrust and for this reason:

The integrity of the personality is constantly under threat and weak before the manipulation of the media. For all these reasons, the degeneration of the personality, mental ollapse, suicide, crime and misdemeanors, misuse of office and disorganization are greater in the cities than in rural areas.

As an example of disintegration, Vago gives statistics on divorce. When the USA's population was 37 million; there were 9,937 divorces. That's 3% of the population. In 1975 when industrial civilization and urbanization had reached a high level of development and America's population had reached 215 million, divorces reached 1,026,000, which is 4.8 % of the population. Today it has risen even more.

Dincer Guner's research entitled ABD'de Siddet Kanserden Beter (Violence Is Worse Than Cancer in the USA) is very interesting: Every year 25,000 murders are committed in the USA and since 1960 the rate of increase is 516%. 14.5 million people are registered drug addicts. In America 1 out of every 8 children is the victim of incest. A daughter in 1 out of every 3 or 4 families is sexually attacked. (Pazar Postasi, July 23, 1994)

Despite the apparent disintegration in Turkish society and weakening of the traditional values, it is observed that at least an important part of the Turkish media is continuing to show and encourage such problems as "modern" values or the signs of being "modern".