2000 | EUROPEAN COURT OF HUMAN RIGHTS | Cases against Turkey
The following cases are examples of the many that arose in the context of the serious disturbances that raged in the South-East of Turkey between the security forces and the members of the PKK (Workers' Party of Kurdistan) from approximately 1985. By 1996, when the first of the South-East Turkey cases came before the ECtHR, this confrontation had, according to the Government, claimed the lives of 4,036 civilians and 3,884 members of the security forces. It appeared that a large number of villages, estimated at more than 1,000, had been destroyed and evacuated during this conflict. Since 1987, ten of the eleven provinces of south-eastern Turkey had been subjected to emergency rule that was in force at the time of the facts complained of.
The applicants were Turkish nationals resident in the village of Kelekçi in province of Diyarbakir. The village had been the centre of intense PKK terrorist activity. Following a number of attacks by the PKK, security forces were reinforced in the area and extensive searches were carried out for terrorists. The applicants alleged that on 10 November 1992 State security forces launched an attack on the village of Kelekçi, burning down nine buildings, including homes, and forcing the immediate evacuation of the entire village. The Court found that no proper investigation was carried out at the domestic level. No authority took up the applicants’ problems or advised them as to how to seek compensation or any other form of assistance. The Court found a violation of Article 8 and awarded costs for the litigation, suspending any decision on damages until 1998 when it awarded substantial pecuniary and non-pecuniary damages.
Unlawful detention by agents of the State (1992), followed by torture and death of the victim, and then disappearance. No proper investigation was made. No explanation was given as to what happened to the victim after his apprehension. The Court found violations of Article 2 EHCR on two counts: substantively (causing the death) and procedurally (failure to conduct adequate and effective investigation). Substantial pecuniary and non-pecuniary damages as well as costs were awarded.
In the context of a round-up operation in 1994 by 200 soldiers from the Kulp District Gendarmes, all villagers were forced out of their houses into the village square, their houses were set alight and 6 men including the applicants son were subjected to beatings and then taken into detention at the Gendarmes Headquarters. The applicant was a Turkish citizen of Kurdish origin. The son was tortured and never returned to his family. No effective or adequate investigation was carried out. The Court found violations of Articles 2 (for the death and also the lack of proper investigation) and 3 (both for torture in respect of the son and for the distress and anguish, constituting inhuman treatment, of the mother, and 5 and 13. Pecuniary and non-pecuniary damages were awarded.
Apparently in connection with a search for PKK activists (in late 1993), Gendarmes ordered the gathering up of the entire harvested tobacco crop of all the residents of this village and set it alight. A year later they returned to the village and burned down all the houses, thereby depriving the applicant and his family, the last remaining residents, of their home as well as their livelihood and forcing them to move elsewhere. The Court found this to be inhumane treatment constituting a violation of Article 3 ECHR and found violations also of Articles 8 and 13. In addition, this applicant had been questioned and harassed by the Gendarmes in relation to his application to the Human Rights Commission. The Court gives detailed attention to the importance of former Article 25 (now replaced by Art 34). which provides that the Court “may receive applications from any person, non-governmental organization or group of individuals claiming to be the victim of a violation by one of the High Contracting Parties of the rights set forth in the Convention or the Protocols thereto. The High Contracting Parties undertake not to hinder in any way the effective exercise of this right”. Pecuniary and non-pecuniary damages were awarded.