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Kurdish Human Rights Project: This is the legacy website of the Kurdish Human Rights Project, containing reports and news pertaining to human rights issues in the Kurdish Regions for 20 years.

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On 8th July 1999, the European Court of Human Rights handed down its judgment in two more cases brought by applicants from the Kurdish regions, with the assistance of the Kurdish Human Rights Project, finding breaches of the European Convention of Human Rights on the part of the Turkish government in both cases.

In the case of Izzet CAKICI v Turkey (disappearance) the applicant argued that his brother, Ahmet Cakici, had been taken into custody by the Turkish security forces in November 1993, and has not been seen since. Despite evidence from several witnesses who had seen Ahmet Cakici being taken away by the security forces, and from others who had been held in the same detention centre as Mr Cakici, the Turkish government claimed that he had never been taken into custody nor detained on remand. Prior to his disappearance, Ahmet Cakici had complained that he had been tortured many times while in custody.

In 1994, Izzet Cakici brought a claim against the Turkish state under Articles 2 (right to life), 3 (prohibition of torture), 5 (right to liberty and security), 13 (right to an effective remedy), 14 (prohibition of discrimination) and 18 (limitation on the restrictions allowed by the Convention) of the European Convention on Human Rights. On 15th May 1999, the European Commission of Human Rights declared his claim admissible. On 12th March 1998, the European Commission adopted a report concluding that Turkey had breached Articles 2, 3, 5 and 13 of the Convention. The case was referred to the Court.

In its judgment, the Court ruled that the Turkish state had committed breaches of:

  • Article 2, on the ground that Ahmet Cakici’s disappearance after being taken into custody had given rise to a presumption that he had died. In the absence of any explanation by the government as to what had happened to him during his detention, the government was liable for his death.
  • Article 2, on the ground that there had been an inadequate investigation into the disappearance of Ahmet Cakici.
  • Article 3, on the ground that Ahmet Cakici had been tortured while in custody.
  • Article 5, since the disappearance of Ahmet Cakici during an unacknowledged detention disclosed a particularly grave violation of the right to liberty and security of person. The Court referred in particular to the lack of accurate and reliable records of persons taken into custody by gendarmes and the lack of any prompt or meaningful enquiry into the circumstances of Ahmet Cakici’s disappearance.
  • Article 13, since the national authorities were under an obligation to carry out an effective investigation into the circumstances of the disappearance of Ahmet Cakici: this they had failed to do.

The Court awarded £11,534.29 in pecuniary damages to Ahmet Cakici’s wife and children, £25,000 for non-pecuniary damage for Ahmet Cakici’s heirs, £2,500 non-pecuniary damage for Izzet Cakici, and £20,000 for the costs and expenses of the case.

In the case of Selma TANRIKULU v Turkey (extra judicial killing) the applicant brought proceedings under the European Convention in respect of the killing of her husband, Dr Zeki Tanrikulu, outside the District State Hospital in Silvan, south east Turkey, by two unidentified assailants in September 1993. The applicant claimed that members of the police had stood by and allowed the assailants to flee from the scene.

Mrs Tanrikulu brought an application against the Turkish state under Articles 2 (right to life), 3 (prohibition of torture), 6 (right to a fair trial), 13 (right to an effective remedy) and 14 (prohibition of discrimination) of the European Convention of Human Rights. Her application was declared admissible on 28th November 1995. In April 1998, the European Commission adopted its report on the case, concluding that there had been breaches of Articles 2, 13 and 25 (freedom to exercise right to complain under the Convention) on the part of the Turkish state. The case was referred to the Court.

In its judgment, the Court found that the Turkish state had breached the following Articles of the European Convention:

  • Article 2, on the grounds that there had been no effective investigation capable of leading to the identification and punishment of those responsible for the killing of Dr Tanrikulu. The examination carried out at the scene of the incident could have been no more than superficial, there was no record of any attempt having been made to find the bullets which had hit the applicant’s husband, there was a limited amount of forensic evidence available, and the applicant’s statement had not been taken until more than a year after the event. The Court was struck by the fact that the public prosecutor had indicated that this was a terrorist killing, although there did not appear to have been any evidence supporting this conclusion.
  • Article 13, in view of the lack of an effective investigation into the killing.
  • Article 25, since the applicant had been questioned by the chief public prosecutor at the Diyarbakir State Security Court about the authenticity of the power of attorney which had been submitted in respect of her claim to the Commission. The Court held that this was inappropriate, and could have been interpreted as an attempt to intimidate the applicant. In addition, the Court was of the opinion that a deliberate attempt had been made on the part of the authorities to cast doubt on the validity of the application to the Commission and therefore the credibility of the applicant.

The Court awarded £15,000 in non-pecuniary damages to Mrs Tanrikulu, and awarded £15,000 for costs and expenses incurred in bringing the case.

In the cases of Munir CEYLAN v Turkey, Gunay ARSLAN v Turkey, Haluk GERGER v Turkey, Edip POLAT v Turkey, Huseyin KARATAS v Turkey, Umit ERDOGDU and Selami INCE v Turkey, Fikret BASKAYA and Mehmet Selim OKCUOGLU v Turkey, Ahmet Zeki OKCUOGLU v Turkey, Kamil Tekin SUREK and Yucel OZDEMIR v Turkey, SUREK (No 1) v Turkey, SUREK (No 2) v Turkey, SUREK (No 3) v Turkey and SUREK (No 4) v Turkey (all freedom of expression cases), found

  • Violations of Article 10 (right to freedom of expression) in 11 cases. The applicants had, variously, been prosecuted in Turkey for writing books, poems, speeches and articles on the grounds that they contained propaganda against the indivisible integrity of the state in breach of the Turkish Anti-Terror Law.
  • Violations of Article 6 in 9 cases, where the applicants had been tried in the National Security Courts, where one of the three judges was a military judge.
  • Violation of Article 7 (no punishment without law) in 1 case.

Damages were awarded to the applicants in all of the cases.


In the case of Behiye SALMAN v Turkey (death in custody) the applicant brought an application in 1993 in respect of the death of her husband in Adana, south east Turkey, in April 1992. Agit Salman was arrested in April 1992 and taken to Adana Security Directorate. 24 hours later he was dead. The applicant claimed that this was as a result of torture inflicted on him while in detention.

Mrs Salman’s case, invoking Articles 2, 3, 6, 13 and 18 of the European Convention, was declared admissible in February 1995. In March 1999, the European Commission adopted its report in the case, finding breaches of Articles 2, 3, 13, 18 and 25 of the Convention.

The case has now been referred to the European Court of Human Rights for judgment.


Kerim Yildiz, Executive Director of the Kurdish Human Rights Project, commented on the recent judgments as follows:-

"On 9th June 1999, the Committee of Ministers of the Council of Europe, in an unprecedented move, condemned Turkey for the human rights abuses committed by Turkish security forces in the Kurdish regions of Turkey. The Committee of Ministers referred to twelve cases brought by Kurdish applicants with the assistance of KHRP.

In these latest judgments, Turkey has once again been found responsible for gross human rights violations against its Kurdish population. Yet KHRP continues to work with many other applicants with complaints against Turkey. There are currently over 2,500 cases pending against Turkey under the European Convention.

We welcomed the Committee of Ministers resolution in June. And we welcome the European Court judgments. But despite continued condemnation of Turkey by the European organs, the abuse continues. KHRP calls on all member states of the Council of Europe to bring Turkey to account for its appalling treatment of its Kurds. Only then will the judgments against the Turkish state cease."




The Kurdish Human Rights Project works for the promotion and protection of human rights within the Kurdish regions of Turkey, Iraq, Iran, Syria and the former Soviet Union.