A leaked document officially confirms Turkey’s ’90s strategy of ‘special measures’ brought against Kurdish businessmen suspected of supporting the PKK, including extrajudicial killings.


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A historic document, recently discovered and disclosed, confirms that during the 1990s, the Turkish government officially sanctioned ‘special measures’ against Kurdish businessmen believed to support the Kurdistan Workers’ Party (PKK). These measures are suspected to include extrajudicial actions, forming part of a broader strategy to destabilise economic support for the PKK.

The document, dated 22 January 1993 and addressed to then-President Turgut Özal, outlines the National Security Council’s (MGK) approval of a comprehensive strategy that included psychological warfare and targeted actions against alleged PKK sympathisers. The directive aimed to undermine the PKK’s social and economic base, specifically targeting Kurdish businessmen with suspected ties to the organisation.

The document that illuminated one of the Republic of Turkey’s darkest periods was unexpectedly discovered by Masum Gök, a journalist, after being contacted by a paper scrap collector who frequently supplied him with old books. The collector called Gök in March to alert him about a new batch of paper waste that included bound books, which might interest him.

Unbeknownst to Gök, among these items was a document directly linked to a pivotal moment in Turkey’s approach to the Kurdish issue and its so-called ‘war on terror’ against the PKK. This document, originating from the home of the late President Turgut Özal, was part of a secret report prepared for the MGK in 1992, a time marked by significant and bloody conflict between the Turkish state and the PKK.

The document’s journey to Gök’s hands began earlier in the year, following the sale of a house in Balmumcu, Istanbul, owned by Ahmet Özal, son of late Turkish president Turgut Özal. The house, which had also served as Özal’s office, contained a vast amount of papers and books, nearly all of which went to the scrap collector.

It was in this seemingly mundane transaction that the historical document, slated for destruction as paper pulp, was rescued.

Masum Gök emphasises a significant aspect in the discussion, noting, “The key issue here, in my opinion, relates to the Gendarmerie and the special measures to be applied against businessmen known to support the organisation.” He points out the lack of clarity in the document regarding what these ‘special measures’ entail. “What do they mean by ‘special measures’ here? It doesn’t specify,” he remarks.

Gök then delves into potential interpretations of what these measures could involve if they were related to financial oversight, suggesting, “If it were about financial aspects, perhaps something like a tax penalty would be applied—this is manageable from an economic standpoint.” However, he expresses uncertainty about how the Gendarmerie, primarily a military body, would implement such measures. “How could the Gendarmerie apply such special measures? There’s no explanation here.”

He further elaborates on the consequences observed following the document’s date, hinting at a concerning timeline: “The date of the document is 22 January 1993. We recall that by 1994, numerous well-known figures from the Kurdish business community and the underground world had become victims of unsolved murders.” Gök suggests a connection between the timing of these directives and the subsequent mysterious deaths, raising profound questions about the role of state forces. “The fact that these killings occurred predominantly in regions under Gendarmerie control invites questions and suspicions about the exact nature of these special measures and their implementation.”

“This document reveals another aspect,” adds Gök, “it relates to the unsolved murders. As you know, last month the case involving Mehmet Ağar and Korkut Eken was heard in the appellate court, which issued an acquittal, and it is currently under review by the Supreme Court of Appeals.” Gök refers to the case involving Mehmet Ağar and Korkut Eken, two prominent figures in Turkey known for their alleged roles in unsolved extrajudicial killings during the 1990s. The case involves their trial for involvement in extrajudicial killings and the formation of illegal armed groups, often associated with the “deep state” activities in Turkey. This specific trial examined accusations related to state-backed operations that targeted individuals deemed threats to national security, including Kurdish businessmen suspected of supporting the PKK.

“If the Supreme Court of Appeals overturns the acquittal, it may seek the original document from the National Security Council to scrutinise how the Gendarmerie executed these purported ‘special measures,’” he notes. “Therefore, this represents a matter of considerable significance.”

Mehmet Ağar and Korkut Eken have been significant figures in trials concerning these so-called “unsolved murders” or “extrajudicial killings,” which have remained contentious issues within Turkey’s political and judicial landscapes. The appellate court acquitted them, but the case is now being reviewed by the Supreme Court of Appeals (Yargıtay), which could potentially revisit the evidence and decisions made in lower courts. The document Masum Gök found could have implications for this case, particularly if it contains details about the government’s directives regarding operations against Kurds.

While the infamous duo was acquitted in their recent trial, there was notable dissent within the judiciary, highlighted by Judge Ayhan Altun’s 160-page dissenting opinion. In his detailed dissent, Judge Altun argued against the acquittal, emphasising evidence he believed demonstrated the defendants’ leadership and participation in criminal activities, including extrajudicial killings.

The acquital, along with several other developments, was interpreted as a further evidence of Turkey’s return to deep state tactics.