A recent investigation of unsolved political murders and forcibly evacuated villages in southeastern Turkey cites JITEM, a clandestine intel unit linked to the Turkish military.
KIZILTEPE - A legal investigation completed by the Kiziltepe Prosecutor’s Office in southeastern Turkey cites JITEM (an acronym for Gendarmerie Intelligence services) for “systematic” unsolved political murders and forced evacuation of villages in the area.
Although it is being accused of countless illegal acts over the years in eastern and southeastern Turkey, the JITEM’s existence has never been officially accepted by the military. There are ongoing trials with defendants who are widely suspected of being JITEM members, but the name of the organization has never been written in court documents.
This investigation by the Kiziltepe Prosecutor’s Office is focusing on retired colonel Hasan Atilla Ugur, who is also currently facing charges in the controversial Ergenekon case. Similarly that organization is considered a sort of “deep state” power, with hundreds of military personnel accused of being part of a clandestine ultra-national organization that had tried last decade to overthrow the current government led by AKP and Prime Minister Tayyip Recep Erdogan.
The local prosecutor’s office sent its latest findings report to the head prosecutor’s office at Diyarbakir. It includes the names of Ugur, who used to be the Kiziltepe Gendarmerie commander, and eight other soldiers, known as “Team Knife,” suspected in the unsolved murders and systematic evacuation of local villages during the 1990s. “It is understood that the matters of the unsolved murders, disappearances, eviction from the villages and torture were commonly committed during 1993-1996; therefore it is also sure that the illegal organization called the JITEM existed and continued its actions after 1990 despite claims otherwise.” The difference in this investigation is that it openly says the JITEM is responsible for the unsolved murders and the forced evictions of the villages.
The report says the anti-terrorism activity of the state was taken out of the legal boundaries at a certain period, and continues with the following statements: “It is a reality that formations organized by the public servants working at this field, the Turkish Armed Forces (TSK) foremost, killed or taken similar illegal actions such as murder under torture against the organization members, its supporters and sympathizers without due procedure.” The mentioned organization here is the outlawed Kurdistan Worker’s Party (PKK).
The report goes on to say that the entire authority in the area was in the hands of military officials and the units under their command while the judicial and governmental personnel turned a blind eye to things. The JITEM acted not just with political motives but also for illegal financial gain, the report says.
“Violent actions like murdering people during interrogation and throwing bodies down wells cannot be explained as ‘anti-terrorism struggle.’ On the contrary, these are crimes of terrorism themselves,” the report says. “The possibility that this organization, which spent public money, committed serious crimes like systematic murder and torture…must be further investigated.”
Among the alleged crimes cited was one against Memduh Demir, a shepherd tending to his cattle in a rural area near Yücebag village on May 13, 1995. After a clash between Turkey security forces and the PKK, PKK member Bedri Kapan was wouned and captured. According to the testimonies of village guards, both Demir and Kapan were thrown to their deaths from a helicopter.
The Gendarmerie has denied any wrongdoing, and says that the villages were abandoned because the residents left on their own accord.