Turkey upset over Western critics
A mixture of relief . . . and disappointment. That is the reaction here to the Council of Europe's decision to delay taking any immediate action against Turkey's military government for its alleged violations of the council's charter.
Instead of imposing sanctions against Turkey, or expelling it from the council, the council's parliamentary assembly decided last week to postpone any such action until next May. Meanwhile, the organization will follow developments in Turkey attentively -- particularly in the areas of human rights and the promised return to democracy.
Turkish officials express satisfaction that a decision has been postponed. But they are less than happy over certain provisions of the assembly's resolution which take note of allegations of torture, press censorship, arrests, and other violations of democratic rights and liberties.
They described this criticism as a lack of understanding of Turkey's current difficulties.They feel it ignores the efforts of the military rulers here to put their house in order and pave the way for democracy.And some observers fear that such criticism may further alienate Turkey from its Western allies.
Last month, the leader of this country's military government, Gen. Kenan Evren, announced the first part of a timetable for return to civilian rule. He announced that a constituent assembly will be set up between August and October. But it is not clear yet if all politicians who served prior to last September's military takeover will be barred. The Council of Europe will send representatives to Turkey soon to find out more about the military rulers' intentions, and to check into the allegations of torture.
On the eve of the council's assembly meeting, the government announced that after an inquiry into four cases of alleged torture, the members of the security forces found responsible for such acts had been arrested. The military authorities assert that they are very sensitive about allegations of torture and that they investigate every such claim.
According to official figures, about 30,000 people have been detained since the military takeover. The authorities describe most of them as leftist or rightist terrorists. But the detainees include large numbers of militant labor unionists and suspected members of underground organizations as well as some leftist and rightist intellectuals and writers.
Although there is no direct censorship, some restrictions are in force and the papers have set up their own self-control system. Two former premiers, Suleyman Demirel and Bulent Ecevit, are free, but completely ignored by the mass media. However, Mr. Ecevit, a former journalist, is about to publish a weekly magazine.
Two former political leaders, the ultra-nationalist Alparslan Turkes and the pro- Islamic Necmettin Erbakan are still under arrest and awaiting trial for violating the Constitution and the existing laws.
Political activities are likely to be banned for some time to come. In view of some recent military statements, most politicians are losing hope of being able to return to politics.Some of the senior civil servants formerly involved in party politics have been dismissed and replaced by retired officers.
A recent purge brought retired generals to the helm of the state-owned radio and television network, the Anatolian news agency, the press department, the petroleum office, the coal board, and several other state enterprises.
The official explanation is that the heads of these agencies were involved in partisanship, and that the newly appointed men will bring impartiality and efficiency to these services.