Administrative reforms against terrorism

Administrative reforms against terrorism

Administrative reforms against terrorism are the name given to organizational changes/adaptations performed after the 1980 Coup in the Republic of Turkey. The reforms targeted not only the fight against terrorism, also insurgency with the rise of PKK guerilla activity.

In fighting against the political violence in the form of insurgency and terrorism, Turkey had to come up with different organizational structures in which some of these institutions were missing or their extend was limited.

Compared to other western states, Turkey's security system is a very young organization. The political and organizational changes brought very drastic changes/adaptations in the operational functioning of these organizations. The ideological perspective of 1924 constitution was based on a single party system (one unified body), so security machinery at that time was an integral part of state. The 1961 constitution was an improvement over multi-party politics and civil rights, but did not implement/impose checks and balances between the multi-party political and security system. The relation between political-security-justice was not in harmony. The Coup by memorandum (1971) did not make the state's system ready to cope with the right-wing and left-wing armed conflicts. There has been criticism of the use of these procedures by international human rights groups. [ [ Amnesty International - 1996 - Turkey Campaign] ]

Coordination Agencies

In reality Turkey did not invent anything new. There are some very visible administrative structures such as "State of Emergency (1983)", which was designed to organize workings of the state during natural and man made disasters but mainly used to control the effects of terrorism. FEMA (1930s) corresponds to this organization. Others are relatively invisible. During the 1970s there were allegations that university instructors were propagating political violence, which can fall into criminal activity. Coup had taken the position of judging these allegations, and sometimes making decisions on violation of scientific ethics without any expert information. “The Turkish Academy of Sciences (1993)” is an auto controlling agency composed from members of the scientific community. Besides its expert position on scientific fields, it sets and promotes the standards within the country, such as publishing a document on what entitles the freedom of thought (1994). National Academy of Sciences (1863) is a corresponding organization.

A report from early 1980s, claims that it is absolutely necessary for a free society to build safeguards into its structure, in both directions. One side is toward the extremists (professional police and intelligent agencies) and other side is the elimination of the temptation of the security forces to act outside the law while confronting terrorists. Every institution, while performing their duties, also had to fight with the sources within them acted outside the law. Turkey instead of trusting leaders (Atatürk or İnönü) who are at the top of their agencies, tried to develop organizations to perform checks/balances. We see developments and/or improvements in coordinating agencies after 1980, such as Milli Guvenlik Kurulu, Yuksek Ogretim Kurulu, Radyo Televizyon Kurulu, etc. When compared to western counterparts, the main effort was on performing duties in a place where the public security was not established. Turkey had to continue in investing pumping stations, power stations and lines, telephone infrastructure, post offices, airports, universities, etc which are also the points of its vulnerability.

An important point regarding these coordinating institutions, it is hard to develop skilled personnel (able to work in grey areas), and organizational cultures that can handle issues with minimum conflict. The implantations took many years to reach a satisfactory level. These organizations had a lot of scrutiny during the 1980s. The culture between public, security apparatus and civilian authority and their checks and balances developed through the public eye through newspapers during the 1990s.

PKK brought unique situations and conditions. What makes PKK different is the southeast regions special structure and PKK’s ability to use safe havens. Turkey's main response to PKK was developed through strict discipline and constant technical improvements in police forces, which are supplemented by the military units in the critical situations. In today’s security apparatus, each institution covers a specific need. Village guards protect the distant residential areas, urban areas use counter terrorism units of police and gendarme used in the rural areas and border control, which recently changed hands from a military to a civilian controlled unit. In this design, local civil authority at the top is responsible to adjust the level of response. All those units are under the control of the justice system.

State of Emergency (OHAL) (1983)

Before this law, when a situation was created that local government was not prepared for, such as natural disasters and social unrest, Turkey was using direct military control. Under these conditions, all the decisions and actions were taken from the local government and local elected system and given to the highest military unit in that region. After 1980, it was apparent that government has to be prepared for the emergency conditions. With this law, Turkey shifted to use a mixture of both normal and military system. The 1983 State of Emergency Law gave a structure to government responses and a budget to keep that readiness.

There is a tendency to link State of Emergency (OHAL) as a terrorism fighting organization, but in reality it was designed as the counter part of FEMA. It took more than twenty years for Turkey to deal with emergencies without the massive organizational structure of military. OHAL had been used during the first three days of 1999 earthquake. However, it was apparent after the third day that military had to be involved.

OHAL was passed in 1983, did not mean the military control ended in Turkey. Most of the states have lifted their status before 1986. The rest of the states lost their military control; Bingöl, Elazığ, Tunceli, Şanlıurfa (19 March 1986) Van (19 March 1987) Diyarbakır, Mardin, Siirt (19 July 1987) with the respected dates.

Village guards (1985)

"Main article: Village guards"

First: 26 March 1985 Renewed: 7 February 1990

This policy supports villages both financially and with arms to have their own security personnel as the Turkish armed forces were unable to protect the residential areas in the region. The law is established in such a way that these guards were selected through the village elders and they are responsible to government in their action. The village guard system has been frequently criticized by human rights organizations. The Turkish state has been known to blame acts by village guards on PKK insurgents.

pecialized Section under Police Department (1986)

In 1970s, police was traditionally trained to handle the common crime. It was no match to organized crime. Especially when the majority of the police were elementary school graduates. If we look at PKK only, most of its members were at least high school dropouts and some of them were university students. Professional police departments, specialization, crime labs, and forensic approach had to wait till 1980s. It is very notable that 1970s highly educated people turned into fellons with the goal of dismantling the state, in a time that they could have improved the state through its internal functions.

In 1986, the government constructed a section that was specialized in investigation of the terrorism activities, which was investigated through a branch before. The government needed to develop a special section to match the developments in methods and organizational structures of PKK and others. By looking at the activity levels of these groups, this need was obvious even before the 1980 coup. Also during the early 1980s, there were reports which claimed that failures of finding the perpetuators were associated with the skill and education level of police officers, more than anything else. By keeping the structure the same (without specialized units) so needed skills and human resources to deal with these issues could not be developed.

Regional Governor of State of Emergency (1987)

The security section of the government was designed as a reactive entity. Even the OHAL was designed to cope with the aftermath of an emergency. In that respect, when it comes to dealing with insurgency and terrorism, Turkey was always late and uncoordinated. The Regional Governor of State of Emergency (1987) is added to 1983 OHAL law to define another structure for the southeast region. The main target of this organization was to enable the coordination of the activities, ability to move information between the units and rapid action, among the OHAL states.

The government, instead of coordinating the activities in the region from the capital, decided to leave some of its powers to a regional governing system.


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