Village guard system

Village guard system

Village guards (Turkish: "Korucular", officially "Geçici ve Gönüllü Köy Korucuları" ("temporary and voluntary village guards")) are paramilitaries. Originally they were set up and funded by the Turkish state in the mid 1980s under the direction of Turgut Özal. Their stated purpose was to act as a local militia in towns and villages, protecting against attacks and reprisals from the insurgents, terrorists and guerrillas of the Kurdistan Workers Party (PKK). The rationale behind set up of the system was that it would be helpful to the Turkish Army to have an additional force of people who knew the region, and the language in order to assist in military operations against the PKK.ref|unhcr2000

They have been implicated in attacks on Kurdish internally displaced persons returning to their villages after forced evacuation.ref|hrw2005 Around 50,000 to 90,000 village guards are still present in southeastern Turkey,ref|amnesty1996ref|hrw2003 also referred to as Turkish Kurdistan.

Members of the village guards are frequently targeted for attack by PKK guerillas as they are seen as traitors. Accepting to become a village guard is a largely voluntary process, although there are exceptions (see below).ref|state2000 A village guard can expect to be paid up to $200 (~130) per month.ref|aaas

Human rights

Whilst by no means officially endorsed by the Turkish Government, some village guards are reported to have been involved in "disappearances", extrajudicial executions ref|hrw2003a and tortureref|state2000a, sometimes dressing themselves up as PKK guerrillas in false flag attacks.ref|ganser2005

A report by the Turkish Parliament in 1995 confirmed that village guards have been involved in not just these but a wide range of illegal activities, including killing, extortion, drug smugglingref|hrw2003b. Human Rights Watch has stated that for years that have received reports of "violations by village guards—murders, rapes, robberies, house destruction, and illegal property occupation, among others". They add however that not all of these reports have been confirmed first hand.ref|hrw2006

People who refused to join the village guards have had their homes burned,ref|amnesty1996a or have been forced to leave and their homes and property seized. They have endured sexual assault and humiliation by the Turkish security forces.ref|coe1998 There have been some attempts by the Turkish authorities to compensate people who have lost property in this way. A member of the Turkish Parliament, Unal Erkan and former governor of some areas of south-eastern Turkey states that, "village guards often operated outside the control of the gendarmerie, and that many villagers faced pressure to enter the system".ref|coe1998a

The Turkish Interior Ministry approximates that 296 murders have been committed by village guards in the time between 1985 and 1996.ref|hrw1998

The journalist Gottfried Stein relates former lieutenant in the Turkish Army Yener Soylu as describing the process of persuading some villagers to join the village guards:ref|stein1994

We posed the people with a choice, either they acted as village guards, or they would be resettled in other provinces. In the evening, we staged what appeared to be a skirmish with the guerrillas, we shot at windows and also directed heavy weapons against the village. As the people depended on their harvest and animals, we destroyed their fields and slaughtered the animals. If this did not help, we surrounded the village and sent in the counter-guerrillas.

See also

* Human rights of Kurdish people in Turkey
* Kurdistan
* Turkey


# [ UNHCR/ACCORD: 6th European Country of Origin Information Seminar Vienna, 13 - 14 November 2000 - Final report]
# [ Human Rights Watch Report - 2005 - Turkey]
# [ Amnesty International - 1996 - Turkey Campaign]
# [ Human Rights Watch Briefing Paper, March 2003 - Turkey and War in Iraq: Avoiding Past Patterns of Violation]
# [ US State Dept. - 2000 Country Reports - Turkey]
# [ AAAS - Scientists Clash with the State in Turkey]
# [ Human Rights Watch Briefing Paper, March 2003 - Turkey and War in Iraq: Avoiding Past Patterns of Violation]
# [ US State Dept. - 2000 Country Reports - Turkey]
# Ganser, D. (2005) "NATO's Secret Armies: Operation GLADIO and Terrorism in Western Europe" ISBN 0-7146-8500-3
# [ Human Rights Watch Briefing Paper, March 2003 - Turkey and War in Iraq: Avoiding Past Patterns of Violation]
# [ Human Rights Watch - Turkey: Letter to Minister Aksu calling for the abolition of the village guards]
# [ Amnesty International - 1996 - Turkey Campaign]
# [ Council of Europe - Report - Humanitarian situation of the Kurdish refugees and displaced persons in South-East Turkey and North Iraq]
# [ Human Rights Watch World Report 1998 - Turkey - Human Rights Developments]
# Stein, G. (1994) "Endkampf um Kurdistan? Die PKK, die Türkei und Deutschland (The final battle for Kurdistan? The PKK, Turkey and Germany)". (Bonn) ISBN 3-87959-510-0

External links

* [ Balkans Chronology] (from the United States Navy's collection of various News articles)
* [ Avoiding Past Patterns of Violation]
* [ No security without human rights] (from Amnesty International)
* [ In Kurdish Turkey, a New Enemy] (by Karl Vick of the Washington Post Foreign Service)
* [ Turkish Government Policies in the Southeast]
* [ Scientists Clash with the State in Turkey] (by the Association for the Advancement of Science)

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