IHD: The state uses systematic pressure to recruit politically active Kurds as informants

The Turkish state is using systematic pressure to recruit politically active Kurds as informants, said IHD chair Ercan Yılmaz in Amed.

The Turkish state uses systematic pressure to recruit politically active people as informants. Kurds are particularly affected. In Amed (Diyarbakir), further recruitment attempts have become known in recent months.

Meliha Cömert, district leader of the DEM party in Sur, was pursued by police officers in October and pressured into becoming an informant. In November, students from Dicle University made public the brutal methods used by the Turkish police to recruit informants. Students at Munzur University in Dersim also reported such attempts in December. The case of trade unionist Erhan Gümüş recently became known in Amed. The ESM secretary has been systematically harassed since August 2023. On 18 December, he was stopped on the street by people who claimed to be secret service agents who threatened him because he refused to be recruited as an informant.

The chair of the human rights association IHD in Amed, Ercan Yılmaz, told ANF that the authorities' pressure and attempts to recruit informants have increased since the Turkish state unilaterally broke off negotiations on a peaceful solution to the Kurdish question with Abdullah Öcalan in 2015.

Yılmaz said: “After 2015, when the conflict process began again and the pressure on society increased, Turkey resorted to anti-democratic practices more and more frequently. We searched our archives from 2018 to the present and found that 81 citizens contacted us with allegations of spy recruitment by law enforcement authorities. We looked at the profiles of those affected and came across very different profiles. There are public workers, relatives of prisoners, union members and students who face these pressures. We believe that law enforcement is using this method to deter people fighting for their rights as well as unions. According to our archives, we received the first application for support on this topic in 2006."

After that, the recruitment of agents increased systematically, said Yılmaz, adding: “In some periods, we did not receive any applications, especially during the period of negotiation and resolution process between 2013 and 2015. We are of the opinion that the current situation in Turkey is an example of the work being done to resolve the Kurdish question as part of the supposed anti-terrorist struggle. When police officers, members of the security forces and people posing as secret service agents approach citizens in this way and make suggestions or threats to them, it is, to say the least, an offense that constitutes abuse of authority. At the same time, there are cases of psychological torture in the applications. Constant stalking, harassing people on the phone, visiting the workplace and making suggestions and threats for that matter have turned into psychological torture. Many applications contain information about threats and insults. Some of those affected do not want to go public with it. We are bound to the applicants’ demands. The majority demands our support on this issue. They are asking us to take initiatives to end the threats and pressures they face. Based on these requests, we make inquiries to the Ministry of Interior, Diyarbakır Security Directorate and the Parliamentary Human Rights Commission and demand an investigation into the incidents. Many applications contain very detailed information; cell phone numbers, license plates and personal descriptions.”

Yılmaz pointed out that very serious cases of forceful agent recruitment have been received recently, and said: “However, we have not received any feedback from the ministry on the requests made so far. This strengthens our belief that these people are actually civil servants. Otherwise, the state would address this issue and do something about this allegation. The lack of any explanation, any work on this matter and the silence on this issue strengthens our suspicion that the allegations are true and that the people committed these crimes by taking advantage of their public office. We want citizens to contact the Human Rights Association about any rights violations they have experienced. The IHD has almost 40 years of experience. Such violations can only be stopped by exposing those who cause them. We ask our citizens to contact human rights organizations, bar associations and public prosecutors' offices regarding this matter and any other rights violations they experience. These procedures deprive people of their freedom. We see citizens’ applications as an important step in holding this regime accountable.”