Daily massacres are taking place in Eastern Turkey (North Kurdistan) as the Turkish police and half a million strong army indulge in what some may say are pogroms against the Kurdish population, who are demanding autonomous self-rule. Now it has emerged that the JITEM, a secret paramilitary organisation – in truth, a death squad – that is attached to the Turkish gendamerie, may be behind the recent executions of Kurds, including twelve youths in the city of Van and three women in Silopi. (The last section of this article includes details of JITEM ops, including killings.)
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Led by an openly racist and neo-fascist megalomaniac, Erdogan, the Turkish State broke negotiations with the Kurds, renounced the cease-fire with the PKK and began ever growing police and military campaigns, as part of a widening strategy of tension in east Turkey and North Iraq (but not yet invading Rojava). The recent pogroms and incipient genocide were given approval by Nato in the Incirlik agreement, which could explain why Western reporting is at a minimum and Erdogan now has implicit EU support (plus billions of euros) in return for curbing the refugee flow to Europe.
Below are two reports of recent executions – the first concerning twelve Kurdish youths in the city of Van; the second concerning the murder of three Kurdish feminists in Silopi.
The JITEM – a classic plausible denial agency – has been implicated in the execution of the twelve (see tweet below) and is suspected of killing the three women too. JITEM is also believed – given its long history in extra-judicial killings (see below) – to have been involved in the execution of many more Kurds – civilians, politicians, lawyers and bombings attributed to ISIS. These killings achieve two objectives: crushing Kurd resistance and providing the right conditions for a state crackdown generally (curfews, occupation of towns and villages, mass arrests, etc).
A. 12 youths executed in Van, allegedly by JITEM
The above tweet is by @J_I_T_E_M – an account that claims to be acting on behalf of JITEM. The tweet, translated into English by BerNa, admits to the execution of the 12 youths in the city of Van. The tweet was subsequently deleted (the tweet above is an archived copy).
@J_I_T_E_M has claimed that the offending tweet was made by a parody account, though anyone can see from the archived copy that this is not so. Moreover, it should be noted that the @J_I_T_E_M account has previously released photos of Hacı Lokman Birlik, whose dead body was dragged behind an armoured vehicle after his execution by police in Şırnak last October. The savage torture perpetrated on Birlik’s body was first revealed by a photo circulated by @J_I_T_E_M.
It is, of course, possible that the JITEM account is merely that of an individual. At the same time, the execution style killings of the twelve youths have all the hallmarks of JITEM (see below – ‘Who are JITEM?’ – as well as links at end of article).
Meanwhile, HDP Van deputy Bedia Özgökçe stated that the public prosecutor has ruled that the bodies of the 12 youths executed in Van should be sent to the Forensic Medicine Institution in Malatya province for security reasons. Özgökçe said that the bodies had been identified and ID details conveyed to the public prosecutor. He added that eyewitnesses confirmed that the youths had been shot in the head.
B. Three Kurdish women politicians murdered in Silopi
A total of 19 bullets have been found in the bodies of three women who were killed on January 4th in the southeastern district of Silopi as Şırnak Governor’s Office denied media claims that the victims were assassinated.
Feminists Seve, Fatma and Pakiza were murdered. An ambulance that tried to get to them was blocked by police. DBP Silopi District Co-Chair, Gülşen Özden speaking to BBC Turkish in Silopi on the killings said she received a phone call around 7:35 p.m. and the voice on the other end said she and two other women had been shot. Ms Özden added: “They phoned me again a few minutes later, saying ‘We are losing blood, hurry up. We all will die if you don’t come in 10 minutes’.
Seve Demir, a member of the Democratic Regions Party (DBP), Fatma Uyar and Pakize Nayır, as well as an unidentified man, were all found dead in Silopi, which has been under a Government siege since December 14, 2015, as the Government continues to pursue its military operations against Kurdish resistance.
The autopsy report revealed that 19 bullets were found in the bodies of the three women, who were killed in a house in Silopi. A total of 11 bullets were found in the body of Demir, whose head was also damaged and her skull was visible. “Due to the wide tissue losses on the hairy skin and skull, it is not clear whether the injury to the head was caused by gunfire or an explosive,” said the autopsy report. In Uyar’s autopsy report, three bullets and “five possible cartridge bullets” were found. Five bullets were found in the body of Nayır, according to the report.
Peoples’ Democratic Party (HDP) Şırnak deputy Leyla Birlik has demanded further investigation into the incident. She has been informed by another DBP member that there had been an attack on a house and several, including Demir, were wounded before being executed.
“My point is that I was told on the phone that Seve Demir was wounded. However, she was wounded and alive, but her head was damaged in the report. That means she was executed [after being wounded],” Birlik said.
Many people suspect the killings were the work of JITEM.
Who are JITEM?
Jandarma İstihbarat ve Terörle Mücadele or Jandarma İstihbarat Teşkilatı (abbr. JİTEM or JİT; English: “Gendarmerie Intelligence and Counter-Terrorism” or “Gendarmerie Intelligence Organization”) is the controversial wing and intelligence agency of the Turkish Gendarmerie. It is also said to be the military wing of Ergenekon, an underground Turkish nationalist organization. It’s arch enemy is the Kurdish PKK and Kurds in general (as well as anyone opposed to the Turkish state).
JITEM is believed to boast around 10,000 individuals, working under its command. It is suspected of disappearances, assassinations, narcotics smuggling and weapons trafficking – among other things – related to its involvement in ongoing conflict between the PKK and the Turkish State.
JITEM also specialises in infiltration of the PKK and to kill in the name of the PKK (see examples, below, of JITEM agents caught doing this) in order to sow confusion.
“JİTEM is a ‘non-existent’ paramilitary force, an embodiment of the ‘deep state,’ used to enforce national interests. In other words, it is the unofficial military wing of Ergenekon, a group itself that not everyone believes exists. Former Turkish President Süleyman Demirel said that ‘If you want to define this situation, you can say that the military is the state. It is deep in the state. In other words, it is the deep state.’“ (from JİTEM and the ‘Deep State’).
Abdulkadir Aygan, a former PKK member, and later a member JİTEM, confessed to the media that when retired Colonel Abdulkerim Kirca was the head of JİTEM in Diyarbakir (Amed), the unit conducted dozens of executions. The following day Kirca shot himself in the head. Aygan has claimed that JİTEM executed between 600 and 700 Kurds in the 1990s and that ‘JİTEM operations always ended in death…those who were reported to JİTEM as having any relationship with the PKK were executed.’ Aygan is now living in political exile in Sweden.
JITEM was officially founded in 2005, but its unofficial history goes back to the 1980s. İlhan Cihaner, prosecutor in İdil (Şırnak province) was the first to point at JİTEM in an indictment of 1997. He held the defendants including civil servants, İtirafçı confessors and others responsible for killings, bombings and “disappearances”.
An indictment prepared by Diyarbakır Public Prosecutor Mithat Özcan, dated 29 March 2005, charged eight PKK İtirafçı confessors, namely Mahmut Yıldırım (aka Yeşil), Abdülkadir Aygan, Muhsin Gül, Fethi Çetin, Kemal Emlük, Saniye Emlük, Yüksel Uğur and Abdülkerim Kırca. These people were suspected of being JİTEM members and were charged with eight unsolved murders, namely the murders of Harbi Arman, Lokman Zuğurli, Zana Zuğurli, Servet Aslan, Şahabettin Latifeci, Ahmet Ceylan, Mehmet Sıddık Etyemez and Abdülkadir Çelikbilek between the years 1992-1994. The case was transferred to a military court. The court case went through different stages. In September 2010 the number of defendants had risen to 15. During the hearing at Diyarbakir Heavy Penal Court No. 6 of 3 September 2010 the defendants Ali Ozansoy and Adil Timurtaş (both confessors) were present for the first time. Earlier the Ministry of Interior had refused to inform the Court of the new names of the defendants.
Mehmet Şerif Avşar was abducted in Diyarbakir on 22 April 1994 and two weeks later found dead. The kidnappers, PKK confessor Mesut Mehmetoğlu and village guards hid in a building reportedly belonging to JİTEM. On 20 March 2001 six defendants were convicted for their involvement in the killing. The case was raised with the European Court of Human Rights (ECtHR). The court found a violation of Article 2 of the European Convention of Human Rights.
Abdülkadir Aygan is one of the 11 or 12 defendants charged with having killed Hacı Ahmet Zeyrek (in Silopi 1989), JİTEM staff member Mehmet Bayar (25 June 1990) and Tahsin Sevim, Hasan Utanç and Hasan Caner on 16 September 1989. A criminal court in Diyarbakır ruled in 2006 that the defendants were military personnel and should be tried in a military court.
According to the report of Kutlu Savaş, PKK İtirafçı confessor Hayrettin Toka had been involved in many killings of JİTEM. He was apprehended in Karamürsel in December 2005 and taken to Diyarbakir. A judge released him on 16 January 2006. In his testimony Toka stated that he had been imprisoned for 12.5 years.
Şırnak death well trials: on 11 September 2009 Diyarbakır Heavy Penal Court No. 6 started to hear the case of 7 defendants charged with 20 killings that had been committed between 1993 and 1995, when Colonel Cemil Temizöz had been the commander of Cizre Gendarmerie Station in Şırnak province, Cizre district..
The 2005 Şemdinli incident involved Gendarmerie intelligence personnel and alleged links to JİTEM. Three men were sentenced to 39 years for murder in a grenade attack.
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