20 Mart 1999
Emotions should not be expressed through violence and weapons. On the contrary, violence and weapons indicate a lack of expression. Carrying and using weapons individually has increased rapidly in our country. Using weapons is the extreme of violence.
Mustafa Toren Yucel
President: We are starting the discussion. I extend my greetings with love and respect to you all. Today we are going to focus on a very critical, vital concept that Turkey is experiencing. We shall discuss this with you and the speakers here.
Welcome to the panel discussion on “the causes and effects of individual arming in our country”. First of all, I would like to introduce our guests. You already know them, but I think it would be useful to repeat them. Starting from the left, we have Mr. Mustafa Toren Yucel, the General Manager of the Juridical Records and Statistics department in the Justice Ministry. Welcome. We also have Mr. Nedim Goknil - a hunter for many years and therefore accustomed to weapons. He is a public relations expert and an executive in a company. Welcome. I would also like to welcome Mr. Fikret Ilkiz, a lawyer. Today he will speak about “media and peace”. And you will all know Mrs. Nazire Dedeman, a strong, faithful Mother and businesswoman, someone who will totally dedicate herself when she believes in something. Welcome.
To briefly mention the subject of arming or disarming, I will start with my own notes. I want to make a description with a few sentences: weapons in non-governmental powers, terror organizations and everybody’s possession, for good or bad purposes, with or without licences threaten societies in today’s world. Worries are getting greater. At this point, Turkey has some activities on “international disarming and control of weapons”. According to the declared statistics, the number of regular citizens possessing weapons exceeds the number of people serving in the armed forces. I think it has reached terrifying levels when we see the numbers. Maybe these numbers will be greater in today’s picture here, or maybe we’ll the discussions and comments from you and speakers will show that they are not as horrifying as I think.
Yes, according to the statistical data one in every three people possess guns. I guess we will hear these statistics from Mr. Yucel. Some statistical information may be given on behalf of the state.
At this point, I’ll pass the word to Mrs. Dedeman. She has a lot to say about this subject.
Dedeman: Thank you very much. Dear guests, welcome.
The Umut foundation was founded in 1993. Since then, we have been trying to encourage research into the reasons for the rapidly growing need for weapons in our society, by arranging contests and conferences on Individual Disarming. Our aim is to prevent the development of violence and brute force, and to improve the existence of a legal state.
In the last few years, we have been observing terrifying growth in uncontrolled arming. We read in the newspapers everyday that people are dead or injured because of unconscious use of weapons at entertainment or celebration events for various reasons, and it is innocent people who lose their lives.
The way to express emotions is not through violence and weapons. In contrast, violence and weapons indicate a lack of expression. Carrying and using weapons individually has increased rapidly in our country. Using weapons is the extreme of violence. The tendency to use violence or weapons may be the result of lack of self-expression, extreme lack of self-confidence and psychological problems leading to personality defects or corruption. Therefore, the use of violence and weapons is a problem of social health. We know that carrying weapons, as well as using weapons, is unhealthy. Weapons hurt and damage families in all circumstances. These heart-breaking results from irresponsible hands damage our confidence. The fact that our society doesn’t value humanity, the lack of education and the difficulty institutions have in expressing problems create an uncontrolled and unconscious environment. Society becomes degenerated with the lack of education and psychological problems, bringing us face to face with a great deal of trouble and confusion.
Physical power is innate for individuals and for all species. Power is increased with the help of tools. Intelligence is also innate for species. Using and developing tools requires intelligence, and thus it is peculiar to human beings. Other species cannot develop tools like we do. Weapons are also developed by human beings, increasing the power to attack. Even if they are used for defence, they are tools of violence. Violence isn’t innate. It is learnt and applied when circumstances are suitable. Society teaches each of us against whom and in which circumstances to use violence. Weapons are developed for people who are inclined to use violence in suitable conditions. In this aspect, legalizing weapons means legalizing violence. The evidence of this is the licences given to carry and possess guns.
One can say: “weapons are being used as tools of defence against violence. Therefore, people who are not inclined to use violence may carry weapons”. Considering our social conditions, this may be a reasonable approach. So licences should be given to this kind of people. People demanding licences must be subjected to a specific period of education and their peaceful characteristics must be examined by experts, just like they are when issuing driving licences. This is our first request from the law-makers. Our second request concerns effective precautions to discourage carrying guns without licences.
These are the intermediate precautions. The major thing is eliminate the need of violence and use of weapons as its tool, or at least minimize it. For this purpose we must change the regional and social conditions. We must raise generations to solve problems through peaceful means without the need for weapons. We will soon have to change the education system.
Five years ago my son Umut was killed. I still don’t know the real reason why he was killed. Yet, I know a very important fact: my son was shot with a gun without a licence. Therefore; I say “NO! to Individual Arming”. The Calamity affects its immediate victim! And this is my heartache. However, in our land this calamity has started to affect more and more victims. In the last month alone, we have heard that 25 people were injured or killed by individually owned guns. There are plenty of examples. Without a gun, these anger-fuelled events may only end up in a fight and the problems may be solved later, but when there is a gun in place, the result is death and a ruined life.
These are really unfortunate events, examples of use without purpose, but the real reason for having a licensed gun is defence. The state gives the licence, even the gun, to a responsible citizen for his self-defence. If the state cannot protect its citizens, it may pass the function to the citizen himself. But such a state can not claim itself to be a “legal or civil state”. Some states intend the “honourable citizen to protect himself”, and some don’t.
In our research over the last year, we always see Japan given as an example. In 1997, there were 117 violent incidents with individual weapons in Japan, of which 22 resulted in death. In the USA, which has twice Japan’s population, the total number of fatalities as a result of incidents involving weapons in 1996 was 10,744. In the USA, the UK and Australia politicians have been forced to take action by the public, supported by the media, and individual arming was minimized with changes to weapons laws. In the UK and Australia, in particular, the new laws have helped to abolish individual arming.
In Turkey weapons sales increased by 358% over the last 8 years. Again in our country, a total of 90,114 guns have been captured by the police over the last 10 years, with a 612% increase in the number of guns captured between 1996 - 1997. Note that this data does not include those guns captured by gendarmerie.
Now, I want to read a piece from a piece of research: “Weapons are available for enthusiasts in 19 brands, except the Kirikkale brand pistols of the MCI (Machine and Chemistry Institute). According to sales records, following the local product Kirikkale, the most preferred brand is ... “it reads and continues with information on brands. Currently, MCI assigned by the Under secretariat to the Defence Industry is the sole authority to import weapons. MCI conveys market demand to foreign producers’ agents in the private sector. This demand is then conveyed by the agents to producers and weapons are directly received by the MCI. The distribution is carried out through Ankara. Those who want to buy a weapon pay a deposit of 35 million Turkish Lira. When demand is high, they wait in a queue for up to 6 months. The cost of imported weapons includes the value of the product, its transportation, insurance, banking charges and commissions plus a 100% profit for MCI. Some 80% of this profit goes to the Defence Industry and 20% to the Police Foundation.
We hand out weapons to the police and to the public, and we give the police the right to sell weapons and earn a second profit. Thus, we give weapons to the public through the police. I want to read a paragraph from a statement: “The state licences and sells weapons obtained in various ways to the police and the army at very low prices and call these ‘difficult buys’. Some 80% of these weapons sold to the police or soldiers for between 2 and 12 million Turkish Lira, and then they come back on the market. This is really scary and sad. I also would like to indicate that when these are brought back to the public through the state, MCI puts its remaining stock for sale to all state officials, offering instalment options in the payment. One of my friends sent me some documents. They are from a hospital; the official letter to the chief physician about the announcement of weapons sales, an encouraging memo from the chief physician to the personnel to purchase weapons and the application form. In his letter, my friend wrote; “I am so scared about this madness. It makes me worried about my children’s future. The document I am sending has been sent to PTT Hospital personnel by the chief physician, with his signature. It doesn’t only address the ‘educated’ ones - doctors, instructors, nurses - it addresses all personnel including those from lower socio-economic levels such as hospital attendants. It may appear like Civilian Defence, but it clearly encourages ‘Civilian Attack’.
The term “Civilian Attack” is really very apt. By the way, according to MCI records, 111,314 local and imported weapons have been sold in Turkey since the beginning of 1990 when weapon imports started. The total amount paid for imports was US$213,634,570. It is awful! These records show 32,674 foreign branded rifles and guns, for which 8.6 trillion Turkish Lira was paid in today’s currency. If cartridges and so on are included, people paid a total of 11.5 trillion Turkish Lira. There really is an incredible profit in this business. Our people are getting armed and somebody is making a profit out of it. Here it is, we get everyone armed like this.
There is something else here. The madness in weapon sales has lost effect due to new arrangements in licensing, according to the report. We see the statistics; in 1990 a total of 7,114 weapons (rifles and guns) were sold, 44,326 in 1995 and 47,102 in 1996. Yet when we come to 1998 – the year to May – we see 7,668 weapons sold. It means there has been some care and attention in licensing, which has reduced sales. This is a pleasing development, so we are attracting more attention from the authorities. There is a headline in a newspaper; the number of our licensed cowboys has exceeded 61,000.
Now let’s check the research in other countries. It is easy to obtain weapons in the USA, but it is forbidden in Japan. So possessing and carrying weapons must be prohibited. This is an easy suggestion for a solution, because, even in Japan most incidents of death by weapons are through unlicensed weapons used by a mafia group called Boryokudan. All these weapons were produced outside Japan. This brings us to the edge of individual arming. I’ll mention as a disturbing anecdote: in a survey conducted among Japanese youth, 62% would be willing to have a gun because they admire other cultures. If they are so willing, they will soon find a way to get armed. Even though it is prohibited by national laws, this country will get armed. As the statistics show, weapons smuggling increased by 86% last year. I am sorry for Japan, because all I have in front of me are bad examples.
By the way, how are they going to manage shifting to disarming in already armed countries? Another country to try this is Canada. Research has shown them that illegal organizations have gained more power and troubled citizens have been left without defence when licensed weapons were prohibited.
There is an undeniable reality when the concepts of Japan and Canada are combined; it is easy to say no to weapons, but it is hard to establish conditions to say no.
Convenience in obtaining a weapons licence, poor control of the state over individual arming in Turkey and inadequate penalties in the related criminal law all set the legal ground and environment for the growth individual arming. Another cause, apart from the ease in obtaining weapons – especially for carrying - is that firearms are very developed and powerful in terms of illegal profit.
I want to keep it short.
Baskan: We may continue in the second session if you wish.
Dedeman: All right, let’s do that.
President: Let’s now hear about weapons and disarming from our second guest Mr. Goknil from the viewpoint of a hunter.
Göknil: Dear listeners, as in many subjects, comments are being made about weapons in both conscious and unconscious ways. I do support Mrs. Dedeman’s sensitivity and efforts on this issue and that is why I am here. Just as she said it was a matter to be studied carefully and controlled in some way. But there is something to be considered - do we know what a weapon is? It is a simple thing but what is a weapon?
Dear listeners, this also is a weapon. Can you see it? This is a weapon too. This is a screwdriver and this is also a weapon. I’ll get back to this later. These are also weapons. When used in a particular way, this is another weapon. You read in the newspaper - lethal truck, lethal car. Trucks and cars don’t kill; the killer is the driver.
Of course, knives, axes, all types of cutting tools and firearms are weapons. So, what are the reasons pushing people to own weapons? Terrorists in the first place of course. Those who are busy with terror. They continue harming our society, our world with somehow obtained weapons. The second group includes psychopath people with murdering tendency who own weapons to commit crime. Another group is weapon collectors, collecting modern weapons. They have no other purpose. I know a lot of these people. They have many guns which never fired a bullet. They just dust and oil the tools in order to prevent rusting. And believe me it is really very joyful, just like stamp collecting. You look and touch and turn around and put it back.
Some people collect antique weapons. Some of these weapons work but some don’t work – anyway, they are weapons. With a little modification they can be made to work. Some collectors are hunters like me. A group of these people – I don’t want to mention names - get armed collectively for a specific purpose. We all hear about this; it may be political. And some people obtain weapons after experiencing a danger of death. I think Turkey is the country where this interesting concept of danger of death is most experienced. Anyone can use this excuse to get a gun. If there is danger of death, this country is no longer a place in which we can live. Some people wander around with big, ugly bodyguards. The bodyguards carry guns. The person whose life is in danger also carries a gun. There are many of these.
The role of the state is to examine whether or not there is a danger of death and if it is real or not. This must be studied. Some professions are really subject to danger. The media is a typical example. But wealthy Ahmet or his son Mehmet shouldn’t be able to have a licence of his gun in his pocket while he is going to a discotheque, for his life in danger; he mustn’t have it. I am very angry about it, and completely against it, even as someone who likes weapons.
Where are these weapons obtained? Mrs. Dedeman mentioned one source. There is production in Turkey and the MCI imports them. They are sold second-hand by the members of the military and police. There are weapons from abroad which are purchased by officers as gifts or donations. A president, for instance, gives it to an ambassador, another to an undersecretary, and so on.
A subject raised by Mrs. Dedeman is well highlighted; those in uniform stand to make a huge profit. This should be brought under control immediately. I may seem as if I am a defender of the subject, but when I take my turn in the second round I will try to explain with some concrete suggestions how can be controlled, and with what sort of legislation.
By the way, I also want to mention this; when speaking of weapons, how are they classified? Some time ago pump-rifles were discussed a lot in the newspapers. The news is about the pump-rifle, the picture is a single-fold rifle! A double-barrel, superposed. All of a sudden we have a pump-rifle issue like the “killer truck”.
Guns are classified in a few groups. Hunting guns. These are single-barrel, double-barrel, superpose, pump-rifle, semi-automatic. It is called semi-automatic. If a gun is automatic it is a war weapon. Each time the trigger is pulled it shots once, this is semi-automatic. It is impossible for a civilian to own an automatic gun - impossible. There is a hunting gun called “sabod-barrel”. The cartridge inside is landed. So when it passes through the barrel, it rolls like a bullet. There is another type of hunting gun with slotted and slotless combination. It has a double slot above and single slot below. This is called the rilin. We have a version of this with double barrel above and slot below. We have a phrase: pipe above, spit below (refering to irrelevance of things on one body). That is the source of this phrase. There is a slotted gun. Known as the one which shot Kennedy. We like to relate things this way. According to regulations in Turkey and other countries, these should be used for hunting, to prevent damage to the wild. If another type of weapon is used, the animal is wounded and not killed. Wounding an animal is equal to murder in hunting.
There are also defensive and attacking guns. These are slotless, short-barrel – fabrication or cut later with sawn-off shotguns with increased capacity; these can not be placed on the shoulder. You may understand when you see a man holding this semi-automatic or pump-rifle that he is neither a hunter nor an enthusiast, just a psychopath with bad intentions. A normal person doesn’t carry this; he shouldn’t. This type of gun mustn’t be sold to the general public. It is a special gun and should only be owned by the security forces. Another group of guns are for marksmen. These have orthopaedic handles. They are special and used in competitions.
I guess I am running beyond my allotted time but I want to say a few more things. A few words about prohibition of weapons in other countries as Mrs. Dedeman mentioned. They tried to prohibit weapons but couldn’t succeed. All those laws impeded the regular person from having guns, but those with bad intentions are not going to be inhibited by legislation or anything else – they can find guns anywhere if they wish. Be sure about this. If you are looking for it you can find any type of gun including a Kalashnikov. This is a serious case. A reality striking us with horror. Because killers don’t buy guns in the gun shops. They have other shops.
I want to pass it on, thank you.
President: Thank you Mr. Goknil. I want to add a word here: Russian origin Kalashnikovs are being produced in 14 countries of the world.
Göknil: Correct, by different producers. AK-47’s are also being produced in many countries including the USA.
Listener 1: It costs 15 million TL for the enthusiast. I repeat; 15 million TL for the enthusiast!
President: Sir, I would like to pass it on to you. Mr .Yucel is going to talk about the connection of “arms and law” and give some statistical data.
Yücel: Dear president, I heard some concepts mentioned during Mrs. Dedeman’s speech, Mr Goknil’s speech and also your own speech. Maybe I don’t have to talk about these concepts but I will, if you let me...
It all comes to the question of why guns exist, why they are needed and why are crimes committed. These are so natural. Crimes will be committed and guns will be present. The problem begins beyond normal borders. As you can not imagine human beings without fire, you can not imagine a society without crime. And weapons are the tools here as Mr. Goknil mentioned. The law takes charge when this tool is exploited. Why? Because people harmed with it must be protected. Thus, society has to protect itself.
Whether the society is able to maintain defence is a very important question for the existence of society. Society has placed specific norms for this purpose set out in Firearms Law 6136. They then brought out regulations about it. I wonder if the law serves its purpose. What kind of criminological and strategic objectives were considered? However, we see that criminology doesn’t involve these details.
This is a multi-dimensional issue. It involves sociological, socio-psychological aspects and universal dimensions. When you see it in Turkey’s perspective, weapons are one of the parameters of culture. This is because violence and weapons are parametric concepts. Violence is so attributed to us. We have a culture full of interesting concepts and phrases including “blood”, such as “blood feud”, “blood revenge”, “bloody pen”, etc. And it is a natural fact, like a virus. Interestingly, we know it’s bad but we don’t give up, possession of guns is like smoking. We see that in Japan. There is a new tendency in Japan, as Mrs. Dedeman said. Why? Countries are now cooperating on a universal level. The fire is burning the same way in Ankara, Tokyo, London and New York.
This is the important thing. If we are affected by the fire in USA, that’s bad. It has enormous dimensions in USA. But is it less serious in Turkey? The dimension in Turkey is unique to our country, when we see in the historical and cultural perspective tendency for weapons is increasing in Turkey. Weapons happen to be one side of the triangle with terror and anarchy. Because of this, youth’s tendency for terror and violence in Turkey and the world have brought weapons to the foreground.
Both Mrs. Dedeman and Mr. Goknil mentioned statistics and I won’t be going into detail. Mr. Goknil mentioned a very important point. Weapons! These are perceived as firearms in the legal sense. He mentioned are cutting tools, which can also be weapons. This is very important, the concept of “tools”.
I think tools and weapons are the same - there is no difference. There is some contradiction in Turkey. We see the solution in violence. The easiest way is to pull out the weapon and shoot. The other way is to get into the car and drive away. Interesting this - cars and weapons. Mr Goknil put it very well: weapons don’t kill people, people do. This is also used in criminology.
It’s true but it is a matter of responsibility. Mrs. Dedeman referred to responsibility. They are not all peaceful enthusiasts of weapons like Mr. Goknil. Mr. President also mentioned it, he is not at peace with weapons. If one is not at peace with himself, how can we expect him to be in peace with weapons?
I look at the statistics and see something very interesting: the numbers of those killed in car accidents and those killed in pre-meditated murder are increasing. One shows a 40% increase, the other a 45% increase. Thus, cars are used as weapons in Turkey. They are not in good hands. Weapons are not in good hands, either. A policeman will ask a man on Bagdat Street for his driving licence and the driver will reply “you didn’t give me one!”. Right. Everyone drives. Everyone uses weapons. Even if they have a license, their capability is not questioned.
There are some classical expressions. I don’t really like them. But there is one which is striking; where there are guns, the possibility that they will be used grows. Where there are cars, car accidents increase. It may seem like that on the surface but it doesn’t always apply the same way. Japan is a place with the highest number of cars. At the same time it is a place with the lowest number of fatal accidents.
You want to bring weapons under control and reduce exploitation of weapons. What are you going to do about it? What can you think of? Let’s enact a very rigid “weapons prevention” law. Fine, we can see such examples. We see an example in UK. We see it in Australia - it is down to zero. On the other hand, we see the USA bringing prohibition. Did those rigid laws really prevent exploitation of weapons, or didn’t they?
We have some doubt about this. There is an assumption, not confirmed by research – that when you view the subject rationally, there is more murder and increased exploitation of weapons when there are many weapons. A Swiss criminologist has a thesis about this and it is confirmed by the American criminologist James. This is a theoretical approach. It is impossible to conduct research without a theory; you can not convince people. What is intended and what is used? First you should have a theoretical reference. One of the theoretical references is the existence of weapons. Exploitation may increase when there are many.
Another interesting question, on the existence of weapons perspectives; should we prevent people from obtaining weapons, or just aim at some risk groups? If we lack a mechanism to prevent arming, we are not able to get everyone through a medical check, so what are we going to do? We are going to head towards a crowd with negative socio-cultural values instead of risk groups. Your efforts may gain more positive value with in-depth concentration on this point.
An interesting thing comes to mind: what is it about the risk group? Who are in the risk groups? Convicted criminals and the mentally ill, for a start. I must appreciate the work of the Ministry of Internal Affairs on this subject. The ministry amended the firearms law on 8 July 1997 with an announcement in the Official Gazette. It is an interesting amendment worthy of appreciation. Article 16 was seriously amended. It states that limits on licencing for possession and carrying will apply to those who have been involved with firearms in some way, who has exploited firearms, who has been previously convicted and sentenced for more than 1 year ...I won’t list them all and take your time, but the Ministry of Internal Affairs has imposed a rigid regime on licensing for possession and carrying. Then a new law was enacted, which continued as Mr. Goknil also pointed out.
Göknil: I’ll shortly say something. It was 2 days ago in a newspaper that a man apparently declared that he had been in jail twice”, even though he had a clean criminal record. We also face this sort of issue as well.
Yücel: You are right. The law included that. It states that it doesn’t matter whether or not your criminal record has been erased. Even if your previous record has been erased you cannot have the weapon; this is in the regulation. These people approach us with the same reason “ My record is clean. How come I can’t have a licence?!”. It is beyond our judgement, this depends on the Chief of the Police.
One thing about this subject is clear, dear president, and very important: it is very important to distinguish the group of convicted in the risk group by updating the databank. Mrs. Dedeman said that the 1998 statistics were available and the number was below 10,000 – so we see the effect. We also have expectations from the general public. If it is more than 1 year, we erase it but we record it. So when firearms are demanded we have the regular inspection and the archive inspection. Nobody can escape. We have serious information. This information can spell the end of the political life for some people. Therefore, one can not just tell the police that he has a clean criminal record and get a gun. It is impossible. That is why I appreciate this regulation.
An important theoretical approach may be that it is an extra fact in terms of our legislation. It is necessary to prevent handing out weapons and licenses, and necessary to monitor the risk group as closely as possible, because even if these people have a gun, their licences will not be renewed.
It has almost been almost 15 minutes, so I’ll keep the rest of my talk for the second round. There is a lot to say, but we have limited time.
Chairman : The subject is so very important and so serious. I will now turn to the other guests. Now, Ilkiz. He is a lawyer too but he is very much into the media. He will discuss the relationship between weapons and the media and his views about weapons, peace and the media.
Ilkiz: Thank you dear president. Hello and welcome everyone. I am very glad to be here. I am very pleased with this crowd and the concern over the role of journalists and what they should do, because there are no journalists here. But, thank goodness, 6 cartoonists are here with us. I think Nazire Dedeman resembles Sean McBright who made a speech at Peace University on 18 July 1979. I’ll talk about him later.
I know that 38 people in this hall are interested in this speech in terms of conveying information to the public under this subject covering journalists. Is 38 enough? Or who will take the role of conveying the subject to the public? This subject has been discussed for years already, it is being discussed all over the world and it is the subject which leads Mrs. Dedeman and Umut Foundation to despair.
I mentioned a speech in Peace University on 18 July 1979. A special session about Disarming was held in May and July 1978, organized by the United Nations general Committee. The subject was given as an issue facing all humanity, not just governments, and then a new decree in place in the UNESCO General Conference in Paris in 1978. According to this decree, if disarming is not just a problem of governments but involves all mankind, all communication tools and executives and employees of these communication tools are involved. So, they have a responsibility for it. Sean McBright was complaining in his speech that the decrees that emerged from the UNESCO meeting and the session on disarming in 1978 were never heard.
These complaints have been continuing for years. If we stick to the title of the subject and ask what the role of journalists is, we see that Sean McBright was assigned by UNESCO. They suggested that a communication committee should be set up. Sean McBright was assigned the position of head of committee, set up according to the United Nations decree. He was once the general director of the European Council and he has unique expertise in communication.
This committee had been active for many years. The final report agreed in 1980 spread throughout the world. Three meetings were held on the published report. This report is still being discussed. The report into journalists ‘communication and society – present and future’ has been discussed since 1980. Why do I emphasize this report? Because there is a part of the report which is important, which especially refers to the role of journalists in war and in disarming during peacetime.
When this committee, formed of representatives from the USA, France, Zaire, Colombia, the USSR (as it was then), Indonesia, Tunisia, Japan, Nigeria, Yugoslavia, Egypt, the Netherlands, Chile, India and Canada, including Marquez, finished their studies in 1980, which had started in December 1970. The report agreed in the UNESCO meeting in 1980 was discussed in the first Sean McBright Round-table Meeting with 33 journalists and communication specialists from 18 organizations. Nobody from Turkey attended.
The second Sean McBright Round-table Meeting was held in Prague on 20-22 September 1990. 19 international journalists and communication specialists from 20 countries attended. Most of the journalists in Turkey weren’t aware of it. I didn’t know either, but heard about it later. The third Sean McBright Round-table Meeting was held in Istanbul on 21 June 1991. This meeting, held at the Tarabya Hotel, was a discussion on this report related to the problems, rights and responsibilities of journalists, and from Turkey UNESCO’s Turkish National Committee, Communication Committee Chairman Hifzi Topuz, Prof.Dr. Oya Tokgoz and Ibrahim Camli attended. Then they published a declaration. The part of the declaration which concerns us, especially in today’s discussion, is very important and it reads: “a new democracy based on dialogue and reconciliation without violence must be developed with a peaceful cultural approach. For this purpose, cultural products shall be presented, distancing themselves far from war and violence”
A part of that day’s declaration summary is related to today’s topic. The declaration is long. However, this topic was being discussed in the third McBright meeting. The reports give a declaration of who journalists are and in this era – all journalists know it – and states that the right to obtain information, the right to reach information, the right to transfer information and moreover the right to comment on information is a basic human right. So the privilege of journalists is all eliminated. On the contrary, journalists who used the privilege with the “press is free and we are journalists” expression. have another role and responsibility now – a role and a responsibility. The role and responsibility is now on the journalists to directly convey information, the news, and the comments or criticisms on that information to people, and spread all views in this area.
In terms of basic human rights and freedoms, reaching out for information is the role of journalists. Next comes the obligation to spread news to the masses but being responsible in doing so. This obligation is the first measure of social democratic order in our era in continental Europe, and the status we are in. There you have an assignment and a responsibility because reaching news, and news with the right to convey information. Conveying opinions is now a basic human right.
Journalists witness many events. Journalists are not favoured. It has been mentioned that journalists are murdered, injured and obstructed by political powers. They are held up with the attitude of the political authority being that it is right for itself. However, as for what happens to journalists, the last report shows an example, with 104 reporters missing in 1977. Nothing has been heard about them. It is a figure in the universal scale. Between 1976 and 1978, 24 journalists were killed in the space of 15 months. It doesn’t matter where, but 24 journalists were killed in the whole world. Some 57 were injured, tortured or kidnapped and 13 journalists subjected to bomb attacks. This means weapons were used in their deaths and injuries. There is always a tool in deaths and injuries.
Why do I say all this? They work in these circumstances. As written in this report, the weapons industry, on which $1 billion dollars is spent everyday, doesn’t favour journalists. When face to face with war and with the high involvement of the weapons industry, journalists are officially and unofficially looked badly upon by people in the industry.
Let’s turn back here, to the side where Mr. Chairman and I are close to. How do journalists approach these events, title: war, title: arming, title: disarming?
It is explained in the report. The report states that there are five categories of journalist. In the first category, the role of communicators is to inform, just convey information, the raw material of news. They don’t count themselves liable to do something else. They don’t make comments in terms of war or peace. In the second category, there are journalists who believe that the profession requires neutrality and an unbiased approach regardless of the situation - neutral against war or peace, for instance. Journalists in the third category are a little strange. They assume that the aim and role of mass communication tools is to improve social harmony. Don’t misunderstand me when I say “strange”. It is strange in terms of the geography and the borders I am living on. The think they have a role to stand up against all kinds of violence. They accept this as their role to serve peace. Evaluation of another authority is within this point of view. They produce news and criticise with this point of view. They stand against all authorities with their articles and comments as they always act with this approach.
Journalists in the fourth category support whichever government which is in power. If the government favours war, they are advocates of war. If the government favours peace, they are advocates of peace. Their role is to support the actions of the government as journalists. If the government acts against war, they are against war. If it acts for peace, they support peace. The fifth category of journalists considers the reality that peace is in danger. They calculate all possibilities. They have special categories for peace, disarming and standing against war depending on the results of these possibilities. In terms of those special categories, they keep reminding us when we are in peace: one day you may face the threat of war. You may face violence, and they offer suggestions and advice. They chase weapons exchanges of the war lobbies as an act of trade. Very unexpectedly, when the government is about to agree on some pact about the arms trade with another government, they may tell public about the agreement. These are the fifth category journalists.
As a result, the 20th article of the international treaty for Citizenship and Political Rights dated 19 December 1966 was drawn up. All kinds of war propaganda are prohibited by law. Provocation of national, racial or regional hostility to encourage discrimination and violence is prohibited by law. Turkey has not approved the treaty. It was only signed and left aside.
On November 1978, when Sean McBright was working, the commission prepared a report - I am reading the title to make sure I am not mistaken – the Declaration of fundamental principles on the contribution of mass communication tools in reinforcing peace and international comprehension, the prevalence of human rights and opposition of racism, racial discrimination and provocation of war. This report evaluated 5 categories of journalists and then approved these principles on 28 November, 1978. In terms of the fundamental principles and the declaration, anything mentioned in the title is opposed. With this opposition, the role and importance of journalists is to work on these grounds. This is accepted as their role. Information shall be given in this manner. It shall oppose war.
This is how it is given with the international treaties but - if Mr. Chairman would let me - are journalists in Turkey all unaware of all these studies? Are they unaware of what is going on in the world? I don’t mean that. Do I find it satisfactory? We can argue that. But I don’t find it right to talk behind them as just a journalist and a know-it-all attitude lawyer here. I know that journalists in my country know these facts, they know Public Research Report no:12, criminal law, criminology – there is also the Human Rights Association, a research centre established in Izmir by Prof. Dr. Bahri Ozturk in Faculty of Law. In Izmir, they speak to 14,484 people in person and ask questions. In Turkey, 6,802 of these 14,484 are women and 7,682 are men.
This is the first question: Do you agree the availability of violence scenes in TV programs? 83.87% say “no, it has a negative effect on children”, and 11.1% say “Yes, I enjoy watching sport, films and news which include violence”. 5.2% have no opinion.
How about the easy licensing of firearms? They conducted a poll to see how many agreed with it. 85.36% of the respondents said they didn’t agree with it, saying “no, this increases the crime with firearms and accidental injuries and death”, while 8.5% say “-horse, woman, weapon - this is part of our tradition. I don’t give up my gun. If I can’t get a licence, I will carry a gun without the licence”. Some 6.08% of respondents did express an opinion.
Another question they asked was whether they approved of shooting guns in the air for celebrations after football games? Some 89.38% did not accept it, saying “no, that is very primitive and causes many deaths and injuries”. The percentage of people saying “it is a way to relax and has become a tradition in Turkey” was 6.49%, while 4.13% did not express an opinion.
There is one more question which asked respondents if they could go out alone at night as a resident in Izmir? 40.6% said “yes, I go out alone comfortably and without any fear. I can go anywhere I want. Izmir is a totally secure city”. 38.19% said “I have some worries, but anyway I can” and 18.72% said “I am really afraid to go out alone in Izmir”. 3.3% did not express an opinion.
Journalists in my country are aware of these results. I want to know that they are. To be sure about this, I present you with a declaration, the Turkish Journalists Rights and Responsibility Declaration, which the Turkish Journalists Association sent to all mass communication channels and discussed them with doctors, architects, medical and other professional chambers, labour unions most importantly journalists in the search of how to find a solution to all these problems. These journalists accepted this declaration and signed it. Anyone, not just journalists, can sign, just like Umut Foundation and we signed the heading of “being against weapons” as a starting point.
Chairman: Can we take that in the second round?
Ilkiz: I will just present this for my role as a journalist and finish. What are journalists in Turkey liable for? What did they agree? – if you let me: Journalists defend peace, democracy and human rights in the first place and universal values of human diversity and respect for differences. They need to recognize the rights and respect of all nations, societies and individuals without discriminating on the basis of nation, race, gender, language, religion, class or philosophical belief. They should avoid provocation of hate and hostility between people, societies and nations. They should not use the cultural values and beliefs of a nation, society or individuals as a material to assault. Journalists cannot publish any material promoting violence, or provoke or encourage it.
My regards to all of you.
Chairman: Thanks, Mr. Ilkız. I would like you to join the discussion with your question and search for answers to the questions in your minds. Before that, you had a question. You asked how weapons should be controlled? Let’s go over that. If other speakers have something to add, we’ll listen to them and proceed with the questions.
Göknil: When one is for or against something, if some change is desired, one should suggest a solution to it. Ok, it is wrong, it’s getting dangerous, it is increasing, this and that... What shall we do?
There are two issues: in the USA, nine children are injured, handicapped or face death through guns everyday. It is unintentional and accidental. I think the figure is higher in our case. I don’t think I am wrong. Nine people in the USA, in a population of 250 million; in our country, the only figure I just see in the newspaper and hear from around me is something close to this and it is terrifying. That is only the cases of accidental shooting.
This raises two issues. One concerns education and the other is that precautions in other countries are not applied here. What are these precautions? There is an education program called “gun safe” for children at early ages. They say “bam” you know, they won’t let it. This is a trigger. Look, this position is a gun. A gun should never be pointed at someone. If you point it at someone, you use that gun. It is only pointed at something for the purpose of shooting. A gun should never be loaded. It should be empty when you are carrying it. Whether it is a pistol or a rifle, you can never play with it. This is the education material. We must apply this.
Two: Because we are this way, because the level of education is so low and we just mentioned - truck and weapon. We have two types of licences: one is a gun licence, the other is hunting licence. Today, anyone can get a hunting licence and get a slotless hunting rifle with it. There are the typical formalities, getting a paper from the clinic, two photos, a residence record, one this, one that, and that’s it. There is no such thing in other countries. They have such a difficult test! Animal species, maternity periods, hunting seasons, what do they eat, where do they sleep, guessing species by the faeces, recognizing the footprints etc. – there are many difficult procedures. So that gives the related right. I would have taken the test once again. I want to deserve it once again.
There are 6 million hunters in Turkey! Not hunters actually, but licence owners. The shepherd is a hunter too because he carries a rifle. The Single-fold is hunter rifle too. That is how they destroy nature. They cut trees down, shoot at raki bottles and burn forests with broken glass pieces. No matter what, hunting continues. This is the misery we’re in.
Second is the gun safe I suggested for children. Such a course should be applied to people who want to get licences or firearms. A certificate from such a course plus mental health reports and criminal records should be requested. Place some borders and find the qualified people through screening.
There is a problem about this in our country – like in other issues – and that concerns which qualified people are going to approve the qualified ones. It is funny: I go to the doctor to get my mental health checked. He is fed-up. The man is bored with his life. He tells me to hold my hands straight like this. I do. He just looks if they are shaking or not. If my hands are not shaking, I get my report with signature “his mental health is fine”. This is my case. Not Sabanci’s case. Some problems have been solved but still there are some defects. In Istanbul only two hospitals are assigned with this task and in Anatolia, it is one in each city. What are you doing? You are creating terrorists. Tricks are all set, you know what I mean. Everything can be done to get the licence – this is the way it happens.
Dedeman: Dear Goknil, last year I applied to the governorship for a gun to see how the procedure works. Provincial districts are now issuing licences, you know. Previously, application forms were from the governorship; now both governorship and the provincial district have them. I went through the same procedure. I had to go to some office in Besiktas and I went. The lady doctor had a look at me. No psychological examination. She didn’t ask me to hold my hands straight. But they didn’t give me the licence for eight months. That’s what I mean. Some time later, a policeman came, checked my ID card to see if that is really me. One month later they came again to see if my office address is correct. After 8 months they gave me the licence, and I put it away.
Göknil: On the shelf?
Dedeman: No, in my folder. Please. No, in my folder. Please.
Listener 2: I want to say something at this moment. I think you went through a serious examination. You held your hands straight and got checked if they are shaking. Two years ago in August, I went to a hunting shop, I bought a weapon called a 4+1, semi-automatic. They sent two people from the clinic. I paid 500,000TL as a donation to the association. I waited in the shop. My health report was purchased there. At least they saw you and checked your hands. They didn’t even see me.
Göknil: I will be finishing very shortly, Mr. President. How did those countries solve the problem? They have the same trouble. I mean weapons. They can be trouble. There is a law in USA called the Bready law, enacted in 1998. There was a waiting period. Conversely, there is a centre in the FBI. All weapon sales points are connected to the centre like ATMs. You go there and sign up as Ndeim Goknil. The application goes through the computer. The waiting period is 20 minutes, but may extend to 3 days. Then 20 minutes later you get reply telling you if you can get a gun or not. If the centre rejects your application, there is nothing else to do. You leave the place. You have the right to object. It is not black and white as it is here. You may pursue your right in some legal ways, but the door is closed there. If the reply is positive, there are different local authorities. You can get the gun with those documents from the local authorities. However, the rules are different in every state.
There is something called Conceal - to carry weapons secretly. Look at me. Just a man. You can’t see if I have a gun or not. This is so rare in USA, a rarely given right. You can take of the jacket and walk with it, but if you hide it inside your jacket, you’ll be imprisoned. You can’t keep it in the glove compartment of the car. It must be in a box in the boot of the car and it must be unloaded. There are many more limitations, and you can’t carry it between states. You need permission to carry it and you must get it recorded.
“It’s a country like Texas!” – yes, but this is in the constitution. It is a constitutional right to get and keep weapons. Despite that, strict measures are taken. All weapons, including hunting weapons, are recorded with production and ballistic data; slotted guns, pistols, all imported machines and chemical sources and hunting weapons are subjected to specific checks, security staff are given courses and police have the right to keep slotted guns whether there is a criminal record or not.
Yücel: The USA is a laboratory of 50 states. There are incredible experiments and laws. The issue of accidental deaths from weapons is a very interesting issue. Laws are enacted in some states ensuring that guns have safety locks. This is very important.
An interesting point is that one side is guilty and one side is the victim. One side must take some precautions to avoid being a victim. If you own a car and don’t want it to be stolen, you should use a steering wheel lock to keep it safe, and that is how cars are being designed now. Then you use a stick, then an alarm, so your car is secure. And your house is now full of steel safes. That is not enough; metropolitan compounds surrounded by fortress walls are being built to maintain security.
These are good or bad, but you need precautions. The USA legally forced citizens to take precautions. If you don’t apply them, you may be prosecuted. This is very important. With the help of these precautions, the accidental death rate in the USA has been reduced to 26%. Of course, the Bready Law is another issue.
In fact, the subject is multi-dimensional. I mean you can ban individual arming, but as Mrs. Dedeman mentioned, the Boryokudan case in Japan has a universal dimension and the organized smuggling of weapons is also very intense. There are two smuggling issues; one is organized drug smuggling, and the other is weapons smuggling. These bring serious profits. Small weapons may be prohibited at the individual level, but the issue of big guns has a universal dimension. It is not appropriate to see the issue as an American way of rights - I explained it like that, but don’t get such image; weapons cannot be accepted as a right. They are a privilege! Turkish legislation also agrees on that. If that is a right, everyone will get weapons. As it is a privilege, you can put limitations on it, because social protection is concerned.
There are very interesting developments in the world. Turkey is not abstract anymore. There is a “Winners-Losers Culture” with very wealthy people and very poor people. The Media plays a role here, brother Fikret - no offence but, the paparazzi deal with these in a very exaggerated manner. People see those programs and ask “how can I get it?”. Legal ways are blocked and limited. So they choose the illegal way! It is changing so much now; in the old days, when children made mistakes, the explanation was “it is the adolescence crisis or something similar. There is red blood and white blood and now there is crazy blood”. We tolerated their behaviour.
Now the issue is not all about that. The man perceives this behaviour as a lifestyle. This is the dangerous aspect. This shall be discussed in the pedagogical sense considering social conditions.
A very critical thing that Savas mentioned was that warfare violence has added to the violence in media. If you get in front of a computer, there is war, violence and then accidents. When a child sees a gun he imitates Rambo, and that’s how accidental death occurs in Turkey.
I think this is also important: You should make sure that you keep the bullets secure just as you keep your car secure with locks. There may be many guns, but no matter how many there are, they are useless without bullets. Therefore, the sale of bullets is another matter to be seriously controlled.
I already mentioned a very important thing at the start of my speech; I asked if we were in the dark, or whether it was a light? We sometimes talk but what we say –excuse me - without figures, is nothing. Scene investigation and the investigation of facts is very important. We don’t have enough statistics on this. If you ask how many of these deaths are from guns and how many from cutting tools, everybody will just make up something.
In the case of the USA case – let me tell you - 60% of murders are from firearms and seizures. What do we do about it? We conduct research if we don’t have global references and statistics; “we see from the research on 375 people that 60% are incidents of firearms”. We saw the dimension of the issue with research carried out by Mr. Donmez and Kunter in Imrali Prison many years ago.
It is necessary to change the evaluation system of statistical data and questions to be asked. This is necessary for two purposes. The first is to determine the existing influence in Turkey, and the second, in which the European Council has a suggestive decree on Harmonization and Alignment of National Laws – is to ask whether the crime was committed with a licensed gun or an unlicensed gun? In what type of crimes are firearms or cutting tools preferred more? This is very important. The media has long played a role in this. Turkey is not yet affected. In the UK you know there was a huge reaction to the murder of children with licensed guns. Legal measures were then taken.
I want to tell you this, dear ladies and gentlemen - I have developed a theory, a “theory of plus-minus”. The subject what the person owns and lacks – if the person is loved or not, if the person can eat or not, if the person can read or not, if the person can share or not. At one point, you have to be both sensitive and alert for the demands of society. The plusses and minuses must be at the desired level for this to be realized. Germans have a nice saying - Educate well and live well. These are very important parametric factors, and if you ignore these factors, and just deal with weapons, nothing gets better.
I am saying something very serious in terms of Turkey’s socio-criminological atmosphere: First of all, the Turkish citizen must know this: “When I commit a crime I will be arrested. When I’m arrested I will be sentenced. And I will serve my sentence.” It is all gone for good if this awareness isn’t present. This is a critical parameter. Beccaria said this 230 years ago, but Mustafa Yucel has been saying and writing it for 30 years and this is very important. I proved this in Turkey. A police presence is very effective. I told the kid – because some projects are hard to realize in Turkey, you have to be obstinate. God bless, I believe one day the Umut Foundation will succeed in this way. As Turkish people do this there are traffic accidents from people driving. How do you prevent this? I said - Place scale –model policemen, police-cars. Maybe you noticed, they started placing scale-models on highways, but it would be better to place them on a higher platform, because one may think it is a mirage while driving. But they will take their foot of the gas when they sees the police in the mirage. These are so new, but they should be placed higher just like that of Petrol Ofisi.
Thank you dear chairman.
Chairman: Thank you. Mr. Ilkiz I guess there is some teasing here. Joking of course.
Ilkiz: There is a concept in Turkey like reading statistics and statistical results. It is the Media! It is so easy! Indictments can be written on any platform. Judgements and decisions are made quickly. And it not possible to appeal against the case. The media plays a critical role - very critical. But the role of the media should be to realize the democratic and social order. The requirement to establish this order.
I know how Mr. Yucel has been striving in this direction for years – one of the people who get things done behind closed doors. The executives don’t accept good suggestions. They really don’t. Recently, new channels have come on the air. You may find out that since the 49th government there has been the promise of a democratic social order. This is also included in our current government plan. Yet this has not been realized. It has been given as a law since 4 November 1950 that one’s right to live will be enshrined in law and protected by the state. It was approved in Parliament on 10 March, 1954. when you put it this way, this is a law. It is not so contradicting. However, this is in the European Human Rights Treaty Law no: 6366. the second article outlines the right to live shall be protected even for death penalty cases. The deficiency of the media here is that the media didn’t inform society of these rights. As journalists, we didn’t say “these are the rights”. And when we faced the issue, we asked ourselves what we were going to do about it.
Apart from this treaty that has been in force since 4 November 1950, there is a European Beyond-Borders Television Treaty dated 4 November 1993. It has also been approved here and it is a law. Now, this is an international agreement. We are in mutual agreements as journalists when we have our private comments on these subjects. When preparing programs, the responsibility is to use content and presentation methods which respect human dignity and basic human rights. The program mustn’t be against ethical values or contain pornography. Most importantly, it mustn’t provoke violent actions or racial hostility. This responsibility is not just for people in the media. This is a responsibility for all of us! If Mr. Yucel is talking about the media, it is his responsibility. If we don’t evaluate his responsibility and do our part on this subject, there must be a screening and penalty mechanism for particular cases.
You can impose any kind of law or limitation. But the important thing is to keep your word on ethical issues. This is outlined in the Turkish Journalists’ Declaration of Rights and Responsibilities, prepared by the Turkish Journalists Association.
I’ll give another example. Everybody complains about the Radio TV Inspection Committee. But if you agree with this rule in the beyond-borders treaty, you mustn’t use violence which would affect children and their growth. Secondly, as a journalist you have a responsibility not to. Thirdly, your role as a journalist is to prevent it. Her is a very simple statistic. Statistics are complicated in our country. They are hard to apply. The number of images of violence per hour between 8.00 in the morning until midnight on Monday, 21 October 1996 was 106. Some 680 of the images were of verbal assault. Images of verbal assault images amounted to 40% of all images of violence. In one night on television, we see 30% of images being of physical attack and 28% continuing violence. So, the total number of negative images on 21 October 1996 at night is 1,000,692. That is just one day in 1996, broadcasting to children, teenagers and adults.
When you present this data you have responsibility for it, but someday the figures may come back to you: What have you done for this? What was your reaction? I am asking the doctor how he reacted to these images? I am asking the lawyer what he or she did. I am asking the judge when he or she said and to whom. I am asking one more thing: How many of you turned off the TV when you saw these 1,000,692 images?
When we attach all of these to each other, Mr. Yucel is so right to criticise. I am not a journalist. But a society based on basic human rights and freedom must be developed within this responsibility and have a close relation with journalists. We hope people won’t kill each other. I am ready to present all of my studies on how necessary legal norms can be established to avoid killings.
This society has a reaction to stand up when journalists are killed. They take the role to question these, because this society has a role for to protect basic human rights and freedom and to transfer information on peace and disarming. You will ask for knowledge and information from these people. When they are killed, you will stay silent. Or gather in the memorial days and cry together.
The attitude about the incident where a journalist was bombed with C-4 explosives - which are supposed to be available only at military bases, is about to become just a memory. Since then, there have been six changes of government. What is the difference? What is difference between this and what Mrs. Dedeman went through with her son? We should do our duty. The basic assumption of being responsible brings questioning things. There is a dear journalist beside me. I gave him legal information. I feel comfortable. There are many friends here. I can question them. I deserve to be able to. You have to be at a point where you can question things and deserve to do it. Therefore, you have to support these journalists, because nobody likes journalists. The smugglers of weapons, in particular, don’t like them at all. They kill them for sure. It is your duty to protect journalists who face the realities behind the weapons trade, so that you don’t come face to face with a weapon one day.
The trial of a US president has been issued as a sex joke all over the world. Whether you like him or not, this president brought the idea to broaden insurance through the country. This is the first thing. The second thing is that ın the congress, he proposed cutting defence spending by $126 billion. All hell broke loose and the congress stood together in front of all the world. The weapons lobby was very critical here and the main reason for this opposition. If a journalist doesn’t bring this to the public eye, and doesn’t do his job for children to stop arms and encourage disarming, he must be ashamed to look in the mirror as a person responsible for the protection of basic human rights and freedom. Otherwise, this is not a matter of who is right and wrong. If we say so we become like lazy, mischievous children children who don’t do their homework.
I will do my part. I am responsible for myself. And when I finish my homework and deserve to question your responsibilities, I hope you will have a good explanation.
Belkok: My name is Umit Belkok. I am an economist. I am listening to the discussion very carefully. Mr. Yucel and Mr. Ilkiz made some criticisms, but individual criticisms are concerned here. I believe people are guided by the state’s approach and they shouldn’t be held responsible for the weapons trade between states. Individuals are held responsible for wars instead of states. We talk about basic human rights and freedom. But, doesn’t the state violate the rights and freedom of its citizens when it attacks another country? In the end states are responsible for bringing weapons into the country and licensing them to individuals. Who is going to judge the state? I really wonder. I am asking this to Mr. Yucel especially.
I would like to say to Mr. Ilkiz that I am offended by his accusation of press and individuals. I have a criticism about the fact that he never mentioned governments and their wrong decisions. He never said a word about the government’s function in the weapons trade, as if individuals are producing them by themselves. They bring those into the country and kill people. I want to say something; we talk a lot about disarming here. How about the weapons distributed in the SouthEast in the name of “rangers”. Why is such a mechanism created despite the existence of military forces? The money transferred to the defence industry in South East amounts in one week amounts to what had been given to develop the region until year 2000, or something like that.
Yücel: Now, there is no such thing that governments or the states aren’t being criticised for. This subject was given by Mr. Fikret but perhaps he didn’t go into detail. The European Council and the United Nations deal with this, and the United Nation functions with a voting system. Can you imagine Sweden producing and selling guns. Think once, who is producing landmines? Who is producing plastic landmines? Some countries produce them. Some countries trade them. There are bribing mechanisms in operation. These are present. Now, there is a Bosnia-Herzegovina court at the international level. But there still is no court maintaining international security in international criminal law.
Belkok: Then why? When you look at terror organizations you see that states are guilty. The UK has the IRA, there is another organization in Spain. In Turkey, there is a PKK factor. You know the story; they accuse the man “you didn’t take any precautions”, and he asks “isn’t the burglar guilty at all?” So, aren’t the states guilty in terror organizations’ existence?
Yücel: You are so right in your criticism, and I am asking why. But their establishment continues. This concept was present when I was abroad for study in 1959, and is still present. But one day you’ll say it will be done. I mean the International Court of Crime will be established. This started with Nurnberg then and continues at a slow pace with Bosnia-Herzegovina. Look - in Europe there is the EURO Court in Brussels. There is the European Court of Human Rights at the European Council. We see states are being judged in those courts. What are the states being judged for? What they have done against individuals? The judgement of states by other states is carried out in European Council of Human Rights Commission and Court. Now the commission has been eliminated, there is a council. States are being subject to trial but it has not been realized yet at a universal level.
Chairman: Dear Yucel, I want to add something to your words: studies for the control of small weapons and prevention of their spread and possession by illegal powers entered the United Nations’ agenda for the first time in 1995. I mean this is something really new in the world.
Belkok: Yes, but states are not held responsible for anything. I mean those responsible don’t take the responsibility. It is all laid on individuals. I am against this approach.
Ilkiz: If you would let me, I understand your question. States should interfere in order to protect those deprived of human rights. A citizen shall be able to apply to a superstate authority when their rights are being violated in their own country. Mr. Yucel explained that in Rome on 4 June 1998, states agreed to establish a supra-national crime court. There are conditions for the execution of this agreement because the system is different. Judging the systems of states is different. My problem is this; I am not laying it on individuals only. I never had this kind of approach in my life. On the contrary, I am living with the role to lay things on the state. I hope I never give up.
The European Human Rights Treaty was signed on 4 November 1950. We are one of the founder states that signed. The reason was to prevent blood and tears in the aftermath of World War 2. It was agreed to enter effect in 1953. Meanwhile let’s develop the mechanism. I mean, what happens when you sign this treaty. Here it is written: 1,2,3... it is listed. “Torture is prohibited” it says. It states that “No one can be deprived of their right to live”, and “Laws are required for the death penalty”. It also lists exceptions. Besides these, this treaty brings many protocols. Now, are we done with signing this treaty? No. It is just signed and left.
All nations signed the Fundamental Declaration of Human Rights in 10 December 1948. It was left just like that! An inspection mechanism has been suggested for this, and in my country in 1987 the European Human Rights Commission Individual Application Right was accepted. Why was it accepted? It gives you the right, setting out “If you think that any of your basic human rights are being violated, and after you tried all internal legal means in your own country, you the have a right to claim against the Turkish Republic” That is not all. Additionally it spells out that “you have to respect the obligatory judgement authority of the council”. In 1990, this authority was given. Since then, protocol no:11 has been in effect. If you take part in the treaty, you accept the obligatory judgement authority of the council.
“Applications takes time” they said, and then you have the right to directly apply to the European Court of Human Rights since protocol 11 is validated. Look, this is something right in Turkey. There is a concept as to use this right properly and in the right way. You can ask what this right is and how it applies? How shall we perceive these? As for the question of how to perceive these, I think you can claim against the state for the weapons distributed to rangers. You have this right according to the European Human Rights Treaty. But before this you should claim against the state, you should try everything in your own country first. Have you ever considered claiming against the Turkish Parliament? Have you?
You are an economist, right? Look, in Turkey, pharmacists claimed against the Turkish Parliament in the Ankara 5th Civil Court of First Instance, because their laws were delayed. I ask lawyers - if I am with Mr. Yucel, can we claim a lawsuit against parliament? There are answers according to the norms in our country. Generally, we can’t. But see the issue becomes a lawsuit. Which issue? The issue of a delay in the enactment of the law. My problem lies here: We as lawyers and jurists are late to inform you of your rights. So you are late to pursue your rights and act before something happens. If you push us, we will work more. If you insist on something we don’t accept, things will get better. Claim a lawsuit against weapons distributed to rangers. If something bad happens to you, we will act according to the lawsuit or the action in place.
Otherwise, this is just a reciprocal polemic. When it comes to criticizing the state, I am always doing it within my professional approach, in ways you can not even imagine. Some things are not so easy.
Belkok: I don’t say it is easy Mr Ilkiz. I am not intending to be in a polemic, but despite NATO, despite the fact that NATO reproached and disapproved the attack in Iraq, despite the fact he visited Saddam during first Gulf War and reproached the USA, our current Prime Minister Bulent Ecevit now lets the Incirlik Base be used –NATO had then approved it according to the Arming Decree - and stands against NATO’s disapproval. However, now the USA is attacking Iraq, seizing the rights and freedom of other people. It is impossible that NATO would approve. The first person to oppose was Ecevit then and I appreciated this. But now he is the one letting the Incirlik Base be used. Can I claim against Bulent Ecevit for this reason?
Ilkiz: Try, that will be one nice lawsuit.
Chairman: Is there anyone who has a question about this? Is there anyone who has a question about this?
Listener 3: Not a question but a contribution. We shifted from individual arming to international law. I want to summarize.
Now, journalists aren’t present here but we are cartoonists. It means we shall be present in serious issues. The subject of individual disarming in Turkey is an open-wound. The issue can not be concluded with the firearms and related licensing. I have had my driving licence for 25 years. With this right, with this licence, I can not just go around. Or I can not point my gun at someone bowing in front of me because I have a gun licence? The issue goes beyond the Ministry of Justice to control and educate; the Ministry of Culture and the Ministry of Education also have a role in this.
We approach things in humorous ways as cartoonists but I spoke a bit seriously, excuse me. It was this summer when MCI made an announcement: Guns will be provided to officers with instalment options. Can you see how funny the government is? Is there any better humour? “Daddy/Uncle State, give me a gun, I will use bank credit with instalments, please” The reply is “Do you prefer Parabellum or smith Wesson?”
Listener 4: you don’t need to get bank credit. They give you the credit, in three instalments.
Listener 3: Wow, how nice! The second thing, in many places in Ankara and Istanbul, and maybe more in Izmir - I don’t know, a man can comes in, like going to a butcher shop and say “Prepare some Smith Wesson, with the oil, and I need half a kilo of bullets”. What are you using and against whom? If it is about Turkey, it is not out of order at all. Professor, I don’t agree with you, this privilege to use weapons... Maybe I misunderstood this privilege, excuse me. You said: “If these licences are freely available, everybody will get one” you said. I am 47 years old, I have never used guns since I completed my military service and I don’t want to. I was checking in at a hotel and the attendant asked me if I had a weapon, and I said I did. “Please sir, leave it at the reception”, he said. I took my pen out of my pocket. He thought I was just being funny. My weapon is my pen and his weapon is a gun. Mine is licensed. Ours is the most dangerous type.
Einstein invented the atomic bomb to serve technology. But later, Hiroshima and Nagasaki were bombed and thousands of people died. Maybe weapons were made for protection. I don’t know who invented them. And I don’t pray to God for their mercy. If weapons are invented, this doesn’t give you the right to use it for someone’s bad behaviour, or for you are a member or somehow attached to some civilian powers like the mafia or some gang. One issue we are drawing about is that fighting for is disarming, and the other is for nature. But unfortunately both issues are rapidly getting worse.
I am not interested about the use of superposing or its abilities. I haven’t used it. But after this, I can eat fried quail in a restaurant. Hunting, by the way, shall be considered in a serious frame and be subjected to education from Ministry of Education or the Ministry of Agriculture – whichever one is related.
Thank you very much.
Yücel: Nothing is possible without education. We can spend 2 hours just discussing the subject of education if you like.
Listener: It is impossible to mention the inevitable individual disarming when general disarming is being defended, when in the world $1 billion is being spent on arming and when countries are struggling so hard for it. It may be the Netherlands, Uganda or France, but this is the case. I have just tried to summarize individual disarming.
Chairman: Thank you very much. Yes Miss, please.
Listener 5: All the information given is very valuable and arming is at terrifying levels. But I think traffic accidents are also at dangerous levels. When Mr. Ilkiz touched the point of how to prevent these individually as citizens, I felt uncomfortable on my behalf, just like my friend here. We can only prevent this if we say “no” in an organized way. In order to be organized, in order to take such an approach, we are always forced by the state not to think. Peace associations have always been accused. We are the people of a country where the members of peace associations are imprisoned.
There is a research study that was carried out by the Nokta magazine. We never speak up, we don’t raise any objection when the police grab us and push us against the wall, or ask for the ID. We have worries about how to object to this. Maybe we should show the light at the end of the tunnel and speak.
Chairman: I guess Mr. Goknil has something to add.
Göknil: It is impossible to disagree with you. One thing we can do about individual arming is this. I am sure you have somehow met someone with a gun somewhere. We may assume they have the licence if they carry the gun. Wrong! Don’t assume this way. It is obvious in typology. The way he carries it, the way he checks it, the physical appearance, his typology – they all give us hints. Such a man – it could be your neighbour - shoots. Don’t close the curtains, don’t shut the windows. Call the police. Say that there has been a shooting in this apartment, on this balcony. There is a lot we can do. I just wanted to give an example with this.
Listener 6: I want to ask a question as a weapon enthusiast. I like guns. I carry guns. Now, I have one in my car, I am keeping it in the trunk.
Chairman: What kind of gun? Licensed? Carrying...
Listener 6: Licensed of course. I used it for hunting, today. It got so muddy. I am taking it to be cleaned –I couldn’t clean it. It lies in the boot of my car in pieces.
Göknil: A question for you. What kind of hunting are you doing? Hunting what?
Listener 6: A month and a half month ago, I went to Cihanbey.
Göknil: One and a half month ago? Oh, I misunderstood. The hunting season is over now.
Listener 6: Of course! I am very careful about that. I am just saying what comes to my mind, I went to Malya Ranch in August. I shot 8 quails – that is what the limit state approves. I left the area before 11:00. That evening there was a member of parliament - everybody here knows him well – who said that he had shot 200 quails that day. We had a serious reaction to this. They talk about enacting new laws but the law-makers are violating the law. I think we have to educate them.
Göknil: The thing to do is not to be afraid of those members of parliament and ....journalists....
Listener 6: I also have a word to say to the journalists. I deleted one of the channels from the TV’s memory. I am not giving the name. I am a careful person, and for some reason I deleted it. I see that camera on their shoulders as a bazooka - more dangerous than a bazooka.
Chairman: If you are reacting this way, I want to congratulate you, this is our problem.
Listener 6: Our salaries are limited. I am calling TV channels and complaining; my phone bill is never less than 30 million TL. I will call. Every ten minutes I take a deep breath, I feel need to relax. I don’t watch TV with my kids. A friend told me that everybody must stand up and react when a journalist is killed! I am watching the evening news, I can’t swallow the meal. Not only one journalist, everybody! I look outside, if there is anybody to react I will go with him.
I have a word for the lady: You asked the rangers if they claimed against the state and whether they claimed a lawsuit. Perhaps the strategic position of rangers was reasoned by the strategy specialists. But today it has gone beyond the limits. We should criticise this. But these rangers that you are against - do you know how many babies they have rescued from terrorists? Who are you going to sue? Why are you going to sue?
Listener 7: Do you know how many girls that have been kidnapped?
Listener 6: Excuse me, I am indicating that it has gone beyond limits.
Chairman: This is not the subject. Please return to the subject.
Listener 6: OK, I am returning to the subject. I will leave in a moment, let me have a few words on my memo: The number of our cowboys has exceeded 61,000, they said. To be able to say all penguins are black and white, all penguins must be black and white. If one penguin in a different colour, you can’t claim all penguins are black and white. They mentioned tools. I agree - very good. Actually I agree with all your opinions and I will sign for it. I will sign up against arming even as a person who likes guns. What you have shown me are not weapons. They are tools. When crimes are committed with them, they become tools of crime. A car is the same thing – like a pistol. The crossbow is also a tool. These become tools of crime when a crime is committed using one. We talked about the media. I also wonder about the rates of crimes committed with licensed guns and rates with unlicensed guns. I agree with that, but it seems to me that this licence issue is like grabbing rocks and sticks and letting dogs out in a village. I mean, you can influence people with dignity. But you will never be able to influence those with bad intentions and without dignity.
Chairman: This is, of course, a result of a lack of education and culture. I say this everywhere, in every platform. Education must be spread to all society and level of culture must be raised. This is the only way to achieve salvation. There is no other way. It was mentioned a few minutes ago; culture and violence, culture and weapons - these are always tied together unfortunately.
Listener 6: I will remind you of something if you let me: I want to remind the people who committed suicide because of the program. Thank you.
Listener 8: When you get a weapon, only its serial number, your ID information, etc. are recorded in the state archives. This is the case for licensed weapons. There is no record for unlicensed weapons. It is impossible to find out the perpetrators of the crimes committed with these weapons. If that weapon hasn’t been involved in a crime earlier it is impossible to arrest the person who used it. Because in this country, sold weapons do not go through ballistic examination with a first shot, as in other countries. This is the case for all licensed and unlicensed weapons. If I commit a crime with a new gun nobody can catch me unless they have witnessed. I don’t know, am I mistaken?
Göknil: Yes, you are right. That was a point I would mention. I forgot about that - thanks for reminding me. But I will make a correction. There is no correction for slotless guns.
Listener 9: A Turkish worker living in Germany says that there are serious penalties for traffic crimes and everything is stated in law in detail. In Turkey, people feel comfortable about ignoring a red light or other traffic signs for which they would have to pay a considerable fine in Germany. But they don’t do that in Germany. Here we see that, we don’t need to push our people for education. This means laws can be dissuasive. So what we have to do is make laws more detailed and more dissuasive. Therefore, we need a public act for these laws, my suggestion is to write a play. The Umut Foundation may lead in this. Get help from actors. Set a play which runs down and criticizes arming. Show it in various cities. Distribute brochures at the entrance. This way communication may be provided. Besides this, young people admire stand-up comedians. They get directed to do what comedians say. If we can also make them conscious of the subject, if they give some messages in their shows, if they mention disarming, there can be some influence given. The number of people interested in the subject may increase, and MPs’ recent suggestions and the media’s suggestions may be implemented.
Chairman: Thank you very much.
Dedeman: Thank you. I have already been carrying on with these campaigns for 5 years. Individual disarming was not even on Turkey’s agenda. These are all realized by the efforts of the Umut Foundation to create public awareness. You know there is no joke about weapons, we considered ways to reach the masses and spread the issue as much as possible. Football games! Because everybody is so much into football. For this purpose we started the “weapons don’t joke” campaign. By the way, TV stations have really been very supportive. They used the subtitle on screen “Weapons Don’t Joke” during games. With the help of these campaigns people became more sensitive about individual disarming. They even came to the point to criticise neighbours and control each other. Because we brought the issue for reproach. These kind of things must be reproached. It is what we must do as responsible citizens.
For example, there was a cartoon contest within the “weapons don’t joke” campaign. We are trying to reach everyone. These panel discussions are also very helpful. We are trying to get more information as to find out what else can be done, and we expect support from sensitive individuals like you. It will continue spreading if each person explains the subject to three other people. I believe this is the most important thing in societies. Education, you said, is of course very true, but we have to be informed about the content of the subject in order to educate. I would also like to thank the speakers. I have been very well informed here today. We always need a transfer of information, always and everywhere.
Listener 3: What can we suggest for the “horse-woman-weapon” to be recognized, just as an old phrase from Central Asia and where can we apply this? It may be kept as nostalgia but I want it out of literature.
Ilkiz: If you wish to present this in the media, if you want to be heard, six cartoonist friends here today may write this under every caricature they draw. Further, journalists will ask “What is this?” Then you will be on the news, then society will recognize it, and if you write it under a cartoon and show the state authorities and present it to them with a ceremony, the “horse-woman-weapon” will just be a phrase. This is my suggestion! But if you wish, you can take the cartoon to the patent office and get it officially registered, and there will be a copy. So it will be registered with that phrase.
Listener 3: We can do this when there is a contest about disarming.
Ilkiz: Always. On 1 March 1954 Turkey joined the Customs Union and the laws were required for intellectual and art work, for protection of competition, for protection of consumers. It was agreed and those laws would be enacted. Now there is some trouble about those laws, but at least your intellectual work can be officially registered. You can write the phrase under it. So the phrase will be legally and officially registered.
Göknil: I want to say one last thing. Education is not only through courses and so on. There are many places, environments, people we see in our offices, sectors and so on where we can educate people in these environments. We have to object when we see something wrong. That is what I want to say. When we go hunting, I spend half of the time educating and 10% hunting! There is no such hard hobby in the world. I don’t recommend it at all.
Chairman: Thank you. Our previous panel discussion was on a topic which concerns all of us: health. It is very clear how seriously we take health. Many valuable opinions were presented in that discussion. But the audience was only 5-6 people. This subject, on the other hand, has attracted more attention and there are more attendants, guests and members of the audience. I am sure if everyone of you influences 3-5 people about this subject, it will spread through the masses and this step by Umut Foundation will be successful. I have confidence in this.
Thank you all for attending, coming in on this holiday, for being with us on this very vital subject.
The Panel Discussion on Individual Disarming, entitled “The Causes and Effects of Individual Arming in our Country” was held at the Ankara Culture Centre Healthy Living Fair on 20 March, 1999.