Interviews with Hüseyin Baybaşin from Rotterdam Prison and his Dutch Defence team
“I wasn’t framed and imprisoned for being a whistle-blower against the Turkish state: I was targeted because I raised my voice for Kurdish rights, including independence. I helped set up the institutions necessary as part of a road map towards the nation state of Kurdistan, such as the Kurdistan Parliament in Exile and Med-TV…”
Huseyin Baybasin, Rotterdam prison, Nov 2015. Photo: Dutch prison service
Re-examining the post-1980 Turkish military coup years is essential to understanding how and why the Republic of Turkey’s Pan-Turanian ideology contains no place for Kurdishness. Pan-Turanism still dominates much Turkish political motivation today.
Hüseyin Baybaşin was born in the Kurdish town of Licê,1 Diyarbakir. Articulate, courteous, and thoughtful, he presents as an indefatigable activist for Kurdish rights – one who wholeheartedly believes in Kurdish self determination as the world’s largest stateless minority. He explained his vision:
“It’s necessary to grasp the importance of the ideology of Pan-Turanism: It is a Turkish ideology attributable to Ziya Gökalp and the official ideology of the Ottoman era. The post-imperial Turkish Republic is still based on its premises of ‘One nation, one language, one flag, one Religion, one State and incorporates Turkey’s Islamic ideology…”2
Hüseyin Baybasin – Turgut Özal’s intimate
The Özal years saw democratic bridges opening between post-coup Turkey and the West and a more open discussion of the Kurdish issue. However, powerful anti-Kurdish hawks were active in the shadows, drawing up hit lists of Kurdish political figures, businessmen, thinkers, journalists and influential individuals and planning how to destroy the Kurdish freedom movement. The so-called ‘Deep State’s 3 targets included Hüseyin Baybasin owing to his prominent role within the increasingly active pro-Kurdish movement4.
“Looking back to why I was targeted, we must remember that the PKK had not even begun its armed struggle until 1984. Özal had returned to Turkey from the US in 1978 when General Director of the World Bank. His return was an unconventional arrangement: He became Deputy Prime Minister right away without any elections being held. The Prime Minister at the time was Süleyman Demirel.
“Between 1980-81, Özal became Deputy Prime Minister of the military-appointed government. The Prime Minister was Saim Bülend Ulusu, a retired Turkish Admiral, in position from the 1980 military coup until the 1983 elections5. I met Özal with several others in this period and by 1982 I was involved with forming the Anavatan Party (Motherland Party) – we were all part of this process and sought to resolve the Kurdish Question.
“We aimed to form a coalition with the Kurds (Turkish people didn’t understand what was best for them). I was one of those working on this project and by the time the elections were held in 1983, bringing Ozal a majority, we had completed all the necessary preparations. However, the state carried on pursuing its fascist mentality and destroyed stability.
“Turgut Özal called upon PUK leader, Jalal Talabani, to mediate a ceasefire agreement with the PKK. At a meeting held in Bar Elias in Lebanon on 17 March 1993, Jalal Talabani stood alongside PKK leader, Abdullah Öcalan, as he declared a 25-day ceasefire. This was extended on 16 April to an indefinite ceasefire 6. But the fascist powers in Turkey were already in action: Özal was pleased about the Kurdish agreement. The fascist forces allegedly had Özal poisoned and he died a day after the indefinite ceasefire announcement was made.7 Stability has been elusive ever since.
“From the end of 1997 until March 1998 when I was arrested, I was the negotiator between the PKK and Turkey in the Netherlands round of negotiations 8. There had been several rounds of secret meetings between Kurdish representatives and Turkish officials.9
“Shortly after the ERNK’s 10 European representative, Kani Yilmaz, was released from Celle prison in Germany on 11 February 199811 I was re-arrested. I was isolated then moved into three different prisons in the Netherlands – every week they were moving me from one to another till I ended up in Vught EBI.”
The conspiracy against Hüseyin Baybaşin – The Susurluk Assassination’s (12) key actors
Looking back to the Turkish state’s criminal activity of the 1990s it is not difficult to see how a Kurdish entrepreneur enjoying high-level contacts was effectively framed to take the fall as a Mafia ‘Baba’ because he was calling for Kurdish rights.
Well-positioned police chiefs, military officers and corrupt politicians jointly reaped the profits of the $50-70 billion narcotics trade 13 as well as skimming off the profits of gambling and money laundering. Few have ever been charged or received only light sentences. In contrast, Baybaşin’s arrests in the Netherlands (and the parallel, media smear campaign) came in direct retaliation for advocating Kurdish nationhood. One of the primary objectives of the Turkish state was to destroy the PKK and undermine the increasing maturity of the wider Kurdish democratic movement by targeting its key players.
Hüseyin says clearly and loudly: “I wasn’t framed and imprisoned for being a whistle-blower against the Turkish state: I was targeted because I raised my voice for Kurdish rights, including independence. I helped set up the institutions necessary as a road map to build the nation state of Kurdistan such as with the Kurdistan Parliament in Exile and Med-TV…”
The legal case continues – 18 years on
Few may be aware that the legal challenges to overturn Hüseyin Baybaşin’s conviction in the Netherlands continue some eighteen years on: a period that Baybaşin has spent in various Dutch prisons under extremely restricted conditions – access to him is still controlled high up in the Dutch Ministry of Justice. Short, and probably recorded, telephone calls are, however, allowed and Hüseyin has been able to detail his situation at first hand. His legal representatives, and two Dutch authors, documenting the gross miscarriage of justice in this case have also made copies of their research available along with links to published information. Unfortunately, much of the written material remains in Dutch.14
Research undertaken by Professor Dr. Ton Derksen who has prepared several published works on the case with another in preparation 15, effectively undermines the criminal ‘evidence’ – the body of disinformation, unreliable police sources, and inserted phrases attributed to Hüseyin Baybaşin some of which went on to feature in the now well-known book, Turkish Mafia- history of the Heroin Godfathers 16. This sensationalist work, more than any other, has effectively smeared the reputation of Hüseyin Baybaşin through reliance on complicit police sources working with the Dutch and Turkish authorities with the express aim of putting Hüseyin away in order to silence him. Information favourable to his case – and potentially helpful to his defence – was left out – other evidence was manipulated and distorted.
“Hüseyin Baybaşin has consistently maintained he was framed for political reasons in a joint operation between the Turkish and Dutch states”. 17
“Relevant evidence consisted almost exclusively of wiretaps. Baybaşin has stated from the beginning that the calls relied on were not made by him, and that these constitute manipulated conversations, partly supplied by Turkey to the Netherlands. Irregularities were detected in the recordings, but the Dutch Forensic Institute assessed them solely by ear and decided that they were authentic…Baybaşin was sentenced to twenty years’ imprisonment in 2001.
“On appeal, Baybaşin’s new lawyers (Pieter Herman Bakker Schut and Adele van der Plas) focused on Turkey’s politically based manipulation of the facts. The phone taps were deliberately interfered with and partly by the Turkish police. Although highly critical technical counter-expertise was introduced by three independent experts their report was not heeded and they were not heard…18
The Dutch-Turkish paedophile ring cover-up: links to Baybaşin’s case
The Dutch authorities’ ill treatment of Hüseyin Baybaşin in court and in prison has been extraordinary even by Dutch standards. What’s more, a life sentence in Holland means life. The legal report observes on the politically “sensitive” (ill) treatment afforded to Baybaşin: “The case was “characterized by a high degree of sensitivity ” owing to the accusations Baybaşin made concerning the “Turkish and Dutch State and officials of both states.”
Hüseyin observes for his own part: “Can one sentenced to life who considers himself innocent not make every effort to prove his innocence? Or is Baybaşin especially dangerous because he accuses Dutch magistrates and judicial officials of complicity with their equivalent numbers in Turkey for the sake of joint interests?”
Hüseyin Baybaşin refers additionally to the (now publicized) role of former Dutch Justice Ministry Secretary, General Joris Demmink 19, in abusing Turkish boys on trips to Turkey in the 1990s. His legal representatives further explained: “A serious legal procedure is pending against this former Secretary General of the Dutch Ministry of Justice. In January 2014, on our request, the High Court of Arnhem ordered the National Prosecutor to prosecute Joris Demmink for the rape of two minor Turkish boys in the period between 1995-1997 and to initiate a thorough criminal investigation. Since that court order, however, Turkey suddenly refused all legal aid to enable the Dutch Judge of Instruction to interview the Turkish victims and witnesses. The Dutch High court now has to decide how to continue. (A campaign for the arrest of Demmink is also ongoing).20 Turkish law enforcement officials have also intimidated the victims of Demmink’s crimes.” 21
Hüseyin elaborated further: “Despite the efforts of United States Helsinki Committee (OSCE)22 President, Christopher Smith, who met my lawyer, Adèle van der Plas 23, in Washington, the Chief of Police Intelligence (CID) gave a statement on the case saying “When I took it on, I did everything possible to ensure Baybaşin appear guilty but I feel ashamed of it as it was all false”. The Dutch and Turkish authorities still did everything possible to cover up the Dutch paedophile ring. The case was also brought up in Austria. Christopher Smith, Eren Keskin and Berzan Ekinci met and explained the nature of the documents and issues back in Turkey.”
In the usual manner of “I’ll stroke your back…” between powerful elites, keeping Baybaşin in isolation, deprived of all human consideration can be seen to constitute an act of co-operation between the Dutch state and their Turkish counterparts.
Baybaşin’s legal representatives condemned the extreme severity of his detention conditions and eventually achieved several successful legal verdicts on that front but despite this, irregular restrictions are still being imposed. The legal team writes: “For reasons never clarified, he was already placed in incommunicado detention during the preliminary investigation. He spent nearly six years partly in isolation at the EBI Vught 24. Many would not survive mentally and physically. He calls his stay worse than the torture…he underwent in Turkey.
“His lawyers had to litigate to discover the motives for this additional cracking down. It would go to allegations of attempted escape. There was nothing to rely on for this so there was no reason for the isolation. After he was transferred to a regular prison in late 2003, this special treatment continued. So he was put back in isolation in 2005 and again in 2007 without good cause. Baybaşin won a total of three lawsuits over this illegal isolation. Lawyer, Judith Serrarens, commenced an Article 12 procedure in 2013 to sue the prison director, S. Langelaar. Ms. Serrarens believes that Secretary General Demmink ordered the isolation.”
However, Demmink was allowed to retire with honours, as well as to have lasting influence over the handling of the Baybaşin case and the maintenance of his harsh prison conditions. It is hoped the legal procedure against Demmink will yield results for all the victims involved.
Fabrication and manipulation of ‘evidence’
The legal briefing published by the Bakker Schut Foundation underlines how “No fresh incriminating facts have come to light on Baybaşin’s involvement in drug trafficking or in the criminal world…A number of allegations in the original criminal proceedings have now been disproved or shown to be implausible. What remains in evidence? Nothing except the dubious wiretaps…The Turkish-Dutch police interpreter who translated the tapped telephone calls from Turkish and Kurdish (into Dutch) …appears to have close ties with Turkish Justice and Turkish security forces. He says for the first time during a witness hearing in January 2013 how he worked with the Turkish government and how much Turkey was out to get rid of Baybaşin. Baybaşin was on a death list of eleven influential Kurds, of which only two are now alive.” 25
Hüseyin comments further on the issue: “The so-called telephone records do not exist – they can’t be found from the telephone companies to show such numbers so as to obtain the records. I kept asking “Why don’t you bring them? This was repeated in the High Court hearing in Den Bosch. They should have had them in the first place. They never have.”
“The Dutch police worked as part of the North and East Netherlands Police Unit led by a Dutch police officer called Mr. A.C. Jeroense. Baybaşin states: “Çetinkaya was a member of this team and along with Jeroense was responsible for the translations. Yücel Yeşilgoz, co-author of the Turkish Mafia that repeats many lies against me, was a friend of Çetinkaya according to the statements given to the Attorney General by his senior partner and co-author, Frank Bovenkerk. False information planted by the police found its way into the book and that book that was being written at the same time as the authors were involved in the investigation of the case.
“The Deputy Chief of Istanbul police narcotics branch at the time was Hüdayi Sayin 26. All these men were working together under the authority of Dutch prosecutor, Hugo Hillenaar 27, active in Turkey through the Dutch Consulate in Beyoğlu. Other high-level Dutch and Turkish actors included Emin Arslan along with Ferruh Tankuş 28 the police chief of the narcotics branch in Istanbul. Before that, Tankuş was said to have been involved in a police officer’s murder and it appears they made a deal to cover that up if he worked on a case against me. Because of the murder he was stood down and was not in any position to meet Hillenaar 29.
“In my high court hearing in Den Bosch in 2001 (30) it was claimed that the investigation was initiated on 25 September 1997 but Prosecutor Hillenaar and Tankuş had held a meeting in Istanbul eight months before this. Prosecutor Hillenaar accepted that the meeting had taken place but claimed they had spoken about “Baybaşin’s extradition and another drug case”. The irony here is that Ferruh Tankuş was not even on duty as a police officer in Istanbul at that time but was Chief of the Anti-Terror Police in Elaziğ. This is all in the records. Turkey was angry that the Dutch were “not extraditing Baybaşin.”
“Necdet Menzir, 31 former Chief of Istanbul Police, also clearly states that Tansu Çiller’s husband, Özel Çiller, and Demirel’s nephew were organising the case against Baybaşin along with Demmink, Tankuş and Emin Arslan: “We didn’t want to cause chaos in Ankara’s political circles but it was a challenge for us to live with it.” “
Hüseyin continued, “Now, if we say Yeşilgoz was misled by anyone, I will say he was really in the team to mislead everyone else. Yeşilgoz cannot have been a genuine (political) refugee (in fear of Turkey) because he went with the team to Ankara and spoke with Turkish officials and with Emin Arslan. In the official documents from 1996, “Yeşilgoz and Bovenkerk were ordered to visit Hüseyin Baybaşin in Breda prison.” Official documents show us that their visit was arranged by Demmink.”
Hüseyin Baybaşin’s road map for the “Independent, United States of Kurdistan”
“Look back at the 1916 Sykes-Picot agreement and from that point how in 1923 the Lausanne Treaty ended the Ottoman Empire’s existence and divided Kurdistan into four to five pieces. The treaty was imposed by the Anglo-Franco coalition powers of the day and was accepted by the rest of the world. The Treaty left the Kurdish nation in misery and brought about wider social destruction. The Treaty of Lausanne did not bring about peace and stability in the region at all. Now, efforts for stability have been internationalised. But 21st century civilised ways of life are faced with serious challenges. Sykes-Picot and the Lausanne Treaty of 1923 need to be replaced with a revised project for the solution of these problems as well as the correction of wrongdoing against the Kurds and as part of the challenges the civilised world is faced with. Are we slaves? Are we lazy? These countries should apologise to the Kurds…”
“Every dictator has been replaced by a worse dictator than before – none of them brought stability: nowadays we have Al Qaeda, the Taliban, the so-called Islamic State (IS) and four similar entities. This is a very serious challenge – we in the West also face an ongoing economic crisis which has caused a moral crisis as well. The serious crisis requires a viable solution – this I see as possible with the creation of an independent, united states of Kurdistan. The map of Kurdistan runs from the Mediterranean to the Caspian down to the Persian Gulf, and should include the regions of Kirkuk and Mosul. If you examine early maps before the Ottoman Empire (and even during the Ottoman Empire) these areas are shown as part of the Kurdish region.
“The independent, united states of Kurdistan need to be ruled by a real democracy so as to administer and protect all democratic values. NATO member, Kurdistan, will serve peace and stability in the region and around the world. “
Read Part II: The United States of Kurdistan
2 Hüseyin added: “In the 1980s the seeds for Islamic extremism were being planted by the Turkish state: Imams were trained and sent far and wide to perpetuate the official ideology. This began to worry me at the time. I will say more about this danger in the coming weeks. Telephone interview 21.1.2017.
3 ‘Deep State’ meaning ‘state within the state’ see inter alia: https://web.archive.org/web/20090205022400/http://www.tihv.org.tr/tihve/data/Yayinlar/Human_Rights_Reports/Ra1998HumanRigthsReport.pdf
5 See an interesting background article from the time at http://www.info-turk.be/47E.pdf
7 http://www.al-monitor.com/pulse/originals/2013/08/turkey-president-ozal-poisoned.html “For the majority of the Turkish people, Ozal was killed by the “deep state.” For many years, his death was never investigated, but recently a prosecutor reopened the file and concluded that Ozal had been poisoned. The Turkish courts are currently hearing the case.”
8 See, Trial by Silence – the Huseyin Baybasin Story by Mahmut Baksi, and an article first published on kurdishmedia.com reproduced in Dutch at http://www.boublog.nl/2013/09/16/baybasin-is-verhuisd-naar-veenhuizen-en-meer-goed-nieuws/
9 See my article: Five Previous PKK ceasefires http://www.mesop.de/sheri-laizer-five-previous-pkk-ceasefires-since-1993-better-prospects-for-the-sixth-ceasefire-of-newroz-2013/
10 ERNK was the political wing of the PKK that carried out lobbying primarily in Europe.worryedo rkish state: ady worried me at the time. I will say more about this.in d and sent far and wide to perpetuate the offici.
11 Kani Yilmaz was released from Celle Prison after fighting extradition to Germany from Belmarsh Prison in the UK for four years having finally secured a guarantee from the German prosecutor that he would not be extradited to Turkey.
12 See, in Turkish, an updated documentary examining whether it was an ‘accident’ or a score-settling assassination https://wn.com/susurluk
13 In Turkish citing Erkoca, Yurdagul (1998-08-31). “Devletin tepesi haberdar”. Radikal “Doğan Güreş bu işleri organize etmiş. Genelkurmay Başkanı Güreş asker kökenli Nuri Gündeş’i MİT Müsteşarlığı’na, Mehmet Ağar’ı da Emniyet Genel Müdürlüğü’ne tavsiye etmiş. Gündeş’e Köşk izin vermemiş. Onlar da Başbakanlık istihbarat başdanışmanı yapmışlar. MİT de Ağar ve Gündeş’e karşı kendini korumak adına Mehmet Eymür’ü yeniden işe almış. Eymür birinci MİT raporunda Mehmet Ağar’la Nuri Gündeş’in, nasıl yolsuzluklara karıştığını anlatmıştı. Ağar da Mehmet Eymür’le arası bozuk olan ama onun yaptıklarını bilen Korkut Eken’i danışman olarak Emniyet Genel Müdürlüğü’ne almış.
15 https://www.speakersacademy.com/nl/spreker/ton-derksen/. See, also in Dutch, titles on the Baybaşin case revealing details of the conspiracy including the Baybasin phone taps available at https://isvw.nl/Shop/de-baybasin-taps-ton-derksen/
16 https://nl.wikipedia.org/wiki/Y%C3%BCcel_Ye%C5%9Filg%C3%B6z Turkish Kurd co-writer, Yücel Yesilgoz is cited as a graduate in law from Ankara University that fled to the Netherlands after the 1980 coup. He worked under Frank Bovenkerk at Utrecht University. As a Turkish and Kurdish speaker, he is the primary source for the Turkish material the authors had access to in Turkish Mafia.
17 Derksen, Op. Cit.
19 http://www.thetruthseeker.co.uk/?p=61775 See 1996 and 1998: 1996
1996:The Susurluk scandal takes place. Micha Kat’s 2007 article “Nederlandse Staat Gechanteerd door Turkije” (“The Netherlands Blackmailed by Turkey”) analyses the scandal and claims Turkey has evidence proving that Demmink organized sex parties in Turkey during which minors were abused. The article states that the sex parties were organized in collaboration with drug offenders who had contacts with the Turkish government, including with then Prime Minister Tansu Ciller.1998: Kurdish businessman Hüseyin Baybasin is arrested in the Netherlands for “criminal activities” related to “drug trafficking, extortion and murder” and is sentenced to life imprisonment in 2002. sympathizer Baybasin has always claimed to be the victim of a conspiracy against him by the Turkish state. He said that Turkey had put pressure on the Netherlands to arrest him by threatening to disclose information on Demmink’s abuse of minors in Turkey. Note: worryedo rkish state: ady worried me at the time. I will say more about this.in d and sent far and wide to perpetuate the officiUnderlining is my emphasis as to relevance.
22 https://www.facebook.com/helsinkicommission/ The U.S.Helsinki Commission monitors human rights and international cooperation in 57 countries.
24 EBI stands for Extra Beveiligde Inrichting – Maximum Security Prison: See conditions and location at https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=J4gg3CYSNcI
28 Tankuş was later investigated, headed ‘Investigation of Tankuş for 13 incidents’.
29 In June of 2013 Baybasin gets another strange visit from two agents of the Immigration Service. He is offered a deal on behalf of the Justice Minister Ivo Opstelten. If Baybasin agrees, his case is to be transferred to Turkey, where he is promised to be released soon. In other words, a tempting offer to escape his life sentence. The order later turned out to have come from the judicial district of Breda, headed by Mr. Hugo Hillenaar, a personal friend of Mr. Demmink, who was the main prosecutor in Baybasin’s case. Again Baybasin (courageously) refused the offer. He wants justice to take its course and be vindicated of all charges in the country that convicted him. See full text at: https://rechtiskrom.wordpress.com/2015/03/02/the-farce-around-the-prosecution-of-joris-demmink-2/
30 In 1999, soon after Baybaşin’s initial conviction was secured in complicity with the Turkish police and Dutch-Turkish agents, I translated Kurdish author, Mahmut Baksi’s (somewhat flawed) biography, Teyre Baz ya da Hüseyin Baybaşin, (the Kurdish Falcon or Hüseyin Baybaşin). In keeping with the underhand departures affecting Baybaşin in the Dutch courts I proposed a new title: Trial by Silence – At War with the State (Stockholm, 2002). The English translation included short written contributions by Hüseyin Baybaşin himself, posted from prison. Regrettably, he was unable to amend many original errors having never been able to meet with Baksi before the latter died from a long running illness.
31 http://www.haksozhaber.net/yargisiz-infazlarin-emniyetcisi-menzir-oldu-35361h.htm The Turkish article after Menizr’s death in February 2013 holds Menzir accountable for authorizing many of the extrajudicial killings of the day along with torturing and killing suspects rather than taking them alive.
Sheri Laizer, a Middle East and North African expert specialist and well known commentator on the Kurdish issue. She is a contributing writer for Ekurd.net. More about Sheri Laizer see below.