FROM PAST TO PRESENT A PARAMILITARY ORGANIZATION IN TURKEY: VILLAGE GUARD SYSTEM

This research is planned to consist of three stages. The first chapter prepared by Osman Aytar aims to analyze the village guard system within a historical context. The historical context carries great importance for two reasons: The first one is the fact that the village guard system introduced in 1985 bears great resemblances to the Hamidiye Cavalry Regiments that were established during the Ottoman period. Therefore, understanding the significance of this entity for the central government will provide us important clues in deciphering the village guard system that stands before us as a paramilitary force. The second historical context covers the last 30 years. Even though the village guard system

has been defined as “temporary” on legal grounds throughout these 30 years, what stands before us is an institutionalized paramilitary organization in which two, even three generations have been subjected to its effects. The reports and the discussions that took place in the National Assembly and the public regarding this system help us to evaluate this historical process from a different point of view. In the second chapter prepared by Nesrin Uçarlar, discussions on the village guard system noted in the minutes of the meeting of the National Assembly were examined and the members of the governing and opposition parties’ approaches to the subject for decades were analyzed in order to shed light on this period. In addition, the news archives were scanned in order to delineate the events related to the village guard system that was reported in the press. Crimes committed by the village guards, testimonies of the victims and statements of the state authorities were reported through this analysis of archives while showing how the system was used to justify every kind of human rights violation.

In addition to the analysis of these archives, field research was conducted. The third chapter written by Şemsa Özar draws on this field research. Face-to-face interviews were made with the village guards and, when possible, their wives and children living in the different regions of Kurdistan. The interviewees were asked how they started working as a village guard, what they have been through, what they think about the system, their opinions on the crimes that were committed, rights and demands of the village guards, and the abolition of the system among other related issues.

For a better understanding of how the system functions and the restoration of justice between the parties, uncovering the stories of the victims is a crucial step. However, this research does not primarily aim to make a report of human rights violations caused by the village guards. Testimonies of the victims were only included in the part of this report where the news appearing in the press was analyzed. Various reports prepared by the human rights organizations on the human rights violations caused by the village guards since the implementation of the system until today provide significant literature on the subject. Several NGOs such as IHD (Human Rights Association), GÖÇ-DER (Migrants Social Assistance and Cultural Association), and MAZLUM-DER (Organization for Human Rights and Solidarity with the Oppressed People) prepared important reports based on the applications of the victims and shared them with the public. These reports serve as a vital source for understanding the extent of the human rights violations, oppression, torture, sexual harassment, rape, and the massacres caused by the village guard system. The regional Bars and certain official commissions also collected important information based on the testimonies and the court records. Certainly, more research is needed to be done on this issue. The necessity to uncover the crimes and compensate the losses of the victims by means of establishing truth and reconciliation commissions is still valid.

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