Türkiye

Mine Ban Policy

Last updated: 18 December 2019

Policy

The Republic of Turkey acceded to the Mine Ban Treaty on 25 September 2003, becoming a State Party on 1 March 2004. Turkey has not enacted domestic implementation legislation but has indicated that its constitution and criminal code, as well as directives from Turkish Armed Forces General Staff, give legal effect to the treaty’s provisions.[1]

Turkey has attended most meetings of the treaty, most recently the Seventeenth Meeting of States Parties in Geneva in November 2018, where it made statements on victim assistance and support for mine clearance.[2] Turkey also provided an update on its Article 5 obligations.[3] Turkey also attended the intersessional meetings in May 2019. It served on the Committee on the Enhancement of Cooperation and Assistance in 2018–2019.

Turkey is party to the Convention on Conventional Weapons (CCW) and its Amended Protocol II on landmines.

Production and transfer

Turkey halted production of antipersonnel mines concurrently with a moratorium on the transfer of mines in January 1996. Its production facilities were then closed.[4] Turkey is not known to have exported antipersonnel mines. It has imported mines from Germany and the United States (US).

Use

Turkish Armed Forces

Even prior to joining the Mine Ban Treaty, the chief of the Turkish General Staff issued a directive banning the use of antipersonnel mines by the Turkish Armed Forces on 26 January 1998.[5] However, there have been serious allegations of at least two instances of use by members of the Turkish Armed Forces in southeastern Turkey near the border with Iraq, in Sirnak province (April 2009) and Hakkari province (May 2009).

In the first incident, the Turkish newspaper Taraf published a document allegedly belonging to the 23rd Gendarmerie Division Command that indicated that on 9 April 2009 members of the Turkish Armed Forces emplaced M2A4 antipersonnel mines in Sirnak province.[6] Turkey did not announce that an investigation into this incident was underway until May 2012.[7] In May 2013, Turkey informed States Parties that “A detailed investigation comprising a consequent administrative legal scrutiny were [sic] undertaken. Let me share with you, for the record, that there has not been an explosion. Moreover the registry of Turkish Armed Forces shows that the mine allegedly in question was destroyed before the end of 2009, together with the stockpiled ones.”[8] It remains unclear if further mines from this alleged mined area remain in the ground as Turkey’s report only indicated the destruction of one mine.

The second case relates to seven Turkish soldiers who were killed and eight wounded by an antipersonnel mine near Cukurca on 27 May 2009.[9] The Turkish army initially alleged that the Kurdistan Workers Party (Partiya Karkerên Kurdistan, PKK) planted the mine, but in June 2009 the Turkish media reported that the mine was in fact laid by Turkish forces not long before the detonation.[10] An investigation by the chief prosecutor in Van determined that the mine belonged to the Turkish military and was planted on the orders of a Turkish commander.[11] The case was forwarded to the Turkish General Staff military prosecutor’s office.[12]

According to media accounts, a report on the incident in September 2010 provided to the Military’s prosecutor’s office found that the device used was an “anti-personnel landmine.” Brigadier General Zeki Es, who allegedly ordered the placement of the mine, was arrested in November 2010 and a case was opened in the Turkish martial court.[13] General Es was released in February 2011 after several soldiers recanted their previous testimony.[14] In October 2011, according to a media account, an expert report prepared at the request of the military court found that commanders were responsible for the deaths due to negligence and poor planning.[15] In February 2012, the Turkish General Staff’s martial court continued hearing the case against two generals and four other officers.[16] In May 2013, Turkey informed States Parties that “The most recent hearing of the trial was held by this Military Court on April 19, 2013. The court rendered its verdict and sentenced a Turkish Brigadier General to 6 years and 8 months of imprisonment due to “causing death and injury by negligence.” Turkey informed States Parties that this was an initial verdict, not a final decision, and that “the work on producing the reasoning of this decision is still underway.”[17] No mention was made of a violation of the ban on antipersonnel mines in the court’s proceedings, findings, or judgment.

Under the Mine Ban Treaty, Turkey must take every measure to prevent the use of antipersonnel mines, including the application of penal sanctions. The ICBL has previously called on Turkey to thoroughly investigate the use allegations, to report to States Parties on its findings, and undertake measures to prevent further use.[18] It has also emphasized the need to establish the origin of the mines used, which could have been lifted from the ground and re-laid or could have been taken from stocks retained for training purposes, and to clarify what specific law or laws had applied during the trial.[19] Several States Parties and the ICRC have expressed their deep concern about these allegations of mine use since they were reported in 2010.

PKK/Kongra Gel

Turkish officials have previously accused the PKK/Kurdistan People’s Congress (Kongra Gel) of use of antipersonnel mines.[20]

In the past, the Turkish General Staff published information on mines recovered without specifying the types and locations of the mines.[21] The Turkish General Staff no longer lists this information on its website. Turkey did not specifically report on recovered mines and their disposition in previous Article 7 reports.

The Monitor was not able to obtain from Turkey specific dates and locations, or other concrete details, of the allegations of use of antipersonnel mines by the PKK/Kongra Gel or of specific incidents that led to casualties from antipersonnel mines.

The PKK/Kongra Gel have admitted to the use of command-detonated mines, but denied any use of mines or other explosive devices that can be activated by a person or a vehicle.[22] In July 2006, the NGO Geneva Call reported that the PKK had unilaterally halted antipersonnel mine use by signing the Geneva Call Deed of Commitment.

Stockpiling and destruction

Turkey announced in December 2011 that its stockpile destruction program was completed on 21 June 2011. It had missed its 1 March 2008 treaty-mandated deadline for stockpile destruction, and was in violation of the Mine Ban Treaty for over three years. Turkey had previously reported that its munitions disposal facility had not been officially inaugurated until 8 November 2007.[23]

Turkey stated that in 2004, when it became a State Party, it had a stockpile of 2,973,481 antipersonnel mines. In early 2006, Turkey indicated it had a stock of 2,866,818 antipersonnel mines to destroy. In its Article 7 report issued after the announcement of the completion of the destruction program, Turkey stated that 2,938,060 mines had been destroyed in total.[24]

In the past, Turkey also reported possession of 18,236 M18 Claymore mines, but in 2007 it reported that M18 mines were removed from its stockpile destruction list due to their “specific technical features” and “will not be used as victim activated.”[25] In 2008, officials said that the tripwires for M18s had been destroyed.

Mines retained for research and training

On becoming a State Party in 2004, Turkey initially retained 16,000 antipersonnel mines for training and research purposes.[26] In its Article 7 report submitted in 2019, Turkey reported 9,259 mines retained for training and research.[27]

Turkey retains the fourth-largest number of antipersonnel mines among States Parties. In December 2012, it repeated that the “large size, as well as the different types of mine action units, necessitate the Turkish Armed Forces to retain a certain number of APLMs [antipersonnel landmines] for training purposes.”[28] In December 2012, Turkey defended its large number of retained mines by stating, “Article 3 recognizes the specific and different needs of States Parties by not fixing numbers or ceilings for mines retained for training purposes.”

In December 2012, Turkey repeated that it is “considering reassessing the number of mines retained for permitted purposes.”[29] It made similar statements in 2010.[30] Similarly, in May 2006, it stated that “after covering some more ground in mine clearance, Turkey may review the number of mines retained for training purposes.”[31] In June 2005, Turkey said, “This figure [16,000 mines] may be reassessed as the process of downsizing the armed forces progresses.”[32]



[1] Mine Ban Treaty Article 7 Reports, Form A, and Annexes A, B, and C, 1 October 2004 and 10 May 2005. Turkey’s Form A in 2013 states only that “Turkey stopped using APMs [antipersonnel mines] and commenced clearing APMs in 1998.” In July 2011, Turkey stated that two laws apply in cases where death or injury is caused due to explosion of mines or improvised explosive devices (IEDs): Articles 81, 86, and 89 of the Turkish Penal Code (Law No. 5237) and Articles 87 and 89 of the Turkish Military Penal Code (Law No. 1632). Email from Serhan Yigit, Head of Arms Control and Disarmament Department, Ministry of Foreign Affairs, 4 July 2011.

[2] Statement of Turkey, Mine Ban Treaty Seventeenth Meeting of States Parties, Geneva, 27 November 2018; and statement of Turkey, Mine Ban Treaty Seventeenth Meeting of States Parties, Geneva, 29 November 2018.

[3] Statement of Turkey, Mine Ban Treaty Seventeenth Meeting of States Parties, Geneva, 29 November 2018.

[4] In the past, Turkey had produced both antipersonnel and antivehicle mines. The Turkish company, Makinave Kimya Endustrisi Kurumu(MKEK), produced copies of two United States (US) antipersonnel mines (M14 and M16).

[5] Statement of Turkey, Mine Ban Treaty Fifth Meeting of States Parties, Bangkok, 17 September 2003.

[6] Melìs Gönenç, “Mine news became evidence,” Taraf online, 16 April 2010; and “Allegation: Turkey breaking landmine ban,” United Press International, 16 April 2010.

[7] Statement of Turkey, Mine Ban Treaty Standing Committee on General Status and Operation, Geneva, 25 May 2012. Notes by the ICBL.

[8] Statement of Turkey, Mine Ban Treaty Standing Committee on General Status and Operation, Geneva, 27 May 2013.

[9] “Tripwire mine incident kills six soldiers,” Radikal (Hakkari), 29 May 2009; and Mustafa Yuksel, “Explosion which killed seven soldiers under desk investigation,” Zaman (Ankara), 9 April 2010.

[10] The article stated that the mine was a handmade victim-activated explosive that was only referred to as a “Special Alert Warning System.” “Shocking allegations on 6 killed in mine explosion,” Zaman, 24 June 2009; and Metin Arslan, “TSK mine martyrs seven soldiers,” Zaman, 8 April 2010.

[11] Metin Arslan, “Last photo of TSK mine victims in Çukurca revealed,” Zaman, 7 May 2010.

[12] Ibid.

[13] Metin Arslan and Fatih Karakiliç, “General who planted deadly Çukurca mines sent to jail,” Zaman, 8 November 2010.

[14] “Turkish general released after soldiers change testimony,” Hurriyet Daily News, 22 February 2011.

[15] Metin Arslan, “Expert report: Commanders responsible for land mine deaths of 7 soldiers,” Today’s Zaman, 23 October 2011.

[16] Human Rights Foundation of Turkey, “Senior officers tried in the case on the mine explosion,” 9 February 2012.

[17] Statement of Turkey, Mine Ban Treaty Standing Committee on General Status and Operation, Geneva, 27 May 2013.

[18] ICBL, “Grave concerns over allegations of landmine use by Turkey,” Press release, 19 April 2010; and letter to Ahmet Davutoglu, Minister of Foreign Affairs, from Sylvie Brigot, Executive Director, ICBL, 18 May 2010.

[19] Turkey has reported that M2 mines are among those retained for training purposes. Mine Ban Treaty Article 7 Report (for calendar year 2011), Form D.

[20] Statement of Turkey, Mine Ban Treaty Standing Committee on General Status and Operation, Geneva, 21 May 2012. Notes by the ICBL. The PKK/Kongra Gel is listed as a terrorist organization by Australia, Canada, the European Union, NATO, the United Kingdom, and the US. As a matter of practice, the Monitor does not apply the term “terrorist” to any individual or organization except within an attributed quotation.

[21] Turkish General Staff, “The number of IED and mine incidents perpetrated by the terror organization in 2009 (1 January–25 December 2009),” and “The number of IED and mine incidents perpetrated by the members of the terror organization in 2010 (1 January–20 August 2010),” undated, www.tsk.tr.

[23] Statement of Turkey, Mine Ban Treaty Eighth Meeting of States Parties, Dead Sea, Jordan, 19 November 2007.

[24] Mine Ban Treaty Article 7 Report (for the period 1 January 2011 to 31 December 2011), Form G. In the first half of 2011, Turkey declared that its remaining 631 stockpiled Area Denial Artillery Munition (ADAM) artillery projectiles (each containing 36 mines, or a total of 22,716 ADAM mines) had been transferred for destruction. See, statement of Turkey, Mine Ban Treaty Standing Committee on Stockpile Destruction, Geneva, 20 June 2011; and Mine Ban Treaty Article 7 Report (for the period 1 January 2010 to 31 December 2010), Form D. On behalf of Turkey, the NATO Maintenance and Supply Agency had signed a contract in November 2010 with Spreewerk Lübben GMBH, a company in Germany, to destroy the ADAM mines as Turkey’s Munitions Disposal Facility could not complete this task. Destruction of the first ADAM mines began in Germany in March 2011 and the program concluded on 21 June 2011. Statement of Turkey, Mine Ban Treaty Eleventh Meeting of States Parties, Phnom Penh, 1 December 2011.

[25] Mine Ban Treaty Article 7 Report, Form B, 23 April 2007. Use of victim-activated Claymore mines is prohibited by the Mine Ban Treaty, but use of command-detonated Claymore mines is permitted. In May 2006, Turkey stated that “the victim activation components of M18 Claymore mines have recently been added to the list of mines to be destroyed and the necessary steps have been taken to stock only command detonated M18 Claymore mines.” Statement of Turkey, Standing Committee on Stockpile Destruction, Mine Ban Treaty, Geneva, 11 May 2006.

[26] Mine Ban Treaty Article 7 Report, Form D, 1 October 2004. This included 4,700 each of DM-11 and M14, and 2,200 each of M16, M18, and M2 mines. In 2006, Turkey reported the number of mines retained for training had decreased to 15,150 “because 850 mines have been used for mine detection, mine clearance and mine destruction programmes carried out to train military personnel involved in mine action, as well as for related training at various military training institutions.” Statement of Turkey, Mine Ban Treaty Standing Committee on General Status and Operation, Geneva, 12 May 2006. This information was also indicated in Mine Ban Treaty Article 7 Report, Form D, 30 April 2006. However, neither document specified how many of each type of mine were destroyed, and how many remained.

[28] Statement of Turkey, Mine Ban Treaty Twelfth Meeting of States Parties, Geneva, 7 December 2012; and statement of Turkey, Mine Ban Treaty Standing Committee on General Status and Operation, Geneva, 25 May 2009.

[29] Statement of Turkey, Mine Ban Treaty Twelfth Meeting of States Parties, Geneva, 7 December 2012.

[30] Statement of Turkey, Mine Ban Treaty Standing Committee on General Status and Operation, Geneva, 25 June 2010.

[31] Ibid., 12 May 2006. It made a similar statement in October 2005. Letter No. 649.13/2005/BMCO DT/8805 from Vehbi Esgel Etensel, Permanent Mission of Turkey to the UN in Geneva, 3 October 2005.

[32] Statement of Turkey, Mine Ban Treaty Standing Committee on Mine Clearance, Geneva, 13 June 2005.