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Kurdish Human Rights Project: This is the legacy website of the Kurdish Human Rights Project, containing reports and news pertaining to human rights issues in the Kurdish Regions for 20 years.

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European Court declares Turkey guilty of intimidation, inhuman treatment and failure to protect

European Court declares Turkey guilty of intimidation, inhuman treatment and failure to protect in village destruction case


Zubeyde Dulas (Z.D.) v. TURKEY

Press Release: 31st January 2001


The European Court of Human Rights, in a judgment handed down yesterday, has again found that the Turkish State has violated multiple Articles of the European Convention of Human Rights with regard to its policy of village destruction in the Kurdish regions. Despite the Turkish Government's denials of any wrong-doing, the European Court has found it responsible for inflicting inhuman and degrading treatment on civilian victims and for intimidating victims who attempted to seek justice through legal action.

The Dulas case, which was brought to the European Court on behalf of applicant Zubeyde Dulas by the Kurdish Human Rights Project in May 1994, concerns the destruction of the applicant's village of Çitlibahçe in November 1993. On 8 November 1993, security forces from Hazro arrived to carry out a search in Çitlibahçe. After gathering the men of the village into one group and the women in another, the soldiers began to set fire to houses. The applicant's house, provisions, crops, furniture and household goods were all destroyed. Following the security forces' departure, the village was left in ruins and the villagers were forced to evacuate. The applicant along with fellow villagers went to Diyarbakir after the operation and made a statement to the Human Rights Association (IHD).

In judging that Zubeyde Dulas had been subjected to inhuman and degrading treatment, the Court remarked, "the applicant…was aged over 70 at the time of the events. Her home and her property were destroyed before her eyes, depriving her of means of shelter and support, and obliging her to leave the village and community, where she had lived all her life. No steps were taken by the authorities to give assistance to her in her plight." After years of life in Istanbul as an internal refugee living hundreds of miles from her true home, the Court's judgment gives Zubeyde Dulas acknowledgement of the horror she was subjected to as she stood helplessly watching the destruction of her life and her family's livelihood.

The Court also ruled that Turkey had violated Article 34 of the Convention (right to an unhindered application), as Zubeyde Dulas had been unfairly questioned and pressurised by the public prosecutor about whether or not she wanted to go through with her application to the European Court. In its judgment, the Court noted that the applicant "not unreasonably must have felt intimidated….and under pressure to withdraw complaints considered as being against the State."

In addition to violations of Articles 3 and 34 of the Convention, the Court also found "grave and unjustified interferences with the applicant's right to respect for her private life, family life, and home and with her peaceful enjoyment of her possessions" (Article 8 and Article 1 of Protocol 1) as well as a lack of any "thorough or effective investigation" into the destruction of the applicant's home (Article 13). The Court awarded compensation and costs amounting to more than £37,000.

Commenting on the judgment, Kerim Yildiz, Executive Director of KHRP, said, "In this its 6th judgment condemning Turkey in cases of village destruction, the Dulas case is convincing further evidence of a policy on the part of the Turkish Government to break up Kurdish villages and destroy their property and livelihood."


1. The Kurdish Human Rights Project works for the promotion and protection of human rights within the Kurdish regions of Turkey, Iraq, Iran, Syria and the former Soviet Union.

2. The case of Dulas v. Turkey (village destruction, inhuman or degrading treatment) concerns the destruction of the village of Çitlibahçe in November 1993 by Turkish security forces.

3. The application was made by the Kurdish Human Rights Project on 2 May 1994 on behalf of Zubeyde Dulas. Zubeyde Dulas ('the applicant') lodged the case as a result of circumstances surrounding the destruction of her village, home and property in November 1993.

4. The Court, in a judgment handed down on Tuesday, January 31, 2001, found Turkey to be in violation of Articles 3, 8, 13 and 34 and of Article 1 of Protocol 1 of the European Convention on Human Rights.

5. Under Article 41 (just satisfaction), the Court unanimously awarded the applicant £12,600 in pecuniary damages, £10,000 in non-pecuniary damages and £14,900 for legal costs and expenses.

6. The European Court of Human Rights was set up in Strasbourg in 1959 to deal with alleged violations of the 1950 European Convention on Human Rights. On 1 November 1998 a full-time Court was established, replacing the original two-tier system of a part-time Commission and Court.