Kutlu Adalı

Kutlu Adalı was a Turkish Cypriot journalist, poet, and, in his later years, a peace advocate. He was born in Nicosia in 1935. His family emigrated to Antalya in Turkey when he was three years old, but he returned to Cyprus in 1954. In 1996 he was gunned down in front of his home.

He died a martyr for honesty and transparency in governance, and for the cause of a united Cyprus where Greek and Turkish Cypriots could live peacefully together in a pluralist democratic society. All Cypriots owe him a debt of gratitude for his courageous determination to speak out.

Pavlos Andronikos

To view or hide each section click on the title.

Excerpt from From the East: Conflict and Partition in Cyprus
by Costas Yennaris (Elliot & Thomson, 2003), pp. 170-171.

Kutlu Adali was a friend and collaborator of Denktash from 1954. In 1959 he was appointed director of Nacak, the newspaper that Denktash published. After independence, he was the head of Denktash’s office in the Turkish Communal Chamber and, of course, a member of TMT. He had first-hand knowledge of the methods used by Denktash and TMT and he gradually grew to dislike them, to such an extent that he could no longer accept them. After the 1974 invasion in particular, when, through the intervention of the Turkish leader Deniz Baykal, he was appointed director of the so-called Office of Births, Deaths and Emigration in the occupied area, he had the opportunity to experience closely the drama of the Turkish Cypriots who, due to the conditions prevailing in the occupied part of the island, were forced to emigrate while their place was taken by settlers from Turkey. Kutlu Adali was mature enough to realise that the presence of Turkey in Cyprus was a source of trouble and he began to write daily articles in Yeni Duzen newspaper, the mouthpiece of the Turkish Republican Party, against the policies followed by Denktash and Ankara.

Excerpts From “Country Report on Human Rights Practices for 1996: Cyprus”

“In July a prominent Turkish Cypriot journalist was murdered in what was apparently a politically motivated killing.”

and, further into the report:

“A prominent, leftist Turkish Cypriot journalist, Kutlu Adali, was murdered outside of his home in Nicosia on July 6... Police reportedly prevented Adali’s family from entering their apartment for nearly a day following his murder, saying that they were searching for evidence. Turkish Cypriot authorities have not, however, so far conducted a credible investigation into Adali’s murder...

... Adali had written articles critical of Turkey’s role in the north and particularly of the role of the Turkish military and of policies that allowed large numbers of Turkish workers into the north. Following Adali’s murder, some Turkish Cypriot journalists have complained about surveillance and intimidation. Turkish Cypriot authorities have not responded adequately to such allegations.”

(Source: “Country Report on Human Rights Practices for 1996: Cyprus,” Bureau of Democracy, Human Rights, and Labor, U.S. Department of State, 30 January 1997.)

Excerpts from the Case of Adali v. Turkey (Application no. 38187/97), European Court of Human Rights, 2005

Document URL: http://hudoc.echr.coe.int/sites/eng/pages/search.aspx?i=001-68670

The application concerns the killing of the applicant’s husband, Mr Kutlu Adalı, by unknown persons. The applicant made serious allegations about the involvement of Turkish and/or “TRNC” agents in the murder. She further complained of the inadequacy of the investigation launched by the “TRNC” authorities into the death of Kutlu Adalı. She contended that her husband had received death threats on several occasions because of his articles and political opinions. The applicant further complained that following the death of her husband she had been subjected to continuing practices of harassment, intimidation and discrimination by the “TRNC” authorities. In this connection, she referred to several incidents.

The facts as submitted by the applicant [Mrs Adalı]

The applicant’s husband, Mr Kutlu Adalı, was a Turkish Cypriot writer and journalist who was known for having written and published articles strongly criticising the policies and practices of the Turkish Government and the authorities of the “TRNC”. He had always claimed that Cyprus should not be divided and that Turkish and Greek Cypriots should live in a united republic based on a pluralist democratic system.

Apart from his writing and journalism, Mr Kutlu Adalı had also held various civil service posts in the past. Between 1961 and 1972 he was employed as the private secretary to Mr Rauf Denktaş, who later became the President of the “TRNC”. In 1972 Mr Adalı’s salary was suspended because he had wished to write an article about policies of Mr Denktaş with which he disagreed.

At that time, Mr Denktaş wanted the applicant’s husband, Kutlu Adalı, to work for a radio station called Bayrak (Flag), which was under the control of the Turkish Resistance Movement. Mr Kutlu Adalı refused to work for this radio station and was imprisoned without any charge or trial for one week because of his refusal. After his release, he started to work for the Bayrak radio station in order for his salary to be restored.

In 1974 Mr Adalı was appointed to the post of Head of the Identity Cards Section of the Department for the Registration of the Population. In December 1979 he was suspended, and was reinstated in 1986, when he was given the post of adviser in the Tourist Office of the “TRNC”. His career as a civil servant ended in 1987, when he was compelled to take early retirement at the age of 50.

During his public service and after his retirement Mr Kutlu Adalı continued his career as a writer and journalist. Initially, he wrote under a pseudonym (Kerem Atlı), because it was dangerous for him to express his political views about a unified Cyprus using his real name. In 1981 he started using his real name. For the last seven years before his death he wrote regularly for Yenidüzen, a left-wing newspaper.

The applicant and her husband received various threats intended to deter him from continuing to express his opinions. Between January 1980 and July 1996 unknown persons subjected the applicant’s husband to various forms of harassment. His house was attacked with machine guns and he received frequent threatening phone calls. Unknown people entered his house looking for copies of his articles, in order to be able to start criminal proceedings against him, as he was writing his articles under a pseudonym.

On 17 March 1996 the Yenidüzen newspaper printed an article by Kutlu Adalı about an incident in which thieves had broken into a tomb in the monastery of St Barnabas and stolen various objects of cultural significance. He had written that the licence plates and the colour of the thieves’ cars had been noted, and the licence plates had been traced as belonging to two members of the Civil Defence Organisation. After the publication of this article, the editor of the newspaper received a threatening phone call from the head of the Civil Defence Organisation. Mr Adalı also began to receive frequent threatening phone calls.

On 4 July 1996 the Yenidüzen newspaper published another article by Mr Adalı which strongly criticised the “Mother Country-Child Country” policy of the Government of Turkey and of the “TRNC”.

On 6 July 1996, at around 11.35 p.m., the applicant’s husband was shot and killed in front of his house in the “TRNC” by unknown persons. The applicant was in Istanbul on the night when he was killed. When she had telephoned her husband at about 11.15 p.m., he had told her that “they” had been threatening him. The “TRNC” authorities refused to show the applicant her husband’s body. She was told by the doctor in charge of the mortuary, Dr İsmail Bundak, that no post mortem had been carried out, although the body had been rayed. She has never been allowed to see the rays. The applicant was informed for the first time that a post mortem had been carried out in the Government’s observations of 1 April 1999, and a copy of the post-mortem report was provided.

The applicant has attempted to investigate her husband’s death herself. She found out from her neighbours that shortly before her husband’s death, a black car had been parked in the street. This black car was of the same model as the car driven by Altay Sayıl, a retired police officer who had become friendly with the family in the last months of the applicant’s husband’s life. This retired police officer Altay Sayıl did not appear for ten days following the death of her husband.

The applicant’s neighbours told her that around the time her husband had been shot they had heard him begging his killers for his life. They said that they had heard a man saying that the applicant’s husband deserved to die. The neighbours also informed her that the electric lighting in the street outside the applicant’s home had gone out at about 10.30 p.m., causing the area to be in darkness, and had not been switched on again until shortly after Mr Adalı had been shot. The applicant also learned from her neighbours that within only a few minutes of the shooting about twelve military cars had arrived and had sealed off the area, and that the “special teams” of police officers had threatened the neighbours with guns to force them to go back inside their houses.

On 8 July 1996 the pro-”TRNC” government newspaper Kıbrıs reported that it had received a statement from a fascist group calling itself the Turkish Revenge Brigade, claiming that it had killed Kutlu Adalı. According to the applicant, this group is linked to the so-called “Grey Wolves”, the youth movement of the Turkish Nationalist Movement Party. They have close and long-standing links with members of the Turkish armed forces, the Turkish police, the Turkish National Intelligence Service (MIT), the Turkish paramilitary apparatus, Turkish ministers and the Turkish mafia.

Three days after her husband was killed, the applicant’s family received a telephone call from an anonymous caller, a woman, who gave the names of two individuals who she said were responsible for Mr Adalı’s murder, a Mr Hüseyin Demirci and a man whose first name was Orhan. The applicant informed the police about this phone call but the police refused to start an investigation, stating that this woman was known for making false allegations to the police. The applicant discovered that Mr Demirci was a member of the “Grey Wolves” and of the Civil Defence Organisation and that the security forces were paying him. Orhan was a colonel in the Turkish armed forces on the island.

On 14 July 1996 the applicant’s children arranged a meeting with the President of the “TRNC”. They requested him to take steps to ensure that effective action was taken to find their father’s killer, and the President promised to take effective action.

On 18 July 1996 the applicant requested President Denktaş that the status of martyr be awarded to Kutlu Adalı. On 9 September 1996 her request was rejected.

There have also been repeated allegations in the press that a man called Abdullah Çatlı, an extreme right-wing activist who was linked with the “Grey Wolves” and who was allegedly instructed by some Turkish officials to kill people suspected of being PKK members, was involved in the death of the applicant’s husband. According to the applicant’s personal information, Abdullah Çatlı had arrived in the “TRNC” at the beginning of July 1996 under a false identity.

She contends that in November 1996 she received an invitation from southern Cyprus to receive an award in her husband’s name. However, the day before the meeting she received a phone call from an official in the “TRNC Ministry of Foreign Affairs” and, being scared by this phone call, she decided not to attend the meeting.

In December 1996 the applicant went to see the security forces’ commander, Mr Hasan Peker Günal, and complained that the security forces were not investigating her husband’s death properly.

On 5 March 1997 the Yenidüzen newspaper published a letter signed by the head of the “Grey Wolves”, which contained a threat that left-wing journalists and writers would be killed like the applicant’s husband. The applicant gave copies of this article to the police to investigate, but she did not receive any response.

On 26 June 1997 the applicant wrote to the security forces’ commander, Mr Hasan Peker Günal, pointing out that nearly one year had passed since her husband’s assassination and that the perpetrators had not yet been found, but she did not receive any concrete information in reply.

Plain-clothes policemen have constantly been following the applicant and her daughter; their phones had been tapped and their correspondence monitored. They have received anonymous phone calls and their telephone and fax line has been disconnected from time to time. In this connection, she submits that she received very few letters of condolence following her husband’s death. She maintains that the water supply of her house has been cut on several occasions and she does not believe that this was due to technical faults as it has been alleged by the Council Water Department.

The “TRNC” regime also refused to register an association, which is called “Kutlu Adalı Foundation”, whose aims include the furthering of the ideas of Kutlu Adalı regarding peace, democracy, human rights and freedom.

The applicant also requested permission from the authorities to keep her husband’s press card that entitled her to certain privileges, such as discounts for air fares. However, this request was also rejected.

On 20 June 1997 the public authorities prevented the applicant and her daughter from attending a meeting organised by a radio station in southern Cyprus, by not giving them permission to cross over to that side.

On the anniversary of Kutlu Adalı’s death the applicant organised a ceremony to commemorate her husband. On the day of the ceremony, the municipality brought in digging machines to dig up the road just under their street. The applicant also submits that a picture of Kutlu Adalı, which was displayed in their garden, was stolen.

On 10 August 1997 she heard three gunshots outside her home. Subsequently, before she left for England, a real-estate agent came to meet her daughter and told her to sell their house and accept any offer he would make to buy it. The applicant believes that this real-estate agent was sent by the “TRNC” authorities to persuade her to leave the country.

The applicant further contends that following her application to the European Court of Human Rights, her daughter was dismissed from her post in a bank, and that although she was ranked 15th among 68 candidates in the examination to become a civil servant, she was not given a post.

Moreover, the applicant’s representatives informed the Court on 21 January 2000 that on 15 December 1999 the applicant had a meeting with Professor Bakır Çağlar about her application before the Court. Professor Çağlar, who is a former agent of the Turkish Government in the cases before the European Court of Human Rights, allegedly told the applicant that she might be assassinated if she won her case before the Court and that her daughter’s scholarship would be discontinued. However, the applicant submitted in her oral evidence to the Court’s Delegates that Professor Çağlar had asked about the details of the case and that he had told her that he could win the case for her since, according to him, her lawyers were not very good. As she considered that he was connected to the authorities of the “TRNC” or of Turkey, she did not want to hand her case over to him.

Summary of the Key Points in the Court’s Findings

Given that the situation was such that it was impossible to provide the Court with adequate forensic and other forms of evidence, the court was forced to observe “that the material in the case file does not enable it to conclude beyond all reasonable doubt [My emphasis] that the applicant’s husband was killed by or with the connivance of any State agent or person acting on behalf of the State authorities in the circumstances alleged by the applicant.”

However the ECHR did find that the authorities “had an obligation to carry out an effective investigation into the circumstances of the killing of the applicant’s husband”, and that they “failed to carry out an adequate and effective investigation”.

In consequence the Court found

1. that “the applicant has been denied an effective remedy in respect of the death of her husband and thereby access to any other remedies at her disposal, including a claim for compensation.”

2. that there had been a violation of Article 13 of the Convention which states that: “Everyone whose rights and freedoms as set forth in [the] Convention are violated shall have an effective remedy before a national authority notwithstanding that the violation has been committed by persons acting in an official capacity.”

In addition the Court found that there had been “an interference with the applicant’s right to freedom of assembly guaranteed by Article 11 of the Convention” and that there had “therefore been a violation of Article 11”. This last relates to the complaint by Mrs Adali that she had been refused permission “by the Turkish and Turkish-Cypriot authorities... to cross the ‘green line’ in order to attend a meeting organised by a radio station in southern Cyprus”.


Kutlu Adalı’s response to Denktash’s revelation that the bomb at the Turkish Press Office in 1958
was thrown by a “close collaborator of Denktash”

“Later on a friend of mine whose name must still be kept secret was to confess to me that he had put this little bomb in their doorway in order to create an atmosphere of tension...” (Rauf Denktash on the ITV programme Cyprus, Britain’s Grim Legacy [Granada, 1984].)

On watching the documentary I felt ashamed to hear President Denktash himself speak of the secret hands and the reason they threw a bomb at the Turkish Press Office on January 8, 1958 [sic], exactly 26 years ago. I also felt ashamed upon learning that they had been distorting history for so many years. As Yeni Duzen [a Turkish Cypriot newspaper] had also published, the bomb attack was the work of a close collaborator of Denktash. And it is now clear that the aim was an escalation of the Turkish Cypriots’ political fanaticism. The reason why I, as someone who lived through those days, now feel shame over these revelations is because, after that particular bomb attack, many innocent Turkish and Greek Cypriots lost their lives, many were injured and remained disabled and, for the first time, Turkish and Greek Cypriots were separated by barbed wire, resulting in a state of ‘no solution’ which continues to this day.

History professor Dr Fahir Armaoglu, who visited Cyprus recently and met Denktash, wrote in his book The Cyprus Problem that the bomb attack had been the work of EOKA terrorists. The disproving of a historian’s view by Denktash is another reason for my feeling of shame. We cannot know whether Denktash told Armaoglu the truth but we can read with deep concern and shame about the bloody incidents caused by the bomb blast on page 452 of Armaoglu’s book. It is not easy to find Armaoglu’s book. The new generation of progressives will never find it. Even if they do, they won’t have any trouble reading it because Armaoglu uses his pen to support the reactionary forces. But let us read from it:

“The bomb that was thrown at the Turkish Press Office on the Nicosia-Kyrenia road on the night of June 6-7 by EOKA terrorists was the spark for the incidents. The following days saw clashes between Turkish and Greek Cypriots start and suddenly the situation turned into great confusion. On the 7th and 8th there were clashes in Nicosia and Larnaca, resulting in the deaths of four Greek Cypriots and five Turks, and two sustained serious injuries. On the same day some 200 political prisoners in the Nicosia central prison attacked their Turkish guards, injuring five of them. On June 7, the residents of Dikomo, a Greek Cypriot village in the Nicosia district, launched an attack on the Turkish Cypriot village of Ortakioi but the Turks saw them off. Because of this, the British administration separated the Greek and Turkish quarters of Nicosia with barbed wire and placed this border under the protection of British troops. On June 9, the Greek Cypriots of Nicosia attacked the Turks, killing a policeman and a woman. On June 12, bloody clashes broke out in three different places. The first was at Gunyeli. The 300 Greek Cypriots of this village attacked the Turks in order to expel them and they burnt a farm. Two Greek Cypriots were killed and three were injured. The second incident took place in Nicosia. The Greeks attacked the Turkish quarter en masse and set fire to Turkish houses. The clashes between the two communities were only halted by the intervention of British troops. The third incident occurred in Famagusta. The clashes began when a crowd of Greek Cypriots attacked the Turks, resulting in injuries to five Turks and 12 Greek Cypriots.”

The bloody incidents continued in this way. Armaoglu’s book was published in 1963. Twenty years later, Denktash revealed on TV that the bomb attack that caused so many incidents was the work of Turks. If we set aside all the events described by Armaoglu and say that the real attackers were the Turks, is this treason? Since we were the ones who planted the bomb, was it not we who attacked the Greek Cypriots, who set fire to houses and caused deaths? If such revelations were to come from leftists, they would be accused of harbouring pro-Greek feelings and being traitors. Perhaps an order would be given to the TMT Fighters Association to issue statements dripping with blood. From the history books we learn that the Greek Cypriots planted bombs at the Bayraktar mosque on March 25, 1962, and that on January 23, 1964, they blew up the mosque. If a respected figure publicly declares tomorrow that Turks planted those bombs, how could we look the accused and our young people in the eye after such a shameful revelation? Will we be able to justify the murder of the two journalist-lawyers?

Another bomb exploded in front of Denktash’s law office and the Greek Cypriots were held responsible. On September 17, 1962, a shot was fired outside Denktash’s office in the Turkish Communal Chamber. On both occasions Denktash was absent. If someone now says that these dark incidents were the work of one of Denktash’s own close collaborators, what will become of our integrity? For my part, I am ashamed to even think about it.

Older readers will recall that on September 7, 1955, someone threw a bomb at the house in which Ataturk was born in Thessaloniki. Because of this, tens of thousands of Greek homes and shops in Istanbul were damaged or destroyed and many Greeks were killed. At the time it was claimed that the bomb was the work of Greek Cypriots, but when Menderes and his cronies were tried, following the May 27th revolution, it was revealed and written in the trial minutes that the bomb thrown at Ataturk’s house was thrown by Turks.

There have been many such incidents. And now the history books reveal them as events of which we should be proud. We read them with shame. It appears that it is an infallible lesson of history: the betrayal of one’s country is very close to a love of one’s country...

(The source of the above extract is Costas Yennaris’ book From the East: Conflict and Partition in Cyprus [Elliot & Thomson, 2003], pp. 134-136.)

We Cry But We Still Leave

In “We Cry But We Still Leave”, which appeared in the Turkish Cypriot newspaper Yeni Duzen in 1994, Kutlu Adali bemoans the changing character of the Turkish Cypriot quarter of Nicosia, which has been filled with colonists and soldiers from Turkey. He criticises the decision of the Turkish Cypriot leadership to formally vote for integration of the occupied north of Cyprus with Turkey, and makes the point that in fact integration has already taken place, despite the pretence of the Turkish Cypriot leadership that integration is a new policy departure.

Here is the article in full:

In Nicosia, I wanted to look at a free, independent, and sovereign country for the last time on the day the Republican Assembly resolutions on the establishment of a federation, which are strongly supported by the Democratic Party and the National Unity Party are voted on in the Parliament. Yes, I wished to look at our country once more before the process of “integration” begins.

As of 29 August 1994, integration and not independence will be the basis of the relations between North Cyprus and Turkey on matters relating to foreign affairs, defence, security, and economic development. I observed while walking down the streets that the idea of integration had already brought about changes, even before being adopted officially. I ascertained that the changes did not happen overnight, nor as a result of the 30 Democratic Party and NUP votes on a resolution which has the support of Rauf Denktash. The streets, post offices, and banks were unbelievably crowded with soldiers. It was as if there were more troops than civilians in the town. Obviously, the civilians, the banks, and the post offices were experiencing the process of integration. The names of people from Gaziantep, Sanliurfa, Mardin, Diyarbakir, Adana, Hatay, Mersin, Antalya, Konya, and Trabzon in Turkey were inscribed on the metal signs that hang outside the shops and workplaces. There was nothing to suggest that the [Turkish} Cypriots had had an identity or distint personality of their own, so that one could compare the present character of the place with its character before integration.

Cypriots no longer live in many of the houses in Nicosia. Many of the old buildings are used as boarding houses, coffee-shops, and places where foodstuffs and household goods are sold. Children no longer play in the narrow streets as they used to in the past. Nor do Cypriot women sweep and wash the pavement in front of their homes or sit in their doorways to chat with their neighbours. One sees multicolored mucus and saliva splattered on the pavements and streaking the streets. The odour of urine is everywhere. Moustached men in traditional attire, with baggy pants tied around the waist and knees, carry strings of worry beads and greet each other in the traditional way instead of simply saying good morning in Turkish with a smile. This makes one wonder whether the town is in Anatolia [rather than Cyprus].

Cypriot women do not sit in front of their homes any more. Women from Anatolia, who wear brightly coloured dresses, have taken their place. Some of them talk in Turkish, in an incomprehensible way. Others converse in Kurdish, Arabic, and Persian. Meanwhile, folk songs expressing nostalgia for the homeland or for a loved one are heard in the streets and create a sad atmosphere. The situation on the outskirts of the town is no different. The workers on the construction sites are part of the same picture of Nicosia. Everything indicates that we are gradually integrating with Anatolia.

The process of integration did not start overnight—that is, with the Denktash factor and the 30 Democratic Party and NUP votes in the Parliament. This can be confirmed by the currency that is in circulation, the flags that fly, the daily acts of robbery, the freedom enjoyed by murderers, the easy access [to Cyprus from Turkey] through the immigration departments in the airport and seaports, the inaccessibility of beaches, the opening of numerous banks, the splendour of military parades, and diplomatic protocol in the country.

Yes, integration did not take place overnight. The corruption which has forced the Cypriots to emigrate to Britain, Canada, and Australia did not emerge overnight. We have been crying and leaving this island for 31 years.

A valuable friend informed me that exactly 44,000 people have applied to the Australian Commissioner’s Office to emigrate to Australia. This means the Turkish Cypriot population [of Cyprus] will decrease to exactly 64,000 people in the near future.

Yeni Duzen, 30 August 1994