They replied that that was a dangerous subject and that Kurds were Turks and Kurdish was just a dialect
of Turkish. They also advised him to concentrate on some other theme. But such lies only made Besikci more curious. He began to look in the library for books to read about the subject. Even
when he discussed his theses with renowned professors, they all told him that Kurds were Turks and he soon became aware of some major contradictions. He also became mistrustful.
Besikci then carried out his military service from 1962 until 1964 in Bitlis and Hakkari. During this time as well he continued to observe and analyze the Kurds. In early 1964 he worked for a short time at the Finance Administration in Hozat.
In December 1964 he started work as a sociologist’s assistant at Ataturk University in Erzurum.
University was very important to Besikci. He believed that as an assistant he would be able to continue his research without any difficulties. In 1969, he produced a paper entitled "The Social Organization Of The Nomadic Tribes Who Live On The Silven Plains In Winter And In The Nemrut Mountain Pastures In Winter".
This work was published by Dogan Press later that year under the title "Changes In The East And The Structural Problems Of The Alikan Nomadic Tribes".
In 1967, Besikci followed the "Eastern Rallies". Later he analyzed these rallies and distributed his theses on them. At this time, his work "The Social Changes Of The Kurdish Nomadic Tribes In East Anatolia" was published in the magazine ‘Forum’ (from October 1 to November 1, 1967). Later, this work was printed again (1968) and distributed to interested persons.
Besikci, who thought he would be able to work freely in the university, was soon disappointed. The heads of the Institute, the dean and the rector, who were upset with his work, became
increasingly negative. In 1968, Besikci was stripped of his position after being denounced by a colleague at the Institute. He had to face a disciplinary hearing and charges were filed by the state prosecutor.
In 1969, E Press published Besikci’s book entitled ‘The
System In East Anatolia: Socio-Economic And Ethnic Foundations’, and in 1970 a revised second edition appeared. This book received a great deal of public attention. The heads of the university complained about this. A letter from the rector dated July 22, 1970 terminated Ismail Besikci’s research position. Besikci appealed this decision in court. But despite a successful appeal, the heads of Ataturk University refused to give Besikci back his position. During this time, the Faculty of Political Science at the University of Ankara advertised a job opening as a sociology assistant. Besikci passed the necessary exams for this position, and after clearing a few more hurdles he was able to take on the job.
But the professors at Ataturk University kept on pursuing him. They complained about him to the State of Emergency Commanders. On June 24, 1971, the military court for the Diyarbakir and Siirt regions ordered him to be arrested.
Ismail Besikci was taken to court because of his research at Ataturk University and the articles which he had published in various magazines and journals, as well as his books. He was charged with speaking about the Kurds in his writings and readings, claiming the existence of a Kurdish nation and a
Kurdish language, as well as propagating "Kurdism". During the court proceedings, the rector, dean, professors, assistants, and students from Ataturk University all testified against Besikci.
Besikci did not deny having given the readings nor having written the articles and books. But the court made the professors and others testify anyway, just to apply pressure against him. Besikci now began to understand the difficulty of his work. Ismail Besikci was sentenced by the court to 13 years and 7 days
in prison. In 1974, he was released from Adana Prison, where he had been transferred to from Diyarbakir, during a general amnesty granted by the new "civilian" government. He immediately applied to the Faculty of Political Science at the University of Ankara. Although he was just as qualified as all the other applicants, he was denied a position. Komal Press, which was founded in 1974, then began publishing his books. In 1975, the book entitled ‘Analysis And Fundamental Principles Of Democratic Society: Autonomy, The University, And The Scientific Method With Respect To The Trial Against Ismail Besikci’ appeared. When he was about to publish a newly edited version of The System In East Anatolia, he decided against this since certain contradictions had arisen with respect to his original thesis. He began to take another look at his scientific methodology. He rewrote the introduction to the book and published this through Komal Press as a book on its own in 1976 entitled ‘The Scientific Method’. This book, which explained Besikci’s undamental world view and view of society, is a very significant work. It shows how Besikci’s ideas developed and changed their foundation.
Besikci later produced a whole series of books dealing with the theme "Scientific Method And Praxis In Turkey". The first book in this series, ‘The Forced Resettlement Of The Kurds’, was published by Komal Press in 1977. This book was confiscated and Besikci faced criminal charges. During his trial, the second
book, entitled ‘The Turkish View Of History: The Sun Language Theory And The Kurdish Problem’, was published by Komal Press, and this, too, was confiscated. Besikci was sentenced under
Article 142 of the Penal Code for his book The Forced Resettlement Of The Kurds to 18 months in prison. He was arrested again on September 6, 1979. On charges of separatism and violations of the "Law Protecting The Legacy Of Ataturk", Besikci was given a sentence of 3 years in prison for the book The
Turkish View Of History. In addition to all of this, he was given another 3 years and 4 months in prison because of his defence speech during the trial.
Besikci spent time in Toptasi Prison, Sakarya Prison, and Kaynarca Prison. Finally, on April 12, 1981 he had to be released. While he was in Sakarya Prison, Besikci wrote a letter to the Swiss Writers Union. It’s not clear whether this letter ever reached its destination or not. But during a raid in the prison, this letter was found. Besikci was then charged under Article 140. On June 19, 1981, a military court in Golcuk
sentenced him to 10 years in prison and 5 years banishment. The interesting part of this trial was the fact that two of the judges involved in the case accepted bribes from relatives of other defendants and were sentenced to prison terms of 8 years 2 months and 6 years 9 months 20 days respectively. The penalty for
corruption, therefore, was lower than that for a private letter just a few pages long. On January 17, 1983, Besikci filed an appeal at the Military Supreme Court and pointed out these discrepancies. But this court rejected his appeal without even hearing the case.
After Besikci had served time in prisons in Izmir, Canakkale, and Gaziantep, he was released on May 25, 1987. He then continued his work in Ankara.
In February 1990, Alan Press published Besikci’s book entitled ‘Kurdistan: An Interstate Colony’. This book aroused a great deal of interest and soon enjoyed a very wide readership. The book was printed clandestinely since the State Prosecutor controlled all printing presses and often confiscated books.
Immediately after it was published, the book was banned. Besikci was ordered to appear in Istanbul where he was arrested by the State Security Court (DGM) and jailed in Sagmalcilar Prison. While Besikci was in prison, Alan Press published his book entitled ‘Science, Official Ideology, And The State: Democracy
And The Kurdish Problem’. He was charged once again because of this book. Then, Melsa Press published his book entitled ‘An Intellectual, An Organization, And The Kurdish Problem’ and Besikci was charged once again. During this trial, which was attended by many spectators, Besikci waged an aggressive defence.
On July 25, 1990 he was released and he returned to Ankara once again.
Because of greeting message he sent to a Kurdish rally held in Germany in October 1990, Besikci was arrested once again, this time in Ankara on March 20, 1991. Two days after Articles 141 and 142 were abolished from the Penal Code, he was released on April 14, 1991.
In the meantime, International-Belge Press published his book entitled ‘The Tunceli Laws (1935) And The Dersim Genocide’ in October 1990. In February 1991, the book ‘The Case Of The Four
Star General Muglali, 33 Shots’ was published. Both of these books were confiscated.
On April 12, 1991, the Turkish state adopted a new "Anti-Terror Law" which replaced the repealed Articles 140, 141, 142, and 163. All cases pending against Ismail Besikci were dropped. The state proclaimed that there was now an official policy of freedom of expression. But just the opposite was proven to be true after only a few months had passed. The book ‘The Programme Of The Republican Peoples Party (1931) And The Kurdish Problem’ was published in July 1991 and immediately banned. The police
then stormed the publishing house and confiscated 2,000 books.
Also in July 1991, the Yurt-Kitap-Yayin Press published Besikci’s books ‘State Terror In The Middle East’ and ‘Thoughts On Kurdish Intellectuals’,which were immediately banned. On August 1, 1991, Besikci was arrested and charged under Paragraph 8.1 of Law Nr. 3713. Besikci was then taken to Ankara Prison.
This law prohibits "all forms of propaganda which violate the inseparable unity of the state, homeland, and nation". Besikci was released on October 31, 1991.
Yurt-Kitap-Yayin Press now began publishing all of Ismail Besikci’s books. ‘The Scientific Method’ and ‘The Forced Resettlement Of The Kurds’ were published in October 1991. The latter caused Besikci to be arrested yet again, this time on November 25, 1991. An appeal filed by his lawyers resulted in his
release shortly thereafter.
All of Besikci’s book were published and then banned in rapid succession. The books which were no longer banned after the repeal of Articles 141 and 142 were now banned again under the new Anti-Terror Law and court proceedings were begun. In December 1993, a total of 29 publications had been produced, but only 7 of these books had not been banned. Even a book of the transcripts of Besikci’s trials in front of the DGM courts in Istanbul and Ankara was banned and confiscated. One example from the Turkish
state’s trial proceedings can illustrate this situation: Besikci, who was sentenced in the 1970s for his books ‘The Forced Resettlement Of The Kurds’ and ‘The Turkish View Of History’, was sentenced once again for these same books in the 1990s.
Whenever Besikci wrote or gave interviews to papers such as ‘Yeni Ulke’, ‘Ozgur Gundem’, ‘Ozgur Gelecek’, ‘Ozgur Halk’, and others, he was immediately charged.
As we write this article, Ismail Besikci is still in prison. On November 13, 1993, while visiting his home village of Iskilip, Ismail Besikci was arrested and taken to Iskilip Prison. He was sentenced to 1 year in prison for his article "The Significance Of Kurdish Women Joining The Guerrilla" published in
‘Yeni Ulke’. At the same time, he was also sentenced to 3 years and 6 months for his books ‘Thoughts On The PKK And The Price Of Freedom’, published by Melsa Press, and ‘The Programme Of The Republic Peoples Party (1931) And The Kurdish Problem’, published by International-Belge Press, and he was fined 84 million Turkish lira (TL).
Sentences Handed Down To Sociologist Ismail Besikci:
Total charges 99
Number of initial convictions 38
Number upheld by appeals court 21
Appeals still pending 17
Charges still pending 61
Total prison sentences received 76 years 7 months
Total fines 6,550,746,666 TL
Because Besikci is unable to pay his fines, he must serve an additional 3 years for each book. In other words, he must serve another 114 years because of unpaid fines. Besikci must now serve more than his whole life in prison (a total of 198 years and 5 months) just because of his books. He is presently incarcerated in Ankara Prison.