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Red: OHAL provinces, orange: neighbouring provinces, 1987–2002, largest extent of OHAL

The OHAL region (Turkish: Olağanüstü Hâl Bölge Valiliği, English: Governorship of Region in State of Emergency) was a "super-region" created in Turkey in 1987 under state of emergency legislation to deal with the developing Kurdish–Turkish conflict. From 1994 onwards the scope of the OHAL super-region was gradually narrowed, with provinces being downgraded to "neighbouring province" and then removed from OHAL altogether. The state of emergency was extended 46 times for four months each.[1] OHAL was finally discontinued on 30 November 2002.

Extension from 1987 - 1990[edit]

A new era started with the declaration of a region under emergency legislation in the provinces of Bingöl, Diyarbakır, Elazığ, Hakkari, Mardin, Siirt, Tunceli and Van and the declaration of Adıyaman, Bitlis and Muş provinces as neighbouring provinces (Mücavir İl) on 19 July 1987.[1][2] The legal basis was the Cabinet Decree 285 (285 sayılı Kanun Hükmünde Kararname)[3] that appointed a regional governor for the state of emergency. The regime and the region became known as OHAL Region (the State of Emergency Region, the Emergency Region Governorate, the Emergency Rule Region etc.).

Extension from 1990 - 2002[edit]

On 6 May 1990 the newly created provinces Batman and Şırnak became part of the OHAL region. On 19 March 1994 Bitlis became a neighboring province, starting at the end of 1994 the region was slowly narrowed down. First Elazığ was excluded from the provinces under emergency legislation and Adıyaman was no longer counted as neighbouring province. On 30 November 1996 Mardin was "degraded" to neighbouring province. The same happened to Batman, Bingöl and Bitlis provinces on 6 October 1997. Emergency legislation was lifted in Siirt on 30 November 1999, in Van on 30 July 2000 and in Hakkari and Tunceli provinces on 30 July 2002.[1] On 30 November 2002 OHAL was lifted completely. Until the end emergency legislation had been in force in Diyarbakır and Şırnak provinces.

Powers given to the regional governor[edit]

In 1987 the governor was invested with the power to relocate and evacuate whole settlements, villages or hamlets.[4]In April 1990, Decree 413 was issued which allowed the regional governor to ban, confiscate or fine publications, shut down printing plants, control all workers union activities, require prosecutors to open legal processes who violate decree 413, evacuate villages without a notice issued in advance, relocate harmful state employees and send to exile people to other parts in Turkey.[5]In December 1990, with the Decree No. 430 he received authority over the provincial governors and was enabled to coordinate actions between them as well the right to exile people from the area he governed.[4] With the same decree the regional governor and the provincial governors were issued with an immunity against any legal prosecution in connections with actions they made due to the powers they received with the Decree No. 430.[6] In the OHAL region journalists were not granted access.[7]

List of governors[edit]

The regional governors (also called "super governors") were:


Since 2002 the Turkish Armed Forces have declared parts of the former OHAL region as security zone (güvenlik bölgesi).[10] Some people argued that this was another form of the OHAL regime.[11]

Balance sheet of 15 years OHAL[edit]

In an article of September 2005 the lawyers M. Sezgin Tanrıkulu and Serdar Yavuz (both working in Diyarbakır) presented some figures concerning human rights violations in the region under emergency legislation (OHAL) between 1987 and 2002.[12] These are official figures, since they were given in reply to a request of Diyarbakır deputy Mesut Değer of 29 January 2003 to the Defence Ministry. The response dates 28 February 2003.

The death toll was given as:

Civilians Security staff Militants
5,105 3,541 25,344

In addition 371 members of the armed forces and 572 civilians lost their lives because of exploding mines or bombs. In the region 1,248 political killings had happened. Among them 750 had been clarified, while in 421 cases the murderers had not been determined. Eighteen people had died in custody and 194 people "disappeared". Some had been found in prison, in good health or dead, but 132 were still missing. There had been 1,275 complaints of torture and in 1,177 cases investigations had been initiated. In 296 trials against civil servants 60 had resulted in conviction, while in 56 of them the sentences had been suspended.

2016 state of emergency[edit]

Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan declared a three-month state of emergency (OHAL) in Turkey after the 2016 Turkish coup d'état attempt.[13] It has been renewed every three months since then.


  1. ^ a b c Yeni Şafak, 22 November 2002, 'Olağanüstü hal' 30 kasımda bitiyor... ; accessed on 4 September 2009
  2. ^ Jongerden, Joost (2007). The Settlement Issue in Turkey and the Kurds. Brill. p. 138. ISBN 978-90-47-42011-8.
  3. ^ Text of decision 285 Archived 2013-02-26 at the Wayback Machine (Turkish); accessed on 4 September 2009
  4. ^ a b Jongerden, Joost (2007). The Settlement Issue in Turkey and the Kurds. Brill. pp. 141–142. ISBN 978-90-47-42011-8.
  5. ^ Whitman, Lois (1990). Destroying Ethnic Identity: The Kurds of Turkey : an Update. Human Rights Watch. p. 13. ISBN 9780929692630.
  6. ^ Norwegian Refugee Council/Global IDP Project (4 October 2002). "Profile of internal displacement: Turkey" (PDF). p. 78.
  7. ^ Aydin, Aysegul; Emrence, Cem (2015-04-23). Zones of Rebellion: Kurdish Insurgents and the Turkish State. Cornell University Press. p. 138. ISBN 9780801456206.
  8. ^ The dates are mentioned in a text of the dialogue circle "War in Turkey" (German) on Parliamentarian break a Taboo Archived 2012-02-26 at the Wayback Machine; accessed on September 4, 2009
  9. ^ The names can be found in an article of the daily Evrensel of 31 July 2002 Archived 7 December 2008 at the Wayback Machine; accessed on September 4, 2009
  10. ^ See special report of the Democratic Turkey Forum; accessed on 7 September 2009
  11. ^ Firat News Agency, 14 June 2009, OHAL’in adı yok, uygulaması var; accessed on 7 September 2009
  12. ^ The article was published in the Journal for Social Sciences Research (Sosyal Bilim Araştırmaları Dergisi) of the Association of Academic Research and Solidarity, September 2005. The online edition[permanent dead link] is in Turkish; accessed on 4 September 2009
  13. ^ http://www.hurriyetdailynews.com/turkey-declares-three-month-state-of-emergency-erdogan.aspx?pageID=238&nID=101896&NewsCatID=341