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Turkey - Gendarmerie - History

Comparing with the worldwide nations, Turks, who showed the ability and power to found systematic and long-lived states, beside their regular state understanding, has been a nation attracting attention with its laws and traditions for ensuring security and public order in their countries since the day on which they first appeared on the scene of history. In former Turkish civilizations, rulers called Başbuğ, Kağan or Hakan were also personally involved in the delivery of security and safety services. It is also known that there were law enforcement officers called Yargan in Orhun Epitaphs who ensured safety and security under the order of Hakan.

The military law enforcement organization which carried out security and safety services was called "Surta" in Seljuks, "Subaşı" under the reign of Ottoman Empire, was later called "Zaptiye" and subsequently in recent history "Gendarmerie". During the Ottoman times, Subaşı under the authority of Kadı, Mirliva or Sancak Beyi, and Mirmiran or Bey carried out security and public order services as the military and administrative authority respectively in districts, provinces and states.

In Istanbul, the capital city of the empire, security and public order services were delivered by a different organization. In this respect, police stations were established both in and outside Istanbul where Yeniçeri soldiers called Karakullukçu worked. Yeniçeri Ağası, Cebecibaşı, Cebeciler, Kaptan Paşa, Topçubaşı ve Topçular, Bostancıbaşı and Bostancılar were mentioned in history as the authorities responsible for ensuring safety and security of the empire.

After the abolition of Yeniçeri concept on June 18, 1826, military organizations called "Asakir-i Muntazama-i Mansuri", "Asakir-i Muntazama-i Hassa" and, in 1834, "Asakir-i Redife" were established to deliver security and public order services in Anatolia and in some states of Rumeli. After the announcement of Tanzimat Declaration (Tanzimat-i Hayriye - Gülhane Hatt-ı Hümayunu) on November 03, 1839, the duty of protecting the right to life and property of the people was assigned to officers who worked under the authority of state or provincial governors.

On February 16, 1846, Zaptiye Müşirliği was established and Umuru Zaptiye services were directly assigned to this authority. This period is also called Tevhid-i Zabıta (the integration of law enforcement services). Zaptiye Müşirliği was affiliated to the superior military authority called "Seraskerlik". This also marks the establishment of a new military law enforcement office which was set up for the purpose of ensuring internal security and order and was directed from the center. The first regulation of the organization called Asakir-i Zaptiye Nizamnamesi were put into force on June 14, 1869. A legal framework was established in the mentioned regulation to include the law enforcement duties and services and powers and responsibilities. In line with the regulation, a Law Enforcement Regiment was established in each province, comprising infantry and cavalry soldiers. Moreover, the new organization structure was composed of regiments, battalions, companies and platoons.

Since the term Gendarmerie was noticed in the Assignment Decrees published in the years following the Tanzimat Declaration, it is assumed that the Gendarmerie organization was founded after the Tanzimat Declaration of 1839, but the exact date of foundation has not been determined yet. Therefore, taking the June 14 of "June 14, 1869" on which Asakir-i Zaptiye Nizamnamesi was adopted; June 14, 1839 was accepted as the foundation date of the Turkish Gendarmerie.

After 1877-1878 Ottoman-Russian War, Prime Minister Sait Paşa decided to bring some officers from England and France to establish a modern law enforcement organization, some changes were made in organizational structure and Umum Jandarma Merkeziyesi was established on November 20, 1879 and was affiliated to Seraskerlik authority.

After the proclamation of Constitution II in 1908, Gendarmerie achieved great successes, particularly in Rumeli. For this reason, the organization was restructured in 1909 and was affiliated to the Ministry of War, and its name was changed as Umum Jandarma Kumandanlığı. Gendarmerie units both sustained their internal security duties and took part in the national defence at various fronts as an inseparable part of the Armed Forces during the World War I, starting in 1914 and ending in 1918, and the War of Independence, starting in 1919 and ending in 1922. The bravery and successes the Gendarmerie units had in those wars deserve every tribute and praise.

After the foundation of the Republic on October 29, 1923, the Gendarmerie organization was, like other public institutions, subjected to reorganization activities within the framework of a plan. Gendarmerie NCO School, which was closed down in 1918, was re-opened in İzmit. Fixed Regional Gendarmerie Inspectorates and Provincial Gendarmerie Regiment Commands were reorganized and Mobile Gendarmerie Units were strengthened.

Law No. 1706 entered into force on June 10, 1930 and the Gendarmerie organization achieved its current legal status. In 1935, it was decided that the Gendarmerie officers would be trained in the War Academy. In 1937, "Regulation on the Organization and Duties of Gendarmerie" entered into force. In 1939, the Gendarmerie organization was restructured, having three groups as Fixed Gendarmerie Units, Mobile Gendarmerie Units and Gendarmerie Training Units and Schools.

Law No. 6815 entering into force in 1956 assigned the Gendarmerie General Command the task and responsibility to protect borders, coasts and territorial waters and to prohibit, track and investigate trafficking in customs areas which were previously carried out by Gümrük Umum Kumandanlığı that was a military organization at the level of division in affiliation to the Ministry of Customs and Monopoly. In 1957, Gendarmerie Border Units were transformed into brigades and Gendarmerie Training Brigades were established. In 1961, Gendarmerie Regional Commands were established. In 1963, Foça Gendarmerie Commando School was opened and the commando training started. Depending on this, Gendarmerie Commando Units were set up. In 1961, the first Gendarmerie Regional Command was founded in Ankara. In 1968, the first Gendarmerie Aviation Unit was established in Diyarbakır, under the name of Light Helicopter Company Command. In 1974, Gendarmerie Commando Units and Gendarmerie Aviation Units joined the Cyprus Peace Operation and played a leading role in the fight of Turkish Cypriots towards independence.

Law No. 2692 entering into force in 1982 assigned the duty of protecting coasts and territorial waters to the Coast Guard Command. Law No. 2803 on the Organization, Duties and Responsibilities of the Gendarmerie entered into force in 1983. Law No. 3497 entering into force in 1988 assigned the duty of protecting our land borders and ensuring their security to the Land Forces Command, but Gendarmerie General Command still holds the responsibility for some parts of the Iranian and Syrian borders and the whole Iraqi border.

Since 1984 up to now, Gendarmerie units have been the most important element of the fight, in the whole country - particularly in Eastern and Southeastern Anatolia Regions and also in Black Sea Region-, against PKK/KONGRA-GEL and other terrorist organizations targeting the indivisible integrity of the country. Having sacrificed thousands of martyrs and veterans in line with this purpose, the Gendarmerie will go on protecting the unity and solidarity of the country at the expense of anything.

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Page last modified: 11-07-2011 03:06:44 ZULU