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December 27, 2011, Tuesday

Ergenekon, Sledgehammer, Sivas, Maraş…

How the Ergenekon and Sledgehammer investigations, which constitute the core of the coup attempt allegations, will be concluded is the top item on Turkey's agenda. I have been stressing all along that the most imminent threat and danger with regard to these investigations are diversions and the possible dilution of the process.

There is no shame on the part of the media, which has been supportive of the guardianship and surrendered to the pro-junta actors during the Feb. 28 process [an unarmed military coup that resulted in the overthrow of the government in power in 1997] without taking professional ethics into consideration. On the contrary, they seem to have adopted a stance implying that they could get away with this as well.

The danger is persistent. The guardianship mentality does not express any regrets over what it has done so far. Despite all the evidence and confessions made by the suspects, they have acted as if nothing has happened and argue that this ongoing trial constitutes a campaign against the military. On the other hand, no significant attempt has been undertaken to deal with the Sivas and Maraş massacres, unresolved murders and bloody provocations staged to prepare the grounds for a military coup. The hope for the solution of the Hrant Dink and Muhsin Yazıcıoğlu cases is kept alive thanks to the individual and personal efforts of the president.

All coups and military interventions so far have been part of a bigger whole. Unfortunately, our armed forces have fallen prey to a pro-junta mindset. How would it otherwise have been possible [for the military] to create the necessary conditions of chaos in every decade since the May 27, 1960 coup and make the transition to martial law and further military coups?

The future of the coup attempt investigations -- the Ergenekon and Sledgehammer cases -- depends on the resolution of the Sivas and Kahramanmaraş massacres. Without resolving these two massacres, Turkey cannot clear the way for further democratization.

You may remember that Dec. 25 was the anniversary of the Maraş massacre. Thirty-three years ago, Sunnis were provoked by state intelligence officers in Kahramanmaraş to commit a massacre against Alevi and left-wing citizens. During the attacks on Dec. 19-26, 1978, 111 people died and 176 were wounded. Some 210 houses and 70 businesses were destroyed. And on Dec. 26, 1978, martial law was declared in 13 provinces, including İstanbul. Bülent Ecevit was prime minister during the massacre. His first reaction was to remove Interior Minister İrfan Özaydınlı, a retired general. In place of Özaydınlı he appointed Hasan Fehmi Güneş.

Güneş a few days ago told host Balçiçek İlter during a TV program aired on Habertürk: “A huge massacre was committed in Kahramanmaraş. And I do not think that the people of Kahramanmaraş committed this massacre against each other. Some people were brought in from out of town to commit crimes. But of course, some of the Maraş inhabitants also joined in on this frenzy. The houses of Alevis were located and the houses that would be burned down were marked by people who claimed they were conducting a census. Intelligence units deliberately abstained from providing any information. I am of the opinion that the intelligence service ought not to have been acquitted of the charges over its involvement in the incidents there. Not only did they fail to take measures, they also contributed to the escalation. And they failed to provide any intelligence to the administration. No measures were taken. Throughout my service at the ministry, I was unable to receive any information from the National Intelligence Organization [MİT]. The governor was not informed before the breakout of the incidents and the military was called in too late. And the number of troops who arrived at the scene was not sufficient to handle the situation. As a result, the plotters achieved their goals. Those who sought a military coup were eager to make sure that martial law would be declared in Turkey. And martial law was declared.”

“What they wanted to do over there was not all about killing; what they really wanted was a transfer of power in Turkey to the military. It could be through a coup or martial law -- call it whatever you want. The only thing they asked for was to prepare the ground for this. They wanted to have a military regime that would block the democratization process. The country was on the verge of a military takeover. This should be understood well,” İlter added.

I would, thus, like to propose two things: 1. Parliament should investigate the Sivas and Maraş massacres. 2. An investigation should be opened into MİT, which answers to the prime minister.

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