Laicism was the primary and sacred norm of the country, and for its sake everything else, including democracy, could be sacrificed. Hopefully, this perverted conception of modernity and progress is fading away in Turkey. As we are now talking about crimes against democracy, it is only normal that we start with the main perpetrators of these crimes: coup-loving soldiers.
The judiciary is now tackling the issue and we hope that based on sound and concrete evidence, justice will be served. We are very lucky that, since the perpetrators never imagined that true democracy would one day come to Turkey, they have left too many finger and footprints. Everywhere is full of their confessions and, with the exception of their accomplices and ideological brothers and sisters, nobody will object to their eventual punishments. While all this is taking place, a strange phenomenon is occurring in Turkey, and instead of talking about who the accomplices and organically linked supporters of the coup were, we are witnessing civilian victims of the coup -- who did not have any power to stop it -- also being blamed for not being sufficiently fervent and confrontational against the coup. But before doing this, we must not skip the most essential step after chasing after the coup-stagers. We must not omit the weakest link: the politicians.
The April 27, 2007 coup attempt showed us that in the post-cold war period, a NATO member army cannot stage a direct coup, and if the politicians behave bravely, the coup-lovers have to back down. During the Feb. 28 process we have seen nothing of this and this is one of the reasons why the Milli Görüş (National View) was divided into two, paving the way for the emergence of the Justice and Development Party (AKP). We now read that today’s AKP leaders who were younger generation renewalists (Yenilikçiler) were pressing their elders behind closed doors to stand fast and not be too lenient with the generals. If the Erbakan government had not signed the shameful Feb. 28, 1997 National Security Council decisions, it is highly probable that we would be talking about a different recent political history of Turkey. Anyway, this is not the main focus of today’s piece. Neither will I talk about beneficiaries or implicit and indirect political supporters of the coup, such as Süleyman Demirel, Mesut Yilmaz, Bülent Ecevit and so on. They were either too happy with or silent against the Feb. 28 coup. What they did may not have been criminal, but must be recorded as democratic sins and must be condemned. I would prefer to look at the actions of the Milli Görüş politicians.
I must first of all note that whatever the Milli Görüş politicians did before and during the Feb. 28 coup process cannot legitimize any coup. Theirs were either democratic sins or silly misjudgments that did not take into account the socio-political realities of Turkey and the world, people’s perception of their behavior and polite warnings from their brothers. Without understanding why the AKP emerged, we will never have a full picture of the Feb. 28 coup. Since Feb. 28, the AKP leaders have consistently declared that they have changed “the shirt of Milli Görüş.” Yet we are never given a full account of why they have jettisoned the Milli Görüş ideology and “betrayed” Erbakan. If their departure was not for selfish reasons, such as being leaders themselves instead of obeying the elders, we need to hear directly from them what exactly their reasons for “changing the shirt” were. It seems that until now we have had to be content with our own inferences, deductions and analyses. We have always taken for granted that the AKP leaders were upset with the harsh, radical and irresponsible attitudes and acts of some of their party members. The Feb. 28 media is full of such news about the Milli Görüş politicians. They will justifiably object and say that these coup-loving media outlets exaggerated what they did. Yes, but if they were not born yesterday they must have known how the media operated and how they were prejudiced against them. Wisdom dictates that these media outlets must not be given any excuses. Yet, we have not forgotten how so many Milli Görüş politicians were full of self confidence, and in many instances they only created justifications and excuses for the coup-stagers. Presumably, the AKP leaders also realized how these mistakes fatally played into the hands of the coup-stagers and lovers. Yet, if we truly want to consolidate our fragile democracy, it will be good to hear their own accounts.