Yet, it would be a great deflection, a major error, to assume that April 27 consisted only of the memorandum the Turkish Armed Forces (TSK) posted on their official website at midnight on April 27, 2007.
April 27 cannot be disassociated from the incidents prior to and after it. The military and civilian tutelage were unhappy with the Justice and Development Party’s (AK Party) coming to power in 2002 and its reforms, particularly those implemented to ensure greater compliance with the European Union, seeking to change the “ideological red lines” of the regime. This unhappiness was not stemming from the “reactionary threat,” an excuse frequently parroted by the secular elite. Every coup staged in Turkey was actually a move by the Kemalist elites who sought to maintain their monopoly over political power to the chagrin of the public. During the single-party regime, Kemalist elites didn’t feel the need to garner public support or legitimacy for such totalitarian, racist and fascist practices as the execution of dissidents after sham trials in the infamous Courts of Independence and the imposition of the Wealth Tax on non-Muslim minorities to uproot their economic enterprises. The single party, i.e., the Republican People’s Party (CHP), was in power, and backed by the military and bureaucracy. Arbitrary practices could be implemented as dominant rules without any problem.
With the introduction of the multi-party regime and the defeat of fascist states in World War II, evil did not disappear from the earth at once. Rather, it changed its methods and started to be more careful in its make-up. It is no coincidence that the era of coups started in Turkey after the country transitioned to a multi-party regime. This is because there was a parliamentary system, albeit sloppy, in place and a democratic system in the making. This meant the public’s preferences would be reflected first in election results and then in the form of governance. Kemalist elites were highly allergic to the public, but they knew that the evil characteristics they attributed to the public were lies. Their sole purpose was to refrain from sharing power and wealth with the public. This was the real reason behind the coups of 1960, 1971, 1980 and 1997. This must be acknowledged. Neither reactionary claims nor other reasons were real. These excuses were being manufactured to arouse the fears of the social groups that were closer to them and to justify the coups. As this became the long-established and hidden system, the society was aligned according to it, and ideological and economic classes were formed. The CHP became the party representing the groups who feared -- because of fabricated reactionary threats -- that their lifestyles might be changed and who felt the need to rely on the pro-coup mentality for the maintenance of their dominant economic enterprises.
And the April 27 memorandum was the latest coup attempt by the military/civilian bureaucracy, i.e., the secularist/Kemalist elites, that was on the wane. The murder of priest Andrea Santoro, the assassination of Turkish-Armenian journalist Hrant Dink, the killings of Christian missionaries in Malatya, the Republican Rallies, the anti-government statements issued by the Supreme Court of Appeals and the Council of State, the Constitutional Court’s directly meddling with the 2007 presidential election with its controversial “367” decision and the 2009 closure case against the AK Party can never be imagined as independent from the April 27 memorandum. In this regard, there was cooperation between politicians, the media, business circles and the military, similar to the one we saw during the Feb. 28, 1997 coup. This cooperation, too, should be investigated as is the case with the probe into the Feb. 28 coup. This demand has nothing to do with revenge. This is one of basic rules for becoming a democratic country. Criminals should not go unpunished, and breaches, violations and arbitrariness should not become a rule. For transition from the law of rulers to the rule of law, justice must be served and a fair judicial process must be implemented.
If the 1960 coup had been investigated and duly punished, we would have been a country that is a member of the EU without the Kurdish issue, numerous coups, massacres and economic crises.
This opportunity should be properly used so that we should not be in the same position in the future. Those who try to undermine the trials of the Feb. 28 and other coups are obviously not sincere. But we should not give them excuses by violating laws or forgetting that those standing trial are the citizens of this country as well. This, i.e., the functioning of the judicial system in compliance with universal norms, is one of the most critical prerequisites for ensuring that this process of confrontation and settling accounts is completed without a hitch.