This past Saturday, the Zaman daily published a remarkable headline story that gained a great deal of popular attention. The report noted that four different poisons had been detected in the exhumed body of eighth president Turgut Özal. The forensic medicine examination revealed that four poisons had been injected into his body. These include DDT (a type of pesticide), cadmium (a heavy metal) and radioactive materials Americium and Polonium. The Zaman daily's sources commented that the body had been exhausted by heavy metals first, and then sudden death had been ensured by the pesticide in the final stage.
I followed the reactions from the government Saturday. No government representative has denied the report. But what really matters is that the forensic authorities who are about to complete the report did not dismiss the allegations. Only Deputy Prime Minister Hüseyin Çelik made a clarifying comment:
“Reports by the Bugün and Zaman dailies alleging that former President Turgut Özal was poisoned are really grave. The forensics authorities have not made an official statement yet. We will make our statement after the official testimony. If the reports are true, the power and size of the structures and gangs that acted on behalf of the state by relying on state power will become more apparent. This investigation will not of course bring the president back; but it will make huge contribution to the confrontation efforts of Turkey.”
It is of course not possible to not agree with Çelik who holds hope for purification. The majority of Turkish society believes that Özal was poisoned; they also hold that there is a similar story behind unresolved murders, massacres and social upheaval in the past. You are familiar with the rule that if something remains unresolved for a long time, a big power that is able to create this state of irresolution is needed. And this is generally created by the state itself.
The period of fascism was terrible, but the Cold War era was a nightmare because of state crimes. During this era, the Western and Soviet blocks were fighting each other; meanwhile, domestic wars were instigated. Millions of innocent people were murdered in these internal wars. It is known that Stalin alone is responsible for the murder of 20 million opponents and dissidents, while 5 million people died in the US invasions of Vietnam and Laos. I just quote two incidents.
We have experienced a period where gladios were prestigious and dominant within the state. As a NATO member, Turkey also got involved in such matters. European countries got rid of their gladios after the dissolution of the Soviet Union. As you know, Italy was the last of these countries. Such structures cannot be completely eliminated. But they can be controlled so that their harm can be minimized.
But Turkey was unable to deal with this problem. Do you know why?
Turkey failed to address this problem because a gladio-like political structure had become a legitimate mode of government with the arrival of the Committee of Union and Progress (CUP) in Turkey. Kemalists assumed this role after the elimination of CUP from the political stage. There is almost no difference in terms of mindset between these two groups.
In brief, I would like to say that the state has been under the control of this mentality since fascist CUP members overthrew pro-Ottoman CUP members in 1913. They saw the state as a legitimate tool for crimes. This tradition was adopted by the republican regime as well.
For this reason, nobody gets surprised in Turkey if Özal has been assassinated. And I will not be surprised. But this should not mean that nothing happens. I will be surprised at those who still do not introduce bolder reforms, while they have a great opportunity to do it, who still do not take decisive steps to make a new constitution, who do not hesitate to undermine the broad democratic coalition against the deep state and who argue that the deep state has been eliminated and that there will be no coup.