Şemdin Sakık, serving a life sentence because of involvement in the Kurdistan Workers’ Party (PKK), is currently in a prison in Diyarbakır.
Sakık appeared at a hearing of the Ergenekon trial on Wednesday, joining Ergenekon suspects in making statements about the 1993 Bingöl massacre in which 33 soldiers lost their lives as well as on the murders of Diyarbakır Police Chief Gaffar Okkan and Brig. Gen. Bahtiyar Aydın.
Sakık’s assertion during his testimony that there were journalists who visited Bekaa not just for journalistic purposes but because they were hoping to benefit from the military power of the PKK itself elicited strong negative reactions from certain circles. There is absolutely no reason for us to attach any particular credit to these remarks but, we cannot ignore statements made by this man in the Ergenekon trial.
The Republican People’s Party (CHP), nationalist circles and media supportive of the PKK reacted simultaneously to Sakık’s testimony. All of these circles began to assert that Sakık’s words could not be trusted as he had been a former PKK member and is now a PKK confessor. They also said he is being used to bulk up the Ergenekon case and that a situation in which Sakık is a witness and former military officers are on trial is unacceptable.
The arguments swirling around all this became even more heated when former National Security Council (MGK) Secretary-General Tuncer Kılıç said that in fact Sakık is someone whose words can be trusted. Sakık is one of the most important witnesses of this era in Turkish history. As such, there may be nothing more natural than to have him as a witness in the Ergenekon case.
Many of the suspects on trial in the Ergenekon case shouldered duties in various regions of Turkey where clashes between the military and the PKK occurred at times when Şemdin Sakık helped carry out PKK activities. And, actually, it is really only witnesses like Şemdin Sakık who can shed light on Ergenekon’s activities in that period.
Sakık insists that the PKK was really only a sub-contractor of sorts in the Bingöl massacre and that it was in fact certain groups within the ranks of the military who planned and prepared for this terrible event. He has also stated that Bahtiyar Aydın was murdered not by the PKK but rather by a soldier who was then murdered by another soldier.
All of the above are of course allegations that need to be investigated and proven. And so the work now lies with the prosecutors involved. However, in order for the prosecutors to do this work, they need to have access to state intelligence reports from the time period in question. Everything said by Sakık at the trial brings to mind the Ergenekon activities that went beyond the Euphrates.
These statements by the former PKK member also work to remind us one more time just how important it is that the ongoing JİTEM cases in Diyarbakır be combined with the Ergenekon case.
The same circles who worked against journalists who tried to write the truth about the Feb. 28, 1997 coup process are now insisting that Sakık cannot be trusted. When it came to the matter of the murders committed by JİTEM, a similar campaign to undermine statements made by Abdülkadir Aygan was carried out. When Aygan made a series of crucial statements and admissions about unsolved JİTEM murders, Ergenekon suspect Arif Doğan, who had earlier proclaimed that he was the founder of JİTEM, declared that in fact no one named Aygan even existed anymore as Aygan had been murdered in Switzerland. However, it was later proven that this was not true. In fact, Aygan was alive and went on to help reveal the truth behind many important unsolved murders from the past.
Those tried in the Ergenekon and Balyoz cases -- people who committed serious crimes in the past -- today refuse to reckon with and account for their actions. It is clear that not even a single one of them is filled with remorse for what they did. And while they see fit now to protest “Who is this Sakık compared with who we are?” they seem to have forgotten the days when they appeared at the same dinner tables set up for Sakık and his circles in Bekaa.