Copy of 1980 coup general’s letter comes to light

April 10, 2012, Tuesday/ 15:28:00/ METİN ARSLAN

A copy of a letter bearing the name but not the signature of the 1980 coup leader, retired Gen. Kenan evren -- the chief of general staff at the time -- which was sent to then-President Fahri Korutürk, has finally seen the light of day, but it is not known where the original might be being stored.

The Ankara 12th High Criminal Court is currently hearing the case of the two former generals -- Chief of General Staff Kenan Evren and Air force commander Tahsin Şahinkaya -- who staged the Sept. 12, 1980 coup d'etat. The two men are accused of overthrowing a democratically elected government by force. Recently in the trial, the court queried the General Staff, demanding to see the original of a letter reportedly sent by Evren to Korutürk on Dec. 27, 1979. The General Staff said no such letter has been found in the archives, but the court is currently waiting on an answer from the Office of the Presidency, which might have stored the original of the document.

The copy Today's Zaman has acquired came from an individual who was given a copy of the letter by President Korutürk, who sent Evren's letter to all of the political parties at the time. The court will need to see the original to establish if the letter is authentic, but the copy Today's Zaman acquired has a presidential approval stamp confirming that the document is “the same as the original.”

If authentic, the letter could serve as evidence for the prosecution that the coup d'etat was planned well in advance and was not an emergency response as the defense claims.

The copy that Today's Zaman has in its possession called on all “constitutional agencies and particularly political parties to take measures and look for solutions with an Atatürkist and patriotic approach to ensure the continuation of our state, our national unity and the safety of the people's lives and assets.” The letter warned that the National Security Council (MGK) was unhappy about the “unproductive attitudes and behavior” of Turkey's political parties, and that all force commanders, senior generals and admirals had agreed that political parties be “warned” once again to contribute to finding a solution to the state the country was in.

Witnesses from the time also remember that this was an introductory letter to an attachment -- another letter -- entitled the “Opinion of the Turkish Armed Forces.”

That letter, witnesses say, bears the signatures of Evren, Land Forces Commander Nurettin Ersin, Naval Forces Commander Adm. Bülend Ulusu, Air Force Commander Gen. Şahinkaya and Gendarmerie Force Commander Gen. Sedat Celasun.

Korutürk had invited Süleyman Demirel, who was then the leader of the Justice Party (AP), and Republican People's Party (CHP) leader Bülent Ecevit to the presidential office and presented them with the letter, which noted that the Turkish Armed Forces (TSK) might have to perform its “duty to protect the republic,” assigned to it by Article 35 of the Internal Service Law of the Turkish Armed Forces.

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