A parliamentary commission set up to investigate coups that resulted in the overthrow of elected governments in Turkey has decided to interview two retired military officers who played a role in the May 27, 1960 coup, the first military takeover in Turkish history.
Spokesperson for the commission İdris Şahin, a Justice and Development Party (AK Party) deputy, told reporters on Wednesday that the commission is planning to interview Ahmet Er and Numan Esin about details of the coup. On May 27, 1960, the powerful military overthrew the Democrat Party (DP) government of then-Prime Minister Adnan Menderes. Menderes, his fellow DP members and a number of high-ranking officers of the Turkish Armed Forces (TSK) were tried on Yassıada, a small island in the Sea of Marmara, by a military junta. The judges overseeing the case handed down 15 death penalties, 12 life sentences and hundreds of long-term prison sentences. Three executions were carried out: Menderes, Foreign Minister Fatin Rüştü Zorlu and Finance Minister Hasan Polatkan were hanged.
Şahin said the commission will decide whether to call Er and Esin to Parliament or visit them at their homes, depending on the health of the two retired officers. Cengiz Yavilioğlu, a member of the parliamentary commission, said the May 27 coup is a turning point for Turkey as it paved the path for the establishment of many institutions that worked against democracy for long years. “The Supreme Board of Judges and Prosecutors [HSYK], the senate and the National Security Council [MGK] were established after the coup. Those worked against the will of civilians. They also intervened in the authority of politicians. The militarist spirit gained strength after May 27,” he said.
In addition, Naci Bostancı, another member of the commission, announced that the parliamentary commission may interview several prominent political and military figures about their suspected links to past coups. Among them, he said, are former President Süleyman Demirel, former Chief of General Staff and President Kenan Evren, former Air Forces Commander Gen. Tahsin Şahinkaya, wife of former Prime Minister Bülent Ecevit, Rahşan Ecevit, and Deniz Baykal, former leader of the Republican People's Party (CHP).
The commission decided earlier this month to establish three sub-commissions to investigate the May 27, 1960, March 12, 1971, Sept. 12, 1980 and Feb. 28, 1997 coups. The sub-commissions will also investigate the April 27, 2007 e-memorandum in which the General Staff threatened “action” if the AK Party government did not do more to preserve the republic's secular tradition. The e-memorandum came amid a political crisis to elect the country's president.