In his testimony to a civilian prosecutor in Diyarbakır, Şemdin Sakık, a former terrorist Kurdistan Workers' Party (PKK) commander, claimed that the killing of 33 unarmed off-duty Turkish soldiers in 1993 was the work of a pro-coup military junta nested in the Turkish Armed Forces (TSK).
Sakık is currently in prison in Diyarbakır. He was captured in northern Iraq 14 years ago and brought to Turkey, where he was sentenced to life for terrorism-related crimes.
According to Sakık, the military junta formed a group called the East Study Group (DÇG) in eastern Turkey back in the 1990s in order to lay the groundwork for a coup d'état. He alleges that the group was engaged in several illegal activities, including the killing of 33 soldiers in Bingöl. “All sorrowful incidents that happened in 1993 were the work of that [military] junta. The 33 soldiers were thrown in front of the PKK by some [circles in order to be killed] and, in this way, the DÇG realized its plan,” the former terrorist commander told a prosecutor.
On May 24, 1993, a group of about 150 PKK terrorists blocked the Elazığ-Bingöl highway, stopping several buses that were transferring unarmed Turkish soldiers in civilian clothing. They dragged the soldiers from their vehicles before executing them. The attack broke a PKK cease-fire that had been declared in response to efforts by then-President Turgut Özal to establish a dialogue with the PKK to solve the long-standing Kurdish problem. The military was later criticized for the fact that the soldiers had been unarmed and given no protection.
In his testimony, Sakık told the prosecutor: “The DÇG started to function that year . … The incident involving the 33 soldiers was carried out by a group of angry PKK members, but it was the junta that planned the killings. The junta wanted blood to be shed so it could seize control of the country.”
Sakık also claimed that the military junta was behind the deaths of Gen. Bahtiyar Aydın and Col. Rıdvan Özden. Aydın was reportedly killed in Diyarbakır's Lice district in 1993 and Aydın in Mardin in 1995 by the terrorist PKK. “They [the military junta] called Aydın to Lice, saying there was an armed fight with the PKK. When the general got off the helicopter, they shot him immediately on the landing pad,” Sakık recounted.