A member of the May 27, 1960 National Unity Committee (mbk), and one of the architects of that coup, retired Maj. Ahmet Er, urged the government to launch a full investigation into the May 27, 1960 coup d’état, which resulted in the hanging of a prime minister and two ministers.
Speaking to Today’s Zaman, the former member of the now-defunct MBK said that if it does so, the government will be late in launching a probe into the May 27 coup, which paved the way for the subsequent military coups that occurred. Er went on to say that Turkey has entered a new era in which it is facing up to its military coups such as the Sept. 12, 1980 coup and the Feb. 28, 1997 postmodern coup, and now it is time to try the May 27 coup plotters.
Stating that he is ready to testify to prosecutors if necessary, Er further claimed that he personally witnessed two deputies from Republican People’s Party (CHP) saying joyously to an MBK member, Orhan Erkanlı: “Major, we started a fight between right-wingers and left-wingers in İstanbul’s Saraçhane. This fight is still continuing.” Er went on to say: “After those two men went out of the room, I asked Erkanlı who those men were. Erkanlı responded those were CHP deputies. Then I asked him, ‘but they [the deputies] said they started a fight between two group of young people, so what is going on exactly?’ Erkanlı responded, ‘they are preparing the ground for a coup d’état.’ Now, I wonder whether the CHP can dare to say it didn’t have any active role in the coup.”
Er further claimed that president during the 1960s, İsmet İnönü, held a secret meeting with pro-CHP majors of the MBK at Prof. Afet İnan’s house before the coup. Stating that İnönü bargained with the members for control the government after the coup, Er added that İnönü reportedly made an offer to those members of “let me come to power, I will help you become senators,” and this offer was welcomed by all the MBK members at the secret meeting. Er further noted that Fikret Kuytak, one of the MBK members who attended the meeting asked Er to accept İnönü’s offer which was firmly rejected by Er at that time. Stating that the government will be late in facing up to the May 27 coup, Er added the governments, excluding the current one, should also be investigated over why no attempt has been made to investigate the coup before now.
Er further claimed that they looked into the backgrounds of the military officers who staged the coup and found out that most of them were pro-CHP officers. “According to a report of Maj. Mehmet Özgüneş at that time, those pro-CHP military officers decided to overthrow the Democrat Party (DP) government and deliver the government to the CHP party, which caused concern among some military officers with anti-CHP ideas such as Alparslan Türkeş, Numan Esin, Mazaffer Özdağ and me. Then, we also decided to take part in the coup to be able to work against the CHP because we could perceive how a government established by the CHP would bring about destructive results for the country,” Er noted.
Regarding the role of the media during the coup era, Er stated that some leftist media outlets were provoking the military into staging the coup, while some rightist media outlets were promoting democracy. “Ninety-five percent of the Turkish Armed Forces [TSK] officers were supporting İnönü,” Er also noted.
On May 27, 1960, the military overthrew the government led by Prime Minister Menderes, who was tried with fellow DP members in 14 separate cases on Yassıada, an island in the Sea of Marmara. The judges overseeing the case handed down 15 death sentences, 12 life sentences and hundreds of long-term imprisonments. Three of the executions were carried out: Menderes, Foreign Minister Fatin Rüştü Zorlu and Finance Minister Polatkan were hanged. Celal Bayar, who was president at the time, was among the 15 sentenced to death, but his execution was not carried out because of his age.