Erdelhun’s family shared the diaries and notes of the former military chief with Zaman, a sister paper of Today’s Zaman, shortly before Turkey was set to observe the 52nd anniversary of the 1960 coup. The documents shed light for the first time on the sufferings of the late general and other victims of the coup under the perpetrators of the military takeover. The parliamentary commission believes that the documents will help deepen an ongoing parliamentary investigation into the May 27 coup.
The commission also decided to talk to a number of witnesses of the May 27 coup, including former President Süleyman Demirel, retired Maj. Ahmet Er, who was a member of the National Unity Committee (MBK) which staged the coup, retired intelligence officer and strategist Mahir Kaynak, who was working for the National Intelligence Organization (MİT) at the time of the coup and journalists Hasan Cemal and Taha Akyol. The commission will also examine decisions made by the Yassıada court where dozens of anti-coup figures stood trial after May 27.
On May 27, 1960, the powerful military overthrew the government of then-Prime Minister Adnan Menderes. Menderes, his fellow Democrat Party (DP) members and a number of high-ranking officers of the TSK were tried in 14 separate cases in Yassıada, a small island in the Sea of Marmara. Among the sentences handed down were 15 death penalties, 12 life sentences and hundreds of long-term imprisonments. Three executions by hanging were carried out: Menderes, Foreign Minister Fatin Rüştü Zorlu and Finance Minister Hasan Polatkan were hanged. President Celal Bayar was among the 15 sentenced to death, but his execution was not carried out due to his advanced age.
‘Tanks surrounded our house on coup night’
Sorrowful stories belonging to the May 27 coup continue to emerge. Former President Bayar’s daughter, Nilüfer Gürsoy, recounted that tanks being driven by pro-coup military junta members surrounded their house on the night of the coup, pointing their gun barrels to their windows.
“My husband was in Europe, and I was staying with my father and mother. … It was an eventless evening. Late in the night I heard noise coming from outside. My father and mother came to wake me up. They were saying that we should hide in the shelter. I got up, and looked outside from the window of my room. There were tanks surrounding our house. Their gun barrels were pointed to the windows,” Gürsoy said, speaking to Today’s Zaman on Friday.
Gürsoy also said she remembers how her father resisted coup stagers who came to arrest him on the coup night. “I was upstairs. Then I heard some noise. They [junta members] were telling my father not to use his gun. And they held his hands as my father was about to point the gun toward himself. And they took him away.”
The first politician to be arrested after the May 27 coup was Bayar, who was residing at the Çankaya palace. Arriving at the palace, a senior officer who had been charged with arresting Bayar demanded his resignation, but Bayar refused, saying, “I was brought here by the will of the people, and that’s how I will go.” As Bayar spoke he first pointed his gun at the officer and then turned it on himself, but the soldiers intervened and Bayar surrendered. He was dragged from Çankaya palace and taken directly to the military War Academy premises.