‘Special War Dept. trained hundreds of thousands of civilians responsible for unsolved murders'
The Special War Department within the Turkish Armed Forces (TSK) trained hundreds of thousands of civilians, who later carried out murders and then buried the weapons they used underground, according to a report by a parliamentary commission to investigate coups.
The commission, titled the parliamentary Coup and Memorandum Investigation Commission, has stated in its report about its findings about past coups in the country that the weapons were buried in the so-called "death triangle" areas of Sapanca, Hendek and Düzce. The Special War Department trained hundreds of thousands of civilians to use those weapons, and the civilians eventually carried out murders, particularly against Kurdish businessmen, the report stated.
The department was secretly established during the Cold War under pressure by NATO to prevent a possible communist coup in Turkey. The perpetrators of the unsolved murders committed between 1993 and 1996 in the death triangle areas have yet to be captured.
The commission also stated in its report that the deep state in Turkey carried out criminal acts in the past and it is likely to continue its activities because we have been unable to root it out. According to the report, the deep state is responsible for many criminal acts in Turkey's past, but judicial and political authorities have failed to effectively crack down on it. “Since they have not managed to root it out, the deep state will probably continue its criminal activities,” read the report.
In the middle of this year, the commission began hearing the testimonies of dozens of individuals as part of an attempt to investigate the four past coups d'état -- staged on May 27, 1960; March 12, 1971; Sept. 12, 1980 and Feb. 28, 1997 -- and the military memorandum of April 27, 2007. The commission finished probing the Feb. 28 coup and wrote a report covering its findings.
In Turkey, the deep state is alleged to be a group of anti-democratic coalitions nested within the state bureaucracy, which is said to have contributors from intelligence services, the military, the judiciary and the mafia. It is largely associated with Ergenekon, a terrorist organization whose members are accused of being engaged in efforts to intervene in politics through illegal means such as coups and forcing governments to resign.
The report also added that there are more than 50 criminal groups in Turkey that could potentially instigate instability in the country.
In its report, the commission referred to the Special Forces Command within the Turkish Armed Forces (TSK) as “Turkey's secret history.” “The Special Forces Command has not been open to civilian supervision. Documents for shadowy assassinations that played a significant role in the laying of the groundwork for coups should be searched for at the command's top secret document archive, also dubbed the cosmic room. An atmosphere of chaos was created to drag Turkey into a coup and hitmen working for the state committed murders. The Special Forces Command is the secret history of Turkey,” the report stated.
According to the report, an illegal intelligence and anti-terrorism unit known as JİTEM within the gendarmerie is responsible for many unsolved murders. “JİTEM is totally an illegal formation. Unsolved murders began in the Southeast with the establishment of JİTEM. Behind all these murders was JİTEM. JİTEM gave the most damage to Turkey's anti-terrorism efforts,” read the report. JİTEM is believed to be behind thousands of atrocities in the East and Southeast that took place in the 1990s.
JİTEM's existence has long been denied by the military and other Turkish officials. However, a large amount of evidence, witness testimonies and documents that have been brought to public attention over the years leave no doubt as to its existence. Retired Col. Arif Doğan stated both in court and to the media in 2011 that it was him who had founded JİTEM.
The commission, in addition, directed criticism at the TSK for speaking too much to the press. “The TSK speaks to the press more than militaries of other countries and there is displeasure about its talk. In democracies, militaries are expected to be mute on political and social issues," said the report.
The TSK has traditionally shared its ideas about ongoing developments in the country, most of which are directly related to the judiciary and politics, with the media. The tradition has, however, seen significant decline with Gen. Necdet Özel's being appointed as chief of General Staff.
The report also blamed the media for “creating a demon and fighting against it,” pointing out that Turkish state-run TV station TRT joined in the efforts to create the conditions for the Feb. 28, 1997 postmodern military coup that forced a civilian government to resign. It claimed that when the TRT broadcasted a conservative rally in Konya prior to the coup, it drew an analogy with Iran and spread speculations that the situation then was similar to that of Sept. 12, 1980, when Turkish generals overthrew a civilian government to end the chaotic situation that had persisted in the country for years.
The report stressed that the Western Study Group (BÇG) was able to carry out its categorization work in this environment. The BÇG categorized politicians, intellectuals, soldiers and bureaucrats in accordance with their religious and ideological backgrounds and was formed within the military following the Feb. 28, 1997 coup.