Retired Gen. Kenan Evren, also a former president, who led the Sept. 12, 1980 coup d'état, will be summoned to testify by prosecutors investigating the 1977 massacre of demonstrators in İstanbul's Taksim Square and a pogrom against the Alevi community in the Central Anatolian province of Kahramanmaraş in 1978.
Prosecutor Murat Demir suspects that the two incidents were orchestrated to prepare the way for the 1980 coup d'état, relying on a statement by one of the coup leaders that "in the mid-1970s the people were not yet ready for the idea of martial law. We waited for the conditions to mature until the autumn of 1980."
The reopening of the two cases is in line with a general trend in Turkey to attempt to confront the country's past. On Sept. 12, 2010, which was by coincidence the date of a referendum held on a constitutional amendment package, the people of Turkey voted to lift an article in the Constitution that acted as a shield for 1980 coup leaders and their allies, protecting them from trial.
News that Evren will be called to testify was particularly welcomed by those who witnessed those troubled times.
Ankara '78ers Association head Hüseyin Esentürk said his association was ready to share documents with the prosecutor from its own archive that might shed light on the incidents. "We are a side in this. We hope to get co-plaintiff status for these past events. We will share all the information and documents that we have if we are asked," he said. "We will talk about what we went through," he added.
Esentürk said the Sept. 12 regime was still in place. "The order of the Sept. 12 regime is in place in many areas. All of the institutions and organizations of this regime, such as the Higher Education Board (YÖK), are firmly in place. The real fight should be against these and the lifestyle they impose on us. It is not one or two generals that we have to settle accounts with, but the entire mentality," he explained.
Cumhur Yavuz, a member of Lise-Der (High School Association), a group whose members are comprised of activist high school students from the pre-1980 period, is a living witness of Bloody May Day. "Every step that will help to eradicate the consequences of Sept. 12 is positive," he said, hailing the investigations. "What matters is standing by what you are doing and not using your actions for politics. We are ready to share our memories of May Day, as long as they are ready to get to the bottom of this."
Nejat Kangal, head of the '78ers Solidarity and Cooperation Association, said his organization had been fighting for the opportunity to try the coup stagers for a long time, saying they also want to become co-plaintiffs in the trial. He said the federation's members are living witnesses of that era. "There are things we experienced at that time. We are ready to share all those experiences." He also said the organizations that are remnants of the Sept. 12 regime should be eradicate for democracy to truly take root in the country.
Pre-1980 under spotlight
Prosecutor Demir will also be focusing on other pre-1980 events as the investigation unfolds, but he has already taken up the case of the 1977 Taksim massacre, known as Bloody May Day, where 34 people died and the Maraş massacre that lasted the week of Dec. 19-26, 1978, resulting in the deaths of 111 people. The events of the Maraş massacre were portrayed in the media as Alevi-Sunni clashes. On Dec. 26, 1978, the military declared emergency rule in 13 provinces because of the Maraş events. This emergency rule was seen as a precursor to the 1980 coup. A document late Prime Minister Bülent Ecevit exposed claimed that the Maraş incidents were orchestrated by National Intelligence Agency (MİT) officers.
Sources close to the prosecution say that Demir is investigating those responsible for the events, including the junta generals of the time. The prosecutor also wants Evren to testify, but it is yet not clear how the 94-year-old general's interrogation will be arranged. The prosecutor might visit Evren in the southwestern city of Marmaris where he resides instead of issuing a summons, sources said. Among other points, Evren will have to explain his earlier words, "We hanged one from the right for each one we hanged from the left."
So far, 3,000 people have petitioned prosecutors' offices demanding that the Sept. 12 generals and their helpers be brought to justice.
Cihan news agencyLast Mod: 04 Mayıs 2011, 18:08