The intervention, which came in the form of an announcement posted on April 27, 2007 near midnight on the official website of the Turkish Armed Forces (TSK), with a view to prevent the president from being elected by Parliament, the cradle of democratic legitimacy and popular will -- hence its moniker as the “e-memorandum” -- certainly aimed at producing yet another treason called a coup.
This memorandum clearly sought to intimidate the democratically elected Parliament, to influence the high judiciary that was about to deliver a judgment about whether 367 deputies had to be present in Parliament for the election of the president -- in stark contrast to previous conventions -- and to undermine the Turkish democracy, as was done with the postmodern coup of Feb. 28, 1997. But this time, it fortunately hit a hard rock.
As soon as this memorandum -- which ridiculed democratic processes and insulted the religious and spiritual values of the nation while also seeking to launch a total war against the nation’s will -- went online, the infamous old media networks and militarist politicians -- who pretended to be democrats at other times -- rushed to commence an intense campaign to support and boost this military intervention.
However, having learned their lessons well from the past’s heinous military interventions, the ruling Justice and Development Party’s (AKP) leaders managed to render this nefarious attempt ineffective. Making a counter announcement near noon on April 28, the government taught the pro-coup military officers the lesson they deserved, making their memorandum end up in smoke.
The majority of journalists and academics who commented on the memorandum on TV and radio as well as the officials from the main opposition Republican People’s Party (CHP) who made statements about it during the time between midnight April 27 and noon April 28 failed once again in the test of democracy, and they tried to benefit from the military coup they had been expecting.
The intervention couldn’t be warded off without damage, though. Thus, the country had to hold parliamentary elections earlier than planned, and former President Ahmet Necdet Sezer, who did not care one bit about democracy, stayed in office until the elections although he did not deserve it. The new president was finally able to be elected by the Parliament newly formed after elections.
The voters dealt a serious blow to the military, which dared meddle in civilian politics and democracy, albeit via an e-memorandum, and pro-military politicians and groups. They re-elected the AKP to office with 47-percent electoral support. Unfortunately, the election of the president and the formation of the new government failed to terminate the anti-democratic desires nurtured by the military that was backed by the CHP and neo-nationalist (ulusalcı) circles and by the high judiciary that was under the tutelary influence of the army.
Efforts to engineer the political and social scene via military and judicial interventions had continued until 2008 and 2009. In this context, these groups, which failed to engineer the ruling party, decided to redesign the CHP and the Nationalist Movement Party (MHP), employing things like sex scandals to this end. The plot to force Deniz Baykal to resign from office as CHP chairman, and replace him with Kemal Kılıçdaroğlu, was etched in Turkish political history as a black and shady process.
Having recovered from these ordeals, Turkey has progressed toward the step of confronting and settling accounts with military coups with its strengthened democratic civil society and media networks and legal system. Judicial investigations and lawsuits were launched against Ergenekon, a clandestine organization nested within the state trying to overthrow or manipulate the democratically elected government, the Sledgehammer (Balyoz) coup plan, and the military coup of Sept. 12, 1980, as well as the postmodern coup of Feb. 28, 1997.
These investigations have so far focused only on members of the military who were involved in coups and military interventions, but everyone is convinced that their scope will be expanded to the media networks, business groups, so-called civil society organizations, universities and judicial institutions that collaborated with the military in all coups. Clearly, as it is not only the members of the military that benefited from the coups, it would be unfair to make only them pay the price of the coups at court trials. Likewise, it would be equally unfair to try and penalize the coups of Sept. 12 and Feb. 28 but turn a blind eye to April 27, 2007 and the coup of May 27, 1960.
Today, Turkey is gradually being normalized thanks to these trials. A major indication of this normalization is that all politicians, including the prime minister, could attend the April 23 reception on the anniversary of the establishment of Parliament together with their headscarved spouses for the first time. Despite this major development, the process of normalization has not been completed yet. And normalization will never be attained if the rights of the social groups who were in the past denied access to public positions and even public services because of their apparel, beliefs, ideologies or ethnicity are not restored. The normalization process must be accelerated by solving the extensive official or unofficial headscarf bans and other problems that taint Turkish democracy.
To speed up normalization, the public should learn about the true nature of certain institutions and people who were influential in manipulating the society and country. Normalization efforts will always be abortive without exposing to the public the true faces of the militarists organizations that pose as CSOs, and of the media networks that continually denigrate Parliament and democratically elected governments while glorifying the military and generals that lack any transparency or supervision, and of the universities, judiciary and high bureaucracy that are quick to align with the subversive generals.
Without a profound confrontation with these groups that market themselves as hardcore democrats when the wind is blowing into the sails of democracy and freedoms and whose past is muddy and shady, it will not be wrong to assume that they will habitually continue to collaborate with subversive generals in future anti-democratic interventions, thought they are a distant possibility.
Given the fact that these groups are still boasting about their collaboration during the Feb. 28 coup and the April 27 military intervention and that they do not exhibit any sign of remorse for their tyranny, they must be tried at court. They may not be penalized, but it is essential that their true nature be exposed to the public in a court decision.
Such an effort to expose their true nature recently came from an eminent and brave journalist, Alper Görmüş. Görmüş wrote a book titled “İmaj ve Hakikat: Darbe Günlükleri -- Tam Metin / Image and Truth: Full Text of Coup Diaries” to successfully expose the deep gap between the image of the army carefully created by the army itself and the collaborative media and the truth about the army.
In his book, Görmüş brings to light the true face of the army, which used to be portrayed by the army and collaborative mainstream media networks as free from defilement, corruption, strife, contention, ambitions, attachment to personal interests, and all other bad qualities which were attributed to the society and politicians. He does this by quoting from journal entries kept by Özden Örnek, who entered the army as a child and retired from it after serving as the naval forces commander.
Citing passages from Örnek’s memoirs, Görmüş makes it crystal clear that behind all military interventions were the members of the military who were acting in the grip of a power struggle and seeking personal interests. It is really saddening to see, thanks to this book, that as is the case with all closed systems, the carefully created shiny image of the army that shies away from transparency, supervision and accountability conceals full-fledged corruption and decay.
I hope the army as one of the main causes and actors of the irrational abnormality will have its due share from the country’s efforts at democratization and normalization. What must be done for such a normalization, which would imply the convergence of its image and its truth, is very obvious: The curricula of war academies must be revised and rewritten from scratch, and civilian audits of extensive financial funds available to the army should be ensured. All units of the army must be subjugated to the civilian authority while a mentality of transparent and accountable management is established throughout the army.
If this can be done, the military will become an institution about which we can really boast, instead of fearing that it may overthrow the government at any time. It would be really good to have an army whose truth overlaps with its currently fabricated image.