It was a development that could be seen as a first in the history of parliament. The four parliamentary parties agreed to establish the commission; however it was not an easy process. Until last week, the Justice and Development Party (AK Party) did not have positive feelings about the establishment of such a commission. Moreover, the motions filed with the General Assembly of parliament, by the opposition, to establish research commissions to investigate the coups and unresolved murders, were all rejected.
The AK Party executives stated that “This was only a matter of timing. In the past, the similar attempts by parliament have been used by the tutelage regime for justifying the coups instead of investigating them. The work to be undertaken by this commission will not be productive if we did not eliminate tutelage regime over parliament. In order to be able to investigate the coups, both the parliament and the judiciary need to independent. The referendum on Sept.12, 2010 paved the way for independence of judiciary. The high judiciary was restructured with democratic ways and pressure of Supreme Board of Judges and Prosecutors (HSYK) over judges and prosecutors has been removed.”
Ergenekon and Sledgehammer cases can be considered as cornerstones. Sept. 12, 1980 military coup trial has begun. The ongoing investigation into the Feb. 28, 1997 military takeover is continuing. First, the AK Party submitted its proposal amending Article 35 of the Turkish Armed Forces (TSK) Internal Service Code that served as a basis for coup perpetrators to parliament. Then it submitted a motion to parliament for the establishment of a research commission for investigating the coups.
The opposition no longer has the chance to say no. Before the motion is submitted the General Assembly of the Parliament, Nationalist Movement Party (MHP) and Peace and Democracy Party (BDP) have announced that they will support it. The Republican People’s Party (CHP) has presented the “investigation of the ‘civilian coups’” as a precondition.
The BDP deputies said that a parliamentary commission on investigating into military coups would eliminate the 30-year bloodshed and pave the way for the reconstruction of the ties of brotherhood between us.
The CHP Mersin Deputy Ali Rıza Öztürk, who proposed the word “civilian coup” at first, heartily believes that before the May 27 1960 coup, former Prime Minister Adnan Menderes who was executed after the coup staged a civilian coup in 1950 and the referendum on Sept. 12 2010 was another civilian coup.
Until the last days of the negotiations, it was expected that only AK Party, the MHP and the BDP will support the motion. The AK Party insisted that the CHP should explain what they mean by “civilian Coup”. The deputy parliamentary speaker gave give a five-minute break to the negotiations. However, the meeting of four deputy chairmen of the parliamentary group lasted for one hour. At first, the motions of the AK Party, the MHP and the BDP were voted by the parliament. After the CHP’s motion was adopted by the other three parties, the negotiations began.
At the end of the negotiations, an interesting the text was formed by merging the four parties’ motions. In order to convince the CHP, the parties decided to exclude both “the military coup” and “civilian coup” terms in the joint motion and it is stated that “All coups, memorandums and all the other attempts that aim to make the democracy dysfunctional will be investigated in their all aspects.” In the first meeting, the name of the commission will be determined.
Was any civilian figure involved in the Feb. 28 process?
On the day after the Parliament decided to establish a research commission for investigating the coups, 29 military officers were detained as part of an investigation into the unarmed military intervention of Feb. 28 1997.
The Feb. 28 coup, which is also called as Feb. 28 post-modern coup, has an interesting connection with the Sept. 12, 1980 coup. Çevik Bir, the deputy chief of General Staff at the time, who is known to have played a major role in the 1997 coup has worked as an aide de camp of Kenan Evren, the leader of the Sept. 12 coup, at the Çankaya presidential palace. It has been claimed that since Bir observed the difficulties that Evren faced while staging the 2010 coup, he decided to stage a post-modern coup. The difference between the Sept. 12 coup and the Feb. 28 coup was collaboration between the coup leaders and unarmed figures. Now, the majority of the media argue that the Feb. 28 investigation should not extend to the civilian figures who collaborated with the military during the Feb. 28 coup.
The Voice of the Public Party (HAS) Deputy Chairman Şeref Malkoç underlined that the civilian collaborators of the coup openly supported the coup perpetrators during the Feb. 28 coup. Underlining that without the support of the civilian collaborators, the postmodern military coup of Feb. 28 could not be successful, Malkoç added: “During the Feb. 28 process some media organizations, politicians and NGOs supported, masterminded and even encouraged the coup perpetrators.” Extending the Feb. 28 investigation into the activities of to civilian collaborators of the coup will be a critical threshold for democratization process of Turkey.
A power struggle over Uludere incident and families of the Uludere victims
About four months have passed since the Uludere incident, in which 34 civilians were mistaken for terrorists and killed by military airstrikes in Şırnak’s Uludere district, due to false intelligence. The parliamentary Human Rights Commission interviewed the families of the Uludere victims. The families underlined that the only thing that they want to make sure is that those that killed their children are punished. “The visits of the mothers of the Uludere incident to Parliament provided an important opportunity for deputies to show their determination for solving the case. The parliamentary Uludere Sub-commission that waits for the answers of the Defense Ministry (MSB) and the General Staff has been blocked after prosecutor’s office imposed a secrecy order. This order has sparked debates on limits of powers.
Hasip Kaplan, the deputy chairman of the BDP said: “The government cannot relieve itself of the guilt by hiding the secrecy order of the prosecutor’s office. If the executive power wants to challenge the legislative power and ignore parliament, they should say this openly!”I asked Ayhan Sefer Üstün, the chairman of the commission what he thinks about the secrecy order of the prosecutor’s office on the Uludere incident. “The secrecy order of the Diyarbakır prosecutor’s office does not abolish the authorization and duties of the commission. We are determined to investigate the incident. I found the secrecy order of the prosecutor’s office as wrong. If the relevant institutions interpret that order of the prosecutor’s office has abolished the authorization of the commission, it will be wrong too. The claims that executive power wants challenge the legislative power, and lengthen the process do not reflect the reality.” Üstün said.
In the past, some parliamentary commissions have been blocked by different power. If the Uludere commission can overcome this obstacle, it will be a cornerstone not only for families of the Uludere incident victims but also for parliament itself.