“I was jailed on those orders. Otherwise, how can a mayor be jailed for a poem that has been approved by the [Education Ministry's] Board of Education and Discipline? This happened because of orders coming from there [the military],” Erdoğan said during a parliamentary group meeting for the Justice and Development Party (AK Party) on Tuesday.
In 1999, Prime Minister Erdoğan served four months in jail after being convicted of Islamist sedition for reading a poem at a political rally in Siirt when he was the mayor of İstanbul for the now-defunct Welfare Party (RP). His conviction came two years after an unarmed military intervention on Feb. 28, 1997, often dubbed a postmodern coup, which resulted in the fall of a coalition government led by RP leader Necmettin Erbakan.
Erdoğan's remarks comes on the heels of the launch of an investigation into the postmodern coup, which has so far resulted in the arrest of 18 individuals, including senior generals of the time who are thought to have played a major role in the coup.
“Feb. 28 is now on trial, not 1,000 years later, but 15 years after,” Erdoğan said in support of the probe. In using the phrase “1,000 years,” the prime minister was openly referring to statements by former Chief of General Staff Gen. Hüseyin Kıvrıkoğlu, who once said, “The Feb. 28 process will last a thousand years.”
“Today is the day when justice is served. Today is the day when democracy gains strength,” Erdoğan said referring to the investigation of the perpetrators of the coup.
The prime minister also targeted main opposition Republican People's Party (CHP) leader Kemal Kılıçdaroğlu for his recent remarks claiming that President Abdullah Gül was also among those who signed off on a series of decisions taken by the National Security Council (MGK) on Feb. 28, 1997, which led to the fall of the government of the time.
“Mr. Kılıçdaroğlu has recently said Gül was among those who signed off on the MGK decisions. He said he [Gül] would also be summoned to testify in the probe. If anyone wants an example of politics based on slander they can look at these remarks. Mr. President said on Monday that he did not sign off on the MGK decisions as he did not attend that meeting,” Erdoğan said.
When asked about Kılıçdaroğlu's remarks on Monday, Gül said he was a state minister for the ousted coalition government of the time, but not a MGK member. “So, my signature is not on those MGK decisions. As those decisions were not brought to the Cabinet and no Cabinet decisions were taken later, my signature is not on them,” he said.