ANKARA: Ergenekon investigation to shed light on dark history

Zaman Online, Turkey
July 20 2008

Ergenekon investigation to shed light on Turkey’s dark history

"The state is not necessarily innocent, and the people convicted of
crimes with political repercussions in the past may well be victims of
a deep state operation."

That is the main lesson the public has learned from the current
Ergenekon investigation. The investigation itself is already related
to several murders and terrorist attacks of the recent past, but the
mentality change it will induce in the Turkish public will also help
re-interpret and confront political crimes of the remote past.

Analysts claim this change of mentality concerning the state and the
relationship of the state organs with the society, terrorist
organizations and the mafia will create a valuable opportunity to
mobilize the public and create political will and determination to
reopen old dossiers filled with unsolved crimes and presumably
victimized convicts. Allegations that the Ergenekon terrorist
organization was behind two attacks (thBe Council of State attack in
2006 and bombs thrown at the headquarters of the Cumhuriyet daily in
the same year), ascribed to a certain segment of society, have changed
the entire logic used to analyze politically influential crimes.

Turkish republican history is full of such crime dossiers, either left
open or whose closure was disputed. Starting from the infamous Sheikh
Said Revolt of 1925, passing through to the Dersim Massacres of
1937-38, the Taksim Square killings of May 1, 1977, the serial murders
of secular-minded intellectuals in 1990 and more resentful and
sophisticated attacks on symbolic names and institutions, question
marks were left in the consciousnesses of the people. One reason was
the inconceivability of state involvement in these crimes. The army,
which still places first in public surveys of the most respected
institutions, was not only beyond reproach, it was also unthinkable,
unperceivable and unpronounceable to claim that army officers were
committing crimes, not for the sake of the country, but for their own
and evil interests. Now that the Ergenekon investigation has proven
that Turkish officers are not sanctified angels and that they are
judicable, detainable, liable to interrogation and arrest, that
perplexed public consciousness is asking whether those old dossiers
can be reopened and reinvestigated with this new framework in mind.

The Ä°stanbul chief prosecutor already announced that Ergenekon
suspects would be tried for their involvement in the Council of State
attack of May 17, 2006, an attack which left a judge dead, and in the
throwing of hand grenades at the headquarters of Cumhuriyet daily. It
is suggested that the indictment and subsequent court decision will
influence the open cases and may also induce a reopening of closed
ones. On top of the list of reinvestigatable cases are the murder of
Necip HablemitoÄ?lu, the Gazi neighborhood events, the murder of
Ã-zdemir Sabancı, the murder of Gen. EÅ?ref Bitlis,
the murder of UÄ?ur Mumcu and the murders that took place in the
Adapazarı-İzmit-Sapanca triangle. The Ergenekon decision
will also influence the İbrahim �iftçi case,
already waiting for the Ergenekon trial to be
finalized. �iftçi was killed in 2006 in a bombing soon
after he confessed to a prosecutor that he killed HablemitoÄ?lu.

The influence of the Ergenekon investigation won’t wait for the
prosecutors to open some of the older dossiers on their own. Already
there are several criminal complaints about detainees of the Ergenekon
terrorist organization from the relatives of lost and murdered
people. Families of Serdar TanıÅ?, a People’s Democratic
Party (HADEP) Silopi district deputy (the party has been banned), and
Ebubekir Deniz already filed a complaint about Brig. Gen. Levent
Ersöz, who is still being sought and is said to have left for
Russia before the last round of Ergenekon-related detentions. The two
were detained by the gendarmerie seven years ago and were never heard
from again. Relatives of the people killed during the Gazi incidents
of 1995 also filed a complaint recently about Osman
Gürbüz, who was arrested during the Ergenekon

Ergenekon prosecutor Zekeriya Ã-z is claimed to have came upon
significant information about the murder of Assistant Professor
HablemitoÄ?lu in 2002. Ã-z is claimed to have received strong
evidence that Brig. Gen. Veli Küçük, the prime
suspect of the Ergenekon investigation, was involved in the abduction
and killing of several Kurdish businessmen in the
Adapazarı-İzmit-Sapanca area within the first six months
of 1994.

The influence of the Ergenekon investigation on a confrontation with
historical crimes need not be a direct and organic one. The fact that
the KahramanmaraÅ? Massacre in which over 100 Alevis were killed
by alleged nationalists in December 1978, the murder of journalist
Abdi İpekçi on Feb. 1, 1979, the murder of frontrunner
nationalist Gün Sazak on May 27, 1980 and the �orum
Massacre of 26 [unofficially 56] Alevis paved the way for the military
coup of 1980 is telling enough. The link between these events and the
Ergenekon terrorist organization need not be an organic one. The fact
that the existence of a terrorist organization that penetrated into
state organs, including the army, and conspired to stage violent coups
gives enough incentive to rethink the KahramanmaraÅ?,
İpekçi, Sazak and �orum incidents. It has to be
kept in mind that the prime suspects of the Ergenekon organization
were already colonels in the army in the run-up to the 1980 coup and
that their involvement in these events may have been more than a mere
`learning a lesson.’

A similar wave of killings came in 1990. Atatürkist Though
Association (ADD) founder and Cumhuriyet daily columnist Muammer Aksoy
was shot in the back of the head in front of his house on Jan. 31,
1990 [Turkish-Armenian journalist Hrant Dink would be shot in almost
the same manner in front of his office on a Jan. 17 years later]. On
March 7, 1990, �etin Emeç, the editor-in-chief of the
Hürriyet daily, was murdered in front of his house. On Sept. 4,
1990, Turan Dursun, a former theologian-turned-atheist was killed
close to his home. On Sept. 26, former National Intelligence
Organization (MÄ°T) Deputy Undersecretary Hiram Abas was
assassinated in his car. 1990 ended with the assassination of
Professor Bahriye Ã`çok with a parcel bomb sent to her
address in a book package. In all these cases fundamentalists were
accused of the murders, yet in none of them were the perpetrators

It seems that the response the public gave to these events was not
strong enough for the planners, and they had to work on a second wave
of acts to reach the same end their brothers realized in 1980. The
second wave started once again in January. On Jan. 24, 1993,
Cumhuriyet daily columnist Mumcu was killed by a remote-controlled
bomb placed under his car. Several terrorist attacks in Turkey’s
eastern provinces perpetrated by the Kurdistan Workers’ Party (PKK)
added to the momentum of public unrest. On April 17, Gen. Bitlis, the
commander of the gendarmerie, was killed in a still unexplained plane
crash. On July 2, 1993, 33 intellectuals were killed after the hotel
they were staying at was set on fire. These were mainly of Alevi
background, and the event left a deep wound on the Alevis of the whole
country. Three days later, the PKK hit Erzincan’s
BaÅ?baÄ?lar village, and 29 people were killed. On Aug. 8,
Ferhat Tepe, a correspondent of the Ã-zgür Gündem
daily, was abducted and killed by unknown assailants. On Nov. 4, Cem
Ersever, a former head of the Gendarmerie Intelligence and
Anti-Terrorism Organization (JITEM) was killed. His girlfriend and a
colleague were also found dead.

The similarity between these two waves of terror events and the plans
of the Ergenekon terrorist organization to push the country into a
period of unrest in order to legitimize a military intervention is
striking. But is this similarity enough to reopen those
already-shelved files? Even if there is enough forensic and legal
evidence that would necessitate a reopening of these files, would this
be enough for an actual investigation to be re-launched into all these

Avni Ã-zgürel, a columnist writing on Turkey’s recent
history is not optimistic. He thinks no one would be happier if real
the perpetrators of certain political crimes were revealed. `Look at
the İpekçi murder. There is already an understanding
that this was the job of nationalists. If this explanation proves
incorrect, we will lose the entire paradigm. The society may be ready
for this, but the state is not,’ he told Sunday’s Zaman.

According to Ã-zgürel, the state is happy with the current
state of what is known. `Further investigation would not be well
received within the state. The state would be ready to claim some of
the murders if they were really committed for the sake of the state or
the country; but what if an investigation reveals that the real reason
was of a financial nature? What if notions like `state’ and `nation’
were used as a disguise for personal interests?’ he asked.

Ã-zgürel is not hopeful for the results of the Ergenekon
investigation and hence does not want to attach additional hopes to
it. `There is a political will in Turkey, but politics is a politics
of bargaining. The [Justice and Development Party] AK Party is dealing
with a closure case, and no one knows what will happen with the
Ergenekon investigation if the AK Party is closed. Look at the
constitutional amendments on the headscarf issue. There was a
political will there, but it didn’t help. We should wait and see
whether this investigation will reach a meaningful end,’ he explained.

Mithat Sancar, a professor of law at Ankara University, agrees that
the Ergenekon investigation is an opportunity to confront the dark
past. But he thinks that neither the government nor the courts can do
this. `The political government will understandably deal with what it
sees necessary for its own political interests. Prosecutors and judges
are in no position to start an investigation into the events of the
past on their own. Such an investigation necessitates a mobilization
of democratic circles, especially the democratic left wing which has
traditionally fought with militarism and the deep state,’ he told
Sunday’s Zaman. According to Sancar, public control over the legal and
political processes is also important so as to guarantee that the
political government does not enter into the mistake of bargaining.

Former military judge Ã`mit KardaÅ? thinks that the political
will that would confront the dark events of the past should have been
powerful enough to confront Turkey’s recent problems, such as the
Kurdish issue. `The prosecution needs to have special support from not
only the government but also from the media and the society,’ he told
Sunday’s Zaman. According to him, the AK Party was and still is strong
enough to give that support but, considering previous opportunities
lost, there is not enough evidence to be hopeful of its support. `It
has lost a major opportunity in Å?emdinli. And we don’t know
whether the AK Party will be closed or not nor what will happen to the
Ergenekon investigation if the party is closed. The investigation in
itself is an opportunity, but there are reasons to be pessimistic that
this opportunity will also be lost,’ he explained.

Diyarbakır Bar Association Chairman Sezgin Tanrıkulu
claims that the political will to come to terms with history is
lacking, though there is a social demand in that direction. But he
believes that there are things that can be done through the
judiciary. `We don’t know for sure, but if this [Ergenekon] case is
related to the Susurluk and Å?emdinli cases, as is claimed in
the press, then the judiciary has to reveal the relationship between
them,’ he told Sunday’s Zaman.

Tanrıkulu then referred to four reports prepared by
parliamentary investigation commissions. The four reports were about
forcefully abandoned villages, political murders with unknown
assailants, the Susurluk incident and the Å?emdinli
scandal. `Parliament established these commissions and they prepared
their reports, but the reports never came to Parliament to be read and
voted on. They were simply left on the wayside. If the politicians
claim they have the will to open the old files, here, there are four
files to be opened first,’ he said.

Cafer Solgun is the chairman of the Confrontation Society, which
advocates for a re-writing of republican history and a return of honor
to the people unjustly convicted of crimes committed by state-related
organs. He says that the Ergenekon investigation should go as far as
it can. He thinks the Ergenekon investigation has managed to remove
the `untouchable dark shadow’ of deep state gangs from hovering over
Turkish democracy. `It is clear that without getting rid of these
kinds of secret powers that were imposed upon us, especially after the
Susurluk incident, as things that we need to accept as they are, our
democracy cannot mature,’ he told Sunday’s Zaman.

Solgun thinks that the Ergenekon investigation is not only an
opportunity but also a challenge. `The Susurluk and Å?emdinli
incidents were also historical opportunities for Turkish democracy,
but what we are left with is a pessimism that makes people think
nothing will come out of any similar investigations or that a new gang
will always replace one that has been disbanded. In that sense, it is
important that this time the investigation should go as far as it
can,’ he said.

Popular history writer AyÅ?e Hür thinks the Ergenekon
gang has a distinctive ideological position. `The ideological tools of
the organization are yet to be revealed. So far this has been an
operation against a criminal gang,’ she told Sunday’s Zaman. According
to her, as long as the ideological tools have not been revealed, it is
almost impossible to disclose the link between criminal actions of the
Ergenekon organization and the earlier political crimes. `For that we
need a stronger will. Political will is not enough; political will of
a particular ideological camp is not enough at all,’ she
said. According to her, the society is not ready for a full-fledged
`cleansing’ and there is no real consensus on the nature of the
threat. `The opposition of the AK Party is undervaluing the operation,
whereas we should have dealt with the facts and not with who said
what,’ she explained.

According to Hür, Turkey is not ready for a real and
comprehensive settlement of accounts with its past. `Turkish society
is not ready to see Kenan Evren tried. And we have these 1915 events
that are very hard to face. This is a kind of stumbling block of every
effort of opening the old accounts. We should first study recent
examples of reconciliation efforts all over the world and then start
with events that are recent enough to speak with witnesses. The
KahramanmaraÅ? and Ã?orum incidents could be two good
examples,’ she told Sunday’s Zaman.

—————————————– ——————————

Last 13 years of suspicious incidents
* Gazi neighborhood incident — March 12-15, 1995

Ä°stanbul’s Gazi neighborhood, populated mainly by Alevis, was
provoked to a revolt and confrontation with police forces after
attacks on three coffeehouses killed one and wounded several
people. The events led to the killing of 17 more people (seven from
police bullets and 10 from bullets of unknown origin).

* Ã-zdemir Sabancı assassination — Jan. 6, 1996

Businessman Ã-zdemir Sabancı was killed in his office by
members of the Revolutionary People’s Liberation Party/Front (DHKP-C)
terrorist organization.

* Susurluk accident — Nov. 3, 1996

A car accident in Susurluk revealed dirty relations between state
organs, mafia and the terrorist Kurdistan Workers’ Party (PKK).

* Hizbullah murders — Jan. 21, 1998

An operation that started in Konya revealed several `grave houses’ in
Konya and Ä°stanbul, wherein tens of bodies were found.

* Akın Birdal assassination attempt — May 12, 1998

Human Rights Association (İHD) President Akın Birdal
sustained 13 gunshot wounds in a terrorist attack, but escaped with
his life.

* Ahmet Taner KıÅ?lalı assassination — Oct. 21,

Cumhuriyet daily columnist Professor Ahmet Taner
KıÅ?lalı died in a remote-controlled bomb attack.

* Gaffar Okkan assassination — Jan. 24, 2001

Diyarbakır Police Chief Gaffar Okkan was killed in a gun

* Ã`zeyir Garih murder — Aug. 21, 2001

Turkish businessman of Jewish origin Ã`zeyir Garih was found
murdered in a Muslim cemetery in Ä°stanbul’s Eyüp

* Necip HablemitoÄ?lu assasination — Dec. 18, 2002

Writer Necip HablemitoÄ?lu was assassinated in front of his

* Å?emdinli incident — Nov. 9, 2005

Several army officers and a sergeant were caught red-handed in a
provocative operation in Å?emdinli, Hakkari. The perpetrators
were never punished.

* Father Santoro assassination — Feb. 5, 2006

Italian priest Andrea Santoro was killed in his church in Trabzon.

* Bombing of Cumhuriyet — May 5, 2006

Hand grenades were thrown at the Cumhuriyet daily on May 5, 10 and 11.

* Council of State attack — May 17, 2006

Lawyer Alparslan Aslan entered the Council of State building in Ankara
and fired shots in a meeting room, killing Judge Mustafa Birden.

* Hrant Dink assassination — Jan. 19, 2007

Turkish-Armenian journalist Hrant Dink was murdered in front of the
offices of the Agos newsweekly, of which he was editor-in-chief.

* Murders of missionaries — April 18, 2007

Three Christian missioners were slaughtered in Malatya.

* Attempted murder of Professor ErdoÄ?an Teziç — April
25, 2007

A man in his 30s attempted to enter the Higher Education Council
(YÃ-K) headquarters building in Ankara. The event was interpreted
as an assassination attempt on Professor ErdoÄ?an Teziç,
the YÃ-K president at the time. The event changed the route of the
presidential elections and the Motherland Party (ANAVATAN) and the
True Path Party (DYP) decided not to participate in the
elections. Teziç was openly critical of Abdullah Gül’s
candidacy for the presidency.

* DaÄ?lıca ambush — Oct. 21, 2007

In an ambush by the PKK 12 soldiers were martyred and eight
abducted. The captured soldiers were eventually freed by the PKK, but
the reasons for the terrorist organization’s success in the attack
were never understood.

* Attack on the US Consulate General in Istanbul — July 9, 2008

Four people attacked the Turkish policemen in front of the US
Consulate General in Ä°stanbul, resulting in the deaths of three
Turkish police officers and three assailants.

20 July 2008, Sunday

From: Emil Lazarian | Ararat NewsPress

Emil Lazarian

“I should like to see any power of the world destroy this race, this small tribe of unimportant people, whose wars have all been fought and lost, whose structures have crumbled, literature is unread, music is unheard, and prayers are no more answered. Go ahead, destroy Armenia . See if you can do it. Send them into the desert without bread or water. Burn their homes and churches. Then see if they will not laugh, sing and pray again. For when two of them meet anywhere in the world, see if they will not create a New Armenia.” - WS