Turkish coup general has no regrets about Sept. 12

The Hürriyet daily published excerpts from his statement, which was given to Specially Authorized Prosecutor Fikret Seçen at the Gülhane Military Academy of Medicine (GATA) hospital, wherein Şahinkaya is receiving treatment.

Retired Gen. Tahsin Şahinkaya

Retired Gen. Tahsin Şahinkaya

The commander of the Air Force in 1980, who was one of the generals to lead the Sept. 12 coup d’état that same year, has recently told a prosecutor he has no regrets about participating in the military takeover, which he says prevented needless bloodshed, and added that he would do it again if he had to.

Retired Gen. Tahsin Şahinkaya, along with many other generals involved in the 1980 coup, recently spoke to a prosecutor who has been investigating those responsible for the coup d’état since a constitutional amendment last year made that possible.

Before the amendment was made, a temporary article in the Constitution had offered a shield to the perpetrators.

The Hürriyet daily published excerpts from his statement, which was given to Specially Authorized Prosecutor Fikret Seçen at the Gülhane Military Academy of Medicine (GATA) hospital, wherein Şahinkaya is receiving treatment.

In response to a question on how he justified staging a coup using weapons bought with the people’s money, Şahinkaya said: “We were in such a state. The country was falling apart — brothers were killing each other, the conflict between left and right-wing groups had reached a peak and we saw ourselves as people who were not doing their duties.

The entire army brass — the senior commanders down to battalions — all wanted to find a solution within the chain of command and as part of the General Staff. We did not stage a coup d’état. If it was a coup, then we wouldn’t have left the government two or three years later. We prevented bloodshed.”

He said the intervention’s legal basis was the military’s Domestic Service Law Article 35, which has also since been changed. Article 35 gave the military the authority to intervene during times of societal unrest.

In response to the prosecutor’s question as to why the generals had attempted to deny responsibility for the coup by adding the temporary Article 15 to the 1982 Constitution, the retired general said: “We didn’t add that to protect the commanders alone.

We thought it would be wrong for individuals who were on the Consultation Council [the executive body of the military government] or other civilians who were part of the administration to be put on trial.”

Şahinkaya said in response to the accusation that he and the other generals abolished Parliament and overrode its legislative powers as well as suspended the executive, that “there was no such thing as Parliament at the time. The deputies didn’t even go to the parliamentary sessions. They couldn’t elect a speaker or a president for six months. So there was no agency to use those powers on behalf of the people.”

Prosecutor Seçen also pointed out that acts of terrorism in full swing on Turkey’s streets on Sept. 11, 1980 were cut off instantly on the morning of Sept. 12. 1980, which implied the generals knew the identities and locations of the perpetrators of those acts.

He asked why the military had failed to take other measures rather than stage a coup. “There was great joy among the people after the military intervention, and because of this and the ease that came with it, the terrorist attacks decreased in frequency.

Illegal groups were probably waiting on developments and making an assessment of the situation, because shortly after, about one month later, the incidents started again. We passed new laws giving more powers to the Martial Law Command Center. As these command centers began to exercise their new powers, violence decreased again and ultimately ended.”

Around 650,000 people were detained during the Sept. 12 coup, and files for nearly 1.7 million people were opened at police stations. Over 230,000 people were tried in 210,000 cases, mostly for political reasons.

Capital punishment was handed down to 517 people out of the 7,000 people who faced charges that carried a capital sentence, and 50 of those who received the death penalty were executed.

As a result of unsanitary conditions and torture, 299 people died in prison. Additionally, while in custody, 144 people died in crimes for which the perpetrators could not be found; 14 people died during the course of hunger strikes; 16 were shot to death because they were allegedly trying to escape from prison; and 43 people committed suicide.

 

Cihan

17 October 2011 Monday