Cautious welcome for bid to try coup plotters
ISTANBUL – Hürriyet Daily News
This file photo shows Kenan Evren (R), the leader of the five-man junta that seized power in 1980 as well as Land Forces Cmdr. Nurettin Ersin (M) and Land Forces Cmdr. Sedat Celasun (L). Hürriyet photoFollowing the prosecutor’s completion of an indictment recommending the two surviving 1980 coup leaders be sentenced to life imprisonment, different reactions have risen between those who find the news positive and others who say the indictment should be extended.
“I find the process quite positive, although it has been very late,” said Sacit Kayasu, an ex-prosecutor who was dismissed from his position in 2000 for preparing an indictment against Gen. Kenan Evren, leader of the 1980 military coup. It was only in November 2009 Kayasu was granted his right to serve as a lawyer again.
Kayasu said the case would be compensation for the pain suffered during the 1980 coup and Evren’s old age was not a barrier for him to go to jail. Meanwhile, Celalettin Can, chairman of the 78’ers Initiative, which has been running legal means and public campaigns to raise awareness about punishing the responsible parties involved in the 1980 coup, says judging Evren and Şahinkaya will not be enough.
“We have long been working for Kenan Evren to be tried in court. However, Parliament should also form a commission to investigate the September 1980 coup and its consequences,” Can told Hürriyet Daily News. There are so many more responsible people involved, such as the force commanders, intelligence officers, legal advisors, prison managers, governors, doctors and financial supporters, he said.
“Hundreds of thousands of people suffered as a result of the coup. Thousands went to jail and were tortured, and it erased a society that fought for its own rights. The commission should speak to the victims and their families and determine who was responsible for this trauma,” he said.
Public prosecutor Kemal Çetin sent the indictment to the court Jan. 3, accusing Evren, 94, chief of General Staff during the Sept. 12, 1980, military coup, and Tahsin Şahinkaya, 86, air forces commander at the time, of “intentionally attempting to force Turkish Parliament to annul itself or stop it from fulfilling its duties.” The 12th Court of Serious Crimes in Ankara now has 15 days to decide whether to accept or reject the indictment.
“The court has not accepted the indictment, so we are not sure whether Evren and Şahinkaya will be tried or not,” Turkish Writers Union Secretary-General Tevfik Taş told Hürriyet Daily News. Judging Evren and Şahinkaya will not mean judging the 1980 coup, he added.
“The 1980s coup, as well as its before and after period, is a coup the Turkish state itself has realized. Therefore, the judging of the coup means judging of the state, and it is not something they [the state] can risk,” he said.
The 1980 military coup aggrieved thousands of people in Turkey. Following the incident 650,000 people were taken into custody and 1,683,000 people were blacklisted. Some 50 people were hanged, and it has been proved 171 people died as a result of torture. Additionally, 230,000 people were judged in 210,000 court cases, and 571 people were sentenced to the death penalty. Some 30,000 people lost their jobs for being blacklisted, and another 30,000 fled Turkey in search of political asylum. Further still, 14,000 people lost their Turkish citizenship as a result of the coup.