Ex-PM claims she tried to remove coup plotters

Ex-PM claims she tried to remove coup plotters

ISTANBUL - Hürriyet Daily News
Ex-PM claims she tried to remove coup plotters

Amid tight security measures, former Prime Minister Tansu Çiller arrives the Ankara prosecutor’s office to answer questions about the ‘post-modern’ Feb 28 coup. AA photo

Former Prime Minister Tansu Çiller has said she wanted to dismiss the military commanders during the Feb. 28, 1997 crisis to counter the military’s efforts to topple her government but was stopped by her coalition partner.

“I understood that the army could stage a coup, and I wanted to dismiss the top commanders. But [coalition partner] Necmettin Erbakan told me that President Süleyman Demirel would not sign the decree,” Çiller said in her testimony to an Ankara prosecutor yesterday as part of an ongoing investigation of the Feb. 28, 1997 “post-modern coup,” private news channel NTV reported.

Ankara Public Prosecutor Mustafa Bilgili had sent a notification to Çiller, a deputy prime minister at the time, inviting her to the Ankara Courthouse to testify in the case as a victim.

Çiller flew to Ankara yesterday afternoon and gave her testimony, which lasted approximately two hours, shortly after her arrival.

Speaking to the press afterward, she said she hadn’t filed additional charges against any individuals or agencies. “Our nation was the victim of this coup,” Çiller said. “Sadly it is seen that in that process especially the DYP [True Path Party] wing of the coalition government was chosen as a target. They set it as a primary target and used every news article and every location against the leader of the party.”

Çiller had been expected to tell the prosecutor her recollections of the Feb. 28 process. She was chairwoman of the DYP at the time. The military overthrew a coalition government – the Welfare Party (RP)-DYP government – on Feb. 28, 1997, citing allegedly increasing fundamentalist activities in the country as the reason. The harsh army-led campaign also forced Turkey’s first Islamist prime minister, the late Necmettin Erbakan, to resign in June 1997.

Parliament’s Coup Inquiry Commission has also heard from journalists and writers who were victimized during the Feb. 28 campaign.

Writer and journalist Mehmet Altan said he was threatened to leave his job at a newspaper during the Feb. 28 process. Writer Ali Bayramoğlu said a significant part of society was labeled in every coup, including the Feb. 28 process. Bayramoğlu said whether these labels are still being used should be investigated.