Former Land Forces commander arrested in new ‘coup’ sweep
ISTANBUL – Hürriyet Daily News
Former Land Forces Commander Gen. Erdal Ceylanoğlu (L) is known as the general who ordered tanks to roll through the streets of Ankara in a move that was seen as a threat to the then-government led by former Prime Minister Necmettin Erbakan. AA photoUpon a petition from Ankara's chief prosecutor, a local court ordered the arrest of two retired generals Feb. 27, while two other retired generals and an active-duty colonel were released on probation in the latest wave of the Feb. 28, 1997, “post-modern” coup investigation, just a day before its 16th anniversary.
Former Land Forces Commander Gen. Erdal Ceylanoğlu and retired Maj. Gen Yücel Özsır, who gave their testimony earlier in the day, were among the arrested army officers. The total number of officers arrested as part of the trial now totals 75.
Ceylanoğlu is known as the general who ordered tanks to roll through the streets of Ankara in a move that was seen as a threat to the then-government led by former Prime Minister Necmettin Erbakan.
The tanks were sent “on maneuvers” through Ankara’s Sincan district on Feb. 4, 1997, following an Islamic gathering organized by the local municipality. The infamous incident became a symbol of the Feb. 28 “post-modern coup.”
On Feb. 28, 1997, Turkey’s National Security Council (MGK) warned the Erbakan-led Welfare Party (RP) government “not to stray from the path of democracy and official secularism,” following weeks of tension between the generals and the ruling coalition.
The political crisis in the country came to a head when Erbakan resigned June 18, 1997, five months after the council demanded Erbakan approve and implement a package of 18 measures that effectively constituted a crackdown against his own grassroots voters and aimed mainly to curb Islamic education.
Feb. 27 is also the second anniversary of Erbakan’s death.
Turkish Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdoğan said yesterday that he did not want Turkey to relive what happened 16 years ago in comments made during an Independent Industrialists’ and Businessmen’s Association (MÜSİAD) meeting in Vienna.
“We are so sensitive not to make others experience what we experienced 16 years ago,” he said. “We do not want anyone to die longing for their country. We do not want anyone to have to leave for foreign lands because they can’t find the chance to live in their own country. We do not want to see them humiliated or excluded. In the eyes of our state, all 76 million Turkish citizens are equal.”
Deputy Prime Minister Bülent Arınç also said the Feb. 28 probe was “important,” while underlining the responsibility of the main opposition Republican People’s Party (CHP) in the Feb. 28 process.
“We are in a restoration process. Feb. 28 is being questioned. I find it important,” Arınç said. “I believe that the CHP is one of the principal perpetrators of [events of] Feb. 28. The then-CHP leader Deniz Baykal said that amid the Feb. 28 process the ‘TSK [Turkish Armed Forces] worked like a civilian society organization.’ This is a ridiculous definition. Saying this is not something that befits a politician,” Arınç said in an interview with private NTV news channel on Feb. 27.
Professor Dr. Kemal Gürüz, the former head of Turkey’s Education Board (YÖK), former Gendarmerie Cmdr. Teoman Koman and retired Gen. Çetin Doğan, who was already behind bars as the suspected mastermind of the “Balyoz” (Sledgehammer) coup plot, are also among the list of already imprisoned suspects.
Turkey’s first female prime minister, Tansu Çiller, also testified to Parliament’s coup commission last year, claiming she had been a target of the “post-modern coup.”