Those jumping from the windows of the coup

Those jumping from the windows of the coup

There is an award that has stood at the corner of my desk for 33 years. My first and the most prestigious prize of my life… It was given in 1980 by the Contemporary Journalists Association; it was handed to me by Uğur Mumcu. I was 19 years old.

I had written the story that won the prize in November 1980 at Yankı Magazine, in other words, two months after the Sept. 12 coup.

The topic was the immediate rise after the coup of “death in custody” incidents.

Zeynel Abidin Ceylan was found dead in his cell at Ankara Security Department with his ribs broken.

Şadan Gazeteci had lost his life at bastinado in İzmit Prison.

Ahmet Veziroğlu had “jumped to his death” from the fifth floor of Bursa Police Headquarters.

Hasan Asker died in hospital where he was taken from Ankara Security Department. There were electric burns on his body.

Ahmet Karlangaç died of cerebral hemorrhage when “he hit his head on the wall when he had a nervous breakdown during a confrontation.”

Bekir Bağ had “hung himself” at Mamak Prison.

İlhan Erdost was killed by butt strikes of guards in a military vehicle.

The list was long. This was the balance sheet of only two months.

What made the story valuable was that, as well as its content, it was written at a time of “grand silence.”

The only sound heard at those times were the sounds of those clapping the military.

I was only able to write about those incidents which the office of the military prosecutor was investigating. Even this much was a “prize-worthy job.”

The buildings of the security headquarters were centers of torture. Whoever was taken in was exposed to Palestinian hanging, bastinado, electricity and catastrophic beating.

Those who were resisting would be thrown from upper floor windows and were buried, saying that “they had committed suicide.”

The harshest opposition of that era, the comic Gırgır Magazine had reacted by drawing a citizen who was on his way to giving a statement with a parachute strapped to his back.

Those were days of hell.

On the slope of the Ankara Security Department, at the very same place where the largest mall of the capital city is standing today, families of the detained would wait desperately to hear from their children.

Most of those who survived continued life bodily and spiritually impaired…

Most of the torturers were promoted. Very few of them were punished.

I remembered all of these with Tunca Bengin’s article…

Associate Professor Temel Pamir had gone into the records of the Office of the Public Prosecutor of Yenimahalle (Ankara) in the year 1983.

There were 80 recorded suicide cases between 1979 and 1982 in Yenimahalle.

Out of these, 16 of them had occurred by “jumping” from the 5th, 6th and 7th floors of the Directorate of Ankara Security Department.

What is interesting is this:

While in the 64 cases of suicides, there were photographs of the bodies of those who had committed suicide from three or four angles, the records of those suicides at the police department were empty. No photograph, no record and no doctor’s report were present.

The prosecutor was afraid at that period to give photocopies of these files. Associate Professor Pamir was also not able to publish his research out of fear.

Now, main opposition Republican People’s Party (CHP) deputy Kadir Gökmen Öğüt is demanding a Parliamentary investigation into the suicides of the Sept. 12 coup. He wants a commission to be set up to investigate documents, information and witnesses.

This is a sincerity test for the settling of accounts of Sept. 12.

All of those who have been tortured in that era are witnesses.

Shall we find those torturers and take them to those upper floors?

Can Dündar is a columnist for daily Milliyet in which this piece was published on May 23. It was translated into English by the Daily News staff.