» ‘Businesses, media should also be questioned in Feb. 28 probe’  » – Sunday’s Zaman

« Former deputy and former head of the Human Rights Association (İHD) Akın Birdal has stated that big businesses and media organs that enabled the military to stage the Feb. 28, 1997 unarmed military takeover, which resulted in the overthrowing of the coalition government of the time, should also be investigated as part of an ongoing probe into the military officers who staged the intervention.

Speaking at a conference organized by the Socialist Platform of the Oppressed (ESP) in Eskişehir on Sunday, Birdal said the media and capital owners played an important role in the Feb. 28 era. “The media moguls, the writers who encouraged the coup and business organizations including the Turkish Industrialists and Businessmen’s Association [TÜSİAD] and employer unions are also part of this. These should also be investigated.”

He also criticized leader of the Republican People’s Party (CHP) Kemal Kılıçdaroğlu, who accused the prosecutors of acting as an instrument of revenge for the government when warrants were issued for the main actors of the Feb. 28 coup. Birdal said that if those who staged Turkey’s earlier coups had been brought to justice, later interventions including Feb. 28 would not have happened. “If Turkey had confronted the coups of 1960, 1971 and 1980, Feb. 28 and the April 27 [2007] memorandum wouldn’t have happened.”

Birdal said: “Finally they have detained the actors of [Feb. 28]. But they were taken in accordance with the rules of the European Court of Human Rights [ECtHR]. They weren’t picked up at from their homes at 5 a.m. like before. It is important that [Feb. 28] be discussed. That this is on the agenda now.” « 

Source : Sunday’s Zaman

 » ‘Media published manufactured lies during Feb. 28 coup era’  » – Sunday’s Zaman

Sabah’s former boss, Dinç Bilgin, says he is ready to testify in the Feb. 28 investigation. (Photo: Today's Zaman)

« The former owner of a media group has said Turkish newspapers published lies under orders from the military during Turkey’s Feb. 28, 1997 period, saying he is willing to testify in front of prosecutors, who on Thursday issued arrest warrants for 31 generals accused of orchestrating the coup.

Dinç Bilgin, a businessman who was the owner of the Sabah newspaper at the time, said Feb. 28 generals relied heavily on the media to manufacture stories about a growing Islamist threat and that there was a lot of pressure on newspaper owners and editors at the time. “I see the new developments as a very positive step forward. The military at the time saw itself as the hegemon of the country. They saw themselves as above all the country’s constitutional agencies.”

He said the media, as well as academia and the judiciary and other segments of society, were under significant pressure from the military. Bilgin also noted that he would be happy to testify and share what he knows about the Feb. 28 era with prosecutors or judges.

Bilgin said during the Feb. 28 period, he met once with generals Çevik Bir and Erol Öskasnak, who complained about Sabah’s staff, saying they were not doing enough to assist the military. “I was invited to the General Staff headquarters in Ankara. Chief of the General Staff İsmail Hakkı Karadayı invited me for dinner. Before dinner, we sat together with Çevik Bir and Erol Ökasnak in a room. It was a very unpleasant conversation. They complained about Sabah columnists. They complained because the writers weren’t writing the things they wanted to see. I tried my best to explain that newspapers don’t work like the military; however, at the time, it was impossible to explain this to those people. Being a strong media mogul, I gave snide, arrogant replies. It was very unpleasant.”

He said the press, instead of fighting a democratic struggle, published untruthful stories to instill fear about the imaginary threat of rising Islamism that the military had said it was committed to fighting. “After the media, the generals’ strongest ally was the judiciary. Think about the prosecutors of the day. If you opposed them, you would end up in front of Nuh Mete Yüksel,” he said, referring to the chief prosecutor of the State Security Courts (DGM).

Bilgin said some people that the media reported on, who appeared to be reactionary Islamists, were in fact hired actors. “I am saying this for the mainstream media. Generally, such stories on Islamic fundamentalism were being published through the Ankara offices. Whoever is the head of the Ankara office usually wants better ties with the General Staff. The military was the strongest institution in the country at the time, so they wanted to get along with them.” Bilgin stated he would be happy to testify and share his knowledge with the prosecutors if summoned.

Rector of Onsekiz Mart University Sedat Laçiner also made a statement evaluating the recent developments. He said the Feb. 28 intervention was a crime that went unpunished. “Because there were ongoing coup attempts inside the military, those responsible for the Feb. 28 and the Sept. 12 [1980] coups couldn’t be tried earlier,” Laçiner said.

He said the fact that the Feb. 28 intervention was a military takeover is accepted by both those who staged it and those who were victimized by it. He said there was a clear intervention by the military in the civilian government. “Just like the Sept. 12 coup, Feb. 28 also involved torture and many violations of human rights. This is more than the crime of military intervention; there are also people who have been victimized. People were fired from their jobs with no justification, people were treated as if they were second-class citizens. There are people who were put in a cell and interrogated there, people who were told they would be denied their right to education unless they changed the way they dressed. There are people who killed themselves because they were slandered.”

Laçiner noted that the civilian aides of the Feb. 28 architects kept tabs on hundreds of university students and reported on them regularly to the Higher Education Board (YÖK), saying this was a huge violation of human rights. “Despite the fact that millions of people have been victimized, the guilty ones are freely walking the streets. Letting this go unpunished is tantamount to encouraging the crime. You can’t have any statute of limitations here. This crime at hand is obvious.”

Source : Sunday’s Zaman