Turkey debates trying generals of 1980 military coup

The Anti-Coup Platform is seeking to ensure that a civilian constitution currently under preparation by the ruling AK Party contains provisions for forcing the coup perpetrators to stand trial on the 27th anniversary of the coup.

Turkey debates trying generals of 1980 military coup
The Anti-Coup Platform, set up for advocating the trial of the top army generals who took over the government on Sept. 12, 1980, is seeking to ensure that a civilian constitution currently under preparation by the ruling Justice and Development Party (AK Party) contains provisions for forcing the coup perpetrators to stand trial on the 27th anniversary of the coup.

The platform argues that provisional articles in the 1982 Constitution that prohibit any legal action against the perpetrators of the coup should be removed for the attainment of truly civilian constitution. The platform held a demonstration in front of Parliament on Wednesday in a bid to publicize their case with the public.
Following the demonstration in front of Parliament, the platform members submitted a petition to the European Court of Human Rights in which they complained about legal provisions that provide immunity from prosecution to the army officers who perpetrated the military coup of Sept. 12, including, former Chief of General Staff and former President Kenan Evren, former Naval Forces commander Adm. Nejat Tümer, former Land Forces commander Gen. Nurettin Ersin, former Air Forces commander Gen. Tahsin Şahinkaya, former Gendarmerie commander Gen. Sedat Celasun and several other top-ranking generals.

Ruşen Sümbüloğlu, the chairman of the 1978 Generation Association and the spokesperson for the platform, speaking to Today's Zaman, said: "Domestic remedies have been exhausted concerning the prosecution of the generals and the criminal organization they formed. For this reason, we had to petition the international courts. In the military coup of Sept. 12 thousands of people were killed and thousands of people were unjustly imprisoned. Crimes against humanity were committed, and its perpetrators must be called to account. We no longer want the politics, laws, culture and philosophy of the junta regime imposed on the people in the form of the deadlocked policies of the ruling groups, which were never stable themselves. For this reason, this issue must be taken into consideration in the drafting of the civilian constitution."

The platform's demonstration was supported by ÖDP leader Ufuk Uras and DTP deputies Şerafettin Halis, Nezir Karabaş and İbrahim Binici, who all stated they would keep the issue on the parliamentary agenda and exert their best efforts to make sure necessary clauses are inserted into the civilian constitution. Uras told Today's Zaman that any coup perpetrators should be prosecuted and that constitutional provisions would be meaningless if this is not done. "Those who overthrow governments or issue memoranda have never paid a price for what they have done. In Parliament, I will voice the public's demand for changes to the constitutional provisions that prohibit prosecution of the generals who overthrew the government, particularly provisional Article 15 of the Constitution. This may be productive or not, but I will follow it to the end," he said.

Legal experts, on the other hand, do not find it reasonable to insert new articles for the prosecution of the generals into the civilian constitution. They argue that generally accepted rules of law do not allow prosecution of people for events committed 27 years ago. Ahmet İyimaya, the chairman of the parliamentary Constitutional Commission, speaking to Today's Zaman, said: "No constitutional law can establish retrospective rules. Crimes and offenses are assessed in terms of the law that comes into effect as of the time of their committal. At this point, prosecution of the generals who overthrew the government on Sept. 12 is no longer possible."

Jurists of the AK Party note that the 1982 Constitution has given the generals immunity from prosecution under its provisional Article 15. They add that even abolishment of this article will not pave the way for the litigation against the pro-coup generals due to the general legal principle that says legal provisions cannot be implemented retroactively, which is also specified in Article 38 of the Constitution. This fact is well known by the platform's members, but the tragedies experienced during Turkey's last military coup are still so strongly felt that the futility of the attempt is ignored.

Irrespective of constitutional amendments, the platform will implement its action plan for the prosecution of the pro-coup generals. This action plan will be expanded each year with new actions and protests. This year's action plan includes panels, rallies, talks, music and projection demonstrations, leaving black wreaths at military barracks and similar events.

The platform seeking to bring the pro-coup commanders to trial consists of the Socialist Platform of Downtrodden People (ESP), the Confederation of Public Sector Trade Unions (KESK), the Confederation of Revolutionary Workers' Unions (DİSK), the Turkish Union of Engineers and Architects' Chambers (TMMOB), the People's Houses (Halkevleri), the Ankara University Faculty of Political Science Graduates (Mülkiyeliler Birliği), the Labor Party (EMEP), the Communist Party of Turkey (TKP), the Freedom and Solidarity Party (ÖDP), the Socialist Democracy Party (SDP), the Human Rights Association (İHD), the Petroleum, Chemical and Rubber Workers Union (Petrol-İş), the Ankara Chamber of Commerce (ATO), the Divriği Culture Association, the Hacı Bektaş Veli Foundation and Association, the Democratic Society Party (DTP), the Social Democratic People's Party (SHP), the Union of Automotive Industry Workers (TÜMTİS), the Tunceli Residents' Association, the Ekin Art Center, the Labor Movement Party (EHP), the 1978 Generation Association, the 1968 Generation Association, the All Progressive Youth Association (TÜM-İGD), the Pir Sultan Abdal Culture Association and the Free University.

Today's zaman
Last Mod: 07 Eylül 2007, 09:47
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