Ergenekon goes beyond coup plot case, evidence overlaps with murders

The TESEV report argues that the Ergenekon verdicts reached in August showed that the “criminal grounds of the Ergenekon case consisted solely of coups plotted against the government but excluded the human rights violations of the 1990s.”

Ergenekon goes beyond coup plot case, evidence overlaps with murders

A report released by Istanbul-based think tank the Turkish Economic and Social Studies Foundation (TESEV) on Monday found a significant degree of connection between the Ergenekon gang, which plotted to overthrow the government, and the many murders and disappearances committed in southeastern Turkey in the 1990s, stating that Ergenekon goes beyond a mere coup plot case.

The report, prepared by human rights lawyer Gulcin Avsar with the contribution of Koray Ozdil and Nur Kırmızıdag, argues that the Ergenekon verdicts reached in August showed that the “criminal grounds of the Ergenekon case consisted solely of coups plotted against the government but excluded the human rights violations of the 1990s.”

Speaking at a panel session after the introduction of the report in Istanbul, former Education Minister and head of Parliament's Coup and Memorandum Investigation Commission Nimet Bas said the Ergenekon case is just the tip of the iceberg as the deep state is not over.

Comparing the illegal networks within the state with those in other countries, Baş argued that Turkey has a “unique example” since these networks were designed in such a way that makes it impossible to question them. “You can only proceed so much,” she said, referring to the investigation of the commission regarding the deep state. Stating the commission was not able to make all the documents public due to the “state secret” concept, Baş said even the judiciary could not gain access to state secrets beyond a certain level.

Agreeing with Bas, Mehmet Ucum, a human rights lawyer and a member of a wise people commission established by the government during the settlement process with the Kurdistan Workers' Party (PKK), said, “The Turkish case is unique because in Turkey illegitimate networks within the state are actually protected by laws.” Calling this system a “bureaucratic and institutionalized fascism” established after the 1960 military coup, Uçum said all the unsolved murders especially in the eastern and southeastern parts of Turkey in the 1990s were committed by the state and not “certain centers” within the state.

JITEM proved based on Ergenekon evidence

As far as the Ergenekon case is concerned, Avsar said there are important findings about JITEM, an illegal counterterrorism unit formed under the gendarmerie that took the law into its own hands and terrorized the Kurdish population in the Southeast throughout the 1990s, among the Ergenekon case evidence. “Even though the existence of JITEM was denied, the state had to admit it based on the evidence in the Ergenekon case,” Avşar went on to say.

Stating the parallels between the Ergenekon and unsolved murder case findings, Avşar says Ergenekon is connected to cases such as the murders of Christian missionaries at the Zirve Publishing House in Malatya, the Hrant Dink assassination and the killing of priest Andrea Santoro. She says retired general Hurst Tolon is among the defendants in both the Ergenekon and the Zirve cases as another retired general, sener Eruygur, testified in the Zirve case. Another person convicted in the Ergenekon trial, retired Brig. Gen. Levent Ersoz, was involved in the killing of civilians in southeastern Silopi during the 1990s.
According to Avsar, these cases have not received the attention they deserve from the public, but the evidence shows that they are connected to the Ergenekon process, which is more than just plots against the Justice and Development Party (AK Party) government.

In reference to the documents that were found in Arif Dogan's house, which is considered the JITEM archive, Avşar complained about the “state secrets” rule which prevents the sharing of these documents with the public. “Having no access to critical documents is an important obstacle,” Avsar comments, asking for the acceleration of trial processes and the removal of statute of limitations in cases such as unsolved murders.

Diyarbakır Bar Association President Tahir Elci spoke about the painful experiences of the people of the Southeast and examples of disappearances in the1990s, saying that over time, it turned out that the people who took civilians from their homes were members of the gendarmerie. He said the judiciary did nothing to try any of the state officials believed to be behind the disappearances and murders.

According to him, Ersoz killed civilians in front of witnesses but was not tried by anyone back then. Elci also warned against the statute of limitations running out for the unsolved murder cases dating back to the late 1980s. Arguing that a strong political will is necessary to tackle the unsolved murder cases, Elci asked the government to demonstrate the same will which it did with the Ergenekon case.

As far as the government's efforts are concerned, lawyer Ucum praised the EU reforms starting from 2001 but called them revisions instead of reforms as there is still much to be done. “If you cannot control intelligence authorities, you cannot control anything,” he said, pointing out the lack of civilian control over intelligence authorities, especially in the 1990s.

Criticizing the problematic relations between the media, politics and especially intelligence authorities, Radikal columnist Oral Calıclar spoke about a “journalist,” Hayri Birler, who was actually a member of the National Intelligence Organization (MIT), adding that the media sides with whomever is strong, be it the army or politicians, in a given era.

Bas: Coups planned from a certain center

Addressing the audience about some of the findings of their commission, Bas said the commission has come across evidence suggesting that interventions in civilian politics was designed by a certain center. Although she did not specify any names or institutions, Baş urged for the establishment of a fact-finding commission in Parliament, stating that aside from the judiciary, it is Parliament that can best face the dark sides of the regime.
According to Bas, the illegal profiling/labeling of citizens is an issue that should be addressed and that all profiling documents should be destroyed. She said that during the Feb. 28 postmodern military coup era alone, 6 million people were categorized by the state.

“The state perceived some of its citizens as an internal threat,” Bas stated, urging the continuation of EU reforms to strengthen the country's democratic climate.

The TESEV report cites testimony from Ergenekon suspect Dogu Perincek; excerpts from MIT's Susurluk report; a JITEM chart received from Tuncay Guney (a former member of the Ergenekon organization); and the testimonies of Ergenekon suspects such as Arif Dogan and Veysel Sahin as well as testimony from the secret witnesses in the unsolved murder cases of Musa Anter and other crimes believed to be linked to Ergenekon.

Cihan

Last Mod: 26 Kasım 2013, 12:14
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