World Bulletin/News Desk
Military officers who were expelled from the Turkish Armed Forces (TSK) after the Feb. 28, 1997 unarmed military intervention on the grounds that they were engaged in reactionary activities are preparing to stage a protest in Ankara on the 16th anniversary of the intervention.
On Feb. 28 the TSK forced a coalition government led by a now-defunct conservative party, the Welfare Party (RP), to step down on the grounds that there was growing religious fundamentalism in the country. The unarmed coup introduced a series of harsh restrictions on religious life. Hundreds of officers were expelled from the military on the grounds that they were engaged in reactionary activities. Many of them have recently filed criminal complaints en masse against the perpetrators of the coup, arguing that they suffered financially and spiritually after the coup. An investigation is currently under way into the Feb. 28 coup, with some of its suspected actors -- all retired and active duty members of the military -- having been taken into custody for their role in the staging of the coup.
The coup victim soldiers are expected to gather at Abdi İpekçi Park in Ankara at 1 p.m. on Feb. 28 to protest the injustice that the thousands of commissioned officers, noncommissioned officers, specialist sergeants, military employees and military students were subjected to during the coup era in 1997. Many members of the military who regularly prayed or had wives who wore a headscarf were expelled from the military. The TSK traditionally considered religious or conservative individuals and movements a threat both to its existence and the existence of a secular Turkey.
The protest will be organized by the Ex-officio Retirement Association (RE-DER), which has released a written statement in which it invites all expelled military officers to protest the intervention on its 16th anniversary. The association also wants the TSK to adopt a regulation to restore the honor of all military officers who were victimized during the coup era. The association also prepared a banner that reads “Black stain placed on Turkish democratic history: Feb. 28 coup.”
Defense Minister İsmet Yılmaz stated in one of his parliamentary speeches that 1,543 military officers were expelled from the military between 1984 and 2009 as a result of Supreme Military Council (YAŞ) orders. After the Sept. 12, 2010 referendum, the TSK decided to restore the honor of some of the military officers who were expelled on YAŞ orders. A total of 2,867 military officers applied to the TSK, demanding the restoration of their honor following the postmodern coup era.
In 2011 Parliament passed a bill seeking to reinstate the rights of former members of the military who were expelled by YAŞ. Unlike in the past, dismissed officers are now allowed to appeal YAŞ decisions at the Military High Administrative Court (AYİM). The bill also allowed ex-members of the military to be officially retired with the highest military rank that they could have acquired had they not been dismissed. Those who were expelled from the armed forces as noncommissioned officers were given the rank of master sergeant in their retirement, while those who were expelled while serving as an officer were given the rank of staff colonel. The victims were provided with a retirement salary and have access to social security benefits.Last Mod: 03 Şubat 2013, 18:02