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ANKARA: Ergenekon Consists Of More Than Coup Attempts, Says Miroglu

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  • ANKARA: Ergenekon Consists Of More Than Coup Attempts, Says Miroglu


    Today's Zaman
    March 30 2009

    Kurdish intellectual and author Orhan Miroglu has said justice will
    be served if the Ergenekon investigation is expanded to involve the
    suspects' connections in the extra-judicial killings in Turkey in
    addition to their coup attempts.

    "Turkey is going through a period in which a few force commanders are
    on trial. ... Some Ergenekon suspects' pasts are dark, and there is
    more to it than attempting military coups," he said in reference to the
    investigation into Ergenekon, an underground terrorist organization
    charged with countless atrocities, murders and attacks staged for
    the ultimate purpose of inciting a military takeover.

    Miroglu pointed out that some suspects in the Ergenekon case have
    always seen themselves as above the law and that they have been
    shocked at being subjects of a serious probe.

    For Monday Talk, Miroglu elaborated on the issue and called on
    Turkish intellectuals to develop a mutual mindset and stand behind
    the investigation into Ergenekon. We talked with him in Ä°stanbul
    because he was there for his hearing over controversial charges under
    Article 301 of the Turkish Penal Code (TCK) restricting freedom of
    expression. He is already on probation for speaking in Kurdish during
    his election campaign in 2007.

    What did you think when you heard the news of the arrest of Col. Cemal
    Temizöz [from the Kayseri Provincial Gendarmerie Battalion, in
    relation to the ongoing investigation into the human remains found
    in the wells in Å~^ırnak's Silopi and Cizre districts]?

    His arrest is very important especially for a person like me, who
    was a witness and was even subjected to the horrifying events in
    the years of the intense Turkish-Kurdish conflict. I and many other
    intellectuals have been saying that the investigation into Ergenekon
    should be expanded.

    Why exactly? Would you explain?

    There were so many human rights abuses committed during those years
    of conflict [in the 1980s and 1990s]. And it was mostly the Kurdish
    people who were subjected to human rights abuses. The Ergenekon
    investigation has lifted the hopes and expectations of many liberal
    and democratic people that those responsible for these abuses will be
    punished. But the first indictment did not contain much about JÄ°TEM's
    [the intelligence unit of the gendarmerie that does not exist on
    paper and whose existence has been consistently denied by officials]
    murders. We said that the people who were indicted are related to
    JÄ°TEM. But the investigation was limited to the coup attempts in
    2003 and 2004.

    Are the people of the Southeast more comfortable speaking out now
    than they were before?

    Following the arrest of Temizöz, the number of people in the Southeast
    applying to public prosecutors' offices to find out what happened to
    their relatives who were victims of the unsolved murders has increased
    and reached nearly 200. Even this figure is quite low considering
    the fact that past parliamentary commissions have put the number of
    unsolved murders at 17,500. People of the region used to think that
    people like Temizöz were untouchable because they had a great deal
    of power at their disposal and due to the pressure that JÄ°TEM put
    on the region for at least the last 25 years.

    Do you think Abdulkadir Aygan's confessions were a starting point
    for an investigation into JÄ°TEM?

    His confessions, which were first made in 2004 and published in the
    Gundem newspaper, was a good starting point. But nobody at the time
    wanted to pay attention to what he said. Aygan reported details of the
    JÄ°TEM-related murders, including Musa Anter's assassination. Today
    he is saying the same things he had said before.

    Now more people seem to be listening to what Aygan says, right?

    Turkey is going through a period in which a few force commanders
    are on trial. This is very important in the history of Turkey. Some
    Ergenekon suspects' pasts are dark, and there is more to it than
    attempting military coups. Ergenekon suspects Temizöz, Veli Kucuk,
    Arif Dogan, Levent Ersöz and others were involved in many criminal
    acts. The bones and the remains of the people found underground may
    offer some clues to help identify their murderers.

    'I expect to see some mysterious murders'

    Do you think it would be possible to identify more than 17,000 victims
    of unsolved murders?

    It is a process we are undertaking, although it may go slowly. But
    step-by-step there will be progress. Moreover, not all of the 17,500
    people are buried without a trace. For some of them there are detailed
    files. Their relatives may speak up and offer clues as to what might
    have happened to the victims -- if they had a democratic environment in
    which to voice their concerns. After the arrest of Temizöz, someone
    in the region spoke up and said that he wanted his father's head. He
    was referring to his father's decapitated body that was given to his
    family. There are spine-chilling stories waiting to be revealed. But
    fear holds people back. I know of towns and villages in the Southeast
    that Nevruz has not been celebrated in for 30 years because of the
    terror that JÄ°TEM has caused there. The arrests of people such
    as Ersöz and Temizöz have started to make people a little more
    comfortable, but there is a long way to go to erase the horrors of
    the last 30 years. I hope the cases in Diyarbakır related to the
    unsolved murders will be combined with the Ergenekon investigation. As
    far as I know, the Ergenekon prosecutors requested those files from
    officers of the court in Diyarbakır. Turkey cannot just look at the
    coup attempts in 2003 and 2004 without digging deeper into them and
    see the underlying picture.

    Do you think Aygan should be brought to Turkey to talk more about
    what he knows?

    He is an important witness of JİTEM's operations in Diyarbakır
    and its surroundings. But I don't think his presence in Turkey would
    be useful.

    Why not?

    He could be assassinated if he comes here because he knows too
    much. Instead of bringing him here, there is no reason that prosecutors
    cannot take his deposition while he is abroad. And I expect there to
    be a few mysterious murders and suicides in Turkey in the near future.

    Do you mean suicides like Abdulkerim Kırca's [former Diyarbakır
    group commander of JÄ°TEM]?

    Yes, though his suicide is quite doubtful. Such people like Kırca
    could never imagine that they could be put on trial just like an
    average citizen. They always have envisioned themselves as above
    the law.

    Are there more people like Aygan who could speak about extra-judicial
    killings and acts of terrorism in Turkey?

    There are more people like him who speak under an alias. In the second
    Ergenekon indictment, we see another name, Aladdin Kanat, who grew
    apart from the PKK [outlawed Kurdistan Workers' Party] in the early
    1990s and then joined JÄ°TEM. He confessed that the assassination
    of Hrant Dink [Turkish-Armenian journalist murdered in 2007] was a
    job organized by Veli Kucuk [a retired general who said he was the
    founder of JÄ°TEM in his testimony after he was arrested as part of
    an investigation into Ergenekon]. There were about 500 informants
    who had joined the ranks of JÄ°TEM.

    'Neither Ergenekon, nor the AK Party' slogan absurd

    What do you think about the discussions surrounding the visit of
    President Abdullah Gul to Iraq and whether he used "Kurdistan" in
    reference to the northern Iraqi administration?

    It is quite alright for the president to shake up some well-known
    paradigms, but this is not enough. We, the intellectuals, need to
    take some initiative.

    What needs to be done?

    In Argentina, they had a 30,000-page document called "Never
    Again." It's about the bitter past of the country. We really need to
    face up to Turkey's bitter past. And it is time to do it. Turkish
    intellectuals should take the initiative. Ergenekon provides the
    background for it to be done right now, right away. Intellectuals
    need to develop a mutual mindset for it. I find it absurd that some
    intellectuals say "neither Ergenekon, nor the AK Party [Justice and
    Development Party]." This approach prevents them from taking the
    correct side and defending the investigation into Ergenekon. On one
    side there is a legitimate political party, the AK Party, and on the
    other side, there is an armed group of people. The group includes
    force commanders and people who once terrorized the citizens of
    the country. It is hard to understand the intellectuals who equate
    Ergenekon with the AK Party. There are even some recent comments
    about how the AK Party is establishing its own "deep state." This is
    really absurd.


    My analogy is this: I point out some people and say that they killed
    people. I show the evidence. On the other hand, others say that what
    you have is not important because those in the government are going
    to kill us. I think that we should first deal with the ones who did
    kill people. If there is a possibility that there are some others
    who are planning to do the same, we can deal with them when proof is
    found. It should have been impossible in this day and age to ignore
    the chilling acts of some deep state elements that hopefully are a
    thing of the past.

    'Kurds will inevitably come together for dialogue'

    Do you think the Kurdish groups will be able to get together at
    a conference in Iraq in the near future as Iraqi President Jalal
    Talabani recently suggested?

    This would be a positive development. Such a conference would have the
    Kurds engage in a dialogue among themselves and bring some important
    issues to the table.

    Has there ever been a meeting in which Kurds have come together?

    They haven't had such a meeting. But even if they can't get together in
    April or May, they will do it in June or some time in the near future
    because it is impossible to avoid dialogue on possible solutions to
    the existing problems.

    Would such a conference include people from the PKK?

    Yes, it would. The most important item of the meeting would be related
    to the PKK. There are also other issues, such as the fate of some
    of Iranian Kurds who are facing the death penalty in Iran. And the
    most important contribution of such a conference would be to solve
    Turkey's Kurdish problem.

    Would you explain how?

    It would strengthen the ground for dialogue and compromise. It would
    not be a conference only to tell the PKK what to do. It would also tell
    Turkey what needs to be done. We have already seen that unilateral
    decision-making has not worked well in the past. Turkey also views
    the conference in a positive light. So does the United States.

    In one of your articles, you stated that Turkey's Kurdish problem is
    also the problem of the United States and Iraq. Would you elaborate
    on that idea?

    As the new US administration prepares to withdraw from Iraq, it wants
    to see a process of normalization in the region. Even though Turkey's
    relations with northern Iraq go back to the tenure of former Prime
    Minister Turgut Ozal in the 1990s, the Turkish public has only recently
    been aware of Turkish and northern Iraqi rapprochement. Ozal provided
    privileges for the Iraqi Kurds -- like giving them passports and having
    representative offices in the capital, Ankara -- to enable them to
    be present in the international arena. But this soft-power policy
    did not last long. Northern Iraqi Kurds have been belittled by the
    Turkish authorities. Now the president of Iraq is Kurdish, the Iraqi
    chief of General Staff is Kurdish and there are about 1 million Kurds
    living in Baghdad, so the Kurdish problem is also an issue for Iraq.

    'Kurds dream of being neighbors with a Turkey that's an EU member'

    What do the Kurdsof Iraq really want?

    They dream about being neighbors with a Turkey that's a member of the
    European Union. This expectation is also true for Syrian Kurds. And as
    Turkey comes closer to being a member of the EU, we will be talking
    more about administrative autonomy in the Kurdish provinces of
    Turkey. Turkey's chance is to have the AK Party government realize
    those realities and see them as opportunities, despite the fact
    that the AK Party administration has not been courageous enough to
    implement more democratic reforms. If the opposition CHP or the MHP
    were in power over the last five or six years, it would have been
    impossible to see Talabani in Turkey or a Turkish president in Iraq.