Turkish Press Review
Turkey was shocked by yet another revelation that the land mines which claimed the lives of seven soldiers last year were planted by the Turkish military, and not by terrorists from the outlawed Kurdistan Workers’ Party (PKK) as the General Staff had previously announced.
Following a land mine explosion in Çukurca, Hakkari province, on May 27 of last year, Van prosecutors launched an investigation which found that the mines belonged to the Turkish military. The file for the case is now in the hands of the military prosecutor’s office, since civilian courts jurisdiction over the matter. The revelation has once again caused many to question the Turkish Armed Forces (TSK) since everyone still remembers that the General Staff, at the time of the explosion, released a statement saying that the mines had been planted by PKK terrorists who crossed into Turkey from northern Iraq.
Gülay Göktürk from the Bugün daily complains that the mine blast scandal was not the first one by the military. “We were told a lie regarding the Çukurca mine blast. We were told a lie regarding the case of soldiers who were killed [in the eastern province of Elazığ last year] after a lieutenant gave one of the privates a hand grenade whose pin he had pulled out [to punish him for sleeping during his night watch]. We were also told lies regarding the unearthed LAWs which were called ‘just empty pipes’ by Chief of General Staff Gen. İlker Başbuğ, on the issue of a wet signature [under a military plot, which was called ‘a piece of paper’ by Gen. Başbuğ] and the Sledgehammer coup plot. We have heard numerous lies regarding all coup plots and memorandums revealed thus far,” she says.
Noting that we cannot know at which level of the army these lies are concocted and by whom, she says, the reason behind many of these lies is clear. “Lies are nested in closed societies. They love the darkest points of such societies since there is no inspection, criticism or accountability in closed societies. So, if we don’t want more lies to be told, we should work on making our society an open one, with all its institutions. This will of course be a difficult struggle. But, a significant part of this struggle is calling a lie ‘a lie’,” she adds.
The editor-in-chief of Taraf, the daily that has exposed a number of military coup plots, is highly critical of the stance of the General Staff on the latest scandal and says the military, which calls those who want it to take its hands off politics and return to its barracks “an enemy of the army,” in fact harms itself with such cases. “Think for a moment, who is the enemy of the army? Who is harming this army more than it harms itself?” he asks. Stating that it is apparent that the military knew that the mines in Çukurca were planted by the TSK from the very beginning, he says the military officers lied. “They told a lie; but what a lie! This was a lie which raised tensions in the political environment and prevented a humanitarian step and axed the improvement of brotherhood [in the country],” he says. He was referring to a cancelled meeting between Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdoğan and leader of the now-defunct pro-Kurdish Democratic Society Party (DTP) Ahmet Türk. Because of the public indignation over the deaths of the soldiers, Erdoğan cancelled an appointment with Türk on possible solutions to the Kurdish problem on May 29, two days after the mine blast.
Turkish Press Review