The ruling Justice and Development Party (AKP) will file criminal complaints against three prominent figures, including a former top soldier, former opposition lawmaker and a journalist over their remarks on military coups in the past and the status of headscarf-wearing women in public service.
Citing anonymous party officials, Anadolu Agency reported on Jan. 6 that the AKP has instructed all of its organizations in 81 provinces to take separate legal actions against these three people.
The criminal complaints will cover former Chief of General Staff Gen. İlker Başbuğ and journalist Can Ataklı over their recent statements on the military coups and former main opposition Republican People’s Party (CHP) MP Fikri Sağlar for expressing his opposition against headscarf-wearing judges in courts.
In an interview with the daily Cumhuriyet, Başbuğ last week claimed that the military coup in 1960 could have been avoided if the government at that time would have decided to hold early elections. Ataklı, in a televised program, argued that it will take more than elections for President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan to lose power, which was interpreted as a call for a coup. Sağlar, for his part, expressed his discomfort with the presence of headscarf-wearing judges in courts in violation of the principle of secularism.
Both the AKP and its main ally, the Nationalist Movement Party (MHP), have slammed all three figures.
“What is worse [concerning Başbuğ’s remarks] is that he is making a comparison between the coups. There is no ‘but’ when you are talking about the coups. You cannot be tagged as a democrat if you describe one coup as bad, the other less bad,” Ömer Çelik, the deputy leader of the AKP, told the press on Jan. 4.
MHP leader Devlet Bahçeli also lashed out at these names through a written statement on January 6. “By his words, Mr. İlker Başbuğ sees a coup staged against a government that did not take a decision to go early elections as reasonable and legitimate, and a coup against a government that took a decision to go to early polls as illegitimate. These views cannot be approved as normal and reflect an anti-democratic dilemma,” he said.
Başbuğ’s lawyers denied the interpretations made by Çelik and other AKP officials, stressing that the former chief of general staff has by no means approved the military’s interventions into politics.
Meanwhile, CHP leader Kemal Kılıçdaroğlu has also highlighted that the main opposition party has never condoned coups, blaming the military interventions for today’s democratic deficiencies in the country.
Defense Ministry issues statement
In the meantime, the Defense Ministry issued a written statement late Jan. 5 on the ongoing political discussions about the matter, stressing that the Turkish army is continuing to fulfill its duties in the framework of the Turkish constitution and laws as well as upon the instructions given by President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan.
The Turkish Armed Forces (TSK) is performing its duties of fighting against terror organizations and protecting the country’s borders against external threats in light of science and reason, in the framework of the constitution and laws, upon the instructions by the president and in full chain of command, the ministry stated late Jan. 5.
It also stated that the TSK was committed to continue its struggle against those who were in search of anti-democratic means against the people’s will.
Hurriyet Daily News