Turkish Armed Forces’ Web site plan not based on legal grounds, observers say

TSK’s Web site plan not based on legal grounds, observers say: “TSK’s Web site plan not based on legal grounds, observers say

10 November 2009, Tuesday

A large number of intellectuals, jurists and academics have criticized the reasoning recently offered by the General Staff for the establishment of several Web sites by the Turkish Armed Forces (TSK) to back the military’s psychological warfare against civilian groups, terming the plan ‘illegal’ as it contravened a regulation passed in 2007.

The General Staff announced last week that the Web sites were established following plans and directives from the Prime Ministry in 2000, when the government was led by a coalition under former Prime Minister Bülent Ecevit. The announcement, however, was far from satisfying the questions in intellectuals’ minds. According to intellectuals, directives dating back to a post-coup era should no longer be in effect. The directives for the establishment were given in the wake of the Feb. 28, 1997 unarmed overthrow of the civilian government.

‘The directives of the Prime Ministry given after the Feb. 28 junta period cannot be in effect in our day. They [the TSK] are fully aware of this fact, but point to those directives as a pretext for its illegal activities. There has always been a circle that wanted a continuation of the Feb. 28 period. Even a general once said the period would last a thousand years. The beast which was born after Feb. 28 has not been killed. It has continued to exist in a mutated form,’ noted Hasan Celal Güzel, a former minister and currently a columnist.

The existence of the TSK’s Web sites was revealed in an e-mail sent by a military officer to a number of newspapers and journalists last week. The officer, who wished to remain anonymous, claimed that the armed forces established 42 Web sites as part of their psychological warfare against ‘dangerous’ civilian groups, which were categorized as ‘reactionary,’ ‘separatist,’ ‘pro-Justice and Development Party [AK Party]’ and ‘anti-TSK.’

The armed forces also monitored the activities of more than 400 Turkish and foreign language Web sites. The plan against Web sites was devised at the Third Information Support Unit of the General Staff by a number of colonels and was coordinated by Deputy Chief of General Staff Gen. Hasan Iğsız, according to the officer. Chief of General Staff Gen. İlker Başbuğ was also reportedly informed about the plan.

Professor Mehmet Altan, a Star daily columnist, said members of the military who established the Web sites should be brought before the court. ‘If the military were a private company, it would have collapsed long ago. It is impossible to understand how the General Staff can defend itself with directives dating back to the Feb. 28 process,’ he noted.

According to Kamil Uğur Yaralı, head of the Jurists Association, the Prime Ministry directives in question were counteracted by a regulation passed in 2007. ‘The fact that they are still in effect shows that the Feb. 28 process still reigns over society like a nightmare,’ Yaralı added.

The existence of a religious political party in government (the now-defunct Welfare Party [RP]) led to the overthrowing of a coalition government on Feb. 28 in an unarmed military intervention, also known as the post-modern coup of 1997. Uneasy with the religious characteristics of the government, the General Staff started briefing members of the judiciary, university rectors and journalists on religious fundamentalism at its headquarters. The National Security Council (MGK) made a number of decisions in its meeting on Feb. 28, 1997, and presented them to Prime Minister Erbakan for approval. Erbakan was forced to sign the decisions and subsequently resigned.

The General Staff also announced last week that all of its controversial Web sites were deactivated long ago; however, most of them were updated earlier this year. The Web sites were established by retired Capt. Hasan Ataman Yıldırım, who is currently in jail for suspected membership in Ergenekon. Among the recently updated Web sites are www.irtica.org, www.naksilik.com, www.geocities.com/fethullahgercegi, www.nursi.info, www.irtica.net, www.ozgurgenc.net, www.stratejik.info and www.tskasker.com.

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