Bianet spoke to Celalettin Can, the spokesman for the 78'ers Initiative, and İlhan Canan, the son of Tahir Canan who spent 31 years in prison, over recent claims raised by deputy Selçuk Özdağ of the incumbent Justice and Development Party (AKP) from the western province of Manisa that no leftists convicted by the Sept. 12, 1980 coup administration were still left behind bars while the far-right greywolves (the youth branch of the Nationalist Movement Party (MHP)) continued serving time in prison.
Officials had tried leftists in connection with article 146/1 of the Turkish Penal Code (TCK,) and a leftist who killed seven people received 12 years in prison while another greywolf who killed seven people received a sentence of 21 years instead in accordance with the 313rd, 314th and 315th articles of the TCK, the AKP's Manisa Deputy Özdağ said.
78'ers Initiative Spokesperson Celalettin Can, on the other hand, highlighted the need for special legislation for nearly 100,000 leftists who had taken refuge abroad after the 1980 coup and are still unable to return back to the country, while İlhan Canan also said he did not believe the latest legislation would allow for his father's release.
"Those who committed crimes prior to 1980 came out [of prison] due to the amendment of the Law on Penal Execution in 1991. The leftists came out but not these people. Not a single leftist still remains behind bars. I said 'Apply it to the right-wing if they also applied it to the left-wing.' I upheld equality. The leftists came out, but why did Haluk Kırcı serve 21 years in prison. Why should he?" AKP deputy Özdağ had told the daily Vatan.
"Government settling scores with 1980 coup by pardoning murderers"
Suspects tried on article 146 served eight years in prison whey they received a life imprisonment sentence and ten years when they received the death penalty once a partial amnesty came into force in 1991, but it was only the greywolves and the Islamists who benefited from this reduction in penalties, not leftists, Celalettin Can said.
Tens of thousands of Kurdish convicts, on the other hand, saw their penalties going down to 15 years if they had been sentenced to life imprisonment and down to 20 years if they had been sentenced to the death penalty, he added. Can also noted there were still Kurdish convicts behind bars at the present moment in relation to the penalties they received in those times and asked if authorities were thinking about devising a solution for these people tried on article 125 as well.
"We still have many a leftist friends in prison today. We also have friends who returned back to prison for committing a single crime and whose former penalties were also added on top due to the Law on Penal Execution," Can said.
"[Authorities] treated greywolf prisoners tried in the 1980s as judicial convicts, while they accused leftists of terrorism, and [they subjected these leftists] to political bans for long years. Greywolves, however, could partake in politics within the MHP (Nationalist Movement Party) and the ANAP (Motherland Party) after they came out of prison," he added.
"The Bahçelievler massacre is an incident that has offended the public's conscience. They cannot cover up this incident without first healing open wounds. Moreover, whether it be Haluk Kırcı or the other murderers, these were not ordinary greywolves. These were straightforward [members of the] Special Warfare [Department,] people from the [Abdullah] Çatlı group and working under the Chieff of Staff. This is a [squad] broken off from the MHP and subordinated to the Chief of Staff and NATO's Gladio headquarters," Can said.
"As such, these have to be called to account first if there is to a reckoning with the Sept. 12 [coup,] the Ergenekon [gang] and the Special Warfare [Department.] They imprison people such as Büşra Ersanlı who never had any involvement in any act of violence, while letting people who personally committed massacres out. What sort of a sense of justice is that?" he said.
"Some 29,000 leftists were deprived of their citizenship during the Sept. 12 [coup] period, according to official figures. This figure pertains to the early 1980s. Over 100,000 people are [residing] abroad at the current moment, and a great majority of them cannot enter the country. If they are speaking of conscience, then they should also allow for the return of these people. They only pardon the murderers, however. As far as I can see, they are also going to pardon [the coup's leader] Kenan Evren and thus 'settle scores' with the Sept. 12 [coup,]" Celalettin Can said.
"Their true intention is to save the greywolves"
Tahir Canan's son İlhan Canan also said he had met many times over with the AKP's Manisa Deputy Selçuk Özdağ, one of the architects of the recent legislation.
Deputy Özdağ told him that the injustices of the 1980 coup had nothing to do with the left or the right and had to be rectified nonetheless, İlhan Canan said, adding that Özdağ had also told him he was certain Tahir Canan would also be released in consequence of the legislation.
"I find it interesting that he now says no one from the left is still remaining behind bars. I presume he is basing [his view] on a legislation in 1991 that allowed for [prisoners'] conditional release. The culprits of the Bahçelievler massacre were arrested in 1999, however. Then, howcome are they taking advantage of a legislation [dated to] 1991," he asked.
"Now, [one] must ask him; does this legislation get Tahir Canan out [of prison?] He told me to pay attention to article 104/3, and that Tahir Canan would get out [of jail] through this law. They delivered some general announcements before the law passed, but it seems their real intention is to save the greywolves," he added.
"Greywolves received heavier sentences"
By contrast, the AKP's Manisa Deputy Selçuk Özdağ told bianet that a left-winger served 12 years behind bars if he killed seven people, while a right-winger received ten years in prison seven times over if he also killed seven people but consequently ended up serving 36 years in prison within the framework of the Law on Penal Execution.
Deputy Özdağ claimed that both left and right-wingers first saw trial in connection with article 146/1 on the charge of "treason," but that the Plenary Session of the Military Court of Appeals later connected the cases of the greywolves to articles 313, 314, 315 while leftists still faced charges in connection with article 146/1.
Tahir Canan's release still up for grabs
The execution of the final decision over Tahir Canan turned null and void, as he committed another crime after coming out of prison and was therefore sent back to jail, Deputy Özdağ said.
Canan's conditional release still ought to have been valid, as the second verdict against him had been annulled with all its legal consequences, he said, adding that Canan's situation was a product of the problems inherent in the Law on Penal Execution.
"I, too, want Canan to come out of jail as soon as possible. There are no leftists in prison, however, for crimes committed prior to Sept. 12, 1980," he said.
"We are currently engaged in an effort to declare as null and void the verdicts passed by the military courts of 1960, 1971 and 1980 for political convicts in order to allow for the release of Tahir Canan and others the execution of whose verdicts have been nullified. If we can do that, then Tahir Canan and other [parties subjected to such injustices] will be able to come out [of prison,]" he said.
"Bünyamin Adanalı and Ünal Osmanağaoğlu were released after staying in prison for 14 years. A left-winger who killed eight soldiers came out [of prison] after serving for 12 years. Another left-winger who killed five greywolves in [the southern province of] Adana also came out [of jail] after serving for 12 years," Deputy Özdağ added.
"I never approve of the deaths. I do not view them [with respect to who was a] left-winger or a right-winger. We definitely must amend the Law on Penal Execution. All decisions dating back to the Sept. 12 [coup] period must be nullified," he said. (EKN)