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Yes, we did have pro-coup-thoughts in our genes

Tuesday 24 May 2011, by Mehmet Ali Birand

I was planning on writing this article for quite some time now.

I was feeling regretful and couldn’t get rid of it.

Finally, when I read Alper Görmüş’s book “Ergenekon Gazeteciliği” (Ergenekon Journalism) and the chat in the daily Taraf, I decided to share with you my experience in this matter.

In short, Görmüş says, “The central media has always supported coups and played a key role in the realization of February 28. Virtually they have acted in accordance with the pro-coup factors in their genes.”

Görmüş is absolutely right about the “central media” of which I am a part too.

This fact I noticed in the 90s when writing my much talked about and only book about the Turkish Armed Forces, or TSK, entitled “Emret Komutanım” (Yes, Commander!).

With this book I was enlightened. Back then I started to write that the military needs to stay out of politics and that’s when I started to get in trouble. There were court cases filed against me and I was blacklisted. In those days present-day media heroes were nowhere around.

For our generation the state has always been the priority and very reasonable. And the state was represented by the military.

Politicians were people who had a reputation of fiddlers, liars and were inconsiderate of the state trying to fill their pockets.

The military was considered as honest, self-sacrificing heroes. Besides, they were obligated to protect, look after this country and the secular democratic republic handed down by Atatürk.

The military had the right to oversee politicians.

When the politicians messed things up, the military could interfere. When we were puzzled, we could even write articles like “Commander, hurry, we are losing the state.”

For us, members of the secular central media, the General Staff was more important than democracy or the parliament.

And this was quite normal.

This was the way we were raised.

Maybe, we were unaware that pro-coup-thought penetrated our genes.

We unquestionably accepted the superiority of commanders. The shimmer of uniforms we used to admire and fear at the same time.

All coups we used to appreciate and support.

For the past few years our genes got confused and our perception changed.

For the first time our priorities changed places.

Democracy got one step ahead.

We’ll see if it will persist.

Now I ask all my colleagues: Is there anyone who’d object to the above?

If so, please feel free to write to me so I can publish it here.

Lack of support for magazine Nokta

One other thing I regret is that we did not oppose raids that led to the closing of Nokta magazine and that we did not take serious enough the Coup Diaries published during the period when Görmüş was the editor-in-chief.

Including me, part of the central media was not sensitive enough about this issue.

We had our doubts.

On one side, there was authentic and approved information supplied and on the other side it was constantly denied. It was 2007 when especially the AKP was on adverse terms with the military and the central media started to distance itself from the AKP.

The perception of “How could a commander write such note? Even if he did how come it was received by Nokta but not by us? So there must be a conspiracy going on,” was widespread.

Beside, the military’s prestige was not worn down in the eye of the central media back then. If the ruling Justice and Development Party, or AKP, was to be distanced from power, then the single force to be able to do this was the TSK.

The pro-coup-thought did not completely vanish from our genes.

To underestimate the diaries served our purposes right.

But the real development leading to the Ergenekon process was the making public of the diaries.

Heroes who took their courage in both hands were Görmüş and Nokta’s owners whom we never met.

We could not claim them.

We couldn’t even speak up.

If this had happened to one of us in the central media we’d have made a big deal out of it.

But we ignored it.

Today I feel ashamed about it.

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Source : Hürriyet, Wednesday, May 18, 2011

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