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Reasons Why the Members of the NSC and The Marial Law Commanders are Criminally Responsible

According to the reason declared in Communique No. 1 of the National Security, Council published in the Official Gazette dated September 12, 1980 and numbered 17103, the Turkish Armed Forces made ‘the decision to fulfill within the chain of command, its duty to protect and safeguard the Turkish Republic on behalf of the great Turkish Nation as delegated to it by the Military Code’, and the National Security Council seized complete control of the country’s governance. Following this, Communique No. 4 of the National Security Council was published, forming the National Security Council with Chief of Staff Kenan Evren as its president, and Commander of Naval Forces Full Admiral Nejat Tümer, Commander of Ground Forces Full General Nurettin Ersin, Commander of Air Forces, Full General Tahsin Şahinkaya, and Commander of Gendarmerie Full General Sedat Celasun as its members (Official Gazette dated September 12, 1980, numbered 17103).

By the Communique No. 1 of the National Security Council, the ‘operation intended’ was declared to have the aim ‘to protect the integrity of the country, to ensure national unity and solidarity, to prevent a possible civil war and a fight among brothers, to re-establish the authority and presence of the state, and to eliminate the reasons that prevent the democratic order from functioning’. With these aims used as justification, all the democratic mechanisms that could be established to that day were destroyed, the Constitution was abolished, the Parliament and the Government were dissolved, the party leaders were arrested, and the immunity of all members of the Parliament was waived. Martial law was declared all over the country, ‘curfew’ was imposed at nights, and all citizens were banned from traveling abroad.

Kenan Evren, on his speech aired on national radio and television on September 12, 1980, stated that starting from September 12, 1980, ‘…for a temporary period until the new government and legislative body is established, all legislative and executive power will be exercised by the National Security Council, headed by himself and consisting of the Commanders of the Ground, Naval and Air Forces, and the Gendarmerie General Commander,’ and declared that the National Security Council is the only authority, adding that all kinds of resistance, protests and stances against the Turkish Armed Forces and the new governance ‘would immediately be destroyed in the harshest manner, and punished’.

Following this period, while on the one hand all kinds of political activities were banned and democratic rights were suspended, on the other hand a horrible period of detentions, tortures, arrests, imprisonments, executions, and extrajudicial punishment of political opponents began. Hundreds of thousands of people were subjected to severe torture in official and unofficial centers of detention, and systematic and widespread human rights violations took place in all areas governed by martial law. For this reason, the names of the martial law commanders along with the members of the NSC are included in the list of accountable persons in the military.

With the Communique No. 2 of the National Security Council,

First Army Commander Full General Necdet Üruğ was appointed
as the Martial Law Commander of the Province of Istanbul,

Second Army Commander Full General Bedrettin Demirel
as the Martial Law Commander of the Provinces of Konya, Niğde, Kayseri, Nevşehir, Kırşehir and Yozgat,

Third Army Commander Full General Selahattin Demircioğlu
as the Martial Law Commander of the Provinces of Erzincan, Gümüşhane, Giresun, Trabzon, Rize, Ordu, Sivas, Tokat, Amasya, Çorum, Samsun and Sinop,

Aegean Army Commander Full General Süreyya Yüksel
as the Martial Law Commander of the Provinces of İzmir, Manisa, Aydın, Uşak, Denizli, Muğla, Isparta, Burdur and Antalya,

Navy Commander Vice Admiral Nejat Serim
as the Martial Law Commander of the Provinces of Kocaeli, Bursa, Bilecik, Sakarya, Bolu and Zonguldak,

Commander of Second Corps Lieutenant General Hüsnü Çelenkler
as the Martial Law Commander of the Provinces of Çanakkale and Balıkesir,

Commander of Fourth Corps Lieutenant General Recep Ergun
as the Martial Law Commander of the Provinces of Ankara, Çankırı and Kastamonu

Commander of Fifth Corps Lieutenant General Adnan Doğu
as the Martial Law Commander of the Provinces of Tekirdağ, Kırklareli and Edirne

Commander of Sixth Corps Lieutenant General Nevzat Bölügiray
as the Martial Law Commander of the Provinces of Adana, Mersin, Kahramanmaraş, Adıyaman, Gaziantep and Hatay,

Commander of Seventh Corps Lieutenant General Kemal Yamak
as the Martial Law Commander of the Provinces of Diyarbakır, Urfa, Mardin, Siirt, Hakkari and Van,

Commander of Eighth Corps Lieutenant General Sabri Deliç
as the Martial Law Commander of the Provinces of Elazığ, Malatya, Tunceli, Bingöl, Muş and Bitlis,

Commander of Ninth Corps Lieutenant General Salahattin Cambazoğlu
as the Martial Law Commander of the Provinces of Erzurum, Ağrı, Kars and Artvin,

and Commander of First Tactical Air Force Lieutenant General Tevfik Alpaslan was appointed as the Martial Law Commander of the Provinces of Eskişehir, Kütahya and Afyon.

With Communique No. 2, which was published in the Official Gazette dated September 12, 1980, it was declared that the Martial Law Commanderships were now authorized to ‘make all kinds of arrangements and take all measures they may deem necessary in order to establish the state authority in the country, and to provide order, security, peace, and the safety of life and property’. All citizens had to meticulously obey ‘the decisions and measures that had been or would be taken, and communiques to be further published’ by the Martial Law Commanderships.

With the Decision No. 7 of the National Security Council, it was decided that the martial law military courts, military prosecutor offices and legal advisories found under martial law commanderships before September 12, 1980 would continue to work with their present staff, now also covering the provinces stated in the Communique No. 2. The legal order was restricted through and though in line with the mentality and stated justifications of the 1980 Coup d’État.

NSC, with its Decision numbered 6, published in the Official Gazette numbered 17106 on September 15, 1980, decided that the National Security Council itself is the sole authority to establish and abolish martial law military courts and to appoint or, when necessary, remove from office the military judges and military prosecutors to these courts. The creation of a ‘law’ in accord with the mindset and structure of the September 12, 1980 Coup, and a ‘dependent judiciary’ that would apply this law was thus beginning.

Again published on the Official Gazette numbered 17106, on September 15, 1980, through the Decision numbered 7 of the NSC it was decided that in accordance with the provisions of the Martial Law Numbered 1402, in addition to the crimes within the jurisdiction of martial law military courts, all crimes committed against the Republic, against the presence, declarations, orders and decisions of the National Security Council, against the integrity, indivisibility and independence of the homeland and the nation, against national security, and towards the abolition of fundamental rights and freedoms would also be covered in the jurisdiction of martial law military courts.

Full General Kenan Evren, on the speech he delivered on September 12, 1980, as the President of the National Security Council, stated that all legal and administrative measures would be taken to provide that courts, which consist of persons experienced and talented in ensuring the rule of law and order, shall be able to make swift and right decisions and shall be entitled to carry out these decisions. This was immediately followed by quickened show trials and executions.

Thus, with the aforementioned decision of the NSC, those who have committed the crime of staging a coup d’état deemed themselves the authority to establish martial law courts, to appoint new judges and prosecutors, to abolish the previously established courts, in short, to ‘rewrite’ the legal mechanism altogether. This was an attempt to justify their own acts and moves, but at the same time it meant that they took on the political, military and legal responsibility of the grave violations of human rights.

With the Decision No. 1 of the National Security Council, the General Directorate of Security (Police Department) was put under the order of the General Commandership of Gendarmerie, and it was imposed as an obligation that all security staff who were under arms during military operations, be them soldiers or police, would not be detained while pending trial for criminal procedures. Thus, while the police and gendarmerie officers who participated in human rights violations were encouraged to use all kinds of illegal methods for interrogation, including torture. They were also protected by a tremendous shield of impunity. With the decree numbered 2337 enacted on November 7, 1980, the period of custody was increased to ninety days, with the possibility of indefinite extension of that ninety-day period in case there is new evidence found for the same crime.

With the Decision No. 7 of the NSC all political party and labor union activities were banned, party and union buildings and facilities were confiscated by the martial law and garrison commanderships; and with the Decision No. 3 of NSC again, all strikes and lockouts were prohibited. Martial law commanders were given the authority to censor written and visual broadcasts, and to terminate any public servant and worker, adding the condition that they ‘will not be taken into public service ever again’. Every opportunity to silence political opponents and democratic opposition through extrajudicial decisions and practices were created. For all those reasons explained above, the names of NSC members and martial law commanders are included in the list of those with political/military and legal responsibility.