The Ankara Bar Association held a commemoration meeting at the Cebeci Cemetery in the Turkish capital of Ankara on Monday for lawyer and scholar Prof. Muammer Aksoy who fell victim to an assassination, unsolved for 32 years.
Aksoy’s murder was the first link in a chain of similar assassinations targeting prominent journalists, academics and intellectuals known for their secular/Kemalist stance. In 1990, journalist Çetin Emeç, theologian Turan Dursun and political scientist Dr. Bahriye Üçok were killed one after another. Then, on 24 January, 1993, investigative journalist Uğur Mumcu was killed in Istanbul. These murders are thought to be linked and blamed on Islamist terrorism, but were never thoroughly investigated.
Major newspapers and television channels received phone calls from members of various Islamic terrorist groups, who claimed responsibility for each murder. The police investigation led to arrests made in different avenues, from the Muslim Brotherhood to Iranian secret service officials. In the end, two Islamist militants were sentenced to prison and the cases were closed.
But the families of the slain intellectuals believe that the assassinations were not properly investigated, and that in the wake of each murder, officials at the crime scene swept away the evidence to cloud the investigation.
In 1990, Ankara’s chief of police, where most of these murders were committed, was Mehmet Ağar, widely known as the head of the Turkish ‘deep state’. Ağar had said, “stop bothering me” to journalists who asked questions about Aksoy’s assassination. Later, as Minister of the Interior, he told Uğur Mumcu’s widow Güldal Mumcu, “If I pull one brick, the whole wall will fall”; a phrase that got as popular as Ağar himself.
The suspicion of Ağar’s involvement in these assassinations implies that the so-called ‘deep state’ also had a hand. Contemplations lead to the conclusion that Islamist assassins are likely to have been facilitated by the Turkish authorities to create a pretext for the secularist military intervention of 28 February 1997.
The 1990s are often referred to as the ‘dark decade’ of Turkey’s recent history. Alongside these ‘anti-secular assassinations’ were the extrajudicial executions of dozens of Kurdish businessmen, journalists and intellectuals, and a significant increase in drug trafficking.
President Turgut Özal and some high-ranking generals also died suspiciously in the 1990s. In all these dark activities, ‘deep state’ with ghost devices such as the notorious JİTEM (the Gendarmerie Intelligence and Anti-terror Department) and prominent names such as Mehmet Ağar often come up as prime suspects.