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Other sample article and book extract translations from Turkish to English

The following extracts are taken from books by the Turkish investigative journalist Soner Yalçın. I have chosen sections of his books that focus on key events in Turkish modern history.

Translated from Turkish by Tim Drayton

SONER YALÇIN IN A NUTSHELL Born 1966. Started his career in journalism with 2000'e Doğru magazine in 1987. Later news director with Siyah Beyaz newspaper and Show TV. Worked for a while as head of the editorial department with Sabah newspaper. Helped to prepare the programme 5N 1K on CNN Türk. Co-founded the news website odatv in 2007. Arrested in February 2011 along with other odatv journalists and charged with links to the Ergenekon organization. Released pending trial in December 2012. All defendants in the odatv trial were acquitted in 2017. Currently writes for Sözcü newspaper and the odatv website.


    EXTRACT ONE The night of 6-7 September 1955. Mobs destroy minority-owned property in Istanbul. Was this a spontaneous outburst, or was the event orchestrated?

    EXTRACT TWO 27 May 1960. Army officers stage a bloodless coup in Turkey. This extract shows how the government failed to respond to advance warnings of this coup.

    EXTRACT THREE 9 March 1971. The leaders of a group plotting to take power in Turkey pull the plug on this action at the last minute. This group of left-wing army officers, disillusioned with the course of events since the 1960 coup, had for years been planning a coup aimed as they saw it at restoring Ataturk’s program of radical reform. This extract shows how the intelligence service had been monitoring this group for years.

    EXTRACT FOUR 12 March 1971. Three days after the left-wing coup is aborted, the government is toppled in a coup with very different aims. This extract investigates a possible connection between this event and a refusal by the government to an American request to ban the cultivation of opium poppies.

    EXTRACT FIVE 14 October 1973. General elections are held, marking a return to civilian rule. These extracts describe the increasing political polarisation of this period that manifested itself in conflicts on campuses and in the streets.

    EXTRACT SIX 5 June 1977. As expected the Republican People's Party (CHP) wins the greatest number of seats in general elections. This extract shows how attempts were made to prevent the elections from taking place.

    EXTRACT SEVEN 9 October 1978. Increasing political polarisation in Turkey spills out into the streets in the form of armed clashes between the extreme left and right. The Bahçelievler massacre was probably the most gruesome event in this period. Fascist thugs commit the cold-blooded and premeditated murder of seven young members of the Turkish Labour Party, a party dedicated to the achievement of socialism by parliamentary means.

    EXTRACT EIGHT 14 January 1994. Kurdish businessman Behçet Cantürk leaves his office for home. The following day his body is found. This extract describes a number of similar abductions and murders of persons sympathetic to the Kurdish political cause of which there was a spate at this time. These incidents were all professionally executed and none of the perpetrators has ever been identified.


From: Bay Pipo (Mr. Pipe) by Soner Yalçın and Doğan Yurdakul, Doğan Kitap 1999. Pages 48-52. Translated from Turkish by Tim Drayton.

The events of 6-7 September

When he threw the bomb on 5 September 1955, little did twenty-one year old Oktay Engin, a west Thracian Turk who was studying Law at Thessaloniki University, suspect that one day he would be the governor of Nevşehir.

25 July 1955.

Greece, by requesting that the United Nations include the Cyprus question on its agenda, transported the problem on the island onto the international platform.

The London Conference was held on 29 August to discuss the Cyprus question. Turkey was represented by a delegation consisting of Minister of Foreign Affairs Fatin Rüştü Zorlu, Minister of National Defence Ethem Menderes and three generals, accompanied by diplomats.

No agreement was reached.

One week later on 5 September 1955 a bomb was thrown at Ataturk’s house in Thessaloniki! This bombing made headline news in a special edition of the Ekspres newspaper owned by DP (Democrat Party) deputy Mithat Perin: “Our national father’s house bombed”.19

There followed an explosion of anger!

It was as though the bomb had been thrown not at Ataturk’s house but at five hundred years of multiculturalism in Istanbul.

Streams of Turks poured into the city from the newly appearing shanty towns; within the space of a few hours they burnt to the ground and plundered the houses and workplaces such as Lebon, Markiz, Lion cake houses and Banco di Roma belonging to Greek, Armenian and Jewish citizens with whom they had lived together for thousands of years. The rage that swept through the quarters of Beyoğlu, Arnavutköy, Bebek, Beşiktas, İstinye and Yeniköy made it as far as the Islands.

The demonstrators kept chanting the slogan, “Cyprus is Turkish and will remain Turkish, Greeks are curs and will remain curs.”

The balance sheet of the events that took place on 6 and 7 September was frightful: in the attacks that left three people dead and thirty wounded, 73 churches, one factory, 8 holy springs and 2 monasteries – a total of 5 538 properties, 3 584 of which belonged to Greek citizens, were razed and burned to the ground.20

The government immediately announced its verdict: this event could only be a communist provocation!

Indeed, Prime Minister Adnan Menderes had also spoken of communist organisation from the podium of the National Assembly on 12 September.

And the police, responding to an order by martial law commander Nurettin Aknoz, went into action and detained leading left intellectuals using “communist organisation” as a justification.

Let us read what happened next from “dinosaur” Mina Urgan, “The order was immediately given to detain fifty communists. A section of the communist files at the First Division was taken from the shelves at random and piled on the desks. And who would win the lottery? Some of the winners were dead or had not set foot in Istanbul for years. Thus it only proved possible to detain forty-four people. As far as I can remember these included Aziz Nesin, Nihat Sargın, Professor Boratov’s siblings Dr Müeyyet and Dr Can, Kemal Tahir, Tornacı Emin, İlhan Berktay, Hasan İzettin Dinamo, Dede Ahmet, Dr Hulusi (Dosdoğru) and others. They were held in custody at Harbiye for months. So well did the police also know that these people had not the slightest connection with the events of 6-7 September that most of them were not subjected to routine interview let alone taken before a court.”21

It became apparent a few years later why left wingers had been detained: CIA chief Allen Dulles was in Istanbul at the time.

CIA chief Allen Dulles based on his impression of the events stated to MAH (National Security Service) chief Behçet Türkmen, “That the kind of damage he had seen in the events was of a nature conforming entirely to communist tactics.”22

In Greece investigations undertaken and a court ruling established the truth:

Hasan Uçar, an official at the Thessaloniki Consulate, and university student Oktay Engin, a member of the Turkish community in West Thrace, bombed Ataturk’s house!

Well, who organised these events that started simultaneously in fifty-two different places in Istanbul? Who days earlier had prepared a list of minority-owned houses and workplaces?

In those days the young officer Sabri Yirmibeşoğlu, who rose to the rank of full general in the Turkish armed forces and held the post of general secretary in the National Security Council, was assigned to the Special War Unit, the Mobilisation Study Council.

Years later, having retired from the rank of full general, he took journalist Fatih Güllapoğlu behind the scenes of the 6-7 September events:

    “- Then if we take the 6-7 September events,
    - Sorry, commander, I don’t quite understand. The events of 6-7 September?
    - Of course … 6-7 September was the work of Special War and was a splendid piece of organisation. It also achieved its aim. (I broke out in a cold sweat as the commander spoke these words.) I ask you. Was this not a splendid piece of organisation?
    - Oh, yes commander!”23

Over time and one by one, the organisers of 6-7 September came to light.

The Cyprus is Turkish Society that worked heated crowds into a hysteria of rage was controlled by the Menderes government. Indeed, the society’s general secretary Kamil Önal was an MAH member. Such was the extent of the protection afforded to the society that an intelligence officer who wished to gather evidence after the event was arrested! In a statement made by police inspector Cemal Sancak at Yassıada, he said MAH official Haydar Tansuğ who applied to the Martial Law Command for access to a Cyprus is Turkish Society document was arrested on suspicion of being a communist! In the second hearing of the proceedings dated 19 October 1960 of the trial relating to the 6-7 September events held at Yassıada, a National Security report bearing the signature of MAH chief Behçet Türkmen was read to the accused in which it was confirmed that they had organised the events. Adnan Menderes was asked to comment on the report and he said, “Too much importance should not be attached to National Security reports. The National Security inspector who drew up this report had until 7 September no knowledge of anything. But after the events were all over on 7 September he puts together any scraps of information he can get his hands on and writes this kind of report.”24

At the Yassıada trials it was concluded that the DP (Democrat Party) leaders and organisation, and not this society or communists, were to blame for the events. These proceedings against Celal Bayar and Adnan Menderes along with leading government members was joined with the main proceedings relating to violation of the constitution.25

It is an astonishing coincidence that colonel Cemal Akbay, head of the Mobilisation Study Council that organised the 6-7 September events, attended military academy together with Aziz Nesin, who was detained.

The reason for the provocation of 6-7 September was Cyprus!

The United Nations on 22 September declined the proposal to include the Cyprus question on its agenda. The USA announced that it did not support Greece.

In a speech to the National Assembly by Fuat Köprülü who had only recently taken over as Minister of Foreign Affairs, he railed against Greece with the words, “Cyprus is Turkish and will remain Turkish.”

Three Turkish officers trained in special war techniques after World War II: Mehmet Bozkurt, Remzi Kızılsu and Muzaffer Temizer went clandestinely to Cyprus and set up the Turkish Resistance Organisation.

The organisation’s code name was Grey Wolf!

The Turkish officers that went to the island in the guise of civilians by illegal means were Mobilisation Study Council members. They organised the Turkish Cypriots and trained them in counterguerilla war techniques just as they are described in the book American War Doctrines.

Bayraktar (Standard Bearer) and cell organisations consisting of sancaks (banners) attached to Bayraktar were created.

When the special war officers had completed their spell of duty training “warriors for the cause” they returned to Turkey and were replaced by a fresh special war contingent who again entered Cyprus under false names in civilian dress.

Greece was using similar methods to support EOKA.

Tension was rising day by day on the island.

It seemed that a single spark would suffice to bring chaos to Cyprus.


19 Mithat Perin, the man who broke this “news”, is an interesting individual. After 27 May 1960, towards the end of 1962 MAH chief Fuat Doğu received a letter from Kayseri prison. The sender was Mithat Perin. Perin, after he had first described at great length the various services he had rendered to the “service” (MAH) using language like, “I feel that more than anyone the service knows that I have not shirked from any public or secret activity in my 25-year career as a journalist”, came to the point. When he came out of prison he intended to stay in journalism. He would use his publications to create an anti-communist and anti-Kurdish front. He thus requested financial support, official announcements and easy credits for the İstanbul Ekspres newspaper and Havadis Matbaa (Printing House) (Güneş Matbaacılık AŞ) of which he was the owner! Military judge Doğan Tanyer, who at the time was National Security Law and Press Consultant published this letter nine year later in the Devrim magazine dated 19 January 1971.
20 Yılmaz Karakoyunlu, currently ANAP (Motherland Party) deputy, devotes a lot of space to the 6-7 September events in the final section of his novel entitled Güz Sancısı (Autumn Pain).
21 Mina Urgan, Bir Dinazorun Anıları (The Memories of a Dinosaur), Yapı Kredi Yayınları, 1998, p 281.
22 Tarih ve Toplum (History and Society) magazine, vol. 33, p 147.
23 Fatih Güllapoğlu, Tanksız, Topsuz Harekat (The Tankless, Mortarless Operation), Tekin Yayınevi, 1991, p 104. Sabri Yirmibeşoğlu, after he retired, wrote a book entitled Askeri ve Siyasi Anılarım (My Military and Political Recollections) (Kastaş Yayınları, 1999). Retired full general Yirmibeşoğlu makes no mention in his book of what he told journalist Güllapoğlu.
24 As recorded in the Yassıada transcripts reproduced in: Hulusi Dosdoğru, 6-7 Eylül Olayları (The 6-7 September Events), Bağlam Yayınları, 1993, p 124.
25 Ruling number 1960/3 dated 5.1.1961 of the Supreme Justice Court headed by Salim Başol


From: Bay Pipo (Mr. Pipe) by Soner Yalçın and Doğan Yurdakul, Doğan Kitap 1999. Pages 92-96. Translated from Turkish by Tim Drayton.

Zeki Müren’s commander

As they were being “arrested” by soldiers, neither President Celal Bayar in the Cankaya residence nor Prime Minister Adnan Menderes in Eskişehir, where he had gone to address the people, recalled an event from two years earlier.

What about the Minister of Interior Affairs Namık Gedik who committed suicide by jumping from a window of the Land Forces Miltary Academy when he realised that he was about to be arrested. Did he remember the comings and goings of two years earlier?

Two years before 27 May 1960.

Zeki Müren, who was performing his military service as a reserve officer at the Istanbul Army Representation Office, could not figure out why his commander Major Samet Kuşçu’s nerves were on edge that morning.

Every morning without fail, Zeki Müren’s commander enquired after the classical music star’s health, but today he didn’t even look him in the face.

Commander Kuşçu, speaker of several languages, had stood out at the Army Academy with his industriousness and intelligence and had quickly risen to the ranks of staff officer and served in NATO, but nobody could make sense of his state that morning.

Major Kuşçu’s eyes were fixed on his hand as he lifted the receiver; never mind his hand, it was no exaggeration to say his whole body was trembling like a leaf. But he had made up his mind and dialled the number.

He was calling the journalist Mithat Perin, whom he had got to know when the latter was on his military service at the Army Representation Office.

He came straight to the point and said what he had to say, “Some officers are preparing a Nasser-style insurrection like they did in Egypt. They are headed by Lieutenant Colonel Faruk Güventürk. Put me in touch with Prime Minister Menderes urgently!”

Mithat Perin was the owner of the İstanbul Ekspres newspaper and at the same time a DP (Democrat Party) deputy.

Perin was unable to get hold of the Prime Minister, but met with Minister of Internal Affairs Namık Gedik at the Park Hotel where in one breath he relayed what he had heard from Major Kuşçu. Menderes was informed of this event.

Prime Minister Menderes said to Minister of Internal Affairs Namık Gedik, “Summon Minister of National Defence Şemi Ergin to Istanbul. Let’s meet at the Istanbul Provincial Governor’s premises and take stock of the situation.”

What a coincidence! (Should it be called an unfortunate coincidence?)

The very lieutenant colonel of whom major Kuşçu had spoken when he said, “They are headed by Lieutenant Colonel Faruk Güventürk” was at just that moment in Ankara making a proposal to Minister of National Defence Şemi Ergin that he “take over as leader of the insurrection”.22

This interview was cut off in midstream by Minister of Internal Affairs Gedik’s call from Istanbul.

Minister Şemi Ergin flew to Istanbul in a military plane and took part in the meeting. He was pretty worried when he saw the name of Lieutenant Colonel Faruk Güventürk among the names of those plotting the coup. But he didn’t give himself away.

He opposed Minister of Internal Affairs Gedik’s suggestion that they “immediately arrest these officers” by countering, “Do you have any evidence?”

They started to look for evidence.

When actually the strongest evidence was known to Minister of National Defence Şemi Ergin sitting to the right of Menderes and his assistant Muzaffer Ersu positioned behind him.23

After a short discussion they came up with a way to gather evidence. Major Kuşçu would invite a pro-coup officer to his house and the conversation would be recorded.

Colonel İlhami Barut, who was serving as chief of staff of the Istanbul corps and had been invited to Samet Kuşçu’s house, was initially puzzled as to why the major was shouting as they chatted. But when he saw the outlines of the object on the balcony, he understood. He had to choose his words carefully.

Listening to the 45-minute tape, Minister of Internal Affairs Gedik bit his lips with fury. “What a disgrace”, he shouted. According to the evidence tape there was no insurrection or anything like it.

Major Kuşçu, terrified by the minister’s rage, jumped out of the window and fled.

A few hours later.

Istanbul Public Security Director Hayrettin Nakipoğlu’s phone rang. The caller was the CIA Istanbul station chief serving at the US Consulate:

“We’ve got a Turkish officer here asking for asylum. He says there’s going to be an insurrection in Turkey; he’s giving us details. Could you please come and collect him?’

Major Kuşçu, unable to convince the Turkish government, went in search of respite with the Americans.

Nakipoğlu interrogated Kuşçu and then handed him over to MAH (National Security Service). They also interrogated him. The statement they obtained once again first went to Minister of Internal Affairs Namık Gedik. Gedik was by now sick of the major. But he still did his duty by forwarding his statements to Prime Minister Adnan Menderes and President Celal Bayar.

Three days later.

Staff Officer İlhami Barut, Staff Officer Naci Aşkun, Artillery Lieutenant Colonel Faruk Güventürk, Infantry Major Ata Tan, Infantry Captain Hasan Sabuncu, Infantry Major Ahmet Dalkılıç, Infantry Captain Kazim Özfırat and retired Staff Officer Cemal Yıldırım were arrested on suspicion of plotting an insurrection.

They were brought before a judge on 16 January 1958. The military bench was headed by Major General Cemal Tural, who was later to become chief of the general staff. Those behind the insurrection had applied to Tural when seeking a leader. Tural had said to Colonel Kenan Esengin when the latter came to speak to him, “I believe in this cause. But I cannot be the organiser of a group of men who I scarcely know.”24 In other words the court trying the plotters was headed by the general they had proposed lead them!

The eight officers were released on 5 April. The only person to be punished was the informer, Major Samet Kuşçu. He got two years for inciting the army to mutiny.

Years later Celal Bayar was to recount those hot days to journalist Cüneyt Arcayürek thus, “Neither the court nor higher authorities attached the required degree of importance to the event, they were acquitted. I summoned the government to discuss this matter. I warned them. I spoke to Adnan Menderes; I also summoned the cabinet and spoke to them. At a cabinet meeting where Adnan Menderes was present I warned them and invited them to act more seriously. They said, ‘We can’t really see such officers emerging from the Turkish army.” One of those who did not take things seriously was Minister of National Defence Şemi Ergin. Şemi Ergin had met with Faruk Güventürk and had been offered the leadership of the insurrection; I had no knowledge of this at that time. But later I was informed that they had offered the leadership to him. If the affair of the nine officers had been analysed properly, then 27 May would absolutely not have happened. Apart from this event I was not supplied with any information about the internal situation within the army.”25

Just like MAH, Second Lieutenant Zeki Müren remained in ignorance of all these events and was singing Bir Ihtimal Daha Var (There is one more possibility) to his comrades in the barracks.

Had MAH heard the footsteps of the insurrection?


22 At that time in the army there were a number of insurrection groups unrelated to one another. One of these groups was headed by Talat Aydemir, who was executed in 1964 for yet again plotting an insurrection, and Dündar Seyhan. From this group, Major Sadi Koçaş set out to find a high-ranking “big noise” for the junta. He went to consult his close friend Major Cihat Akyol, who was serving in National Security. Major Akyol advised Koçaş that apart from them there was another group and Şemi Ergin would be offered leadership, and not to trust Samet Kuşçu (Sadi Koçaş From Ataturk to 12 March, vol. 1, p 354). Koçaş and Akyol avoided arrest in connection with the “nine officers affair”. In later years one of them would become deputy prime minister and the other head of the Special War Unit.
23 Insurrectionist Muzaffer Ersü lost his life in the plane crash which Menderes survived.
24 Sadi Koçaş From Ataturk to 12 March, vol. 1, p 349.
25 In the lead up to 27 May a number of separate groups had started to form in the Turkish armed forces. One of these was the Belgium Club; a number of officers holding the ranks of first lieutenant, captain and major created an “illegal” association among themselves with the aim of supporting one another within the army and in the future reaching leading positions. They called themselves the Belgium Club. They adopted this name because NATO headquarters were in Belgium. Belgium Club members were over time to rise to army and force commander positions and even chief of the general staff.


From: Bay Pipo (Mr. Pipe) by Soner Yalçın and Doğan Yurdakul, Doğan Kitap 1999. Pages 152-156. Translated from Turkish by Tim Drayton.

The Balloon Operation

What was this “balloon operation”?

To cut a long story short, it was a file that MİT (the National Intelligence Organisation) prepared by infiltrating the junta within the Turkish Armed Forces known as the “9 March Group” and recording their meetings.

Well, what did the “9 March Junta”, that MİT deemed worthy of surveillance, want? “The revolution of national salvation started by Ataturk has been derailed and left half finished. The revolution that will take place in Turkey will complete Ataturk’s half-finished revolutions.”

MİT’s intelligence covering “junta events and developments” over a lengthy period from 1967 to 1971 was filed and presented to the relevant authorities.65

The information in the “balloon file” was obtained from Mahir Kaynak, an Economics Faculty assistant with the code name “Faculty Member” used by MİT to infiltrate the 9 March Group. The duty of supervising the file was given to Mikdat Alpay, then a young staff member (currently MİT Deputy Undersecretary of State). MİT agent Mahir Kaynak describes in his own words how he infiltrated the 9 March Group, “Cemal Madanoğlu’s cousin Hıfzı Kaçar, a frequenter of the Turkish Revolutionary Hearths wanted to introduce me to Cemal Madanoğlu, one of the famous commanders of 9 March. I accepted. I was at the time vice president of the Turkish Revolutionary Hearths. When I came face to face with Madanoğlu, he invited me to join the junta. And I accepted.

With a tape recorder on my stomach and a microphone on my back, I recorded their conversations. The meetings were generally at Madanoğlu’s house. Or sometimes at İlhan Selçuk’s. It was 1966 or thereabouts. Madanoğlu introduced me to everyone; nobody suspected me because Madanoğlu had vouched for me.

I think the best part of it all was that people like Hiram Abas from Counterintelligence did not know that I was agent in the early years. They thought I was one of the junta and even placed me under surveillance!”

But there was an intrigue within the intrigue.

This information that MİT supplied to President Sunay, Prime Minister Demirel and Chief of the General Staff Tağmaç also went along the chain of command to Air Force Commander and 9 March supporter Muhsin Batur.

Muhsin Batur achieved fame as the Thompson-toting officer who brought Adnan Menderes from Eskişehir to Ankara when his picture appeared in that day’s newspapers. He was known as a “left winger” in the army.66

Thus the 9 March generals who were under MİT surveillance knew that they were under surveillance; they had immediate access to the information that was being sent to the top about them!

Mahir Kaynak comments as follows on this secret intelligence war, “All of this was really a very odd game. I passed the information on to MİT. MİT produced files based on the information and presented them to the NSC (National Security Council). I think it was Musin Batur who was leaking information from the NSC to the junta.”

It was known that President Sunay liked Muhsin Batur and was protecting him. When Batur was a lieutenant-general in 1968 he sent a long letter of complaint to Sunay criticising Air Force Commander İrfan Tansel. Later Sunay included Batur as a military consultant in the delegation on an official visit to the USA. MİT Undersecretary of State Fuat Doğu gave the “Balloon Operation” file to Sunay before presenting it to the NSC, and of course it went from there to Batur.

On the day that the MİT report was made known to the NSC members, Muhsin Batur had long since read the Balloon Operation file and even prepared his reply.

The date was 20 January 1970.

The place was the Marmara Pavilion, or the building in the Ankara Ataturk Forest Farm assigned to MİT.

The participants: President Cevdet Sunay, Prime Minister Süleyman Demirel and the military and civilian NSC members (with the exception of Chief of the General Staff Memduh Tağmaç who was sick on that day).

President Sunay opened the meeting.

MİT Undersecretary of State Lieutenant-General Fuat Doğu and his team made lengthy presentations about the Balloon Operation concerning juntas inside the army.

When Sunay asked if there were any other comments, one of the accused, Air Force Commander Muhsin Batur, spoke.

After giving examples from the past of his commitment to democracy and reading the announcement67 that he had had distributed from the air over Ankara on 21 May at the time of Talat Aydemir’s attempted insurrection, he continued as follows:

“I am not totally unfamiliar with the Balloon Project affair of which the MİT chief has spoken. Certain persons like Orhan Kabibay, Ekrem Acuner and Mucip Ataklı68 tried to make contact with me one and a half or two years ago. I rejected these advances on the grounds that the time was not ripe for an insurrection and there was no compelling reason; it would leave Turkey without support abroad; it would create an economic disaster and sooner or later there would be a return to a democratic regime”.

This was unbelievable! Muhsin Batur was one by one reeling off to the president, prime minister and MİT undersecretary of state the names of his colleagues who had approached him in confidence to ask his opinion about an insurrection!

Then what happened? Ekrem Acuner, who had taken Batur into his confidence, had his immunity lifted on 20 July 1970. The reason: plotting an insurrection! Acuner said at a press conference held on 23 July 1970, “I realised that I was the victim of a plot directed at my person by MİT.”

Anyway, let’s return to the meeting.

A second version of events.

According to journalist Cüneyt Arcayürek, directly quoting Demirel on the Balloon Operation affair, when Fuat Doğu stated that the junta had “connections with the top brass of the army”, Muhsin Batur countered, ”Who are you referring to?” and Fuat Doğu said, “You”.

After this blunt reply to a blunt question, Muhsin Batur spoke of events in the past that testified to his democratic credentials. He read a short announcement containing his views on democracy that he had distributed from the air at the time of the 22 February attempted coup. Batur in his memoirs also has the following to say about Fuat Doğu, “At that time I didn’t like some of Fuat Doğu’s attitudes, we were on the defensive with each other. Years later when he was the ambassador in Lisbon we met and for seven days discussed the events of the past. Contrary to the way things were reported by the press and the impression that he left on me at that time, I realised that he had done the right thing and I congratulated him.”69

Later at the National Security Council meeting held on 24 April 1970, MİT Undersecretary of State Fuat Doğu took the floor and raised the same issue; he added the name of Land Forces Commander Faruk Gürler to those accused in the report along with Air Force Commander Batur, but the tone of the accusations had been softened, “The number of insurrection supporters has grown especially in Ankara. Retired General Madanoğlu, Doğan Avcıoğlu and Osman Köksal are involved; National Unionist Ekrem Acuner is linked with serving and retired officers as the “Revolutionary Kemalism Group”. Hıfzı Kaçar has approached Full General Gürler and Full General Batur with a view to their leading the insurrection, this request was rejected.70

The 9 March Group had overcome a major danger but MİT continued to monitor the junta”s meetings.

MİT listened in on the civilian section meetings of the 9 March group known to the public as the “Madanoğlu Junta” from 19 March 1967 to 8 April 1971. The agent Mahir Kaynak used to infiltrate the junta circles recorded over a period of four years a total of 61 secret meetings some of which were held in Ankara and some in Istanbul.

After 12 March, Madanoğlu and his associates were prosecuted based on these recordings.

The main reason that this bugging went on undetected for four years, which probably rates as a world record for intelligence gathering, was the high degree of trust felt by the insurrectionists and particularly Retired General Cemal Madanoğlu towards Mahir Kaynak.

So sure was Mahir Kaynak of this trust that he held the 24 October 1969 meeting in his mother’s house! In fact, in response to an increase in the number of reports that the meetings were being bugged, the participants at the 24 September 1970 meeting had to take off their jackets and submit to a search, but Madanoğlu got Mahir Kaynak to perform this search on everybody!71

Thanks to this trust Mahir Kaynak avoided being caught with a bugging device on his stomach and a microphone on his back.

Madanoğlu suspected that there might be a spy in their midst. In the words of Mahir Kaynak, “Actually the junta knew that I had infiltrated them right from the first day. They didn’t know it was me but they knew there was a spy in their midst. One day the Soviet press attaché visited Doğan Avcıoğlu. While they were talking he took a piece of paper from his pocket and – to avoid being heard – wrote on it, ‘There is a spy among you, he is passing information about you to intelligence.’ They expelled a general named Hayri Yalçıner from the junta, about whom they already had suspicions of this nature.”


65 MİT, because this was necessary (!), created an additional seventh internal department in 1971 named the Electronic and Technical Intelligence Department.
66 Muhsin Batur in fact became a nominated senator after he retired and joined the CHP (Republican People’s Party). He later became an SHP (Social Democratic Popular Party) member. But faced with accusations within the party of involvement in a coup, he was forced to resign. He died in 1999.
67 “We the members of the air force, believing that no group or force be they small or large has the right to overthrow the legitimate order unless the conviction forms in the conscience of the majority of the people that our Constitution, approved by the Turkish people, has been violated by parliament and the government, resolve to take up arms against those undertaking such acts, even if they have the same blood and uniforms as ourselves. We implore you one last time to place the future of the Turkish people above your persons and desires and abandon your intentions and avoid the spilling of fraternal blood. 1st Air Force Command.” And for the full text of the Marmara Pavilion speech refer to: Muhsin Batur, Anılar ve Görüşler (Memories and Views), Milliyet Yayınlar, July 1985, pp 148-172.
68 The 27 May group of officers, members of the National Union Committee.
69 Muhsin Batur, op. cit. pp 200-201.
70 According to Batur, MİT also gave the names of these serving and retired officers. And, no approach was made in the way Fuat Doğu described. Muhsin Batur,op. cit., p 181.
71 The indictment dated 9.1.1973 of the Istanbul Martial Law Command Military Public Prosecutor (The Madanoğlu Junta Trial indictment).


From: Bay Pipo (Mr. Pipe) by Soner Yalçın and Doğan Yurdakul, Doğan Kitap 1999. Pages 173-176. Translated from Turkish by Tim Drayton.

Kutlu Savaş’s Poppy Report

Speaking of 12 March and the USA, one of the first issues that comes to mind is the “poppy dispute” between Turkey and the USA that lasted for years.

The US administration was spurred into action on the grounds that, “American youth is being poisoned by drugs” and insisted on pinning most of the blame on countries where poppies were cultivated. Turkey was one of the main culprits and the USA for many years pressured Turkey into banning the cultivation of opium poppies.

Adnan Menderes was asked to do this in 1950, he refused.
İnönü was asked to do this in 1965, he refused.
Demirel was asked to do this in 1965, he refused.
Demirel was once more asked to do this in 1970, he refused.

After 12 March, the junta-sponsored Erim government was asked to do this. They agreed.

On 29 July 1971 the Erim government agreed to ban the cultivation of poppies as of 1972.6

“Iran in 1969 once again permitted the cultivation of poppies in its territory. Interestingly enough this time the cultivation of poppies was banned in Turkey. Turkey was deprived of an important source of foreign exchange. It was the world’s third largest opium producer. This was bringing in millions of dollars. 90,000 families were earning their living from the cultivation of poppies.”7

There is an interesting story behind the final refusal to bow to pressure to ban the cultivation of poppies:

Nevzat Yalçıntas, one of the directors of the State Planning Organisation (SPO), summoned one of his young experts. He said, “Look into all sides of this poppy question, will you? Should poppy cultivation really be banned?”

The young expert put in eight months of research and got his “Poppy Report” ready for presentation.

The secret report went before SPO Undersecretary Turgut Özal. In short, the report said, “The cultivation of poppies definitely should not be banned; this would not be in the national interest. However, all possible measures should be taken to combat smuggling.”

Özal liked the report and forwarded it to the president, prime minister and the general secretariat of the National Security Council.

The name of the young man who wrote the report was Kutlu Savaş.8

Influenced by the report, the Justice Party (AP) refused the American request to stop poppy cultivation.

Former Minister of Foreign Affairs İhsan Sabri Çağlayangil establishes the following link between poppies and 12 March:

“I was Minister of Foreign Affairs. The American ambassador approached me. He said, ‘Tell Mr Demirel. Stop cultivating poppies and we will compensate you for them, regardless of where they are grown or in what quantity.’ I said, ‘OK, I’ll tell him.’ I told Mr Demirel. This was how he replied:

’Poppies are cultivated in 27 of our provinces. We have a province that takes its name from the word for “opium”. We can’t do it. But we can gradually reduce the area under cultivation.’ I went and told this to the American ambassador. He said to me, ’Can you arrange for me to meet your prime minister one time and discuss this matter?’. I said, ’OK, I’ll tell him.’ I went to Demirel and told him once more. Demirel agreed. Mr Demirel gave the same answer. Following this meeting, the ambassador said, ’It’s a great pity. The consequences of this will be disastrous’. It became apparent what these disastrous consequences were. Three months later our government was toppled.”9

Another issue that comes to mind with the mention of 12 March and the USA was the visit by air force commander Full General Muhsin Batur to the USA before the 12 March coup.10

The official reason for this visit was the awarding of the Legion of Merit to Batur by Chief of Staff of the US Air Force General Ryan. But at the ceremony General Ryan did not refrain from trying to find out from Batur “when the coup would take place”.

The fact that Full General Muhsin Batur broke with tradition and did not take any assistants from his headquarters with him, but went alone, was greeted with suspicion by his friends.

When Batur returned from the USA, a meeting was held at Staff-Officer Kemal Tunusluoğlu’s house in Tandoğan Square. Celil Gürkan and the others asked how his networking in the USA had gone. Batur replied as follows:

“When I came face to face with General Ryan at a cocktail party given in my honour, he asked a number of questions about events in Turkey and appeared to be testing the wind when he asked, ’Don’t you soldiers think it is nigh time to intervene?’ I gave him a non-committal reply”.

The US administration were not the only ones to know about 12 March. The Iranian Shah Pehlevi also knew about the military coup.

Çağlayangil responded to an urgent call from the Shah summoning him to Iran. The Shah said, “In a few months time the army will carry out a coup in Turkey.” Çağlayangil was puzzled as to why the Shah had summoned him to Tehran to inform him of a matter concerning Turkey’s internal affairs. But the Shah had more on his mind that just warning the Turkish government. He feared for his own life, “Problems plague me from all directions. The Russians are not trustworthy. In the east on the border with Pakistan are the Pathan. There are the Kurds in Northern Iran. We are a multinational state. My father was a simple man but he told me always to stay on good terms with the Turks. For as long as you have a stable regime there will be no problems for me on the Turkish border.”

The Shah did not reveal the source of his intelligence. But Çağlayangil guesses that the information may have come from SAVAK.

If SAVAK knew could Mossad not have known?

Richard Helms, at the time head of the CIA, called in on Ankara on his way back from a meeting he had held with the Israeli intelligence organisation.

“One week, or a week or two, before 12 March, CIA head Helms paid a short, unannounced visit to Ankara on his way back home from Tel Aviv, or in other words passed through Ankara. According to what we learned later, he presented the parties that he visited with a list, spoke of officers who should immediately be expelled from the army; however referring to the public controversy that such an expulsion operation would cause, he stressed that commanders whose names appeared on the list but who held high-ranking positions should for the time being remain in their posts.”12


6 This ban that caused a public outcry was partially lifted by the CHP-MSP coalition that was formed after the 1973 elections.
7 Soner Yalçın, Beco, Behçet Cantürk’un Anıları (Beco, Behçet Cantürk’s Memoirs), Su Yayınevi, 5th edition, March 1999.
8 Turkey was to hear the name Kutlu Savaş in the 1st MİT Report, 2nd MİT Report and the Susurluk investigations. In 1986 his name was even put forward as MİT Undersecretary, but he went on to head the Radio and Television Supreme Board.
9 İhsan Sabri Çağlayangil, Anılarım (My memoirs), Yılmaz Yayınları, 1990, p63.
10 It so happened that before the military coup of 12 September 1980, the air force commander at the time Full General Tahsin Şahinkaya also visited the USA.
11 Celil Gürkan, 12 Mart’a Beş Kala (Five Minutes to 12 March), Tekin Yayınevi, 1986. This event, denied by Musin Batur, has remained a point of contention between Gürkan and Batur. Batur also disputes the place where the meeting was held. With the passing of time Gürkan cannot recall exactly if the apartment in Yuvam Apartmanı belonged to Tunusluoğlu or not. Tunusluoğlu is unfortunately no longer alive. But a happy coincidence assists us in supporting Gurkan’s account: one of the writers of this book, Doğan Yurdakul’s father-in-law and mother-in-law were neighbours of officer Tunusluoğlu. Talat Özışık, owner of apartment number 17 on the sixth floor of Maltepe Yuvam Apartmanı, and his family were both neighbours and close friends of Kemal Tunusluoğlu, owner of apartment number 18, and his family. Their children were friends. Fashion designer Zeynep Tunusluoğlu, Kemal Tunusluoğlu’s daughter, was the wife of composer Uzay Heparı, who died in a motorbike accident.
12 Celil Gürkan, op. cit., p207.


From: Reis: Gladio’nun Türk Tetikçisi (Chief: Gladio’s Turkish Gunman) by Soner Yalçın and Doğan Yurdakul, Su Yayınları 1997. Pages 44-45 and 47-48. Translated from Turkish by Tim Drayton.

From Military to Civilian Rule

Final efforts by the 12 March junta to pressurise parliament into accepting Chief of Staff Faruk Gürler as president were overcome when the two big parties reached an understanding. Demirel and Ecevit came to an agreement and Fahri Korutürk was elected president.

General elections were held on 14 October 1973. The Republican People’s Party (CHP) for the first time in its history overtook the Justice Party (AP) to gain 186 seats. Ecevit’s promises on the hustings that, “Torturers and the counter-guerrilla operation will be brought to account” played a major role in this result.

The Justice Party (AP) won 149 seats, the National Salvation Party (MSP) 49, the Democrat Party (DP) 45, the Republican Reliance Party (CGP) 13, the Nationalist Action Party (MHP) 3 and the Peace Party (BP) 1.

The MHP with its 3.3 per cent of the votes sent 3 deputies to a parliament consisting of 450 deputies. Their electoral ambitions had been dashed. They took 3.0 per cent of the vote in the 1969 elections. Their vote had risen by only 0.3 per cent in the intervening four years.

The MHP wanted to be included in the government so that they could place their people within the echelons of the state. But their wish was not realised. A CHP-MSP coalition was formed.

Not being a government partner, the MHP was able to exploit the invasion of Cyprus that took place in 1974. The wave of nationalism that spread through Turkey gradually helped to swell the MHP’s base of support.

Indeed it was not long before they began to infiltrate the state mechanism. The CHP-MHP government collapsed owing to disagreements that broke out following the Cyprus operation.

On 31 March 1975, the AP-MSP-MHP-CGP came together to form a coalition government. The MHP for the first time began to place its people in key positions within the state.

Alpaslan Türkeş was made deputy prime minister. His area of responsibility was the National Intelligence Organisation (MİT). In a short space of time he began to control several MİT departments.

Following the 12 March coup, nationalists began in 1974 to kill left-wingers just as they had done four years earlier.

On 10 July 1974 left-wing İzmit Petkim worker Ümit Tok was shot. More killings of left-wingers followed: first, worker Mehmet Filiz, then student Şahin Aydın and worker Hüseyin Örek.

It was as if someone had once again pressed the button. The nationalists were once more striving to spread political violence. Left-right polarisation became sharper. In 1975 a total of nine people were killed, eight of them left-wingers.

Until those years the use of firearms in such incidents was rare. Dynamite and bombs were unknown.

However, the era of the chain, iron bar and knuckleduster was coming to an end.

Their place was being taken by pistols, automatic weapons and bombs.

These weapons were reputedly coming from Cyprus. Booty taken from Greek Cypriots was ending up on the waists of nationalists.

Who was bringing these weapons and giving them to the nationalists?

The main threat and consequently the main enemy was communism. And the nationalists were the state’s paramilitary force in this war.

Strike teams and bombing teams began to be formed.

In those years the commando camps also came back to life. In the camp set up between Kızılcahamam and Bolu, nationalist youth was trained by Mustafa Sami Başaran, himself a product of the Muğla commando camp of the late sixties, in using arms, dismantling and assembling arms, bomb-making and mountaineering.

Tiny children were thus trained and sent to large cities, where some of them like nationalist İskender Karyağdı were blown to pieces while manufacturing bombs. But another nationalist youth immediately sprung up to take the place of the one who had died.


Çatlı Rises within the Ranks of the Nationalist Movement

The political atmosphere in Ankara was becoming more and more tense.

Parallel to this, the name of Abdullah Çatlı became more and more well known.

When he arrived in Ankara, the nationalist movement was in tatters. There were a number of isolated groups. Each group had its leader: Mehmet Ekici, Mustafa Mit, Muhsin Yazıcıoğlu, Şevkat Çetin, Alpaslan Gümüş, Talip Gün …

Everyone was playing at being leader. The result was competition between the groups.

Çatlı was in Muhsin Yazıcıoğlu’s group.

Over time he rose to lead the nationalists, making the other groups redundant.

Çatlı was elected school president in his first year at university. He rapidly rose through the ranks of the nationalist movement.

In the words of Esat Bütün: “We did things commando style in the seventies. To break out of this commando style we took to wearing suits. In particular those in leadership positions without fail wore suits.”

Abdullah Çatlı had since his youth been known as a sharp dresser. He mostly wore suits. He wanted his friends to dress like him. He often warned his friends, “If a fight broke out now, the police would immediately arrest people like you wearing parkas and boots. If you dress like me, the police won’t suspect you.”

The number of incidents at universities was rocketing.

The nationalists one day occupied Hacettepe University, the next the Men’s Technical Higher Teachers School. Hundreds of students attacked one another with stones and sticks. This heightened tension was not confined to the universities. Residents of the nationalist-controlled Yıldırım Beyazıt Students’ Residence attacked Altindağ High school. The same thing happened in Abidinpaşa district. Left-wing student Ata Yıldırım lost his life at an early age.

Ankara Political Sciences Faculty student Hakan Yurdakuler, son of one of the famous officers of the 27 May 1960 military operation Muzaffer Yurdakuler and, like his father, a left-winger, was shot dead with a pistol.

MHP leader Türkeş said in those days when Yurdakuler, with whom he had acted together fifteen years earlier, lost his son, “The nationalists are assisting the state forces.”

The capital Ankara mirrored the rest of Turkey.

Left-wing student Fevzi Aslansoy was shot on 18 May, as was Ensari Bingöl on 30 May while removing an MHP slogan from the wall of his house.

In December a minibus came under crossfire at the Ankara Agricultural Faculty and Aynur Sertbudak died.

Nationalists were also losing their lives in conflicts.

Sometimes Abdullah Çatlı spoke at the funerals of nationalists in Ankara. In that period he also lost close university friends like Mehmet Albay and Ercüment Yahnici.

Who was shooting whom, and why? How were incidents starting, who was starting them? They had lost all rhyme and reason. Turkey was being dragged towards chaos.


From: Reis: Gladio’nun Türk Tetikçisi (Chief: Gladio’s Turkish Gunman) by Soner Yalçın and Doğan Yurdakul, Su Yayınları 1997. Pages 55-57. Translated from Turkish by Tim Drayton.

The Ersun Coup

Turkey was rapidly heading towards an election against this background of chaos.

The Republican People’s Party (CHP) were the favourites in the 5 June 1977 elections.

The prospect of a strong CHP government scared a number of groups, especially the MHP.

These interest groups put in place plans to prevent the elections from taking place.

1 May 1977: As a result of a provocation at what was until that time Turkey’s largest ever mass demonstration held to mark workers’ day in Istanbul’s Taksim Square, the first brutal slaughter was witnessed. Thirty-four people lost their lives.

29 May 1977: Five people were killed when suitcase bombs exploded at Sirkeci Railway Station and Yeşilköy Airport.

On the same day, 29 May 1977: An attempt was made to assassinate CHP leader Bülent Ecevit at Izmir Çiğli Airport. CHP official Mehmet İsvan escaped the assassination attempt with a wounded leg.

CHP leader Ecevit was warned by Prime Minister Demirel in advance of a mass rally that was to be held in Istanbul on 3 June, “Don’t hold the rally. They are going to attempt to assassinate you.”18

With fifty-nine people having lost their lives in the three months preceding the decision to hold early elections in April, one hundred and thirty-three people were killed between the date on which the early election decision was taken and the date of the elections.

Eighty-nine of these were left-wingers, seventeen were right-wingers.

Who was behind this provocation that was causing the deaths of scores of our people?

Coincidence: The CIA’s new chief Admiral Stansfield Turner visited Turkey in February 1977.

Coincidence: Nationalist Action Party (MHP) leader Türkeş’s daughter’s father-in-law Şahap Homriş was the National Intelligence Organisation (MİT) Legal Section chief.

Coincidence: Türkeş’s son-in-law Lieutenant Davut Homriş was in those days attached to the Special War Office.

Were the Homriş father and son in any way connected with these incidents?

This is unknown.

The leaders of the junta are known.

Some of the perpetrators were revealed on 1 June 1977.

Three months before the Supreme Military Council, land forces commander Full General Namık Kemal Ersun, known to be an MHP supporter, was sent into retirement! Full General Ersun was sent into retirement without waiting for the Supreme Military Council to be held three months later! Chief of Staff Semih Sancar said, “The Turkish armed forces will show absolutely no tolerance towards those pursuing adventure.”

Eight hundred and fifty officers from Full General Ersun’s team were expelled from the army, notable examples being Recai Ergin and Musa Öğün.

Although Full General Ersun was reappointed land forces commander by the Supreme Military Council, the General Staff did not let him take up this post.

Son-in-law Homriş was obliged to leave the Special War Office at that time. Beginning with Şahap Homriş, the MHP team within MİT also began to be liquidated.19

In spite of all the provocations, the elections were held on 5 June 1977.

The CHP was the first party with 41.4 per cent of the vote.

The MHP’s hopes were dashed: they were only able to get 6.4 per cent of the vote.

Alpaslan Türkeş was unable to realise his hopes either through a coup or through the ballot box.

He now began to realise that neither elections nor a junta would bring them to power.

The minority government formed by Ecevit, who lacked a parliamentary majority, was unable to gain a vote of confidence.

The second National Front was formed. Türkeş once again held the position of deputy prime minister in the second National Front Government formed on 21 July 1977. However, the National Front Government was short lived and was brought down with the support of fourteen independent deputies in a motion for interpellation tabled on 29 December 1977. A CHP – Independent Government was formed. From this date onwards, Turkey soon found itself rocked by mass protests.

Türkeş, seeing the MHP expelled from government, adopted more radical measures and initiated a strategy aimed at immediately wresting the state from the hands of the CHP. Rivers of blood started to flow.

Bloodcurdling murders were committed. For example, in Ankara the engineer Salih Kandemir, a graduate of Middle East Technical University, was kidnapped by nationalists at Ankara bus station. He was interrogated under torture. Then he was strangled to death. Afterwards his throat was cut to make sure he was dead. The left-wing engineer Kandemir’s body was found on 21 December 1977.

From now on, “front organisation” names were also heard in connection with murders.

One of the nationalist leaders of the time, Esat Bütün, today has the following to say about these organisations: “We used names like ETKO, TİT, TÜŞKO out of a complex against the left. You know, they had TİKKO, THKO and so on…”

18 It was believed that Demirel learned of the assassination from MİT. It later became apparent that this was not the case. Dr Kannapin, an important figure in the German Intelligence Organisation (BND) with close relations to the MHP, whose identity will be discussed in detail in later sections of the book, told Tercüman newspaper owner Kemal Ilicak about the assassination, and the latter relayed this information to Prime Minister Demirel. Cüneyt Arcayürek, who had previously written that Demirel got this information from MİT, corrected this years later: “Demirel told me that he got his warning that Ecevit would be assassinated in Taksim from MİT. However, Ecevit in our interview after he became prime minister stated that there was no such unit within MİT. The renowned writer Uğur Mumcu has shed fresh light on the incident with the aid of information he has extracted from his dossiers: On a visit to Istanbul Dr Kannapin from the German secret service passed on a warning about the assassination to a right-leaning newspaper boss, who then relayed this information to Demirel.” Cüneyt Arcayürek, Darbeler ve Gizli Servisler (Coups and Secret Services), Bilgi Yayinevi, Fifth Edition 1990, p 205
19 A key figure in MİT, Hiram Abas, applied for retirement after the coup failed. He worked for Halit Narin during his retirement. The Ersun coup was supported by business world figures like Halit Narin. It is thus significant that Abas worked for Narin during his temporary retirement. Hiram Abas later returned to MİT and rose as far as the position of assistant undersecretary. He was assassinated on 26 September 1990.


From: Reis: Gladio’nun Türk Tetikçisi (Chief: Gladio’s Turkish Gunman) by Soner Yalçın and Doğan Yurdakul, Su Yayınları 1997. Pages 69-78. Translated from Turkish by Tim Drayton.

The Bahçelievler Massacre27

The date: 9 October 1978. The time: 20.00.

Haluk Kırcı and Mahmut Korkmaz, superintendent for the Emek region and at the same time second chairman of the Ankara region, who knew each other from Erzurum, had fellow nationalist guests in the basement floor of the old apartment block in Bahçelievler’s 17th Road into which they had moved as tenants after the Tokat Students Residence at which they were staying came under fire: “the big chief” Abdullah Çatlı, superintendent for the Bahçelievler region Ahmet Ercüment Gedikli and Kürşat Poyraz.

They went over the plan that had been prepared earlier. To make absolutely sure of the state of play, Haluk Kırcı, whose code name was “Idi Amin”, was sent again to number 56/2 on Bahçelievler’s 15th Road.

Haluk Kırcı went to the apartment and listened at the door. Then he ran back to the house where his friends were waiting and said, “I can hear 2-3 people inside.”

They decided to go through with it that evening. Ercüment Gedikli went to the Dadaş coffee shop for reinforcements and found Ömer Özcan and Duran Demirkıran, who had previously gathered information in connection with this planned act. He said, “We’re moving this evening, get up and come with me.“

The time was around 22.00.

Duran Demirkıran was left as lookout by the transformer 300 meters to the right of apartment building number 56 on Bahçelievler’s 15th Road. Ömer Özcan was to act as lookout in a corner of the apartment building. Abdullah Çatlı was in the car at the top of the small street leading to 16th Road.

Under the plan, four people were to go inside: Haluk Kırcı, Ercüment Gedikli, Mahmut Korkmaz and Kürşat Poyraz.

These four people stepped timidly inside the apartment building number 56. When they reached the door of apartment number 2, they took their guns from waists. Ercüment Gedikli tried to force the door open but it wouldn’t budge. They rang the bell.

They thrust their way in when the door opened.

Inside were five students, members of the Turkish Labour Party (TİP):

METU electric department student, 23 year old Serdar Alten.

Ankara State Architectural Engineering Academy student, 26 year old Hürcan Gürses.

Ankara Economic and Commercial Studies Academy journalism department student, 23 year old Efraim Ezgin.

Hacettepe University statistics department student, 20 year old Latif Can.

The students, who were watching a television series named The Foundation, were shocked to see four people carrying guns.

The assailants were surprised, too. They didn’t expect to find five people in the apartment. They thought that there would be no more than three.

The assailants, who were more or less of the same age as the occupants of the house, tied the latters’ hands behind their backs and laid them face down on the floor. They went from room to room carrying out a search. Haluk Kırcı said, “What kind of revolutionaries are these, they haven’t got a single gun in the house?”

There were no guns in the apartment; the only things the assailants could find were the publications named Genç Öncü, Çark Başak and Yürüyüş. And books by a few famous writers, mainly Aziz Nesin.

There was a brief argument among the assailants over the greater-than-expected number of people in the apartment. They decided they should also consult with the Chief who was waiting in the car. Kürşat Poyraz and Ercüment Gedikli went outside and reported the situation.

Two of them on the Eskişehir road

Abdullah Çatlı took Kürşat Poyraz to one side and said, “I’m coming now. Wait for me.” While Çatlı and Kürşat were starting up the car, Ercüment went to the lookouts and cautioned them, “Just stay on guard. If a fly buzzes keep us posted”. A short space of time passed.

Chief Çatlı returned. They had brought a bottle of ether and some cotton wool. Kürşat Poyraz and Ercüment Gedikli took the ether and cotton wool and entered the building.

One by one, they held cotton wool soaked in ether to the faces of the young men lying on the floor.

Just at that moment, there were three knocks in rapid succession on the door. The assailants were unnerved; who could that be at this time of night?

They opened the door. Two more people had arrived: Turkish Labour Party members Faruk Erzan and Salih Gevence. Suddenly the number of people in the apartment had increased to eleven; four assailants and seven victims. They ran back to their chief Çatlı and reported the situation.

Çatlı kept his cool. He gave his order: “Take the two who came later and bring them to the car”.

Kürşat Poyraz and Haluk Kırcı brought Salih Gevence and Faruk Erzan to the car.

Kürşat Poyraz sat in the front of the car with Çatlı beside him; Haluk Kırcı sat on the rear seat with the two young TİP members whom he was holding at gunpoint. The car left Bahçelievler at speed in the direction of the Istanbul-Eskişehir road.

Ten minutes later they had travelled thirteen kilometres along the Balmumcu road…The car halted. Abdullah Çatlı left the car’s engine running and turned off the headlights.

The two young TİP members were taken by Haluk Kırcı and Kürşat Poyraz 600 metres away from the roadside into a field.

They fired three bullets into 24 year old Faruk Erzan’s head and three more bullets into 26 year old Salih Gevence’s head.

The evening’s horror was not over yet.

The car once more returned at the same speed to Bahçelievler’s 15th Road. Haluk Kırcı and Kürşat Poyraz got out of the car and entered the building. Ercüment Gedikli and Mahmut Korkmaz were in the apartment and they had knocked out the five young TİP members with ether. Actually, according to the revised plan that Çatlı had devised on the way, the “prisoners” in the apartment were to be put in the car in twos and taken to the Eskişehir road…

At this time, seeing that Serdar Alten was half awake, they took him by the arms to the car.

The chief commanded, “Take him straight back. A police car has just gone by. They may have found the bodies on the Eskişehir road. You finish off the job in the apartment”. They took Serdar Alten back to the building…

Horror in the Apartment

The assailants debated how they should do away with the five young left wingers. Haluk Kırcı said, “I’ll strangle them with a rope”. This offer surprised even his friends: “Will you really do it?”

Haluk Kırcı said, “I’ll try” and went inside and brought a hanger made of wire.

He dragged Osman Nuri Uzunlar into the kitchen. He tightened the wire around his throat. However, realising that he would be unable to strangle him with wire, he went to the bathroom and got a towel. He pushed the towel into 20 year old Uzunlar’s face.

Minutes passed. Osman Nuri Uzunlar was in his death throes under the towel…

It took a fair while to kill university student Uzunlar! Haluk Kırcı thus turned to his nationalist friends and said, “This won’t work. You get out of the apartment and I’ll shoot each of them in the head and leave”.

He exchanged the gun that he had used on the Eskişehir road with fellow nationalist Kürşat Poyraz and took a fourteen-shooter with a full cartridge.

Ercüment Gedikli, Kürşat Poyraz and Mahmut Korkmaz went out. Ercüment Gedikli told the lookouts Ömer Özcan and Duran Demirkan that their “duties” were over. Then Çatlı left 15th Road at speed with Kürşat Poyraz and Mahmut Korkmaz, who were waiting in the car.

Inside the apartment…

Haluk Kırcı, as soon as he heard the car, fired his gun at the four young men who were lying on the floor with their hands tied behind their backs…

Three bullets shredded Serdar Alten’s stomach and intestines; three bullets Hürcan Gürses’s heart and kidney; four bullets Efraim Ezgin’s head and two bullets Latif Can’s lungs.

Having used all the bullets in the gun, Haluk Kırcı, nicknamed “Idi Amin”, ran away from the building.

Police officer Tuncay Özkul, who lived in the apartment building number 56 directly opposite heard the shots and went out onto the balcony. He saw a tall, thin person run at speed out of the opposite apartment building. He woke up commissioner Seyfi Eroğlu, a resident of the same apartment building. They got their guns and went to the opposite apartment building. A cry for help was coming from apartment number two. They broke down the door and entered.

They were filled with horror at the sight that greeted their eyes.

Four young men were lying in pools of blood; another one had a towel over his head.

One of the young men, Serdar Alten, had not died.

Serdar Alten speaks before dying

They rushed to help; Serdar Alten asked for water. He was in shock. In that state he managed to say that there were four assailants and he began to describe them: “Two of those who fled had brown hair, two were fair. The one who fired at us was a dark bloke with curly hair”.

Serdar Alten was rushed to Hacettepe Hospital.

Meanwhile, with Alten fighting for his life in hospital, Haluk Kırcı was spending a night without sleep back at the student apartment that he had reached in a breathless state.

Early in the morning he went to Abdullah Çatlı’s apartment at 154/9 Talatpaşa Bulvarı in Cebeci. He handed over the gun to the “Chief”.

Çatlı and Kırcı had breakfast and chatted as though nothing had happened. They listened to the noon news on the radio. They were troubled to hear that six people had died but one was alive. They decided to leave Ankara. Çatlı went to Nevşehir and Haluk Kırcı to Erzurum.

Serdar Alten, lying wounded in hospital, made a statement to Assistant Republic Public Prosecutor Mehmet Bağış and Public Security 2nd Branch Head Tahsin Gürdal 28:

“Four people entered the apartment. The first was tall and was wearing jeans. The second was dark, of medium height, with short hair and a wide head. The third was young with curly hair, 16 or 18 years old. I don’t have much idea about the fourth person”.

Stating that he was in pain and unable to speak much, Serdar Alten said, “Fascists attacked us; we are young progressives, that’s why fascists attacked us” and just as he was leaving to be operated on he gave a piece of information that he remembered at the last minute:

“They forced me to go outside. They took me to a large, blue car…”

He managed to say, “The person in the car was of medium height, aged 23, and the others addressed him as “Chief’” and added, “The number plate of the car was 34 PD; I didn’t see the rest…”

Serdar Alten wrestled with death for eight days. He departed from this world on 17 October 1978 at 11.30 at an age when his whiskers were only beginning to sprout.

The police began to follow up the clues in Serdar Alten’s statement. It proved impossible to find a car with the number plate 34 PD.

The coincidences that solved the case

However, two chance events led to the detection of the murderers…

The first of these was a tip-off received by the police:

“In front of the Kozaklı petrol station on the Nevşehir Avanos road, a large, metallic blue American-style car had a piece of cardboard with the number 34 on it removed from its number plate that was over the part of the registration number indicating the province. Before the cardboard with the 34 on it was removed the car’s registration number was 34 PD 137, but after it was removed, the registration number was revealed to be 06 PD 137!”

The police now investigated the registration number 06 PD 137.

The car registered under that number was owned by former Nationalist Youth Society Second Chairman Mustafa Mit. The car had actually been acquired two years earlier for the society but it was registered in Mustafa Mit’s name.

Mutsafa Mit was apprehended and taken into custody. The information that Mustafa Mit, at that time Assistant Chairman of the National Hearths, gave to Naval Judge Captain Enis Tunga is recorded as follows in the court preparatory investigation interview records:

“In 1976 I was Second Chairman of the Nationalist Youth Society for 4-5 months. At that time our society’s chairman Selahattin Sarı gave me about 130,000 lira and said, ‘Go round the organisation and look out for a good car to buy’. I went around various car showrooms with driver Ali Şerit 29, because he knew a lot about cars.

A metallic blue, 74 model, Malibu classic model caught our eye. The car was carrying a registration number at the time. The registration number was 06 PD 137. For the duration of my appointment, the car was driven by Ali Şerit. After I left this position, the car was at the disposal of Muhsin Yazıcıoğlu and Abdullah Çatlı. Upon learning that the car was used in the Bahçelievler incident, I investigated the matter in order to clear my own name. I learnt that on the day of the incident, 9 October 1978, the metallic blue Chevrolet Malibu 06 PD 137 was with Abdullah Çatlı”.

Mustafa Mit, one of the leading names of the nationalist movement, recounted a conversation with Şevkat Çetin at the Acem 51 Tea House in Cebeci:

“I suspected that the organisation was involved in the incident in Bahçelievler in which seven people were murdered. When I put this question to Şevkat, he said, ‘Our Çatlı’s work’”.

When Abdullah Çatlı was arrested in Adapazarı on 8 November 1978, he said that the car had been sent out there on that date to pick up Muhsin Yazıcıoğlu from Sivas where he had been released from prison. The statement was accepted at face value. Çatlı was placed in the custody not of the Ankara Public Security Department but of the Istanbul Public Security Department, and was released a short time later from Gayrettepe.

Whereas Selahattin Sarı, who was driving the car with the registration number 06 PD 137 to Sivas, said in his statement that they returned from Sivas to Ankara on 9 November 1978 and he left the car keys at the Nationalist Youth Society headquarters…

Turning to the other chance event, it was quite extraordinary:

At a meeting of friends two months after the Bahçelievler massacre a lady named Semiha Üstündağ said that two days before the massacre while she was on her way to the Bahçelievler Market to get some food, at the junction of 3rd Street and 16th Road she overheard two people talking, one of them of medium height with a chestnut-coloured walrus moustache and the other thin, tall, fair-haired with his hair combed back. She heard one man, who had a chain and prayer beads in his hand, ask the other, “OK?” and the other say “OK, 5-6-2”. Upon reading in the newspaper that the Bahçelievler massacre was at number 56/2, this odd event came to mind.

Police officer Recep Oktay, who was present at this meeting of friends conveyed what he heard to his colleague Selami Ünal, who in turn passed it on to commissioner Dürüst Oktay.

The person meeting the description was one of Bahçelievler’s well-known nationalists, Duran Demirkıran. Demirkıran was arrested on 18 December 1978.

And the Bahçelievler massacre ceased to be an unsolved case…30

It was established by Dr Turhan Temuçin, at the time Head Doctor at Numune Hospital, and Political Branch Head Tayyar Seven that the ether used in the incident had been stolen by a nationalist working in Numune Hospital’s pharmacy at the order of İbrahim Çiftci.

27 The events described in this section have been collated from:

    a) Transcripts of hearings at the 4th General Command Ankara Military Court,
    b) Transcripts of hearings at Ankara Central Criminal Court No 3,
    c) The statements made by Haluk Kırcı and Mahmut Korkmaz to avail themselves of the Remorse Law number 3419 dated 30.3.1988, and
    d) Information provided to us by certain witnesses who wished for their names not to be revealed.

28 Approximately twenty years have passed. Tahsin Gürdal is still unable to hold back his tears when discussing the Bahçelievler massacre.
29 From Nevşehir, a high-school friend of Abdullah Çatlı; they lived together in the Site Residence.
30 The judgments on the Bahçelievler massacre:
Under the judgment number 1986/68 Esas dated 30.4.1987 and the court decree 1987/19, the 4th General Command and Ankara Martial Law Command Military Court No 1 sentenced Haluk Kırcı to death pursuant to Articles 313/3, 315 and 450/4 seven times of the Turkish Penal Code;
Ahmet Ercüment Gedikli to death pursuant to Articles 313/3, 315, from 59, 450/4 seven times, 59 and 70 of the Turkish Penal Code; and
Ömer Özcan and Duran Demirkıran to 28 years penal servitude pursuant to Articles 313/2, 65, 450/4, 65/3, 71, 315, 59, 31 and 33 of the Turkish Penal Code. The judgment was confirmed and finalised under the court decree number 1987/550-648 dated 8/12/1987 of the Third Chamber of the Military Court of Cassation.
Ünal Osmanağaoğlu, whose name was connected to the incident, and two further accused, were believed to have been abroad. Orders were issued for the remand in absentia of the accused Mahmut Korkmaz, who like Çatlı, Poyraz and Osmanağaoğlu, had fled abroad.
Mahmut Korkmaz was arrested at Istanbul’s Yeşilköy Airport while returning from Vienna with a false identity.
Following the Susurluk accident, the Bahçelievler case has been completely re-opened and hearings continue at Ankara 3rd Central Criminal Court. File number: 1996/84.
The accused on the run from the Bahçelievler trial, Ünal Osmanağaoğlu and Kürşat Poyraz, have been wanted for 18 years!


From: Behçet Cantürk’un Anıları (Behçet Cantürk’s Memoirs) by Soner Yalçın, Doğan Kitap 1996. Pages 208-212. Translated from Turkish by Tim Drayton.

An eight-person team

28 March 1994.

Forty-two year old Fevzi Aslan, a native of Lice and owner of a car showroom in Istanbul-Aksaray, and his thirty-two year old cousin Salih Aslan were chatting with visitors in the office. Suddenly eight people with waistcoats bearing the word “police”, automatic weapons and radios burst in.

Saying, “There is a search” they asked everyone to stand. Once they had completed identity checks and searches, they said to Fevzi Aslan and Salih Aslan, “You will come with us to the police station.” Fevzi Aslan and his cousin who had been arrested and prosecuted several times for allegedly being drug smugglers saw no objection to going to the “police station”.

Fevzi and Salih Aslan were taken away before the eyes of the visitors in the office.

The following day, on the Kınalı-Sakarya TEM motorway, one kilometre before the Hendek tollbooth, the bodies of Fevzi Aslan, who had been killed with a single bullet fired into his temple, and Salih Aslan, who had had three bullets fired into his heart and who was blindfolded, were found…

Ballistic analysis conducted by the Istanbul Directorate of Public Security revealed that Behçet Cantürk and Fevzi Aslan were killed with the same gun.

3 June 1994.

Name: Savaş Buldan. Thirty-two years old. From Yüksekova.

His name is mentioned in a report prepared in February 1994 by the Narcotic Branch Directorate of the General Directorate of Public Security Smuggling Intelligence Operations Section Directorate:

“In 1992 in the course of searches conducted at Savaş Buldan’s residence and workplace illegal organisation documents and two weapons were seized; it has been established that repeated calls were made to a telephone in our country by members responsible for foreign connections of an organisation in Italy that has been shown to be engaged in drug smuggling and that the telephone in question was registered in the name of Savaş Buldan.

It has been established that the accused Paquale Marando and Michele Franco, from whom 279 kilos of heroin was seized in Italy and Britain as a result of operations conducted on 8 November 1993 and 18 November 1993, had made telephone calls to Şehmuz Daş and Savaş Buldan, who were drug smuggling on behalf of the PKK.”

Clearly Savaş Buldan was under close surveillance by Public Security officials…

Name: Adnan Yıldırım. Thirty-six years old. From Lice.

His car was pulled up on suspicion in Istanbul-Yeşilköy at the beginning of May. Three licensed Winchester brand rifles were found in the Mercedes. When a substance used for filling teeth was thought to be cocaine (!) he was arrested along with his friend, Kasım Çakım. He was released after a few hours. His arrest made no sense to him.

Hacı Karay. Thirty-six years old. From Yüksekova. Along with Savaş Buldan, a member of the Oramar clan.

Let me use the words of eye witnesses to relate what happened to Savaş Buldan, his fellow townsman Hacı Karay and close friend Adnan Yıldırım on the evening of 3 June:

Sabahattin Uz: “I was working as a doorman at the Çınar Hotel. I was on duty as a doorman at the hotel entrance from 2300 on 2 June 1994 until 0700 on 3 June 1994. I saw the individuals named Adnan, Hacı and Savaş, who were hotel customers and known to me by name, leave the hotel at about 2400 and pass to the casino section. They left the casino at around 0430 or 0500. As they were approaching the hotel entrance, six or seven people – I didn’t see where they came from - got out of two separate cars. I saw them stand Adnan Yıldırım, Hacı Karay and Savaş Buldan against the hotel wall and search them. While they were searching them I heard one of them say, ‘We are police.’ Immediately after this they quickly forced the individuals named Adnan and Savaş into a dark-coloured Mercedes whose number plate as far as I can remember was 34 CK 420. I didn’t see the third individual being forced into the car. At this time I heard the individual who shut the door of the Mercedes say, ‘We will take your statement and release you.’ The Mercedes quickly departed from the scene of the incident. The individual who shut the door of the Mercedes got into a sports car and followed the Mercedes…”

Hüseyin Kılıç: “I work as a security officer at the Çınar Hotel. At about 0430 on the day of the incident at a time when I was outside the casino customers were beginning to disperse. At this time our regular customers Savaş Buldan, Hacı Karay and Adnan Yıldırım along with an individual who was accompanying them left the casino. I estimate that they proceeded for 25 metres. I saw at this time that they were stood up against the wall and searched by, at a guess, seven or eight people. These people who were searching them were wearing waistcoats of the same type. They were all holding weapons. The people conducting the search put the above-named individuals into their own car and departed”.

Serdar Özdemir: “I work at the Çınar Hotel taxi rank. While waiting in my taxi for a customer, as three people were leaving the casino and approaching the hotel, at a guess seven or eight people got out of two cars that were also in the hotel car park and walked towards these individuals. They stood these individuals against the wall and searched them. They then immediately put them in the car. Then they departed. They were about ten metres away from me. However, I was unable to see their faces as their backs were turned towards me. These cars were a black 300 SEL Mercedes and a carmine-red Hyundai. I was unable to see their number plates. Additionally, apart from these two cars there was a sports car. This also followed the other two cars. I first thought that these individuals were policemen. They were all wearing waistcoats. They were dressed to make it clear that they were police”.

The people wearing waistcoats and holding automatic weapons and radios once more set out on the Istanbul-Ankara TEM motorway…

The route and aim were the same.

Ayşe Uzun: “I live in Hoşafoğlu village in Yığılca Sub-province of Bolu Province. While looking from my balcony at about 0730 at my daughter who I had sent off to school, I saw first a red Mazda followed by a light green Mazda followed by a beige car that I believe to have been a Mazda travelling in the direction of Taşlıkmelen in Hacılar village within the sub-province. In fact my suspicion was aroused when I saw three vehicles moving in procession but I did not note the number plates. I thought to myself, ‘There is a funeral in one of the villages; they are going there’”.

İsmail Taşcan: “I live in Hacılar village in Yığılca Sub-province of Bolu Province. I am a beekeeper in the village. My bees are to the south of the village at a distance I estimate to be 1 kilometre. In the morning at around 0830 I was attending to my bees as usual. A few echoing noises came from the direction of Melen stream. I thought they were cutting down trees along the edge of the stream. But I also thought these could have been the sound of shots”.

Ayşe Araç: “I live in Hacılar village in Yığılca Sub-province of Bolu Province. I went from my house alone at around 0830-0900 to the garden to water the peppers in our garden located in Hatip Değirmeni Locality to the east of our village. I heard the sound of two shots from the Taşlıkmelen Locality of our village. There was no-one with me and I was afraid when I heard the sound of shots. I returned to the village”.

Şevket Öztürk: “I live in Yaylatepe village in Yığılca Sub-province of Bolu Province. I was sitting in front of Kazım Özcan’s house at the edge of the Yedigöller road in our village. At this time Muzaffer Yıldız from the same village was beside me and my brother Yunus Öztürk was on the other side of the road. At an estimated time of 0930 two cars entered the village from the direction of Yığılca. They slowed down when they came to the place where I was sitting. They then moved away at speed in the direction of Yedigöller. The car in front was dark red, resembling claret. I am not sure of the make but it looked like a Mercedes. There were two people inside. One of these people was the driver, the other was sitting in the driver’s section. I do not exactly remember the people’s faces. All the car’s windows were closed and shaded. The car immediately behind this car was cream, earth-coloured. This car’s windows were also closed and shaded. However, it was possible to see the number of people in the car. There were three people in the second car. One of these people was sitting in the rear and the other two in the front. The number plates of both cars began with 34. A few minutes after these cars had passed us, a third car entered the village. This car’s colour was light blue, sky blue. There were three people in the car. Two of them were sitting in the front and one in the rear. This car slowed down a little when they saw us. The driver of the car opened the window half way and asked me, ‘Is this the way to Yedigöller?’ And I said, ‘Yes’. This car also proceeded in the direction of Yedigöller. The number plate of the car driven by the third person began with 06. The person asking me the way to Yedigöller had short hair and he was thinning a little at the front. He had no beard and had a thin moustache. His face was quite long. His accent was polite and modern.”

İrfan Kurşuncu: “I live in Hacılar village in Yığılca Sub-province of Bolu Province. I went in my motorboat to pick up my uncle who lives in the same village and go fishing. At about 1945 I went with my uncle Ismail, taking our nets, to Taşlıkmelen Locality along Melen stream where we always go fishing. The time was about 2015 when we got there. While I was stopping the motor, my uncle who was sitting immediately behind me said, ‘Look, there’s a man lying there in a ditch; he might be drunk.’ Getting out of the motorboat and looking at the person, he said, ‘He’s dead. There are a few more people lying here. Let’s get out of here’. Upon this we started up the motorboat and informed the Yığılca gendarmerie”.

Two bullets had been fired into Savaş Buldan’s body and one into his head, one bullet into Adnan Yıldırım’s head and one bullet each into Hacı Karay’s body and head.

All three had also been tortured.

The gold watch on Adnan Yıldırım’s wrist had not been taken. His rings were also untouched. Only his money was taken!

Five empty cartridges of the 9-mm Parabellum type, four SB Luger make and one WCC make had been fired from three different pistols. Ballistic analysis showed that the pistols used in the incident had been used in previous unsolved incidents.

Assassinations were being carried out in other areas outside the Adapazarı, Hendek, Sapanca “death triangle”.

30 September 1993: Mecit Baskın, Ankara Altindağ Civil Registry Director from Yüksekova, was abducted and killed.
25 January 1994: Sefa Erciyes from Lice was abducted in Ankara and killed.
25 February 1994: Yusuf Ekinci, a lawyer from Lice, was abducted in Ankara and killed.
20 May 1994: Namık Erdoğan, Assistant Head of the Health Ministry Inspectorate from Hakkari, was abducted in Ankara and killed.
6 July 1994: Recep Yaşar and Behçet Yaşar from Savaş Buldan’s Oramar clan were abducted and killed in Şemdinli.
11 November 1994: Behçet Cantürk’s lawyer Medet Serhat and his driver İsmail Karaalioğlu were killed when their car came under crossfire.
14 December 1994: Lawyer Faik Candan was abducted in Ankara and killed.
29 January 1995: Iranian Lazo (Lazem Nazım Ismaili) and Simko (Asker Simko) were abducted in Istanbul and killed in woods close to Çerkezköy Sub-province in Tekirdağ.31
There were no witnesses to the abduction and killing of the above people.


31 The PKK claimed responsibility for the killing of Lazo and Simko. Another claim has it that Lazo and Simko were killed by forces within the state because “they knew a lot”.