Wednesday, May 14, 2008

The secrets of military coups

Notable Turkish diarists are few and far between. Indeed, The Diary Junction, with over 500 diarists listed from over 30 countries, does not have any on its lists. Nevertheless, a Turkish diary has been in the news recently - for no less than highlighting the ever-present possibility of a coup!

Last year, the Turkish newsweekly Nokta (which subsequently closed down) published excerpts from a diary allegedly written by a former navy commander, Özden Örnek. The excerpts gave details of how Turkey narrowly escaped two military coups in 2004. Örnek himself was one of the coup plotters. He denied having written the diary entries and claimed they had been libelously attributed to him. During the course of a legal case against Nokta’s editor-in-chief, Alper Görmü, it was proven by a group of experts that the diaries did originate from Örnek’s computer. Görmü has just been acquitted of all charges.

The English-language newspaper, Today’s Zaman, draws strong conclusions from the case: ‘This acquittal implicitly verified the claims that top-ranking commanders of the army had been involved in attempts to stage coups. However, not even a single investigation has so far been launched against the coup plotters. This incident clearly indicates that even those who attempt stage coups are very well protected. To this day, none of those who have made these attempts have been investigated, despite very clear and open evidence, let alone tried.’

Just before the end of the trial the independant policy insititute, European Stability Initiative, had come to a similar conclusion: ‘The outcome of the Nokta affair is that it is the journalists, not the potential coup plotters, who are under investigation’.

Also few and far between are military coup diarists of any nationality (but any future ones should keep their writing under close guard until ready to reveal all). There is, though, an interesting set of diaries by Petr Vologodskii, a prominent Siberian lawyer and a member of the anti-Bolshevik government, set up in Omsk, during the Russian civil war. The Hoover Institution has published them in English in two volumes - The Diaries of Petr Vasil'evich Vologodskii, 1918-1925. They give rich details of the coup that led to the formation of the opposing government. Although the books themselves are not available online, the Hoover Institution has made available an extensive (but apparently anonymous) article about them.

No comments: