Turkish Parliament has set up a committee to probe rights violations of the victims of a coup that took place on Feb. 28, 1997. Aydın Ünal, a lawmaker from the ruling Justice and Development (AK Party), will head the committee. Ünal said the coup was "a stain" on Turkey's history of democracy and affected not only the government and Parliament but a large segment of the Turkish society as well. "Those behind the coup notoriously said its impact would last ‘a thousand years' but it only took five," said Ünal, referring to the AK Party's surprise victory in 2002.
AK Party members, including President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan, were among the victims of the coup. Just two years after the coup then Istanbul Mayor Erdoğan was served a jail term for reciting a poem at a public gathering.
The coup was carried out by a military brass, allied to a secular elite class, hostile to the country's conservative population or anyone deemed a "reactionary." It was the culmination of a witch hunt against people of faith who faced blacklisting, dismissals from public sector jobs etc. Women wearing a headscarf were banned from attending schools before and after the coup.
Ünal said they would investigate the "continuing" rights violations and would seek solutions. In recent weeks, different groups have held rallies calling for the release of several prisoners they claimed were imprisoned for their religious views by the military junta that carried out the 1997 coup.
Under the AK Party, Turkey lifted the headscarf ban and ended the blacklisting for thousands of people. Civil servants, academics and others dismissed from their jobs were reinstated.
Meanwhile, a trial of those accused of running the coup, including former army chief İsmail Hakkı Karadayı, is underway in Ankara, with a verdict expected later this week.