UPDATES WITH REMARKS FROM TURKISH OFFICIALS, MINOR EDITS
By Andac Hongur
ISTANBUL (AA) – The Turkish president on Sunday spoke against military takeovers, particularly the 1997 "post-modern" coup by the Turkish armed forces.
In a video message on the coup's 24th anniversary, Recep Tayyip Erdogan said he was jailed for reading a poem when he was the mayor of Istanbul.
"Despite all kinds of obstacles, I serve my beloved nation with glory and honor,” he said in the video posted on Twitter. “Coups are crimes against humanity. I experienced the Feb. 28, [1997 military coup] and have awareness of it."
Turkey's Communications Director Fahrettin Altun on Twitter said it was "not only a military coup but also a political, cultural and social coup" that aimed at sowing discord among the people.
Turkish Parliamentary Speaker Mustafa Sentop said it was one of the darkest examples of the coup plotting tradition. He condemned its perpetrators and collaborators, and greeted the victims and the oppressed with respect.
Omer Celik, spokesman of the ruling Justice and Development (AK) Party, described the "post-modern" coup as a "symbol of one of the darkest eras in political history."
"Threat to democracy continues. In order not to return to the dark days of Feb. 28, we, as a nation, must protect democracy with great force. We must be sensitive in protecting democracy and pursue democratic gains," he tweeted.
Foreign Minister Mevlut Cavusoglu termed the coup a direct attack on Turkey's democracy, saying all attacks against "the will of the nation are doomed to be defeated."
On Feb. 28, 1997, the military was involved in the collapse of late Prime Minister Necmettin Erbakan’s administration amid concerns about the government’s alleged Islamist program.
Erbakan's government was forced to step down following a National Security Council meeting. His Welfare Party was later outlawed. A new civilian government then took over in a move known as Turkey’s "postmodern" coup.
Last December, a prosecutor recommended life sentences for two former generals over the coup.
The prosecutor requested that 60 suspects, including Ismail Hakki Karadayi, then-chief of general staff, and Cevik Bir, his then-deputy, be produced for trial.
*Writing by Ahmet Gencturk and Merve Aydogan in Ankara