Thursday, January 5, 2012

A Lot of Noise Against Coups (But Maybe Not the Right Type)

Former president and general Kenan Evren, leader of Turkey's 1980 military coup, could face trial at the age of 94. On Jan. 3, a prosecutor filed an indictment with an Ankara court alleging Evren, as well as former Air Force Commander Tahsin Sahinkaya, now 87, masterminded violent unrest later used to justify their military putsch. For more, in Turkish, click here.

PHOTO from Milliyet

The violence preceding the coup was some of the worst in Turkey's history, including a series of shootings against peaceful protestors gathered in public squares and assassinations of leftist figures, including the murder of Milliyet editor Abdi Ipekci with whose assassination the indictment against the two men alleges they are complicit. These attacks were carried out by rightist militias mainly in command of the infamous ultra-nationalist Grey Wolves, and combined with the series of detentions and military trials after the coup, decimated the Turkish left (for more, see here).

The charges against the generals are facilitated by constitutional amendments passed in the September 2010 referendum, and were some of the few amendments that enjoyed broad public support, including that of the CHP opposition. A past attempt to bring charges against Evren made by former prosecutor Sacit Kayasu resulted in the prosecutor's disbarment. There is another investigation ongoing into the use of torture during the coup years. The coup brought about the assassination of 571 people, and over 700,000 people were detained in its aftermath. Torture was rampant, prison conditions horrible, and black-listings widespread.

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