Military coup memories fuel Turkish PM's referendum campaign
ANKARA - Daily News Parliament Bureau | 7/20/2010 12:00:00 AM |
Conjuring the last words of young people executed after the 1980 coup, PM Erdoğan called Tuesday in an emotional speech for a 'yes' vote on constitutional reforms.
Conjuring the last words of young leftists and rightists executed after the 1980 coup, the prime minister called Tuesday in an emotional speech for a “yes” vote on constitutional reforms as a way to “settle scores.”
The referendum, set for the 30th anniversary of the coup, is a day to “face the torture, cruelty, and inhuman practices of Sept. 12, 1980,” Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdoğan said at his Justice and Development Party, or AKP’s, parliamentary group meeting Tuesday. “We will settle scores with the untimely farewells and young deaths. We will settle scores with the mentality that ended the lives of 17-year-old children.”
The prime minister’s effort to garner support for the constitutional referendum by reminding people of those tortured and executed during the 1980 military coup period was derided by opposition parties, with Peace and Democracy Party, or BDP, co-chair Gülten Kışanak describing Erdoğan’s tears as “fake.”
While reading letters from young people who were executed during the 1980 coup period, Erdoğan stopped his speech for a moment as his voice shook and his eyes filled with tears. Deputies and ministers also appeared to be overcome with emotion.
Referring to the Sept. 12 referendum as an opportunity to restore dignity to the country, the prime minister said that the opposition Republican People’s Party, or CHP, and Nationalist Movement Party, or MHP, were conflicting with history by calling for a “no” vote on the reforms.
Even if the opposition parties refuse to face the date, Erdoğan said, the AKP is prepared to face Sept. 12, 1980, calling for support from the grassroots of the CHP, the MHP and the BDP. “I am waiting for positive votes from the supporters of these parties not only to settle scores with Sept. 12, but to prevent Sept. 12 from ever happening again,” he said, defending the referendum and expressing his lack of understanding at how the opposition parties could object to it.
[HH] Coup victims’ last words
“I have to mention the tragic political history [of the 1980 coup],” Erdoğan said, and told the story of 19-year-old leftist Necdet Adalı, who was accused of murder and arrested in 1977, then later executed for his alleged crimes. Calling him the first young man executed by the 1980 junta, the prime minister read the poem Nevzat Çelik wrote for Adalı.
Those behind the Sept. 12 military coup executed both leftist and rightist youth, Erdoğan said, before reading 22-year-old rightist Mustafa Pehlivanoğlu’s last letter to his family before his execution, which created a highly emotional atmosphere at the group meeting. The prime minister added that Culture and Tourism Minister Ertuğrul Günay was a close witness to the military coup, having been unable to attend his father’s funeral because he was in prison.
Supporters of the constitutional amendments package said it would pave the way for the 1980 coup plotters to be tried.
Noting that Parliament will go on break Friday, Erdoğan said the bill on “stone-throwing children” was expected to pass soon. The prime minister also said that he would be touring the country as part of his campaign to drum up support for the referendum, starting with the provinces with the highest “no” votes for the Sept. 12 Constitution. Starting with Bingöl, the tour will include 36 provinces.
[HH] Bahçeli criticizes AKP’s ‘professional army’ move
In his response to Erdoğan’s speech, MHP leader Devlet Bahçeli objected to the prime minister’s plans to set up a “private unit” to patrol the country’s borders, stating that this would be a “subordinate precaution and a tactic to stall the fight against terror instead of providing lasting and rooted results.”
Bahçeli claimed the government was trying to transfer responsibility to the military on the matter of terror, thus stalling the process of resolving the issue.
“If you believe that specially trained security forces can overcome this issue [terror], why did you then withdraw the special operation team that established within the Police Department from the region?” the MHP leader asked, adding that it was a conflict for the AKP to not bring the idea of establishing such an army to the agenda of the government’s crucial security meetings.
“In this account, Prime Minister Erdoğan’ shift from finding a political solution to a search for military precautions is a huge change despite carrying the sins of hundreds of martyrs. However, if this is a precaution, the prime minister is thinking of this now, after eight years of governing?” Bahçeli said.
The MHP chief also brought up an incident in Aydın, where a banner was hung on the MHP Provincial Headquarters building protesting the AKP’s Kurdish initiative. Bahçeli blamed Aydın Gov. Hüseyin Avni Coş for taking down the banner, and called for the appointment of a new governor.
Kışanak of the pro-Kurdish BDP also criticized the government’s move to fight terror with a professional army, saying this was not a new concept and urging the government not to continue to with the same tactics that have been tried unsuccessfully for years.