Evren is dead but his mentality is in power, says Turkey's main opposition leader
Serkan Demirtaş – ÇORUM / AMASYATurkey’s main opposition leader has described the mentality of the current Justice and Development Party (AKP) government as being no different from late Chief of General Staff Kenan Evren, who staged the country’s most damaging military coup in 1980.
Speaking to a group of reporters while traveling between Amasya and Çorum, where he held election rallies on May 10, Kemal Kılıçdaroğlu, the head of the Republican People’s Party (CHP), said Turkey was facing “an even sharper coup d’état” today.
“The Sept. 12,  coup and its repercussions are not limited to the time when it was staged and its perpetrators were in power,” said Kılıçdaroğlu.
“Its reflections continue today. The coup is still there with the legal order it created, particularly the constitution. There is also the political parties law, the election threshold, the constitution ... The Sept. 12 coup was also the process that created the AKP. Both ultra-nationalists and socialists paid the price at that time. Those who did not pay are those who are in power today,” he added.
Kılıçdaroğlu claimed that the AKP had done little to change the system brought about by the coup leaders.
“On the contrary, it reinforced the legal and political order created by the coup,” he said.
“Freedoms were more restricted, political pressure on the media and political parties was observed. We observe this in every aspect of life. Another fact is that the Sept. 12 [coup] described only Kenan Evren as the head of the nation. Now with the presidential system, [the government] is trying to fill this gap,” the CHP leader added.
According to Kılıçdaroğlu, the situation today is little better than the post-coup era.
“Everything is in between the lips of one person,” he said, apparently in reference to President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan. “It is he who decides whether a bridge will be built, where to construct a stadium, or what laws will be passed from parliament. At that time [Sept. 12, 1980] there were one general and four commanders deciding on everything. Now we do not even have those four commanders. When one looks, we face an even sharper and more radical coup d’état government.”
The AKP has had different characters over its 12 years in power, Kılıçdaroğlu added.
“It came to power by using a democratic rhetoric and many intellectuals voted for them, believing that the legal order left over from the Sept. 12 [coup] would be changed,” he said.
“In its second term, the AKP aimed to seize control of all state institutions, including non-governmental organizations and even private companies. In its third term, however, it [the AKP] started saying ‘I am the state’ and did not regard any other institution as legitimate, neither political parties nor NGOs. The Central Bank and all other independent institutions are regarded as illegitimate. When they will become legitimate? The AKP says ‘Only when they do what I tell them. If [these institutions] are against the AKP, they should be abolished.’ The AKP aims to create a single-party state. This means that the political understanding of the Sept. 12 coup is in power,” Kılıçdaroğlu said.
Election watchdog ‘should have taken a decision’
CHP head Kılıçdaroğlu also slammed the Supreme Election Board (YSK) for returning the appeals of the opposition parties over President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan’s recent public rallies.
“First, I leave this issue to the conscience of the public opinion. People should not vote for the party that he is asking [them to] vote for, on the grounds of the oath the president has taken. One of the most important values of this country is honor. The people should remind him of this and not vote for him,” Kılıçdaroğlu said, criticizing the watchdog for not issuing a statement urging the president to avoid violating the constitution and to avoid holding election rallies.