A book telling ‘not quite everything’ on 1980 coup

A book telling ‘not quite everything’ on 1980 coup

ANKARA - Hürriyet Daily News
A book telling ‘not quite everything’ on 1980 coup

This file photo shows Kenan Evren (R), leader of the 1980 military coup, and other members of the National Security Council during a visit to Anıtkabir. In a book published in 1982, Evren defends the junta’s actions putting the blame on civilians.

“I should like to repeat, once again, this basic message to the politicians of yesterday and tomorrow:

The Kemalist pattern of thought, and proper pride in being a Turk, lie at the heart of the Turkish Republic. The principles of Atatürk are cornerstone of this structure. When these basic principles were strayed from, fratricidal and separatist movements began to emerge in the country. If Atatürk’s principles are not followed faithfully and conscientiously, and if these are not accepted as the basic pillars of the Turkish Republic, it will be impossible for a modern, civilized, healthy, consistent, humane and stable state administration to function.”

These lines belong to Kenan Evren, main perpetrator of the Sept. 12, 1980 coup d’état and former chief of general staff, whose intervention into the political system will stand before the court 32 years after. Evren’s statement was released in a book published by the National Security Council in June 1982 under the title “12 September in Turkey: Before and After,” both in Turkish and English, to justify the military’s intervention. 

“It was the grave deviations from the path that I have described that necessitated the implementation of the 12 September 1980 operation throughout the country,” he wrote, while explaining the motives behind the intervention. 

Evren and the military echelon of that time took over the state administration on Sept. 12 on the grounds that “the state, with its main bodies, has been rendered unable to function; the subversive and separatist forces have increased their activities, endangering the security of life and property of citizens; fundamentalist movements have gained grounds.” 

‘Long awaited intervention’

At 5.00 a.m., Evren’s statement was announced on state radio “with tears of joy that had been long awaited,” as the book describes: “The Parliament and the government have been dissolved. The immunity of the members of the Parliament has been lifted. Martial Law has been declared throughout the country. All exits out of the country have been forbidden.”

The statement also explained the objective of the intervention: “to preserve the integrity of the country, to restore national unity and togetherness, to avert a possible civil war and fratricide, to reestablish the authority and existence of the State and to eliminate all the factors that prevent the normal functioning of the democratic order.” 

The book cites political, economic and security developments in the years of 1977, 1978, 1979 and 1980 in a very biased manner, in order to put the entire blame on the politicians, trade unions, academics, etc. For the army, the entire legislative activities of Parliament were nothing but a waste of time, as the political parties failed to truly exert their efforts in solving the country’s important problems. 

26,828 persons arrested

One of the first things that the government formed by former Navy Commander Bülent Ulusu did was to broaden the scope of the Martial Law Act no. 1402, aiming to curb anarchy and establish security. The military was given the authority to control printed and non-printed materials and the media; suspend all activities of the trade unions indefinitely; ban all public assemblies or demonstrations; keep restaurants, clubs, night-clubs, coffee houses, pubs, theaters, cinemas, hotels, motels, etc under strict control; temporarily suspend education at all levels. 

As a result of Martial Law, the book suggested that 26,828 persons were in prison for “ideological offenses” as of May 12, 1981, with 4,681 detained, 20,678 under arrest and 1,469 convicted. 
The second thing the junta dealt with was the constitution. It established the Constituent Assembly, tasked with rewriting the country’s charter, which in the end curbed fundamental freedoms and human rights, banned all political parties and politicians, controlled all segments of the society through centralized universities and banned trade unions and non-governmental organizations. 

World’s most democratic army

Another noteworthy definition of the Turkish army comes again from Evren: “In no other country have the armed forces been so loyal to, and respectful of, the basic principles of the democratic order, or been so active in defending and protecting the democratic system,” propagandized Evren in the preface to the book. He did not mention the army’s three interventions into politics since 1961.

Mission completed, return to barracks

This justification is as absurd as the following statement: “Whenever the Turkish Armed Forces have been faced with the necessity of safeguarding the Turkish Republic, they have undertaken this task unhesitatingly and for the sole purpose of preserving the happiness and welfare of the Turkish nation and the integrity of the country … to restore the democratic system. When they have completed their mission, they have returned to barracks, leaving power in the hands of a civilian administration, in total accordance with the rules of a democratic society.”

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