Istanbul's backwards-walkers mark 1980 military coup

Istanbul's backwards-walkers mark 1980 military coup

ISTANBUL - Anadolu Agency
Istanbuls backwards-walkers mark 1980 military coup

Protesters criticized the post-coup 1982 Constitution as a continued impediment to various freedoms in Turkey.

Istanbul's İstiklal Avenue, the city's famous center of culture and entertainment, was the scene of an unusual protest on Sept. 13, as civil rights groups marched backwards to mark the 34th anniversary of Turkey's 1980 military coup.

Around 100 activists gathered on İstiklal, and after briefly addressing reporters they took 500 backwards steps toward Taksim Square.

The unusual protest was held to highlight the setback caused by the Sept. 12, 1980 military intervention, after which hundreds were killed, thousands tortured, and hundreds of thousands jailed.

The protesters, all members of the Rights, Law and Tolerance civil society organization and the Democracy Inspectors organization, also emphasized the negative impact that the junta's 1982 Constitution continues to have on freedom of expression and civil rights in modern Turkey.

Democracy Inspectors’ Mehmet Özkaya pointed to the 2010 referendum that saw voters call for an overhaul of laws dating from the military period.

"The amendments that we had dreamed of were forgotten after just a year," Özkaya said.

The leader of the coup and former president Kenan Evren, 97, was sentenced to life prison for his role in the intervention earlier this year, along with fellow general Tahsin Şahinkaya.