Low-key ‘state’ funeral for Turkish coup leader

Low-key ‘state’ funeral for Turkish coup leader

Low-key ‘state’ funeral for Turkish coup leader

AA Photo

The body of the leader of Turkey’s 1980 military coup and former president was taken to the military headquarters in Ankara on May 12, for a funeral service that was boycotted by the government and opposition politicians.

The body of Kenan Evren, who presided over a coup that led to the deaths of hundreds of citizens, was carried to the Turkish General Staff headquarters in central Ankara prior to his burial in the capital’s state cemetery.

As Turkey’s seventh president, Evren was entitled to a state funeral, but his role in the brutal coup saw members of all four parties represented at parliament and most public figures stay away.

The ceremony at the armed forces HQ was closed to the media and Evren’s corpse was due to be taken later to the cemetery, where he will lie alongside the republic’s former presidents, prime ministers and senior military officials.

An escort of police and military vehicles accompanied the former chief of general staff’s body from Gülhane military hospital in north Ankara, where Evren had received medical treatment since March 2012, and riot police lined the route.

Evren, who died on May 9 aged 98, came to power in September 1980 when the army intervened to end widespread street violence.

For three years, the military ruled directly through the National Security Council before a new parliament was voted in and Evren appointed president, a post that he held until November 1989.

The coup was the bloodiest in modern Turkish history, with 50 people hanged officially and nearly 300 dying through torture or neglect. 

One of those executed was 17-year-old Erdal Eren, whose case became notorious after the court tampered with his age in order to carry out the sentence. 

Among the more than 650,000 people detained was former Prime Minister Bülent Ecevit, who now lies in the state cemetery where Evren is due to be interred.

In June last year, Evren and former general Tahsin Şahinkaya were given life sentences for crimes against the constitution and parliament. Their appeals are still being considered.

Evren’s funeral was announced by the office of the Chief of General Staff on May 11. Şahinkaya is unable to leave his bed at hospital. 

On the day of the announcement, the Prime Minister’s Office stated that no government officials would attend the ceremony. The parliamentary parties also declared they would not send representatives.

Deputy Prime Minister Bülent Arınç said he was one of the victims of the coup and would not extend his condolences after Evren. 

Kemal Kılıçdaroğlu, the head of the main opposition Republican People’s Party (CHP), said the mentality of the current Justice and Development Party (AKP) government was no different to that of Evren, and claimed that Turkey was facing “an even sharper coup d’état” today. 

Peoples’ Democratic Party (HDP) Co-Chair Selahattin Demirtaş said attending the funeral of Evren would be “disrespectful to the mothers who lost children during the coup.”

Önder Aksakal, the deputy leader of the Democratic Left Party (DSP), ironically extended his condolences to the U.S. Embassy in Turkey, referring to the alleged role of the U.S. in the coup.