Evren dies, his work of art lives on

Evren dies, his work of art lives on

In our country, talking about the deceased in a good way and not saying anything bad is customary. I was raised that way and now, because I have to write about Kenan Evren’s death, I am having a hard time; I wanted you to know…

Kenan Evren is no doubt an important figure in our country’s history. 

I am also aware that historic personalities should not be judged without considering the circumstances of the period that created them, the time they performed their roles.  

I remember Ankara on the day of Sept. 11, 1980, very clearly. I had gone out from the Yankı magazine office located on Konur Street and met with friends for lunch at the lounge of Mülkiyeliler Birliği on Yüksel Street. 

In the span of one hour over lunch, we had heard five explosions and had shuddered. It was not an unusual situation for the Ankara of that time.

Opting to walk home after it got dark was not an option anymore. It was too dangerous. To be shot dead on a dark corner and for your apartment to be bombed were almost routine things. People taking their own personal precautions against all these things were not treated as “paranoiac” by anybody.   

Like many others, I also felt both uneasiness and relaxation at the same time when Kenan Evren was speaking on television, declaring that they have seized power as the military. 

I was uneasy because the military had taken over. What the colonels’ junta in Greece, Pinochet in Chile and generals in Argentina had done was all fresh in my memory. March 12, in my own country, was only like “yesterday.”

I did not need a fortune-teller to tell me that whatever was experienced in these countries would this time repeat in Turkey; that a heavy fascism would oppress us all.

On the other hand, I was relieved. I could not stop thinking that “at least we will not be shot on a street corner.” 

And both of them came true. 

I was able to walk home, but a heavy lack of law, a period of illegality, took all of us under its pressure. Executions, extrajudicial executions, torture and oppression became part of our lives. And those responsible for all this were the junta and the head of the junta with his highest rank. 

How were they able to stop this “anarchy and terror” – using the term of the time – in one day? 

What was the role of the “flag plan” in the process that dragged Turkey to the military coup? 

Why did the CIA station chief use the term “our boys” for the coup plotters while passing on the information that there was a military takeover in Turkey? 

Was the U.S. a part of the game? 

We were not able to learn the answers to any of these questions, even while the Sept. 12 coup was being tried. 

Kenan Evren and the Air Force commander of the time, Tahsin Şahinkaya, were tried but the torturers of the period, those who killed young people with extrajudicial executions, still have not given an account. 

On another level, the Sept. 12 era is continuing with all its might. The Higher education Board (YÖK) of Sept. 12, the election threshold of 10 percent, the tutelage institutions and its constitution are still living on.

Evren had said he did not regret signing the execution decisions. He did not see any harm in talking bad after young people were hung, killed in detention and forced to lose their souls under torture. 

I will not act like him. 

I will suffice by once more remembering Muzaffer Erdost and those who were hung at the hands of the Sept. 12 torturers, those who were killed under torture.