Turkey’s convicted coup leader to have state funeral: Turkish military

Turkey’s convicted coup leader to have state funeral: Turkish military

Turkey’s convicted coup leader to have state funeral: Turkish military

In this Oct. 5, 2005 file photo, Kenan Evren, the leader of Turkey's 1980 military coup and former president, left, listens to Turkish Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdoğan during a funeral ceremony for Nurettin Ersin, former Land Force commander and one of five members of the military junta formed after the coup, at the Kocatepe Mosque in Ankara, Turkey. AP Photo/Burhan Ozbilici, File

Turkey’s General Staff has announced that a state funeral for Kenan Evren, the country’s former coup leader and seventh president who died late on May 9, will be held at the “protocol mosque” of Ankara on May 12.

The country had been debating whether or not to hold a state funeral for Evren, who died aged 98. He was the leader of the Sept. 12, 1980 military coup d’état, as the Chief of Staff at the time. 

The 1980 military coup, Turkey’s third, prompted a wide-ranging crackdown that left deep marks on society. Fifty people were executed, an estimated half a million were detained, many were tortured, hundreds died in prison and many more disappeared during three years of military rule.

The coup leaders argued that they were forced to intervene to restore order after years of chaos, in which an estimated 5,000 people died in factional violence between leftist and rightist groups. 

Family applies to Chief of Staff, not parliament

After his death, Evren’s family applied to Turkish officials, requesting a state funeral at the Chief of Staff headquarters in Ankara on May 12. Many politicians were against organizing a funeral ceremony at Turkey’s Grand National Assembly, which the Evren-led coup once pacified with military force.

According to the Turkish General Staff statement on May 11, Evren’s funeral ceremony will be held at Ahmet Hamdi Akseki Mosque, which is known as Turkey’s “protocol mosque,” before he is buried at the State Cemetery in Ankara after the noon prayer on May 12.

Victims of the 1980 coup had applied to the Turkish government to prevent a state funeral for Evren.

No representation from parties expected
All four political parties represented in parliament, the ruling Justice and Development Party (AKP), the main opposition Republican People’s Party (CHP), the Nationalist Movement Party (MHP) and the Peoples’ Democratic Party (HDP), have already announced that they won’t join the funeral and military ceremony. 

Chief of General Staff Gen. Necdet Özel will be absent, too, as he is on sick leave, though the other four forces commanders are expected to be present at the ceremony.

Official silence, conflicting opinions

The government has stayed largely silent so far with no official condolence messages released. Ministers, however, have taken conflicting positions.

Speaking on May 11, Development Minister Cevdet Yılmaz simply recalled a Turkish saying that it is not appropriate to speak ill of someone after their death.

Former Justice Minister Bekir Bozdağ was similarly tight-lipped, only stating that “there is nothing to say now.”

Prime Minister Ahmet Davutoğlu’s chief advisor and former minister Hüseyin Çelik, however, criticized this stance in a series of tweets on May 11. 

“In that case we should not speak negatively of Abu Jahl, Hitler, Stalin or Pinochet,” Çelik said, slamming Yılmaz.

Bülent Arınç, the government’s spokesperson who was once politically banned by the coup leaders, said Evren’s death had a “personal meaning,” but he “won’t say anything other than what the government said so far.”

“May God bless everyone who deserves blessing,” Arınç added.