Turkey remembers two
historic moments on Sept. 12 Sept. 12 marked tvvo momentous events from Turkish histoıy as the nation remembered the 31st anniversary of a bloody coup d'etat and the first anniversary of a referendum över a constitutional reform package.
Members of the Nationalist Movement Partv's (MHP) "ülkücü" (idealist) movement gathered on Monday at Ankara's Ulucanlar Prison for a panel and exhibition, which showcased photos of ülkıicüs who served time in Ankara's Ulucanlar and Mamak prisons during the coup era.
*How can I talk about the cruelty directed at me after what happened to [people like] Bekir Bag? He died as he vvas being tortured. Hüseyin Kurumahmutoğlu was killed by a baton blow to the head vvhile he was praying. How can 1 talk about the torture that 1 went through among ali these people," Mahir Damatlar, an ülkiicii, said during the panel, adding that nine of his friends were exeaıted in the coup period. Damatlar, also a former member of the Grand Unily Party (BBP), said that although coup general Gen. Kenan Evren is not well-known today, the memory of lale ülkücüs Alparslan Tür keş and Muhsin Yazıaoğlu, who Evren killed, vvill stay alive.
Pıotessor Mümtaz'er Türköne. Professor Vedat Bilgin and fonner MHP official Servet Avcı were in attendance at the panel. Professor Türköne delivered harsh statements against coııp perpetrators: "With the coup, a generation was murdered. Only the foolish can do such a thing. Coup perpetrators dealt the harshest blow to this country. Thev had one goal, which is to gövem Turkey vvilh arms. Disgraceful is a soldier who is involved in coups." He also argued that then-General Evren. who served as president after the coup. lacked intelligence.
A group from Ankara civil society organization Ankara Labor and Democracy Powers Platform, gathered to protest the Sept. 12 military takeover in front of Radyoevi in Ankara and opened placards demanding that coup perpetrators be brought to justice. Noting that the coup was announced at Radyoevi by Evren on Sept. 12, 1980. group spokesperson Hüseyin Esentürk said: "Tine 31-year dark period vvas first declared here. Therefore, we vvrite the name of one of our hanged friends here every year in candles." Esentürk said the group wants the coup generals to be tried for their crimes.
Meanvvhile. 75-year-old Güngör Aydın, who Members of an Ankara civil society organization gathered to protest the Sept. 12,1980, military takeover in front of Radyoevi in the capital.
vvas forced into retirement by the coup administration. continues to struggle for reinstatement of his rights. Thirty-tvvo other former govemors vvere victim to the same strategy as the former Elazığ governor. As a result of his decades-long stnıggle, the Constitutional Court cancelled on June 3, 2010 the regıılation that imposed his obligatory retirement. İn addition to the former govemors who vvere forced into early retirement, many other former state officials also seek moral damages and reinstatement of their rights. Aydın demands his salary for eight years and three months. the period for vvhich he vvould have served had he not been forced into retirement.
Brothers of Cumali Şimşek, vvho died in prison due to torture after being detained in the coup era, filed a complaint against Turkey at the European Court of Human Rights (ECHR). Turhan and Gümüş Şimşek demand TL 1.1 million in compensation from Turkey. The two brothers also filed a complaint against the coup perpetrators at Ankara's Public Prosecutor's Office.
Cumali Şimşek, vvhile on trial in a case against an ülkücü group in Kayseri vvas subjected to torture during the 45 days he vvas held in custody. He vvas later referred to a military prison in Kayseri, vvhere the torture continued.
One day he vvas beaten by military officers for praying in the prison. As a result of the blovvs to his head. he suffered a cerebıal hemorrhage.
Despite his life-tlıreatening health condition.
Şünşek vvas not hospitalized and instead vvas given an aspirin. He later died in his celi. After Article 15 of the Constitution vvhich gave immunity to the generals responsible for the coup vvas removed after the Sept. 12 referendum on the constitutional amendment package. his family broke their 31-year silence and took actioıı for the memory of their brother.
The government-sponsored constitutional reform package vvas approved with 58 percent support last Sept. 12. Many intellectuals and artists praise the referendum for having made a significant contribution to the development of Turkish democracy. Amendments to the judiciary in particular have contributed to a more democratic and civilian society. Coup perpetrators have begun to be brought to justice and the Council of Generals that had staged the 1980 coup d'etat - Evren: Land Forces Commander Nurettin Ersin: Gen. Nejat Tümer. vvho vvas head of the Naval Forces; Tahsin Şahinkaya.
who vvas the commander of the Air Force at the time: and Sedat Celasun, the commander of the Gendarmerie have testified över atrocities committed during the coup period. Changes vvere made to the Constitutional Court. the Supreme Board of Judges and Prosecutors (HSYK). the Court of Appeals and the Council of State. Retirees, civil servants and vvorkers vvon broad rights. positive discrimination vvas legalized for vvomen. children. people vvith disabilities and the families of slain soldiers.
"The referendum changed the perception of people tovvards those vvith disabilities [in a positive way]. The disabled can defend their rights novv," Beyazay Association Chairman Lokman Ayva, vvho is visually impaiıed.