Saturday, April 7, 2012

Leaders of 1980 Military Coup on Trial

In a case that began in Ankara on Wednesday April 4, 2012, two surviving leaders of Turkey's 1980 military coup, the formal Chief of Staff Kenan Evren, 94, and general Tahsin Şahinkaya, 86, have gone on trial. Both generals are accused for acting against the constitution and state authority. Hundreds of demonstrators gathered supporting the criminal charges against the generals and calling for prosecution of state and military personnel who perpetuated the coup.  Lawyers of victims were affected by the military coup in 1980, demanded the crimes committed during the military coup should be defined as "crimes against humanity". Even if they are convicted the generals are unlikely to be jailed because of their age and health.

The most violent of the three military interventions in modern Turkey, the 1980 coup executed 50 people were executed, 300 were killed in prisons and more than half a million were detained, 14,000 were stripped of citizenship and more than 1,5 million people were blacklisted.  In addition to these, hundreds of thousands of people were tortured, and thousands are still missing. 

Turkey is finally facing one of the darkest chapters of its modern history and bringing charges against the coup leaders is an important gesture toward their victims. However, people who follow the trial closely worry that the trial does not go far enough

Moreover, the current arrests of students, journalists and politicians and government pressure on oppositional groups that GIT-North has been America closely issuing on this blog, indicate that the authoritarian regime persists.

According to Bianet, Progressive Lawyers' Association (ÇHD) chair Selçuk Kozağaçlı state that:

"We may be able to intervene to this case but on the other hand, we stand trial four days a week on other issues. This case can't go on as it is. The current government is a continuation of 1980. The tortures, executions and crimes committed during the coup should be classified as crimes against humanity. The indictment is weak and flawed. The defendants claim that they can't be tried with the system they themselves build. I agree."

For a commentary on the trial in Turkish, visit here