Turkey: Victims of military regime commemorated on the coup's anniversary
The victims of the military junta that took over in Turkey after the coup d'etat on 12 September 1980 were commemorated at a gathering on Tuesday in the Kurdish-majority city of Diyarbakir.
The commemoration outside the notorious Diyarbakir prison, held on the occasion of the coup's 43rd anniversary, was attended by Kurdish deputies, officials of Diyarbakir Bar Association and representatives of human rights groups.
Ercan Yilmaz, the branch chair of Human Rights Association (IHD), stressed in his address that justice has still not been delivered for the victims of the coup and that those responsible for the crimes committed under the military regime have never been held accountable.
"The 12 September regime is unfortunately still in place with all its institutions because it has never been possible to confront the coup. The country is still governed with the constitution, laws and regulations of the military regime. Institutions like the Board of Higher Education and Radio and Television Supreme Board, both products of the coup, are still active. The restrictions on workers' unions, imposed by the military regime, are still in force."
Yilmaz added that democratic rights and freedoms, which were crippled by the military regime 43 years ago, have further been oppressed in the past decade through policies of the ruling Justice and Development Party (AKP). He said:
"Kurds' right to political participation has been oppressed. The policy of replacing elected local administrators with state appointed officials have been made permanent, in violation of the right to elect and be elected. The right to fair trial has been discarded. Fundamental rights including the rights to free expression and association are under severe pressure."
Yilmaz reiterated human rights groups' demand for turning Diyarbakir prison into a human rights museum.
Deputy Sezgin Tanrikulu, who has recently been targeted for his criticism of the military by President Recep Tayyip Erdogan and Republican People's Party (CHP) spokesperson Faik Oztrak, said in his address:
"We won't be able to let go of the traumas of the past without coming to terms with that past. The 12 September coup was a fascist coup conducted within the chain of command of the Turkish Armed Forces. Let me stress once again, the Turkish Armed Forces committed crimes against humanity by that coup. Unfortunately it has not been called to account. Still, we will never let it be forgotten, and the day will definitely arrive when we will in all fairness call to account those who bear responsibility, and have the mentality behind the coup exposed.
About the 12 September Coup
The Turkish Grand National Assembly and the constitution were immediately suspended by the military junta on 12 September 1980, as all parties and trade unions were disbanded, all strikes declared illegal. All mayors of provinces and districts and all local council members were replaced with military personnel.
650,000 people were arrested in the following weeks and months, and 230,000 people faced trial in military courts. Judges issued death sentences for over 500 people. 50 people were executed by hanging.
300 people died in detention centers and prisons under suspicious circumstances, and 171 people were documented as having been “tortured to death.”
Over 1.6 million people were blacklisted, and 14,000 were stripped of citizenship. Some 30,000 became political refugees, most of them in Europe.
One of the most important legacies of the 12 September coup, the 1982 Constitution that is currently in effect and which was a direct product of the military regime, was approved in a referendum by an overwhelming majority of 91.4%. The turnout was 91.3%.