Saturday 17 March 2018

Turkey no stranger to military coups over last 50 years

Military coups have been common in Turkey over the last 50 years. Photo: David Davies
Military coups have been common in Turkey over the last 50 years. Photo: David Davies News desk

Military coups have been common in Turkey over the last 50 years, and have unseated four elected governments in Turkey.

1960: On May 2, an almost bloodless military coup was carried out, led by officers and cadets from the Istanbul and Ankara war colleges. -- The next day, the commander of land forces, General Cemal Gursel, demanded political reforms and resigned when his demands were refused. The leaders established a 38-member National Unity Committee with Gursel as chairman. Of 601 people tried, 464 were found guilty. Three former ministers, including Prime Minister Adnan Menderes, were executed.

1971 - The "Coup by Memorandum": The military delivered a warning to the government to restore order after months of strikes and street fighting between leftists and nationalists. Some months later, Prime Minister Suleyman Demirel stepped down and a coalition of conservative politicians and technocrats set to restore order under the supervision of the military. Martial law was established and not lifted until September 1973.

1980: On September 12, 1980, the senior command of the army led by General Kenan Evren, carried out a coup. The action followed a resurgence of street fighting between leftists and nationalists. Leading politicians were arrested, and parliament, political parties, and trade unions were dissolved. A five-member National Security Council took control, suspending the constitution and implementing a provisional constitution that gave almost unlimited power to military commanders.

1997 - The "Post-Modern Coup": On June 18, 1997 Prime Minister Necmettin Erbakan, denounced by opponents as a danger to the country's secular order, stepped down under pressure from the military, business, the judiciary and fellow politicians. The generals saw themselves compelled to act to defend the secular state.

2007: The shadowy Ergenekon group first came to light when a cache of explosives was discovered in a police raid on an Istanbul house. Eventually hundreds of people went on trial for an alleged coup attempt against then-prime minister Tayyip Erdogan, and 275 officers, journalists, lawyers and more were found guilty. The verdicts were all overturned this year after the appeals court ruled a network called Ergenekon was not proven to exist. Erdogan initially supported the prosecution but later blamed police and prosecutors with a religious movement led by Fethullah Gulen, who lives in self-imposed exile in Pennsylvania for faking the conspiracy. He denies any role.

2010: A newspaper revealed a secularist coup plot, dubbed Sledgehammer, that reportedly dated back to 2003, aimed at fomenting chaos to topple Erdogan's AK Party. In 2012, a court jailed 300 of the 365 defendants. Two years later, almost all were freed after the Constitutional Court ruled their rights had been violated. Gulen's followers were blamed, which they deny.

Irish Independent

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