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Friday, June 20, 2014

General Evren Sentenced to Life in Prison


ANKARA: Former army chief Kenan Evren, 96, who came to symbolise the military’s dominance over Turkish political life, was sentenced to life in jail on Wednesday [June 18] for leading a 1980 coup that resulted in widespread torture, arrests and deaths.

The sentencing of retired General Evren marked a strong symbolic moment in Prime Minister Tayyip Erdogan’s taming of an army that had forced four governments from power in four decades. Hundreds of officers were jailed last year over an alleged plot to topple him.

Mr Evren, who also served as president after three years of military rule, never expressed regret for the coup. He said it saved Turkey from anarchy after thousands were killed in street fighting by militant left-wingers and rightists.
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Background (Wikipedia)

Kenan Evren was born in Alaşehir, Manisa Province.[1] After going to elementary school and middle school in Manisa, Balıkesir and Istanbul, he attended military high school in Maltepe, Ankara. In 1938, he graduated from army school and in 1949 from military academy as a staff officer. From 1958 to 1959, he served in the Turkish Brigade in Korea. In 1964, he was promoted to general. Evren served at various posts as Army Chief. He was the commander of Operation Gladio's Turkish branch; the Counter-Guerrilla. The Counter-Guerrilla was an anti-communist "stay-behind" guerrilla force set up with the support of NATO.[2] He became Chief of General Staff in March 1978.

The years leading to the coup were characterized as a fierce struggle between the rightists and leftists. Hoping to see a communist revolution, the left wingers rioted in the streets; on the other hand, the nationalist rightists fought back the left wingers and provoked religious arousal. Universities had taken sides and each became headquarters for either the leftists or rightists.

With the coup came the National Security Council as the ruling body. The council of 1980 was composed of the commanders Kenan Evren, the Chief of Staff and President of the State. The parliament was dissolved. The Central Intelligence Agency's Ankara bureau chief at the time, Paul B. Henze, received a call from the White House Situation Room saying "Paul, your guys have done it", while President Jimmy Carter was watching Fiddler on the Roof at theKennedy Center.[3][4]

After the coup, in 1982, Kenan Evren was elected the President of Republic of Turkey on 7 November with the 90% approval of the new constitution that was submitted to a controversial referendum, replacing the older constitution which, according to him, had liberties "luxurious" for Turkey.[5] He suspended many forms of civil liberties and human rights on the grounds that it was necessary to establish stability. He professed great admiration for the founder of Turkey, Kemal Atatürk, however he shut down many institutions founded by Atatürk and is often accused of deforming the country's legal system against Atatürk's principles. During his military regime, many people were tortured and executed due to their political beliefs.


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