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Ahmet Kenan Evren (born 17 July 1917) was the seventh president of Turkey; a post he assumed by leading the 1980 military coup.

Biography

Kenan Evren was born in Alaşehirmarker, Manisa. After going to elementary school and middle school in Manisa, Balıkesir and Istanbulmarker, he attended military high school in Maltepe, Ankaramarker. 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 Koreamarker. In 1964 he was made 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. He became Chief of General Staff in March 1978.

Military coup

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. The political leaders Suleyman Demirel and Bülent Ecevit were incapable of controlling the violence.

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 the Kennedy Centermarker.

After the coup, in 1982, Kenan Evren was elected the President of Republic of Turkey on November 7 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. 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.

Evren took strong measures to ensure that the division between the political left and right would not turn into violence again; the new constitution limited the rights and depoliticized the youth.

According to a report on the Susurluk scandal of 1996, prepared by Prime Ministry Inspection Board Deputy Chairman Kutlu Savaş, quoted by the Human Rights Foundation of Turkey, "Fascists had been released from prison in return for 'finishing some jobs' under Evren's rule after 12 September 1980".

Responding to a journalist's question regarding the execution of 17-year-old Erdal Eren, he memorably responded "Should we feed him rather than hang him?"

Post-presidency

After his retirement, he moved to the Turkish Mediterranean resort town of Armutalan, Marmarismarker and took up painting.On 2 August 2006, a reported plan for assassinating Evren was thwarted when two men were apprehended and arrested in Muğlamarker. A previous attempt in 1996 had already been tracked down when two members of the assassination team spoke on a cellphone eavesdropped by the police, and the Islamic call to prayer (adhan) could be heard during their conversation. Since the timing of the adhan was 4–5 minutes after Istanbul, a point slightly more to the west by that time margin was sought and the team members were caught in Marmarismarker itself.

In 2004, he revealed that his daughter, Şenay Gürvit, and son-in-law, Erkan Gürvit, are members of the National Intelligence Organization. His daughter presided over the reprisal operations against the militant Armenian organization, ASALA.

After Bülent Ecevit's death, he expressed remorse over the arrest of political leaders after the September 12 coup, but defended the coup itself and the 35 executions. Civilian resentment exists, and there have been demands for his being called to account, following the Ergenekon investigationmarker.

Evren was hospitalized for massive gastrointestinal bleeding on August 3, 2009, in Yalıkavakmarker, Bodrummarker, where his summer house is located. A temporary artificial pacemaker was applied to Evren while in intensive care due to bradycardia. His large intestine was removed a week later at GATA in Istanbul (Gülhane Military Medicine Academy) where he was transferred. He was discharged on September 24, 2009.

References

  1. Biography, Presidency of the Republic of Turkey
  2. 1998 Report from the Human Rights Foundation of Turkey (HRFT), chapter II, "SUSURLUK SCANDAL: Counter-guerilla Affairs", p.39-86 (see p.47)
  3. (3 October 1984 speech at Muş)



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