Introduction to 1980 Coup Turkey
“September 12 Coup” or in other words “1980 coup Turkey d’etat” is the third coup d’etat in the history of Republic of Turkey, which was organized by Kenan Evren, the chief of the general staff in Turkey during that period. As a result of the tension between the right-wing and the left-wing in that era, Turkish Armed Forces took over the government of the country on December 12, 1980. Mehmet Ali Birand describes the huge effects of 1980 coup Turkey d’etat by saying “The people that came on that day changed everything. After 1980 coup Turkey d’etat, nothing was going to be as before or nothing was going to be lived as it was in the past” (Birand, 1999). December 12 documentary analyzes the changes that are brought by 1980 coup Turkey d’etat, starting the narration of the late history from early 1970s to late 1990s under the light of witnesses of those times.
December 12 documentary starts with describing the social life in Turkey during that period. One of the most important remarks made on the social life in Turkey during that era is about economic issues. The financial difficulties faced by the society during that time is underlined and it is stated that the only hope to earn money was going abroad to work (Birand, 1999). The financial difficulties were so harsh that celebrations were held for the workers going abroad, mostly to Germany. On the other hand, the conflict between left-wing and the right-wing is also touched upon, which is said to be the main reason for 1980 coup Turkey d’etat. Starting from 1970’s, the pressures of Turkish Army on government started to be seen. It is stated in (Birand, 1999) that, on February 9 1973, the meeting of military council resulted in describing the president of Republic of Turkey and the only person for this description was Faruk Gürler, 15th chief of defence. Bülent Ecevit and Süleyman Demirel states that they were both opposed to electing a president under the pressure of Turkish military forces. This issue can be sorted out by stating that, the coup d’etat was a process which was constructed through time.
Importance of 1980 Coup Turkey
The issue of pressure of Army on government is taken into consideration by Feroz Ahmad, in his article named “Turkey: The Quest for Identity”, where the writer gives the history of modern Turkey. It is stated that, “Active officers saw the danger of intervention from below or ‘outside the chain of command’ and took measures to prevent such occurrences in the future. They formed the Armed Forces Union (AFU) in 1961, a body that included all ranks and which monitored activities throughout the military” (Ahmad, 2003). In that sense, it is seen that (Ahmad, 2003) and the statements of Bülent Ecevit in (Birand, 1999) are parallel. Moving on to 1980, it is stated in the book that the army claimed the reasons for taking the control of government as “social division, economic breakdown, and the anarchy and violence for which the parties and politicians”, which was stated as the same in (Birand, 1999), as mentioned above. It is mentioned that “On 16 September, head of state General Kenan Evren announced the junta’s plan to de-politicize society, so as to render any future military intervention unnecessary” (Ahmad, 2003) but in the later parts of the books, it is seen that Kenan Evren tried to make the coup d’etat have long-term effects; “Having legitimized the constitution, the generals set about finding politicians who would be loyal to their philosophy. On 12 November, President Evren announced elections in October 1983, if all went well” (Ahmad, 2003).
Mehmet Ali Birand ends the December 12 Documentary by stating that a “3 years after 1980, soldiers went back to their barracks after creating a new dress for Turkey and leaving long-term effects on Turkey but the new dress did not fit the Turkish society so long”, which means that even the effects of 1980 coup Turkey d’etat were felt deep down somewhere by the Turkish society, it was not totally accepted by the Turkish society.
1980 Coup Turkey References
- Birand, M. A. (1999, December 12). December 12 Documentary. Turkey.
- Feroz, A. (2003)“Towards Multi-Party Politics and Democracy, 1938-1960.”; “Military Guardians, 1960-1980.”; “The Military, the Parties and Globalization, 1980-2003”. The Quest for Identity. Oneworld Publications: Oxford. 95-188.