My Turkish newspaper today has an article on the front page about a proposal to turn one of Istanbul’s islands into a museum. Yassiada was where three members of Turkey’s democratically elected government were imprisoned, tried and executed by the perpetrators of a military coup which ousted the Democrat Party government of Adnan Menderes on 27 May 1960.
Menderes has been forgiven (for whatever he was supposed to have done) by subsequent Turkish governments to the extent that he has a large mausoleum in his honour next to the ancient walls of old Istanbul/Constantinople. His name is remembered in numerous avenues and boulevards around the country, as well as the international airport of Turkey’s third largest city, Izmir.
Nevertheless, those three politicians suffered the ultimate penalty of execution by hanging, and all have living relatives for whom forgiveness of the generals may be more difficult. Two of them, the wife and daughter of Finance Minister Hasan Polatkan, are objecting to the proposed museum, calling the site the island of tears, a bitter pun on its name in Turkish.
Turks who experienced the 1960 coup are getting on in years – and even the military takeovers of 1971 and 1980 are fading into history. Nevertheless, the possibility of a repeat performance has not gone away. I draw your attention to an article in the English edition of Zaman newspaper:
Selling our democracy to the West
The Islamic Revolution of Iran and the explosions that have been erupting in the Middle East since 2010 have made it clear that autocratic regimes will be replaced by their Muslim counterparts.
Although its inception dates far back in time, this process had been halted by the West. The first blow came when the Islamic Salvation Front (FIS) won the first round of elections in Algeria in the early 1990s. France rushed to put juntas into action and made them stage a coup in Algeria. By releasing a grant of $292 million to the military-ruled Algeria one week later, the European Union shamelessly supported the coup. In 1996, the Welfare Party (RP) of Turkey secured 21 percent of the national vote and was entitled to form a coalition government with the secular True Path Party (DYP). However, it was overthrown with the coup of Feb. 28, which was made possible with collaboration from the US and Israel and endorsement from the EU. The European Court of Human Rights (ECtHR) approved the closure of the RP without being bothered with concerns of legal legitimacy. In 2006, fair elections were held in Palestine and Hamas won; Carter announced the elections were fair and proper. Israel arrested more than 40 elected deputies, ministers and the speaker and sent them to jail; the US and the EU said that Israel was entitled to do so. The presidential elections in which Mohammed Morsi secured 52 percent of the vote were extremely fair and legal. But one year later, the junta overthrew him with collaboration from the US, Israel and the EU. Read more