Revising History – the mutability of political reputation

Revising history –
or just widening the road?

Alaşehir is a small town in the Aegean region of Manisa. It’s not a particularly noteworthy place, and its major claim to fame is that it is the birthplace of Kenan Evren, the seventh president of the Republic of Turkey (1980-1989). Until just the other day a bronze statue of the former president overlooked a major intersection in the town . . . until, that is, it was removed by council workers and taken into storage for safe-keeping. The official story is that the roads are being widened to improve traffic flow, and the statue will be re-erected ten metres down the road in the near future. Well, let’s see. The thing is, Kenan Evren was senior general in charge of the 1980 military coup in Turkey, so his rise to presidential glory was a trifle controversial. These days such military intervention in the democratic process is somewhat out of fashion, and those responsible for past coups, including the 93 year-old General Evren, are being called to account in the courts. Citizens in some parts of the country are finally finding the courage to ask for an account of what happened to family members who ‘disappeared’ as recently as the 1990s.
As for me, I’ll be casting a curious eye from time to time in the direction of those roadworks in Alaşehir. 


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