Former dictator Kenan Evren is being tried
01 May 2012 /International Bulletin / No: 116
On April 4, 2012, the trial against Kenan Evren and Tahsin Sahinkaya, the two former generals who were the main executors of the military coup of September 12, 1980 and the two still-alive members of the 5-member-junta of the established by the coup, has started. Especially the name of Kenan Evren was the main symbol of the military coup, such as Pinochet, Videla or Somoza being the first names remembered about the putsches in Latin America. The two former generals are accused with "having carried out a coup".
The trial is carried out by the 12th Heavy Penal Court of Ankara. Kenan Evren, as the chief of the general staff during the coup and the 7th president of republic of Turkey after the coup, and Tahsin Sahinkaya, as the commander of the air forces of the Turkish Armed Forces during the coup and member of the junta after the coup, are being tried according to the 80th and 146th articles of the Turkish Penal Code about "Crimes Against The State" and an aggravated life sentence is demanded against them.
Thus, workers, labourers, Kurdish people, the oppressed Allevite denomination, human rights defenders, trade unions, hundreds of thousands of direct victims of the coup who were either direct targets of the tortures, extrajudicial killings, imprisonments or who have lost their relatives, have reached an important achievement in their 32-year struggle against the military fascist regime.
While the two putschists were not present at the trial by showing some excuses about health, many victims of the coup as well as progressive and revolutionary organisations, trade unions and democratic mass organisations gathered in front of the court to raise their demands. Hundreds of people who lost their sons and daughters and who were tortured and imprisoned during the coup demanded to take part in the trial officially. Only a few of the demands were accepted and hundreds were rejected through to various pretexts.
The legal way for the trial was opened by the constitutional reform of the AKP government approved by a referendum on September 12, 2010. This was an important move of AKP in its struggle for a greater share in the political power in its clash with the counter-clique of the bourgeoisie (the front of army- CHP - MHP etc). The changes were mainly consisting of constitutionalising the posts gained by AKP in its 8-year struggle for the political power, reducing the power of the army and increasing the authorities of the state structures that were controlled by the AKP at that moment. In this reform package, AKP included the abolishment of the 15th article of the constitution, known as the article of impunity. This article was included in the constitution after the military coup and it was guaranteeing that the army members cannot be tried because of their acts during the coup of 1980 and in the future. So the article was not only ensuring total impunity for those responsible for the military coup but also making sure that any new attempt of coup in the future will neither be convicted. This was the clearest expression of the army's control over the political power. AKP abolished this article for two reasons: first of all, in order to deprive the counter-clique known as the army front of an important legal mainstay, and secondly, in order to meet - of course in appearance - an important demand of the social movement in Turkey/Northern Kurdistan; it was a concession made for gaining them for a vote of "yes" to the constitutional reform in the referendum and decreasing the level of the revolutionary and progressive forces in general by showing itself as an important fighter for democracy. This move had divided especially the left forces into several camps; one side voted for yes under the slogan "Not Enough But Yes", one side voting for "No", thus objectively also refusing the abolishment of the 15th article, and the third side, formed by our forces, Kurdish national movement and some other revolutionary and democratic forces that boycotted the referendum.
The discussions and illusions still continue, but especially with the sharp change of the AKP policies after the general elections in June 2011 and shifting to more open forms of repression against all oppositional sectors, and with the efforts of the platforms such as HDK and the Initiative "Millions Want Justice", the majority of the progressive and revolutionary forces are getting more and more united against repression. Now the main demands of the anti-putschist movement about the trial are three: First of all, Kenan Evren and Tahsin Sahinkaya should be tried not because of having carried out a coup, which is an offence against the state, as defined in the penal code, but because of "crimes against humanity", tortures, killings, forced disappearances as well as the violation of all political rights such as the right to association, freedom of expression etc. Secondly, through this way, not only Evren and Sahinkaya but all those who have taken part in the apparatus of crimes against humanity, from the officials to the doctors that have taken part in the tortures and killing, should be judged. Thirdly, not only the crimes during the junta but also those responsible for all mass massacres, tortures and killings after the junta until now, as a continuation of the junta, should be judged.
So the opening of the trial was only a start. After this, a sharp struggle between the bourgeois Turkish state and the workers and oppressed labouring people will be necessary in order to carry the process further. The main aim of the bourgeoisie in this struggle will be limiting the trial as far as possible with the objective of "civilising" the state apparatus according to the current necessities of the capital. On the contrary, workers' and labourers' front will be fighting for a real judgement of all putschists. The success of the second in this struggle will be determined by the success in combining this struggle with the struggle against the current crimes and attacks of the Turkish bourgeoisie represented by AKP government itself, especially against the on-going war with military and political attacks against the Kurdish national movement, revolutionary forces and all sectors of the peoples' movement. Finally, it is obvious that the entire struggle to bring the putschists in front of the court is only one aspect of the issue. Although it plays a very important role in growing the mass-base of the anti-fascist struggle, without the focus on "who will ask account by which means", it cannot be avoided that this becomes a pretext of the efforts of AKP to create illusions and empty expectations from ruling class. So, this struggle can play its role only on the base of growing the class struggle on all levels, exposing the limits and the class character of the bourgeois justice in the eyes of the masses through these trials and putting forward the revolutionary violence as the main way of asking account from all crimes of the bourgeoisie.