Turkey is a democratic state of law and it will remain so, President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan said Friday as he marked the 62nd anniversary of the first military coup in the country’s modern history.
Speaking at an event on Istanbul’s Democracy and Freedom Island (formerly known as Yassıada) on the occasion of the 62nd anniversary of the military takeover of May 27, 1960, Erdoğan said that the black stain on those who sent former Prime Minister Adnan Menderes and his friends to the gallows will never be cleaned.
“Together with you and our nation, we defeated every attempt against our democracy one by one,” Erdoğan said, underlining the Turkish nation’s fight against the July 15 coup attempt.
The Gülenist Terror Group (FETÖ) and its US-based leader, Fetullah Gülen, orchestrated the defeated coup of July 15, 2016, in which 251 people were killed and 2,734 wounded.
Yassıada, one of the Princes’ Islands located in the Marmara Sea southeast of Istanbul, is associated with one of the darkest eras in the history of the country, as it is notorious for the jails and trials from the 1960 military coup.
The island, which saw the culmination of the 1960 coup, was renamed Democracy and Freedom Island following a recent transformation and the construction of new facilities.
Menderes founded the Democrat Party (DP) in 1945, which broke from the Republican People’s Party (CHP) that had been governing the country in a single-party system since the founding of the republic and led it in the first multiparty elections in 1946. In the 1950 elections, the DP won a parliamentary majority and ran the country until the May 27, 1960, military coup. Menderes is viewed as the first democratically elected prime minister of Turkey.
His term saw significant changes to counter the strict secularist policies of the preceding CHP era that alienated significant portions of the nation, coupled with economic reforms and major diplomatic realigning, including membership to NATO. The DP is seen by many as the predecessor of the liberal-conservative political movements of the Justice Party (AP) of the 1960s and 1970s, the Motherland Party (ANAP) of the 1980s and the ruling Justice and Development Party (AK Party).
In 1990, the Turkish government said it regretted the execution of Menderes, and his grave in Istanbul was turned into a mausoleum. As the last Turkish political leader to be executed after a military coup, many public buildings and spaces are named after Menderes as a sign of respect.
The 1960 coup paved the way for future coups and putsch attempts as the military, which viewed itself for a long time as the sole custodian of democracy, overthrew governments it did not like.