Turkey reflects on 54 years since first military coup

After the Arabic call to prayer was returned in 1954, secret groups were set up within the army to plot the overthrow of the government under the pretence that the army was protecting the secular values of the constitution.

Turkey reflects on 54 years since first military coup

World Bulletin / News Desk

Today, Turkey marks 54 years since the first of a series of four military coups to have been carried out in the country's history as a republic.

Prime Minister Adnan Menderes's Democrat Party had been in power for ten years, taking over from the Republican People's Party (CHP) in the Turkish Republic's first free elections in 1950. The staunchly secular CHP had in the early years of the republic, when there was a one-party system, curbed many religious freedoms and even banned the Islamic call to prayer from being recited in Arabic. Menderes, however, successfully returned the call to prayer to its original language in a symbolic move that ruffled feathers among certain senior members in the army.

After the Arabic call to prayer was returned in 1954, secret groups were set up within the army to plot the overthrow of the government under the pretence that the army was protecting the secular values of the constitution.

The coup was finally ordered by the army against Prime Minister Adnan Menderes and his government on May 27, 1960 after a period of economic turmoil resulting from the running out of US aid from the Truman Doctrine and Marshall Plan.

Adnan Menderes, who sought to fix Turkey's economic situation by appealing for a fund from the US's made rival Russia, was swiftly removed from office by a coup d'etat led by junta commander Alparslan Turkes, who vowed his loyalty to the US-led NATO military alliance.

Shortly after the coup, 235 generals and 3500 commissioned officers were forced into retirement while 520 judges and public prosecutors were purged and 1400 university faculty members were arrested.

General Cemal Gursel was quickly appointed as the provisional head of state, prime minister and the minister of defense. Ousted President Celal Bayar and Prime Minister Adnan Menderes were charged with high treason, misuse of public funds and abrogation of the constitution by a junta appointed court on the Yassiada island in the Sea of Marmara.

Prime Minister Adnan Menderes, Foreign Affairs Minister Fatin Rustu Zorlu and Finance Minister Hasan Polatkan were hanged on Imralı island on September 16, 1961.

Last Mod: 27 Haziran 2014, 15:16
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