Erdogan to inaugurate Democracy and Freedom Island | Eurasia Diary - ednews.net

5 July,


Erdogan to inaugurate Democracy and Freedom Island

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Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan on Wednesday will inaugurate Democracy and Freedom Island in the waters near Istanbul, on the 60th anniversary of a coup in Turkey, EDNews.net reports citing Daily Sabah.

"Yassıada, which is home to one of the darkest periods in the history of democracy, is reborn as the Island of Democracy and Freedom," Turkey's Communications Directorate said Tuesday in a public service advertisement.

Yassıada, one of the Princes' Islands located in the Sea of Marmara southeast of Istanbul, symbolizes one of the darkest eras in the history of the Republic, as it is notorious for jails and trials from the 1960 military coup.

The island, which saw the culmination of the 1960 coup, has been renamed Democracy and Freedom Island following a recent transformation and construction of new facilities.

Turkey's first democratically elected Prime Minister Adnan Menderes was jailed and tried on the island following the May 27, 1960 coup.

Five years of work on the island have transformed the place to the home of a massive complex that includes a 125-room hotel, a 600-seat conference hall, a mosque, a museum and exhibition halls, as well as cafes and restaurants. Workers are currently putting the final touches on the 18.3-hectare island.

The island was run by the Naval Forces until 1993 before it was transferred to Istanbul University's Fisheries Department. The university abandoned ownership two years later and the few surviving buildings on the island fell into disrepair. The current government pledged to revamp it as a place to remember the coup, the first in the history of the republic, and host events on democracy and freedom.

Menderes and his two ministers, Hasan Polatkan and Fatin Rüştü Zorlu, were three of the 15 sentenced to death at the trials on Yassıada, which was off-limits for decades. While the rest were pardoned, the death sentences of the three leading politicians were carried out on the nearby İmralı Island soon after the decisions were handed down by military tribunals.

Menderes was the founder of 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 seen 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, Menderes' name today can be found in several public places as a mark of respect.

The 1960 coup paved the way for future coups and coup attempts as the military, which viewed itself for a long time as the sole custodian of democracy, overthrew governments they did not like. Another significant coup followed 20 years later, disrupting democracy once again.

Turkey was on a steady political path with no shaky coalition governments for more than a decade when some soldiers, this time those aligned with a terrorist group, tried to seize power in 2016. A total of 251 people were killed and many more were injured when soldiers associated with the Gülenist Terror Group (FETÖ) attempted to overthrow the government and killed civilians opposing them four years ago.

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