In a move to confront its troubled past, Turkey is preparing to remove the name of the notorious leader of the 1980 coup. If Parliament approves a bill by two parties, the name of Kenan Evren will be removed from 432 locations – from street names to a district of the capital Ankara.
Evren led the Sept. 12, 1980 coup as chief of general staff and died of multiple organ failure at the age of 97 in 2015, one year after he and former Air Force Commander Tahsin Şahinkaya were convicted of crimes against the state and sentenced to life imprisonment.
With the coup, he assumed presidency and became the head of the National Security Council (MGK) as well as the head of the military. The era that began with the coup is known for gross human rights violations, suspension of the political process and tens of thousands being detained and tortured. After the coup, Evren dissolved Parliament and detained all prominent politicians in a regime of coercion that lasted several years. Some 1.6 million people were blacklisted, 650,000 detained and 230,000 were tried in courts. Fifty people, some juveniles and most political prisoners, were executed while 300 people died in prisons, mostly from torture.
If Parliament approves the bill, Evren’s name will be removed from one district, 17 neighborhoods, nine villages, seven avenues, 86 streets, 295 alleys and 17 other places. Some places bear only his last name while others adopted his full name and title, according to Anadolu Agency (AA). Most places with the coup leader’s name are located in southeastern Şanlıurfa, Evren’s hometown of western Manisa, northwestern Kırklareli and southwestern Muğla, where he spent his last years. Following the notorious coup, the name of one of Ankara's districts was changed to “Evren” to honor him.
Gürsel Erol, a lawmaker from the opposition Republican People’s Party (CHP) who tabled one of the bills, said they expect Evren’s name to be removed from the streets as soon as possible. At a news conference in Ankara on Friday, Erol said: “You can have your name everywhere and declare yourself a hero as long as you have power, but history will hold you to account one day and you will be condemned for what you’ve done ... Kenan Evren’s name will not be remembered as a hero but as a traitor to the Republic of Turkey."