The Republic of Turkey today figures within the Western European family as the only country ruled by an authoritarian regime. After the collapse of dictatorships one after the other in Greece, Portugal and Spain, Turkey has remained the only worry to European democratic institutions and after the military coup of 1980 has become the shame of the European democracies.
The state terrorism which turned this country into a huge concentration camp is mainly marked by:
- Arrest of more than 200 thousand persons for political reasons,
- Systematic torture and ill-treatment of prisoners,
- Mass trials in which over 50,000 people have been brought before military tribunals,
- Execution of 27 political activists while more than 6,000 face the same inhuman punishment,
- Dissolution of all political parties existing prior to the military coup and a restriction on the new founded parties' activities,
- Suspension of progressive trade unions and dissolution of all progressive associations,
- Censorship and self-censorship imposed on the Press and systematic persecution of journalists, writers, translators, artists and all anti-establishment intellectuals,
- Ideological conditioning of cultural, educational and academic life,
- Discrimination, repression, extermination and deportation in the Turkish Kurdistan,
- Deprivation of Turkish nationality for the regime's opponents abroad,
- Suppression of all means of defending social rights that were previously obtained, causing a 50 percent fall in the wage earners' purchasing power,
- Adoption of a new Constitution which lay down the foundations of a constant repressive regime and enabled General Evren, who masterminded the coup, to occupy the post of the "President of the Republic" for seven years.
Although the military announced a "return to democracy" in 1983 by organizing a sham election, the state of emergency has been made constant since then by creating a police state which replaced martial law. So a militarist "democracy" has been established in the south-eastern flank of Europe.
Paradoxically, the lands ruled today by the Republic of Turkey figure in ancient history as the cradle of democracy and the scene of numerous civilizations which lay down the cultural, moral, social and even political foundations of the present European community.
The soils of this country are full of remnants of the Paleolithic and the Neolithic Ages when Man made his earliest appearance in Anatolia. Since then, the Trojans, the Early and Late Hittites,
the Phrygians, the Lydians, the Lycians, the Ionians, the Greco-Romans, the Urartus, the Armenians, the Assyrians, the Kurds, the Arabs and many others have contributed to the rising of world civilization. Many of the intellectual, political and artistic qualities that improved man's life originated there.
Thousands of years after, on the same lands, in Anatolia and in Eastern Thrace, a repressive regime reigns without attaching any importance to these gains and qualities of humanity.
What is worst, this betrayal of the historical values of the country is made in the name of "westernization" and "Europeanization" and, to the great astonishment of the country's oppressed people and European democratic forces, with the benediction of some Western governments and institutions.
In fact, the Republic of Turkey is a founding member of the Council of Europe, of the North Atlantic Alliance, of the OECD, an associate member of the EEC and a signatory of the Helsinki Final Act. Beginning with the Universal Declaration on Human Rights, Turkey has been engaged in all international and European acts meant to protect fundamental human rights and freedoms. But in a 40-year span of time, the same Turkey has thrice undergone military interventions and subsequent violations of all human rights and freedoms guaranteed by the declarations and acts signed by Turkish rulers. And this is tolerated by the other signatories of the same acts.
If you lend an ear to some simplistic arguments raised to justifiy this benediction, the Turkish presence in these lands and consequently in the European family is a historical mistake, but also a de facto situation. No one should expect from this Asiatic originated people a democratic regime entirely conforming to European standards, because "Turks are violent by nature and are not entitled to democracy." Since it is not possible to remove Turks from these lands or to adapt them to European standards, why should the Western World endanger its strategic and economic interests in the area by angering Turkish rulers for the sake of defending these standards.
Let us take torture, one of the daily practices of the Turkish military regime. The Washington- based Helsinki Watch Committee, in its latest report on Turkey, exposes in the following terms American diplomatic approach to this issue :
"We wonder if anyone at the U.S. Embassy has ever interviewed Turkish torture victims, or sat, as we did, in rooms full of relatives of political prisoners, listening to their descriptions of prison conditions. If they had, they would realize that torture not only continues, which they now admit, but that it remains widespread, which they deny. By coming face to face with torture victims, by witnessing the pain and outrage with which they recount their experiences, they would be able to determine, as we did, that these are not fabrications thought up by prisoners 'who know how sensitive we foreigners are to torture stories,' as we were told by one Embassy officer. That recurrent abstraction about the 'violent nature of the Turkish people' would seem irrelevant. To be sure, not every member of the diplomatic staff believes that abstraction. An officer in Istanbul assured us that: 'Based on my experience, the Turkish people are not used to, or even resigned to any use of torture.' Yet others, both in Washington and in Ankara, expressed the belief that Turks were violent by nature as if this somehow explained away the use of torture in Turkish society." (Freedom and Fear - Human Rights in Turkey, March 1986, Washington-New York) Such a lombrosian approach by U.S. diplomacy could be convincing for some ready made recipe addicts, if U.S. history had not been full of shameful episodes of witch-hunting, lynching, Indian genocide, Hiroshima, Nagazaki, Vietnam, Chile, and if it had not been put in evidence that chief torturers of the allied countries such as Turkey are systematically trained in the United States with the most sophisticated methods.
And European adherents of this lombrosian approach could be excused on grounds that many painful souvenirs of the Turkish occupation lasting for centuries still remain vivid in collective memory, if European history itself had not been stained with the Inquisition, massacres and tortures perpetrated by European rulers against their own European subjects even in the last few decades in Germany, Italy, Spain, Portugal and Greece.
Whatever their origin, their historical background and their national characteristics, all peoples are equal before international conventions on human rights and shoud in no way be discriminated against.
It should be added that the people of Turkey, rebelling very often against tyranny and struggling for justice, freedom and human dignity, has proved that they deserve a true democracy, not a militarist "democracy".
It is a fact that Turks are an Asian originated people who adopted Islam before their arrival to Anatolia. When they entered Anatolia in 1071 they found a population which was the amalgamation of different races already mentioned above, dominated by the Christian Byzantine Empire.
The Altai Mountains on the western edge of the Mongolian plateau are thought to be the original home of the Turks. Their conversion to Islam dates from about A.D. 970. Renowned for their fighting prowess, thousands of them served the Abbasid Caliphs of Baghdad as mercenaries.
Seljuk, a Turk of the Oghuz tribe, gave his name to the first of these Turkish tribes to gain historical prominence. In 1055 the Seljuks took Baghdad. Christian Armenia fell to the Seljuk Turks in 1064. By 1070 they were moving through the area of Syria and Palestine. Anatolia fell to the Seljuks following the battle of Malazgirt (Manzikert) in 1071. Shortly thereafter, the Seljuks established the Sultanate of Rum (derived from Rome) with its capital at Konya. After a gradual decline, the Sultanate finally submitted to another Turkish tribe, the Ottoman Turks in the late 14th century.
Founded in 1299, the Ottoman State turned into a three-continent empire within a very short time. The process of Ottoman expansion was interrupted by the Mongol invasion of Anatolia by Tamerlane in 1402, but restored again within a few decades, After the fall of Constantinople (Istanbul) in 1453, Sultan Mehmed II and his successors guided the Ottoman Empire to its zenith.
The Ottoman Empire's expansion was carried out, without any doubt, at the expense of lives, welfare and liberties of the peoples of the occupied lands. The highest price was paid without a doubt by the Christian communities. But the Turkish peasants and handicraftsmen too underwent curelty from the Ottoman dynasty when they revolted against the pillage of the cavalrymen and the Janissaries.
Nevertheless the Seljuks and the Ottomans contributed one after the other to the mosaics of civilizations of the lands they occupied with an amazing creativity tempered with the influence of Persan and Arabic culture.
The period of the Seljuk Empire stands out as times of prosperity, in which Anatolia was provided with a convenient road system, with solid and well-designed stone bridges and lordly caravanserais, with hospitals, schools and obervatories. Seljuk monuments, decorated with fascinating architectural ornamentation, are still numbered among the best works of art found on the Anatolian peninsula.
The mighty Ottoman Empire, in its years of glory, enjoyed the same prosperity and the same high level of culture and science, combined with lively commercial activity, as in the Seljuk period. The Turks of the Ottoman period developed an architecture that is one of the great artistic achivements of mankind, while their artistic activity in other spheres produced some of the loveliest objects of that time.
To be just, neither the Turks of the Ottoman Empire nor those of the Republic of Turkey have an outlook identical to that of the turks who came out from Central Asia. In the course of their occupation, the Turks have mixed with other races, either by mixed-marriages or by converting the latter to Islam. The population of Anatolia, except the Kurds, the Armenians, the Greeks, the Assyrians and some other minorities who have survived and kept their national and religious identity, is a blend of different races assimilated to Turkish identity and to Islamic beliefs.
However, the bourgeoisie and the high bureaucrats of this Turkish-lslamic society have been attached since the beginning of the 19th century to the dream of "westernization" or "Europeanization".
To turn this dream into reality, the rulers of the country have resorted to numerous reforms, very often applied by force, and have not missed any occasion to affiliate with European institutions. To be identified as "European" is an obsession of the Turkish bourgeoisie and bureaucracy. To a certain degree, this dream has been substantiated. The Republic of Turkey is already a member of many European organizations. Although still deprived of many standards of the European way of living and still considerably influenced by the Islamic world, the outlook of the Turkish society, especially in the urban zones, can be identified with European rather than Asian or Islamic outlooks.
This process of "westernization" or "Europeanization" is a very painful one.
The Turkish bourgeoisie and its bureaucrat allies have taken this process as a means of capitalist development, closer collaboration with foreign capital and a fashionable way of living.
But the same alliance has consciously and deliberately managed to elude class struggles which had marked the western world's history, as well as the existence of left-wing political parties
and progressive trade unions, all characteristics of the West.
Alongside the Turkish bourgeoisie's double-faced attitude, there are also historical and structural reasons for the slow-progress to westernization.
First of all, the structure of Ottoman society was very different from that of western societies.
Modern western society has sprouted from the ruins of feudal society which led to a capital accumulation, necessary for passing to the capitalist stage. In the same period, the centralized despotic structure of the Ottoman society and its mode of production was far removed from the western model.
In the Ottoman society all lands belonged to the State and were attributed for exploitation to the cavalrymen (sipahis) who formed the bulwark of the nascent empire. The sipahis were not owners of these estates, named timars, but administrators on behalf of theSultan (Chief of State). The sipahis rented the estates to the reaya (subjects) and in exchange collected a very high tax to finance the military expenditures of this martial empire.
Since imperial ownership of estates did notgive the sipahis the possiblity of capital accumulation and the reaya the possibility of leaving the lands and becoming "free laborers," the very first prerequisites of a capitalist development did not exist. Although big cities had manufacture and commerce, this centralized despotic system prevented them from turning to capitalist enterprises.
Besides, external factors also prevented the Ottoman Empire's development into a capitalist society. At first the Ottoman Empire dealt with European states from a position of strength. But in the 16th Century, the Empire entered its period of decline. The lack of internal dynamics was accompained by the gradual loss of commerce as Europe turned to South Asia for its trade with the Far East. While the influx of gold and silver was enriching Western Europe as a result of new explorations, an Ottoman Empire, losing all its resources of income, found itself in a financial crisis. The lack of tributes led to unrest and revolt in the Janissary corps which had been the mainstay of the Ottoman expansion. So, military superiority gradually shifted to Western Europe which set up more powerful armies and equipped them with all the technological innovations.
On the other hand, all the privileges granted to Western countries during the growing period of the Ottoman Empire as a sign of friendship later became an impediment for the latter. In 1525 the Ottomans responded to an appeal from Francis I of France to aid him against the Hapsburgs. Subsequent French influence in the Ottoman Empire was marked by a treaty in 1535. What began as a concession from an Empire at the height of its powers evolved into the extensive system of capitulations that was to trouble Ottoman-European relations. These capitualtions gave the European powers commercial and financial privileges that in time were extended particularly to Great Britain (1579), Austria (1615), Holland (1680), and Sweden (1737). In 1830 the United States and Turkey signed a treaty containing a "most favored nation" clause.
A series of Turkish defeats in the latter half of the 17th century stimulated Ottoman interest in Europe. By the beginning of the 19th century the Ottoman Empire was considered the "Sick Man of Europe" by the European powers. Territorial loss followed territorial loss. Throughout the 19th century and in the early 20th century, Russia, Great britain, Germany, France and Austria-Hungary were concerned with the Eastern Question. In essence, the Eastern Question involved the decline of the Ottoman Empire and the anticipated benefit that each western state expected to derive from the steady weakening of the Ottoman state.
In fact, in the second half of the 16th century, under the disintegrating effects of western industry and commerce, the Ottoman society structure began to change. As the financial crisis deepened, the system of taxation completely altered and the system of public property of the estates collapsed. So, the timars turned into private estates and the bureaucracy happening to own the states gained power before the Sultan's despotic rule. On the other hand, the young bourgeoisie rising in non-moslem populations of the Empire began to act more daringly thanks to its close collaboration with powerful Western capitalism.
By the second half of the 18th century, the changes of social structure and the succession of failures, primarily military, convinced the Ottoman rulers of the necessity for reforms with the Empire.
Reforms in the Ottoman Empire really began with Sultan Selim II and his successor Mahmut II who instituted a number of innovations. The western powers supported these reforms because they would prepare the necessary infra-structure and legal framework for exploiting the country's manpower and economic resources and would further the disintegration of the Empire, mainly thanks to national rights to be given to numerous ethnic and religious components of the society.
The Baltalimani Commerce Treaty, signed between Great Britain and the Ottoman Sultan in 1838, subjected the Empire to the economic interests of Europe. Asa result of this submission, all sectors of the Ottoman manufacture collapsed within a few decades and the Empire turned into an open market for British industry and commerce.
This treaty was followed by the Giilhane Hatti Hümayunu (Noble Edict of Gülhane) in 1839. Drawn up by Grand Vizier Mustapha Resit Pasha, this edict promised the Western powers further reforms to guarantee western interests and to increase the immunities of the Christian minorities.
This process led in 1876 to the proclamation of the first constitutional regime, Mesrutiyet / and to the setting up of a Parliament in which all minorities had their representatives.
However this balance of power could last only for two years. Increase of foreign debts and economic dependence on Europe resulted in aggravating the people's impoverishment. For the masses under the influence of the conservative moslem clergy, this impoverishment was the of the western-type reforms. Referring to this discontent. Sultan Abdülhamit II abolished the Constitution, dissolved the Parliament and cracked down on the intellectuals sponsoring western-type reforms and parliamentary system. Yet, during his 33-year reign, the collapse of the Empire did not stop but, on the contrary, accelerated.
In 1881, Diiyunu Umumiye (Administration of the Ottoman Public Debts) composed of the representatives of six European states, acting like the IMF of our epoch, took the whole economic life of the country under its control. Just before World War I, Ottoman debts totalled more than 700 million dollars. In 1912, a third of the imperial budget was allocated to payments of public debts. In the same period, the Germans obtained a 99-year concession for Berlin-to-Baghdadrailroad construction.
The despotic rule of Abdülhamit II gave rise to reaction in the country and abroad. European powers particularly disliked his pan-islamic methods of dealing with nationalist currents among the Christian minorities, of which the most tragic example was the extermination of Armenians.
As for the rising military and civilian bureaucracy, represented by the Young Turks Movement, they were discontented since they had lost material benefits under the Sultan's monarchy.
In 1908, the Young Turks, heading all discontented components of the society, including the Christian minorities as well, revolted and established the Mesrutiyet II, constitutional regime.
The Young Turks' primary concern was to strengthen the Empire and to stop territorial losses.
This concern led to an emphasis on Ottomanism, aimed at keeping all nationalities within the integrity of the Empire. But the rising nationalist movements of different components of the society led the Young Turks to a nationalist, even a racist attitude. Their political organization, ltd- had Terakki (Union and Progress) attempted to raise a western-type national bourgeoisie to replace the non-moslem one. To provide them with cheap manpower and to eliminate the non-moslem bourgeoisie's competition, the Young Turks, betraying their promise of freedoms, banned all political and democratic organizations of the working class and the national communities. Strikes were crushed by using the armed forces. Doing it, the new rulers of the country wished to convince western powers that it would be more beneficial for them to have the Turkish and Moslem as collaborator rather than the non-moslems.
This research of collaboration led the Young Turks to fall under the influence of German imperialism and to enter the First World War at the side of German armies. This brought about the tragic end of the Ottoman Empire. In 1918, almost all territories of the State fell under the occupation of Great Britain, France, Italy, the United States and Greece.
Although the monarchy in Istanbul surrendered to western powers, the workers, peasants and tradesmen of Anatolia and Eastern Thrace, and young army officers organized guerilla warfare in a short time against the occupation forces. This popular resistance was later supported by the national bourgoisie with the hope of replacing the non-moslem bourgeoisie after the victory.
Mustafa Kemal Pasha, one of the heroes of the First World War, joined the resistance forces on May 19,1919, and led them to the constitution of the Turkish Grand National Assembly in Ankara and to setting up a regular army. Thanks to material and diplomatic support from the young Soviet Republic, this regular army routed the occupation forces in 1922 and took back the territories which figure in the present map of Turkey.
Following the victory, the national bourgeoisie and the military, in alliance with the big landowners, proclaimed the Republic of Turkey to replace the Ottoman Empire. The caliphat was abolished and a series of western-style reforms were put in practice one after the other -from the abolition of many religious institutions to the adoption of western alphabet, calendar, writing, dress and civil codes.
As the founder of the Republic, Mustafa Kemal Atatürk announced just at the beginning that Turkey was to renounce all its traditional ties with the Islamic world and to turn into a European state with all the living standards of the West.
Under the one-party dictatorship of the Republican People's Party (CHP) many steps were taken in this sense, but all of them remained within the limits of superficial reforms. Perhaps the country's outlook considerably changed in comparison with the period of the Ottoman Empire, jaut neither the economic infrastructure nor the political regime changed accordingly.
Already in 1921, while the Turkish socialist movement was active in the national liberation war on many fronts and Soviet Russia was supporting this war, the Ottoman pashas leading the National Assembly and the resistance forces clamped down on left-wing organizations, suppressed popular guerillas ans assassinated 15 leaders of the new founded Communist Party of Turkey.
After eliminating organized social forces, the Economic Congress held on February 17,1923, announced that the new state was to adopt a capitalist development line, and accordingly would grant full control of the country's economy to the alliance of the new rising national bourgeoisie and big landowners. Such an economic policy attaching no importance to the needs of the working people led only to the enrichment of a handful of capitalists and the Army and Party chiefs who, thanks to the advantages granted by the State, became capitalists or managers of State enterprises.
Mustafa Kemal Pasha, who was later given the surname Atatürk (father of the Turks) and the title of Eternal Chief, was confronted with popular opposition in spite of his charismatic personality, because of the anti-labour policies of the party he headed.
The Kurds who had actively taken part in the liberation war and had never raised a national independence question, realized in a few years that the chauvinist stand of the new political power was to deprive them of their most fundamental rights such as education in their mother tongue. As a result of this repression the Kurds had to revolt against the Ankara Government several time: 1924 Nasturi, 1925 Raman and Rackoyan, 1925 Sheikh Sait, 1926 Koçusagi, 1927 Bicar, 1930 Zilan, 1927, 1930-32 Agri and 1937-38 Dersim revolts. All of them were brutally suppressed.
Using the Kurdish revolts in 1925 as a pretext, the Kemal ist power, adopting exceptional laws, outlawed all left-wing organizations and publications as well.
Even a fraction of the ruling classes opposing the Kemalist power could not escape from the repression. Two political parties founded by close friends of Atatürk, the Progressive Party (TF) and the Liberal Party (SF), were closed down respectively in 1925 and 1930, for fear of seeing discontented popular masses reassembled around them.
Under internal and external pressure, President Inônü had to announce the passage to a multi-party system and four leading deputies of the CHP founded the Democrat Party (DP), representative of own interests of the alliance of the bourgeoisie and big landowners. It was within this opening to "democracy" that the working masses began to express their opposition to the one-party dictatorship and created their trade unions and political parties. But after a short period, both the CHP and the DP agreed to crush these first attempts at opening to the left; two new-founded socialist parties and trade unions were closed down by martial law and the socialist intelligentsia once more found itself in prison.
In the 1946-50 period, the US influence over Turkey rapidly increased. On May 22, 1947, the Law of "Aid to Turkey and Greece" came into force and on July 12, 1947, the United States and Turkey signed the "Agreement on Aid to Turkey." One year later, Turkey was included in the Marshall Plan and the Economic Aid Agreement was signed on July 4, 1948, between Turkey and the United States. The aim of this agreement was to turn Turkey into a raw material and food resource for Europe and into a market for the industries established in Europe with US capital.
For these reasons, the US economic aid foresaw only the development of the Turkish agricultural sector, not the industrial. So, Turkey fell this time under the economic, ideological, political and military hegemony of the United States.
Exploiting the dissatisfaction of the peasants and workers, unconscious of their class interests, the DP gained an overwhelming electoral victory in 1950. During the 10-year period of DP rule, US hegemony on Turkey was consolidated. Just after coming to power, the DP sent a Turkish brigade to the Korean War, which cost Turkey 717 deaths and 2,246 wounded. Asa reward for this sacrifice, Turkey was accepted to NATO in 1952 and all the Turkish armed forces were placed under the Pentagon's control. More than a hundred US military bases and installations were established on Turkish territories.
Defending US positions in all international forums, participating in all pro-American treaties such as the Baghdad Pact, afterward renamed CENTO, and the RCD, adhering to the Eisenhower Doctrine in 1957, allowing the US war planes to take off from Turkish airports to intervene in the Lebanon Crisis in 1958, Turkey became completely isolated from the Third World and entirely dependent on the United States.
In the ideological plan, anti-communism was adopted as a state policy. The Turkish press and the state-owned radio provided most vulgar examples of McCarthyism. Not only socialists, but also liberal-minded citizens who dared to criticize the US hegemony were exposed to police terrorism.
Foreign capital was given many concessions with the adoption of the laws for the Encouragement of Foreign Capital Investment and for the Oil Exploration and Production in 1954.
Parallel to the capitalization, shanty towns began to appear on the outskirts of big cities such as Istanbul, Ankara, Izmir and Adana. To keep the growing working class under control, the existing company unions were grouped within the Turkish Trade Unions Confederation (Turkish subsidized and guided by the US trade union centers.
Nevertheless, the ultra-liberal economic policies of the DP led to chronic foreign deficits, increase of foreign debts and to uncontrollable inflation. As popular unrest spread, the DP Government resorted to more repressive measures, jailing intellectuals, students, workers, peasants, even Army officers. In April 1960, the majority of the National Assembly officially suspended many fundamental rights and freedoms and banned the activities of the CHIP, the principal opposition party.
The DP period ended with the first military intervention of the Republican era, on May 27, 1960. During the past ten years, the DP had brushed aside bureaucratic barriers for the sake of a ultra-liberalism and the military had seen their prestige diminished. The living standards of the military had declined to a great extent and army officers had shared the growing discontent of the working people.
It is obvious that the United States was very well aware of the Army's intention to overthrow the DP Government, but gave it the go-ahead, being sure that Army officers were not opposed to NATO and the US presence in Turkey. In fact, under the influence of Cold War brainwashing, the army officers could not see the United States' important responsability for the country's troubles and contented themselves with accusing only the DP leaders. On the very first day it took power, the National Unity Committee (MBK) reaffirmed Turkey's interests in maintaining such pacts as NATO and CENTO. They even signed a series of bilateral accords with the United States, to reinforce military and economic dependence on the latter.
Another reason for the US green light for the coup was Prime Minister Menderes' announced intentions to improve relations with the USSR and to visit Moscow soon. When the country fell into a deep economic crisis, Menderes had asked for credits from the IMF and other international monetary institutions. They had imposed many drastic measures in order to furnish credit. Although the government had put many of these measures in practice, including a sharp devaluation, in 1958, these efforts were not rewarded with the expected credits. Disappointed with the West's attitude, Menderes began to seek relations with socialist countries. The USA would not forgive this.
Although dependent on the USA, the Turkish Military, with the purpose of satisfying social opposition, put a new Constitution in force guaranteeing fundamental rights and freedoms. So, a relatively democratic period began in Turkey. It is in this period that, for the first time in Turkish history, a socialist party, the Workers' Party of Turkey (TIP), was legally founded and all left literature began to appear in book-stores. Reviews such as Yon, Ant, Türk Solu, Aydinlik, spread socialist views. And a new trade-union confederation, DISK, defied American style trade unionism and engaged an important section of the working class in the fight for social rights. Even Kurdish intellectuals, despite legal obstacles, began to raise their voices and to found their own organizations.
Again it is in this period that Turkey took the most important step in the process of "westernization" or "Europeanization", by signing the Association Agreement with the European Economic Community in 1963, to become effective in 1964.
During the Cyprus crisis in 1964, President Johnson's letter to Prime Minister Inônü, reminding him that Turkey had no right to use US given military material without US permisssion, gave rise to anti-american protests. The government itself, reacting against the US insolence, made an ouverture to socialist and Third World countries and concluded a trade agreement with the Soviet Union in 1964.
Concerned by this anti-American atmosphere in Turkey, the United States launched new manoeuvres to replace Inônü's coalition goverment by a pro-American one. Just before the Congress of the Justice Party (AP), heir to the dissolved DP, Engineer Süleyman Demirel, contractor of the US Morisson Company, was put forward by the pro-American mass media as the main candidate for chairman. Demirel's photos with President Johnson was largely used during this campaign.
Financially supported by big business and landowners, Demirel's AP obtained an absolute majority —52.87 percent- in the 1965 elections and the Turkish right's restoration opened.
When the Right came back to power, a well-planed trap to tame the Armed Forces had already given its fruits and the army officers had already been integrated in the capitalist class. In addition to salarial advantages considerably higher than those of the civilian public servants, army officers had been made shareholders of OYAK, a mutual assistance fund for the Armed Forces, which was dealing with foreign and local capitalists with a view to increasing officers' profit shares.
When Demirel announced that the 1961 Constitution did not conform to the realities of the country and it should be modified in a way to restrict fundamental rights and freedoms, the author of this constitution, the Armed Forces preferred to remain silent.
What is more, the Chief of General Staff began to issue circulars to all army units, calling upon them to be ready to fight the danger of communism.
A special war department at the Turkish General Staff, commonly known as the Counterguerrilla Organization was already charged with the preparation of the plans to set up subversive forces against the eventuality of the formation of a left-wing government.
After the 15 socialist deputies' entry to the National Assembly in the 1965 elections and the CHP's adoption of a center-of-the-left policy in 1966, such an eventuality became a nightmare for the United States and its local allies in Turkey.
While the AP was enforcing anti-democratic measures one after the other and reinforcing police repression, another right-wing party, Ex-Colonel Turkes' Nationalist Action Party (MHP) began, for its part, to train para-military terror groups, Grey Wolves.
When the country once again underwent an economic crisis in 1969 and the AP Government failed to apply the drastic measures imposed by the IMF and other international monetary organizations, in the fear of an eventual rise of the leftwing alternative, all subversive materials in the arsenal were pushed forth and Turkey found herself in the ferment of political violence triggered by Grey Wolves. While big business' appeals for political stabilization and for restoration of law and order were coming one after the other, the military hierarchy intervened on March 12, 1971, and forced the National Assembly to institute a "national coalition" government charged with stopping political violence, restoring law and order, putting in practice the economic propositions of the IMF and the big business and modifying the 1961 Constitution.
Law and order was restored by the proclamation of martial law in 11 important provinces of the country and the subsequent arrest of tens of thousands left-wing militants, intellectuals and trade unions officials. The Counter-guerilla Organisation tortured many of them at special interrogation centers. Thousands of people were tried and condemned by military tribunals for their opinions, and three young socialist leaders were executed though they had not committed any act punishable by capital punishment.
Conforming to the desire of big business and Army commanders, the 1961 Constitution was modified twice to restrict fundamental rights and liberties.
But after a 2-year repression it became evident that the military had not been well prepared for establishing a long-term militarist "democracy". Pressures from world opinion on the one hand and growing resistance from the democratic forces of the country, on the other hand, forced the military to withdraw to their barracks, at least for a few years.
The background of this military intervention and the subsequent state terror were exposed in detail in File on Turkey, Man-hunts in Turkey and Turkey on Torture, published in 1972 and 1973 by the Democratic Resistance of Turkey. These and other documents clearly showed that fundmental rights and freedoms were constantly violated by either "parliamentary" or military wings of the fascist rule in Turkey, although this country was one of the signatories of all international documents for protecting human rights.
Despite these human rights violations, international bodies such as the Council of Europe and the EEC, which declared the protection of these rights and freedoms as their "raison d'être," never adopted any effective stand against the Turkish regime. Although a handful of socialist deputies raised the Turkish question at the Parliamentary Assembly of the Council of Europe, the majority of the representatives prefered to remain silent. "The Council's problem (if it had one) would be to find whether or not there were people who wanted to drop Turkey as Greece had been dropped. Turkey was a young democracy and there were problems in maintaining such a position. It was impossible to demand that a young democracy behave in the same way as Norway, Sweden or Switzeland," said Swiss representative Reverdin on October 23,1972. Belgian representative Leynen justified this attitude by referring to his talks in Turkey between April 20-25, 1972: "In all the talks we have had with political leaders in Ankara we have been struck by the fact that practically everybody thinks that the intervention by the army chiefs was necessary."
According to an argument shared by right-wing politicians, as long as any parliament exists in a country, democracy also exists; if the army chiefs had intervened in politics, it was necessary to protect young democracy I However, before the undeniable reports and documents exposing constant violation of human rights, 20 European deputies brought a motion for a resolution to form a sub-committee with the charge of investigating the allegations.
But this proposal was turned down at the Florence meeting of the Political Affairs Committee of the Parliamentary Assembly of the Council of Europe on July 5, 1973, on grounds that such an intervention at a time when Turkey was about to hold a general election would endanger the restoration of democracy in Turkey. The main factor leading to this decision was social-democrat leader Ecevits's last minute intervention in the debates. On his behalf, CHP deputy Mustafa Ustündag said: "The general election will be held soon. There is important progress towards the restoration of democracy. In such a period, it is not useful to form a sub-committee for Turkey. Bulent Ecevit, too, shares this opinion."
Although a general election was held in 1973 and Biilent Ecevit came to power twice with the promise of putting an end to the Counter-guerilla Organization's subversion and the Grey Wolves' terrorism, and of establishing a new order based on national independence, social justice and full respect for human rights and freedoms, the situation deteriorated, rather than ameliorated.
Ecevit himself, forgetting his promises, bowed before the IMF and the USA. When anti-democratic forces resisted against the reopening of the US military bases and the application of the IMF's drastic economic measures, Ecevit's Government did not hesitate in resorting to arrests and bans on organizations, trade unions and publications.
The failure of Ecevit's policies, the subsequent rising of fascist terror and all the dirty manoeuvres by the United States administration and its local collaborators leading to the 1980 Coup are expounded in a chronological order in the following pages.
After a new 10-year experience, it became evident that a return to true democracy depended on full respect to all criteria of the European Convention on Human Rights. The slightest exception leads in the end to suspension of all rights and freedoms. In 1973, Turkish social democracy and the Council of Europe committed an error which facilitated the preparation for a new coup d'état, more brutal than the previous.
There is no doubt that defense of human rights, struggle for democracy, national independence and human dignity is first of all the task of the people of Turkey. The democratic forces of the country, at the expense of thousands of victims, carry on this lofty struggle.
This is also a task for all democratic forces of the world, especially for those of Europe, because Turkey is member of the European family, and to defend democracy in this country without applying double standards is a matter of defending democracy for the whole of Europe. If the Council of Europe or the European Parliament or other European institutions consider Turkey as a country deserving a "second class democracy", this south-eastern country will remain as a shame in the family of European democracies.
This book is a documentary work edited with the purpose of exposing the reasons of the 1980 coup, the anti-democratic and inhuman practices of the military, the real truth of the so called "return to democracy" and the contradictory attitudes of European institutions vis-a-vis this militarist "democracy".
Many facts expounded in the following pages had already appeared in the monthly newsletter
INFO-TURK, the only periodical appearing abroad for ten years without interruption , in order
to inform the world of the social and political life of Turkey.
We expound them again in a chronological order to draw attention to Turkey. It is a chronicle
rather than a systematically edited socio-political book. For this reason, the reader can find in it some repetitions and different styles of editing.
All the facts expounded in this work lead to the conclusion that Turkey, for deserving the status of a European democracy, should agree the legalization of all working class and community parties, of the progressive trade union center DISK, should respect national rights of Kurdish people and Christian minorities, should recognize full liberty for expression, association, education and artistic life. To guarantee all these rights and freedoms, the 1982 Constitution should be modified in conformity with the European Convention of Fluman Rights.
We are sure that reading this document you too will agree with Arthur Miller that there is either democracy or none of it. The people of Turkey do not deserve a second-class democracy.