Turkey plans low-key funeral for former coup leader Evren

AP News
Posted: May 11, 2015 11:34 AM

ANKARA, Turkey (AP) — Kenan Evren, the leader of Turkey's 1980 military coup and former president who died aged 97, will be given a state funeral but no government official will attend the burial of the man remembered mostly for widespread arrests, torture and deaths during his rule, Deputy Prime Minister Numan Kurtulmus said Monday.

Evren died in a military hospital in Ankara on May 9 — almost a year after he was sentenced to life imprisonment for leading the coup — and is scheduled to be buried on Tuesday.

The 1980 coup was initially welcomed for ending years of street fighting by rival militias that had brought Turkey to the brink of a civil war, but the former general is now mostly despised for the arrests, torture and extrajudicial killings that followed the intervention. Some 650,000 people were detained in the upheaval and 230,000 people were prosecuted in military courts, according to official figures. Some 300 people died in prison, including 171 who died as a result of torture

Evren is also widely criticized for introducing Turkey's constitution which restricted freedoms and formalized the military's role in politics.

Turkish presidents receive a state funeral in which their coffins, draped in the Turkish flag, are carried on a gun carriage usually accompanied by a military band and government officials. The military said Evren would be buried at a cemetery for state leaders following a ceremony at the military's headquarters and funeral prayers at a nearby mosque.

Kurtulmus told NTV, however, that no official from the government or the ruling party would attend the funeral. Opposition parties have also declared they would not participate.

Breaking with tradition, political figures have refrained from issuing messages of condolence for Evren, and many have said it is considered uncouth in Turkish culture to speak ill of the dead.

"As a victim of his deeds, I am not at a point where I can say nice things," said Bulent Arinc, another deputy prime minister who was arrested during the coup and barred from politics for several years. "One must not speak badly of the dead. May those who deserve peace rest in God's peace."

Kurtulmus said: "The coup came at a great cost to Turkey. May God forgive his sins."

Evren's conviction stripped him of his military title but his conviction and sentence were being appealed at the time of his death.