CHP leader visits late PM's grave in historic confrontation
CHP leader Kemal Kılıçdaroğlu lays a bunch of flowers to the mausoleum of a former prime minister who was executed after the May 27, 1960 coup on the occasion of the anniversary of his execution. (Photo: Today's Zaman)
Main opposition Republican People's Party (CHP) leader Kemal Kılıçdaroğlu paid a visit on Monday to the mausoleum of a former prime minister who was executed after the May 27, 1960 coup on the occasion of the anniversary of his execution, in an apparent step to counter the much-criticized pro-coup stance the party once held.
Kılıçdaroğlu visited the grave of Adnan Menderes at the Topkapı Cemetery in İstanbul and spoke to reporters after the visit.
The CHP leader had previously stated that Menderes was an esteemed person who had made great contributions to the country, remarks regarded by many as a blow to the image of the CHP as a supporter of coups.
Kılıçdaroğlu's recent visit also came as a surprise due to the CHP's historically pro-coup stance.
“We should admit that all the political executions carried out in the past were murders,” Kılıçdaroğlu said on Monday, adding that he came there to wipe clean the negative image of the CHP.
“We learned our lessons from history,” the CHP leader stated, adding those coup victims who were executed had done a great service to this country.
Kılıçdaroğlu also reiterated that Turkey urgently needs peace and stability.
On May 27, 1960, the Turkish military overthrew the government of then-Prime Minister Adnan Menderes. Menderes and his fellow Democrat Party (DP) members were tried in 14 separate cases on Yassıada, an island in the Sea of Marmara. The judges overseeing the case handed down 15 death penalties, 12 life sentences and hundreds of long-term imprisonments. Three of the executions were carried out: Menderes, Foreign Minister Fatin Rüştü Zorlu and Finance Minister Hasan Polatkan were hanged.
In 1950, Menderes's DP swept to power with a crushing victory over the CHP in the parliamentary elections. The elections ushered in an era after which the CHP was unable to return to power on its own. The DP was victorious in elections in 1955 and 1957 as well. Angered by grinding defeats in the past three elections, the CHP started to accuse the ruling party of violating the constitution then in place and began to provoke the military against the DP government. A failed assassination plot against then-CHP leader İsmet İnönü in the western province of Uşak in 1959 increased the tension between the ruling and opposition parties.
Celal Bayar, who was president at the time, was also among the 15 sentenced to death after the coup, but his execution was not carried out because of his advanced age.
“They [the CHP] were directly behind the coup. The CHP and the junta nested within the armed forces hoped to rise to power with the coup,” Bayar later stated.