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Coups and Plots in Turkey Over Past 50 Years

by Reuters /
Turkish soldiers stand guard at the Taksim Square in Istanbul, Turkey, 16 July 2016. Turkish Prime Minister Yildirim reportedly said that the Turkish military was involved in an attempted coup d'etat. The Turkish military meanwhile stated it had taken over control.SEDAT SUNA / EPA

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Here are some details about the military coups in the last 50 years, which have unseated four elected governments in Turkey:

1960

On May 2, an almost bloodless military coup was carried out, led by officers and cadets from the Istanbul and Ankara war colleges.

The next day, the commander of land forces, General Cemal Gursel, demanded political reforms and resigned when his demands were refused.

The leaders established a 38-member National Unity Committee with Gursel as chairman. Of 601 people tried, 464 were found guilty. Three former ministers, including Prime Minister Adnan Menderes, were executed and 12 others, including President Celal Bayar, had death sentences commuted to life imprisonment.

1971: The "Coup by Memorandum"

The military delivered a warning to the government to restore order after months of strikes and street fighting between leftists and nationalists. Some months later, Prime Minister Suleyman Demirel stepped down and a coalition of conservative politicians and technocrats set to restore order under the supervision of the military. Martial law was established in several provinces and not completely lifted until September 1973.

1980

On Sept. 12, 1980, the senior command of the army led by General Kenan Evren, carried out a coup. The action followed a resurgence of street fighting between leftists and nationalists. Leading politicians were arrested, and parliament, political parties, and trade unions were dissolved. A five-member National Security Council took control, suspending the constitution and implementing a provisional constitution that gave almost unlimited power to military commanders.

1997: The "Post-Modern Coup"

On June 18, 1997 Prime Minister Necmettin Erbakan, denounced by opponents as a danger to the country's secular order, stepped down under pressure from the military, business, the judiciary and fellow politicians. The generals saw themselves compelled to act to defend the secular state founded by Mustafa Kemal Ataturk.

2007

The shadowy Ergenekon group first came to light when a cache of explosives was discovered in a police raid on an Istanbul house. Eventually hundreds of people went on trial for an alleged coup attempt against then-prime minister Recep Tayyip Erdogan, and 275 officers, journalists, lawyers and more were found guilty.

The verdicts were all overturned this year after the appeals court ruled a network called Ergenekon was not proven to exist. Erdogan, who became president in 2014, initially supported the prosecution but later blamed police and prosecutors who belong to a religious movement led by Fethullah Gulen, who lives in self-imposed exile in Pennsylvania for faking the conspiracy. He denies playing any role.

2010

A newspaper revealed a secularist coup plot, dubbed Sledgehammer, that reportedly dated back to 2003, aimed at fomenting social chaos to topple Erdogan's Islamist-rooted AK Party.

In 2012, a court jailed 300 of the 365 defendants. Two years later, almost all of those convicted were freed after the Constitutional Court ruled their rights had been violated. Again, Gulen's followers were blamed for the case, which they deny.

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