Turkish Parliament votes to declare 1960s Yassıada trials null and void

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The Turkish Parliament on Tuesday declared the decisions that were taken in 1960 during the Yassıada trials that ended in the execution of then-Prime Minister Adnan Menderes and two others null and void.

The bill that declared the controversial decisions invalid was prepared jointly by the ruling Justice and Development Party (AK Party) and Nationalist Movement Party (MHP) and presented to Parliament last week. The Parliament adopted the bill unanimously.

The bill also enables the formation of a new commission to evaluate the applications from the relatives of the victims of the trials for compensation for their losses.

Menderes and two of his ministers, Hasan Polatkan and Fatin Rüştü Zorlu, were three of the 15 sentenced to death at the trials held on Yassıada, which was a no-go zone for decades. While the rest were pardoned, the death sentences of the three leading politicians were carried out on the nearby Imralı Island soon after the decisions were handed down by military tribunals.

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Menderes founded the Democrat Party (DP) in 1945, which broke from the Republican People’s Party (CHP) that had been governing the country as a single-party system since the founding of the republic and led it in the first multiparty elections in 1946. In the 1950 elections, the DP won a parliamentary majority and ran the country until the May 27, 1960, military coup. Menderes is seen as the first democratically elected prime minister of the country. His term saw significant changes to counter the strict secularist policies of the preceding CHP era that alienated significant portions of the nation, coupled with economic reforms and major diplomatic realigning, including membership to NATO. The DP is seen by many as the predecessor of the liberal-conservative political movements of the Justice Party (AP) of the 1960s and 1970s, the Motherland Party (ANAP) of the 1980s and the AK Party.

The 1960 coup paved the way for future coups and coup attempts as the military, which viewed itself for a long time as the sole custodian of democracy, overthrew governments they did not like.

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Last month, Yassıada, the symbol of the darkest era in the history of the republic, has been rebranded as a beacon of democracy and freedom.

Renamed Democracy and Freedom Island after its transformation over the past few years, new facilities on the island are set to be opened later this year on the 59th anniversary of the 1960 coup.

Four years of work on the island have changed the place into the home of a massive complex where a 125-room hotel, a 600-seat conference hall, a mosque, a museum and exhibition halls, as well as cafes and restaurants are now located. Workers are putting the final touches on the construction work on the 18.3-hectare island.

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