1997 military memorandum (Turkey)
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The 1997 military memorandum (Turkish: 28 Şubat (28 February), also called Post-modern darbe (Post-modern coup)), refers to the decisions issued by the Turkish Military leadership on a National Security Council meeting at 28 February 1997 which initiated the 28 February process that precipitated the resignation of prime minister Necmettin Erbakan of the Welfare Party and the end of his coalition government.
As the government was forced out without dissolving the parliament or suspending the constitution, the event has been labelled a "postmodern coup" by the Turkish admiral Salim Dervişoğlu, a label that has stuck. The process after the coup is alleged to have been organised by the Batı Çalışma Grubu (West Study Group), a clandestine group within the military.
The 28 February process following memorandum has been an era of intense violation of religious freedoms in Turkey, e.g. closing of religious foundations, imam-hatip schools, headscarf ban at universities. The Ak Party has been formed as a reaction to the coup, and has won a landslide victory in 2002 Elections, five years after the coup ( similar to Justice Party after 1960 coup and, Motherland Party after 1980 coup ) 
In 2012, Hasan Celal Güzel said that General Teoman Koman had approached him in September 1996 with a view to installing him or Mesut Yılmaz as Prime Minister after a planned coup. Güzel declined to get involved. In the event, Yılmaz was appointed Prime Minister after the coup.
On 17 January 1997, during a visit to the Turkish General Staff, Turkish president Süleyman Demirel requested a briefing on what had been bothering the military. İsmail Hakkı Karadayı, Chief of the General Staff, enumerated 55 items, labelled "reactionary". Demirel said half of them were based on hearsay. He encouraged Karadayı to communicate with the government and to soften the memorandum's wording.
On 31 January 1997, protests being arranged by the Sincan municipality in Ankara against Israeli human rights violations took place in guise of an "Al-Quds night". The building in which the event took place, was plastered with posters of Hamas and Hezbollah. As a reaction to the demonstration, tanks moved on to the streets of Sincan on 4 February. This intervention was later described by Çevik Bir as a balance adjustment to democracy.
At the National Security Council (MGK) meeting on 28 February 1997, the generals submitted their views on issues regarding secularism and political Islam on Turkey to the government. The MGK made several decisions during this meeting, and the Prime Minister Necmettin Erbakan from the Welfare Party was forced to sign the decisions intending to protect the secularist ideology in Turkey.
Some of the decisions that Erbakan was forced to sign were:
- Strict headscarf ban in universities
- Eight year of primary school education
- Shutting down Koran schools
- Abolition of Tarikats (sectarian groups)
- Control of media groups which object to the decisions of Yüksek Askerî Şûra (Supreme Military Council) to fire religious soldiers on claims of "irtica" ("political reaction")
Following the military memorandum, Erbakan was forced to resign. Although DYP, RP and BBP declared that they should form the new government with the Prime ministership of Tansu Çiller, Demirel appointed ANAP leader Mesut Yılmaz to form the new government. He formed a new coalition government with Bülent Ecevit (DSP leader) and Hüsamettin Cindoruk (the founder and the leader of DTP, a party founded after 28 February Process by former DYP members) on 30 June 1997. The Welfare Party was closed by the Constitutional Court in 1998. Necmettin Erbakan was banned from politics for five years and former MP members and mayors of RP joined the Virtue Party. Istanbul mayor, Recep Tayyip Erdoğan from Virtue Party was given a prison sentence after he had read a nationalist and Islamist poet and he was banned from politics forever.
In the 1999 general elections, The Virtue Party won many seats in the parliament but it was not as successful as the RP in the 1995 general elections. One of the MP members of the party was Merve Kavakçı who wore an Islamic headscarf. The Virtue Party was also closed by the Constitutional Court in 2001 because of Merve Kavakçı's entrance to the Parliament. Although former Istanbul mayor Erdoğan was banned from politics, he managed to form the Justice and Development Party, a reformist party that declared not to be a political party with a religious axis. The traditional Islamists formed the Felicity Party.
Çevik Bir and 30 other officers from the Army were detained for their roles in this coup in April 2012.
Opinions on the memorandum
While the move was ostensibly directed against Erbakan's Islamic party, some have speculated that the coup was actually directed against Erbakan's coalition partner, Tansu Çiller, who was implicated in the Susurluk scandal.
Çevik Bir, one of the generals who planned the process said that “In Turkey we have a marriage of Islam and democracy. (…) The child of this marriage is secularism. Now this child gets sick from time to time. The Turkish Armed Forces is the doctor which saves the child. Depending on how sick the kid is, we administer the necessary medicine to make sure the child recuperates”.
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