Yassıada ‘Democracy and Freedoms Island’ inaugurated

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Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan inaugurated Democracy and Freedom Island on May 27 in waters near Istanbul on the 60th anniversary of a coup in Turkey.

“60 years ago, Turkey experienced one of the darkest days of its history with May 27 coup,” Erdoğan said during the inauguration ceremony.

Speaking about the trials on the island, Erdoğan said it was not a trial but a “murder of law” in Yassıada.

“Not only [late Prime Minister Adnan] Menderes, his aides were tried in Yasssada, but also Turkish history, culture, values, beliefs,” he said.

Parliament Speaker Mustafa Şentop, Nationalist Movement Party (MHP) leader Devlet Bahçeli, Vice President Fuat Oktay, Constitutional Court President Zühtü Arslan, Presidential Spokesman İbrahim Kalın, other bureaucrats, politicians, commanders-in-chief of armed forces, representatives of non-governmental organizations and bar associations also attended the inauguration ceremony.

“Not only the 1950-60 period was tried here [in Yassıada], but also the appreciation and preferences of our nation that is the only owner of will and sovereignty were also distressfully questioned,” Bahçeli said during his speech at the ceremony.

He added that the founders of Yassıada courts “made democracy and freedoms sit in the dock.”

On his part, Parliament Speaker Şentop said the new face of Yassıada is not an ordinary reconstruction or landscape work, but it is a “historical confrontation and a new beginning.”

“On the basis of every building that we see on this island, there are our nation’s will for freedom, resistance to coups and the determination to defend the constitutional order,” Şentop added.

The main cause of every military coup in our country is to prevent Turkey from accessing the power to develop independent policies, he said.

“This island where we come together today and visit in its new form is the scene of the political and judicial murder committed 60 years ago,” he stressed.

Yassıada, one of the Princes’ Islands located in the Sea of Marmara southeast of Istanbul, is notorious for jails and trials from the 1960 military coup. The island was renamed “Democracy and Freedoms Island” in 2013 as part of a rebranding effort to attract more cultural and historical tourism.

One of the smallest of the picturesque Princes’ Islands archipelago, it is known as the island where the political brass of the once-ruling Democrat Party was exiled to prior to the 1960 military coup.

The trials of Turkey’s first democratically-elected prime minister, Adnan Menderes, Foreign Minister Fatin Rüştü Zorlu and Finance Minister Hasan Polatkan before the military junta were held on the island. They were later executed by the military junta on İmralı Island in 1961.

According to information in a surveying report prepared by Ebru Elmas Architecture Office, Yassıada had been used as a place for exiles since the 4th century.

Now, the project includes a 125-room hotel, with nearly 30 concrete bungalows, a conference hall with a capacity to host 600 people, a 1,200-person mosque, a museum, cafes and restaurants.

Hurriyet Daily News

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