Military Wiki
Kenan Evren
7th President of the Republic of Turkey

In office
12 September 1980 – 9 November 1989
Prime Minister Turgut Özal
Preceded by Fahri Korutürk
Succeeded by Turgut Özal
Chief of the General Staff of Turkey

In office
7 March 1978 – 1 July 1983
Preceded by Semih Sancar
Succeeded by Nurettin Ersin
Commander of the Turkish Army

In office
5 September 1977 – 6 March 1978
Preceded by Semih Sancar
Succeeded by Nurettin Ersin
Personal details
Born 17 July 1917(1917-07-17) (age 105)
Alaşehir, Ottoman Empire
Spouse(s) Sekine Evren
(m. 1944–1982; her death)
Children Şenay, Gülay, Miray
Military service
Allegiance Turkey
Service/branch Turkish Army
Years of service 1938–1983
Rank General

Kenan Evren (Turkish pronunciation: [keˈnan evˈɾen]; born 17 July 1917) was the seventh President of Turkey from 1980 to 1989. He assumed the post by leading the 1980 military coup.


Kenan Evren was born in Alaşehir, Manisa Province.[1] After going to elementary school and middle school in Manisa, Balıkesir and Istanbul, he attended military high school in Maltepe, Ankara. In 1938, he graduated from army school and in 1949 from military academy as a staff officer.[1] From 1958 to 1959, he served in the Turkish Brigade in Korea. In 1964, he was promoted to general. Evren served at various posts as Army Chief. He was the commander of Operation Gladio's Turkish branch; the Counter-Guerrilla. The Counter-Guerrilla was an anti-communist "stay-behind" guerrilla force set up with the support of NATO.[2] He became Chief of General Staff in March 1978.[1]

Military coup

The years leading to the coup were characterized as a fierce struggle between the rightists and leftists. Hoping to see a communist revolution, the left wingers rioted in the streets; on the other hand, the nationalist rightists fought back the left wingers and provoked religious arousal. Universities had taken sides and each became headquarters for either the leftists or rightists. With the coup came the National Security Council as the ruling body. The council of 1980 was composed of the commanders Kenan Evren, the Chief of Staff and President of the State. The parliament was dissolved. The Central Intelligence Agency's Ankara bureau chief at the time, Paul B. Henze, received a call from the White House Situation Room saying "Paul, your guys have done it", while President Jimmy Carter was watching Fiddler on the Roof at the Kennedy Center.[3][4]

After the coup, in 1982, Kenan Evren was elected the President of Republic of Turkey on 7 November with the 90% approval of the new constitution that was submitted to a controversial referendum, replacing the older constitution which, according to him, had liberties "luxurious" for Turkey.[5] He suspended many forms of civil liberties and human rights on the grounds that it was necessary to establish stability. He professed great admiration for the founder of Turkey, Kemal Atatürk, however he shut down many institutions founded by Atatürk and is often accused of deforming the country's legal system against Atatürk's principles. During his military regime, many people were tortured and executed due to their political beliefs.

Evren took strong measures to ensure that the division between the political left and right would not turn into violence again; the new constitution limited the rights and depoliticized the youth.

According to a report on the Susurluk scandal of 1996, prepared by Prime Ministry Inspection Board Deputy Chairman Kutlu Savaş, quoted by the Human Rights Foundation of Turkey, "Fascists had been released from prison in return for 'finishing some jobs' under Evren's rule after 12 September 1980".[6]

Responding to a journalist's question regarding the execution of 17-year-old Erdal Eren, he memorably responded "Should we nourish him rather than hang him?"[7]


After his retirement, he moved to the Turkish Mediterranean resort town of Armutalan, Marmaris and took up painting.[8] On 2 August 2006, a reported plan for assassinating Evren was thwarted when two men were apprehended and arrested in Muğla.[9] A previous attempt in 1996 had already been tracked down when two members of the assassination team spoke on a cellphone eavesdropped by the police, and the Islamic call to prayer (adhan) could be heard during their conversation. Since the timing of the adhan was 4–5 minutes after Istanbul, a point slightly more to the west by that time margin was sought and the team members were caught in Marmaris itself.[10]

In 2004, he revealed that his daughter, Şenay Gürvit, and son-in-law, Erkan Gürvit, are members of the National Intelligence Organization. His daughter presided over the reprisal operations against the militant Armenian organization, ASALA.[11]

After Bülent Ecevit's death, he expressed remorse over the arrest of political leaders after the 12 September coup,[8] but defended the coup itself and the 35 executions.[12] Civilian resentment exists, and there have been demands for his being called to account, following the Ergenekon investigation.[13][14]

Evren was hospitalized for massive gastrointestinal bleeding on 3 August 2009, in Yalıkavak, Bodrum, where his summer house is located.[15] A temporary artificial pacemaker was applied to Evren while in intensive care due to bradycardia.[16] His large intestine was removed a week later at GATA in Istanbul (Gülhane Military Medicine Academy) where he was transferred.[17] He was discharged on 24 September 2009.


On 10 January 2012, Turkish courts decided to press charges against General Kenan Evren and General Tahsin Şahinkaya, former Commander of the Turkish Air Force, for their role in the 1980 coup. Prosecutors are seeking life sentences against them.[18] The first court hearing of the case is scheduled for 4 April 2012.[19]


  1. 1.0 1.1 1.2 Biography, Presidency of the Republic of Turkey
  2. "NATO's Secret Armies: Chronology". Parallel History Project on Cooperative Security (PHP). ETH Zurich. Retrieved 2008-07-05. 
  3. Koru, Fehmi (2008-01-10). "Never miss an opportunity to show your sympathy". Zaman. Retrieved 2008-07-05. "Jimmy Carter was in a concert at the Kennedy Center when Evren and his co-conspirators stepped in to take the reins of Turkey. President Carter was notified during the intermission about the coup by a night-duty CIA officer who happened to be an old-Turkish hand with the jubilant news: 'Our boys have done it!'" [dead link]
  4. Karasapan, Ömer (Sep/Oct 1989). "Turkey and U.S. Strategy in the Age of Glasnost". Middle East Research and Information Project. pp. 4–10. Digital object identifier:10.2307/3013440. JSTOR 3013440. 
  5. Güçlü, Abbas (2003-09-25). "61 Anayasası Türkiye'ye büyük geldi" (in Turkish). Milliyet. Retrieved 2008-07-05. 
  6. 1998 Report from the Human Rights Foundation of Turkey (HRFT), chapter II, "SUSURLUK SCANDAL: Counter-guerilla Affairs", p.39-86 (see p.47)
  7. Oran, Baskın; Evren, Kenan (1989) (in Turkish). Kenan Evren'in yazılmamış anıları. Bilgi Yayınevi. p. 189. ISBN 975-494-095-9.,+bunu+yakalad%C4%B1ktan+sonra+mahkemeye+verece%C4%9Fim+ve+ondan+sonra+da+idam+etmeyece%C4%9Fim,+%C3%B6m%C3%BCr+boyu+ona+bakaca%C4%9F%C4%B1m.+Bu+vatan+i%C3%A7in+kan%C4%B1n%C4%B1+ak%C4%B1tan,+bu+Mehmet%C3%A7iklere+silah+%C3%A7eken+o+haini+ben+senelerce+besleyece%C4%9Fim.+Buna+siz+raz%C4%B1+olur+musunuz%3F&dq=%C5%9Eimdi+ben,+bunu+yakalad%C4%B1ktan+sonra+mahkemeye+verece%C4%9Fim+ve+ondan+sonra+da+idam+etmeyece%C4%9Fim,+%C3%B6m%C3%BCr+boyu+ona+bakaca%C4%9F%C4%B1m.+Bu+vatan+i%C3%A7in+kan%C4%B1n%C4%B1+ak%C4%B1tan,+bu+Mehmet%C3%A7iklere+silah+%C3%A7eken+o+haini+ben+senelerce+besleyece%C4%9Fim.+Buna+siz+raz%C4%B1+olur+musunuz%3F. Retrieved 2008-07-05. "Şimdi ben, bunu yakaladıktan sonra mahkemeye vereceğim ve ondan sonra da idam etmeyeceğim, ömür boyu ona bakacağım. Bu vatan için kanını akıtan, bu Mehmetçiklere silah çeken o haini ben senelerce besleyeceğim. Buna siz razı olur musunuz?"  (3 October 1984 speech at Muş)
  8. 8.0 8.1 Sarıipek, Mustafa (2006-11-06). "Evren: Tutukladığım için üzgünüm" (in Turkish). Hürriyet. Retrieved 2008-07-05. 
  9. "Kenan Evren'e Suikast Yapacaklardı" (in Turkish). Aktif Haber. 2006-08-02. Retrieved 2008-07-05. 
  10. "Kenan Evren'i Olumden Ezan Kurtardi" (in Turkish). Haber Vitrini. 2004-05-25. Retrieved 2008-07-05. 
  11. "Evren: Kızım MİT'te çalışıyordu" (in Turkish). Sabah. 2004-09-08. Retrieved 2008-12-13. [dead link]
  12. "Evren: Pişman değilim" (in Turkish). Radikal. 2006-03-03. Retrieved 2008-10-08. 
  13. "Evren de yargılansın netekim!" (in Turkish). Taraf. 2008-07-28. Retrieved 2008-07-28. 
  14. Timur, Şafak (2008-09-12). "Debating justice for coup generals". Turkish Daily News. Retrieved 2008-09-12. 
  15. "Kenan Evren Hastaneye Kaldırıldı (Kenan Evren Hospitalized)" (in Turkish). quoting Ankara Haber Ajansı. 2009-08-03. Retrieved 2009-09-24. 
  16. "Kenan Evren'e Geçici Kalp Pili Takıldı" (in Turkish). quoting Cihan Haber Ajansı. 2009-08-03. Retrieved 2009-09-24. 
  17. "Kalınbağırsağı Alındı, Durumu İyi" (in Turkish). 2009-08-14. Retrieved 2009-09-24. 
  18. BBC News Turkish ex-president Kenan Evren faces coup charge, 10 January 2012.
  19. Habib Güler (2 April 2012). "Turkish gov’t, parties becoming co-plaintiffs in Sept. 12 coup case". Retrieved 2 April 2012. 
Military offices
Preceded by
Semih Sancar
Commander of the Turkish Army
5 September 1977 – 6 March 1978
Succeeded by
Nurettin Ersin
Preceded by
Semih Sancar
Chief of the General Staff of Turkey
7 March 1978 – 1 July 1983
Succeeded by
Nurettin Ersin
Political offices
Preceded by
Fahri Korutürk
President of Turkey
12 September 1980 – 9 November 1989
Succeeded by
Turgut Özal

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