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Sites of Memory from Beyazıt Square to Taksim Square

10 Years of Revolutionary Student Movement (1975-1985)

(Beyazıt Meydanı’ndan Taksim Meydanı’na Bellek Mekanları

Devrimci Öğrenci Hareketinin 10 yılı / 1975-1985 )

This mapping research of the Research Institute on Turkey UniCommons (University of the Commons), focuses on the sites of memory on the Beyazıt-Taksim line in Istanbul where the youth movement and revolutionary struggle between 1975-1985, as well as the systematic attacks aiming the anti-fascist resistance, were concentrated. It marks the sites of memory that bear the traces of the September 12, 1980 Military Coup on this route on the European side of Istanbul. Through this preliminary marking, we remember the places that were the sites of revolutionary struggle, understand what these places have become as sites of memory forty-three years later, and see how a practice of remembering, forgetting and reproducing is formed on the line of these places.

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Artist / Gülsün Karamustafa

Tek kanallı video, sesli / Single channel video, audio, 00:13:42

Artist / Tan Oral

Desen, Muhtelif ölçülerde

Cartoon, Variable sizes


Artist / Özlem Sulak

12 Eylül, video, 2010, 01:01’:00’’

September 12, video, 2010, 01:01’:00’’


Artist / Nil Yalter

Exile Is a Hard Job / Walls, 2012, Poster, paint

Courtesy of the artist and Galerist

With the support of Yunus Aras, Doris Benhalegua, Müge Çubukçu, Ecem Ümitli, Eda Berkmen, and IKSV




Witness as an agent of change

(Değişimin öznesi olarak tanık)

The Memory Museum for Historical Justice is a true example of the power of agency. It is established by the human rights advocates whose families were targeted before and after the Coup. Being a witness to an atrocity gives each individual a dual positionality: the responsibility to record the crime and the urge to take an action to challenge the perpetrators. Each narrative and archival material at the Memory Museum is a testimony for this type of memory activism and advocacy. Memory Museum’s permanent collection Seeking Justice is a compilation of narratives, documents and visual archives that depict the story of advocacy during and after the 1980 Coup. It deciphers the will of the families challenging the torturers of their children, their path to establishing the most prominent civil society organizations in Turkey and the democratic struggle of a community under the unimaginable violations of the military.

Families Seeking Justice and the Establishment of the Human Rights Association

(Ailelerin Adalet Arayışı ve İnsan Hakları Derneği’nin Kuruluşu)

One of the struggles that made human rights violations and crimes against humanity visible was that of the families of prisoners. The narrators talk about the resistance they raised in front of prisons, their testimonies, their organization and solidarity on the road to the establishment of the Human Rights Association.


Vahide Açan, Esra Koç, Ümit Efe, Fatin Kanat, İkbal Eren, Kerem Fırtına

Oral Historian:
Eylem Delikanlı
Özlem Delikanlı (2012)

Recording & Editing:
Çağrı İşbilir (2021, 2022, 2023)
Fatih Pınar (2021)

Hilal Baş (2021)

The Memory Objects Collection

(Bellek Nesneleri Koleksiyonu)

The Memory Objects Collection understands the 1980 Coup d’État as a process with its aftermath. It is an important source of information for a coherent narrative that covers the period. In this large permanent collection, photographs, letters, postcards, written notes, drawings, paintings, various objects and ephemera shed light on the process of the coup with their many subjective qualities by marking time, place and memory.

Thanks to the memory objects, it is possible to grasp the individual’s connection with their past and identify the dynamics of the period through the knowledge of what they can or cannot accumulate.

These objects are also a way of bridging the gap between the collective and the personal. It has a unique place in the context of observing flow and transitivity.

By reading through these objects, it becomes a possibility to trace the solidarity and organizing as well as the marks and the violence of the military regime.

Content: 40,000 memory objects from 35 different donors (individuals or institutions)


Artist / Güneş Terkol

“We Won’t Give Up”

350 cm x 150 cm, embroidery on fabric, 2023

I put together a storytelling workshop at Karşı Sanat in July as part of the work of Memory Museum for Historical Justice with the participation of Maside Ocak, İkbal Eren, Ali Ocak, Hasan Karakoç, Hanife Yıldız, Hanım Tosun, Mikail Kırbayır, Sebla Arcan, Hatice Gazioğlu, Meryem Bars, Zeynep Aygün, Nimet Tanrıkulu, Hatice Onaran, Zeynep Yıldız, Aylin Tekiner, Eylem Delikanlı, Zeynep Sarı, Sevim Sancaktar, Özlem Zıngıl and Mümtaz Murat Kök from Saturday Mothers/People. In this voluntarily run workshop about seeing, accepting and learning about different perspectives, the method of storytelling was applied in an atmosphere of trust. Our meeting started with the participants telling their own stories. At the end of the workshop, which focused on the collective rather than the individual, the stories embroidered on fabrics came together on a joint banner. Throughout the workshop, which was carried out with a collective mind and strength for symbolizing the experiences and struggles of families and rights defenders with a common history, as well as their thoughts and dreams about moving forward in life, we had a common experience and transference process in which our sadness and joy was shared.

Güneş Terkol


Artist / Gülçin Aksoy

Anonymous I, 2014, Installation

An installation of mannequin heads in paper bags on a platform. The paper bags are made of newspaper sheets, most of which contain reports from the period of the military coup on September 12, 1980, while others refer to various news of war and occupation around the world. Children’s games played with putting paper bags on heads are common to this land, and perhaps to other lands also. In this installation, the paper bags are turned inside out and put on heads that are arranged in a sort of military formation. They are identified by the word ‘ANONYMOUS’ stamped on them.



The Court Files Collection examines the military regime and its legal system during and after the 1980 Coup d’État. The files in this permanent collection are reviewed by the Museum’s legal team and each file is analyzed with information filtered through thousands of pages. The aim of the study is not only to reveal the legal system of the period, but also to link this data with other information in the permanent collections to make human rights violations and crimes against humanity visible and to show how they took place within the legal system.

The creation of the Court Files Collection was based on the gross human rights violations that were made almost “ordinary life practice” by the state during the 1980 Coup d’État. The content of all permanent collections has been determined based on five types of violations that include torture, enforced disappearance, extrajudicial/ arbitrary execution, execution and violence.

Content: 285 case files (digital) / 93 case files (physical)


Legal System of the Coup

Oral Historian: Eylem Delikanlı

Recording & Editing: Çağrı İşbilir (2022, 2023), Fatih Pınar (2021)

Recording:  Mustafa Yükselbaba (2023), Rodi Yüzbaşı (2022), Selen Çatalyürekli (2021)

Oral History Coordinator: Berfin Atlı (2021, 2022)


What does 1980 Coup Remind Us?

(12 Eylül Darbesi Bize Neyi Hatırlatıyor?)

On the 34th anniversary of the military coup, children who had lived through the 1980 Coup d’État as children came together and decided to call themselves the We are Children, we are Together Initiative (Çocuklarız Bir Aradayız İnisiyatifi). As a reflection of this hopeful unity, they organized a 3-day conference in Istanbul in September of the same year. Their solidarity continued over the years. Sometimes they met at other September 12 events, they made new oral history recordings. They continued to work together at the Memory Museum for Historical Justice. On the 43rd anniversary of the Coup, they came together again and asked old and new friends the following question: “What does September 12, 1980 remind us?” In this collective work, in which they set no boundaries other than to write short essays, they wrote what the past reminded them of -from within the present-, a history that had shaped their lives, fragmented their memories, but was as vivid as if it happened today.

Çocuklarız Bir Aradayız İnisiyatifi and Contributors


Who will save you

Of bullets, of pain?

From words?

(Ülkü Tamer, “Monday”)

The word/phrase “word” (kelime) comes from the Arabic root kelm, which means to wound. Hand wound-tongue wound that’s where the parable comes from. Words can hurt you. 1980 Coup hurt the society in Turkey not only with murder, torture, imprisonment and persecution, but also with words. It did this by filling words with death, torture and cruelty, by closing the meanings of words that expand, multiply and liberate people, by imprisoning them. It made people fear and loathe certain words. It turned some words into passphrases, not for understanding, not for agreement, but only for stating obedience. Here is a selection of words from the 1980 Coup.

Tanıl Bora