DIYARBAKIR, Turkey — In the fall of 1987, I was standing in front of a building adorned with Turkish flags in Diyarbakir's Sehitlik neighborhood, along with hundreds of other high school students. Suddenly a black limousine appeared and out came then-President Kenan Evren, a former putschist general, to inaugurate the building. We didn't really know what was going on but understood it was important. We went home after the ceremony, and later realized we had witnessed the beginning of a new dark era known as "state of emergency."
Turkey was introduced to the state of emergency (SOE) regime after the Kurdistan Workers Party (PKK) began its armed struggle in 1984. The Turkish Constitution adopted in 1982 permitted a SOE in cases of armed violence and disruption of public order. On Oct. 27, 1983, the Law on State of Emergency was enacted and created the post of SOE regional governor. The martial law that was imposed on the region in 1978 was replaced by the SOE on July 19, 1987.