Disclaimer: This post will be my best attempt at explaining this event without being biased. None of the text written below is meant to reflect political views.
15 JULY, FIRST PERSON COMMENTARY
I was sitting in our living room in Turkey, checking my phone and sipping my cup of steamy tea. I was home for a 2-month summer break from university. Suddenly I saw my ‘WhatsApp’ (online texting app) group receiving multiple messages, telling me to- TURN ON MY TV.
“Breaking News: Loaded tanks are driving around in the roads of Istanbul.
Horror as jets open fire.
Military took over TRT state television building.
Military forcefully aired a declaration regarding their takeover.
Turkish Grand National Assembly is surrounded by the military.
Government announced State of Emergency.”
First thoughts were that the military themselves attempted this coup and many believed they would not hurt anyone. As a few hours passed second thoughts were whether this was planned by the government itself. The government declared ‘state of emergency’ and I was terrified about the likelihood of not being able to see my relatives and friends and, not being able to get out of my house for weeks. Lastly, the story was carefully closed by it appearing to be planned by the organization ‘FETO’. Erdogan stopped the coup by calling out people to fight with the military (via FaceTime!). The day ended as I fell asleep in front of the TV a little after midnight, like half of the nation. The rest were out on the streets with their lives in danger. One thing to be sure- All were confused.
WHO WAS BEHIND THE COUP?
The Turkish government claims that the coup was planned by FETO (Gulenist Terror Organisation) which was led by Fethullah Gulen. Gulen was a conservative whom influenced many people (especially poor families) in Turkey through education. He gave students places to eat and stay, provided them with scholarships, sent many students abroad for greater education and conclusively, raised them up to serve his purposes. Gulen has many schools all over the world. Moreover, he owned hospitals, newspaper, media companies, private and public associations that were present in Turkish people’s lives (almost all are publicly closed or re-owned by the government now).
However, let’s note a selection of Gulen’s statements as published on Telegraph: “Mr Gulen said on Sunday he would obey any extradition ruling from the United States. He has insisted that he had nothing to do with the uprising and suggested that Mr Erdogan could have staged the attack himself in order to legitimise a fresh crackdown on the judiciary and military” (2016).
Next morning after the event unrevealed, Turkey requested extradition of Gulen from the US and Erdogan even suggested that the death penalty should be brought back (which was abolished since 2004) for those who were involved. As a response, US Secretary of State John Kerry required evidence for extradition which later resulted in refusal of extradition (Aljazeera, 2017). Furthermore, the EU was mostly-convinced that Erdogan could be using the event for his own partisan purposes and specifically, death penalty was a red line for the EU.
HOW WAS THE COUP STOPPED?
As the loaded tanks and jets made their horrific appearance in Istanbul and Ankara, Erdogan was away from the office in an Aegean resort. The coup could have been successful if Erdogan did not leave the resort immediately (Heroic? Or simply to keep himself safe?). CNN Turk’s Hande Firat contacted Erdogan via FaceTime, and through the 6-minute talk he had given, Erdogan was able to call the nation out on the streets (Hurriyet, 2017). The coup was stopped. The result: A military of a nation and civilians fighting, blood-bath, and many dead.
July 15th, 2017 “LEGEND OF 15 JULY”
Prior to the 1-year anniversary of the event, there have been numerous posters all over the country showing the military members with scared faces, symbolising how they were ‘beaten’ by the civilians. (As a note, the military figures in the posters are claimed to be photoshopped from the pictures of the US army). 1 lira coins now include the ‘15 July Legend’ and a Turkish flag as it was hung up on the streets of Istanbul that night. 15 July is now a national holiday where the schools (summer schools etc.) and government agencies are closed. It is promoted to be celebrated by the nation.
I end this informational post here and ask you: What is it there to be celebrated? When a nation experiences death of so many?
I kindly encourage you to go on your browser and watch the first few videos you find on the topic.
In the memoriam of whom we lost…
Erdoğan’ın darbe gecesi kritik anları. http://www.hurriyet.com.tr/erdoganin-darbe-gecesi-kritik-anlari-40519101
Turkey’s failed coup attempt: All you need to know. http://www.aljazeera.com/news/2016/12/turkey-failed-coup-attempt-161217032345594.html
Turkey coup attempt: World leaders warn President Erdogan not to use uprising as excuse for crackdown as more than 6,000 arrested. http://www.telegraph.co.uk/news/2016/07/17/turkey-coup-plot-president-erdogan-rounds-up-thousands-of-soldie/