July 15th began just like any ordinary Friday night in Turkey, but has now turned into a victory for democracy in Turkey. Beginning with the spread of statements on social media around 10 p.m., coup d’état rumors regarding the capture of the Bosphorus Bridge by soldiers with tanks turned into reality with invasions and horrible conflicts in just a short period of time. The coup attempt, staged by a small group of soldiers within the Turkish Armed Forces, which happens to be Turkey’s source of pride, expected great triumph. Yet the success anticipated by coup plotters did not come to fruition. The Turkish police and public halted this horrific attempt with an admirable display of courage that night. In the wake of the counterfeit coup notice, people poured into streets at nighttime despite the curfew declared by the junta. The next day, until noon, the Turkish people did not leave the streets until every inch of Turkey was free of pro-coup soldiers and tanks. This was perhaps the first time in the history of the world that a large-scale coup attempt was warded off by the great effort and support of civilians.
We hope that this civil movement by citizens of the Turkish Republic puts an end to the history of coup d’états in the Middle East, which has been ongoing for a century. By exacting a toll on the streets, our people clearly showed that Turkey is no longer a country vulnerable to coup d’état. Turkey may have more difficulties to overcome on its way to becoming the most modern society in the world. However, the Turkish nation clearly showed that they do not want to live in a country under the yoke of the junta. This military junta aimed the guns that are entrusted to them by the state at its own people. They betrayed this noble charge. On the night of July 15, bullets were fired on unarmed people, not only from guns but also tanks and helicopters. The pro-coup soldiers ran over and crushed civilian people with tanks. It is impossible to even attempt to explain this blind rage. Each coup that has ever happened in Turkey was horrible and frightful. However, none of them reached such a level of cruelty as to target and kill the very people of this country.
The night of July 15th was a night that soldiers in the quarters and fearless police in the streets and in official buildings fought heroically. The biggest difference between the night of July 15th and other military coups in the world thus far was that the people joined their hearts into one and poured into the streets, risking their lives to support our audacious police. The reason they took to the streets was not only to protest but also to hold the coup plotters off. And that they did; many of the places the plotters had occupied were regained by the extraordinary bravery of the Turkish people. That night, the Turkish nation hit the streets, united, with Turkish, Kurdish, Cherkess, Albanian, and Arabic people all as one. The coup was protested all over the country, in all cities and districts. That night, each person, even those with a different opinion, vision and belief, were on the streets, fighting for justice together.
A Chinese man shielding himself in front of unrelenting tanks in Tiananmen Square in China or President Yeltsin speaking to his people from atop a tank has been shown as the symbol for all things anti-coup for years. On the night of July 15th, in the streets of the Turkish Republic, there were thousands lying down in front of the tanks, stepping up onto tanks, pulling cars in front of tanks, falling victim to the bullets of the coup plotter soldiers. At the air force bases occupied by pro-coup soldiers, the people took part in the struggle to prevent F-16s from taking off. The largest civil loss happened as a result of these struggles. However, our nation was regained.
Hundreds of thousands protested the coup in the streets while developing their own defense techniques at the same time. In order to stop tanks, the streets were blocked with cars and trucks. Heavy construction equipment, street sweepers, garbage trucks and more were all pulled in front of the regular armies of the military unit. A grader operator blocked the exit of one of the main highways with his own vehicle in Istanbul. When he refused to move his vehicle from the exit, he was martyred by the pro-coup soldiers. The people placed big rocks and iron sticks they found from the road into tank treads. They approached pro-coup soldiers by using mobile garbage dumpsters as shields. In order to prevent coup aircraft from taking off, they placed fire trucks, bulldozers and street sprinklers onto the airfield.
This was the people’s way of stopping the coup. When they had no other option, they did not refrain from using themselves as shields. In the morning, the horrible struggle ended to a large extent; 246 people fell martyr but pro-coup soldiers were silenced. Now, except a few occupied points, there are only Turkish people on the streets standing for the sake of democracy: the young, the old, men and women alike. This sentry duty still continues as of this moment.
This is characteristic of the Turkish people who own these lands. This event added yet another to the events of bravery of our history. As the President Yıldırım said during his historic speech, delivered from the Parliament building along with the four political party leaders at his side, all of us are proud to be individuals in such a brave nation.
This event is a big victory for democracy, for soldiers and police who fought against coup plotters and also for civilian people. The Turkish people are right to feel proud of this sacrifice. Civilian society correctly claimed its right against guns. People did not surrender to the chance of dying as a martyr.
Every country and institution supporting coup regimes and even those organizing coups should carefully listen to these words. A coup is an endeavor that is only undertaken by people with insidious and cruel characteristic due to their wicked and perfidious nature. These kinds of people, as we saw on the night of July 15th, do not hesitate to massacre their own people in cold blood. For them, the lives lost in the massacre and the bodies crushed under those tanks have no value and importance. They are only out to become the leaders of an oppressive regime by killing democracy and inflicting cruelty to the public. This horrible mindset has always hurt the nation and democracy. Knowing the cruel characteristics of a coup very well, the Turkish nation made such great history on the night of July 15 the, risking their own lives. No bully can have the power to take from us the democracy that God granted us.
To the people, police officers, patriot soldiers, journalists and politicians who played a major role in beating off the attempted coup, may your holy war be blessed. May God’s mercy and grace fall upon our martyrs and ensure quick recovery for the wounded.
Adnan Oktar's piece in New Straits Times