July 15, 2016. The coup attempt that was made, and thanks to God, failed that day, can be qualified as a milestone for Turkey; to understand why, it will be good to remember what happened that day.
Horrific scenes took place during the events that started on the night of July 15 and continued until morning the next day. Tanks ran over innocent civilians, elderly women and even children were fired upon. According to the Anatolian Agency, 240 people — 62 police officers, five soldiers and 173 civilians — were killed and 2,195 people were injured.
Thirty-five airplanes, 37 helicopters, 246 tanks and armoured vehicles, three ships and more than 4,000 light arms were used, and more than 9,000 soldiers participated in the coup attempt. Bridges were blocked, the Turkish Grand National Assembly and the Special Operations Department were bombed. All these attacks were repelled by President Recep Tayyip Erdogan’s urging people to take to the streets and through the self-sacrificing and vigorous efforts of the people acting in unison with the security forces.
All that happened on the night of the coup attempt are significant in indicating that everything will be different for Turkey from now on. As anticipated, July 15 has become a historical milestone, a turning point. It ushered in a new era. One of the things this new era brought along was the Aug 7 “Democracy and Martyrs’ Rally”.
The rally in Yenikapi, Istanbul, witnessed various firsts. First of all, what should be mentioned is the unprecedented participation. According to data from the Anatolian Agency, there were around five million participants. This number was determined through people-per- square-metre analysis done during the aerial inspections conducted on and around the rally area by helicopters. It was the most crowded rally not only in the history of the Republic of Turkey, but perhaps in the history of the world. The magnificent record that was broken was not limited to this; at the same time, millions of people in other cities of Turkey gathered in public squares as well.
We witnessed other extraordinary things that, again, had never been seen in the political history of Turkey. The millions who gathered in the rally area did not represent a particular section of Turkey, but the whole of the country. Sunnis, Alawis, the religious, atheists, communists or Turkish, Kurdish, Laz, Circassian, Jewish, Armenian — in short, people of all ideologies, faiths, sects and parties were there; leaving the political party flags at home and taking Turkish flags along.
People took to the area and virtually turned the rally into a sea of red and white, the colours of the Turkish flag. The sides, which had been worlds apart before July 15, were banded together against the coup, flooding the streets with great excitement and enthusiasm.
The political leaders were no different. The party leaders, who, before July 15, would not speak to or even shake hands and frequently made quite serious accusations against each other, came together on Aug 7. Erdogan and the leaders of the three biggest parties in the Parliament gave messages of unity and solidarity. Acting in concert against the coup attempt, they laid the foundations of the spirit of brotherhood and love. Their speeches and attitudes in the rally clearly showed that, henceforth, in Turkey, a constructive, positive and reconciliatory political model will replace the sense of politics based on tension, strife, discrepancy and dissension.
What has happened over the last month in our country is truly admirable. The coup attempt eliminated overnight the polarisation within the Turkish society, which was hitherto deemed all but impossible. It united all walks of life on a common ground. It paved the way for the Turkish nation to unify in brotherhood and amiable collaboration; to protect democracy, secularism, freedom and national will. It demonstrated to the entire world our nation’s bravery, tenacity, determination and readiness to boldly sacrifice its life when necessary. There is no doubt that the coup plotters would not have attempted the coup had they known it would lead to such an outcome.
The speech the Chief of General Staff gave in the “Democracy and Martyrs’ Rally” was also notable. Through his uncompromising attitude against the coup plotters, General Hulusi Akar has earned the admiration of the people during this process. The enthusiastic cheers that accompanied his speech were the indicators of the fondness the Turkish nation have both for himself and the army.
The millions who assembled in public squares on Aug 7 sent crucial messages not only to Turkey, but to the entire world. The most significant among these was the image of a Turkey standing united as one nation, one body, one heart, one voice against coups, terrorism and occupation.
On the night of July 15, the people of Turkey gave due response to the bloodthirsty, ruthless, lawless coup plotters who tried to seize power by force, and the Yenikapi rally reaffirmed this response once and for all; it became a spectacular show of strength by and a signature of the people of Turkey. Hopefully, the groups who devise shady schemes aimed at Turkey will take their lessons from this dignified and stalwart stance, and concede.
The coup attempt was severely condemned not only in Turkey, but by many countries around the world.
The people’s stand against the coup on the streets and in public squares was highlighted by
the British media. Regarding the coup attempt in Turkey, United Nations Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon stated that military interference is unacceptable.
Steffen Seibert, the spokesman for German Chancellor Angela Merkel, said in his statement: “The democratic order must be respected (in Turkey)… Everything must be done to protect human lives.”
Iran, Georgia, Somalia, Ukraine, Morocco, Qatar, Bosnia-Herzegovina, Tunisia, Pakistan, the Baltic states and Azerbaijan were among the countries that condemned the coup attempt.
So, what comes after this? Turkey is going through difficult times that demand utmost caution and constant vigilance. However, there is no reason to give way to uncertainty and despair. Besides the hardships, we also witness fresh, encouraging and hopeful developments with each passing day. The hardships and troubles we go through will open the gates for a more powerful, more peaceful, more prosperous, more spiritual, more unified and more modern Turkey.
The existence of a strong and stable Turkey is essential for the entire world. This assessment is very significant, not only for Turkey, but also from a regional and global viewpoint. For the Middle East, the world’s most turbulent and strategic region, to achieve peace, tranquillity and welfare, Turkey’s existence is an indispensable must. Without doubt, a powerful and stable Turkey is the guarantor of supreme values such as human rights, social justice, democracy, liberties and secularism in the Middle East.
Adnan Oktar's piece in New Straits Times: