On Friday night, I was at the video desk of the TRT News in Ankara for the shooting of a program. After the program ended, some jets appeared flying very low around 10.00 p.m., a few minutes before the coup plotters raided the studio. At first sight, I assumed that it was either a military exercise or a mobilization as part of a terrorism alert. However, all the indications showed that a coup attempt was impending.
Within a few hours, thousands of people upon President Erdoğan’s call took to the streets and tried to guard critical state institutions despite jets and helicopters hovering in the air. So, we joined the crowd.
The events reminded me of my experiences in Egypt. I was in Cairo when the coup on July 3, 2013 took place. All of a sudden Apache helicopters started to fly over us and tanks were positioned everywhere during that coup. While hundreds of thousands of Egyptians supporting the coup poured into the streets for celebrations, General al-Sisi declared that he had seized control of the governance of the country. While a substantial part of people were endeavoring to resist the coup, another part was unfortunately organizing celebrations at Tahrir Square and other spots. Afterwards, massacres kicked off. President Morsi was sentenced.
Those resisting the coup were brutally murdered in front of my eyes. Particularly what happened in Rabia was impossible to forget. The square, in which hundreds of thousands of people gathered to resist the coup, was beleaguered by troops. Helicopters and tanks simultaneously fired on people. People were set afire. During the coup process, more than 40,000 people were arrested. Then tortures came… Endless tortures…
“Turkey will not turn into Egypt or Syria”
While I was in front of the Turkish Parliament, my mind was crowded with these thoughts, but still I thought that Turkish soldiers cannot target their fellow citizens and can by no means be involved in murderous acts. At this moment, an F-16 jet lowered towards the ground and dropped a bomb on the Parliament. We heard an earsplitting noise. We were all shocked. Did the Turkish Armed Forces just bomb the Turkish Parliament, the symbol of the Turkish nation? Then sorties continued the bombardment. The Cobras were accompanying the jets, opening fire on the Parliament. Through social media, I also saw that the National Intelligence Organization in Ankara, the Special Operations Office, the Police Department and the Presidential Complex were also bombed with the same atrocity.
While I was asking myself if the country will turn into Egypt, I thought the people would not allow such a thing to happen. I am sure many people felt the same way during that night. On one hand there is Egypt, which is subjected to a coup, on the other hand we have Syria, which turned into a wreck by al-Assad. All the suffering, blood and tears… the innocent people who are hit with barrel bombs and whose screams ascend to the heavens. The mutual pain of a community we identify ourselves with… Maybe thanks to this identification, we were able to say “stop” to the coup attempt.
It was seen that our nation would never allow the repetition of the atrocities that have occurred in our country in the past. Throughout the night, the number of people on the streets kept on rising despite bombardments and tanks. People lied in front of tanks, stood up against bullets by risking their lives – all evidence that the Turkish people did not surrender to the coup attempt. The prayers recited from the mosques muffled up the sonic booms made by jets. And the coup attempt, or better phrased, the siege, was eventually repelled. A new war of independence was marked.
No one took to streets to side with coup attempters
Of course, Turkey is neither Egypt nor Syria. The coup was attempted not by the army hierarchy but by a junta lead by the Gülenist terror organization, which has an outside support. Our police and intelligence units resisted the coup at the cost of their lives. A strong political leadership was displayed particularly by President Erdoğan, while the Parliament carried out a sacred duty. The media could not be censored, and even a small minority did not take to the streets to side with the coup.
All these diffirences were crucial. But the traces and testimony in our hearts of the incidents in Egypt and Syria were also a major component. Now, in the entire Islamic world, this glorious resistance of the Turkish nation will leave a mark in hearts and may inspire new resistances against coups. “Yes, Turks achieved it, so we can do it, too.”