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Category 7

Examples of People’s Resistance Examples as the True Preventers of the July 15, 2016 Coup Attempt’s Success.

A Nation’s Strength Lies Within The Unity Of Its People

Esma Adiloviç HALİLOVİC

Key words: civil resistance, democracy, airport, nonviolence, mosques

Never fear! For the crimson flag that proudly waves in these dawns shall never fade
Before the last fiery hearth that is ablaze within my nation burns out.
For it is the star of my nation, and it will forever shine,
It is mine, and solely belongs to my valiant nation.
1

Our plane was the last one to land on the night of July 15, 2016. We had just come from visiting our family back in Bosnia, and were glad that everything went well. By the time we landed, an air of suspense started building up around us. The fact that we were not allowed to leave the aircraft, as well as the abandoned runway of Atatürk International Airport were the harbingers of things to come. Something was definitely wrong. As passengers turned on their cellphones, messages started coming incessantly. A coup attempt was taking place and we just arrived to witness it. It is difficult to describe the sudden wave of emotions that overtook me. I was scared, confused and uncertain of what was really happening. Just moments ago we were safe in the air, unaware of the events taking place below. My fear intensified more so because my husband and two-year-old daughter were there. Also, I was six months pregnant.

At the time, I did not even know what a military coup actually meant. Was it a war? Who was fighting whom? Am I going to stay alive? Those were just some of the questions that arose in my mind after seeing tanks and groups of soldiers marching on the runway. I also could not understand why an order was not issued for our plane to return before even touching the ground. I was in a state of shock and could not perceive things clearly. After a while, the flight attendants instructed us to leave the aircraft and board the shuttles on our way to the terminal. The atmosphere there was even more intense, as we heard shootings from the outside, saw people running and hiding from whatever they thought was coming. Eventually, after hours of drama, we finally left the airport. We headed toward our home on the Asian side of Istanbul.

On our way to the metro, trying to escape and leave behind all the unpleasantness of the prior events, we could not believe what we were seeing. On one side, there were masses of people pouring out of the metro, trying to enter the airport. The other side was crowded with those leaving the airport, heading toward different areas of the city. All of them would become crucial factors in the further developments of the events that night and many more nights to come. What was most striking about the crowd on the night of July 15 was its diversity. There were men and women, young and old, rich and poor, all of them fighting for the same cause – their nation. As we learned later, some high-ranking military officers intended to overthrow the government. They “issued a statement, attempting to suspend the Constitution, impose martial law and enforce a nationwide curfew”, declaring a withdrawal of political authorities.2 What they did not know, what they could not possibly know, was the amount of bravery and fearlessness with which they would be confronted. The power of civil resistance would cause them to fail utterly.

After President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan’s live address on television and his denouncement of the coup attempt, people started rushing out onto the streets. They saw it as imperative to defend their homeland, their sense of belonging and the sovereignty of their country. The streets looked like a crimson river overwhelmed with the flags of valiant Turkish men and women standing against the enemy barehanded without resorting to violence. Civilians were the live targets for rifles and tanks. Not only did they physically confront the tanks, but as the night progressed they were able to overtake them. People gathered in front of administrative institutions, in the main squares and around mosques to defend that what they hold most dear. Trucks and buses were used as blockades to prevent the military invasion of civilian life. Furthermore, there are videos showing people making their ablutions3 and praying in the midst of open fire. The lyrics of Turkey’s national anthem alongside the tekbir4 echoed throughout the city. Mosques were the guiding lighthouses on the turbulent night of the coup attempt. They were used for public addresses, encouraging people to stay on the streets and prevent the enemy from taking control.

That very night, an extraordinary session of Parliament was held in the aftermath of the attempted coup. Members of Parliament showed exemplary conduct when they decided not to retreat even after the bombing occurred.5 The next day, three leading political parties in Turkey united in the fight against the betrayers. They stood up for their nation, for the president and for their country. This was one of the most powerful examples sent to the world, that when threatened, Turkish people can overcome any obstacles that potentially keep them apart. The fact that civilians did not use weapons was a key factor in preventing the coup attempt from escalating into a civil war. The Turkish people thus proved to be the true keepers of democracy.

The night of July 15, 2016 will forever be engraved in my memory. We witnessed history firsthand at the very moment of its making. Turkish citizens gave the world a lesson on how one ought to protect the colors of their flag and defend the sovereignty of their nation, even if the enemy comes from their own ranks. They showed great discipline and determination with the minimum use of force. They are a living example that the strength of one country is within the hearts and minds of its people. Lastly, I might be a foreigner, but Turkey is and will forever remain my second home.

Footnotes:
1. An excerpt from Turkey’s national anthem (İstiklâl Marşı), written by Mehmet Akif Ersoy in 1921.
2. Yıldız, S. (2016). The July 15 Resistance by the Turkish People: Googling “How to Stop a Tank”. Seta Perspective (23), 1-4.
3. An act of ablution – religious ritual of cleansing certain body parts before the prayer.
4. Allahu Akbar – an exclamatory statement referring to the greatness of God.
5. Turkes, H. (2016). “Turkish Parliament Holds Extraordinary Session.” Anadolu Agency. Retrieved from: http://aa.com.tr/en

Category 7

Examples of People’s Resistance Examples as the True Preventers of the July 15, 2016 Coup Attempt’s Success.

1. Ejder OKUMUŞ

The People’s Revolutionary Resistance Against The July 15 Coup Attempt

2. İrem TÜKEL PAKER

A Night That Solidified Democracy

3. Esma Adiloviç HALİLOVİC

A Nation’s Strength Lies Within The Unity Of Its People