From coup to revolution: July 15

By: Yasin Aktay *

Following many historical events it is always said that things will never be the same in Turkey again… This phrase obviously suits July 15 the most. Everything really has changed in Turkey after the July 15 coup attempt. A dark organization, which has slyly been planning and infiltrating the state for 50 years, spilled their efforts on the night of July 15, involuntarily leading Turkey to experience a unique and legendary revolution. This dark organization clearly wanted to stage a coup they had planned for years. However, their plans didn’t exactly work the way they would have liked. What really happened that night was a popular revolution. This was an uprising in which the unarmed people challenged death in the streets and stood behind their state. The people followed the instructions of their leader, who they believed represented them in the best possible way, and filled the streets defying death. In only a few hours, they staged the world’s most disciplined, dignified and noble resistance and made sure they came to a conclusion.

In only a few hours they made life unbearable for a crazed group that wanted to capture their leader and siege their country. While doing this, the people didn’t resort to using weapons. They didn’t fall into the trap the coup plotters had planned for them. They refused to play off against each other. They acted in such a synchronized way that they exhibited the same noble, the same heroic, the same faithful and courageous attitude throughout Turkey.

Surely, July 15 will have changed many social and political things in Turkey – many things from soldier-civilian relations to the characteristics of military institutions, which could otherwise never be touched, but are the source of chronic problems. However, most importantly this public movement has changed the social context of revolutions in both Turkey and the world. The July 15 revolution is a movement that will shame the West, which believes the notions of powerful society, civil society and the request for democracy is their virtue alone.

This incident brings about the need to re-evaluate the rightist-leftist political language and all theoretical approaches to historical change. No sociology or political theory that overlooks this incident will be able to prevail successfully. I will of course continue to evaluate the manifestation of this change. But at this point, I would like you to read the lines a devoted leftist, who has an open heart and eye, wrote after July 15:

“I am a 64-year-old Republican People’s Party [CHP] supporter leftist. Until this day, all I had in my heart for [President Recep] Tayyip Erdoğan and the Justice and Development Party [AK Party] was nothing but hate. I wanted Erdoğan to go, especially after he prohibited public drinking after 10 p.m. I always wanted him to go. If this wasn’t possible through the elections, I wanted him to go through a coup. But that night, when the TRT anchorwoman said, ‘The military has overthrown the government,’ I felt a throbbing pain in my chest. The thing I had been waiting for over the years had happened, but all I felt was anxiety.

Upon hearing people in the streets I went outside. I saw people honking the horns of their cars and shouting ‘ALLAHU AKBAR’ [God is the greatest]. I saw the anger in their eyes. I was scared. I ran back home and started to watch the television.

Erdoğan was calling on the people to hit to the streets, but the people had already filled the streets before they even heard him. Then suddenly, I saw the TRT channel being raided. Soldiers were shooting people; the airports and bridges were swarming with people. I saw people challenging the tanks and lying down in front of them. I saw a man smash his head into a glass door at the airport crying for his president. I saw people stopping tanks, jumping on top of them and driving them back to their military bases, women standing in front of the coup plotters, people screaming and chanting and people repelling the fighter jets. There were thousands of people on the streets.

Right at that moment, something changed within me. I realized that this was a struggle for our country and that these people were standing up for their national will and democracy. There was something else I realized that night: If Tayyip Erdoğan was ousted, our country and nation would fall too. I realized that we had taken everything for granted.

During the Gezi Park incidents, Erdoğan had called onto his supporters and asked them to remain in their homes. Back then I thought that he was trying to intimidate us, as his supporters were sluggish and didn’t have the courage to stand against us. But today, I have understood that these people risked their lives and still filled the streets. These people lost 250 friends, and yet, still did not complain or utter a single bad word.

We had vandalized the streets for Berkin Elvan, and I actually boasted that our kids were heroes.

I swear that I am now in the position to kiss the feet of those people who risked their lives and fought for our freedom.

They were serious when they said: ‘We remained quiet when you killed [Sultan] Abdülhamid. We weren’t there when you hung [Adnan] Menderes. You poisoned [Turgut] Özal and we were absent. We will not allow you to touch Erdoğan.’ I used to think they were just bluffing.

But that night I realized that they were strong and determined enough to burn down the world. That night these people made history!

Tayyip Erdoğan had a supporting crowd behind him, but there was one other thing protecting him. The most fascinating thing was that everyone came together putting aside their political differences. Other right wing parties were there to support. As I watched the courageous heroic people I cried sobbingly. My children witnessed my tears.

That night I said I am either going to side with Fetoş [Fethullah Gülen] and the terrorist and watch him divide my country, or stand with Erdoğan and the people and live freely in my country.

Thanks to the Turkish public I am now admiring a man I hated like hell. From today onwards I don’t have a political party, and I will always stand by you.”

*Source: YeniSafak newspaper