Turkey held a series of events on Saturday to celebrate the first anniversary of the defeat of last year's failed coup attempt. Ankara has declared July 15 — the day of the failed coup attempt — an annual national holiday of ‘democracy and unity’, billing the foiling of the putsch as a historic victory of Turkish democracy.
At least 250 people, not including the plotters, were killed when a faction in the army sent tanks into the streets and war planes into the sky in a violent bid to overthrow President Recep Tayyip Erdogan.
Speaking to The Times Kuwait in an exclusive interview H.E. Murat Tamer, Ambassador of Turkey to Kuwait recounted the events of that day saying that “We are still living the trauma of the horrible events of 15 July, 2016. It has left a deep scar in our hearts and mind.”
Within hours of the coup the authorities regrouped and people poured into the streets in support of Erdogan, who blamed followers of the US-based preacher Fethullah Gulen for the coup attempt. Photos of people holding backg tanks with their bare hands are still fresh as democracy and the power of people triumphed.
Ambassador Tamer said Turkey still faced multiple security challenges from a number of terrorist organisations and swift and effective measures are indispensable to the security of the state.
Heaping praise on Kuwait, Ambassador Tamer said “Kuwait was one of the first countries who provided support to the Turkish people and government, and went further by offering all assistance at its disposal, showing yet again that Kuwait was a small country with a big heart.”
A ceremony was also held at the Turkish embassy premises marking the black day in its history. The Counsellor Hall was renamed after the ambassador’s security guard who was in Ankara at that time and became one of the 250 victims of the failed coup attempt.
A photo exhibit was also held showcasing the numerous scenes of the coup and the defeat of the terrorists by the people. Turkey has undertaken a big clean-up of its judiciary and civil services with more than 50,000 arrests and 100,000 personnel asked to leave their jobs as the government is determined to weed out the terrorists.
In order to protect the people’s rights and liberty an unbiased committee of appeal has also been set up. This committee will help address all grievances of people affected so as to give an impartial judgement.
The scale of Saturday's nationwide commemorations is aimed at etching 15 July, 2016 into the minds of Turks as a key date in the history of the modern state, which was founded in 1923 out of the Ottoman Empire. "From now on, nothing will be as it was before July 15," States and nations have critical turning points in their histories that shape their future. July 15 is such a date for the Republic of Turkey," said President Erdogan.
Several events have been planned to mark the anniversary. Giant posters have sprung up across billboards in Istanbul showing paintings that portray the key events of the failed coup night, including surrender of the putsch soldiers.
Erdogan, at the centre of the events marking the anniversary, is expected to take part in a people’s march on the bridge across the Bosphorus that saw bloody fighting a year ago. The bridge has since been renamed Bridge of the Martyrs of July 15. At midnight local time (2100 GMT) people across Turkey will take part in ‘democracy watches’, with rallies commemorating how people poured out into the streets.
Erdogan will then return to Ankara and at 2300 GMT to give a speech in parliament to mark the time it was bombed. A monument to those killed will then be unveiled outside the presidential palace in the capital as the dawn call to prayer rings out.