by Furkan Temir / VII Mentor Program
I feel the summer breeze on my arms with hundreds of thousands of others as we all walk together towards the bridge on the o1 highway which is closed to traffic for the July 15 commemorations.
I am trying to figure out the easiest way to reach the bridge. Mostly families, along with groups of friends, are walking along. Turkish flags are everywhere, some big, some small, some bigger, some smaller. We all march towards "the July Martyrs Bridge." The name of the bridge was changed from “Bosphorus Bridge” on July 25, 2016, after the coup attempt.
Turkey witnessed a military takeover attempt in the middle of July last year. There were five coup attempts, three military memorandums and two coups in Turkish history. At the early hours of the coup attempt’s start, the Bosphorus Bridge’s entrance was closed by tanks and armed soldiers. Military jets, flying very low over the Turkish capital of Ankara, were causing sonic booms. Right after, the Turkish Parliament was bombed by choppers. There was no serious military mobilization in the other cities of the country.
A massive commemoration ceremony is being held on the bridge with the attendance of Turkish president Recep Tayyip Erdoğan. Turks will be filling the squares in other cities in the following days for “the democracy shifts.” Erdoğan declared July 15 “Democracy and Resistance Right Day,” which means these commemorations will be held annually.
Erdoğan, who was on vacation in Turkey’s southwestern town of Marmaris with his family that night, had called upon Turkish citizens to “their cities’ squares, airports,” to resist the coup. 250 people were killed by the soldiers’ fire that day.
Erdoğan’s plane landed at 3:15 AM in Istanbul and he spoke to the citizens who gathered at the Atatürk International Airport. The hotel he was staying at in Marmaris, the Turkish Parliament where lawmakers gathered, President’s residence in Beştepe, and broadcaster CnnTürk all became targets of soldiers. Citizens opposing to the coup had already hit the streets by that time.
Soldiers who raided Turkish Telecom building in Istanbul, Turkish state television TRT’s Harbiye building and closed the Bosphorus Bridge surrounded at the early hours of the day after coup failed. Turkey’s chief-of-staff Hulusi Akar was rescued from the Akıncı Airport where he was held by the putschists.
Turkey declared a state of emergency on July 20, 2016. For this past year, Turkey has lived under state of emergency laws. Right after the commemorations, the state of emergency was extended for three more months. Some 134,000 people were detained, 50,510 of them were arrested, 8,500 people were searched by the police. More than 5,000 associations, foundations, schools, prep-classes, unions, universities, media institutions were shut down with decrees for their alleged links with decrees for their alleged links with the Fethullahists. Some 111,000 people were sacked from their public jobs and investigations into 38,000 people go on.