Barack Obama, Angela Merkel, Donald Tusk and other world leaders condemned the coup in emphatic terms. “All parties in Turkey should support the democratically-elected government of Turkey, show restraint, and avoid any violence or bloodshed,” the US ...and more »
Defiant Turks defended their democracy on Friday night â€“ but not necessarily the man elected by that democracy, Recep Tayyip ErdoÄŸan, the Guardianâ€™s Istanbul correspondent Constanze Letsch reports.
â€œThe resistance against the coup attempt last night was quite heterogenic,â€ said Erol Ã–nderoglu, Turkeyâ€™s Reporters Without Borders representative who is currently on trial on terrorist propaganda charges after participating in a solidarity campaign with a pro-Kurdish newspaper.â€œThe most valuable outcome of last nightâ€™s events is that many people who are not AKP supporters stood up for democratic values despite the recent crackdowns on the opposition, and despite the tension and the polarisation of the country.â€
However, not everyone shared his optimism. â€œEveryone spoke out against the coup last night and that gave me hope,â€ said an academic who wished to remain anonymous. â€œBut watching events unfold today this hope has shrunk quickly. Last night there was the possibility that the government would use this to return to a more unifying language, to return to the peace talks, to unite the country. But today it looks like they will use [the coup attempt] simply to consolidate power.â€
The academic said that the trauma of past military interventions, and not sympathy for the government, drove people to oppose Friday nightâ€™s bloody coup attempt.
â€œThese people do not support ErdoÄŸan, but they oppose the idea of a military coup. Turkey has a history of very painful, traumatic military interventions, so I was not surprised to see such united opposition to this attempt.â€
Turkey has faced a number of military coups since the foundation of the republic in 1923. The military, once the most trusted institution in the country, has long defined itself as the guardian of the secular Turkey established by the countryâ€™s founder, Mustafa Kemal AtatÃ¼rk. As recently as 1997, the army intervened and forced Turkeyâ€™s first Islamic-led government to resign.
Related: Defiant Turks stood up for democracy â€“ but not necessarily for Erdoâ€‹â€‹ÄŸan
But since 2007, when high-ranking military staff went on trial for an alleged coup attempt, trust in the military has waned considerably, and the AKP has long been credited with pushing the army back into the barracks and establishing civilian rule.
â€œTurkey has experienced a coup once every 10 years. Each time that happened, the country was thrown back by around 50 years,â€ said Levent GÃ¼ltekin, an opposition writer and columnist. â€œThe deaths, the torture, the horrible scenes in the street â€“ all this is still very fresh in the collective memory in Turkey, and this memory is easily activated by scares of yet another military intervention.â€
Evren, who died last year at age 97, left the country with a deeply undemocratic constitution, which, after being implemented in 1982, restricted the right to freedom of assembly and expression, seriously curtailed labour unions and put universities under strict state control.
GÃ¼ltekin underlined that this was the first time that civilian resistance forced the army to back down from a violent intervention. â€œThat is of course a good thing. But the real question is how these crowds who professed their loyalty to ErdoÄŸan, will be used,â€ he said.
â€œSome of the people we saw on the streets are people who do everything ErdoÄŸan asks them to do. He has turned voters into militant followers. It would be a positive development if the government will use them to further democracy, but if they are used to further authoritarianism, it would be a catastrophe.â€
For the moment, however, fears that ErdoÄŸan will undermine what Turks have achieved were overwhelmed by celebration of that very achievement.
Turkey coup attempt,Turkey,World news,Recep Tayyip ErdoÄŸan