July 15 marks a symbolic victory for the Turkish people. They showed the world they would determine their own destiny. It was the first time in Turkey’s 94-year history that a military coup failed. One year on, we bring you heroic stories from the night and talk to the people, politicians and analysts about how the country is moving on.
Five TRT World journalists discuss and reflect on their personal and professional experiences from that night.
See the full list of people who sacrificed their lives on the night of defiance…
“There is a Turkish saying that if you think about your end too much, you can’t be a hero. If I had thought about what I was doing [that night], I would not have been able to ride my motorcycle straight towards the tanks. I didn’t want to think. I told myself that if I die here, well, I die.” Hasan was shot twice by snipers positioned strategically on the bridge. He survived, and said he would do it again for his country.
“We were armed with nothing but our innocent bodies and our honourable stance.” Safiye left her home in Uskudar and marched to the Bosphorus Bridge. She defied warnings from police, confronted the soldiers directly and boldly questioned why they were there. She was shot in the leg but survived. Safiye says she is proud to be a veteran of the July 15 protests.
“March, Faruk, march … If they win tonight, we will be in their hands for another hundred years,” Yunus Emre bravely told his brother, Faruk, as they marched in protest in Istanbul’s Fatih neighbourhood. Faruk returned home that night, but Yunus Emre was killed by the coup soldiers. He left behind his wife Fatma Esra and their nine-year-old daughter.
Ayse Aykac, a quiet housewife from Turkey’s Black Sea region, went with her husband to the Bosphorus Bridge. She bravely dragged her husband by the hand to the frontlines of the hundreds of protesters. A sniper bullet hit her, and she fell down. Her final words were “There is only one God and Muhammad is his messenger.”
Ibrahim was in Istanbul, but his wife Esma was visiting family in Germany. She watched the news of the attempted coup unfold on TV — not knowing that her husband was one of the protesters taking to the streets in Fatih. He was killed that night. Despite the pain of his death, she believes he died for a good cause. “No matter how much we suffer, we will not give up our lands and will not surrender them to anybody,” Esma said. Ibrahim left behind his wife and their daughter.