Messages exchanged by pro-coup officers on WhatsApp, disclose that they ordered the shooting of people resisting the July 15 coup attempt.
As part of the investigation into the quashed coup attempt, the Istanbul Prosecutor Office has compiled a series of WhatsApp messages between pro-coup officers, apparently sent on the evening of July 15.
Military officers in Istanbul were ordered to open fire at crowds resisting the coup, showed documents seen by Anadolu Agency. The messages then seem to reveal a sense of panic after it becomes apparent that the coup has failed.
In one instance, Lt. Col. Muzaffer Duzenli appears to order his subordinates to open fire as crowds take to streets to protest against the coup.
“Repeat. Transmit. Open fire to disperse crowds,” Duzenli said in one of the WhatsApp messages shown to Anadolu Agency.
It is unclear, from the messages, where exactly the officers were stationed in Istanbul.
In a reply to Duzenli, Colonel Muslum Kaya said a group of protestors were trying to approach a disaster coordination center in Istanbul. "Comrades opened fire," he wrote.
In his reply, Colonel Uzay Sahin encouraged Kaya to shoot at the group. "Do not let them approach. Open fire," he said.
Major Mehmet Karabekir said he also opened fire on the crowds: "I am opening fire at crowds and waiting. Use this in a restrained fashion. 10-15 people are dead. Do not lose initiative."
Major Muammer Aygar also informed the other officers that there had been heavy fighting in Kuleli, a district on the Asian side of Istanbul, which hosts a military academy. "Opened fire at the group," he said.
The latest toll has established that at least 208 people, including members of the security forces and civilians, were martyred in Istanbul and Ankara and nearly 1,500 others wounded as they protested Friday’s attempted coup.
In another message, Lt. Col. Ugur Coskun said officers and soldiers have been overrun by a group of protestors at the Istanbul Governorship building.
In a reply, Major Karabekir said: “Crush [them]. Burn [them]. No compromise.”
After a flow of messages appeared to indicate that protestors were attacking pro-coup soldiers, Major Murat Yanik said he received an order from Ankara: "Open fire."
Major Mehmet Murat Celebioglu said: "Sir, we received information that [there are] armed people. If people march towards us, we will open fire first in the air then at them."
Col. Sahin advised Celebioglu to shoot down leaders of protestors. "Shoot down instigators," wrote Sahin.
After it had become clear that the attempt had been thwarted, the messages seemed to show a sense of disarray among the officers.
“Sir, we have been trying to survive. Do as you see fit,” said Maj. Mehmet Murat Celebioglu in an apparent message to someone asking for instructions.
“Surrender or run,” he added.
In another exchange, Maj. Muhammer Aygar asked one of his peers whether the attempt was called off. Celebioglu replied: “Called off.”
“Are we leaving?” Aygar asked again. “Yes sir,” replied Murat.
Col. Cemalledin Dogan also asked whether he should run.
Aygar replied: “Stay alive. It is your choice. We have not decided. But we left our post. I am closing down the [WhatsApp] group. Delete messages if you like.”
The Turkish government has said the failed military overthrow was organized by followers of US-based preacher Fethullah Gulen.
Gulen is accused of a long-running campaign to overthrow the state through supporters within Turkish institutions, particularly the military, police and judiciary, forming what is commonly known as the parallel state.