Role of women in resistance against coup attempt

Women lost their husbands, children and their lives during the resistance against the coup attempt in Turkey in July 15.

Photo by: TRT World
Photo by: TRT World

People gathered to support Turkey's democracy in Kisikli, Istanbul near Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan's house.

Updated Aug 4, 2016

The coup attempt in Turkey, which was staged by the FETO terrorist organisation on July 15th, saw women take to the streets to defend the future of democracy in Turkey.

Putschists closed Istanbul’s Bosphorus Bridge (now renamed July 15 Martyrs' Bridge), raided different state departments and took some military generals hostage. Additionally, they bombed buildings and fired bullets randomly at civilians from helicopters.

A total of 238 people were martyred in the coup attempt. According to the Istanbul Governor's office, nine women were martyred in Ankara, two of whom were security forces. Four women were also martyred in Istanbul. 

Heroic women

Fikriye Temel, 74, became famous on social media when a young boy took her photo holding a stick while people gathered to defend the Presidential Complex in Beştepe, Ankara.

74-year-old Fikriye Temel holds a stick in her hand against putschists. [Twitter @EvladOs30678913]

The image was immediately shared on social media and people were saying "Maybe you can't stand against a tank with a stick, but your patriotism shows your side."

She has witnessed three coups and in the last coup attempt, she was waiting for the signal to go out to the streets to resist.

The Turkish Presidency of Religious Affairs, Mehmet Görmez, called on people to resist the coup attempt.

“When I heard that I felt enlightened,” she said.

On the evening of the failed coup, Turkey's President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan called the nation via FaceTime to take to the streets against putschists.

Turkey's President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan addresses country on FaceTime, July 15, 2016. [Reuters]

Fikriye recalled: “My daughter said ‘Maybe we should stay.’ I said 'No! Let’s go!’” 

She talked about the mystery of the stick and defines it as a “machine gun,” against those who were bombing the Complex.

74-year-old woman Fikriye Temel during an interview with TRT World.

Fikriye is a diabetic patient, and when the putschists were bombing and firing with guns, she said that she got nervous, and her mouth went dry.

“You have no idea how loud the bombs were. Your brain could explode,” she said, adding that she has witnessed three coups and “this was the worst I have seen.”

'I don’t prefer to separate women and men in this process'

The president of the Women and Democracy Association (KADEM), an NGO in Turkey, associate professor Sare Aydın Yılmaz, said that men and women should not be separated in this coup attempt.

Women and Democracy Association (KADEM) associate professor Sare Aydın Yılmaz during the interview with TRT World.

But she added that during the coup attempt, there were some “heroic women” who did not hesitate to fight for their country, democratic future and national will. 

This nation “has a coup background, we have a memory of them. It is not the first time that we have been through this process. We saw this in the 1960s, 70s, 80s, and 90s, even as recently as 2007 [referring to a controversial General Staff statement on April 27, called the ‘e-memorandum’].”

“I don’t separate women and men in this process. Because we are together, and we are all fighting for our future. There you can see men, women, young and elderly people together,” she added.

Yılmaz said that President Erdoğan gained women’s trust, especially those who were in a passive position in society by making new amendments to the constitution. He also opened the way for them to participate in politics a lot more.

According to the Turkish Statistical Institution’s last annual report about women in Turkey, women make up 49.8 percent of the population.

In 2009 only 0.9 percent of mayors were women. But this ratio increased to 2.9 percent in 2014. Additionally, the city woman counsellor ratio increased from 4.2 percent to 10.7 percent in the same interval.

Currently, there are 81 female representatives out of 550 in the Turkish Grand National Assembly, giving them 14.73 percent of the seats.

People gathered to support Turkey's democracy in Kisikli, Istanbul near Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan's house. [TRT World]

“You can see in the videos that some of the women were braver than men...One lady stood just in front of the tank,” said Yılmaz, adding “and some of them did not ask anybody, took the decision on their own, took their husband’s truck and drove into the streets even though their husband had said ‘Don’t go!’”

“Some of them thought 'if I go to talk to the soldiers, they may not shoot me because I’m a woman,' but they were riddled with bullets,” Yılmaz said. 

On the coup attempt night, Yılmaz had called the institution’s management director to go back and switch on all the lights in the building and hang a Turkish flag on the building. But security did not give permission. The KADEM building and the president’s house in Istanbul are side by side.

Author: Ali Topchi