Turkish citizens unite to end attempted coup

Turkish citizens heeded President Recep Erdogan's calls and came out in numbers to stop an attempted coup in the country.

Photo by: Reuters
Photo by: Reuters

Anti-coup protesters gather outside Ataturk international airport during a tense night in Istanbul, Turkey, July 16, 2016.

In an inspirational display of nationalism, millions of Turkish citizens united throughout the country and ended an attempted coup.

A faction of the military, comprising roughly a few thousand soldiers, declared martial law in the country last night as they attempted to overthrow the government.

But, the people had the last say and heeded calls made by President Recep Tayyip Erdogan to stop the coup. Millions took to the streets throughout the country and helped police disarm the coup plotters.

Turkish President Tayyip Erdogan speaks to media in the resort town of Marmaris, Turkey, July 15, 2016.

In addition, Turkey's three main opposition parties – the leftwing CHP, the nationalist MHP,  and the pro-Kurdish HDP – all made statements against the coup attempt. 

F16 fighter jets, helicopters and the echoing sound of thousands of voices chanting in celebration could be heard throughout Istanbul before dawn.

Soldiers on the Bosphorus Bridge could be seen abandoning their tanks early on Saturday morning in a Periscope video as anti-coup protesters rejoiced.

At least 161 people died and more than 1,440 were injured during the attempted coup that started on Friday night and ended on Saturday morning, Turkish Prime Minister Binali Yildirim said in a statement on TV, confirming an earlier report from the state-run Anadolu Agency.

Commander of the First Army, Umit Dundar, who acted as acting chief of general staff during the crisis, added that 104 soldiers involved in carrying out the failed coup were also killed. 

As a faction in the army attempted to overthrow the Turkish government, Prime Minister Binali Yildirim said one of the generals behind the attempted coup had been killed in a televised statement.

So far over 2,800 security personnel have been detained in wide-ranging sweeps, including five generals and 29 colonels. 

Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan addressed hundreds of supporters at Istanbul Ataturk International Airport after landing in the early hours of Saturday.

Erdogan accused the faction of an attempt to undermine the solidarity and unity of the country. The coup has been defeated, he said, because nothing is stronger than the national will.

Erdogan and Yildirim’s statements were in line with their earlier rejection of the army group’s claim that they had wrested control from the government.

The coup, said to be led by Fethullah Gulen, a US-based cleric and onetime associate of Erdogan, began at approximately 10:30pm local time.

In an announcement, the military group accused the current government of thwarting democracy and secular rule of law in the nation. They went on to call for a new constitution.

Soldiers guard near the Taksim Square in Istanbul, Turkey, July 15, 2016.

The group, referring to themselves as a "peace council" said they would instate a curfew and martial law, effective immediately.

Local and international media were soon inundated with reports that Istanbul’s two main bridges, the Bosphorous and Fatih Sultan Mehmet, were blocked by soldiers.

Confused residents were stranded on the roads of the nation’s largest city as several major roads were blocked and public transport came to a halt.

Hundreds of people could be seen lined up at ATMs on the streets of Istanbul as they tried to withdraw cash in preparation for what may come next. Food stores in several neighbourhoods were also said to be cleared out as residents stocked up on precautionary rations.

Erdogan, speaking via Facetime, flatly rejected the military group’s claim of control from the outset. He encouraged the people to defy the breakaway group by taking to the streets.

The president called on his people to take to oppose the "parallel structure" being imposed in the nation.

"I urge the Turkish people to convene at public squares and airports. I never believed in a power higher than the power of the people," he said.

Erdogan’s statement was followed by a call to the streets from the muezzins of the city’s mosques.

People stand on a Turkish army tank at Ataturk airport in Istanbul, Turkey July 16, 2016.

Soon after, the streets of Istanbul were filled with thousands of anti-coup demonstrators.

Hundreds gathered in Taksim Square, a popular destination for tourists and locals leading to one of Istanbul’s main commercial hubs. There were reports on social media of clashes between protesters and soldiers at the square.

There were other reports of violence during the six-hour period where the government fought to wrest control from the group.

At least three explosions were reported in Istanbul and Ankara.

The parliament building, in the capital, Ankara, was the target of at least two explosions in the early morning hours of Saturday, Reuters reported.

In Istanbul, an explosion was heard in the vicinity of Ataturk International Airport, approximately an hour before the plane transporting Erdogan landed.


TRTWorld and agencies