On July 15-16, 2016, a group of military officials within the Turkish Armed Forces, who called itself Yurtta Sulh Konseyi (Council of Peace in the Country) and is claimed to be associated with the Gulen Movement, has carried out a failed coup attempt.
As Truth Justice and Memory Center, we strongly condemn the coup attempt and embrace the values of democracy. As an organization established with a vision to deal with the legacy of military interventions and massacres, we understand the seriousness of the threat posed by the attempted coup.
Maybe for the first time in the history of the Turkish Republic, all parties from different walks of life, leftists, Kemalists, Islamists, democrats, Kurds, NGO’s condemned the coup attempt. No part of Turkey’s splintered ideological landscape seems to desire a coup anymore.
With the call of the President and the prime minister, people took their protest to the streets and resisted the army members who were involved in the coup.
On July 18, Prime Minister Binali Yıldırım announced that 145 civilians, 60 police officers and 27 soldiers (of whom 24 were involved in the coup) got killed; over 1,500 people were injured; 7,543 people, 6,038 of them soldiers, allegedly involved in the coup attempt and also 755 judges and prosecutors were detained.
While the government has the complete right to hold to account those involved in the coup, we will follow the process closely to ensure that human rights, democratic values and the rule of law will be embraced while dealing with the coup d’etat attempt.
The level of measures taken after the coup d’etat attempt is creating a suspicion in the opposition about the Turkish political scene moving towards a single-party rule. With the reported suspension of an additional 2,500 judges and prosecutors over two days, about one-fifth of the members of Turkey’s justice system have been suspended or detained. By July 20, around 28,000 state functionaries, judges, prosecutors, school teachers, governors, police officers and public sector employees were sacked. Council of high education asked for the resignation of 1,577 deans. Annual leave is suspended for all public sector employees (around 3 million) and all, including university professors, are banned from travelling abroad. The Higher Council for Advertisement and Televisions (RTÜK) cancelled licenses of 25 TV and radio channels. The police banned the distribution of the humor magazine Leman. 32 journalists’ accreditation to public offices were cancelled. The Presidency Directorate of Religious Affairs declared that there will be no religious service for the funerals of the soldiers who participated in the coup d’etat attempt. Following the failed coup, some politicians (including the President himself) have been alarmingly advocating for reintroducing the death penalty, which Turkey abolished in 2004, after joining a binding Council of Europe treaty that prohibits it.
Although we believe that anyone who is proved to take part in the coup attempt should be trialed and convicted, we are deeply concerned about the level of violence in the streets and during detention, not only towards the suspects of the coup but sometimes against ordinary people. Torture and inhumane behavior is prohibited by the Constitution.
Attempts to protect democracy and democratic values should not resemble the attempts of those who wanted to abolish the constitution. Respect for due process, the rule of law, human rights and democratic values is essential now. We believe that it is time for policies to strengthen democratic institutions, human rights and peace against any coup d’etat attempt.