Article By Ambassador Fatih Ulusoy Published In "the Daily Monitor" Newspaper
PEOPLE’S DEVOTION FOR RIGHTS AND LIBERTIES
Although its was an ordinary Friday night elsewhere, Turkish people were witnessing almost the apocalypse on 15 July. All of a sudden, the famous Bosphorus Bridge in Istanbul was blocked with military vehicles and troops, F16 fighter jets were diving in and out in Ankara city center and bombing Turkish Parliament, Presidential Palace, attack helicopters were firing all their ammunition over the civilians and the police on the streets. What seemed like an attack in movies for many, was actually happening on the streets of Istanbul and Ankara.
President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan took a historic decision to stand with the Turkish people against the coup attempt and called on the people to take to the streets against the putschists and immediately left his hotel for Istanbul, where he very well knew the fighter jets would be after him. His hotel was raided by fully equipped special force units ordered to kill the President only after 15 minutes from his departure. Since the move behind this act was more than seizing power, and included killing civilians with tanks and shooting unarmed people at close range without hesitation, this was clearly a terrorist coup attempt.
Around the same hour, Turkish parliamentarians from all political parties were calling all MPs in Ankara to the Parliament to resist the coup attempt although it was being bombarded by fighter jets. Many MPs followed this call and showed the strength of Turkish parliament to the coup plotters who were thinking a few dives with fighter jets and some bombs over the parliament would scare off all MPs.
The putschists tried to broadcast their message by taking over studios of the state TV channel TRT and raiding private media outlets. They also attacked the satellite control unit to block broadcasting of media outlets. Yet their attempt to control the media did not last long. It must be noted that the Turkish media also played a key role in alerting our people and defeating the coup attempt.
In the meantime, the Chief of Military Staff had been kidnapped by his First Officer who served him for many years. When the Chief of Military Staff refused to join the putschists, he was offered a phone conversation to talk to Fetullah Gulen (leader of Fetullah Gulen Terrorist Organization – FETO) over the phone. What seemed like a well-organized, sophisticated plan of a clique within Turkish military failed fully by dawn, thanks to the leadership of President Erdoğan, tenacity of MPs, and most importantly the strength of a nation who did not hesitate to stand against tanks, firing squads and displayed their devotion for democracy, constitutional order and rule of law.
Following this historic night full of heroic incidents, 246 lives were lost and over 2500 were wounded. The free range shooting did not only take place on the streets, but also people’s houses and flats were shot at, where one happens to belong to my sister. The strength of the nation coupled with the full commitment of the entire state organisations to get rid of putschist FETO members, the investigations, interrogations and relevant judiciary procedures began immediately. Many confessions clearly pointed the same target, Fetullah Gulen. The Embassy’s social media account (@TurkEmbAddis) released a number of video footage and confessions. The confessions from a military officer or a member of judiciary or a police, all revealed the same story. A secretive and gigantic organization pretending to be under legal cover, which was actually formed of sleeping cells ready to receive and implement orders anytime, anywhere. The acts of this secret organization included wiretapping high officials, manipulating government exams, producing fake evidence for their opponents. This organization which exist in many countries all around the world has actually been registered as terrorist organization in Turkey some months ago. The perpetrators of this act do not represent the Turkish military as they are only a small circle of FETO members with military uniforms. For instance, a former police chief taken off duty much earlier due to his affiliation with FETO was found inside a tank wearing a military uniform. Though the people from all walks of life were furious against this organization, the Government confirmed to abide by the law and relevant international commitments throughout. Currently, some 15,000 were taken into custody (of whom 10,000 are from military) and around 8,000 have been arrested, as a matter of fact, a couple thousand are freed following investigations. Although there are voices bashing Turkey for jailing hundred thousands, it is not the case. The number of civil servants taken off duty from government offices stands around 51,000. State of emergency which was declared for three months has no effect on fundamental rights and freedoms of our citizens, on the contrary it aims efficient protection of the constitutional order as well as fundamental rights and freedoms. The Parliament took this decision in full compliance with the Turkish Constitution.
The rule of law, democracy and human rights are founding fundamental principles of the Republic of Turkey. Therefore, proceedings are carried out by independent and impartial courts in line with the principle of rule of law and Turkey’s international commitments. In this respect, the suspects have the right to legal assistance and the right to lodge an objection against the measures of custody and detention in respect of them. Furthermore, in course of their questioning, the suspects are reminded that they may request concrete evidence to be collected, and given the opportunity to invalidate the existing grounds of suspicions against them and put forward the facts in their favour.
Constitutive Act of the African Union clearly condemns and rejects unconstitutional change of governments and we’re glad to see this principle has been confirmed once again following 15 July. Starting from the night of 15 July, Ethiopian Government and many fellow Ethiopians displayed a great solidarity with Turkey, our heroic people and our elected government. Turkey will always remember and appreciate this support. A number of things place Turkey and Ethiopia together: hosting very high number of refugees, having strong and stable governments in shaky geographies, giving a serious fight against terrorism, achieving good scores in economic growth and the friendly and hospitable culture of their respective peoples. The people of both countries are proud nations that also have a great devotion for their rights and liberties. Both countries stand firm not only against terrorism but also against unconstitutional change of governments.
The way to govern a nation is obviously through elections and parliament, definitely not by secretive terrorist organizations. The Turkish experience has displayed this very clearly. Turkish Parliament held an extraordinary session on 16 July and adopted a joint declaration signed by all political parties present in the Parliament. Through this declaration our Parliament condemned in the strongest terms the attempted coup and the attacks, highlighted the resistance of all party groups against the coup attempt through a united position and with one voice and saluted all brotherly and friendly countries which stood by Turkey at this difficult time. As the Ambassador of Turkey to Ethiopia, I would like to extend this salutation by the Turkish Parliament to our Ethiopian brothers and sisters.
Having faced a catastrophic scenario throughout the night, Turkey has been strong enough to restore order on the morning of 16 July. Turkish people having defeated the putschists, also took an exemplary action for strengthening the country’s economy immediately after the domestic currency showed signs of fluctuations. Prime Minister Binali Yıldırım explained that the people sold 9 billion USD of foreign currency within the days following the coup and stabilized Turkish Lira’s exchange rate. All government organisations and businesses keep up as usual. We are expecting a ministerial delegation from Turkey visiting Addis Ababa in less than two months to review our economic relations and take action to give a boost. As it has been the case for ages, Turkey will continue to be side by side with its Ethiopian brothers and sisters.
*by Fatih Ulusoy, Ambassador of Turkey to Ethiopia and Permanent Representative of Turkey to the African Union
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