It has been one year since the public risked everything to defend Turkey's democracy and freedom and rose as one to fight against a devious attempt by a sinister cult to subvert their will and topple the democratically elected government.
Over the past months, much has been said about last summer's coup attempt. Some people like to push a politically-motivated, anti-Turkey narrative to whitewash the coup plotters. Others pretend that nothing actually happened. But you can't "spin" your way out of certain things and this is one of them.
First and foremost, July 15 was proof that the Turkish people had completely internalized democracy. Civilian politics had come under repeated attacks since 1960, when the military overthrew Turkey's democratically-elected government and executed three cabinet members, including Prime Minister Adnan Menderes. The coup plotters, too, had probably hoped that people would stay in and stand idly by as their elected representatives were taken into custody or worse. It would appear, however, that the legacy of coups past had taught the nation that democracy was their red line.
Another important point is that the coup attempt was thwarted by unarmed civilians as opposed to the security forces or other armed groups. In response to the illegitimate attempt to seize political power, a large group of peaceful protesters stood up to coup plotters with orders to shoot to kill. Their non-violent resistance should inspire and set an example to oppressed peoples around the world.
Thirdly, it is important to recognize that the anti-coup resistance cut across political, cultural and class lines. On July 15, seculars and conservatives, rich and poor, came together to show the world that Turkey would not be knocked down with one punch. In order to be able to have differences of opinion, they believed, they needed to leave them aside and form a united front against the terrorists who wan
ted to hijack democracy.
Finally, the coup plotters may have fired the bullets and dropped the bombs that claimed 250 innocent lives and injured another 2,193 citizens, but it would be naïve to think that they were acting alone. In fact, it has since been discovered that FETÖ, the terrorist group that orchestrated and carried out the attempted coup, was in contact with foreign governments and organizations with close ties to the authorities of certain countries. At the same time, the failed coup's mastermind, Fetullah Gülen, and his closest associates have been living in the United States, financing their illegal operations with U.S. taxpayer dollars and conspiring to perpetrate attacks on Turkish soil.
The popular response to the July 15 coup attempt should serve as a reminder to the enemies of Turkish democracy that nothing happens in Turkey without the people's support. It is virtually impossible to manipulate the Turks – which the international sponsors of FETÖ terrorism would have known if they actually knew the Turkish people. To be clear, their biggest mistake was to assume that the Gülenist propaganda was an accurate description of what was happening in Turkey. Some things in life are learned the hard way.
The Turkish people will remember the sacrifice of their compatriots who paid the ultimate price out of their sense of duty and love of country. Moving forward, we will continue to support efforts by the Turkish government to bring those responsible to justice and take necessary precautions to prevent future attacks against our democracy.