How to fight a coup attempt with real-life experiences from Turkey

Published 06.08.2016 01:35
Updated 06.08.2016 14:32
emReuters Photo/em
Reuters Photo

Besides the police and anti-coup soldiers, it was the public on the frontline who were the main reason for the failure of the July 15 coup attempt by a Gülenist junta. People armed with their faith in democracy stood up against the junta’s tanks, troops and warplanes with their improvised methods. Here is an insight into these all tried-and-tested techniques

1. Blocking the entrance of military headquarters to stop vehicles

Coup attempts have to get support ammunition from headquarters such as tank or troop carriers and you should block them to stand up for democracy. Any kind of vehicle can be useful to block the entrance of headquarters and even a small car will create a blockage to their mobility. To reach this goal call your friends; especially those who own trucks, asking them to park their vehicles at the exits of these buildings.

2. Get closer to tanks to block their visibility

Another piece of advice about tanks for anti-coup fighters is to approach tanks, at least those that are not moving, as close as 25 meters so you won't be visible to the troops inside. This was quickly learned by many on the night of the coup attempt in Turkey, when people even tried to climb on the vehicles. This advice can be useful if tanks are immobile, as the crew of a tank, once they are inside the tank rather than manning the turret, have limited range and visibility of the environs. Some civilians trying to stop tanks also used spray paint and powder inside fire extinguishers to block the view of tank crews.

3. Get your whistle and megaphone

By the time you're faced with a coup attempt, one of the most important duties for the public is mobilizing and standing against putschists. In the event that you encounter such a travesty, it is important to overcome your fear and bring people together in the face of these armed vehicles and soldiers who would probably not hesitate to kill you. These possibilities make whistles and megaphones essential. They may also be useful in dissuading soldiers from being lunatics.

4. Stick large iron bar in tank's tire treads

An iron bar that is long and thick enough to stick into the spaces in a tank's tire treads can stop it from moving, although it is not a method certainly tested so far. Still, social media users urged anti-coup activists to give it a try, claiming treads will stop working if this happens, like a skipping bicycle chain.

5. Set hay bales on fire

During the coup, military helicopters take aim on coup protesters with airstrikes. If you are a local residing near the base or one of the hundreds who flocked to the base upon hearing the news of the coup, there is a way to stop airstrikes. You can pile up hay bales and car tires and set them on fire in a bid to limit the visibility of aircrafts. When you deem this to be insufficient, locals can set their own fields on fire in the rural neighborhoods.

6. Blocking the vehicle's exhaust pipes with clothes

If the car barricade you set up for halting tanks does not work, you can try another way to stop military vehicles, by filling the vehicle's exhaust pipes, the tops of the filters, with something such as your clothing. Within two to three minutes, you will see soldiers attempt to flee the tanks after exhaust fills their cabins.

Or, you can simply limit their visibility by stretching out a tarp after you get close to the tanks.

7. Occupy strategic places such as bridges, airport and city centers

Occupied roads could be a nightmare for putschists, as they need to move their heavy vehicles to central locations in the city to spread terror among the public and capture significant positions including administrative buildings, media stations and police headquarters. As long as you hold strategic passageways such as bridges inside the city, you will confine their ability to move. It is also important to get airports under control to allow anti-coup figures to travel quickly if needed.

8. Take your truck and collect as much people you can

The most powerful weapon to avoid a coup attempt is by bringing together as many people as possible to strategic points to stand against soldiers. Especially with a huge truck, you can collect people starting with your neighbors and locals on the streets. Do not forget to use your horn to attract more people and ornament your vehicle with national flags instead of the flag of a certain party or politician you support as that may divide resistance. You should have strong self-confidence and try to encourage people around you.

9. Alert people about the situation from houses of worship

Calling Sala from minarets or tolling the bells in big cathedrals as we saw in Europe during World War II, this simple call serves as a warning and could be beneficial in terms of unifying people and encouraging them to stand against putschists.

10. Do not loot or destroy anything

One of the most common mistakes made during protests is looting, which is often used by government authorities as a negative aspect and reason for demonizing demonstrators even if they have overcrowded streets for righteous reasons. Do not terrorize civilians in the streets by looting as this will overshadow your your peaceful resistance. Don't give people the impression that you are violent; keeping focused on your purpose of trying to stop the coup plotters.

11. Keep in touch with others via live broadcasting

Social media became more and more important during the social movement of the last decade. When you see news of a coup d'état on social media, do not panic but do not ignore it -- and try to find a reliable news source. If you are sure about the ongoing news you should start organizing people on social media and share photos and videos from the street. Be careful about protecting yourself from putschists' shooting and try to take photos and videos and if you can, start live broadcasting.

P.S. Do not forget your power bank!

12. Be brave against putschists

It is not important who you are or what your occupation is when you are faced with a coup threat. Ordinary people can avoid coup attempts and you can become a hero like Ömer Halisdemir, the non-commissioned officer revered for his attack on a putschist General Semih Terzi to stop him from taking control of the Special Forces Command. Another example is Ahmet Özsoy, who did not give control of the state-run satellite operator, Türksat, to putschist soldiers in Ankara and died in the process. Taking a firm stand on save democracy is terrifying for putschist soldiers and you are not alone with your sisters and brothers on street. A picture of Governor Hüseyin Avni Coş holding a G3 rifle in front of the entrance of the governor's office became an iconic image of the coup attempt in Turkey after he took command of the office with assistance from the public.

13. Go with your life: Fight off chaos and fear

Avoiding a coup attempt is not simple but is an ongoing process. You need to put your heart and soul into your work; this is not the kind of work that is done during regular office hours. You need to organize meetings with fellow civilians in strategic places such as city centers and official buildings until the danger has passed completely. You should avoid the chaos and fear felt by most during protests and maintain your daily routine in order to keep stability in the country.

14. Lying under a tank

Lying sideways is apparently not an effective and wise solution to stop massive combat vehicles, as their treads will likely crush your limbs. However, if you come up against one of them that seems determined to sweep you away by ignoring your protest, it would probably be life-saving to know where to lie down under the tank to save your own life, which is in the tank's middle section.

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