I would do the same if July 15 happened again, veterans say

ŞEYMA NAZLI GÜRBÜZ @SeymNazli
ISTANBUL
Published

Two years ago on July 15, the Turkish public put a strong stance forward against a group of coup plotters that acted upon a cult leader's destructive ambitions over the country. Thanks to the strength and determination of the people, the coup plotters failed miserably. Yet, 249 people were killed that night, fighting for the country's future and democracy. Today, the fight continues against the mastermind Fetullah Gülen and his terrorist gang the Gülenist Terror Group (FETÖ). However, the memories of the bloody night are still alive in people's minds, especially for the veterans of July 15, who express bravely that they would not hesitate in acting the same way again if needed.

"I would definitely do the same thing today, I would go and fight on the streets against the coup plotters. Because, if I hadn't gone out that night, I would have regretted my action for the rest of my life," said Hatice Işık, a woman who was shot and injured on July 15 while standing against the coup plotters in the capital city of Ankara, one of the places where the struggle was the most heated.

"I was shot in my ribs. The bullet is still in there. I had to live partially paralyzed for two weeks and had to take very heavy pills for my wounds. Still, I wouldn't hesitate for a second, if, God forbid, such an action would be needed again," Işık stated, while adding that on that night, the only thing she was concerned about was the future of the country and the disappointment of the coup plotters, not her injury or the possibility of death or being paralyzed for the rest of her life.

As a Kurdish citizen of the country, Işık stated that in her childhood she was bullied for her ethnicity and thus dreamed of a Turkey where everyone was living in harmony without discrimination, which was achieved on July 15.

"That night, there was no fear or worry. There was only peace. There were people from various backgrounds, standing for their country in unity. We all had the same aim of stopping the coup," she said while indicating that when she was told that the country's soldiers were firing against them, she was shocked and disappointed. "I could not believe it at first," she said.

For some, however, the scene that shocked Işık was familiar, due to the past experiences of the country. "I knew what was a coup is like," said Faith Öztürk, who fought against the coup plotters in Istanbul, on the July 15 Martyrs Bridge (formerly known as the Bosporus Bridge) where 34 people were killed that night.

"I still had the remains of the 1980 coup in my memory. Thus, when I saw on TV that a coup was being plotted, I immediately went out to the streets as a reflex," Öztürk said, explaining that his motive was to protect the future of his children and freedom by preventing the country from going back to the dark days of the former coups.

"The destruction of the state that would provide me the life that I desire means that I am practically dead as well, while still alive in reality," emphasized Öztürk, who was shot in his leg that night.

"What I did was a reflex that day. Thus, today, whatever I say would be a result of a wide thought process and therefore, will not have the same meaning. Still, I can say wholeheartedly that I would definitely do the same, go out and fight on the bridge for our freedom," Öztürk stated.

Adding that he wishes for the country to not have to go through a similar suffering again, he said that he would be better prepared and organized if a similar struggle should ever be needed.

"I'm from Muş [eastern Anatolian province] so I was familiar with the traitors that were aiming to divide our nation," said Abdullah Irgin, another veteran of that night, referring to the PKK terrorist organization. "Thus," he added, "that night, although I was originally in Ankara on personal business, I did not hesitate to stand against those who wanted to ruin our nation."

"I would rather die than hear the voices of coup plotters," Irgin said, indicating that he would do the same and even more today if necessary.

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