Turkey will mark the first anniversary of the July 15 coup attempt in just a few months, and most nationwide rallies to denounce the putsch bid are long gone, but a number of citizens in a city near Istanbul still keep the rally tradition alive. Gathering at a park on every 15th day of the month, the self-proclaimed "democracy fans"stage a quiet rally with flags and patriotic slogan banners.
Despite the freezing temperatures, the group is proud to honor their "duty" as they pass the time with hot tea and soup in a park in the city of Sakarya.
Hamza Semih Vural is among the crowd that attends the rallies, which usually include prayers for the 248 people who were killed by pro-coup troops. "Common people reacted and stopped the coup attempt," Vural told the Anadolu Agency (AA).
"[The resistance] was something improvised, and we took to the streets with newfound strength," he said. Millions from across the country rallied in what came to be known as the "democracy watch," after the country's leaders urged the public to stand against the coup. Every night, people waving Turkish flags rallied, sometimes in the company of politicians. The rallies ended about a month later under the advisement of President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan, who attended the final rally in Istanbul. This is the stance that revived the Turkish public's faith in itself to determine their own destiny and to protect their country.
Summertime rallies were not difficult, but as autumn and winter kicked in, the "democracy supporters" in Sakarya decided to set up a tent for their monthly rally. Vural says most people in the crowd were those who attended the summer rallies. "When we were told to end the rallies, we were sad. We were determined to keep that spirit alive. We made new friends in the democracy rallies, and together with these friends, we decided to make it a monthly convention," he told AA.
Abdullah Çolak, another demonstrator, said, "Turkey is not without its protectors [against anyone] planning new conspiracies."