Parliament, the focal point of the Turkey's democracy, was among the prime targets during last year's July 15 failed coup attempt, perpetrated by the Gülenist Terror Group (FETÖ).
As news of the coup attempt broke, Parliamentary Spokesperson İsmail Kahraman, several ministers and deputies of the Justice and Development Party (AK Party), Republican People's Party (CHP) and Nationalist Movement Party (MHP) defied putschists bombing and spent the night in the Parliament building.
One of them, opposition Nationalist Movement Party (MHP) Deputy Oktay Vural closely witnessed the horrific events. Speaking to Daily Sabah, Vural said he watched the assault take place, while trying to reach Parliament. "We discussed the developments with our chairman and decided to go to Parliament. We believed it would boost public morale during a coup that targeted their sovereignty. As I was entering Parliament with my son and a fellow deputy, a military helicopter opened fire on us. Fortunately, we survived," he said.
"The general assembly was in session at the time. Several more bombings followed, and the Parliament building sustained some heavy damage. But, we are a great country and people, and as their representatives, we tried our best to empower the people," said Vural.
Saying that it was hard to express what he has gone through, Vural added: "Turkish people were strong enough not to surrender to terrorists. The cutthroats, who were frenzied to the extent of bombing Parliament, should be punished accordingly. The attacks on Parliament revealed the importance of protecting and promoting values like democracy and the rule of law."
Recalling memories from July 15, 2016, Mustafa Yeneroğlu, an AK Party deputy and head of Parliament's Human Rights Committee, said he was in Ankara when the first rumors about a possible coup attempt surfaced.
"I contacted other deputies in our group in the wake of the first rumors. We thought the proper thing to do in such a case would be to get to Parliament and show that we will fight off every attempt to violate the nation's will," he said, adding that he reached Parliament after the end of a very challenging ride.
Yeneroğlu arrived at Parliament, knowing very well that he could be killed there by the putschists. "My family was messaging me nonstop. I told my wife to look after our children if anything happened to me," he remembered. He recalled how fighter jets flew low over Parliament and dropped bombs. "They tried to deploy soldiers there using helicopters but could not succeed thanks to our strong-willed police forces," he said.
He said all the deputies who speak foreign languages gathered in the early hours of the coup attempt to address the world and provide everyone with true information. Yeneroğlu himself speaks German.
"Unfortunately, we saw that the world kept silent over the events and waited to see where it was headed and who would prevail in the end," he asserted.
CHP Deputy Utku Çakırözer explained what he witnessed that night.
"We swiftly went to Parliament. The bombings started during the general assembly. Afterward, security forces advised that we should go to the shelters, and we did so. We stayed there for six hours, and even then, we were hearing sounds of bombs," recalled Çakırözer.
Stressing that the CHP was against coups and recognized no power over the power of the people, Çakırözer said: "Coup attempts to overthrow democracy and the parliamentary system is unacceptable. People and their representatives, us deputies, stood united against the coup and were able to foil it. The parliamentary system may have its problems, but they should be resolved through democratic methods. A coup can never be justified."
To mark the first anniversary of the coup attempt Parliament will convene with the participation of the political parties and President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan on Saturday, July 15 at 1 p.m. local time in Ankara.
President Erdoğan will also address the public at the Parliament Honor Gate at 02.32 a.m., the exact moment when the putschists started bombing Parliament on July 15 last year.