14 July 2017 14:23

One year on after the failed coup

Failed coup was used as a stepping stone for creating a one man, one party state. Steps that could not be taken under normal conditions were taken.


Tomorrow is 15th July. It is the first anniversary of the attempted military coup. When a coup is prevented through the participation of citizens the natural outcome should be for political democracy to develop and grow stronger. However, anybody with even a remote interest in politics, who has been following developments in the country and has a conscience will not claim that this is the case in Turkey. A state of emergency was announced on 21st July 2016 with the aim of calling to account those responsible for the attempted coup. Even at that time, this column viewed the announcement of the state of emergency as a “coup against the people”. 

The state of emergency and power to issue statutory decrees did not just target those involved in the coup. It was used by the ruling government as a pretext to target all opposition movements and democratic powers, and resulted in the biggest purge in the history of the Republic. Far from paving the way for a stronger democracy, the failed coup was used as a stepping stone for creating a one man, one party state. Steps that could not be taken under normal conditions were taken throughout this period and with the unconditional support of the MHP (the Turkish Nationalist Party), the ruling government was able to continue on this path. 

However, during this period another truth was revealed. Recep Tayyip Erdogan's AKP government did not want all of the relationships of the coup plotters and the details of events to be exposed, they preferred for some of these links to be kept secret. This is because it became apparent that the government was aware of the coup plot prior to its taking place, that the strength of the coup plotters had been assessed, that it was evident the coup could be prevented and that precautions had been taken to allow the plotters to progress thereafter at “God’s Will”. 

Of course, the conclusion to be drawn from this is not that the coup attempt or the resistance to it should be belittled. On the contrary, in contrast to the Government’s approach, the call to reject the coup attempt and the undermining of Government provocation by democratic and progressive forces in the aftermath could have been a strong foundation on which to build the people’s democratic struggle. But this was frustrated because democratic and progressive forces have gone through a difficult period in the past year. The questionable results of the constitutional referendum that followed and the most recent Justice March and really demonstrate that the democratic opposition is beginning to organise itself. 

It is now clear. This government and bureaucrats at the highest levels (Chief of Staff, the undersecretary of the Turkish Intelligence Service MIT, military commanders etc) allowed the coup plotters to proceed and thus became responsible for the deaths and injuries of hundreds of citizens. The question now being asked is; despite the tip off that there was going to be a coup why were senior military commanders attending a wedding instead of responding to this? Isn’t it clear enough? The message being sent to the plotters is that they need not worry, that they should continue with their path and that the government will reap the rewards. 

Now the truth needs to be exposed but there is no trustworthy judicial structure or mechanism which can respond to the people’s demand for justice! The current judiciary serves the presidential palace, with the presidential palace acting as the police, prosecutor and judge in all enquiries. In the circumstances, surely the right thing to do is to ask lawyers, community organisations, faith group representatives and similar organisations to take collective responsibility for ensuring that enquiries proceed, and all elements of the attempted coup are exposed. 

All of the indicators show that progressive democratic opposition will develop, spread and grow. Socialist and progressive powers can be the engine of this opposition movement. Larger groups of CHP (the main opposition) supporters are now wanting to see the party take a more challenging/fighting approach.  It is still possible for this opposition movement to fight back against the move towards a one man - one party regime, increase the struggle for democratic rights and freedoms, and ultimately for democracy to prevail. We want to believe that all the powers involved in the struggle can see this potential and will take appropriate action to make this happen.