''Almost every second person does not agree with the policy Turkey is following’’: a year after the coup attempt 2016

Yashar Niyazbaev about the military coup attempt in Turkey: benefits for Erdoğan, thousands people arrested, shadow of Gülen and remnants of independent media

''Almost every second person does not agree with the policy Turkey is following’’: a year after the coup attempt 2016 Photo: euronews.com

On 15 July, Turkey celebrated the anniversary of the military coup attempt in Turkey. The whole world watched the events that took place that day in Ankara, Istanbul and other Turkish cities. Consul General of the Turkish Republic in Kazan Turhan Dilmaç recalled last year's coup attempt in the column in Realnoe Vremya, designating the official position of Ankara. A slightly different view is held by well-known journalist, expert and chief editor of the newspaper MK Turkey Yashar Niyazbaev. In the interview with our newspaper, the expert questioned the involvement of Fethullah Gülen in the coup and told about the scale of repression in the country followed after these events.

''The authorities felt their power, they saw the support''

What are the lessons the authorities and ordinary people have learnt from the incident?

Honestly, I don't know whether the authorities have learnt something. Probably, they have. But I think they felt their power more, saw the support of their supporters. On the other hand, in the early days, in my opinion, Erdoğan understood that in addition to those who went out to the streets on his call, there was also serious support from the opposition parties that, despite the political struggle, intolerance, on this day strongly supported the current government, the elected president. Then it seemed that the president of Turkey would listen to the opposition more, there was going to be a consensus in the society, and everyone would rejoice the victory of democracy over a possible military dictatorship.

Alas, over the time it became clear that the coup attempt was only a pretext for that Erdoğan began to strengthen his power. Endless purges, reaching a point of absurdity. There are two examples that we have learned about recently: the pilot who piloted the president's plane on the night of the coup attempt was fired. This ardent ''Gülenist-terrorist'' saved the president that night but today he is a supporter of Gülen, who should be expelled from the presidential fleet. Another example: the person who produced the biographical film about Erdoğan Reis (which I did not have an opportunity to watch) has been recently arrested as an alleged ''Gülenist''. People who in their time proved their loyalty suddenly become ''enemies of the people''. That's not to mention thousands of displaced, laid off and jailed tens of thousands of people, some of them could be associated with companies, schools, hospitals, universities, affiliated with Fethullah Gülen movement. Someone, in principle, could not be a follower of Gülen by serious ideological differences and totally different worldview, which are obvious for the Turks.

By the way, that is why the opposition initiated ''The March of Justice'' to show that in the Turkish courts, as they say, it is impossible to seek justice. The head of the opposition Republican People's Party Kemal Kılıçdaroğlu walked on foot from Ankara to Istanbul for 25 days, and on the final day of the March at the ''Justice Rally'' attracted about 1,6 million people.

''The opposition initiated ''The March of Justice'' to show that in the Turkish courts, as they say, it is impossible to seek justice.'' Photo: chp.org.tr

''Erdoğan accused Gülen's followers of the initiation of the investigation ''Big bribe''

Erdoğan almost immediately found guilty person in the coup attempt — known Islamic figure Fethullah Gülen. It is the version presented by the Turkish government and pro-government publications. What do you think who really could benefit from a coup?

You know, I'd love to know who's really behind the coup attempt. Unfortunately, we do not have sufficient information. And a possibility to get answers to our questions. But the commission, which did investigation, did not answer key questions and ignored the calls of the opposition to hear the president of the country, the head of intelligence and head of the General staff, the people who were the main heroes of that ill-fated night. The opposition claims that the coup was under control, and unasked questions, in their opinion, prove the desire of the Turkish authorities to hide the truth. Some nationalists believe that Erdoğan was aware of the preparing coup and took the risk. All this is in their public statements. I must say, these are serious accusations, but they are voiced because many people simply are not satisfied with the course of the investigations. There are dozens of questions that they'd like to get answers to, to understand who and how staged the coup, why it was so clumsy and illogical. I do not go into details, but Turkish experts very often ask questions in their articles on a number of issues related to the coup.

What the coupists wanted to achieve – it is a military dictatorship, but the failed attempt played into the hands of the leadership of Turkey. If previously Erdoğan's words about the ''parallel structure'', the threat of Fethullah Gülen (with whom he after many years, as I understand it, of fruitful cooperation quarreled because of the corruption scandal ''Big bribe'') did not meet understanding even among his party mates, then suddenly all the Turkish media began to talk about the long arm of the elder living since 1999 in the United States.

Yashar, tell us more details, please, how long ago and why did the views of Erdoğan and Gülen diverge?

In 2013, after the corruption scandal ''Big bribe''. 'Erdoğan accused Gülen's followers in the initiation of the investigation. Since then disagreements began. Although there is a version that it all started in early February 2012, when prosecutors summoned the head of Turkish intelligence Hakan Fidan for interrogation about the case of secret services agents in the ranks of the Kurdish organizations. Pro-government experts believe that through Fidan they wanted to get closer to Erdoğan. In those days, by several decrees Fidan was given immunity, not allowing to be called to the Prosecutor, to initiate the cases without the permission of the office of the Prime Minister, then it was Erdoğan. Later, there was a protest in Gezi Park. In June 2013, the media that are considered to be affiliated with Fethullah Gülen, supported Erdoğan not immediately, in their publications they called to listen to the protesters, and only after some time when the protest began to harden, the tone of the publications changed in favour of the authorities.

''In the parliament only one person was charged of ''Gülenism'', he is a representative of the Kemalist party of the CHP — Enis Berberoğlu. He was named a member of the movement because he allegedly supported them in their actions.'' Photo: hurriyetdailynews.com

''Better tomorrow cannot be built at the cost of thousands fired, jailed''

How many people were purged in various institutions (parliament, government, universities, media, etc.)?

In the parliament only one person was charged with ''Gülenism'', it is a representative of the Kemalist party CHP — Enis Berberoğlu. He was named a member of the movement because he allegedly supported them in their actions — particularly, he gave the information to chief editor of the newspaper Cumhurriyet about the trucks of intelligence services of Turkey with weapons designated for Syrian rebels. By the way, one of the ''proofs'' that a particular person can be a member of the Gülen movement is the app ByLock. Suffice it once to load and you are accused of aiding terrorism. Among the members of AK Parti (the Justice and Development Party — the ruling political bloc in Turkey — editor's note) they did not find any, while Kılıçdaroğlu claims that he has a list of those who have used this app among AK Parti members.

If I am not mistaken, representatives of Pro-Kurdish Peoples' Democratic Party also ''got into hot water''…

Eleven deputies from the Pro-Kurdish parties, including Selahattin Demirtaş and Figen Yüksekdağ, are in prison. Besides, according to the Turkish Ministry of Justice, the data are as follows: the total of 50,510 people were charged with involvement in the coup attempt, judicial proceedings were initiated against 169,013 people.

According to the publication Turkishpurge, which updates the information daily: 138,148 people were dismissed, 118,235 people detained and 55, 927 people were arrested. 2,099 schools, hostels and universities are closed, 8,271 scientists lost their jobs. 4,424 judges, prosecutors were dismissed, 149 media were closed, 269 journalists were arrested.

You have raised the topic of media. Are there independent or opposition media left in the country?

There are, but in the percentage ratio it is 5 to 95%. We can say that these 5% do real journalistic work, although their capabilities are very limited. A year before the coup attempt, the balance was approximately 70 to 30.

Is the state of emergency still active in the country? If yes, when will it be cancelled?

The state of emergency has been in effect since last year. It was introduced almost immediately after the coup attempt. It has been extended three times. Judging by the words of ministers and other senior officials, the regime is going to be extended for the fourth time. According to repeated statements by the Turkish President, he is not going to cancel the state of emergency. I must say he sharply reacts to such questions. But there are always questions about this topic. Besides, the opposition and the business community demand a rapid ending of the emergency state. The President of Turkey claims that this regime is very useful for the continuation of the purging of the country from ''undesirable elements'' and building ''a better future''. Another important moment: Erdoğan has recently said that a repeal of the emergency state can be not far off.

Are there shapes of this ''bright future''?

I think, a bright future cannot be built at the cost of thousands fired, jailed, without the possibility to be rehabilitated due to severe persecution, and appealing only to his electorate, at a time when almost every second person does not agree with the policy the country is following.

By Timur Rakhmatullin