It began with a distant rumble. A rumour, the dull roar of unauthorised military jets flying low over the Turkish capital. When the first tanks began to roll through the streets of Ankara and Istanbul at around 10pm, members of the public rushed out to prevent what they feared might occur: a coup d’etat. They were met with gunfire, as rogue soldiers used their element of surprise and blocked off Istanbul’s Fatih Sultan Mehmet and Bosphorus bridges.
Far from having been weakened by the attack, one year on, Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan is more powerful than ever, with thousands already serving lengthy prison sentences for their role in the coup attempt.
The events of 15 July 2016: what happened
By midnight, rebel elements in the military had stormed the buildings of the Turkish Radio and Television Corporation in Ankara, where anchor Tijen Karaş, the fear visible in her eyes, was forced to read out a statement declaring Turkey to be under the control of the Armed Forces.
Then came a phone call that would change the course of the putsch. Erdogan, who was on holiday in Marmaris as events unfolded, called on the public to take to the streets to oppose the coup plotters during a broadcast on CNN’s Turkish channel.
“These minority (military stuff) soldiers can come with their tanks and canons. he said. “They can do what they want to the public. I don’t know any other power which is stronger than public’s power. (SIGNAL GOES FOR A FEW SECONDS) And it’s not possible to accept military government.”
Soon after, soldiers broke into the CNN offices and put an end to the broadcast. But the damage was done. Erdogan’s call to arms brought thousands onto the streets in protest.
The destruction was far from over, however. F-16 jet fighters belonging to the Turkish Air Force bombed the Parliament building in Ankara and soldiers rushed in, opening fire on those inside.
Heeding Erdogan’s call, citizens gathered outside the building, chanting their national anthem and waving flags. A move interpreted by the government as a sign of their solidarity with the government, and hatred of the coup plotters.
Ultimately, however, the coup failed. As the sun rose over Turkey, the first soldiers had begun to surrender.
What did they have to show for their efforts? A few hundred killed, thousands more injured, and a lengthy prison sentence for many of the plotters.