Foreigners in Turkey recall historic fight against coup


Foreigners based in Turkey recalled the bravery of the Turkish leadership and the resilience of the Turks on the night of July 15, 2016, which some said also inspired them to take to the streets to join protests against the deadly coup attempt.

The Turkish nation put up a historic fight during the defeated coup following a call from President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan to defend their democracy.

The Fetullah Terrorist Organization (FETO) and its U.S.-based leader Fetullah Gulen orchestrated the coup attempt on July 15 last year which martyred 250 people and injured nearly 2,200 others.

Abdullatif Mounadil, a Moroccan doctor based in Ankara, said he drove his car from his father-in law's house to Etimesgut hospital on the coup night to "do the scared duty" after getting an emergency call.

"The streets were empty. There were helicopters and jets flying over my head. I [was] afraid that they can hit my car as it [was] passing [by] with a very high speed."

Mounadil, who has been working as deputy head of the hospital, said he had formed a crisis desk at the hospital.

"The first causality was a person drenched in blood. I was informed that he had fall from a tank. He was dead.

The doctor recalled how two young people brought an injured police officer who was wounded by pro-coup soldiers at the presidential palace. After five hours of treatment, the officer opened his eyes and said: "They shot him, they shot him."

Later, I learnt that one of his co-workers had been shot dead at the scene, Mounadil said.

Olga Keskin, a Russian mother of two children, said she had been working at the Women's Solidarity Foundation in Ankara on the coup bid night.

I was worried for my children at our home near the Gulhane Military Medical Academy (GATA) especially since my husband was abroad at the time, Keskin said, who married a Turkish man in 1996.

"I was very busy in my work. One of my children called me and said that there were many jets flying over our house. As our neighborhood was near to GATA, I thought it's normal. But they told me it was an unusual situation," she recalled.

After the coup plotters' announcement on the state-run TRT broadcaster, "I felt more worried because if there would be a curfew I would not be able to go home," she said.

"My children were crying. They told me there were huge sounds of blast and gunfire. They were scared. I tried to calm them but it was impossible. I also was in full of panic, especially for my 11-year-old daughter. I didn't know what to do...I have never experienced such a situation in my life.

"My daughter had a major trauma that night. Around one month after the coup night, I could not sleep in a normal way. After that, jet sounds terrified me."

The attitude of Turkish people against the coup plotters also impressed Keskin.

"Actually, our neighborhood is always very quiet and calm, but on July 15, people became furious and flocked to the street and squares."

Cihan Karim, a Bangladeshi software development expert based in Istanbul, said he was shocked from "this unclear and unexpected situation" on July 15 last year.

Karim said he learnt about the coup attempt from his wife Pinar Karim. They were shocked by the statement of Prime Minister Binali Yildirim who was the first high level government official to announce that unsanctioned "military activity" was under way.

Both of them then called their friends to join street protests against the coup bid near the President Erdogan's house in Uskudar neighborhood in Istanbul's Asian side.

After the Turkish president urged the people to defend their democracy, "we performed our prayer and went out together with one of our good friends…It was a proud decision in my life together with my wife."

Karim said Turkey is a very important nation with a great history that came after great sacrifices.

Nedim Cavdari, a Pakistani doctor based in Istanbul, said he learnt about the coup attempt when he got a message from a friend while he was working at the emergency unit of a hospital in the European side of the city.

He also said Islamic groups based in Pakistan also took to the streets in Karachi and prayed for Turkey in small groups after hearing about the coup. He received several calls from Pakistan on that night who were worried for Turkish people.

"I got emotional. People from thousands of kilometers distance can be so worried, so anxious from the incidents in Turkey," Cavdari said.

The doctor also recalled how people with terrifying injuries were brought in front of the Police Headquarters in the Vatan street in Istanbul; he mentioned a women who got killed by a tank. "The woman was crushed under a tank and her body was divided [split in half]," Cavdari recalled a man telling him on the night.

Ladi Berhamaj, an Albanian foreign trade specialist who came to Turkey 18 years ago and married a Turkish woman, described Erdogan's call on coup bid night as a "heroic speech" that made a big impact on all people and encouraged them "to protect their country and their democracy".

In a message to Turks, he said: "Don't let others ruin this magnificent place, history and civilization, don't dash the hopes of millions."

Burhan Mollamusa, a Syrian dentist who has been living in Turkey for 12 years, said he too joined the demonstration against the bid at the Golcuk Naval Base in Izmit province along with members of his father-in-law's family.

"My father-in-law is a veteran soldier of Cyprus operation. He understood the coup attempt at the very first moments. He called all of us to go to Golcuk Base," Mollamusa said.

"As a Syrian, I have very good knowledge about the outcome of coup and outrage in a country. I know the sufferings of my family in Syria. For this reason, I went out to protest the coup despite my wife's warnings."

Ahmad Radi, a Jordanian lecturer who has been teaching at Yeditepe University in Istanbul for nearly two years, said the quick reaction of President Erdogan changed the whole course of the July 15 events.

"It was a very bad feeling, and it was a very critical moment, it was clear that the future was going to be dark if this coup attempt succeeded," he said. "But the quick reactions of the Turkish leadership were relieving and very effective."

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