Before the rally
Millions of people held democracy watches in the streets for days After the Fetullah Terror Organization’s (FETÖ) coup attempt failed on July 15, 2016. The people started gathering in squares and stayed there for 28 days in response to President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan’s call for the nation not to abandon the streets. On a television program on July 30, 2016, Erdoğan announced that they would crown the democracy watches with a rally in Istanbul’s Yenikapı Square. The rally would be held under the auspices of the presidency and would be supported by Istanbul Governorship and Istanbul Metropolitan Municipality on Aug. 7, 2016. The historic gathering was dubbed the Democracy and Martyrs Meeting.
Peoples’ Democratic Party (HDP) Co-Chairs Selahattin Demirtaş and Figen Yüksekdağ, who the government said did not put distance between themselves and the Kurdistan Workers’ Party (PKK), were not invited to the historic meeting.
All preparations for the rally were quickly completed after a date for the giant gathering had been determined. Erdoğan extended invitations to AK Party Chairman and Prime Minister Binali Yıldırım, CHP Chairman Kemal Kılıçdaroğlu and MHP Chairman Devlet Bahçeli to join and deliver speeches at the Democracy and Martyrs Meeting to be held in Yenikapı on Aug. 7.
Yıldırım also sent circular letters to the 81 provincial organizations of the AK Party to participate in and prepare for the rally. In the AK Party’s written statement, Yıldırım said in the circulars that all organizational administrators must pay the utmost attention to the rules so that the Democracy and Martyrs Meeting, which was of vital importance, could achieve its goal.
Yıldırım emphasized that the rally would go beyond parties, adding: “As a sign of our national consciousness, only our glorious flag will flap and no party flags, pennants or placards will be used. No provocations, no incitements and no debates will be allowed. Any act that might destroy the climate of a common spirit will be avoided. This will always be kept in mind...
...Since the rally will be a national one going beyond parties, common ideals will be voiced, universal calls will be made and no other sayings and no slogans will be allowed. The consciousness, morality and morals of being from the AK Party will be strictly abided by. The spirit of a single nation, a single flag, a single country and a single state will always dominate the square. We believe that martyrs are immortal and our land is indivisible. Everything is for Turkey. May God help us."
Perhaps not only Yenikapı Square, but also the rest of Istanbul and the whole of Turkey experienced a most important day on Aug. 7, 2016. While hundreds of thousands of people flocked to the rally area in Yenikapı early in the morning, public transportation had difficulty carrying this flood of people. In addition to those who came to the area by their own means, thousands of people flocked to the area on buses, metrobuses, minibuses and boats.
It was expected that people would be allowed into the area at 1:30 p.m. for the rally to start at 5:30 p.m., but due to the great interest, the doors opened at 10:30 a.m.
Extraordinary service measures were taken for the 5 million people who came to Yenikapı. High-level preparatory planning was made in a variety of venues, from transportation to the organization of the rally area.
Some 2.5 million Turkish flags, 3 million hats and 5 million bottles of water were brought to be distributed to people attending the rally. A 60-meter stage was set up in the rally area.
Bleachers with a capacity of holding 3,000 people were set up to the right and left of the stage in the rally area.
Many seats were reserved for the families of martyrs families and those who were wounded. A total of 204 boats were hired to carry people to the rally area from 12 points in Istanbul.
A total of 50 boats circuited between Eyüp, Üsküdar, Beşiktaş, Kadıköy and the meeting area.
People passed through the security door that was set up in the area with 165 metal detectors to enter the rally area and get their hats and flags. Yenikapı was one of the biggest rallies in Turkey's history. Only Turkish flags were allowed, and any emblems, pennants and flags of political parties were not accepted. A total of 15,000 police and 15,000 civilian staff were deployed to the area.
Leaders came to the area
After Erdoğan, Parliament Speaker İsmail Kahraman, Yıldırım, Chief of General Staff Gen. Hulusi Akar, Kılıçdaroğlu and Bahçeli entered the area, the Democracy and Martyrs Meeting began with a minute of silence and the recitation of the national anthem.
The program continued with recitations from the Quran and prayers for the martyrs for democracy under the leadership of Presidency of Religious Affairs President Mehmet Görmez. Orçun Şekercioğlu, who was injured during the FETÖ coup attempt, also delivered a speech at the rally.
Later, Bahçeli took to the stage and gave a speech. Following Bahçeli, Kılıçdaroğlu addressed the historic crowd.
A first was experienced after the opposition leaders had spoken, with Chief of General Staff Akar delivering a speech, which had not been previously announced in the rally program.
Akar’s speech was often interrupted with applaus. Following Akar, Yıldırım and Kahraman both gave speeches.
Erdoğan delivered the last speech at the rally. The rally scene was full of enthusiasm with millions of people greeting him with applauses, poems, acclamations and chanting “Allahu Akbar”.
Following the speeches, Kılıçdaroğlu and Bahçeli left the area while Erdoğan, Yıldırım, former President Abdullah Gül and former Prime Minister Ahmet Davutoğlu took the stage and greeted the people who filled the square.
MHP Chairman Devlet Bahçeli made the first speech at the historic meeting.
With harsh words for FETÖ leader Fetullah Gülen, who lives in Pennsylvania, U.S., he said: “July 15 was the trial of a new invasion and an attempt for new massacres and destruction. A terrorist who pretends to be a scholar and imam ordered his murderous organization to shoot Turkey through his imprecation sessions, hate speeches and hissy fits from Pennsylvania where he takes shelter. This preacher, a Muslim-looking voivode who sold his spirit to Satan, has excelled in treachery and hatred against Turks and Turkey and broken a record in sedition and hypocrisy. FETÖ, the bearer of the crusaders’ goals, targeted the heart of Turkey.”
You have chastened the traitors without hesitation. You have taught terrorists their places. You did not know what defeat is. You have put your heads above the parapet.
Bahçeli’s speech included:“You stood firmly and courageously against intrigues and tricks played on us. You have raised our red flag with pride. You have courageously embraced the martyrs. You have faithfully defended brotherhood. “You have run to Yenikapı saying that you have not collapsed and you will stand firmly. You have given the gospel of a new resurrection. I am happy because I am proudly watching the rear of our Turkey. I am happy because people and national will and faith are here. The rigid wrist, the rigid head, the invincible national power are here in this square.”
‘Bombs and bullets rained on us’
“Turkey is embarking on a new journey from Yenikapı with all its beauty and glory. The Turkish nation is embracing their fate. I am proud of all of you, the Turkish nation. They projected our disaster on July 15. They looked forward to our last breath.”
“You should know that July 15 was the trial of a new invasion and an attempt for new massacres and destruction. The destruction plans, which had been framed in the Armistice of Mudros and imposed in the Treaty of Sèvres, were brought back to the surface on July 15. The maxim, water sleeps, but the enemy never rests, has become meaningful and more of an issue once again.
“Tyrants, traitors and the pawns of imperialism disguised as Turkish soldiers this time turned the nation’s arms against the nation itself once again and wanted to deal a fatal blow to the nation by using the nation’s means once again. A terrorist who pretends to be a scholar and imam ordered his murderous organization to shoot Turkey through his imprecation sessions, hate speeches and hissy fits from Pennsylvania where he takes shelter. This preacher, a Muslim-looking voivode who sold his spirit to Satan, has excelled in treachery and hatred against Turks and Turkey, and broken a record in sedition and hypocrisy. FETÖ, the bearer of the crusaders’ goals, targeted the heart of Turkey.”
‘Tarred with the same brush’
“All ignoble circles that are jealous of Turkey and that want to crack down on Turkey gave FETÖ a pat on the back and supported it. July 15 was a day when the losers of the Battle of Nicopolis lifted their heads. The July 15 coup attempt was a new insurgency of those who were defeated in Kosovo 627 years ago. It was the rise of those who had been defeated in Nicopolis 620 years ago. It was the counterattack of those who we thought to have drowned in the blood they shed in Varna 572 years ago, in Istanbul 563 years ago and in Mohacs 490 years ago. Those who bombed the Grand National Assembly of Turkey and police and intelligence buildings and who massacred our civilians and innocent people on July 15 are tarred with the same brush as those who opened fire on us on the coasts of Çanakkale 101 years ago.”
‘This nation is not an orphan’
“These are the most inferior of creatures. What they forgot and neglected was the conscience of the nation. We must cut polarization with a knife. The national conscience stood against tanks on July 15. Who would have accepted this shroud that they wanted to cut for our nation as our destiny? The Turkish nation is aware of [malicious] global scenarios. This country will not collapse with the so-called sermons of a few terrorists. We are all one. We must maintain our unity with determination, we must cut polarization with a knife. July 15 is a milestone. Regardless of whoever you are and wherever you were born in this country, you have upheld nationalism and come to Yenikapı. Turkish soldiers should not be regarded as criminals as a whole, and the solidarity between the military and the nation should be ensured. This nation is not an orphan. This state is not an orphan. We have no choice but to succeed.”
Following Bahçeli, main opposition CHP’s Chairman Kılıçdaroğlu took the stage at the historic meeting.
He said: "Today is an important day for the history of democracy. Turkish political and democratic life experienced an important incident. The gang nested in the Turkish Armed Forces wanted to stage a coup against Turkish democracy and all of us. I would like to extend my heartfelt thanks to our Parliament speaker who kept the Grand National Assembly of Turkey open until the morning. They wanted to stage a coup against our parliamentary system.”
12-point proposal list
Kılıçdaroğlu’s speech included:
"We have 240 martyrs who will have a special place in our history of democracy. We will not forget them. We will not let them be forgotten. I wish the chairmen of the parties not represented in Parliament were here as well.
“Mustafa Kemal Atatürk said: ‘When it comes to the homeland, the rest is detail. We will embrace the homeland until the end.’
“July 15 has opened a new door of compromise for us. If we can improve this power of compromise even further, we will be able to leave a more beautiful country to our children. All politicians, including myself, must learn lessons from this misfortune. What are these lessons?”
Kılıçdaroğlu listed 12-point proposal:
- Let us not involve politics in religion, the military or judiciary.
- We must criticize ourselves in politics.
- We must be determined on the path of making the nation brothers of each other.
- We must embrace democracy under all circumstances. The July 15 coup attempt has shown how important democracy is. People resisted by standing in front of tanks and putting their lives at stake. I would like to extend thanks to everyone, women, men, elderly and young people who made history.
- We should reject not only the coup, but also tutelage of democracy. We must eliminate any kind of shadow over the national will. Therefore, we reject coups and dictates and defend full democracy. We must embrace the founding values of the Republic. People are equal regardless of their identities or beliefs. They are equal before the law. Mustafa Kemal Atatürk said the Republic is the companion of the lonely. The Republic is [the result of] our hard work and it is our duty to protect it. Atatürk did not do this alone. If it had not been for the Republic today, Mr. Recep Tayyip Erdoğan could not be president, Mr. Yıldırım could not be prime minister and I could not be the CHP chairman.
- Freedom of the press. You see, if it had not been for the free media, no one would have gone out to the streets on the evening of July 15. So, people exercised their right to resist, which is their most basic right. Here is another important aspect of the freedom of the press: We are politicians and we may make mistakes. It is the media that will voice these things.
- We have a 150-year parliamentary system. We must strengthen our parliamentary system.
- We must observe the merit system in the construction of the state. Our religion also advises this, teaching that things must be rendered to those who are competent.
- The neutrality and independency of the judiciary. FETÖ nested within the Turkish Armed Forces and the judiciary. Why is the independency of the judiciary important? If a judge rules with an order from Pennsylvania instead of with his own conscience, he cannot be accepted as a judge. That court cannot be accepted as a court. We are pleased that the ruling and opposition parties are in a certain consensus on the independence of the judiciary.
- July 15 once again showed how important laicism is. We have seen what those who are involved in illegal deeds can do by exploiting religion.
- We must contribute to strengthen democracy not only today, but also in the future. Therefore, we must launch a questioning education system. What does God say? Do you not use your mind? Foreigners are sending space crafts to Mars, but we are talking about the cost of a coup attempt in the 21st century.
- You know that FETÖ is a terrorist organization. They fabricated Ergenekon, Balyoz (Sledgehammer) and espionage cases in the past and imprisoned our innocent former chief of General Staff. I am calling on the whole of Turkey: Let us reinstate the rights of the victims of these cases. If we do so, we will have brought the state to a respectable position. We must defend the law and the rule of law.
Kılıçdaoğlu finalized his speech with several verses from Nazım Hikmet’s poem “Davet” (The Invitation):
“Galloping from farthest Asia
and jutting out into the Mediterranean
like a mare's head—
this country is ours.
Wrists in blood, teeth clenched, feet bare
on this soil spreading like a silk carpet—
this hell, this paradise is ours.
Shut the gates of servitude, keep them shut,
stop man worship of man—
this invitation is ours.
To live, free and single like a tree
but in brotherhood like a forest—
this longing is ours.”
Chief of General Staff Gen. Akar said” “On July 15, a group of traitors from FETÖ that had infiltrated all institutions and organizations in our country, including the Turkish Armed Forces, brought unprecedented abasement and disgrace to our country, nation and Republic and defamed the glorious and honorable history of the Turkish Armed Forces.”
He said that he was honored and excited to be together with the command echelon of the Turkish Armed Forces at such a significant event.
Akar said: “On July 15, a group of traitors from FETÖ that had infiltrated all institutions and organizations in our country, including the Turkish Armed Forces, brought unprecedented abasement and disgrace to our country, nation and Republic and defamed the glorious and honorable history of the Turkish Armed Forces.”
"Our nation’s clear distinction between bloody-minded cutthroats who were disguised as soldiers and the heroic soldiers of the Turkish Armed Forces gave us strength and bolstered our morale in this challenging period.”
Akar said that “the traitors who brought this scandal to the state of the Republic of Turkey; Turkish Armed Forces, which has a glorious history; and the noble nation will be punished in the most severe way.” He continued: “No one should doubt this. I would especially like to point out that the coup attempt staged by the members of the illegal and treacherous FETÖ, which nested within the Turkish Armed Forces, on the evening of July 15, has nothing to do with the patriotic members of the Turkish Armed Forces, which is called the hearth of the prophet by our public. These are the patriots who love their country, nation and flag and constitute the majority in the Turkish Armed Forces.
“Therefore, our eminent nation’s clear distinction between those bloody-minded and treacherous cutthroats who were disguised as soldiers and the heroic and self-sacrificing members of the Turkish Armed Forces who are on the job and wage a bitter struggle against the separatist PKK and other threats near our borders for the sake of the continuity of our state, gave us strength and boosted our morale in this challenging period. So, I would like to thank you all. We are aware that your close interest, confidence and love for us is crucial for the unity and security of our country and noble nation. Our noble nation’s heroism and self-sacrifice to maintain the domination of the national will and democracy in a fearless manner at the cost of their lives is beyond all kinds of appreciation. It will always be remembered with respect and gratitude. For this reason, I once again express respect and gratitude to our noble nation through you.”
‘God speed to our noble nation’
Akar said the military’s main approach was Mustafa Kemal Atatürk’s principle that “sovereignty unconditionally belongs to the nation”, and this understanding would last forever.
İbrahim Tatlıses: We have made the Turkish flag our quilt. I kiss the hands of our people. Can a man fire a gun on his own child?
He added: “The members of the Turkish Armed Forces, who are raised by our nation, adopt the understanding that they will be martyrs if they die for the sake of the flag, state and nation and will be veterans if they survive and fulfil their duties like worshipping. The Turkish Armed Forces is under the command of our state and supreme nation and in charge with all of its staff within the framework of the democratic legal system. Mr. President, with all these feelings and thoughts, I would like to offer my eternal respect and gratitude to you, our noble nation, the heroic and self-sacrificing members of the Turkish Armed Forces and the police and other members of state institutions who risked their lives and struggled to oppress and eliminate this evil and treacherous network’s coup attempt. I wish God’s mercy on our martyrs and offer condolences and patience to their relatives and wish a quick recovery for our veterans. I am greeting you with my heartfelt feelings and the noble Turkish nation with respect, gratitude and pride. Victory belongs to those who believe in the rule of law, democracy and high values and goals of our noble nation. God speed to you.”
Prime Minister Yıldırım was next to address the millions of people at the historic rally He said that July 15 was the “second War of Independence”, emphasizing that unity in politics would be strengthened.
Yıldırım’s speech included: “This homeland belongs to those standing in the bosom of mother earth like mountain chains, sacrificing themselves to history throughout history, taking to the roads without a backward glance, flashing like lightning, running from one frontier to the other, asking one front from the other.
O, glorious Istanbul! You are great today! You are making history once again! Istanbul! “Today, you are as excited as you were when Mehmed the Conqueror conquered you on May 29, 1453. Our nation is as hopeful as they were when Mustafa Kemal left Istanbul on May 16, 1919. Our nation is as courageous as they were when they stood against the enemy at Sultanahmet Square on May 30, 1919. Istanbul!
You are as beautiful as you were when you elected a brave Turkey-loving man on May 27, 1994. I sincerely greet each of your districts, streets and houses. I sincerely greet our July 15 democracy martyrs who led us to gather here today. I offer heartfelt greetings to the families of our heroic martyrs who are with us here today. I greet the heroes who did not cede Istanbul to the enemy.”
‘I thank you all on behalf of my nation’
“Mr. President, dear first lady, I extend thanks and greetings to all of you for leading this nation, standing firmly and saving this nation from the greatest danger of the last century. I heartily greet the CHP leader and all CHP members for their clear stance on national sovereignty.
“I heartily greet the MHP Chairman and all of our nationalist brothers as they are the unyielding advocates of democracy. O, my brothers from the AK Party, CHP and MHP, and my people from all walks of life, I thank you for your contribution to the creation of this wonderful picture on behalf of my nation.
“Today, not only Istanbul, but the whole of Turkey is standing. All Turks are with us in the squares. People from Turkey’s 81 provinces are watching us, and people from our foster land, [Turkish] Cyprus, are watching us. I also greet the prime minister of the Turkish Cypriot Republic. Our brothers in Palestine, Bosnia-Herzegovina and Iraq are watching us. We extend our greetings to the 81 provinces and our brothers all over the world from Istanbul.”
Yılmaz Erdoğan:“If I had not been a part of today’s enthusiasm, I would feel pain in my heart for my lifetime. We are going through the days when the concept of the public is manifesting itself in the clearest way.”
Reference to Necip Fazıl Kısakürek and Ahmad Javad
“How nicely Necip Fazıl Kısakürek said: ‘The freed nation, chosen by God, lift your head from the sun to the heavens, your forehead is free, whoever throws a lasso at you, pre-eternity is not surrounded, post-eternity is not encircled.’ "
Yıldırım addressed the participants and watchers of the rally with a stanza from Azerbaijani poet Ahmad Javad’s poem “Çırpınırda Qara Dəniz” (The Black Sea Was Storming).
Let's strew pearls on its way,
Shower it with galloons from left and right!
Let the storms stand away,
Welcome the Turkish flag!
‘Second War of Independence’
“This noble nation lives with honor on this territory thanks to those who died for this land with their honor 97 years ago.”
“We faced another invasion attempt, the FETÖ’s revolution attempt on the evening of July 15.
“Terrorists in military uniforms spitted blood on the nation with weapons. Our commander-in-chief and president invited our people to the squares. Salahs were recited and the calls to prayer echoed. This supreme nation said this together in all 81 provinces: ‘We prefer to die with honor and become martyrs or veterans, but will not allow those ignoble to live.’
“July 15 is the ‘second War of Independence’. Thanks be to God, we independently live in unity thanks to our martyrs who are lying under the ground with honor. They thought they would invade our territory in disguise of Turkish soldiers and steal this nation’s will. God turns evil into goodness. Any blow that does not kill us strengthens us further, as has happened here. They led to an interregnum after the Battle of Ankara, but we rose as a world state from there. They invaded these territories 100 years ago, but we were born as a single state and nation from there. Those who thought they would do evil were mistaken today, as they could not foresee this glorious picture.”
‘We will dote on this historic unity’
“Mr. President, we will not disrupt this unifying picture in politics. We will strengthen reconciliation. We will carry Turkey to our 2023 vision goals with our nation, our political parties and our nongovernmental organizations. Those who drove a wedge between Turks and Kurds were these traitors. We will clean these germs. We will eliminate terrorist organizations.
We will remove the [PKK] separatist terrorist organization between us. We will never give opportunity to those who try to pit us against each other. There is no obstacle if we can become one.”
Orhan Gencebay:“We are both very sad and very joyful. All the leaders are in the same place, which is great.”
“We will dote on the historic unity we have formed here today. We will not act out of revenge, but justice and law, and we will bring the members of this terrorist organization to account for our martyrs and veterans. “We will not compromise democracy, we will reduce our enemies and increase our friends.
“July 15 is the day when Turkey was purified of germs. Today, Turkey is cleaning them. We are eliminating the elements one by one that block politics and tighten the economy.”
‘Terror organization leader will come to Turkey’
“I would like to finalize my speech here. You are looking forward to listening our commander-in-chief, our president. Everyone should know that the terrorist organization leader who soured that night of July for our nation will come to Turkey and give account.
Do not worry, we will be one, we will be big, we will be alive and we will be Turkey altogether. Those who say that the young people of this beautiful country are not interested in national issues saw how wrong they were on July 15. I heartily congratulate our young people and women who laid in front of tanks. Our slogan is one state, one nation, one country and one flag. Our flag with the star and crescent is enough for all of us. I greet you with love and respect."
Kıvanç Tatlıtuğ: “I am proud of being here to embrace our Republic together with our nation.”
Parliament Speaker Kahraman's speech
İsmail Kahraman, the speaker of the Grand National Assembly of Turkey, said they gathered in Yenikapı “to commemorate the martyrs of July 15 and to crown the victory of democracy over the coup attempt.” He added: “We have survived a great misfortune. Our nation has given the best answer to those pieces of human garbage who infiltrated our state via the robot traitors they raised in their schools and private teaching institutions and spies and traitors they quartered in national institutions. Our nation responded to those who deemed us worthy of dark tunnels as they deserved.”
Kahraman said that the veteran Grand National Assembly of Turkey, which firmly resisted the coup attempt, deserved to be called veteran for the second time.
“I am proud of banding together in the square where perfect unity is being displayed. We have gathered today to commemorate the martyrs of July 15 and to crown the victory of our democracy over the coup attempt. We are together to shout that we are one nation, one state and one country with the same consciousness under our flag with its star and crescent and announce to the whole world that we have embedded coups into history.”
‘You are the grandchildren of Alp Arslan, Saladin and Mehmed the Conqueror’
Kahraman said: “You are the grandchildren of Sultan Alp Arslan who stood against the Byzantine army of 200,000 soldiers in Manzikert in their white dress and said: ‘O soldiers! If I am a martyr, this white dress will be my shroud. I dedicated my soul to God. For me, both martyrdom and victory are happiness. If we win a victory, the future will be ours.’ Islam, which entered Anatolia with the victory at Manzikert 10 centuries ago, will hopefully live in this territory until doomsday.”
Kahraman quoted verses from an Arif Nihat Asya poem: “One Friday morning, against the heavens, 54,000 soldiers composed the best anthem in Malazgirt.” He continued shouting “Allahu Akbar, Allahu Akbar” along with the people.
He continued: "You are the grandchildren of Saladin, who devastated the crusaders who came to destroy Islam. You are the grandchildren of Mehmed the Conqueror who attained Prophet Muhammad’s glad tidings with the conquest of Istanbul [Constantinople], the most beautiful city of the seven climes, by riding his horse toward the Golden Horn and saying: ‘Either I will conquer Istanbul [Constantinople], or it will conquer me.’ You are the heirs of a world state that dominated three continents and seven seas. You are the people who are full of belief and faith that will bring the Republic of Turkey to the point that is worthy of its past. I would like to express my happiness seeing all the colors of my nation in this square. I believe that our friends have great confidence in this picture that we have created under our red flag. I know that millions of people from all over Anatolia and every corner of our lovely region and our cultural world want to be among you today. We have survived a big calamity together. We resisted and won against evil powers that wanted to pit us against each other. Our nation has given the best answer to those pieces of human garbage who infiltrated our state via the robot traitors they raised in their schools and private teaching institutions and spies and traitors they quartered in national institutions.”
‘The Grand National Assembly of Turkey deserved to be called veteran for the second time’
Our veteran Grand National Assembly of Turkey deserves to gain this title for the second time.
Murat Boz: “It is worthy of commendation that people of all political views are here. If the coup had been successful, we would have gone back to 20 years ago. We narrowly escaped.”
"No opportunity was given to those who wanted to blemish the memories of martyrs with the treacherous desires of traitors. We have proved together that we are the grandchildren who are worthy of our ancestors. I wish God’s mercy on our martyrs. I remember all of them with gratitude. I offer condolences to our nation and their families. I wish a quick recovery for our veterans. The only parliament that that can be called veteran in the world is the Grand National Assembly of Turkey. Despite the fact that it was not a working day, the Turkish Grand National Assembly gathered immediately after the outbreak of the coup operation on the night of July 15. And we kept it open all night.
“The next day we had an extraordinary meeting and we issued a joint declaration signed by the four parties represented in the Grand National Assembly of Turkey.
The parties announced to the world that they stand by democracy and against the coup. For the second time, our Parliament deserved to be called veteran by standing against the blockage that targeted the national will. Insane people who could not tolerate the glorious resistance we have staged as the whole nation bombed the heart of the nation. They bombed our Parliament.”
Kahraman also mentioned Erdoğan calling from Marmaris and calling the people to the streets.”
Hülya Koçyiğit: “The resistance of the Turkish people and artists will be an example for future generations.”
Kahraman recited Ahmet Muhip Dıranas's poem “Bayrak” (The Flag).
From cities to cities
A piece of news flew like a bird:
Wherever the song reaches
Flags unfurl at dawn
The steppe suddenly remained
under lean feet;
March! Under the flags
March! Always play the drums.
A bullet on the one in the lead,
The second took the flag…
And the youngest of brave
Fell at the end of the slope.
A man is born once
He looks like a fragile branch;
Anyway, you would have died
You died, shot in the forehead.
Death is neither being buried in the ground,
Nor the soul flying from the body!
Under a flag is death
Smiling at death, death…
‘We will overcome all difficulties with one mind and heart’
“Kahraman said that the nation prevented the coup in unison with patriotic security forces. He continued: “Democracy has won and no forces will be able to attempt to stage coups from now on. The history of coups has come to an end. Our nation has defeated great sedition with their democratic experience, courage, determination and sagacity. We believe and trust in our nation, and hopefully we will overcome all difficulties with one mind and heart. We will look to the future with hope without forgetting our glorious people who sacrificed their lives heart and soul.”
“Let us not forget that we have a region of love that pins its hopes on us. There are millions of people in our outer world. We will work harder to keep their heads forward, too.”
“We will always go forward by standing back to back and shoulder to shoulder. We will not bow before anyone else except God, and will not want anything from anyone except God. A nation cannot exist without the state, and a state cannot exist without an army. We are a nation that accepts our military as the hearth of the prophet. The place of our honored military is the military headquarters. Only when it is called to defend the homeland, can it come out of these headquarters. I believe it will not go out from the headquarters once again. We will continue to make history as a nation. May almighty God make our solidarity permanent. I once again wish mercy on our martyrs and recovery for our veterans.”
President Erdoğan’s speech
President Erdoğan spoke next at the rally.
He said: "Those who gained the honor of being martyrs and veterans among our millions of people who filled the streets and squares by almost killing death have printed their names in history with golden letters. Believe me, reaching these ranks in the struggle for the sake of the homeland is not a privilege that can be attained at all times.”
Here is President Erdoğan’s speech:
"Dear 11th President Abdullah Gül; dear İsmail Kahraman, the speaker of our Parliament, which has been called ‘veteran’ for the second time; dear AK Party chairman and prime minister; dear chief of General Staff; dear CHP chairman; dear MHP chairman; dear Turkish Cypriot prime minister; esteemed guests; beloved Istanbulites; valued people who follow us in the squares of our 81 provinces; my valued brothers and sisters who are with us in all parts of the world; my noble nation who did not submit their country to FETÖ and invaders at the cost of their lives for the sake of their future and independency once again on the night of July 15, I greet all of you with all my heartfelt feelings, longing and love."
“At the very beginning of my speech, I once again extend my gratitude to all of my brothers who poured into the streets and squares and dared to stand against gunbarrels, tanks, helicopters and aircraft on the night of July 15.
"A total of 240 of our brothers and sisters, 172 of them civilians, 63 police officers and five soldiers, attained martyrdom. I wish God’s mercy on them. I offer condolences to our nation. Also, 2,195 of our brothers and sisters who valiantly marched against coup makers on that night were wounded. I wish quick recoveries to our injured people who are still under treatment.”
‘They printed their names in history with golden letters’
"Those who gained the honor of being martyrs and veterans among our millions of people who filled the streets and squares by almost killing death, have printed their names in history with golden letters. Believe me, reaching these ranks in the struggle for the sake of the homeland is not a privilege that can be attained at all times.”
A verse from the national anthem
“What does our national poet, Mehmet Akif Ersoy, say?
‘Who would not sacrifice their life for this paradise of a country?
Martyrs would burst forth should one simply squeeze the soil! Martyrs!
May God take my life, my loved ones, and all possessions from me if He will,
But let Him not deprive me of my one true homeland in the world.’ ”
‘May our holy victory be blessed’
“Each of our brothers who filled the squares in July 15 has a share in the protection of our country. This is why I say may our holy victory achieved by our 79 million people be blessed.”
Emphasis on the Manzikert victory
‘People who opened the doors in Manzikert stood against coup makers’
“May our holy struggle against the coup attempt be blessed. Our people, women, children and elderly left aside all differences and fascinated the world.
“O my brothers and sisters, this nation is a different nation. Indeed, the Turkish nation stood against coup makers on July 15 with the same belief and feelings as they had while opening the gates of Anatolia in Manzikert 1,000 years ago.
"With the same will, we repelled FETÖ.
“On that night, we defended Turkey with the same principles as Osman Gazi followed while building the most powerful state in history on solid foundations in 1299. We repelled FETÖ with the same will as our ancestors had while fighting to the last drop of their blood in Çanakkale.
“Our enemies, who waited for the fall of Turkey on the same night, woke up the other day in sorrow, which showed them that their task would be harder from that day onward.
“A similar belief that led to Mustafa Kemal Atatürk’s success was all around in all cities on July 15. July 15 showed our friends that this country is strong against military sabotages, it will not be destroyed and it will not go astray.”
‘This picture saddened our country’s enemies’
“The picture we have created with the president, chief of General Staff, prime minister, CHP and MHP chairmen and our people from all the provinces has depressed the enemies of our country at least as much as they were on the morning of July 16.”
‘This picture proves that we will attain our 2023 vision goals’
“We will be one, we will be big, we will be alive, we will be brothers and we will be Turkey all together. These steps taken by all colors of Turkey toward independence and the future are very important. This is the declaration of embracing our future-oriented country. This picture is the declaration and evidence of the price that those who have an eye on a single stone of our 1,000-year-old country will venture to pay. This picture is the declaration and evidence of the fact that Turkey will reach its 2023 vision targets.”
‘We will love each other for God, not for positions’
“This picture is the declaration and evidence of the fact that brotherhood can be put forward as truth if necessary. We will move on our path in solidarity. We will be humble, we will love each other only for God, not for positions. As the child of such a nation, thank God, it gives us pride to be in your presence.”
“In those dark days when a large part of the country, especially Istanbul and İzmir, was under occupation in the 1920s, Mustafa Kemal said: ‘Our nation is great, let us not forget. They do not accept captivity, but it is necessary to bring them together and ask whether they accept captivity or not.’ Now, I am asking the same question here 96 years after: O my nation! Do you accept captivity and abasement? No one will be able to bring captivity to this nation.”
“When I saw my brother, whose body was divided in two parts on Vatan Avenue, would it be possible to ignore it?”
Response to shouts of “We want capital punishment”
“The leaders of our political parties are here and they know your demand. Since sovereignty unconditionally belongs to the nation, it is the Grand National Assembly of Turkey that will make its decision in accordance with your demand for the execution [of traitors]. After our Parliament makes a decision, we will take certain steps. I am obviously saying that I would ratify it.”
‘There is capital punishment in the U.S., Japan and China’
“The head of my sister, whose head was separated from her body by a bomb in front of the Presidential Palace, flew to the roof of the congress center. After seeing this, [it is needless to say that] there is no capital punishment in the EU and so on. There is capital punishment in the U.S., Japan and China. There had already been capital punishment here in Turkey until 1984, but it was lifted later. If this nation makes such a decision, I think political parties will agree with it.”
Capital punishment practices
Capital punishment practices in the countries Erdoğan referred to are as follows:
The U.S.: Capital punishment is legal in 31 of the U.S.’s 50 states. It usually consists of four major stages.
- Criminal conviction
- Direct review
- Additional state review
- Federal habeas corpus
Japan: The Japanese judiciary can impose capital punishment for murder and treason. For instance, a nine-criterion system called the Nagayama Standard was pursued in capital punishment that was imposed on a murderer in 1997.
The nine criteria are as follows:
- Degree of viciousness
- How the crime was committed, especially the manner in which the victim was killed.
- Outcome of the crime, especially the number of victims.
- Sentiments of the bereaved family members.
- Impact of the crime on Japanese society.
- Defendant's age (in Japan, the age of adults is 20).
- Defendant's previous criminal record.
- Degree of remorse shown by the defendant.
China: In addition to capital punishment practices applied in other countries, China also executes those who are accused of involvement in terrorism. China topped 2014 statistics with the most executions. The forms of execution that the country uses are quite striking.
- Lethal injection
- Firing squad
‘He said: ‘Ignore me, Mr. President, how are you?’ ”
“What does our national anthem say? ‘Render your chest as armor and your body as bulwark! Halt this disgraceful assault!’ You rendered your chest as armor. You came to the muzzle of gunbarrels, you put your heads in the lion’s mouth. You laid under tanks.
“I saw one of our veterans throw himself under the two treads of a tank. He survived the first one and threw himself under the second one. This time is arm was injured. Do you know what he told me when I called him? ‘Ignore me, Mr. President, how are you?’ This is a different spirit. The unbelievers could not stand against the believers. FETÖ made many stealthy plans, but could not understand this nation.
“It never took the belief, faith and wisdom of this nation into consideration. It thought that people would not come to resist weapons. What happened? Some of the men we raised, some traitors within the Turkish Armed Forces, I present company except for our patriotic soldiers within the Turkish Armed Forces. Likewise, had patriotic police officers in our police department not risked themselves, we would have been in a much more difficult situation. What happened eventually? Those who failed to calculate this, but I have an accusation, the government made a statement about the closure of military high schools.”
‘Anyone with similar initiatives will get the same response from my nation’
“Some former soldiers said it was wrong, now I am calling on them. Those uniformed FETÖ members staged this attempt. Our war academies will remain. Let students being educated in all of our high schools enter. Why should it be only uniforms? Let the same education offered in military academies be given elsewhere as well. Anyone with similar initiatives will get the same response from my nation.”
“As the state and nation, we must analyze the July 15 coup attempt very well. We must also evaluate the powers behind it very well. Some are still refraining from saying the names of FETÖ members. Those who are capable must explicitly give their names so that those who do not know can learn what FETÖ is.”
African nationals who came to Yenikapı conveyed a meaningful message to the whole world.
‘It does not matter whether they are called the PKK, FETÖ or Daesh’
“They are the visible pawns of the threat against our country. We know that this scenario is out of its depth. Certainly, we have to annihilate this organization within the framework of the law. We must strengthen ourselves against treacherous networks that can infiltrate everywhere, from the Turkish Armed Forces to the judiciary and from the police to intelligence units. It does not matter whether they are called the PKK, FETÖ or Daesh. The names, staff and rhetoric of organizations may change, but it is a hard fact that all of them are the enemies of the Turkish state. The ranks in the current situation are quite clear. On the one hand, there is the state of the Republic of Turkey with all its political parties and sections, on the other there are exploitative and deviant terrorist organizations. All people who are on the side of their state are here in Yenikapı today. I greet my 79 million people. Some members of terror organizations are waiting for their fate at court and some are paying for their crimes in prison. We know the powers behind them very well. We must evaluate this spirit of unity and solidarity that we have achieved and turn it into a milestone in the best way.”
‘No one should worry’
“We must readdress all troublesome incidents in our recent history that pricked our conscience. We must revise the cases that paved the way for FETÖ’s activities in the Turkish Armed Forces. We must examine many cases. We must revise all shady examinations. We must settle the business world, which this organization wanted to design with its illegal power, into its natural course again. No one should worry because of dormitories, schools and houses that have been closed. Our nongovernmental organizations will fill this gap with many more and better ones. Our government is continuing to take major steps through the authority it has after the declaration of the state of emergency. Our veteran Parliament will continue to do its share. Our political parties and media outlets will evaluate this process and new laws will be quickly prepared. You, 79 million people, have banded together in all steps taken since the night of July 15, and conducted the democracy watches. You are crowning the democracy watches here in the Yenikapı Square. All of us have gathered under the unifying force of our red flag.”
‘We have seen all the facts’
“I want to reiterate what I have said on all occasions for the past three weeks: July 15 was an attempt initiated by FETÖ members who infiltrated the Turkish Armed Forces in one aspect, but that is not the case on its own. It was an attempt to bring their target, which they tried to achieve through the PKK and Daesh’s armed attacks, to a new stage. July 15 was an attempt to occupy our country with the hands of a treacherous military force that betrayed its country. We all know very well to whom this region, which has been ours for 1,000 years, would be served on a silver platter if the coup had succeeded. All of us saw these facts on July 15. We fought shoulder to shoulder on the streets as we saw this fact as Turks, Kurds, Laz and Arabs together on July 15. People were martyred shoulder to shoulder in front of bullets on that night as they give importance to the independence and future of our country and nation.”
‘The national will gained strength with our martyrs’
“They wanted to stop the calls to prayer, but on the contrary, salahs and calls to prayer rose from our minarets. No interest is more valuable than one’s own life. Those who stood against the coup makers on that night knew very well that if their country had lost its independence, nothing would have been left behind. In this magnificent gathering, I wish God’s mercy on all of our martyrs. I wish quick recoveries the wounded again. The national will, which we have been reiterating for years, gained strength with our martyrs and veterans.”
Bugün #TekMilletTekYürek diyerek asaletini tüm dünyaya bir kez daha gösteren milletime şükranlarımı sunuyorum. pic.twitter.com/depbcum02X
— Recep Tayyip Erdoğan (@RT_Erdogan) 7 Ağustos 2016
“Our physical borders are different, our borders of love are different. Our borders of love are long enough to include all communities that consider us to be their brothers.”
“The upcoming period will be a period in which all oppressed people of the world who pin their hopes on us will be happy.
“I would like to thank all of you who have participated in the Democracy and Martyrs Rally for your strong stance and said that victory belongs to democracy and the squares belong to the nation. I extend thanks to the chairmen of our parties on behalf of myself and my nation. I extend greetings, love and respect to all of my people who are watching us in 81 provinces at the moment, my whole country and nation.”
‘They will pay the penalty for their offenses’
“I would like to thank our police department and self-sacrificing police officers who valiantly stood against the coup makers right from the start. Ömer Halisdemir immediately abided by the instruction of his commander and shot the putschist general, Semih Terzi, dead in the forehead when FETÖ attacked the Special Forces, and he [Halisdemir] became martyr.
I would like to thank all the staff of our armed forces who risked themselves. From now on, we will examine who is where and who is in the judiciary and dismiss them. They will pay the penalty for what they did.”
Censorship in Cologne
“I thank all the municipalities that supported our security forces and the people who resisted with all their force against the coup attempt. There were also our Turkish brothers whose hearts beat for us no matter where they were. I extend thanks to our people living abroad. I know they are going through hard times because of [the attitude of] the Western media.”
‘The terrorism that they nourish will hit them tomorrow’
“I would have connected to a meeting in Germany via video conference, but they did not allow. Where is democracy? However, they allowed those in the Qandil Mountains to broadcast via video conference. The future will not be as they expect it to be for them. It will be like a boomerang. Let them nourish that terrorist [Fetullah Gülen], he will hit them tomorrow.”
Call for the last watch
“We will put an end to the democracy watches on Wednesday evening”
“Certainly, we are recessing democracy watches this evening. Hopefully, we will put an end to it on Wednesday evening. Is it suitable for you? A recess this evening and an end on Wednesday evening.”
The democracy watches that started after the FETÖ’s coup attempt and continued uninterruptedly ended 27 days after the coup attempt. Erdoğan met with people at the garden of the Presidential Palace on the evening of Aug. 10. A great number of people, young and old alike, filled the Presidential Palace with Turkish flags and greeted Erdoğan in the evening. Erdoğan challenged terrorist organizations, saying: “You all come.”
After the meeting
Secret hero of Yenikapı
Culture and Arts Presidency General Coordinator Orhan Karakurt, who anchors Erdoğan’s meetings, was the presenter the historic Yenikapı gathering which was followed around world and watched by millions of Turks on live broadcasts.
Karakurt successfully managing the rally with 5 million people in attendence was called “secret heroism”.
A jumbotron broadcasted the Yenikapı rally in Pennsylvania
The historic messages conveyed by the Turkish people in Yenikapı were presented in details via the jumbotron in front of FETÖ leader Fetullah Gülen's farm in Pennsylvania where he lives.
- FETÖ members ran lawn movers in the yards of some houses to frown out the sound of the leaders speaking at the rally.
Olçok went to the Bosporus Bridge during the coup attempt. Olçok and his 16-year-old son, Abdullah Tayyip Olçok, were martyred that night.
However, the lawn mowers could not suppress the enthusiasm at the rally in Turkey. Members of the organization also cordoned off all parking areas in the area to prevent Turks coming to the rally from parking their cars. Expatriate Turks, who filled the area despite this obstacle, challenged the FETÖ leader and FETÖ members with slogans and Turkish flags in front of Gülen’s house.
First Yenikapı rally without Erol Olçok
One thing greatly saddened participants at the rally. Erol Olçok, the AK Party’s campaign advertiser who had had great influence on the party’s rallies since its founding, could not take part in Yenikapı as he was martyred by coup makers on the night of July 15. Rally participants often commemorated Olçok.