One of the occupation targets of the Fetullah Terror Organization (FETÖ), which staged the coup attempt on the evening of July 15, was the TRT headquarters. One of the coup makers who managed the raid was Lt. Col. Ümıt Gençer. Gençer's task on the evening of July 15 was to read out the declaration of martial law called Operation Lightning. Gençer, who was preparing to read out the declaration while putschist soldiers were threatening the staff in the building with death, called anchorwoman Tijen Karaş after he was ordered not to read out the declaration himself and to make a civilian to read it instead. Karaş repeated the declaration several times and, after drinking water, she read out it at gunpoint.
Here is Gençer’s testimony. He was arrested on charges of violating the Constitution, committing crimes against the legislative body and the government, and establishing or managing an armed organization.
He said Staff Col. Topal called him three days before the coup attempt, adding: “ ‘We have undertaken a task’, he said, noting that a coup attempt would take place around 3:00 a.m. Friday night.”
Gençer said that he was surprised by this and that he was suddenly “called by Col. Kutsi Barış around 8:00 p.m. and 9:00 p.m. on the night of coup attempt and he was given an order for martial law signed by the General Staff.
According to Gençer, Col. Tanju Poshor, who was later arrested, was with them when they went to the TRT headquarters. He continued: “He first entered and ensured the place was secure. I went to the declaration room. First, people got scared. I tried to relieve them. I told them: ‘The Turkish Armed Forces seized control of the government. Feel safe. I have children like you. I want to go when this job ends.’ ”
Ordered not to read it himself at the last minute
According to Gençer, while he was going to change his clothes, he got a called and was ordered not to read out the declaration, and make a civilian do it instead.
He continued: “This time, anchorwoman Tijen was called. She was nervous. She smoked a cigarette and drank water, she got relaxed. Then she read the declaration several times. While the declaration was being read out, a lot of gunfire was coming from the military barracks. I thought soldiers were shooting into the air. When I went outside, people were cracking down on soldiers and trying to take their weapons. They also tried to take my weapon. It was 300 to 400 meters between TRT headquarters and the military barracks. While I was running back here, I fired several times into the air. Then I saw that people were gathering in greater numbers, I surrendered there.”
He was asked why he waited and did not inform relevant authorities, although he had learned the coup three days before. He answered: “I did not know whom to tell.”