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Aborted Coup Was Attack On Turkish People, Democracy – Ambassador 

Murat Ülkü, Turkish Ambassador to CameroonThe Turkish Ambassador to Cameroon, H.E Murat Ülkü, says the aborted coup d’état in his country last July 15, was a frontal attack on the Turkish people and the country’s democracy. The diplomat made the declaration in an exclusive interview with The Post in Yaounde recently.

He said the Turkish people will never forgive the culprits of the coup attempt, saying the incident left a huge scar in the hearts of Turks. It claimed the lives of over 240 people, 117 of which were civilians. Read on:

The Post: How are you feeling after the botched coup d’état in your country?

H.E. Murat Ülkü:We went through an unprecedented ordeal on the night of July 15. A gang of terrorists in military uniform attacked our people. They bombarded our parliament. Snipers killed people in a premeditated manner. It was a terrible night. The presidency was also bombed. The coup plotters attacked President Erdogan with the aim of, no doubt, killing him. At the end I think everybody can appreciate that our people gave a very courageous response to the coup plotters and saved our democracy.

Could you give us a more vivid picture of what happened?

Behind this plot, we can clearly see that there is the terrorist organisation run byFethullahGülen (FETO), a former cleric and preacher who is now residing in the United States, in Pennsylvania since 1999. He has been running a secret cult since the early 60s. Until recently this entity was perceived as an organisation of charity that promotes peace, tolerance, inter-faith and cultural dialogue. But the reality is quite different. The Gülen cult has certain twisted understandings of Islam that are not embraced by the people in Turkey. The hidden goal of the movement, as we have come to understand, is to seize the state apparatus and give it to Turkey, a non-secular direction.

In order to do that, they started raising young people to implant them in the military and law schools. These children were provided in advance with stolen answers of the entrance exams of these schools. Later they graduated as lawyers, teachers and soldiers and assumed critical positions within the administration. In the case of the army, over the years some of them have become commanding generals.

This situation is a big challenge for us because we did not know the real dimensions of these infiltrations by FETO. However, it has been a couple of years that this organisation has been pursued by the Turkish justice. Among other things, they carried political machinations in Turkey through defamation, illegal tapping of phones and fabrication of false evidence against politicians or anybody they deemed a threat or rival to their movement.

I am surprised you are linking FethullahGülen to the coup. He was one of the first persons to condemn the botched coup. Do you think that was just pretence?

Yes of course. Like I said, duplicity is the name of the game. We have lots of evidence indicating that he masterminded everything. When the putschists, seized the Chief of the General Staff during the coup attempt, he strongly resisted them. The putschists, tried then to convince him by offering the option of talking with FethullahGülen on the phone.

Later, all theofficers arrested for staging the coup d’état confessed that they received orders from the Fethullahorganisation. It sounds strange but they even carried one dollar bills as a sign of identification among themselves. Our relevant authorities are thoroughly investigating all the details linked to this coup attempt. Our Government has already asked the US Government to extradite FethullahGülen as the main culprit of the coup attempt.

On the night of July 15, after listening to the call made by President Erdogan in the social media, people from all walks of life went to the streets to condemn the coup and to resist the putchists at the expense of their lives. We have suffered so much from coup d’états in the past that our nation gave this time a very determined reaction to this bloody attempt to hijack our democracy.

There were also many manipulations going on that evening. A very renowned American TV station went as far as reporting that the coup d’état was a success and that President Erdogan left Turkey and sought refuge in Germany, at the very same moment when our people were repelling the plotters in the streets. A well-known news agency in Europe did the same thing and tried to give the impression that the coup was successful.

During the most critical moments of that night, a US think-tank even broadcastlive the exact position of President Erdogan’s plane which was flying discreetly to İstanbul under the threat of some F-16 fighter jets utilized by putschists, so as to give a hint to the coup plotters on how to track down the plane of the President. After some flip-flopping however, things became clear and everyone around the world knew thereal picture of what had happened.

The most important outcome of this painful chapter is that the Turkish nation showed her strong attachment to democracy. Equally, the bonds of brotherhood and solidarity among our people were once again proven. All Turkish citizens, from different political backgrounds and lifestyles, unanimously rejected this bloody attempt. The political parties represented in our parliaments made joint declarations.

Following the coup attempt, our people organised rallies every night in almost every city to show their allegiance to our republic and our democracy. On August 7, an unprecedented rally of almost four million people was organised in Istanbul which brought together all the political leaders, academicians, artists and opinion leaders as well as citizens from all walks of life to shout to the world about how we feel about the FETO coup attempt. I suppose the “roaring” of our nation was heard everywhere!

What was your impression with international media coverage of the coup attempt?

I must say that we were disappointed about the initial reaction of the European political elite and the media to the developments in Turkey. We detected a biased attitude towards our government as if it was our authorities who had carried out the coup attempt! European leaders and the press said very little about being in solidarity with the Turkish people and democracy.

In Cameroon, however, we received so many messages of support and sympathy from official and non-official circles and we are grateful for that. During the coup attempt in Turkey, more than 240 people were killed, most of them civilians. Our parliament was bombarded and our citizens were crushed by tanks. So we are talking about an unspeakable assault.

If such an attack happens anywhere in the world, we would immediately react and show our solidarity. For example, our Prime Minister had joined the march in Paris after the Charlie Hebdo attack as a gesture of solidarity. Democratic principles should be defended everywhere in the same manner. Let me give an example to illustrate the feelings of our people with respect to the coup. Some Western media claimed that the post-coup demonstrations in Turkey were staged by pro-government groups, which is a total distortion of realities.

A delegation of Turkish parliamentarians recently visited Brussels to explain our sentiments. A member of that delegation from the main opposition party in Turkey said to the press that they renounce all attempts to democracy because “no one can deprive them of the pleasure of beating the governing party at the ballot box”. I think this quote sums up perfectly the reaction of our people which is far above party politics.

Over 6000 people were arrested including politicians, soldiers, teachers, journalists and many others. Is there any evidence that all of them are actually linked to the attempted coup?

First, these people are only being investigated at this stage. Not all of them have been arrested. The number of persons arrested for complicity with the coup is now around 4.500. I must say that we are very careful about the investigation process. The number of persons whose employment within the administration was put on hold, reached almost 70,000 people including various ministries, the police force, the army and the judiciary. So this shows the gravity of the threat that the Turkish government is facing from within. The Turkish State has a right to self-defence, to protect its integrity and security.

Everything we are doing now is constitutional and legal. We have this constitutional clause which gives the right to declare a state of emergency. The relevant European conventions also give us this right of derogation which was used also by other European countries recently.

During the ongoing process, every individual involved in the coup attempt by FETO will be investigated and prosecuted according to law. The government has to act swiftly to find out the real dimensions of the conspiracy which targeted our country as a whole. I must add that the state of emergency has no bearing on our citizens and their daily life. Economic, social, cultural activities went back to normal a short time after the bloody events of July 15.


Were the arrests predicated on some circumstantial evidence?

All those who are being prosecuted are in one way or another involved in the FETO plot. The ongoing investigations also lead to new findings. Our judicial authorities are inquiring every case meticulously to ensure that only the guilty will be punished. The aim of our government is to complete this process as swiftly as possible so that FETO cannot have any other chance to conspire against the Turkish nation.

The first reaction of the german chancellor, angelamerkel, was a call on president erdogan to make sure that he is lawful in dealing with the suspected coup plotters. This was apparently based on suspicion that the government is engaged in arbitrary arrests and detentions. What is your take on this?

Like I said, we were seemingly disappointed by Germany’s attitude. We would have expected Germany to express, first and foremost, her solidarity with Turkish democracy. I will not specifically go into the words of the German Chancellor but suffice to say, one should not forget that Turkey was defending democracy and freedom in Europe long before the reunification of Germany. It is sad to see that European countries totally ignored the fact that our parliament and democracy came under attack. They immediately jumped to hasty conclusions and demonstrated political short-sightedness.

In Istanbul, we had over four million people demonstrating against the coup attempt. This figure is larger than the total population of some European states. So, we have to be honest and bring some justice to the story. The attack did not come from the Turkish government but from terrorists. FETO is a very dangerous entity not only for Turkey but everywhere it operates through its network of schools and companies, including Cameroon. The money generated from these schools and companies is being used for malicious activities which may target the security and stability of any country.

You are still appealing to the authorities of the US government to extradite Gülen. What will happen if they don’t do so?

As diplomats, we do not comment on hypothetical situations. We are still in the process of discussing this issue with the US government. High-level US officials are expected to visit Turkey. I think Americans know we have very strategic relationship with them and they certainly know our feelings. I think our discussions will bring about some desired results. This is not an issue that you can just sweep under the carpet.

This time FETO’s conspiracy went too far. Turkish people will never forgive the culprits because of the scars left in their hearts by the killing of innocent people and the bombing of the Turkish parliament, which did not happen even during our war of independence in the 20s.

What is your reaction to Gülen’s call for international investigations on the July 15 coup?

This is simply demagoguery. As a citizen of our country, who betrayed his own people, he is responsible before the Turkish justice.

Interviewed By Yerima Kini Nsom & Nformi Sonde Kinsai

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