Tue | Jan 23, 2018

Letter of the Day | Turkey seeks Jamaica's support in post-coup aftermath

Published:Saturday | July 23, 2016 | 12:00 AM
Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan weeps during the funeral of Mustafa Cambaz, Erol and Abdullah Olcak in Istanbul on July 17. Rather than toppling Turkey's strongman president, a failed military coup appears to have bolstered Erdogan's immediate grip on power and boosted his popularity.

The Turkish people will never forget the date of July 15, 2016. This was a horrible day as a coup attempt by some military personnel was perpetrated to overthrow the democratically elected government and to suspend the constitutional order in Turkey.

July 15, 2016 will also be celebrated by Turkish society as heroic citizens, at the risk of their lives, resisted this minority group of soldiers by taking over the streets and main circles in Istanbul and Ankara in order to protect the democracy.

We, Turks, were proud of saying that the era of military coup in Turkey was definitely over and belonged to history. The 15th of July has revealed that we all were wrong.

The last military coup in Turkey occurred in September 1980, 36 years ago. At that time, I was a junior diplomat, vice-consul of the Turkish consulate in Stuttgart, Germany. The horrors of the military regime in-between 1980 and 1983 still live in the minds of Turks.

The perpetrators of the 15th of July coup bid attacked, with warplanes, the Turkish Parliament, Presidential Palace, Directorate General of Security (Ministry of Interior). Two hundred and forty-six innocent Turkish civilians lost their lives while standing bravely in front of the tanks.

All Turkish political parties in the Parliament, (despite very tense relations between the government and the opposition), made a joint declaration to condemn the military putsch by putting aside their adverse views.

There is no doubt that this coup attempt was staged by army followers of Fethullah Gulen, a clergyman who has been living in Pennsylvania since 1997 and whose group owns many schools in more than 30 countries. The Turkish government has requested his extradition from the USA.


Thousands suspended


Turkish authorities continue to arrest soldiers who were involved in the putsch. Thousands of Gulen followers, especially in the Turkish ministries of education and justice for more than 20 years, have been suspended and will be subjected to an investigation. Innocent civil servants who supported the Gulen movement will not be subjected to any kind of purge as they will dissociate themselves from the Gulen movement following this cruel failed coup.

As of July 21, the Turkish government declared a nationwide state of emergency for a period of 90 days. The state of emergency is a measure permissible under international law taken by many states when there is an imminent threat to its security and order (as is the case in France nowadays).

The international community should not be concerned regarding the respect of human rights in Turkey. Without any doubt, the democratic structure of the state will be protected and the rule of law will continue to be upheld.

Turkey is expecting solidarity from Jamaica and the Caribbean states during this very critical stage through which it is passing.

Hasan ServetOktem

Ambassador Accredited to Jamaica

From Havana, Cuba