A failed coup attempt and the triumph of democracy

A failed coup attempt and the triumph of democracy

President of the Republic of Turkiye Recep Tayyip Erdogan. The authorities have declared July 15, an annual national holiday of "democracy and unity", billing the foiling of the putsch as a historic victory of Turkish democracy. (Photo by OZAN KOSE / AFP) (AFP/OZAN KOSE)

Democracy, the keystone of modern societies, has stood the test of time as the most effective method in organizing society.

However, democracies are also fragile and unstable unless they are supported by strong pillars or institutions.

As a matter of fact, throughout decades, several aspiring democracies, such as Turkey and Indonesia, have experienced the interference of these threats, and have fought hard in defense of freedom.

July 15, 2016, is the day that marked a very unusual and insidious incident in recent Turkish history.

The failed coup attempt will not only be remembered as a day of sorrow and betrayal but also as one of perseverance and triumph against an evil perpetrator.

On this day, six years ago, a terrorist organization that had entrenched itself deep inside the Turkish state apparatus, manifested its ugly face in a deplorable act of violence against the Turkish democracy and its people.

Attempting to overthrow the democratically elected government of Turkey, the coup plotters staged a nationwide mutiny, bombing the office of the President, the Turkish Grand National Assembly, and other state and public buildings with F16 fighter jets, combat helicopters, armored vehicles and tanks, killing and wounding hundreds of Turkish citizens that took to the streets to fight the mutineers.

Some 250 people lost their lives, including civilians, soldiers, and police officers.

The following morning, the threat was overcome as the heroic acts of Turkish citizens as well as security forces and the government eventually restored control over the army and all other state bodies.

All political parties, both in the government and opposition, uninfected elements of the Turkish armed forces, the police, as well as the media were united in solidarity against the plotters.

FETÖ, or the Fethullah Gülen Terrorist Organisation, was behind this attack that was masterminded by a so-called Islamic cleric named Fethullah Gülen.

This organization, since its inception in the 1970s, had been plaguing Turkey and clandestinely growing its web of deception and treason inside the Turkish state apparatus.

The objective of the organization was to reinstitute a regime in line with its perverted religious ethos instead of democratic and secular values.

Under the guise of a tolerant, educational, and philanthropic organization, deceptively preaching for peace and harmony, FETO established and expanded its international network of schools as well as commercial and cultural institutions and collected fees from its members to finance their operations.

Through a systematic method of recruitment, this group infiltrated almost all Turkish state institutions, comprising the police, military, judiciary, and ministries. Through their connections with foreign governments and intelligence organizations, they also succeeded in strengthening their global presence and influence.

The armed coup attempt on July 15 demonstrated FETO’s resolve to unwaveringly use terror, alongside other crimes, as a means to achieve its ultimate aim.

With this act, FETO has clearly shown to the world that it is one of the most dangerous terrorist groups.

Six years have passed since this traumatic incident. Those involved were found accountable for several criminal charges and put behind bars.

Ever since, the members and adherents of FETO have been weeded out of the Turkish state institutions.

Some of these judicial processes against the coup plotters are still underway in accordance with fundamental rights and freedoms as well as the rule of law.

From the global perspective, however, the international community have not yet taken necessary measures against this organization.

FETO is still present in around 160 countries, with hundreds of schools, businesses, NGOs, and media houses.

Their modus operandi is the same all around the world. As they aim to infiltrate and enlarge their global economic and political influence, they constitute a direct security threat for any country in which they operate.

Turkish Embassies worldwide are actively engaged in drawing attention to the severe threat that FETO poses not just for Turkey but also for other democracies in the world.

However, in some countries, even those that Turkey calls longstanding allies, FETO and its affiliate groups continue operating under the guise of benign educational and cultural institutions.

Despite several calls for extradition by the Turkish Government, it is also profoundly disappointing to see that Fethullah Gülen, the ringleader of this organization, still lives in exile in his extravagant mansion in the United States.

Terrorism can only be eliminated through solidarity among the nations. Tolerating power-hungry and blood-thirsty terrorist groups just because they pose no immediate threat should not be an option, since even the slightest bit of toleration for these groups create breeding grounds for their twisted ideals and ambitions.

Having allegiance to none but their own agenda, they would not hesitate to one day direct their treachery against their host communities.

Allied and partner nations should therefore strive to be more sensitive and alert to the calls of their friends and take necessary measures to curb the influence of these groups.

Having weeded out FETO from its state apparatus, Turkey is now a much more stable democracy.

It is more united and resolute than ever to take on future challenges despite temporary economic uncertainties in the aftermath of the traumatic coup attempt.

In the meantime, Turkey has also strengthened its foreign policy stance and is now among leading nations that contribute to regional security and prosperity.

Apart from hosting millions of refugees, it is also the top provider of humanitarian assistance.

In pursuit of the “Peace at Home, Peace in the World” motto of its founding leader Mustafa Kemal Atatürk, Turkey is destined for a brighter and more prosperous future while remaining fully committed to fighting against the enemies of democracy and freedom worldwide.

Having suffered various threats to their existence and democracies, Turkey and Indonesia, as two brother nations, should also stand in solidarity against those who threaten their democratic traditions.

Their unity in this issue will not only strengthen their strategic partnership but also inspire courage and conviction in those who aspire for a brighter future. (INE)

*) Prof. Dr. Askın Asan is the Ambassador of the Republic of Türkiye in Jakarta

*) The views and opinions expressed on this page are those of the author and do not necessarily reflect the official policy or position of the ANTARA News Agency.

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