A powerful message of hope and solidarity
Sunday’s Yenikapı Rally, in which Turkey’s party leaders and, breathtakingly, millions of people came together, was one of those occasions which will live forever in a nation’s memory. The national unity it expressed – with the two main opposition leaders in full solidarity with the president and the government – is something that Turks will always cherish and pride themselves on.
The meeting was a heartening response to the dreadful events of the night of July 15 and the cruel loss of 240 lives whom we are still mourning across the country. Could there be anything more painful and tragic than to lose a loved one who was suddenly murdered on a normal summer’s day while defending the fundamental legal and constitutional order of the country? More than 200 Turkish families currently have to live with this grief. The Yenikapı meeting demonstrates that they have the support of the country.
But that is only part of what it stood for. The rally and its gigantic attendance show beyond any doubt that the people of Turkey are firmly united on the need to preserve democracy and freedom and that their commitment is much stronger than the daily differences and tensions between politicians that we have grown used to. In times of national emergency, they can and do stand up for democracy and work with each other. That is a message of real hope and solidarity for our country, and after July 15 we needed it badly.
On such occasions, President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan is an unmatched orator who will surely go down as one of the most powerful and effective public speakers of all ages. His message was clear, succinct and indisputable. “The July 15 coup attempt demonstrated to our friends that this country isn’t just strong against political, economic and diplomatic attacks, but against military sabotage as well. It showed that it will not fall and will not be derailed.”
He added: “Those rubbed their hands together that night expecting that Turkey would fall woke up the next day to realize their task was much harder than they thought.”
There is a clear indication here that Fethullah Gülen and his sinister underground organization were behind the coup attempt – something that we all accept in Turkey even though some in the rest of the world still seem to doubt despite all the evidence – and that Gülen must return to Turkey to stand trial for his crimes. Every day that passes without efforts being made toward this goal damages the stability of Turkey’s partnerships with its friends.
Turkey must and will adhere to international standards in judicial processes. It is committed to doing so. But by the same standards, Gülen must stand trial. The leaders of Turkey’s opposition unhesitatingly endorsed the call for this.
Simply noting the reaction but not understanding the underlying causes which provoked it is a superficial response. Let us remember the context of the recent events: the took place at a time when the Middle East is going through bloody civil wars and Turkey has given refuge to millions of their people. It is also suffering brutal attacks from the Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant (ISIL) and the Kurdistan Workers’ Party (PKK), attacks which have claimed hundreds of lives. This perhaps helps explain why there has been such a powerful emotional reaction.
For, despite the fact that we in Turkey have to live in a “circle of fire,” the people of our country foiled a wicked conspiracy together, regardless of their political affiliations and they are resolved to do so again if future events ever require them to.
My hope now is that this giant gathering binding the Turkish people together and engendering a sense of unity also gives expression to a fresh start in national life, a new and lasting national cohesion. From it, we can identify the future structures of a new society in Turkey in which the rights and freedoms of the individual will play a fundamental role. If that happens, then this country will once again become a cornerstone for stability and prosperity in a critical zone of the globe and at a critical time in history.