How a live broadcast with Akar was canceled

How a live broadcast with Akar was canceled

On the night of the coup attempt on July 15, 2016, movement was observed at the Akıncı Air Base, which was used by the coup plotters as a headquarters, particularly in the VIP lounge, just across from the commander room. 

According to statements from Air Maj. Gen. Kubilay Selçuk, one of the defendants of the Akıncı case, the incident occurred a little while after it got dark. 

Selçuk was, in fact, the commander of the second main jet base command in İzmir’s Çiğli district. What was a major general, whose place of duty is İzmir, doing on the night of the coup attempt at Akıncı?

According to his statements given to the prosecutor, he was in fact going that day to head to Istanbul for the wedding of a lieutenant general’s daughter; he had in fact bought his flight ticket. On the morning of July 15, however, he backtracked and decided to go to Akıncı to hold a coordination meeting about pilots’ training due to “his wife’s pains due to the inflammation of a herniated disc.” Selçuk boarded a military transport aircraft taking off from İzmir to Ankara that day at 12:30 p.m.

“As I entered the VIP lounge, there was a long-haired person dressed in civilian dress and another person in military uniform inside. I asked them what they were doing. They told me, ‘There will be a presentation, we are preparing for that in the VIP lounge,’” Şelçuk said. 

According to his testimony, the unit’s flag had been removed from the rostrum of the VIP lounge and had been replaced with the flag of the General Staff. “Now that you are getting prepared this way, you can cover the Akıncı Air Base’s own flag in front of the rostrum with a small flag,” Selçuk told the two individuals in the lounge. 

According to this testimony, the long-haired person asked Selçuk to read the text from the rostrum since the person scheduled to hold the presentation failed to appear. The major general headed to the rostrum and started to read the text out loud, but once he realized that the text was a manifesto, he stopped reading. “Take leave of here,” he told the long-haired person.

We understand from this testimony that a text rehearsal was conducted that night in the VIP lounge. In fact, all this preparation was part of a scheduled plan for Chief of General Staff Gen. Hulusi Akar, who was expected to be brought to the commander’s room just across from the VIP lounge. If things had gone as planned and Akar had been persuaded to join the coup, the putschists expected Akar to address the country via a live broadcast on TRT, the national public broadcaster. 

Once the chief of staff was brought to Akıncı at around 11:30 p.m. at gunpoint with helicopters, he was taken directly to base commander Brig. Hakan Evrim’s room. The person that greeted him in the room was Selçuk. After that, Supreme Military Council member Air Chief Marshal Akın Öztürk also came into the commander’s room. There were two more figures who came to the room later. One of them was the base’s commander, Evrim. The second one was a naval general: Northern Sea Area Command Chief of Staff Commodore Ömer Faruk Harmancık...

In his first testimony to the prosecutor, Harmancık said he came to Ankara after going on leave on July 15 and visited Akıncı together with Selçuk, furthering noting that he would use his right to remain silent. In his second testimony to the prosecutor, however, the putschist commodore retracted his previous testimony of going to the air base together with Selçuk. 

The issue of the announcement of a manifesto in the VIP lounge appears before us in multiple manners of telling. For example, according to the statements of Mehmet Dişli, who came to Akıncı Air Base together with Akar, the incident happens this way: “The commander [Akar] dispatched me saying, ‘Go outside, let them [putshists] come and say whatever they wish.’ I went outside the building somewhere else with Kubilay Selçuk. There was an admiral, Ömer Harmancık, and a gendarmerie or army personnel. They told us that there was a structure called the Peace in the Homeland Council. They said, ‘They [Council members] will come in a short while, and we, as part of this council, will broadcast a manifesto. Live broadcast vehicles will come.’ They said that they arranged it with TRT.”

According to this statement, Harmancık, together with Evrim, went up to Akar, and the manifesto was read to the chief of staff. This is a text that explains the purpose of the movement and talked about the “restoration of law.” The group told Akar, “Our commander, join us as well, and let us read together and make an announcement. If the people see you, they will quiet down and this thing will be over.”

Akar refused this proposal. “What era are we living in, come on! Such mentalities are over. Don’t you see the people?” he said. 

“If you get behind the wheel, the people will support you, and the events will calm down,” Harmancık answered back.

In a similar manner of telling, Akın conveyed the dialogue as follows: “Ömer Harmancık first read the two-page text and then, holding the document out to me in his hand, said: ‘My commander, first read this, and if you sign it and read it out loud on TV, everything will be beautiful, we are getting everyone, bringing everyone.’ I rejected his proposal with vigor and anger. I said, ‘Who do you think you are?’”

Harmancık did not deny that he read a text to Akar, but he says, “I read short memos I wrote down from the manifesto announced on the TV.” 

Of course, let us not forget that the putschists’ plan of sending broadcast vehicles did not work out after the seizing of TRT.