On the third anniversary of the 2016 defeated coup in Turkey, survivors of the treacherous attempt recalled the vivid account of their battle against the putschists during the July 15 night.
The Turkish nation exerted a historic fight on July 15, 2016, following a call from President Recep Tayyip Erdogan to defend their democracy.
A total of 251 people were martyred and nearly 2,200 others were injured during the night of defeated coup in an effort to defend the national democracy.
Three years on, the trauma of Turkish people is still alive.
Bayram Saglam — who is among 2,200 people injured — was shot in the leg during the coup bid night, along with his two friends, in Sariyer, Istanbul in their fight for the democracy.
Speaking to Anadolu Agency in the Istinye neighborhood where he was shot, Saglam, a father of two, said that he took to the streets together with his friends and neighbors with the call of Erdogan.
“We, as Istinye people, were holding a huge Turkish flag. We were around 1,000 people and were chanting slogans like ‘Soldiers should return to the military post. Your duty is not to stage a coup,’ while shouting ‘Allahu Akbar’ [God is great],” he said.
While narrating how he was injured, Saglam said: “I heard a gunshot suddenly and fell down. I was lying on the ground in the middle of the road. I was shot in the leg.”
Halil Gram, 49, another survivor, rushed to his help.
“He [Gram] was about to pull me aside but they [coup plotters] also shot him in the leg. Terrorists wearing the military uniform shot all those who came for help,” Saglam said.
Spraying everyone with bullets
Basir Dogan, 73, also got his share of the bullets while he was trying to carry his wounded friends Saglam and Gram to a car.
Saglam said: “At that night, those traitors did their best to divide the nation. They sprayed those who are carrying only Turkish flags with bullets.”
He has undergone six surgeries so far. “I have not completely regained my health. My treatment is still ongoing,” he said.
“We have minor [health] problems but we stand tall, however they are in prison. If Allah allows, they will stay there forever, till the end of their life,” the survivor added.
Gram, who was shot in the foot while helping Saglam, also recalled that tragic night, in an exclusive interview with Anadolu Agency.
“I saw my friend Bayram [Saglam] was shot. His wound was bleeding a lot. I was planning to cover his wound. Before I could reach him, they also shot me in the foot.
“I did not think that I could be able to get out of there. They were spraying everywhere with bullets,” Gram said.
“After the fires halted, we were taken to the hospital on a bread car. I remember that I was lying on the bread.”
Spirit of unity
“At that moment, there was such a feeling that if the police at the police station told us ‘there was an uprising across the Bosphorus, we need to cross the strait’, people would cross it by swimming,” he added.
Dozens of people in Istanbul also blocked some pro-coup tanks in the different districts of the city in order to prevent putschist actions, with some lying down just a few feet from the treads of the vehicles.
Tarik Sebik, head of the Istanbul-based July 15 Foundation, who was also an eyewitness of the incident, told Anadolu Agency that there was a spirit of unity that night.
Sebik, who was in the Uskudar district during coup bid night, said: “At that time, people were being shot and we were carrying the injured, who were in blood.
“We could not believe what happened at that night was true and those people were killed. Because they were soldiers [who target innocent people] in Turkish military uniform. It was impossible for people to understand at first glance that they were traitors,” he said.
“We had sorrow but I felt courage and heroism as well as we confronted the tanks without guns,” Sebik said.
The head of the foundation underlined the importance of keeping the tragic incident alive in public memory.
“It is important to keep the spirit [of July 15] alive. In this regard, we are preparing to set up a July 15 library and to publish a ‘collective memory’ magazine,” he said.
And, survivors hope Turkey will not face such a tragic incident once again.
But, “If we face such a day once again, they [coup plotters] will be responded equally,” Gram, said determinedly.