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One year on, new research uncovers Turkey’s coup bid staged by Erdoğan himself

by Stockholm Center for Freedom on . Posted in News

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Stockholm Center for Freedom (SCF) has published an updated version of last week’s damning report on Turkey’s failed coup bid that confirmed long-held suspicions of the putsch being staged by the country’s autocratic president in order for him to grab more powers, set up his critics for mass persecution and push a military incursion into Syria.

The 185 pages report, originally published in Turkish and blocked from access by Turkish government, is further expanded with fresh evidence in English edition.

The report uncovered a critical information that the plot was actually kicked off on July 11 with secret orders given by generals who corroborated with Turkey’s autocratic President Recep Tayyip Erdogan’s defense and intelligence chiefs in disguising the plan as unconventional action plan. Only a handful men were let into the secret plot while many were led to believe a drill or an urgent response to a terror threat is underway.

Based on publicly available data, the coup indictments, testimonials in court trials, private interviews, reviews of military expert opinions and other evidence collected by its researchers,

SCF has concluded that the events of July 15, 2016, did not even qualify a coup attempt in any sense of military mobilization which was unusually limited in numbers, confined in few cities, and poorly managed.

“The evidence collected so far clearly suggests that the coup bid was concocted by Erdoğan and his thugs to destroy the last remnants of Turkish democracy, do away with the rule of law altogether and suspend the fundamental freedoms,” said Abdullah Bozkurt, the President of SCF.

“Erdoğan appears to have tapped on widely circulated coup rumors in Turkish capital and staged own show to steal wind and set up his opposition for a mass persecution,” he added.

Erdoğan appears determined to remain in power at any cost including the loss of civilian lives. He skillfully exploited the aftermath of the July 15 plot by securing imperial presidency in a rigged referendum, consolidating his gains further, stifling the opposition and even launching cross border military incursion into Syria for which he had been itching for too long.

No wonder why he immediately called the attempt as “a gift from God” as he frantically tried to pin the blame to the Gülen movement aided and abetted by Turkey’s long-time allies and partners.

Here are some of the excerpts from the report:

  • A huge gap has emerged between facts and the government’s narrative on coup bid despite intense efforts by Erdoğan regime’s in the form of censorship, propaganda, pressure, threats and even torture and ill-treatment. The testimonials from defendants and the evidence that was uncovered so far has further bolstered the view that the coup attempt was nothing but a set-up.
  • The conflicting public accounts by Erdoğan regarding the chain of events on the day of the coup, his recollection that even differ from the indictments issued by judiciary that is tightly controlled by his regime, the anti-democratic measures taken in the aftermath of the July 15, the shuttering of thousands of institutions and the arrests of tens of thousands of civilians cast a long shadow on July 15 events.
  • The fact that the head of Turkish intelligence service (MİT), Hakan Fidan, was tipped off about the coup in advance according to his own written statements sent to Parliament, but he neither informed the Prime Minister nor the President strengthened the claim that the coup bid was totally staged. There is no explanation for why the officials who are, first and foremost, responsible for discovering, thwarting, and halting the coup attempt against the elected government remained unreachable on the day of the coup and why they followed the daily routine even after they learned about the attempt.
  • Against the background of intel chief Hakan Fidan’s lack of testimony either as a suspect or witness in any judicial investigation into the coup attempt, his no-show at the Parliamentary Coup Investigation Commission for a testimony, and the very fact that he kept his job, Erdoğan actually expects everybody to believe in his constructed narrative about the coup attempt without even questioning and investigating anything significant.
  • The fact that intel head Hakan Fidan met with the top military officials for hours a day before the coup as well as on the coup day, his trip to the General Staff’s headquarters despite alleged tip-off that he was going to be whisked away and detained by military, his leaving the military headquarters without a hassle, and the launch of the coup attempt right after his departure has not been explained and justified as of today.
  • It is also important to note the Chief of General Staff Hulusi Akar made conflicting statements. Testimonials by witnesses and defendants do not confirm the account provided by Akar. The military experts that SCF has consulted in preparing this report clearly underlined that the coup bid, tipped-off in advance, could have stopped easily in its tracks and prevented by simple and quick measures. Yet, Akar’s not resorting to such preventive measures fuels deep suspicions about July 15 events.
  • It was highly unusual and odd for the top commanders of the military had gone on with their usual routine, even attending wedding ceremonies at hours when there was credible and alarming intelligence of a coup attempt was received. This is against the established traditions, practices and rules of the operating procedures in Turkish military.
  • According to official account, 8,651 officers took part in the coup, corresponding to 1.5 percent of the total military personnel in the Turkish Army. Of those 1,761 were private conscripts, 1,214 were military students, and 5,761 were officers and non-commissioned officers. But even these numbers do not reflect the actual mobilization that was seen on the ground during the coup attempt. Given the fact that 168 generals and thousands of officers are now being tried on coup charges, the military experts find it odd that such an insignificant number of troops took part in the coup attempt. It is estimated that there are 200,00 troops under the command of these generals who are charged with the attempt.
  • The strange events such as shutting down the Bosphorus bridge to the traffic one way, hitting targets that have not served to the goals of putschists at all, the sparing of politicians who should have been the primary target, killing civilians, trying to seize institutions by only a handful of troops were not explained. The limited mobilization of military assets was confined to few cities and the teams that are supposed to detain Erdoğan came to his hotel hours after his departure. All these makes-no-sense events appear to be suggesting that they were staged to give an impression and supply footages and photos for the coup.
  • Even after one full year, Turkish government has failed to present a convincing and solid evidence that proves the Hizmet movement (popularly known as Gülen movement) was behind the coup attempt either as a mastermind or a participant. The fabricated and forced testimonials apparently taken under heavy torture in custody were later refuted by defendants when they appeared in court for trial hearings.
  • As various researches that were published or reported by international institutions have revealed, officers who are charged of attempting the coup comes from various ideologies and backgrounds. In most cases, the troops were mobilized over threats of impending terror threats or as part of the military drill, defendants’ statements in the court has shown.
  • Fethullah Gülen who has inspired the Hizmet movement that was accused of coup bid by Erdoğan, stated in an exclusive interview with SCF that the coup bid was “outrageous heinous scenario constructed by Erdoğan and his accomplices.” He said it was launched to pursue unprecedented witch hunt against the Hizmet movement. He made it clear if anyone who was sympathetic to the Hizmet movement took part in this heinous act, they betrayed the very ideals of the movement. Gülen reiterated his call for an international commission to thoroughly investigate the coup, an offer that Edoğan has failed to respond.
  • The uncertainty behind the ballistic investigations on the weapons used in the murder of civilian and troops still lingers on. The paramilitary groups that took part in clashes, and that later appeared in various videos taken on coup night were not identified and how they were organized and mobilized remains a mystery. There were also reports that Turkish police distributed high-caliber weapons to civilians on the night of the coup.
  • Turkey is no longer a country governed by the rule of law and democratic principles. It is now a state ruled by the government decrees under constant state of emergency. The judiciary is under full control of the government, freedom of press and expression are under hold, the parliamentary is no longer functioning and opposition politicians are behind bars.
  • More than 150,000 government employees were dismissed from their positions on the basis of their critical views without an effective judicial and administrative probes. The purges in the military, judiciary, foreign service and security apparatus have reached to alarming levels. 51,889 people were put behind bars, without an evidence, a trial and conviction, mostly housewives, teachers, students, doctors, merchants, journalists who were affiliated with the Hizmet movement.

Please click for the report’s PDF in English

Please click for the report’s PDF in Turkish