A call from intellectuals and activists: “The coup has been stopped, now is the time for peace!”

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Intellectuals, artists, journalists and activists who oppose the coup attempt on 15-16 July have issued a statement and held a conference in Istanbul on Thursday.

The meeting was held at Cezayir Restaurant at 12.30. The moderator, Küresel BAK activist Yıldız Önen, said that now the coup has been stopped, as activists of the 70 Million Steps Against Coups Coalition we need to oppose all types of coup, and that while it is good this coup has been defeated, it will not be enough. We are collecting signatures since we believe in the need for peace and democracy.

When he heard that the Bosphorus Bridge was being held by gendarmerie forces, DSIP’s Co-spokesperson Şenol Karakaş thought like the majority of people that there was a good chance it was because of an ISIS attack. Later he realised the situation was very different. Talking of the bombing of parliament, the presidential palace and several other places, Şenol Karakaş reminded the meeting of the severity of the attack.

“The resistance by the people who took to the streets stopped the coup” Karakaş continued:

“We are a generation that has experienced many coups. But we haven’t experienced a coup attempt that has bombed parliament and anything around it or that has crushed civilians even during its attempt. As part of the people who resisted the coup, we have organised this press conference to say that to prevent the possibility of new coups we need to turn this resistance into a struggle for democracy. However, yesterday a state of emergency was declared. So we have to be more insistent to stand by our demands.

“They are trying to pin the coup on just Gulen. But I am not convinced a third of the Turkish High Command are Gulenist. This was a wider coalition including those involved in Ergenekon (deep state) and other forces.

“The people sitting at this table have led the fight against racism and putchism since 2007. Today, at least we can take a breather thanks to the large numbers who, without waiting to ask anyone, took to the streets and organised a massive civil resistance. The reason the coup was stopped was not because it was some “theatre”. It was thanks to the resistance of the people who took to the streets.

“I think those behind the coup attempt expected the conflict to last a long time and they were playing on the anger of the people. However, as a result of our years of struggle, thanks to the thousands that marched for Hrant Dink, thanks to the struggle for years against the coup, it has become unacceptable to support a coup and nobody come out onto the streets to support it.

“After the declaration of a state of emergency we must say this: A coup is something that comes into play where democracy is restricted, where there is the impact of war and freedoms are suspended. Where these things exsist, the coup makers can be sure of themselves. That’s why a state of emergency is not the solution. The solution is the operation of democracy and the implementation of the principle of justice for all. I am optimistic that this can be provided by those who prevented the coup.”

“With no ifs and no buts I am against every type of coup”

Artist Zeynep Tanbay said:

“Let me start by giving my condolences to everyone. I am not in favour of any coup that takes down a government, even one that is terrible and I can’t support, as long as it is elected in a democratic regime. Unqualified, unconditional, unreservedly, no ifs, no buts I am against coups.

“But it absolutely has to be said: Coups materialise in places where actual democracy is rotting, where it doesn’t work. Turkey is a place where there has never been real democracy. No ruling power has been able to implement democracy to its roots.

“Every cloud has a silver lining: the good thing here is that the day after the coup all the four parties came together and made speeches in Parliament. And while they were speaking the other parties listened in silence… We have not seen such a thing for a long time. This is a parliament we should support, a parliament where everyone is free to say what they want.

“I have fought against everything I don’t like about the AKP administration. But on 15-16 July I took a break from this position because of the coup. I fought against the coup. Now I will continue to struggle against the unlawful actions the AKP are implementing.”

“Those trying to make those who fought disreputable by calling them reactionary against progressive tanks…”

Ufuk Uras of the Green Left Party said:

“In such turbulent times it is useful to be clear in our minds. Who is responsible for coups? Of course the coup makers. When we asked Kenan Evren, he blamed Parliament and the political parties. It was the same for those who carried out 28 February [1997]. The greatest fuel for the putchists mentality are those who make the legitimacy of Parliament and the ruling party questionable.

“We musn’t forget that for the last two years we have heard from various circles that a coup would be attempted, and we thought these claims were absurd. We were wrong.

“In part we were right, life shows us that coups don’t happen in this way.

“I want to congratulate all those citizens who fought against the putchists. I want to respect the memory of our martyrs for democracy. The whole mentality of those trying to discredit our citizens who took to the streets against the coup for the first time in the history of the republic by describing them as a reactionary people against progressive tanks, is also responsible for coup mechanisms as such.

“The very fact that we can hold our press conference here now, means we owe immense gratitude to those unseen heros.

“Through this period Turkey split into two. The putchists aren’t calling themselves putchists. If this coup had succeeded, we know who would have been installed behind it. The reason why we first reacted against the coup on social media comes from a very basic principle: we didn’t wonder who was behind the coup. If you did, it means you are like the US which waited to see how things unfolded. In Turkey there is a divergence between those who waited and those on the side of democracy.

“If the coup had been realised there would be marshal law. Democracy would have been abolished. In such a situation, what response should be given to the attempt now? To build democracy, not to establish a state of emergency. We can create a convincing alternative to the putchists by building peace and democracy.

“It is important the parliamentary parties come together but their thinking is not clear. We have to provide that clarity. When Kılıçdaoğlu was questioned about the death penalty, he said, “We will see if they bring it in”.

“If the putchists had a little morality and conscience, they would have said we tried valiantly and we were not successful. “I’m going to see my aunt”, “I’m not involved anymore” etc. They did not take this attitude.

“We also need to congratulate the soldiers who refused to be used by the putchists. For democracy, the anti-putchist attitude of soldiers is also very important.

“At midnight, the foriegn press called and asked who was behind this coup. I said “It is enough that the people are not behind it.” Nevertheless, to find out who is behind it is important to establish a parliamentary commission that is beyond political manipulation. It is very important that we fight for a democratic constitution under the rule of law rather than the rule of decree.

“If the coup had been successful the first thing we would have seen would have been bombing Abdullah Öcalan in İmralı. It is not surprising that they should want to punish someone who was first to see the mechanism of the coup. The struggle begins today. We hope to see all our friends join the struggle for the establishment of democracy.”

“We have to reject the language of hate and arrogance”

Writer Kelemet Çiğdem Türk said:

“I was preganant and expecting my daughter during Gezi so I didn’t go at all. There was a wide range of people in that struggle. We talked about it for months and years. At that time I cried a lot. When we first heard about the coup we were in a village without phones because my father was ill. I learnt about the coup from my friends. We turned on the television and again my eyes filled with tears. We said this kind of thing should not be happening in Turkey today.

“‘Reactionary people’ – what a shame the people who stopped the coup are described like this. It hurts my heart. Another thing that hurts is those who both side with the coup and talk about democracy. You have to be on one side or the other.

“The language was use is full of hate and arrogance. We have to distance ourselves from this. I have a dream, we all have dreams and we have a lot of work to do to realise them.”

The statement read out at the conference and signatories:

The coup was stopped. Now we want peace.
Now is the time for a solution, now is the time for peace!

On the evening of 15 July we were faced with a very bloody coup attempt. Parliament was bombed, warplanes flew over Ankara and Istanbul terrorising people, dozens of people were killed. Those who took to the streets against the coup, against the tanks prevented the coup attempt.

We know very well that during the two and a half years of the peace process, they did not have the audacity within the army for a coup attempt.

We know very well that the coup plotters were emboldened by the return to a policy of war on the everpresent Kurdish question.

The year-long conflict created the basis for the organisation of the coup. When the parliament building in Ankara was bombed, when war planes terrorised Istanbul we understood better the bombing of homes in Cizre.

Therefore, we the undersigned believe that when a coup attempt is stopped by the intervention of the masses, it is time to return to the solution process, the peace process, the process of dialogue.

We stopped the coup! We can win the peace!

We stopped the coup! We can widen our freedoms!

We stopped the coup! Now let’s get rid of racism and militarism, the fertile soil that produces coups. Let’s eliminate the barriers to political democracy and freedom of thought, of expression and to protest and organise.

Those who stood shoulder to shoulder against the coup, must also stand side by side for the demands for peace, democracy and justice for all.

Ali Baydaş, Atilla Dirim, Berkay Bağcı, Burak Kalpaklıoğlu, Cafer Solgun, Can Irmak Özinanır, Celal İnal, Çağla Oflas, Dilaver Demirağ, Esra Argış, Faruk Sevim, Fatma Bostan Ünsal, Ferda Keskin, Ferhat Kentel, Funda Ata, Füsun Şeker, Giray Köprülü, Gül Dönmez, Hakan Tahmaz, Halil İbrahim Yenigün, Hasan Fehmi Özer, Hasan Uyar, Helin Alp, İbrahim Sediyani, İdil Ügüt, İslam Özkan, İsmail Çapar, Jale Mildanoğlu, Jülide Tunakan, Kelemet Çiğdem Türk, Kemal Başak, Kerem Kabadayı, Korhan Gümüş, Kuban Kural, Levent Şensever, Mehmet Arif Koçer, Meltem Oral, Mine Atafırat, Murat Çelikkan, Murat Erkman, Murat Çağlar Kavaklı, Nazif Kapusuz, Nebiye Arı, Necdet Kılıç, Nil Mutluer, Nuran Yüce, Ozan Ekin Gökşin, Ozan Tekin, Pakrat Estukyan, Perihan Bolat, Reha Ruhavioğlu, Roni Margulies, Sennur Baybuğa, Serhat Özdili, Serkan Akyıldırım, Sıdıka Çetin, Sibel Erduman, Sinan Kurban, Sinan Özbek, Soner Dinçsoy, Süphan Erkan, Şenol Karakaş, Şevki Evrendilek, Tatyos Bebek, Tolga Tüzün, Turgay Oğur, Ufuk Uras, Volkan Akyıldırım, Yasin Altıntaş, Yıldız Önen, Zeynep Tanbay

(Translated to English from Marksist.org by Carol Williams)