Istanbul, August 16 (Online): The government crackdown is intensifying one month after the attempted uprising fear comes in many forms.
A month ago, on the night of the bloody coup attempt here in Turkey, I together with millions in Istanbul and Ankara experienced gut-tightening fear as explosions shook our living rooms and gunfire crackled outside our windows. Downstairs my neighbours huddled in their bathroom, afraid for their safety and for the lives of loved ones. Outside, tanks rolled by whilst jets and helicopters filled the skies and civilians were gunned down by would-be putschists.
After it became clear that the bloody coup had failed there was huge relief, at least initially. But, like the acrid smell, fear still hung in the air. While large orchestrated rallies celebrating the defeat of the attempted coup brought an almost festive atmosphere at night, the mood on the streets during the day remained tense. Taut lips and furrowed brows had replaced the local shopkeepers’ usual smiles. Many others remained at home, watching and waiting nervously, unsure what would come next. Had the risk of a coup been averted? Could there be another violent attempt to seize power?
Underpinning this fear was the memory of brutal coups in Turkey’s past of the detentions, torture and executions that followed the 1980 coup. Those who lived through it know the horror, whilst those too young to remember have heard the stories from their parents.
In the days after the failed coup, as the government crackdown began and the state of emergency was announced, the gnawing fear did not subside – it merely transformed. Over the month since the attempted uprising, more than 23,000 people have been detained and nearly 82,000 have been suspended or removed from their jobs. Anyone with any perceived link to the movement of U.S.-based cleric, Fethullah Gülen, accused of orchestrating the coup, has been targeted.