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HomeHeadlineThe Misconception of the Turkish Dissidents Regarding July 15

The Misconception of the Turkish Dissidents Regarding July 15

Before I begin, let me clarify that by “dissidents,” I am not referring to political parties. I am talking about the socio-political dissidents composed mostly of victims, many of whom have been affected by decree-laws (KHK).

Initially, so-called ‘opposition’ parties, including the CHP, didn’t have much of an issue with the Erdogan regime’s ‘official July 15 narrative.’ From the very beginning, they jumped on Erdogan’s bandwagon and rushed to Yenikapı; they are still there.

It doesn’t seem like they will change their stance anytime soon.

CHP leader Kemal Kılıçdaroğlu once said, “July 15 was a controlled coup,” but the concern of the CHP leadership wasn’t to uncover the conspiracy behind the coup attempt; it was to corner their political rival using July 15 as a basis.

Here’s the thing:

It’s no secret that the CHP and its supporters, especially the Gulen Movement, have never been fond of Islamic groups. The Gulen Movement’s abundance of human resources and its influential and powerful organizations irritated the CHP.

After the December 17 major corruption and bribery operation (which the CHP itself confirmed the authenticity of the documents), they didn’t object to Erdogan’s regime initiating a process of genocide against the Gulen Movement.

They looked at the post-July 15 genocide process as follows: “Erdogan is already destroying the Gulen Movement. This process will also wear Erdogan down. In the upcoming elections, we will get rid of both of them.”

The opportunism of the opposition is evident.

Erdogan has solidified his authoritarian rule to such an extent that even political parties cannot fathom how the stolen elections are being stolen. In short, when it comes to July 15, political parties, including the CHP, do not fall under the category of ‘opposition.’

What I mean by ‘opposition’ is the majority of people, many of whom are KHK victims, educated, intellectual individuals. According to most of them, support for July 15 is decreasing as time goes by, the government’s rhetoric is weakening, and its impact is diminishing.

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For example, last week, apart from the forced celebrations by the regime on the 7th anniversary of July 15, there were no significant activities. There was nothing noteworthy except propaganda films, posters, and political programs made purely for vested interests.

So-called ‘pseudo-opposition’ like Odatv, known for its unwavering support for the government, is now lamenting that “July 15 is being forgotten.”

Their goal, of course, is not to reveal the truth but to ensure that the persecution under the guise of a coup attempt continues without losing momentum.

In other words, “Don’t stop, eradicate them all, even their babies.” As Aydın Ünal, Erdogan’s former speechwriter, would put it, they want to keep their grudges alive.

Now, how are the components of the government, particularly the Palace (referring to the Erdogan administration), pursuing their strategy?

Are they consciously trying to make people forget about July 15, or have they achieved their goals and no longer care?

In my opinion, this is where the regime’s opponents are mistaken.

The diminishing interest in July 15 and the government’s lowered intensity are not due to the government losing ground. Certainly, the efforts of exiled journalists, including myself, to expose the truth have an impact on public perception, but the government’s agenda is entirely different.

The government’s game plan was this: as they approached July 15, they already had plans to shape the media, judiciary, and bureaucracy. During that bizarre night, while it was unclear who did what, they swiftly arrested thousands of judges and prosecutors and rapidly turned AKP party members into lawyers, judges, and prosecutors.

All opposition media channels were quickly shut down, and right after that, propaganda started with full force.

The regime piled so much pressure that even those who didn’t believe in the coup couldn’t dare to oppose the official narrative. In this atmosphere, they changed the constitution, rigged elections, and revamped the entire bureaucracy. The country was plundered using the power of the state. I won’t list all the things they did because they are evident.

In the early days, they brought supporters to the courts by buses from AKP organizations. However, once the government got its act together, even the prominent figures of the AKP regime stopped following the cases, let alone the supporters.

Since the courts swiftly handed out life sentences following orders from the Palace, those journalists who tried to analyze the gaps in the coup story were quickly thrown into prison, and those who remained started turning a blind eye.

Some of them had already ideologically embraced the regime’s rhetoric.

Thus, Erdogan no longer needs to fuel the flames of July 15. The coup attempt has become a wrench in their toolkit.

If they want to take over a company and crush it, they just need to say “July 15,” and no one can stop them. If they want to conduct arbitrary purges, no problem; just mention “July 15” and “national resistance,” and no one will question you.

In short, Erdogan no longer needs to use July 15 as a rallying point. The regime believes that July 15 is now accepted by consensus, so they are consciously reducing tensions.

And here is where the fundamental misconception of the opposition lies.

The fact that people, in general, are not talking about July 15 doesn’t automatically lead to questioning the regime’s narrative, nor will it ever.

Erdogan will turn up the heat whenever he wants and reduce tensions whenever he wants. As I said, they have created such an atmosphere that even the arrest of newborn babies fails to provoke a reaction from the society.

Even those who dare to whisper a dissenting opinion are immediately suppressed with the phrase, “But what about July 15…”

As I mentioned earlier, the decreasing interest in July 15 doesn’t automatically lead to the revelation of the real story and the exoneration of the victims, and it won’t.

So what should be done?

In fact, there’s not much left to discover as if it were a whole new America. There are countless examples worldwide on how to manage and achieve results in such processes.

However, there is a fundamental unfortunate reality in Turkey. There is no real opposition in the country. Despite the two interviews released on the anniversary (Hulusi Akar and Zekai Aksakallı interviews) and a statement (Gökhan Sönmezateş’s statement) that have shaken the regime’s narrative, there is no will to pursue this matter further, such as summoning critical figures like Hulusi Akar or Hakan Fidan to the parliament for questioning. There is no such political understanding in sight.

So what will happen?

At this point, I need to repeat what I have been saying for seven years. Only the victims can expose the conspiracy behind July 15. Those trapped under the debris can only lift this burden together.

Otherwise, no one will come to help.

No one will say, “Erdogan orchestrated a plot, changed the regime, and branded innocent people as terrorists. Let’s help these innocent people.” Hence, those involved in the process, especially the military, must speak up, share their knowledge, evidence, and most importantly, their testimonies with investigative journalists.

I’ve been saying this for seven years, but apart from a few minor exceptions, this call has not been heeded. For instance, the recent popular topic of discussion about the letter revealed by Osman Şimşek. As someone who has conducted extensive research on July 15, I had not heard of this letter before. When such a critical event emerges years later, it naturally makes one wonder what else is there that we don’t know yet.

Speaking of the letter, neither Hulusi Akar nor Gulen would write or take such a letter seriously. If some meddlers are trying to bring a letter in Akar’s name, it only supports the claim that July 15 was a Palace fabrication.

From the statements, we can see that Akar is discussing the idea of a coup in front of soldiers he perceived to be Gulenists. It’s clear that he wanted Gulen to hear about it. Those who planned the conspiracy must not have received the response they were hoping for, so they took another step and organized the fake letter.

Those who have information, testimonies, or evidence about what happened on July 15 face another major risk: time is passing too quickly.

Seven years have already passed, and the interest of even the victims is naturally waning. I must note that I do not agree with some victims who expect everything to be clarified and the regime to change quickly.

Unused information or documents lose their significance. Within a few years, July 15 will only remain in the agenda of historians. Moreover, this nation even forgot Sedat Peker’s revelations, which captivated millions, within a couple of months.

Therefore, those who possess valuable information and evidence must take action. Even if some divine intervention comes to save them, nobody else will help the victims.

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Adem Yavuz Arslan
Adem Yavuz Arslan
Adem Yavuz Aslan is a leading Turkish investigative journalist in exile based in Washington, D.C.
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