On the first anniversary of the failed coup in Turkey, much remains unknown about what happened on July 15, 2016.
One year on, none of the alleged coup plotters have yet been convicted. The details of the events of that night are still sketchy.
Contradictory statements from the highest authorities about the sequence of events add to the confusion; feeding urban myths and conspiracy theories.
With only a handful of investigative journalists remaining free and the politicization of the judiciary now complete, it could be years before we learn the full truth.
The lack of clarity is beneficial for the governing party that has ruled the country for more than a decade and all of this had happened under its own watch. Whichever way you look at it, a large part of responsibility lies with the Justice and development Party and the institutions under its control. A half-hearted attempt by the parliamentary commission to investigate did not convince anyone, considering key figures such as the intelligence chief Hakan Fidan and the Chief of the General Staff, General Hulusi Akar, did not even bother to give testimony.
We may not yet have answers to fundamental questions but here is what we do know.
The coup attempt, a violent onslaught orchestrated by a shadowy, secretive Islamist cult against an elected government (albeit hell-bent on establishing its authoritarian, conservative Islamist vision for the country), has done a great deal of damage, with the country’s democratic forces and its future generations bearing the brunt.
Under a state of emergency, not only those caught red-handed or suspected of taking part in the putsch but all political opponents were targeted. A widespread purge of state institutions, the media and civil society organisations has already paved the way for arbitrary rule with little or no oversight.
Described as “God’s Gift” by the President, the botched coup helped speed up consolidation of an unaccountable, non-transparent regime.
With the role of religion in public life firmly established, the trauma created by the coup attempt has accelerated efforts to remodel Turkey’s education system in line with the ruling Justice and Development Party’s vision of creating a “pious and vengeful” generation.
Relentless suppression of academic freedoms has inevitably led to an unprecedented brain-drain of intellectuals and university lecturers, leaving the field open for those ready to indoctrinate.
One year on since the 15 July coup attempt, today’s Turkey is more divided, polarised and isolated than it has ever been.
Turkey’s blatant assaults on basic rights and freedoms are becoming more and more difficult to ignore even by its most loyal friends in the world.
A series of terrorist attacks despite the emergency measures and an erratic foreign policy have shaken international confidence.
At the end of the day, it will be the people of Turkey that will have to come to the conclusion that the present situation will not be sustainable for much longer.
A glimmer of hope offered by the “Justice March”, led by the leader of the main opposition Republican People’s Party (CHP), has rekindled hopes that the country may still have the capacity to resurrect its greatly damaged institutions and unite around common values.
Yet, no matter how hard we try to remain optimistic, the possibility of seeing the light at the end of the tunnel, at least for now, seems much too tall an order.
This post is also available in: Turkish