Since the 15th of July 2016, nothing has been the same in Turkey. This date marks the unsuccessful coup attempt against president Recep Erdogan and his parliament. There are many speculations that the coup was plotted by the president himself, but the main group of people to take the blame are the supporters of the Gulen movement. Thousands were arrested and imprisoned, even more lost their jobs and hundreds died during that night.[i] More than 400 former Air Force Academy students have been accused of joining the coup attempt the 15th of July 2016, and around 250 of them are still in jail facing life imprisonment.[ii]
This article will provide information on four cases of young cadets who lost their lives following the events which happened on the night of the coup. All four share a similar faith, whose spirit can be grasped in this article.
The Story of Murat Tekin and Ragip Katran- young lives under terrible influence
On the night of the coup, twenty-one-year-old Murat Tekin, who had studied at Işıklar Military High School in Bursa for five years and then enrolled in the Air Force Academy in Istanbul last year, was, along with many of his friends, stationed on İstanbul’s Bosporus Bridge by their commanders. Even though the cadets were on the bridge that night, none of them knew what was going to happen, and that a coup is going to break. The cadets were attacked by an angry crowd on the bridge that wanted to end the coup and punish the soldiers whom they thought were putschists. Two of the cadets were killed by unknown attackers, while dozens of others were injured, which video footage later showed. Murat Tekin was brutally murdered on the Bosporus Bridge, with his throat cut and his body kicked to death. Ragip Katran was the other victim that night, who was also murdered mistakenly, but yet brutally. The cadets were informed by their officers that there were eight people present with bombs attached to themselves, also referred to as terrorists on the bridge, but there was no such thing. The students, including Tekin and Katran, were going to help, but all of a sudden, they found themselves in the middle of the coup. The sister of Murat, Mehtap, has released a video of her brother’s final moments on Twitter saying: “Watch this, I can’t”, with the video showing her brother lying in a pool of blood with tens of people cursing his body. The video was taken down by the online platform because it is too brutal, but this will not change the fact that a promising young man lost his life in such a horrific way, for none of his fault. [iii] Ragip Katran was also a victim of this horrific event but his brother does not think that Erdogan is speaking the truth. In the brother’s opinion, there was a plotted scenario, that terrorists were trying to take the power, but in reality, there was no such thing. The cadets did not know what the real situation in the country was, but in the end, they ended up paying with their lives. More than 250 of the cadets are still in prison, on the ground that they attempted a coup. So, in the end, the civilians beat the cadets, in two of the cases – killed them, because they thought they were protecting Erdogan’s interest, on the other hand, Erdogan put them in prison because they were part of the coup.
Story of Yusuf Kurt
Yusuf Kurt was also part of the events that night on İstanbul’s Bosporus Bridge. Even though he was not killed on the bridge that night, he was sentenced to life imprisonment in 2016. The young man was in prison for 4 years, until in January 2020, when he was released due to his worsening health. The former air force cadet was suffering from bone cancer and ten months after his release, he passed away. The mother of one of Kurt’s classmate’s claims that the cadets were unaware that a coup was underway as a putschist bid unfolded on July 15, 2016, when rogue soldiers failed in their attempt to take over the government after skirmishes with pro-government factions.[iv]
The final friend
Two weeks ago, a former cadet and friend of the people mentioned above took his own life, because he could not carry the burden anymore. He was a witness to everything that happened that night, he had been arrested and released, persecuted for years with unfair accusations and he just could not bear it anymore. His brother is also in prison, serving his time. And as his family can see him only for 40 minutes per month behind bars, the younger brother could not live like that anymore and he decided to end his own life.
Despite numerous appeals to the UN Commission on Human Rights and their decision that the cadets should be freed momentarily, Erdogan does not accept any order that is not given by him. These are just four cases of boys who lost their chance to live a normal life, but the bigger picture shows how thousands lost their job or were forced to leave the country to seek a new life.
On behalf of Broken Chalk, I want to say that the people who make thousands suffer must face legal consequences. We insist that third parties, who are outside of Turkey, should act immediately because the first and foremost human right is the right of freedom. As Herbert Hoover once said: “Freedom is the open window through which pours the sunlight of the human spirit and human dignity.” Without our freedom, the human soul is lost.
Written by: Ivan Evstatiev
[i] Reporter, G. S. (2017, July 15). Turkey sacks more than 7,000 civil servants one year on from failed coup. The Guardian. Retrieved May 31, 2022, from https://www.theguardian.com/world/2017/jul/15/turkey-sacks-over-7000-civil-servants-for-alleged-links-to-terror-groups
[ii] R.A. (2022, May 17). Ridvan A. on LinkedIn: I am aware LinkedIn is supposed to be used for business inquiries, [LinkedIn post]. LinkedIn. https://www.linkedin.com/feed/update/urn:li:activity:6932233850878087168/
[iii] T. (2018, January 14). [VIDEO] Sister releases video of last moments of 21-year-old air force cadet murdered on night of coup attempt | Turkey Purge. Turkeypurge.Com. Retrieved May 31, 2022, from https://turkeypurge.com/video-sister-releases-video-last-moments-21-year-old-air-force-cadet-murdered-night-coup-attempt
[iv] S. (2021, January 28). Air force cadet sentenced to life in prison succumbs to bone cancer: report. Stockholm Center for Freedom. Retrieved May 31, 2022, from https://stockholmcf.org/air-force-cadet-sentenced-to-life-in-prison-succumbs-to-bone-cancer-report/