On August 7, an unprecedented 5mn people attended a historic rally in Istanbul. Everyone is still talking about the number of the people who participated in the rally, but in my opinion, the most significant point about it is the fact that millions had acted with a single spirit.
This spirit stemmed from a sense of unity and an enthusiasm for brotherhood that should be admired by the entire world. I feel happy to be one of the people who shared in this excitement.
People flocked to the rally site of Yenikapi from all districts of Istanbul. Public transport, including the metro system, buses and ferry service was provided free of cost to all people in the city. The Istanbul municipality delivered 5mn water bottles and 1mn food packages for free to the participants. The municipality had also provided the services of 7,000 buses. More than 200 boats and 10 ferries were also available for the participants.
Besides security forces 2,500 municipal guards and 900 cleaners as well as 500 assistants were on duty during the rally.
Even though some foreign media introduced the participants of the rally as “Erdogan supporters”, there were people from all segments of Turkey there.
The chief rabbi of Turkey, Ishak Haleva, and Turkish Jewish Community leaders Ishak Ibrahimzade and Zal Detoledo were among the participants. Fener Greek Patriach and the president of the Religious Affairs of Turkey were also among those attending.
More than 500 artists, among whom were those known for their opposition towards the government as well, attended the rally.
The leaders of the three biggest parties of Turkey were present. The speeches of both K?l?cdaroglu and Bahceli were applauded enthusiastically by millions. The prime minister of the Turkish Republic of Northern Cyprus saluted the people from the platform.
Perhaps one of the most pleasant moments of the day was when the Turkish chief of general staff Gen Hulusi Akar took to the stage.
With his invitation extended to Gen Akar to speak at the rally, Erdogan showed everyone that the Turkish people were in unity with the army.
All the speakers who took the floor at the rally emphasised the common culture of our nation. In their speeches, Y?ld?r?m and K?l?cdaroglu cited quotes from the well-known Turkish socialist poet, Naz?m Hikmet.
Erdogan addressed the gathering with the same question Mustafa Kemal Ataturk asked before the Independence War 96 years ago: “O my nation, will you consent to captivity and contempt?”
In unison, 5mn people, shouted out that they would never accept it, just as their ancestors didn’t accept it 100 years ago.
The rally began with a recital of the Qur’an and continued with a moment of silence and prayers for those who had been martyred in the coup attempt. K?l?cdaroglu received the biggest applause when he said: “We do not want third class democracy, we want first class democracy.”
Gen Akar said “the Turkish army is at our people’s service”. And one of the most emotional moments of the rally was when one of the veterans of the coup who had lost his feet on July 15 talked about what he had gone through that night.
The names of those who were martyred on the dark night were read one by one and after each name, the whole rally resounded in unison saying “Here!”.
All the speakers praised the members of the parliament who were on duty in the Turkish parliament under bombardment on the night of July 15.
No party flags were waved in the rally. No political slogans were shouted. What was only spoken was the fact that our motherland cannot be divided and that we are ready to make any sacrifice to defend our democracy.
Perhaps it was the first time in history that civilians defended their country against weapons, tanks, warplanes with only their bare hands, fire trucks, fire-extinguishers and car paints.
Following the coup attempt, this nation stood guard in public squares day and night for 21 days. As a political analyst stated: “By defending it with their bare hands, the Turkish people truly deserved their democracy.”
The hashtag of the rally #Turkeyunited was actually the perfect summary of the day.
Through this rally, the Turkish nation, with its Turkish, Kurdish, Circassian and Laz citizens, clearly showed that any plan that seeks to pit brother against brother will not work in Turkey.
The turnout was so huge that people were packed near the Yenikapi rally stage, the Kennedy Street, Eminonu and Zeytinburnu districts.
In 81 cities of Turkey, millions more watched the rally on giant screens in city centres.
The next day, newspapers ran the following headlines: “You Cannot Bring This Nation Down”; “One Nation”; “My Beautiful Country”; “Turkey Stands United”; “My Great Turkey”; “United, You Are Very Beautiful My Turkey”; “We Are Very Beautiful When United”. These headlines beautifully articulated the day’s atmosphere of unity, brotherhood and friendship.
Experiencing this unique and pleasant environment of unity is what we truly wish for all other nations of the world. The peaceful future of the world lies in this spirit of love and solidarity.
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People waving Turkish national flags as they gather on at Yenikapi in Istanbul during the August 7 rally.