IT has been a year since we thwarted the bloodiest terrorist attack in the history of the Republic of Turkey. Turkey has proven its resilience, ability to recover and strength in the course of last year.
It is essential to make an evaluation of the past year and look forward. First of all, we should remember what we have been through.
What happened that night was an attack on the Turkish state by traitors, who infiltrated the Turkish military, who are loyal to a deranged man who sees himself as the “imam of the universe.”
We were confronted with murderers, who bombed their own national Parliament, destroyed the headquarters of police special forces that fight at the forefront against terrorist organisations, driven tanks over unarmed civilians, fired from fighter jets and attack helicopters.
We have never before been through such brutality in our history. This terrorist network killed 250 of our citizens and left more than 2,000 injured.
Going back, two sources of pride emerged from this bitter experience. The first one is the courage and determination of the Turkish people.
Our citizens from all backgrounds and political views took to the streets against the putschists. Our television channels continued broadcasting despite the threats and raids by coup plotters. The Turkish nation became one.
Second, the Turkish nation showed the entire world that it defended democracy and will continue to do so. My people demonstrated that only the governments taking office through democratic processes and the will of the people would rule Turkey, not the armed groups.
The strongest legitimacy is the democratic one. We passed this tough democracy test as a country.
But the question that my grandchild asked me with all her naivety that night will never fade away from my mind or anyone else’s: “Grandpa, aren’t these our soldiers?” Indeed, what kind of mind-set would drive a person to attack his own people, institutions, symbols and leaders in such a brutal manner?
The answer underlies the nature of the treachery network we are facing. That night, we were confronted with a crime network, blindly following the orders of ringleader Fetullah Gülen via a professor of theology. We are talking about a treacherous gang that failed to grasp the notion of the glorious millennial history of Turkish soldiers, saluting the manager of a company owned by the Gülenist Terror Organization (FETÖ) and the ostensible owner of a school operated by the same organisation, at the military base they used as their headquarters.
As a matter of fact, my government had actually unmasked Fetullah Gülen and taken action accordingly. We had already been exerting efforts to unveil the existence of this structure inside the state and had made significant progress to this end.
However, the July 15 coup attempt bitterly revealed that the threat we are facing is beyond our estimation, that it is much deeper and more vital. The magnitude of the plot masterminded by Fetullah Gülen for the past 40 years to seize control of the Turkish state was exposed.
FETÖ members, following the orders of Fetullah Gülen, had acted unnoticed inside the capillaries of the system and reached almost all power centres like an infection caused by a virus that gradually takes over the vital organs of a body.
Comprehensive administrative, criminal and legal investigations have been conducted throughout the year since July 15, 2016. Extensive evidence has been reached on this structure that masterminded and implemented the coup attempt.
The evidence has demonstrated that we are facing a heretical, esoteric belief system built by Fetullah Gülen. The schools and dorms of the organisation operated as brainwashing and recruitment centres.
The Turkish nation proved to the world that democracy is not a cheap victory but is precious enough to die for its sake. Our primary duty is to take necessary measures to prevent it from happening again. Eventually, Turkish democracy was targeted and our democracy won. So our aim and endeavours will be to take the necessary steps in time to crown our democracy.
About the author: H.E. Binali Yildirim is the 27th and current Prime Minister of the Republic of Turkey and the leader of the Justice and Development Party since May 2016.