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The Democracy and National Unity Day of Turkey – July 15, 2023

Democracy and National Unity Day of Turkey is celebrated on July 15 every year. It honors the bravery, national unity, and the lives of those who died in the failed coup d’état for democracy of 2016. On July 15 that year, a rogue military faction tried to overthrow President Recep of Tayyip Erdoğan, killing 259 people, mostly civilians, and injuring over 2,500 others. This day proves the dedication and commitment of the Republic of Turkey and its people to the rule of law and democracy.

History of The Democracy and National Unity Day of Turkey

An attempted military coup occurred in Turkey on July 15, 2016, at about 10:00 P.M. First, military jets were witnessed flying over Ankara, internet users were denied access to social media, and troops were seen entering the Justice and Development Party’s offices in Istanbul and ordering people to leave. A faction within the Turkish Armed Forces, known as the Peace at Home Council, carried out the assassination attempt. The government said the coup leaders were linked to Fethullah Gülen, a Turkish businessman and scholar who lives in Pennsylvania, and the Gülen movement now referred to as FETÖ since the incident.

Helicopters bombed the police special forces headquarters and police air force headquarters in Gölbaşı, just outside of Ankara, from around 11:00 P.M. until midnight. According to Reuters, there were soldiers inside the buildings of the state broadcaster, the Turkish Radio and Television Corporation (T.R.T.), in Ankara at 00:02 A.M. They forced anchor Tijen Karaş to deliver a statement claiming that “the democratic and secular rule of law has been eroded by the current government.” Erdoğan did a FaceTime interview with C.N.N. Türk at 01:00 A.M., in which he called upon his supporters to take to the streets in defiance of the military-imposed curfew.

Soon after, a crowd of civilians and police stormed the T.R.T. broadcasting offices, purportedly “neutralizing” four soldiers inside, and then the channel went back on air. The coup fell apart in the early hours of July 16 when masses disobeyed pro-coup military instructions and gathered in Istanbul and Ankara’s major squares to oppose it. Although many soldiers surrendered to the police, others fled by helicopter. On July 20, 2016, the Turkish government declared a state of emergency and used its newfound powers to pursue any putative follower of Gülen and his movement. To commemorate the failed coup attempt, July 15 was declared a public holiday for the first time in 2017.

The Democracy and National Unity Day of Turkey timeline

July 15, 2016
Attempted Military Coup

The Peace at Home Council, a faction within the Turkish Armed Forces with ties to the Gülen movement, attempts to seize control of Ankara, Istanbul, and Marmaris.

July 16, 2016
The Coup Crumbles

Civilian and police forces oppose the pro-coup soldiers, many of them surrender in the morning, while others flee by helicopter.

July 20, 2016
State Of Emergency

The government uses its newfound authority to pursue any alleged supporter of Gülen and his movement.

2017
July 15 Is Declared A Public Holiday

To commemorate the bravery, national unity, and the lives of those who died in the failed coup, the government establishes Democracy and National Unity Day of Turkey.

The Democracy and National Unity Day of Turkey FAQs

Why did the 2016 Turkish coup fail?

One of the main reasons for this was disarray among the plotters’ ranks since they were compelled to carry out the coup five hours early after Turkish intelligence found them, and one of the main organizers, General Semih Terzi, was killed by loyalist Sgt. Maj. mer Halisdemir. The men became disheartened and uncoordinated because of their ordeal.

Who became the head of state after the 1980 coup in Turkey?

General Ahmet Kenan Evren served as the seventh President of Turkey by leading the 1980 coup.

When did the state of emergency end in Turkey?

The 2016 state of emergency was lifted permanently in July 2018.

How to Observe The Democracy and National Unity Day of Turkey

  1. Read about the coup

    We covered some of the key events, but there’s still a lot more to learn about the failed coup. Look up internet articles and books about the coup, the Turkish government, Fethullah Gülen, and the Gülen Movement.

  2. Visit the July 15 Democracy Museum

    On the fifth anniversary of the attempted coup, a museum was opened in Ankara to commemorate the event. It includes profiles of the slain martyrs, citizen testimony, and the history of coups in Turkey and around the world.

  3. Discuss the coup with others

    Ask your friends and family if they know about the coup and hold a discussion. Talk about the events that transpired, who was involved, the aftermath, its implications for Turkey, and so on. You can also start a conversation on social media. Don’t forget to use the hashtag: #DemocracyAndNationalUnityDay.

5 Important Facts About Turkey

  1. Turkey has had two coup d'états

    One in 1960, and one in 1980; there were also four additional failed coups.

  2. It’s the birthplace of many historical figures

    Aesop, Herodotus, and St. Paul the Apostle, all world-renowned figures, were all born in what is now Turkey.

  3. It’s responsible for 75% of hazelnut exports

    Most of the world's hazelnuts grow in the Mediterranean basin, in Turkey, Spain, Greece, and Italy.

  4. There are over 30 languages spoken

    The official language is Turkish, but there are many minority languages, such as Kurmanji (Northern Kurdish), Mesopotamian Arabic, and Zazaki.

  5. Istanbul spans two continents

    The Bosphorus River divides the city in two, so its west bank lies on the European continent, while the east bank is in Asia.

Why The Democracy and National Unity Day of Turkey is Important

  1. It’s a time to remember military coups all over the world

    A portion of the July 15 Democracy Museum chronicles the history of military coups in Turkey and other nations. In some of them, it’s just history. However, the fact that this happened in Turkey only a few years ago gives us much to think about.

  2. It’s a reminder of what the people of a nation can do united

    The coup could have succeeded if people and police had not banded together to oppose the military. Many lives were lost, but no one knows how the country might have turned out if no one had intervened.

  3. It’s a day to learn about Turkey

    You probably know little about Turkey if you aren't from the country. This is an excellent day to learn more about the country's history, geography, culture, and other aspects, and learning more is always beneficial.

The Democracy and National Unity Day of Turkey dates

YearDateDay
2023July 15Saturday
2024July 15Monday
2025July 15Tuesday
2026July 15Wednesday
2027July 15Thursday

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