Director of Communications Prof. Fahrettin Altun spoke to Turkish newspaper Sabah about the 4th anniversary of the nation's victory against the July 15 coup attempt by the FETO. Altun shared details about the works being carried out by the Directorate of Communications on the occasion of the 4th anniversary of the July 15 coup attempt.
It has been four years since the treason of July 15. Looking back now, how would you sum up the July 15?
From the very first day, July 15 was not a mere coup attempt for me. That day, we had to face not only an attempt of invasion but also a coup attempt. It was an all-out invasion attempt on very clear grounds that the life of our President was attempted against, that our Parliament and Presidential Complex were dropped bombs over, and that our nation fighting it back had bullets raining over them. For this reason, we need to fully comprehend the epic fight that our nation put up that day, the motivation of our martyrs, and the spirit that our veterans and our nation, regardless of gender or age, had as they faced up the bullets. Our July 15 pushback was an epic of victory, the like of which cannot be seen anywhere else in the world. It was a day our nation upheld their independence and sovereignty, national will, and leader at the expense of their lives. It was a moment when we as the whole nation beat the fear of death and marched on up and straight with unshaken faith. It was one of those rare times that could bring the spirituality and the nation together around a shared spirit. It was a historic date when we were filled up with the same spirit and equipped ourselves with the purest form of the faith every time we heard the echoing recitations of salat from the minarets. Therefore, July 15 is a date that enables us to recognize its value more and more by the day, a date when we remember our martyrs with gratitude, and a date we reflect further upon.
Do you think we could duly and properly explain the treason of July 15 in Turkey and around the world?
Understand it properly, comprehend it, be able to explain it, remember it, and keep it remembered. These are the common objectives of each of us. Not easy, for sure. As the famous saying goes, "Human memory is prone to forgetting." Forgetting is indeed an inherent feature of human nature. There is still a constant resistance against forgetting, also an inherent feature of human nature. That night we paid very dear prices for our independence and national will. We will keep telling about July 15 as long as we breathe and are able. In addition, over the last few years, we as the nation have undergone many things. Being able to comprehend them all in these times we are going through is our greatest objective.
Would it be right to say that we have undergone an unprecedented period ingrained in our societal and political memory?
Yes. Those people who will read in the future what we go through today will be able to better understand the bigger picture and the struggle we put up as the entire nation will be better comprehended. As for us, we still feel the freshness and heat of our struggle or the prices we paid. This is because our struggle for independence and our national will is not over yet. We still fight, as the nation and the state, against the aftershocks of that bloody coup attempt. We continue our fight against terrorism at home and abroad, we continue removing FETO members from the public institutions they infiltrated, and we continue maintaining a good stance against the resistance we face because of Turkey's increased effectiveness in international relations. While doing so, it is at the same time very important not to forget July 15, nor let it be forgotten. We need to understand very well and explain very well the spiritual and political meaning of the spirit of invigoration manifested that night.
Do you think we are able to correctly grasp the meaning of what happened that night?
We should view July 15 in three stages. The coup attempt that started in evening hours, the tanks taking to the streets, the bridges being held up, and the fighter jets dropping bombs over the Presidential Complex, the Parliament, and law enforcement buildings came as a great shock to our nation. The next stage was when our nation took to the streets upon our President's call and manifested a spirit of invigoration and pushback. The victory resulting out of the nation's bare-hand fight against the tanks indicated a state of mind and a spirit the like of which cannot be seen anywhere else in the world. The final stage, the suffering we have for our martyrs, makes naturally the most important aspect of July 15. Therefore, it is not very possible to view July 15 from a single perspective and state of mind. A shock, a victory, and mourning. We think we need to duly comprehend each one of the three. It would be a misinterpretation of the July 15 if we only viewed it as a victory only or mourning only. We need to correctly tell about what happened that night to ourselves and to the future generations. As is. The July 15 needs no fiction or idealization. This is because the truth is the most powerful.
Last year, a circular order signed by the Presidency vested the authority to coordinate all events and activities relating to the July 15 in the Directorate of Communications. What are our plans?
We are a big state. Our nation is a great nation. In order for such treason to our nation not to be forgotten, and in order to be able to tell it to the future generations, our President ordered these commemoration programmes to be coordinated by a single institution, in line with the spirit of the Presidential government system. Both in Turkey and abroad, the July 15 spirit was so high, many precious endeavours and activities have been taking place. With the Directorate of Communications joining the process, there has been an improvement both in quality and quantity. We carried out our endeavours last year in full coordination with all public institutions, universities and civil society institutions. We are working in full coordination this year as well.
How many projects are underway currently? Has there been an increase since last year? Is there a rise or a decline in the awareness regarding July 15?
The number of events on the occasion of “July 15 Democracy and National Unity Day” in 2019 on July 15 was 1500 last year, both in Turkey and abroad. This year this number reached 3000. Within this scope, in total 2236 programmes will take place in Turkey; of which 1609 by Ministries and public institutions, 521 by the universities, 132 by the civil society organisations. Related institutions abroad will organise 752 activities. Even the rise in the number of the activities will lay bare that the awareness towards July 15 has not diminished, on the contrary, there is a rise.
How do you manage the coordination amongst hundreds of public bodies, NGOs and universities?
Each institution applies its own project, we are coordinating them. There are projects we carry out in cooperation. As regards the duplications in the projects, we are carrying out negotiations with the institutions regarding the events and visuals not so in line with the spirit of July 15. We establish the necessary relations and interactions between public institutions, civil society and the private sector. We negotiate with them for the reinforcement of the projects and come up with certain recommendations. The fact that we are coordinating does not mean similar endeavours will take place everywhere. On the contrary, we do our best to diversify the projects, increase them in number and effect. To this end, we carried out coordination meetings in March under the patronage of our Directorate with the ministries, public institutions, civil society institutions and universities.
Within this framework, we produced “Strategy Paper on the Activities to take place on the occasion of July 15 Democracy and National Unity Day Commemorations 2020” and we shared this document with all institutions. With this paper, a strategy has been developed to carry out the events in line with the spirit of July 15 ad for coordination to be established between the public institutions themselves, between the public institutions and the NGOs and between media and the universities. Under the action strategy, special emphasis was placed on organising the commemorative events in a way to embrace all segments of the society and all actors have been included in the process accordingly.
How do you manage to follow up on thousands of projects? How do you get involved in the processes?
July 15 Project Follow-up system has been established under the auspices of our Directorate to follow and report the preparation, implementation and evaluation of the commemorative events.
This system has been developed to carry out the events in the full spirit of July 15, to carry out events that embrace our nation as a whole and in order to ensure that the projects are in line with the strategy paper. The system has been developed in project format as a result of the coordination works carried out by our Directorate.
Here is how the system works: Information regarding the events to be carried out by the Ministries, public institutions, NGOs and universities are uploaded onto the system. In doing so, the Directorate of Communication obtains all the data, information and visuals regarding the events in electronic format. Certain statistics and reports can be obtained from the system whenever needed, information uploaded onto the system can be followed. As a result, Directorate of Communications gathers all the data, visuals, videos, reports, articles and other materials pertaining to July 15 commemorations. A digital archive of July 15 is formed which aims at keeping the popular memory alive about July 15.
Will there be other projects led by the Directorate of Communications which will not be within the scope of its coordination?
In addition to the general coordination of the whole process, as the Directorate of Communications, we carry out many joint projects with various institutions. There are also other projects of our own. As you know, this year we are unable to organise mass events because of COVID 19 pandemic. However, I fully believe we will keep the July 15 spirit alive thanks to technology-based innovative projects.
Projects on July 15 by Directorate of Communications
July 15 on Walls of Kuleli Campus
The treachery of FETO, the fight put up by the nation and the heroism of martyrs will be featured via video mapping technology on the walls of Kuleli campus, one of the hot spots of the coup attempt on the night of July 15.
The victory of Nation in the Sky with 200 Drones
A “light show with the theme of July 15” will be conducted on the July 15 Martyrs Bridge, another hot spot that has witnessed the coup attempt, with 200 drones for the first time in Turkey on the night of July 15.
Digital Display Centres
“July 15 Victory Digital Display Centre,” set to tell about the treacherous coup attempt on July 15 and the democracy victory won against it in the most effective manner, will meet with citizens at central squares in Bursa, Çanakkale, Samsun, Konya, Kayseri, Antalya and Diyarbakır in the week of July 15.
“Epic of July 15 Symphony” by Fahir Atakoğlu
Fahir Atakoğlu, one of the prominent composers in Turkey, has composed the “Epic of July 15 Symphony” in remembrance of the July 15 martyrs and to honour the democracy victory. The concert to be performed in coordination with the Presidency’s Symphony Orchestrate will be broadcast on TV channels, the July 15 portal and social media accounts.
“15 Panels on July 15”
The panel series titled “15 Panels on July 15” that will tell about the FETO structuring and the July 15 coup attempt to the international public will be held in the USA, the UK, Germany, France, Italy, Belgium, Kazakhstan, China, Qatar, Albania, South Africa, Bangladesh, Spain, Guatemala and Ethiopia. The panels will be held in the form of online webinars due to the Covid-19 pandemic.
July 15 Kit for International Media
Directorate of Communications will send a kit consisting of documentaries and materials about July 15 and the FETO terrorist organization to the members of the media along with chief editors of the world's leading media outlets.
Images of July 15 in World Capitals
Images of the July 15 coup attempt will be shown through digital screen vehicles in crowded squares of the USA, the UK and other countries to be selected.
Short Film and Screenplay Competition
The award ceremony of the short film and screenplay competition on July 15, launched by the Directorate of Communications in 2019 with the aim of supporting and highlighting the works that will explain the July 15 coup attempt by FETO and the dignified resistance of the nation through cinema, will also be held this year.
International Anti-Coup Hackathon
The International Anti-Coup Hackathon, which was held for the first time last year, will continue this year as well. With the Hackathon, it is aimed to reveal the results of coups that impede the functioning of democracy and to create big data on military coups.
Directorate of Communications will also release a public service announcement with the theme of July 15, and organize choreography events, augmented reality event, calligraphy exhibition and a sand art performance. In addition to the folk song titled “Epic of Yiğitler,” depicting the heroism of all our martyrs, especially those of July 15, and the fight put up by our nation, it will be ensured that the national unity and democracy victory will be commemorated on social media with a great many short films, videos and melodies with the theme of July 15 as well.
On the fourth anniversary of July 15, ministries, public institutions and non-governmental organizations will also implement many programs, projects and events related to their fields. The epic fight put up by our nation against the July 15 coup attempt and the betrayal of FETO will be depicted with a wide range of projects from commemoration events to painting, poetry and short film competitions with the theme of July 15, exhibitions and panels at home and abroad to concerts and movie screenings.