Benjamin Ward writes: The word “coup” in French literally means “blow” or “shock.” The latter meaning aptly describes the reaction of the world to the events in Turkey on the night of July 15-16 by elements of its military.
The circumstances of the coup attempt are still far from clear. What is clear is that its failure owes a great deal to the spontaneous reaction of ordinary people who flooded the streets to resist the military and the solidarity across the political spectrum. All four of the main political parties united in opposition to the attempt to overthrow the democratically elected government. According to the Turkish government, 246 people were killed amid resistance to the coup, 179 of them civilians, and 2,000 were wounded.
But after the shock has come a second blow as the government unleashed a purge that goes far beyond holding to account those involved in trying to overthrow it. It has hit most of the country’s major institutions– the judiciary, prosecutors’ office, police, the media, the civil service, schools, universities, trade unions and hospitals.
This second blow is weakening the democracy that Turkey’s population took to the streets to defend. Turkey’s international partners should act quickly to press Ankara to reverse course and ensure that people caught up in the purge are given due process and fair criminal trials and that the country’s institutions are strengthened rather than weakened. [Continue reading…]