I was at the center of Friday’s Turkish military coup and thought I wouldn’t see another day

‘One soldier was slaughtered for refusing to take part’

Melis Ciftci, a 20-year-old student at Pitzer College from Adana, Turkey, was recently on a trip to Turkey’s capital of Ankara for a wedding. After military planes few over the city at around 10:15 pm, she found herself at the center of the July 15 Turkish Military Coup.

“I heard people on the street beginning to panic. Everyone was either on their way home or attempting to flee the city.

“They were talking about how the Bosphorous Bridge had been occupied by rebel soldiers.”

Melis was at a cafe in the Parliamentary district of Ankara when she saw a few planes fly over the area – low to the ground and going quite fast. She assumed they were either on a mission to Syria, or they were doing a fly-over to honor those who died in Nice.

She realized about 30 minutes later that this was not the case.

Melis and her best friend who she was with at the time

Melis (left) and her best friend who she was with at the time

She and her family rushed back to their hotel, which was directly next to the Parliament Building.

“We switched on the TV and the channels were saying that there was a military coup.”

“One of the national news channels was occupied by the soldiers and they were forcing a news anchor to read a document. She looked as if she was about to cry as she read off the page, ‘This act of coup is to prevent terrorism and create a better and more liberal Turkey.'”

As the conflict escalated, the coup soldiers started to bomb the Parliament building, with civilians being killed and injured close by her hotel.

“When I heard the first bomb, I thought it was the sonic boom caused by F-16 airplanes.

“I was in my hotel room when it dropped, and other guests were fleeing from the top floors down to the lobby, where I followed.

“I hid in the corner of the lobby against the walls and away from the windows. The amount of bombs we heard kept increasing, and we were instructed to move to the -3 basement floor.

“The bomb we heard just before we went downstairs was the loudest. That was the bomb that destroyed the Parliament Building. I was so scared and thought we wouldn’t see another day.”

Melis stayed in the basement for 5 hours and waited out the rest of the bombs and violence. The hotel opened its doors to those on the street who had nowhere to seek refuge.

She posted on Facebook while waiting out the bombs saying, “Somehow internet is working right now. I’m near the events and I can hear the sounds – it’s terrifying.”

“At 1 am, all the mosques were reading death prayers on their loudspeakers. They were announcing the names of those who had died. The mosques were encouraging people to go and defend their country.”

Though Melis was terrified on what she later describes to be the worst night of her life, she also brought light to the unsung heroes of the coup. Many of the soldiers were commanded by their generals to go out into the city in the middle of the night, but they were not told what for.

“They thought it was part of a training drill when their generals told them to get ready,” she said. The generals essentially tricked them into helping them try to overthrow the country.

“Many of the soldiers refused to take part in the coup. They walked and drove tanks through the streets, but refused to use any defensive capabilities and refused to shoot.

“One soldier was slaughtered on Bosphorous Bridge for refusing to take part in the coup.”

“They are all heroes. The events of that night would have been much different if they had followed their general’s orders.

“When people went into the streets to defend themselves, the soldiers refused to act against the people.

“Countless lives were saved because of their willingness to stay true to their people, and not the tyrannous leadership.”

Today Melis is still suffering from the medical effect of repeated sonic boom and bomb exposure.