A co-chairman of friendship group of Turkish and U.S. lawmakers has condemned the July 15 coup attempt as an attack on democracy. Turkish parliament's Ali Sarikaya sent a letter to co-chairs from the U.S. Congress Virginia Foxx, Ed Whitfield, Steve Cohen and Gerry Connolly in which he decried the violence against “innocent civilians who peacefully stood against coup plotters to protect democracy.”
In his letter to the other heads of the Turkey-U.S. Inter-Parliamentary Friendship Group, the Istanbul lawmaker from Turkey's ruling Justice and Development or AK Party added: “[It also targeted] constitutional order, the rule of law and state institutions, as well as the homeland and the democratic will it put forward through legitimate elections.”
The coup bid was organized by a group of military officers operating outside the chain of command who were also members of the Fetullah Terrorist Organization (FETO), Sarikaya said. The Turkish government has said the group is led by U.S.-based preacher Fetullah Gulen.
“FETO remained limited in scope but turned out to be dangerous due to the power of weapons they wielded, which claimed hundreds of lives and injured over a thousand people,” he said.
At least 246 people were killed and more than 2,100 injured after crowds flocked to the streets across Turkish to resist the coup. Sarikaya said the coup was thwarted “by the selflessness of Turkish nation, which fought to protect its freedom and democracy.”
The initial investigation into the planning of the putsch had revealed the extent of the plot, he said. “Searches revealed the severity of the situation and laid bare significant evidence linked to thousands of people, including public officials from inside and outside the Turkish Armed Forces who would have taken part in the planned junta administration.”
The scale of the threat had necessitated declaring a state of emergency, Sarikaya added.
“However, the international community and our friends should have no doubt that the Republic of Turkey will conduct the state of emergency and judicial proceedings without compromising our respect for human rights, the rule of law, international standards and the universal principles of law in any way.”
A group of Turkish lawmakers will visit Washington in the coming weeks to provide more details about the attempted coup to U.S. lawmakers and NGOs.