The police chief on the run from Erdogan: how Turkey’s democratic triumph became a purge


Erdogan supporters on the night of the attempted coup

Sadik helped arrest the plotters of the failed coup of 15 July 2016. But soon he was under suspicion himself.

From the age of 14, Sadik* dreamed of joining the Turkish police force. He attended police college straight after secondary school and quickly worked his way up to police chief, a position he then held for almost two decades. During this time, he gained global experience, taking part in United Nations Peacekeeping operations and representing Turkey at international meetings. He received pay rises and certificates of appreciation, as well as a United Nations Medal for Service.

Sadik was a model police chief. His performance mark was always over 90 per cent and he never had any disciplinary penalties or even complaints about his work. Due to his global experience and connections, he was tasked with making sure Turkey was in line with the rule of law, as part of its bid to join the European Union.

In July 2016, Sadik’s family – his wife and two young children – were on vacation. It was the summer holidays, but as he only had a few days annual leave, he did not join them. Thus, on the night of 15 July 2016, he was home alone in the capital city of Ankara when he received a call from a friend, who exclaimed that she had seen F-16 fighter jets flying at a very low altitude around Çankaya, an area of the city. Shocked, Sadik said he would call her back. It was then that he turned on the national news. The anchor woman seemed nervous, shuffling her papers. Then the TV began to broadcast footage of soldiers amassing on a famous Istanbul bridge. Sadik switched on his police radio, and discovered the city police director and deputy were transmitting orders. He quickly realised it was a coup.

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Sadik called his driver, grabbed extra ammunition, and headed to the Ankara Police Headquarters (Ankara MHQ). It was around 11:30pm by the time he arrived, and the main gate was blocked by armoured trucks. He got out of the car and rushed to the side gate, where the deputy police director was trying to coordinate officers who had gathered in the chaos. He heard heavy gun shots and the building lights went out.

Inside, Sadik met some colleagues. “I remember one shocked chief smoking indoors that dark night, whilst another deputy director was rushing from one side to another with a white bulletproof vest on,” he tells me. None of the others had bulletproof vests, nor any weapons aside from the standard pistol, which made it impossible to counter the tanks, helicopters and fighter jets overhead. Meanwhile, Sadik was receiving messages from colleagues who, stuck in traffic, could see tanks moving up to Çankaya Köşkü (the residence of the prime minister) and elsewhere. The police radio reported gunfire at the military barracks, at another police headquarters, and the one he was occupying.

The sound of heavy gun shots intensified by the minute. As Sadik and the …read more

Source:: New Statesman

      

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