World Bulletin / News Desk
The attempted military takeover was stopped thanks to thousands of people who flocked to the streets and squares of Turkey’s cities following President Recep Tayyip Erdogan’s call to resist pro-coup soldiers.
Serife Boz, 50, was among those meeting Yildirim at Cankaya Palace in Ankara on Tuesday. She told him how she headed to Istanbul’s Taksim Square with her neighbor Sema Tutar, 61, to join the pro-democracy crowds.
“When we were about to go to Taksim, my husband told me I wouldn’t be able to enter the Taksim neighborhood but we managed to get there,” she told Yildirim.
“We got support from the people. We were very worried about your life. At that moment I compared [what was happening with] what the happened in the Egyptian protests.”
Protests in Egypt in 2013 ended with the ousting of President Mohamed Morsi by the military.
Metin Dogan, 40, whose photograph became one of the enduring images of the anti-coup resistance when he prostrated himself in front of a tank outside Istanbul’s Ataturk Airport, told the prime minister: “I thought many people would be killed [and that] my death could perhaps hinder that so I risked my life and lay down before the tank.”
Mustafa Ozbey described how he helped commandeer a tank during protests in Malatya, eastern Turkey. Ozbey, who learned how to drive armored vehicles during his military service, said the tank had been abandoned by pro-coup soldiers.
“When I saw the police struggling with the abandoned tank, I offered to help and we drove around the city to show our victory.”
He said police told him to drive the tank to a nearby military headquarters that had been involved in the attempted coup, where he saw soldiers surrendering.
At least 246 people, including members of the security forces and civilians, were martyred during the failed putsch, and more than 2,100 others were wounded in the ensuing protests in the wake of the attempted coup.