Ottawa

Turkish Ottawans 'horrified' at botched coup attempt

If Lale Eskicioğlu hadn't turned on the television, she would have had no idea her home country was in the midst of a coup.

Close to 265 people killed, more than 2,800 detained

People protesting against the coup wave a Turkish flag on top of the monument in Taksim square, Istanbul. Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan told the nation Saturday that his government is in charge after a coup attempt. (Emrah Gurel/The Associated Press)

If Lale Eskicioğlu hadn't turned on the television, she would have had no idea her home country was in the midst of a coup.

"Besides what's on television and what's coming through social media there is absolutely no difference," she said from the seaside town, Assos.

Eskicioğlu was born in Turkey but has lived in Canada for close to three years. The Ottawa resident returned to Turkey earlier this month for a high-school reunion.

"It's a very quiet, calm, isolated beach town," she explained to CBC In Town and Out host Giacomo Panico.

But it's a different story in Ankara and Istanbul where images show bloodied civilians and smashed glass in the streets.

On Friday, a faction of the armed forces tried to seize power using tanks and attack helicopters. Some strafed the headquarters of Turkish intelligence and parliament in the capital, Ankara, and others seized a major bridge in Istanbul.

By morning, the coup had crumbled and President Recep Tayyip Erdogan affirmed he was still in power.

Authorities say about 265 people have been killed and 1,4400 wounded.

Hope for swift return to stability

Eskicioğlu said she doesn't support Erdogan's government, but rejects the coup. 

"Our reaction is one of utter dismay. We do not support such undemocratic, forceful and violent measures," said Eskicioğlu. "We are a democratic country and we should sort our problems in the ballot boxes."

Erdogan has been criticised for staying in power by switching from being prime minister to president. He has shaken up the government, cracked down on dissidents, restricted the news media and renewed fighting with Kurdish rebels.

Eskicioğlu says she worries he'll use the coup attempt to justify future crackdowns.

"We are very sad and concerned. This government was known for being heavy handed and we're worried that will increase," she said.

It's a sentiment shared by retired Carleton University professor Ozay Mehmet, originally from Northern Cyprus.

"​I'm not totally in agreement with what the government has been doing, especially President Recep Tayyip Erdogan. I'm not happy with some of his policies, but I'm very much opposed to military coup d'etats... It was totally unexpected. I was horrified," he said.

"I thought Turkish democracy was deep rooted and strong enough even for a country that has a tradition of several coup d'états in the last 50 years.

"This is totally inconsistent with what Turkey is about."

Still, Mehmet says the ordeal sends a message to Erdogan: "there is no room in Turkish democracy for any kind of authoritarian ruler."

Prime Minister Binali Yildirim  said so far 2,839 plotters have been detained.

It's not the first time Eskicioğlu or Mehmet have witnessed unrest in Turkey. The military staged a successful coup back in 1980.

"They were never good. They never resulted in any positive outcome, and this one will certainly not bring any peace right away, but hopefully the government will use it in a positive way to reconcile the country," Eskicioğlu said.

Both Ottawa residents are hopeful the failed coup attempt will help bring a stronger democracy to Turkey, a NATO member and key Western ally in the fight against the Islamic State in Iraq and Syria (ISIS).

"Hopefully democracy and peace and stability will come back," said Eskicioğlu.

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