By Kaan Bozdogan
ISTANBUL (AA) – Since it opened in Turkey last year, some half a million people have visited a museum detailing the July 15, 2016 defeated coup attempt by the terrorist group FETO.
On the third anniversary of the defeated coup, the July 15 Memorial Museum honoring the sacrifices paid to uphold democracy in Turkey opened in the heart of Istanbul.
FETO and its US-based leader Fetullah Gulen orchestrated the defeated coup, which left 251 people martyred and nearly 2,200 injured.
Turkey accuses FETO of being behind a long-running campaign to overthrow the state through the infiltration of Turkish institutions, particularly the military, police, and judiciary.
With a ribbon-cutting ceremony attended by President Recep Tayyip Erdogan, the museum spotlights the crimes committed by the Fetullah Terrorist Organization (FETO) on that dreadful night.
"Never Forget," says a sign above the entrance of the two-story structure, near a list of martyrs and a huge screen showing a documentary showing what happened during the defeated putsch.
Various articles belonging to coup plotters, veterans, and martyrs are also on display in the museum.
Touchscreens allow visitors to browse through striking images and biographies of the martyrs, as well as the history of colonialism and coups in various parts of the world, along with 3D videos of the coup.
Materials in the museum describe how coups against the people’s will risk causing economic crisis, political instability, and foreign dependency.
One section of the museum shows the nine previous coups or attempted coups in Turkey from 1960 to 2016, mentioning over 500 similar incidents across the globe.
It also honors historic figures who stood against colonization such as Turkish Republic Mustafa Kemal Ataturk, Ottoman Sultan Abdulhamid II, Bosnian statesman Alija Izetbegovic, Mahatma Gandhi, and Simon Bolivar.
Tarik Sebik, head of the July 15 Association, told Anadolu Agency that despite the COVID-19 pandemic, the museum achieved its goal of drawing 500,000 visitors in its first year.
Under an agreement with Istanbul education officials, all 10th and 11th grade students in the city visit the museum during the course of their studies.
“Without keeping July 15 alive in the national memory and properly passing this on to future generations, saying 'We will never forget July 15' is only words,” said Sebik.
“In order to not forget July 15, our heroes, our martyrs, and our veterans, there is a need for such cultural affairs and such academic studies,” he said.
Underlining that they have set goals for the second year and that the museum will have educational materials in five different languages, Sebik added: “By July 15 next year we’ll have a website in English, German, Spanish, Russian, and Arabic. Thanks to the site, people will be able to visit the museum without coming here.
“Also, those who come to the museum from abroad can wear headphones and listen to the information in their own language. Next year, we will have guides in the museum who speak English and Arabic.”
After attracting more domestic visitors in the first year, in year two they hope to draw more foreign visitors, he added.
*Writing by Seda Sevencan