Why are cadets jailed for life when their commanders go free?

The media almost totally neglects or misinterprets cases related to July 15 in fear of being targeted themselves. On the other hand, high-ranking Gülenists, who have long fled the country, are in fact using the cases and prison sentences for their own PR.

Melek Çetinkaya, mother of three, describes herself as an ordinary housewife, with no education. Yet she is one of the most vocal figures to seek justice.

Her eldest son, Furkan, an air force cadet, was only 19 when the coup attempt happened. Furkan is among 116 air force cadets who were arrested in 2016 and got life sentence. The total number of sentenced cadets accused with “trying to overthrow the government” is 372. 

“Why is my son in jail, along with hundreds of cadets, when the chief of air staff Abidin Ünal was not tried or took the witness stand after the 15th July coup attempt?”

Melek Çetinkaya was my guest at Artı TV-“Söz Bizim” last week to tell her son’s story: 

“That day, our kids were in the Tuzla Academy. None of them is allowed to have a phone in the premises and they had no idea what was going on. There was an terror alert and they were put into buses around 12 PM. Why didn’t the governorship of Yalova or police forces controlling the main roads stop them?” 

Around that time, everyone in Turkey heard about the coup attempt.  But the nine buses carrying cadets were sent to different parts of Istanbul. 

Who gave the order? Nobody knows. Furkan was in the bus to sent to Ümraniye. On their way, they understood that something was terribly wrong but being a miliary student, they had to follow orders. When they reached their destination, they didn’t leave the bus in order not to provoke or harm ordinary citizens. That night, there is no evidence of an armed conflict in Ümraniye.

“They didn’t use their guns, hid them under their seats. We asked for balistic reports at the court. People from Ümraniye volunteered to take the witness stand. But the Court denied all of our requests while accepting all requests by Erdoğan’s and Yıldırım’s lawyers. Our kids got life sentence for aiming to overthrow the government.”  

Actually, people hugged the cadets in Ümraniye for “not being a traitor and standing with them”. The footage was shown on pro governmental media. 

Melek Çetinkaya has many questions and she is not afraid to ask them. For instance, the cadets were accused that there is no way they could be not aware of the coup. 

“Well, the Commander in Chief, Hulusi Akar, said that he was not aware of the coup. Now he is the Defense Minister. My son followed the order, as any cadet or any private soldier is supposed to do. And even if they took part in the coup, who can blame them for following orders?” says Çetinkaya. 

Çetinkaya lives in Ankara and goes to Yuksel street every week to protest with other people who seek justice. Most of them are public workers who want their jobs back. Thanks to heavy police presence, they can not protest more than a few minutes on the street. Sometimes, they get detained before getting out of a bus. 

Melek Çetinkaya got detained more than 25 times. She’ll begin to start her walk for justice on 19rd January from Ankara to the notorious Silivri Prison outside Istanbul. She says her son is held with 45 prisoners in a tank for 7, get food suuficient for 28 people. 

She calls Erdoğan or anyone of his staff to confront her on a live show: “Surely they can shut up a poor woman like me, right? So why don’t they accept it?” Erdoğan’s lawyers blocked her on twitter, getting tired of her questions. Once, she met the Bar President Metin Feyzioğlu. He advised her “to be quiet” and ask for a personal appoinment with President Erdoğan “to solve the problem”. Çetinkaya in turn, said: “There is rule of law in this country, right? How can the President decide for one case?” 

What happened on July 15 is still a very touchy and scary subject, since more than 30 thousand went to jail with the accusation of being a Gulenist and/or being involved in the coup. 

The media almost totally neglects or misinterprets cases related to July 15, in fear of being targeted themselves. On the other hand, highranking Gülenists, who long fled the country, are in fact using the cases and imprisonments for their own PR. But none of them admits their own involvement or responsibility in the events, affecting thousands of innocents, costing lives.