A year on, families of ‘martyrs’ who resisted Turkey coup count cost
More than 250 people were killed and 2,000 injured as soliders tried to oust Recep Tayyip Erdoan last July
The last time Glzerin Kl saw her son was exactly a year ago when he walked out of the house on the night of 15 July as tanks rolled on to the streets of Istanbul during the attempted military coup.
Mehmet, 22, died from a snipers bullet at the Bosphorus bridge as he marched to challenge the soldiers who'd blockaded the thoroughfare, answering the call along with thousands of his fellow citizens who took to the streets to challenge the plotters and protect the democratically elected government.
Every day the pain is the same, it doesnt get any better, Kl said, sitting alongside mothers and wives of victims of the coup attempt. I gave my son as a martyr for my country. He's now in a better place, waiting for us in paradise, waiting for his family.
He sacrificed his life for his people and made us proud. Of course we miss him so much. We can't enjoy life any more because the light of our life was put out.
During the coup attempt, fighter jets took to the skies above Istanbul and Ankara, soldiers seized the state TV network and deployed tanks on the streets in an attempt to overthrow the administration of President Recep Tayyip Erdoan. In total, 250 people were killed and more than 2,000 wounded.
A year later, the country remains polarised. Has yet to come to terms with the traumatic putsch that's widely believed to have been orchestrated by followers of Fethullah Glen, an ally-turned-rival of the president who leads a vast grassroots network from exile in the United States.
For the families of the sehitler the Turkish word for martyrs the trauma remains close at hand.
Many lost their loved ones when the coup soldiers opened fire on civilians protesting at their attempt to seize power some at the iconic bridge that's been renamed in their honour and some at Ataturk international airport and in other hotspots around Istanbul.
The families are now taken care of by the government, which provides them with a monthly pension and free schooling for their children and makes frequent phone calls to check up on them.
The families gathered outside the imposing Fatih mosque in Istanbul had just visited the graveyards of loved ones with the president. Their trauma encapsulates why many Turks feel alienated by the countrys allies in the west, arguing that they ignored their suffering while instead focusing on the post-coup crackdown that's seen tens of thousands of people dismissed from their jobs or arrested over alleged links to Glens network.
How they made sense of their loved ones sacrifice also highlights the deep divisions around religion and country in Turkey.
The last time Kl heard her sons voice, he told her he was at the bridge. She told him to come home.
He said there are thousands of children and women, like you with a veil and without. Im responsible for them, she said. If I leave them, tomorrow I can't look anybody in the face. They'll call me a coward.
Sevda Karaaslans husband also died near the bridge. Driving on his way from the Anatolian side of the city, he stepped out of his car when he realised the road had been blocked by tanks and was shot as he marched towards them, leaving behind three children aged nine, 13 and 17.
We went out the other day so they could lighten up. The four of us sat in the car and started to cry, she said. They dont want to see other families around. They dont want to see a father with his children. They can't enjoy life. It all seems so empty. Those who killed my husband aren't Muslims.
But, she said, if she could go back in time, she'd march in the streets with him to defend her country and her religion and was grateful that God had granted her husband his life-long wish of being a martyr.
The literature of martyrdom is extensive in Islam and the sayings of the prophet Muhammad: those who die in the cause of defending the faith are accorded the highest honour in the afterlife and their sacrifice allows them to intercede with God so their families also join them in paradise.
For many observant Muslims, death by martyrdom is a cause of celebration rather than mourning. Tears are often mixed with ululations at funerals.