Twenty-four Hong Kong citizens have departed from the Turkish city of Istanbul after being stranded during a failed military coup initiated by members of the Turkish army last Friday. At least 265 people were killed and 1,440 injured during the turmoil. Around 2,800 people were arrested and 2,700 judges have since been purged by the government.

The Immigration Department received a total of 15 calls for help from Istanbul since the attempted coup ended last Saturday. The incident involved 31 Hong Kong citizens – 24 have since departed safely from Istanbul for other destinations, the remaining seven decided to remain in the country.

Immigration Department sign and Istanbul, Turkey. Photo: HKFP Remix.

The Immigration Department said it had been following developments with the Office of the Commissioner of the Ministry of Foreign Affairs in Hong Kong, the Chinese Embassy in Turkey, the Chinese Consulate General in Istanbul and Izmir, as well as the Travel Industry Council of Hong Kong.

Flight diversion 

In a separate incident, the Immigration Department received another eight calls for help after a flight – which was meant to land in Istanbul – landed in the Turkish city of Antalya instead. Twenty of the 22 Hong Kong citizens within the group departed safely from Antalya for other destinations, while the airline are now making arrangements for the remaining two.

The department has received no further calls for help from Hong Kong citizens in Turkey since Monday 6pm.

The Immigration Department has notified Hong Kong citizens in Istanbul to be wary of their personal safety and avoid crowds. It has provided an emergency hotline for citizens to contact the Chinese Embassy and Consulate General and will provide assistance where needed.

The department has also requested relevant airlines to arrange for Hong Kong citizens to leave Istanbul as soon as possible and has advised travellers to change their schedule if they are planning a visit.

The attempted coup began last Friday when Turkish military troops occupied bridges over the Bosphorus strait in Istanbul, which serves as a key route connecting Europe and Asia. The incident escalated when the army faction said it had seized power from President Recep Tayyip Erdogan, claiming they were protecting democracy.

There have been four military coups in Turkey since 1960 – the army sees itself as a protector of Turkey’s secularism and democracy.

There has been tension between the army and President Erdogan’s government over religious differences and he has also cracked down upon the media.

Erdogan later called on his supporters to take to the streets in protest against the soldiers’ actions. The soldiers received condemnation from opposition parties as well as Erdogan’s supporters.

The unrest ended on Saturday morning when soldiers began to abandon their tanks and surrender.

Gene Lin

Gene Lin is a Journalism and Computer Science student at The University of Hong Kong. He worked as a reporter for the 'LIVE: Verified Updates' during the Occupy Central protests. He is also an editor at HKU's first English-language student paper, The Lion Post.