In shadow of crackdown, Turkey commemorates failed coup
:: Turkey’s President Tayyip Erdogan and members of the opposition came together on Saturday to mark the anniversary of last year’s failed coup, in a moment of ceremonial unity all but overshadowed by the sweeping purges that have shaken society since.
The gathering in parliament was one of the first in a string of events planned through the weekend to commemorate the night of July 15, when thousands of unarmed civilians took to the streets to defy rogue soldiers who commandeered tanks and warplanes and bombed parliament in an attempt to seize power.
More than 240 people died before the coup was put down, a show of popular defiance that has likely ended decades of military interference in Turkish politics.
But along with a groundswell of nationalism, the coup’s greatest legacy has been the far-reaching crackdown.
Some 150,000 people have been sacked or suspended from jobs in the civil service and private sector and more than 50,000 detained for alleged links to the putsch. On Friday, the government said it had dismissed another 7,000 police, civil servants and academics for suspected links to the Muslim cleric it blames for the putsch.
“Our people did not leave sovereignty to their enemies and took hold of democracy to the death,” Prime Minister Binali Yildirim said, as Erdogan and members of opposition parties looked on. “These monsters will surely receive the heaviest punishment they can within the law.”
Critics, including rights groups and some Western governments, say that Erdogan is using the state of emergency introduced after the coup to target opposition figures including rights activists, pro-Kurdish politicians and journalists.
The pro-Kurdish Peoples’ Democratic Party (HDP) was represented by its deputy chairman as the party’s two co-leaders are in jail – as are local members of rights group Amnesty International and nearly 160 journalists, according to the Committee to Protect Journalists.