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Turkey marks failed coup date

World | Jul 17, 2017
Turkey marked one year since the defeat of the coup bid with mass nationwide rallies, seeking to showcase national unity and a stern warning by President Recep Tayyip Erdogan to "chop off the heads" of traitors.

The authorities declared July 15 an annual national holiday of "democracy and unity," billing the foiling of the putsch as a historic victory for the country.

In an intense program aiming to hammer home the anniversary's importance, Erdogan attended a special session of parliament in Ankara, spoke to a mass rally in Istanbul, and then flew back to the capital for a rally outside parliament, and a special event at the presidential palace in the early hours of the morning.

Speaking to hundreds of thousands by the bridge across the Bosphorus in Istanbul that was a fighting flash point, Erdogan warned Turkey could reintroduce capital punishment.

"First of all, we will chop off the heads of those traitors," Erdogan said, reaffirming he would sign any bill passed by parliament on resuming executions. Any move to restore capital punishment - which was abolished in 2004 - would effectively end Ankara's European Union membership ambitions.

Erdogan also said the suspects being tried over the failed coup should wear uniforms like the notorious orange jumpsuits at the US military prison at Guantanamo Bay.

Supporters chanted "we are soldiers of Tayyip," with some brandishing nooses in a symbol of their support for the death penalty. In the later speech to thousands outside parliament in Ankara, Erdogan said: "our nation showed the whole world what a nation we are on July 15."

The crowds made their way to the palace where dozens had camped outside for the final event, during which Erdogan inaugurated a monument to the victims that has people hold up the crescent and star symbols of the Turkish flag.

Excluding the plotters, 249 people were killed when a disgruntled army faction sent tanks into the streets and war planes into the sky in a bid to overthrow Erdogan.

But they were thwarted within hours, as the authorities regrouped and people poured into the streets in support of Erdogan, who blamed followers of his ally-turned-nemesis, the US-based preacher Fethullah Gulen.

After the failed coup, authorities embarked on the biggest purge in Turkey's history, arresting 50,000 people and sacking almost three times as many. Another 7,563 police, soldiers and state employees were fired late Friday.

AGENCE FRANCE-PRESSE



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