Rally condemns coup
THOUSANDS of Turks massed for the first cross-party rally to condemn the coup attempt against President Recep Tayyip Erdogan, amid a purge of suspected state enemies.
Taksim Square was transformed into a red sea of national flags as Mr Erdogan’s ruling Islamic-conservatives and the opposition secular camps briefly set aside their differences in a show of national unity on July 24.
But in stark contrast to the broadly celebratory mood here, human rights group Amnesty International in London claimed it had “credible evidence” of the beating and torture of post-coup detainees.
The official number of those in custody since the July 15 putsch has surged above 13,000 soldiers, police, justice officials and civilians in a wave of arrests that has alarmed NATO allies and European leaders.
Despite the high tensions since the coup attempt, the mood at the rally was strongly patriotic.
“We defend the republic and democracy” read one sign in the crowd, while others declared, “Sovereignty belongs to the people alone” and “No to the coup, yes to democracy!”
A few banners also protested against the post-coup state of emergency, with one proclaiming, “No to the coup, no to dictatorship.”
The mass event was called by the biggest opposition group, the secular and centre-left Republican People’s Party (CHP), many of whose members carried pictures of modern Turkey’s founding father Mustafa Kemal Ataturk.
Its leader, Kemal Kilicdaroglu, told the crowd that, amid all the turmoil, “The parliament stood proudly, Turkey stood proudly, lawmakers stood proudly, people in this square stood proudly and democracy won!”
But he also stressed that now “the state should not be governed by anger and revenge”.
“The culprits of the putsch should be tried lawfully,” he said, warning that torture and ill-treatment would put the state on a par with the putschists.
In London, Amnesty charged that the government was already using such methods, citing interviews conducted with lawyers, doctors and one person on duty in a detention facility.
A demonstrator holds a poster of Mustafa Kemal Ataturk, founder of modern Turkey, in Istanbul on July 24 during the first cross-party rally to condemn the coup attempt against President Recep Tayyip Erdogan.