Coup-fail­ure cel­e­bra­tions

Will rip their heads off, Turkey’s leader says on an­niver­sary

Northwest Arkansas Democrat-Gazette - - FRONT PAGE - ZEYNEP BILGINSOY AND SUZAN FRASER

Sup­port­ers of Turkey’s Pres­i­dent Re­cep Tayyip Er­do­gan cheer Satur­day in Istanbul as the na­tion cel­e­brates the fail­ure of last year’s July 15 coup at­tempt. July 15 has been de­clared a na­tional hol­i­day in Turkey. Revel­ers cel­e­brated with a se­ries of events hon­or­ing the peo­ple who died op­pos­ing the coup plot­ters.

ISTANBUL — Pres­i­dent Re­cep Tayyip Er­do­gan on Satur­day vowed to “rip the heads off ” of coup plot­ters and mem­bers of ter­ror groups, as Turkey marked the an­niver­sary of a failed coup at­tempt that 250 peo­ple died re­sist­ing.

Ac­com­pa­nied by his fam­ily and the fam­i­lies of the vic­tims of the coup, Er­do­gan joined a flag-wav­ing crowd near the July 15 Mar­tyrs’ Bridge in Istanbul to re­mem­ber those who died.

He in­au­gu­rated a globe­shaped mon­u­ment fea­tur­ing the names of the vic­tims near the foot of the bridge, be­fore fly­ing to Ankara to at­tend a spe­cial ses­sion in par­lia­ment at the ex­act mo­ment it was bombed a year ago.

“Ex­actly a year ago to­day, around this hour, a treach­er­ous at­tempt took place,” Er­do­gan told tens of thou­sands of peo­ple in Istanbul who con­verged at the bridge af­ter a “na­tional unity march.”

“The July 15 coup at­tempt is not the first at­tack against our coun­try, and it won’t be the last,” he said, re­fer­ring to a se­ries of ter­ror at­tacks that also hit the coun­try. “For that rea­son, we’ll first rip the heads off of these traitors.”

Turk­ish sol­diers at­tempted to over­throw the gov­ern­ment and the pres­i­dent us­ing tanks, war­planes and he­li­copters on July 15, 2016. The coup plot­ters de­clared their seizure of power on the state broad­caster, bombed the coun­try’s par­lia­ment and other key lo­ca­tions, and raided an Aegean re­sort where Er­do­gan had been on va­ca­tion. But Er­do­gan had al­ready left, and the coup at­tempt was put down by civil­ians and se­cu­rity forces.

The Bosporus Bridge, now called the July 15 Mar­tyrs’ Bridge, was the scene of clashes between civil­ians and sol­diers in tanks. Some 250 peo­ple were killed and more than 2,000 in­jured across Turkey in the strug­gle. Thir­ty­five coup plot­ters were killed.

“It has been ex­actly one year since Turkey’s dark­est and long­est night was trans­formed into a bright day, since an en­emy oc­cu­pa­tion turned into the peo­ple’s leg­end,” Prime Min­is­ter Bi­nali Yildirim said at the spe­cial par­lia­men­tary ses­sion in Ankara, the cap­i­tal.

Yildirim thanked the thou­sands who heeded a call by Er­do­gan to flood the streets to re­sist the coup.

In the af­ter­math of the coup at­tempt, Turkey de­clared a state of emer­gency, which has been in place ever since and has al­lowed the gov­ern­ment to rule by de­cree and to dis­miss tens of thou­sands of peo­ple from their jobs. More than 50,000 peo­ple have been ar­rested on ac­cu­sa­tions of hav­ing links to U.S.-based cleric Fethul­lah Gulen, whom Turkey blames for or­ches­trat­ing the failed coup, and other ter­ror groups.

Gulen has de­nied the al­le­ga­tions.

Ad­dress­ing thou­sands of peo­ple out­side the par­lia­men­tary build­ing, Er­do­gan said the coun­try’s high­est se­cu­rity ad­vi­sory body would on Mon­day con­sider fur­ther ex­tend­ing the state of emer­gency. He said the failed coup had al­lowed Turkey to dis­tin­guish its friends from its foes, but he would not name the coun­tries he was re­fer­ring to, say­ing he wanted to avoid “a se­ri­ous in­ter­na­tional cri­sis.”

In the lat­est gov­ern­ment de­cree, pub­lished Fri­day evening, 7,395 more state em­ploy­ees were fired, in­clud­ing teach­ers, aca­demics, mil­i­tary and po­lice of­fi­cers, bring­ing the num­ber of dis­missed to more than 110,000. The gov­ern­ment calls the crack­down nec­es­sary to purge state in­sti­tu­tions of those linked to Gulen, but crit­ics say the dis­missals are ar­bi­trary and the vic­tims’ paths to re­course se­verely cur­tailed.

The U.S. State Depart­ment on Satur­day is­sued a statement prais­ing the brav­ery of the Turk­ish peo­ple who took to the streets to “pre­serve the rights and free­doms of their demo­cratic so­ci­ety.”

July 15 has been de­clared a na­tional hol­i­day in Turkey.

AP/LEFTERIS PITARAKIS

AP

Thou­sands of peo­ple gather Satur­day in Istanbul to cel­e­brate the fail­ure of last year’s coup at­tempt.

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