Turkey marks year since ‘epic’ defeat of anti-Erdogan coup


(FILES) This file photo taken on July 16, 2016 shows people running away from tanks after taking over military position on the Bosphorus bridge in Istanbul, following an attempt by discontented soldiers to seize power from President Recep Tayyip Erdogan that claimed more than 250 lives. Turkey marks the one year anniversary of the thwarted July 15 coup attempt with rallies, a special parliament session and President Recep Tayyip Erdogan giving a speech at 23:32 GMT on an Istanbul bridge at the exact moment shots were fired on parliament a year ago. The authorities have declared July 15 an annual national holiday of “democracy and unity”, billing the foiling of the putsch as a historic victory of Turkish democracy.

TURKEY yesterday marked one year since the defeat of the coup aimed at ousting President Recep Tayyip Erdogan, seeking to showcase national unity and his grip on power in an increasingly polarised society.

The authorities have declared 15 July an annual national holiday of “democracy and unity”, billing the foiling of the putsch as a historic victory of Turkish democracy.

“It’s one year since the darkest night was turned into an epic,” Prime Minister Binali Yildirim told a special session of parliament that kicked off a day of celebrations that was set to last until dawn.

He said the night of 15 July was a “second War of Independence” after the war that led to the creation of the modern Turkish state in the ruins of the Ottoman Empire in 1923.

Two hundred and forty nine people, not including the plotters, were killed when a disgruntled faction in the army sent tanks into the streets and war planes into the sky in a bid to overthrow Erdogan after one-and-a-half decades in power.

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.

The authorities embarked on the biggest purge in Turkey’s history, arresting 50 000 people and sacking over 100 000 more. Erdogan also shored up his position by winning a referendum on enhancing his powers earlier this year.

In the latest dismissals ordered just hours before the commemorations were due to begin, another 7 563 police, soldiers and other state employees were fired under the state of emergency that has been in place since 20 July last year. — AFP


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