Turkey marks first anniversary of failed coup with series of events


ISTANBUL – Turkey marks on Saturday one year since a faction in the military attempted a coup against President Recep Tayyip Erdogan, setting off a state-of-emergency government crackdown that’s still ongoing.

The government is marking the anniversary with a series of events, including speeches by Erdogan in Istanbul and Ankara.

The parliament, which was attacked on the night of the coup, will convene in the afternoon and again in middle of the night.

The events on the night of the abortive coup left hundreds of people dead, including civilians who took to the streets to confront the putschists. The government is organizing a “national unity march” at the iconic bridge where putschists shot civilians in Istanbul.

Just after midnight, early Sunday morning, all mosques across Turkey – estimated to number around 90,000 – will simultaneously call out prayers in memory of the events on the night of the failed putsch, when preachers urged citizens to take to the streets.

Erdogan will speak in the parliament two hours later, marking the moment the building was bombed. Prayers and Koran readings will also be held.

Since the night of the coup, more than 50,000 people are in jail on suspicion of links to Fethullah Gulen, an erstwhile ally of Erdogan who the government blames for orchestrating the coup. The US-based cleric denies the charges.

The government has since purged more than 142,000 people from the civil service and the military using emergency decrees. Among them are thousands of judges and prosecutors. Hundreds of private businesses have also been taken over, and the crackdown has extended from suspected Gulenists to other sections of society.

The main opposition, the People’s Republican Party (CHP), staged a 23-day, 400-kilometre march from Ankara to Istanbul, which ended last weekend, to protest the state-of-emergency decrees and demand a return to rule of law.

Many questions remain about the coup attempt, including understanding who exactly was behind it and when the government was made aware of the plot. Many of the top army officials who admit to charges that they were coup plotters deny that they are linked to Gulen.