Turks commemorate 1 year since failed coup with huge march

Henrietta Strickland
July 16, 2017

Turkey on Saturday holds an intense series of events to celebrate the first anniversary of the defeat of last year's attempted coup, showcasing President Recep Tayyip Erdogan's grip on power on the heels of a new purge of state employees.

He cited followers of exiled cleric and former ally Fetullah Gulen. Erdogan, at the center of the commemorations, took part in a "people's march" on the Istanbul bridge across the Bosphorus that saw some of the fiercest fighting, after arriving from Ankara on his official plane accompanied by an F-16 fighter jet. After a special session of parliament starting at 1000 GMT, most of the celebrations will be taking place deep into the night.

"Today is the day the country was saved", Ibrahim Agagul said as he looked at the pictures Saturday outside an Istanbul municipal building where 20 people were killed.

Numerous top army officials who admit to charges that they were coup plotters deny that they are linked to Gulen.

But the purge, as well as a wave of 50,000 arrests alongside it, have galvanised opposition. But Erdogan had already left and the coup attempt was put down by civilians and security forces.

Thousands of people are marching from several Istanbul neighborhoods to converge at the iconic July 15 Martyrs' Bridge in a "national unity march" to commemorate the anniversary of Turkey's failed coup attempt.

The coup bid also frayed ties between the United States and European Union with North Atlantic Treaty Organisation member Turkey, which accused its allies of failing to show solidarity.

Turkey has dismissed nearly 7,400 civil servants for alleged links to terror groups in a government decree, the latest in a wave of dismissals since authorities quashed a coup attempt last summer.

The Bosporus Bridge, now called the July 15 Martyrs' Bridge, was the scene of clashes between civilians and soldiers in tanks. Giant posters designed by the presidency have sprung up across billboards in Istanbul showing gaudy paintings that portray the key events of the coup night, including the surrender of the putschist soldiers. "Over the past year, the judicial proceedings... moved outside the framework of the law", Kilicdaroglu, whose party will boycott commemoration ceremonies later in the day, told parliament.

He also called for full clarity over what happened on the night of July 15, with questions still remaining over when the authorities first found out an uprising was afoot. 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.

NATO Secretary General Jens Stoltenberg paid homage to those who lost lives resisting the coup and said attempts to undermine democracy in any one of the allied nations was "unacceptable". More than 50,000 people have also been arrested for alleged links to US -based cleric Fethullah Gulen, who Turkey blames for orchestrating the failed coup, and other terror groups.

The attempted coup took place July 15, 2016, undertaken by a faction of the military Tanks rolled into the streets of Turkey's two largest cities, Ankara and Instanbul.

Heeding a call by the president and ignoring a curfew announced by the coup plotters, thousands of people went out on the streets to resist the coup.

Gulen has denied the allegations.

Other reports by Click Lancashire

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