Protest in Turkey

Turkish president shows support for reintroduction of death penalty at cross-party anti-coup rally

Turkish president Recep Tayyip Erdoğan on Sunday told a crowd of at least a million people he would approve the re-instigation of the death penalty if the parliament voted for it.

Opposition leaders and religious figures joined Erdogan at the mass rally, in which the president blamed the coup on the US-based cleric Fethullah Gülen and called for his network to be destroyed within the laws of Turkey. However the pro-Kurdish HDP party was not invited after accusations of links with Kurdish terrorists. Massive flags were held by cranes as crowds held banners of the Erdogan and Turkey’s founding father Mustafa Kemal Atatürk. The Turkish media reported five million people turned up to the rally, and the event was broadcast on large screens in all the provinces across Turkey.

Security was tight, 15,000 police guarded the rally where supporters had to pass through one of 165 metal detectors. Two helicopters circled the air over the rally and there were anti-aircraft batteries at the event. More than 200 boats and thousands of buses were payed for by the government in order to make attendance to the rally easier. The authorities also provided attenders with hats and flags, and the wounded and family of the dead were given special passes for seated areas.

This comes after a bloody coup attempt from a faction within Turkey’s army in which 270 people were killed after Erdogan called for unarmed civilians to fight back against the coup. Since the coup was put down tens of thousands of people have lost their jobs working for the government and nearly 18,000 people have been detained. Local branches of the ruling AKP party have been told remove of supporters of ex-Erdogan ally cleric Fethullah Gülen from their ranks. The response of the Turkish government to the coup has received international criticism from human rights organisations that have urged restraint on the part of Erdogan’s government; and politicians, with some like leader of the small German liberal party the free democrats comparing the coup to the burning down of the reichstag in 1933.

Turkish officials have said those criticising them do not understand the threat to the Turkish state and seemed to care more about the coup plotters than their dead victims.



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