Thousands of people have assembled for a rally to protest against the attempted coup of last month, in Turkey’s largest city, Istanbul.
Opposition leaders joined President Recep Tayyip Erdogan in addressing the bunch. In his opening comments, Mr Erdogan said he wouldn’t block the return of the death penalty. More than 270 people died in events surrounding the 15 July coup effort, which activated a government crack down. Thousands of alleged supporters of an US-based Turkish cleric Fethullah Gulen – who denies any part – fired or detained from government jobs. Mr Erdogan told the rally: “It’s the Turkish parliament which will determine the death penalty… I declare it in advance, I am going to approve the selection made by the parliament.” Western countries have not been uncritical of the government’s response. The European Union – which Turkey has applied to join – will not accept capital punishment.
The “Democracy and Martyrs’ Rally” is the climax of three weeks of nightly protests by Mr Erdogan’s supporters around the state.
Kurdish groups never have been encouraged, due to alleged links to militants. Talking ahead of Mr Erdogan, Prime Minister Binali Yildirim told the rally that Mr Gulen made to pay the price for the coup effort and would be brought to Turkey.
“Let all of you understand, the leader of the terrorist group will come to Turkey and pay for what he did,” Mr Yildirim said.
The leader of the principal secularist opposition party, Kemal Kilicdaroglu, told the rally the coup had opened a “new door of compromise” in the nation’s politics. “There’s a fresh Turkey after July 15,” the Republican People’s Party leader said. In a rare address into a public rally, the head of Turkey’s armed forces, Hulusi Akar, said “traitors” behind the attempted coup would be penalized in the harshest manner, and thanked civilians for his or her part in getting the better of the rebellion.
The crack down in Turkey has seen thousands of public sector workers ignored or suspended, with many having their passports nullified. There has additionally been a huge reshuffle of the military. Have been detained or arrested. Local divisions of the AK Party have now been told to start a purge of suspected Gulenists in their positions.
Mr Gulen had been a close friend of President Recep Tayyip Erdogan until the party of the president 3 years ago and a bitter schism between his movement. Mr Gulen’s movement has been listed by Turkey .