Turkish president raises death penalty again on coup anniversary
16 Jul 2017, 09:52 ( 6 days ago)
Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan on Saturday night reaffirmed his readiness to reinstate the death penalty at a mass rally held in Istanbul to mark the first anniversary of a bloody coup attempt.
"If it comes to me after parliament, I will sign it," the president told the rally on the Bosphorus Bridge, renamed July 15 Martyrs Bridge in the wake of the coup bid, echoing a refrain he has repeated time and again ever since.
In the crowd, some were seen holding nooses as they chanted "We want death penalty!"
The European Union has threatened to end Turkey's accession bid if it moves to reintroduce the capital punishment that was abolished in 2004.
Saying that terror organizations have been used as pawns in the coup plot like those on the chessboard, Erdogan vowed to "chop off the heads of those traitors" as "without beating the pawns we cannot say checkmate."
Thirty-six people were killed on the bridge, the scene of first clashes between civilians and coup soldiers on the night of July 15, 2016.
Some 250 lights were set around the rally area to commemorate 250 people killed during the coup bid, the Hurriyet daily said.
Erdogan and Prime Minister Binali Yildirim led a so-called "national unity march" on the bridge with families and relatives of those killed.
The coup attempt was foiled hours later, as Turks flooded the streets to stand against the plotters upon the call of Erdogan and others.
Ankara accuses U.S.-based Turkish cleric Fethullah Gulen of masterminding the putsch and has been pushing for his extradition, an episode that has contributed to strained ties between the two NATO allies.
In his speech on the Bosphorus Bridge, Erdogan cautioned that terror groups like the movement led by Gulen, the outlawed Kurdistan Workers' Party and the Islamic State would continue to undermine the country and that Turkey knows very well who are behind them.
As in other places across the country, thousands of people were gathering in the main squares of Istanbul for the so-called "democracy watch" rallies, as they did last year after the coup was foiled.
The post-coup crackdown is continuing, as more than 50,000 Turks have been jailed and over 100,000 public servants dismissed from their posts, according to press reports.
The Turkish government is set to extend the state of emergency once again that was imposed five days after the coup failed.