Millions of Turkish citizens gathered to attend a Democracy and Martyrs' Rally led by President Recep Tayyip Erdogan in Yenikapi, on the European side of Istanbul, in a display of national solidarity against July 15’s failed coup attempt.
During the rally, President Erdogan said, "I would like to refer to martyrs and all those people who stood against tanks and these terrorists. I will like to commemorate them... we defended our country."
"Our presence today upsets our enemies just like it did on the morning of July 16," he added.
Erdogan also said that pro-democracy rallies will continue until Wednesday, when he will give another speech.
Turkish Prime Minister Binali Yildirim, speaking before Erdogan, stated, "I salute my valuable nation. I salute the democratic martyrs of July 15 from heart. I salute the heroic veterans who did not give Istanbul up to the enemy."
He also said, "I want to express that we will not disrupt the newly acquired togetherness of politics that came forth," adding "The terror organisations that came between us will be cleared out."
The chief of general staff of Turkey's military, General Hulusi Akar, also spoke at the rally, saying the orchestrators of the failed coup would receive "the heaviest penalty."
Turkey's top soldier added that the "betrayers were challenged and defeated as they deserved in the squares."
The leaders of Turkey’s main opposition parties – the secularist Republican Peoples' Party (CHP) and the Nationalist Movement Party (MHP) – have also spoken at the rally, in a sign that long-standing political rifts may be healing in response to the failed coup.
In his speech, Devlet Bahceli, leader of the MHP, said "I was fortunate enough to watch Turkey rise with pride. I am proud because people are here, belief is here. With a wrist that cannot be sprained, a head that will not bow down, with invincible strength, [gathered] here in this square."
The leader of the CHP, Kemal Kilicdaroglu said, " The Turkish parliament was the headquarters of the Turkish liberation war. During the coup attempt it convened and parliamentarians belonging to all parties saved the honour of the country," before reading out a 12-point agenda emphasising secularism, parliamentarianism and freedom of the press.
Reuters quoted a civil servant who travelled from the Black Sea town of Ordu to attend the rally, Haci Mehmet Haliloglu, as saying, "This is something way beyond politics, this is either our freedom or death."
Preparations for the rally were extensive. Thousands of police officers and hundreds of medical staff are on hand, and a large stage has been set up in the rally ground along with television screens and a powerful sound system.
According to police sources quoted by Turkey's Anadolu Agency, approximately 5 million people attended the rally in total.
An estimated 2.5 million Turkish flags have been handed out at the rally, from which all party-specific flags have been banned. Flags bearing the images of President Erdogan and the founder of the Republic of Turkey, Mustafa Kemal Ataturk, are also a common sight.
At least 238 people were killed late on July 15 and in the early hours of July 16, many of them civilians gunned down while demonstrating unarmed against pro-coup soldiers, tanks and helicopter gunships.
The Turkish Government says that Fetullah Gulen – a reclusive Turkish-origin preacher based in a compound in Pennsylvania – was behind the failed coup and other attempts to undermine the Turkish state
It has demanded his extradition from the United States and designated the religious movement he leads as the Gulenist Terrorist Organisation, or FETO.