Turkey's pro-democracy rally attracts millions of people

In an unprecedented show of unity, millions of people including opposition leaders in Istanbul attended a rally for democracy which is the largest political gathering in the history of the modern Turkish Republic.

Photo by: AA
Photo by: AA

Million attend Istanbul rally on Sunday, Aug 7, 2016.

An estimated five million people attended the Democracy and Martyrs' Rally in Istanbul on Sunday, the Istanbul Police Department said.

The massive gathering of people is believed to be the largest gathering in the history of the modern Turkish republic and possibly any other political rally in the world.

The turnout was so huge that people were packed near the Yenikapi rally stage, the Kennedy Street, Eminonu and Zeytinburnu districts.

Millions of people had flocked to Yenikapi from all districts of Istanbul. Public transport, including the metro system, buses and ferry service was provided free of cost to all people in the city.

Also, the Istanbul municipality delivered five million water bottles and one million food packages for free to the participants. In addition, the municipality also provided the services of 7,000 buses, 203 boats and 10 ferries for participants to attend the event. 

There were strict security measures in place during the rally; around 25,000 police personnel had been deployed, while 728 health personnel were also at hand at the square. Helicopters also hovered above the rally as security boats remained on alert; 22 X-Ray machines and 165 gates with metal detectors were in place for security checks.

A helicopter flies over as people wave Turkey's national flags during the Democracy and Martyrs Rally in Istanbul. Reuters

Besides security forces 2,500 municipal guards and 900 cleaners as well as 500 assistants were on duty during the rally. More than a 100 ambulances remained on the ground; one sea ambulance and 20 fire trucks had also been reserved. Meanwhile, 50 buses were used for transporting disabled people.

It was the first time the leaders of the Justice and Development (AK) Party, the Republican People’s Party (CHP) and the Nationalist Movement Party (MHP) had shared a platform.

Turkey's President Recep Tayyib Erdogan was the final speaker to address the massive crowd, he said: “Our presence today upsets our enemies just like it did on the morning of July 16."

“On that night there were people who risked their lives to stop the coup and they filled the streets. History will remember the names of our martyrs… in golden letters," he continued. 

The president asked the people to extend their “democracy watch” rallies until Wednesday in the country. "Today is a pause in democracy rallies, we will end the rallies on Wednesday," he added.

Chief of General Staff Gen. Hulusi Akar and Turkey’s top cleric Mehmet Gormez also attended the gathering.


"Hep birlikte Trkiye olacagiz..."

A video posted by Sema oban (@semcbn) on

The Yenikapi event is the highlight of weeks of democracy rallies held in cities across the country since the defeated coup, which led to 240 deaths and wounded nearly 2,200 people.

Turkey’s government has said the coup was organized by the followers of Fetullah Gulen, who has lived in self-imposed exile in the U.S. since 1999.

Turks unite at democracy rally in US capital

Meanwhile in Washington, nearly a thousand Turkish Americans and American Muslims on Sunday staged a rally in front of the White House to show support for Turkish democracy after the July 15 defeated coup.

Demonstrators stood under the sweltering sun, chanting slogans and holding banners that said "No one can stage coup to the people”, “Peace at home, peace in the world”, “Support democracy against bloody coup attempt in Turkey”, and “We are with you Erdogan, the man who resists”.

Turkish Americans and American Muslims unite at democracy rally in US capital. AA

The "Democracy against Coup" rally was organized by the Turkish American National Steering Committee (TASC), an umbrella organisation for approximately 150 Turkish-American associations.

Sunday’s rally was proof of people coming together from all walks of life to show solidarity with Turkey and its democracy,Turkish ambassador to the U.S., Serdar Kilic said.

Sudanese American Mustafa Ayaad, 60, told Anadolu Agency he came to the rally with his family in a show of support because he believed in democracy no matter where it was, accusing the west of not showing enough solidarity for Turkey over the coup attempt.

During the rally, U.S. representatives of Turkey’s ruling Justice and Development (AK) Party, main opposition Republican People's Party (CHP) and Nationalist Movement Party (MHP) read a joint memorandum to condemn the coup attempt.

Rally held in Serbia to support Turkey

In Serbia, more than a thousand people attended a pro-democracy rally in the city of Novi Pazar on Sunday to express their support for Turkey.

The rally had been organized by the Society of Friends of Turkey with the support of the main Bosniak parties and organizations in the region.

People from Novi Pazar and across the Sandzak Region attended the rally, and expressed solidarity with Turkey’s people, democracy, government and Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan.

Participants also carried banners written in Turkish, saying "Sandzak is with you, Sandzak is the bridge between Turkey and Serbia."

Bosniaks in Serbia hold rally in support of Turkey. AA

On behalf of the Friends of Turkey Association, Nafil Sejdovic said, "We defend the basic principle of democracy, the rule of the people. The elected people must be respected.

“Sandzak Bosniaks are a bridge of friendship and cooperation between Serbia and Turkey, and the Sandzak is the gate and cooperation."

Turkey's Ambassador to Serbia, Mehmet Kemal Bozay, in his message said: "I firmly believe that this meeting will strengthen the foundations of the existing friendly relations between our two countries of which you are one part."

The Sandzak Region is on the border between Serbia and Montenegro and has a sizable Muslim community.


TRTWorld and agencies