The leaders of Turkey's main opposition parties are attending the Democracy and Martyrs' Rally led by President Erdogan, which is intended to show solidarity against last month's failed coup attempt.

People wave Turkish flags during the Democracy and Martyrs Rally in Istanbul.
People wave Turkish flags during the Democracy and Martyrs Rally in Istanbul.

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."

This picture released by Turkey's Presidential Press Service on August 7, 2016 at Yenikapi district of Istanbul shows Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan (L) and his wife Emine Erdogan (R) at the pro-democracy rally in Yenikapi.
This picture released by Turkey's Presidential Press Service on August 7, 2016 at Yenikapi district of Istanbul shows Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan (L) and his wife Emine Erdogan (R) at the pro-democracy rally in Yenikapi.

"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."

Chief of staff of the Turkish Army, General Hulusi Akar, speaks at the Democracy and Martyrs' Rally in Yenikapi, Istanbul. August 7, 2016. (AA)
Chief of staff of the Turkish Army, General Hulusi Akar, speaks at the Democracy and Martyrs' Rally in Yenikapi, Istanbul. August 7, 2016. (AA)

Turkey's top soldier added that the "betrayers were challenged and defeated as they deserved in the squares."

Although the focus of Western governments and media outlets since the coup attempt has largely been on Erdogan and the Turkish Government's reaction to the failed putsch rather than the events themselves, the Turkish president, Prime Minister Binali Yildirim and Turkish media outlets have been emphasising the cross-party nature of the opposition to the incident and those behind it.

People wave Turkish flags during the Democracy and Martyrs' Rally in Istanbul, Turkey, August 7, 2016. (Reuters)
People wave Turkish flags during the Democracy and Martyrs' Rally in Istanbul, Turkey, August 7, 2016. (Reuters)

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.

MHP leader Devlet Bahceli prepares to give a speech during the Democracy and Martyrs' rally in Yenikapi, Istanbul on August 7, 2016. (AA)
MHP leader Devlet Bahceli prepares to give a speech during the Democracy and Martyrs' rally in Yenikapi, Istanbul on August 7, 2016. (AA)

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 opposition Republican Peoples' Party, Kemal Kilicdaroglu at the Democracy and Martyrs' Rally in Yenikapi, Istanbul. August 7, 2016. (AA)
The leader of the opposition Republican Peoples' Party, Kemal Kilicdaroglu at the Democracy and Martyrs' Rally in Yenikapi, Istanbul. August 7, 2016. (AA)

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.

This handout picture released by the Turkey's Presidential Press Service and taken on August 7, 2016 shows people waving Turkish national flags as they gather at Yenikapi in Istanbul during a rally against failed military coup on July 15.
This handout picture released by the Turkey's Presidential Press Service and taken on August 7, 2016 shows people waving Turkish national flags as they gather at Yenikapi in Istanbul during a rally against failed military coup on July 15.

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."

A woman takes pictures of Turkish President on August 7, 2016 in Istanbul during a rally against the failed military coup on July 15.
A woman takes pictures of Turkish President on August 7, 2016 in Istanbul during a rally against the failed military coup on July 15.

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.

Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan (C) speaks as Turkish special forces officer patrols on August 7, 2016 in Istanbul during a rally against the failed military coup on July 15.
Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan (C) speaks as Turkish special forces officer patrols on August 7, 2016 in Istanbul during a rally against the failed military coup on July 15.

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.

A flag bearing the image of the founder of the Republic of Turkey Mustafa Kemal Ataturk (L) alongside a flag bearing the image of Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan (R). (AA)
A flag bearing the image of the founder of the Republic of Turkey Mustafa Kemal Ataturk (L) alongside a flag bearing the image of Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan (R). (AA)

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.

Source: TRTWorld and agencies