On the first anniversary of the coup attempt, Turkish citizens paid tribute to those who gave their lives to protect democracy.

People gather at the Grand National Assembly of Turkey to attend July 15 Democracy and National Unity Day's events to mark July 15 defeated coup's 1st anniversary in Ankara, Turkey on July 15, 2017.
People gather at the Grand National Assembly of Turkey to attend July 15 Democracy and National Unity Day's events to mark July 15 defeated coup's 1st anniversary in Ankara, Turkey on July 15, 2017. (TRT World and Agencies)

The Turkish people have shown that they were prepared to stand up to those who threatened their freedom, President Recep Tayyip Erdogan said as the nation marked the first anniversary of a failed coup attempt.

"There is no other nation that stops a tank with their fists. Our people did not have guns in their hands," Erdogan told crowds gathered at the parliament in Ankara that was bombed by jets seven times last year.

Millions held marches and gathered in cities across the country on Saturday and Sunday to pay tribute to the 249 people who were killed and the more than 2,000 people who were injured after a faction in the army attempted to overthrow Erdogan and the government on July 15, 2016.

Tanks, warplanes and helicopters were used and the plotters briefly took control of the state broadcaster while country's parliament and other key locations were bombed. They also raided an Aegean resort where Erdogan was on vacation but the president had already left.

On Saturday, in Istanbul, hundreds of thousands converged near the iconic bridge across the Bosporus, which has been renamed the July 15 Martyrs Bridge.

It was an event filled with emotion as thise who died there, were remembered.

TRT World's Sara Firth reports.

"Those who stood up before the coup plotters and those who did not allow this attempt of betrayal, every individual who did so, thank you on behalf of myself and my nation," Erdogan said.

The president compared the defeat of last year's coup plotters to Turkey's victory against Allied forces in Gallipoli during World War I.

He criticised those who had claimed that the plot to overthrow the government had been staged, singling out Kemal Kilicdaroglu, the leader of the opposition Republican People's Party (CHP).

Kilicdaroglu has repeatedly claimed the government had prior knowledge of the coup but did nothing to prevent it.

"It is disrespectful and insulting to 250 martyrs, disrespectful and insulting to 2,193 veterans; it is disrespectful and insulting to this nation," Erdogan said.

He issued a warning to those he regards as enemies of Turkey.

Capital punishment

In Ankara, the crowds called for the death penalty that was abolished in Turkey in 2004 to be reinstated.

"It will come to the parliament and I believe that it shall pass through the parliament. Once it is approved by the parliament and it lands before me, I will approve it without hesitation," Erdogan said.

Turkey has been warned that if capital punishment is reinstated, it will not be allowed to join the European Union (EU).

"No matter what you do, their attitude is the same. They are still mocking us," Erdogan fired back.

Expose FETO

Erdogan urged Turks to reveal the actions of the supporters of cleric Fethullah Gulen and his organisation, who the government accuses of masterminding the coup. Gulen, who is in self-imposed exile in the United States, has denied the allegations.

"FETO in Pennsylvania could not manage its representatives in Turkey. Nobody should have any worries about airing the dirty laundry of FETO in Pennsylvania. Speak what you know. Do not worry about speaking his name. Because we as Muslims, if two of us are speaking, we must tell the third person who the traitors are. We should teach them so everyone shall know," the president said.

In the aftermath of the coup attempt, Turkey declared a state of emergency, which is still in place.


In New York, a few dozen people gathered in Times Square to mark the event, while in Berlin several hundred converged on Turkey's embassy. Events were also held in the major German cities, Cologne, Dusseldorf, Nuremberg and Frankfurt.

The US State Department on Saturday issued a statement praising the bravery of the Turkish people who took to the streets to "preserve the rights and freedoms of their democratic society."

Source: TRTWorld and agencies