Turkey's Erdogan could parade coup plotters in 'Guantanamo suits'

Gaurav Sharma
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Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan delivered emotional public speeches to thousands of people, a year after a military coup against his government was defeated by street protests.

At events to mark the anniversary of the July 2016 coup late on Saturday (15 July), Erdogan praised those who partook in the protests, including the country's parliamentarians, as "defenders of democracy and his government."

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However, in a move that could jeopardise bilateral talks with the European Union, Erdogan said he backed the death penalty for coup plotters and said they should wear Guantanamo Bay-style uniforms.

Addressing huge crowds in Istanbul, Erdogan said he would "break the heads of the traitors" who plotted the coup.

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He said he had spoken to Prime Minister Binali Yildirim about the coup plotters, saying: "When they appear in court, let's make them appear in uniform suits like in Guantanamo."

On 15 July 2016, coup plotters tried to detain Erdogan while he was on holiday in an Aegean resort. However, he slipped through their net and issued a rallying cry addressing the nation via a mobile phone broadcast carried by a TV network that had not been taken over by forces backing the coup.

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The coup was subsequently thwarted by civilians and soldiers loyal to the president, but nearly 250 people died and 2,196 were wounded in the clashes.

In the crackdown that has followed, the Erdogan government has dismissed more than 150,000 state employees and arrested 50,000 people. The initial national unity against the coup has also faded and divisions have widened.

Opposition parties did not participate in events to mark the failed coup, instead opting for a 'Justice' march that concluded earlier in the week lead by Kemal Kilicdaroglu of the Republican People's Party. The president has derided the group as "supporters of terrorism".

Addressing crowds over the Bosphorus Bridge, where civilians had confronted pro-coup soldiers last year, Erdogan said: "I am grateful to all members of my nation who defended their country.

"Putschists who closed off the bridge on that night wanted to show the world that they were in control. They were thwarted by millions who took to the streets that night to defend the honour of their nation".

The President also declared 15 July to be a national holiday in Turkey called Democracy and National Unity Day.

Turkey's Erdogan addresses rallies to mark first anniversary of failed coup

The Turkish authorities have accused a movement loyal to the Muslim cleric Fethullah Gulen, currently exiled in the US, of organising the coup. Gulen denies any involvement, and President Donald Trump has so far resisted calls from Ankara to extradite him.

Meanwhile, the EU has responded to Erdogan's rhetoric with dismay. European Commission President Jean-Claude Juncker has said Turkey would not get EU membership if it reinstates the death penalty.

In an editorial for Germany's Bild am Sonntag newspaper, Jucker said the EU's hand remains outstretched to Turkey, but warned: "If Turkey were to introduce the death penalty, the Turkish government would definitively slam the door on EU membership."

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