In the wake of the failed military coup in Turkey that took place over two days from July 15 to 16, President Recep Tayyip Erdogan moved swiftly to arrest all elements of the armed forces, government, and civilian population that were involved, describing them as a “virus” and promising to root them out. In line with his pronouncement around 6,000 people were rounded up under suspicion of complicity in the revolt, including Erdogan’s military advisor Col. Ali Yazici.
The short coup has caused upwards of 290 dead according to BBC, 100 of those casualties belonging to those who per publicly known as participants of the armed revolt. As arrests of other parties went underway following the collapse of the armed faction of the coup, Turkish security personnel reported meeting violent resistance as other suspects were taken into custody, with warning shots issued at dissidents in Istanbul’s airport and at a military base in Konya province.
Presiding over a funeral in Istanbul for other victims killed during the coup, President Erdogan declared that he will clean the virus of rebellion from all state agencies, before it becomes a cancer. He vowed to move the country forward in unity and solidarity, before breaking down in tears over the deaths of his campaign manager Erol Olcak and his son, both of whom were killed in the fighting.
Erdogan firmly believes that the mastermind behind the coup is the fiery cleric Fethullah Gulen, who currently resides in self-exile in Pennsylvania, and has thus urged the US government to have him extradited despite Gulen’s denial that he orchestrated anything against Erdogan’s regime.
Meanwhile, critics of the Erdogan administration are wondering if the President would use the coup as the needed push to propose several changes in the country’s constitution to expand his executive powers.
Already he has been pushing for a reinstatement of the death penalty – abolished since 2004 – as the people who have been arrested in connection to the coup can be classified as terrorists and charged with high treason, in his words. CNN reports that opposing this move by Erdogan are Amnesty International, who fears the resurgence of human rights abuses if it pushes through, and the European Parliament, who pushed for the original abolition as part of Turkey’s preparations for joining the European Union, but warns that the reinstatement could jeopardize the finals steps for membership.
Twenty-seven men who have been identified as the local orchestrators of the coup have been forced to appear in court at Ankara without any legal representation, according to the CNN article.
Photo Credit to http://www.aljazeera.com/