Turkish president Recep Tayyip Erdogan at a rally in Istanbul during the night of July 18-19, 2016.  Turkish Presidential Press Office / EPA
Turkish president Recep Tayyip Erdogan at a rally in Istanbul during the night of July 18-19, 2016. Turkish Presidential Press Office / EPA

Tens of thousands sacked as Turkey hits back after the coup

ISTANBUL // The reprisals continued in Turkey on Tuesday with a ruthless purge of anyone suspected of involvement in the attempted coup.

The numbers of people arrested, detained, questioned or removed from their posts is now in the tens of thousands and touch every aspect of government and public life.

Turkish media reported the dismissals and round-ups in rapid bursts throughout the day on Tuesday. The Ministry of Education fired 15,200 people across the country. The interior ministry sacked 8,777 employees. The national Board of Higher Education “requested” the resignation of 1,577 university deans — dismissals in all but name.

The Directorate of Religious Affairs announced 492 sackings including clerics, preachers and religious teachers. The Family and Social Policy Ministry dismissed 393 staff. Nor was the prime minister’s office immune, with 257 fired from their jobs there.

The firings come on top of the roughly 9,000 people who have been detained by the government, including security personnel, judges, prosecutors, religious figures and others. Turkey’s state-run Anadolu news agency said courts have ordered 85 generals and admirals to be jailed pending trial over their suspected roles in the coup attempt. Dozens of others were still being questioned. News bulletins showed men being paraded in public, their hands bound behind their back with plastic ties. Some had black eyes or bruising on their faces but their bowed heads betrayed the even greater pain of humiliation.

Anadolu Agency said those formally arrested include former air force commander Gen. Akin Ozturk, alleged to be the ringleader of the July 15 uprising, and Gen. Adem Hududi, commander of Turkey’s 2nd Army, which is in charge of countering possible threats to Turkey from Syria, Iran and Iraq.

Ozturk has denied the allegation, saying he neither planned nor directed the failed military coup, according to the Anadolu Agency.

The agency said Erdogan’s Air Force adviser, Lt. Col. Erkan Kivrak, had been detained at a hotel where he was on holiday in Turkey’s southern province of Antalya. No reason was given for the detention.

A thousand pro-government demonstrators gathered for a rally in Istanbul Tuesday, waving flags and chanting slogans and songs praising President Recep Tayyip Erdogan. The demonstrators amassed in the conservative district of Fatih and demanded the death penalty for those responsible for the failed coup.

the president has also raised the notion of reinstating the death penalty for those involved in the violence surrounding the Friday night coup attempt which claimed the lives of 208 government supporters and 24 coup plotters. Turkey abolished capital punishment in 2004 as part of its long-running bid to be admitted to the European Union — a bid that stands no chance if the death penalty is reintroduced. For now, however, President Erdogan has other priorities. As he addressed hundreds of clamouring supporters outside his Istanbul residence early on Tuesday, he responded with the simple statement: “You cannot put aside the people’s demands.”

Pointing out that capital punishment exists in numerous countries around the world, including the United States and China, he added, “In a country where our youths are killed with tanks and bombs, if we stay silent, as political people we will be held responsible in the afterlife.”

In a show of unity with the president, the leader of the opposition Nationalist Movement Party, Devlet Bahceli, said his party would back legislation to reintroduce the death penalty if it was put forward by the ruling Justice and Development Party, or AKP. “If the AKP is ready, we are in for the death penalty,” said Mr Bahceli.

The Erdogan regime maintains that Fethullah Gulen, a Muslim cleric living in exile in the US, was behind the uprising — carried out by what a spokesman described as “a Gulenist clique within the Turkish army” — and has vociferously demanded his extradition. Thousands of officials suspected of links to Gulen have already been purged from the judiciary and the Interior Ministry. Prime minister Benali Yildirim said Turkey had sent four files on Mr Gulen to the United States to back Turkey’s demands for the Mr Gulen, who is 75 and in frail health, to be extradited.

“No democracy shall allow for soldiers, prosecutors, police, judges, and bureaucrats to take orders from an outside organisation instead of the institutional bureaucracy,” said President Erdogan.

Deputy prime minister Numan Kurtulmus said Mr Gulen perpetrated a “deviant” religious ideology. “It is no different than IS in the slightest,” he said. “if the coup had succeeded the Gulen movement would have taken Turkey back 40 to 50 years and could have broken the country up like Syria.”

As the streets and squares of Istanbul, Ankara and other cities remained filled with supporters who show no inclination to leave, the government’s mood remains triumphant. prime minister Binali Yildirim hailed the “epic “ defeat of what he described as the most brutal in Turkey’s history. “The force of the tanks could not beat the force of the people,” he said.

* Associated Press

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