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Turkey coup anniversary: Emotional Erdogan hails 'defenders of nation'

July 15, 2017 4:54 pm

Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan has delivered an emotional address to tens of thousands of people in Istanbul on the anniversary of a failed coup.

Mr Erdogan said: “People that night did not have guns, they had a flag and more importantly, they had their faith.”

He backed the death penalty for coup plotters and said they should wear Guantanamo Bay-style uniforms.

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Some 250 people died and 2,196 were wounded fighting the coup attempt by an army faction on 15 July last year.

The government has since dismissed more than 150,000 state employees, saying it is rooting out coup supporters.

Critics say the dismissals, and a wave of 50,000 arrests, are part of an attempt to purge dissent.

Mr Erdogan was addressing tens of thousands of Turks who had rallied to the bridge over the Bosphorus where civilians had confronted pro-coup soldiers last year.

He said: “I am grateful to all members of my nation who defended their country.”

Mr Erdogan said that 250 people had lost their lives but the country had won its future.

“Putschists who closed off the bridge on that night wanted to show the world that they were in control,” he said, but were countered by “millions who took to the streets that night to defend the honour of their nation”.

He said he would “break the heads of the traitors” who plotted the coup.

Mr Erdogan also 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.”

The president then unveiled a “martyrs’ memorial” at the bridge, which has been renamed the Bridge of the Martyrs of July 15.

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