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President Erdogan warns death penalty for plotters

Turkish President Tayyip Erdogan has warned to chop off the heads of traitors who were found involved in the last year’s failed coup attempt. He was delivering an emotional speech to tens of thousands of people, on Saturday in Istanbul, who gathered for celebrating the day.

Erdogan was quoted saying that he would “break the heads of the traitors” who plotted the coup. His government alleges that US based Muslim cleric Fethullah Gulean was responsible for the organizing the plot. However Gulean denies any involvement and Washington has so far resisted calls from Ankara to extradite him. The cleric used to run several media houses, chain of schools and other public welfare facilities in the country which are now closed.

While appreciating his supporters, Erdogan said “People that night did not have guns, they had a flag and more importantly, they had their faith.” At the same breath, he backed the death penalty for coup plotters and said they should wear Guantanamo Bay-style uniforms.

About 250 people died and more than two thousand others were wounded fighting the coup attempt by an army faction on July 15 last year.

Meanwhile the opponents of Erdogan boycotted the celebrations and allege that his government’s actions over the past year amount to an attempt to purge dissent. Since the failed coup attempt, government has dismissed more than 150,000 employees and arrested 50,000 people. In the ongoing process of rooting out coup plotters more than 7000 state employees were dismissed last Friday.

Erdogan praised the Turks who had rallied to the bridge over the Bosphorus, a narrow natural strait part of continental boundary between Asia and Europe,  where civilians had confronted pro-coup soldiers last year. He said “Putschists (the French phrase for coup plotters) 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 honor of their nation”.

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

After Istanbul event, President Erdogan moved to Ankara, the capital, and addressed to the parliament, which came under attack by the coup plotters. He said that on that night, “Our nation showed the whole world what a nation we are.”

The Turkish calendar has marked 15 July as holiday calling it Democracy and National Unity Day.

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