Turkey’s Erdogan vows to ‘rip the heads off’ terror groups

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President Recep Tayyip Erdogan vowed to ‘rip the heads off’ of terror groups and coup-plotters who tried to end his more than decade-long rule on Saturday, as Turkey marked the anniversary of the country’s crushed military coup with a series of rallies and other commemorative events.

Accompanied by his family and the families of the victims of the coup, Erdogan joined a massive, flag-waving crowd near the iconic July 15 Martyrs’ Bridge in Istanbul to remember 250 people who died on July 15, 2016 resisting the coup.

He inaugurated a hollow, globe-shaped monument featuring the names of the victims near the foot of the bridge, before flying to Ankara to attend a special session in parliament at the exact moment it was bombed a year ago. 

He also opened a second memorial opposite the grounds of his palace in Ankara.

Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan (center) and his wife Emine Erdogan (right) attended the opening ceremony of the 'July 15 Martyrs Monument' at the Presidential Complex in Ankara on July 16

Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan (center) and his wife Emine Erdogan (right) attended the opening ceremony of the 'July 15 Martyrs Monument' at the Presidential Complex in Ankara on July 16

Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan (center) and his wife Emine Erdogan (right) attended the opening ceremony of the ‘July 15 Martyrs Monument’ at the Presidential Complex in Ankara on July 16

Accompanied by his family and the families of the victims of the coup, Erdogan also joined a massive, flag-waving crowd near the iconic July 15 Martyrs' Bridge in Istanbul to remember 250 people who died on July 15, 2016 resisting the coup

Accompanied by his family and the families of the victims of the coup, Erdogan also joined a massive, flag-waving crowd near the iconic July 15 Martyrs' Bridge in Istanbul to remember 250 people who died on July 15, 2016 resisting the coup

Accompanied by his family and the families of the victims of the coup, Erdogan also joined a massive, flag-waving crowd near the iconic July 15 Martyrs’ Bridge in Istanbul to remember 250 people who died on July 15, 2016 resisting the coup

7. The 15 July 2017 event marks the first anniversary of the failed coup attempt which led to some 50,000 workers being dismissed, some 8,000 people arrested, and scores of news outlets shut down by the government

7. The 15 July 2017 event marks the first anniversary of the failed coup attempt which led to some 50,000 workers being dismissed, some 8,000 people arrested, and scores of news outlets shut down by the government

7. The 15 July 2017 event marks the first anniversary of the failed coup attempt which led to some 50,000 workers being dismissed, some 8,000 people arrested, and scores of news outlets shut down by the government

Erdogan, pictured at the rally, blamed US-based Turkish cleric Fetullah Gulen and his movement for masterminding the failed coup and Turkey remains under a state of emergency as a result

Erdogan, pictured at the rally, blamed US-based Turkish cleric Fetullah Gulen and his movement for masterminding the failed coup and Turkey remains under a state of emergency as a result

Erdogan, pictured at the rally, blamed US-based Turkish cleric Fetullah Gulen and his movement for masterminding the failed coup and Turkey remains under a state of emergency as a result

Erdogan (pictured above with his wife) vowed on Saturday to 'rip the heads off' of terror groups and coup-plotters who tried to end his more than decade-long rule

Erdogan (pictured above with his wife) vowed on Saturday to 'rip the heads off' of terror groups and coup-plotters who tried to end his more than decade-long rule

Erdogan (pictured above with his wife) vowed on Saturday to ‘rip the heads off’ of terror groups and coup-plotters who tried to end his more than decade-long rule

‘Exactly a year ago today, around this hour, a treacherous attempt took place,’ Erdogan told tens of thousands of people in Istanbul who converged at the bridge following a ‘national unity march’. 

‘The July 15 coup attempt is not the first attack against our country, and it won’t be the last,’ he said, referring to a series of terror attacks that also hit the country. ‘For that reason, we’ll first rip the heads off of these traitors.’

The bridge was the scene of clashes between civilians and soldiers in tanks. At least 30 people died there and more than 2,000 were injured across Turkey in the struggle. Thirty-five coup plotters were also killed.

Photographs of the 250 ‘martyrs’ were displayed on monitors and their names announced. 

Erdogan paid tribute to the victims saying they fought with their ‘bare hands’ and ‘their faith’ against the heavily armed coup-plotters.

He told the crowd that he wants hundreds of people who are on trial for plotting last year’s failed coup to appear in court wearing the same type of outfit – similar to those that were worn by detainees at Guantanamo Bay.

People wave Turkey's national flags as they attend a ceremony marking the first anniversary of the attempted coup at the Bosphorus Bridge in Istanbul. The bridge was the scene of clashes between civilians and soldiers in tanks. At least 30 people died there and more than 2,000 were injured across Turkey in the struggle. Thirty-five coup plotters were also killed

People wave Turkey's national flags as they attend a ceremony marking the first anniversary of the attempted coup at the Bosphorus Bridge in Istanbul. The bridge was the scene of clashes between civilians and soldiers in tanks. At least 30 people died there and more than 2,000 were injured across Turkey in the struggle. Thirty-five coup plotters were also killed

People wave Turkey’s national flags as they attend a ceremony marking the first anniversary of the attempted coup at the Bosphorus Bridge in Istanbul. The bridge was the scene of clashes between civilians and soldiers in tanks. At least 30 people died there and more than 2,000 were injured across Turkey in the struggle. Thirty-five coup plotters were also killed

As thousands of people waved Turkish flags, Erdogan paid tribute to the victims saying they fought with their 'bare hands' and 'their faith' against the heavily armed coup-plotters

As thousands of people waved Turkish flags, Erdogan paid tribute to the victims saying they fought with their 'bare hands' and 'their faith' against the heavily armed coup-plotters

As thousands of people waved Turkish flags, Erdogan paid tribute to the victims saying they fought with their ‘bare hands’ and ‘their faith’ against the heavily armed coup-plotters

People carried Turkish flags across Bosphorus Bridge in Istanbul, Turkey, on Saturday to mark the first anniversary of the failed coup

People carried Turkish flags across Bosphorus Bridge in Istanbul, Turkey, on Saturday to mark the first anniversary of the failed coup

People carried Turkish flags across Bosphorus Bridge in Istanbul, Turkey, on Saturday to mark the first anniversary of the failed coup

Erdogan and his wife Emine Erdogan greet their supporters as they arrive for a ceremony marking the first anniversary of the attempted coup at the Bosphorus Bridge

Erdogan and his wife Emine Erdogan greet their supporters as they arrive for a ceremony marking the first anniversary of the attempted coup at the Bosphorus Bridge

Erdogan and his wife Emine Erdogan greet their supporters as they arrive for a ceremony marking the first anniversary of the attempted coup at the Bosphorus Bridge

Erdogan told the crowd that he wants hundreds of people who are on trial for plotting last year's failed coup to appear in court wearing the same type of outfit - similar to those that were worn by detainees at Guantanamo Bay

Erdogan told the crowd that he wants hundreds of people who are on trial for plotting last year's failed coup to appear in court wearing the same type of outfit - similar to those that were worn by detainees at Guantanamo Bay

Erdogan told the crowd that he wants hundreds of people who are on trial for plotting last year’s failed coup to appear in court wearing the same type of outfit – similar to those that were worn by detainees at Guantanamo Bay

He also reiterated that he would approve a bill reinstating the death penalty if parliament proposed it.

Turkish soldiers attempted to overthrow the government and the president using tanks, warplanes and helicopters on July 15, 2016. 

The coup plotters declared their seizure of power on the state broadcaster, bombed the country’s parliament and other key locations, and raided an Aegean resort where Erdogan had been on vacation. But Erdogan had already left and the coup attempt was put down by civilians and security forces.

Turkey blames US-based cleric Fethullah Gulen for orchestrating the coup and infiltrating state institutions. Gulen denies the allegations.

In the aftermath of the coup attempt, Turkey declared a state of emergency that has been in place ever since, which has allowed the government to rule by decree and to dismiss tens of thousands of people from their jobs. 

More than 50,000 people have also been arrested for alleged links to Gulen and other groups.

Photographs of the 250 people who died in the 2016 coup were displayed on signs and monitors and their names announced to the crowd

Photographs of the 250 people who died in the 2016 coup were displayed on signs and monitors and their names announced to the crowd

Photographs of the 250 people who died in the 2016 coup were displayed on signs and monitors and their names announced to the crowd

Authorities have declared July 15, an annual national holiday of "democracy and unity", billing the foiling of the putsch as a historic victory of Turkish democracy

Authorities have declared July 15, an annual national holiday of "democracy and unity", billing the foiling of the putsch as a historic victory of Turkish democracy

Authorities have declared July 15, an annual national holiday of ‘democracy and unity’, billing the foiling of the putsch as a historic victory of Turkish democracy

Thousands of people (pictured in an aerial photo above) filled the streets wearing red and carrying Turkish flags to mark the year anniversary of the failed coup

Thousands of people (pictured in an aerial photo above) filled the streets wearing red and carrying Turkish flags to mark the year anniversary of the failed coup

Thousands of people (pictured in an aerial photo above) filled the streets wearing red and carrying Turkish flags to mark the year anniversary of the failed coup

The event marked one year since Turkish soldiers attempted to overthrow the government and the president using tanks, warplanes and helicopters on July 15, 2016

The event marked one year since Turkish soldiers attempted to overthrow the government and the president using tanks, warplanes and helicopters on July 15, 2016

The event marked one year since Turkish soldiers attempted to overthrow the government and the president using tanks, warplanes and helicopters on July 15, 2016

Turkey blames US-based cleric Fethullah Gulen for orchestrating the coup and infiltrating state institutions. Gulen denies the allegations

Turkey blames US-based cleric Fethullah Gulen for orchestrating the coup and infiltrating state institutions. Gulen denies the allegations

Turkey blames US-based cleric Fethullah Gulen for orchestrating the coup and infiltrating state institutions. Gulen denies the allegations

Turkey has remained under a state of emergency since the failed coup, which saw some 50 thousand workers being dismissed, some eight thousand people arrested, and scores of news outlets shut down by the government

Turkey has remained under a state of emergency since the failed coup, which saw some 50 thousand workers being dismissed, some eight thousand people arrested, and scores of news outlets shut down by the government

Turkey has remained under a state of emergency since the failed coup, which saw some 50 thousand workers being dismissed, some eight thousand people arrested, and scores of news outlets shut down by the government

Addressing thousands of people outside of the parliament’s building, Erdogan said the country’s highest security advisory body would on Monday consider further extending the state of emergency. 

He said the failed coup had allowed Turkey to distinguish its friends from its foes but would not name the countries saying he wanted to avoid ‘a serious international crisis’.

In the latest government decree published Friday evening, 7,395 more state employees were fired, including teachers, academics, military and police officers, bringing the number of dismissed to more than 110,000. 

The government calls the crackdown necessary to purge state institutions of those linked to Gulen, but critics say the dismissals are arbitrary and the victims’ paths to recourse severely curtailed.

‘It has been exactly one year since Turkey’s darkest and longest night was transformed into a bright day, since an enemy occupation turned into the people’s legend,’ Prime Minister Binali Yildirim said earlier in the day at a special parliamentary session in Ankara, the capital, attended by Erdogan.

People wave Turkish national flags as they stand on a lorry to get a better view of the rally in Istanbul on July 15, 2017, marking the first anniversary of failed coup

People wave Turkish national flags as they stand on a lorry to get a better view of the rally in Istanbul on July 15, 2017, marking the first anniversary of failed coup

People wave Turkish national flags as they stand on a lorry to get a better view of the rally in Istanbul on July 15, 2017, marking the first anniversary of failed coup

People carry a makeshift coffin with pictures of US-based Muslim preacher Fethullah Gulen on it through the rally in Istanbul on Saturday

People carry a makeshift coffin with pictures of US-based Muslim preacher Fethullah Gulen on it through the rally in Istanbul on Saturday

People carry a makeshift coffin with pictures of US-based Muslim preacher Fethullah Gulen on it through the rally in Istanbul on Saturday

People listen to the speech of Turkey's President Tayyip Erdogan during a ceremony marking the first anniversary of the attempted coup at the Bosphorus Bridge in Istanbul

People listen to the speech of Turkey's President Tayyip Erdogan during a ceremony marking the first anniversary of the attempted coup at the Bosphorus Bridge in Istanbul

People listen to the speech of Turkey’s President Tayyip Erdogan during a ceremony marking the first anniversary of the attempted coup at the Bosphorus Bridge in Istanbul

A woman holds placard depicting Turkish president Erdogan and reading 'We came to be servants, not to be masters of this nation' during a "National Unity March" to commemorate the one year anniversary of the July 15, 2016 botched coup attempt

A woman holds placard depicting Turkish president Erdogan and reading 'We came to be servants, not to be masters of this nation' during a "National Unity March" to commemorate the one year anniversary of the July 15, 2016 botched coup attempt

A woman holds placard depicting Turkish president Erdogan and reading ‘We came to be servants, not to be masters of this nation’ during a ‘National Unity March’ to commemorate the one year anniversary of the July 15, 2016 botched coup attempt

The US State Department on Saturday issued a statement praising the bravery of the Turkish people who took to the streets to 'preserve the rights and freedoms of their democratic society

The US State Department on Saturday issued a statement praising the bravery of the Turkish people who took to the streets to 'preserve the rights and freedoms of their democratic society

The US State Department on Saturday issued a statement praising the bravery of the Turkish people who took to the streets to ‘preserve the rights and freedoms of their democratic society

Addressing thousands of people outside of the parliament's building, Erdogan said the country's highest security advisory body would on Monday consider further extending the state of emergency

Addressing thousands of people outside of the parliament's building, Erdogan said the country's highest security advisory body would on Monday consider further extending the state of emergency

Addressing thousands of people outside of the parliament’s building, Erdogan said the country’s highest security advisory body would on Monday consider further extending the state of emergency

He said the failed coup had allowed Turkey to distinguish its friends from its foes but would not name the countries saying he wanted to avoid 'a serious international crisis

He said the failed coup had allowed Turkey to distinguish its friends from its foes but would not name the countries saying he wanted to avoid 'a serious international crisis

He said the failed coup had allowed Turkey to distinguish its friends from its foes but would not name the countries saying he wanted to avoid ‘a serious international crisis

The US State Department on Saturday issued a statement praising the bravery of the Turkish people who took to the streets to ‘preserve the rights and freedoms of their democratic society’.

‘The preservation of democracy requires perseverance, tolerance, dissent and safeguards for fundamental freedoms,’ the agency said, warning that curbs on those key freedoms erode ‘the foundations of democratic society.’

‘More voices, not fewer, are necessary in challenging times,’ the statement said.

NATO Secretary General Jens Stoltenberg paid homage to those who lost lives resisting the coup and said attempts to undermine democracy in any one of the allied nations was ‘unacceptable.’

July 15 has been declared a national holiday in Turkey. Tens of thousands of people were holding ‘democracy vigils’ – similar to vigils held in the days following the coup. 



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