Turkey’s Erdoğan calls opposition leader ‘coward,’ promises to cut off traitors’ heads

Enraged at the main opposition Republican People’s Party (CHP) leader Kemal Kılıçdaroğlu calling the July 15, 2016 coup attempt a “controlled coup” Turkey’s autocratic President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan on Saturday lambasted the opposition leader, calling him a “coward” for his behavior on the night of the failed coup.

“Some insistently say ‘controlled coup.’ They try to defame the glorious resistance of our nation. This is impudence, this is  immorality,” said Erdoğan, targeting Kılıçdaroğlu while speaking to thousands of people at the “July 15 Martyrs’ Bridge” on the anniversary of the failed coup attempt.

Turkey observed the first anniversary of a controversial coup attempt on July 15, 2016 that killed 249 people on Saturday. During a special session in the Turkish Parliament, which was allegedly bombed by the putschists on the night of the coup attempt, Prime Minister Binali Yıldırım, CHP Chairman Kemal Kılıçdaroğlu and Nationalist Movement Party (MHP) leader Devlet Bahçeli delivered speeches. A National Unity March was organized in Ankara and İstanbul.

“This nation is not trembling, is not cowardly like you. This nation has audacity. You do not have it. This is not a struggle of cowards,” Erdoğan said after describing how Kılıçdaroğlu left Atatürk Airport on the night of July 15.

Addressing Parliament during a special session to commemorate the first anniversary of the botched coup, CHP leader Kılıçdaroğlu questioned the failure of the army and intelligence chiefs to testify to the legislature’s Coup Investigation Commission.

Criticizing the written testimonies submitted by National Intelligence Organization (MİT) Undersecretary Hakan Fidan and Chief of General Staff Gen. Hulusi Akar, the main opposition leader said it is not acceptable for them not to testify in person.

“On whose order were they prevented from testifying to the commission? On what grounds?” Kılıçdaroğlu asked during the session in which all party leaders addressed the General Assembly.


Targeting people linked to the Gülen movement, which Erdoğan accuses of being behind failed coup, the president said: “We’re not just some nomadic tribe, we are a nation. They, however, are a disease, disease. That’s the difference.”

“First we will cut off traitors’ heads,” said Erdoğan while claiming that there were other powers behind the movement.

With regard to a coup suspect who appeared before a judge with a T-shirt reading “Hero” in English last week, Erdoğan said: “We recently spoke to Mr. Prime Minister. They should wear uniforms like they do at Guantanamo [prison] when going to court.”

Recalling that the court process is related to the coup attempt, Erdoğan said: “You can be sure that no traitors will be left unpunished. This nation, which carries their servants by the top of their head, will never hesitate to crush the heads of those who betray it.”


Meanwhile, a textile manufacturer in Turkey has said he is willing to donate 50,000 jumpsuits that he designed for people jailed over links to the Gülen movement across the country. CNNTürk reported on Saturday that a manufacturer named İbrahim Türeli designed orange jumpsuits that resemble prison uniforms in the United States in reaction to a T-shirt worn by a coup suspect at a hearing. In Turkey, prisoners are not required to wear any uniforms.

Holding the Gülen movement responsible for masterminding the coup attempt of July 15, the Turkish government has been conducting a massive purge targeting alleged sympathizers of the movement on alleged coup charges.

Last week, one of the suspects on trial for an alleged assassination attempt against Erdoğan on the night of a conrroversial coup was thrown out of the courtroom for wearing a T-shirt bearing the word “hero” because it caused tension between the parties during the hearing.

Also on Saturday, Turkish GSM operators played a 15-second message from President Erdoğan for the anniversary of a failed coup attempt on July 15, 2016, before any calls could commence, including emergency calls, the Cumhuriyet daily reported.

Turkcell and Vodafone operators’ pre-empting of all calls, which started at 00:01 on Sunday, attracted reactions on social media. The message was reported to have been orchestrated by the Turkish Telecommunications Authority (BTK).

“All of our people are hearing the July 15 Democracy and National Unity Day messages of our President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan when they make a call,” said BTK Chairman Ömer Fatih Sayan in a tweet.

“Enough is enough… He confronts you even on the phone… After all those insults [Erdoğan had targeted main opposition Republican People’s Party (CHP) leader Kemal Kılıçdaroğlu], this is what… Like a nightmare..” said CHP deputy Aykut Erdoğdu in a twitter message posted as a reaction to the GSM operators’ Erdoğan actions.

On Saturday, as part of anniversary activities observing the failed coup attempt, loudspeakers broadcast Salah prayers from 90,000 mosques across Turkey just as they did during the coup attempt last year.

President Erdoğan has claimed on Friday that if Turkey did not adhere to the rule of law, tens of thousands of “traitors” would be lying in pits around the country instead of being in prisons, in reference to suspects accused of carrying out an attempted coup on July 15, 2016.

Speaking at a panel discussion in Ankara titled “July 15 and Human Rights,” organized to commemorate the first anniversary of the coup attempt, President Erdoğan said: “If Turkey were not a country of rule of law, tens of thousands of traitors would be lying in pits around the country.”

Following the coup attempt, Turkey initiated a massive purge that has dismissed over 150,000 people from government jobs. Slamming critics of the purge, Erdoğan told victims to work in the private sector.

“Let them go and work in the private sector. It is none of our business. Are we supposed to be worried about that, too?” Erdoğan stated, although purge victims say they are arbitrarily deprived of all their rights under decrees issued after the declaration of a state of emergency following the putsch.

Arguing that purge victims had betrayed the state, Erdoğan further said that the state is not supposed to feed the purged government employees. However, due to the heavy stigma, private employers in Turkey are often afraid to employ purge victims.

Also on Friday, US State Department spokesperson Heather Nauert issued a press statement expressing support for Turkey’s democracy and democratic institutions on the occasion of the one-year anniversary of a controversial coup attempt in Turkey on July 15, 2016.

“One year ago, Turkey’s brave and dedicated citizens of all backgrounds and political views defended their democracy against an attempted coup. We reaffirm the United States’ steadfast support for Turkey’s democracy and democratic institutions. We offer our condolences to the friends and loved ones of those injured or killed during the coup attempt,” said Nauert’s statement.

Reminding that democratic culture necessitates the inclusion of more voices, tolerance and dissent for protection of fundamental freedoms, Nauert said “Persistent curbs on those fundamental freedoms erode the foundations of democratic society.”

The controversial military coup attempt on July 15 killed 249 people. Immediately after the putsch, the Justice and Development Party (AKP) government along with President Erdoğan pinned the blame on the Gülen movement.

Fethullah Gülen, who inspired the movement, strongly denied having any role in the failed coup and called for an international investigation into it, but President Erdoğan — calling the coup attempt “a gift from God” — and the government initiated a widespread purge aimed at cleansing sympathizers of the movement from within state institutions, dehumanizing its popular figures and putting participants of the Gülen movement in jails.

Turkey’s Justice Ministry has announced that 50,510 people have been arrested and 169,013 have been the subject of legal proceedings on coup charges since a failed coup in Turkey on July 15, 2016. According to data released by the Justice Ministry on Thursday, there are outstanding detention warrants for 8,087 individuals, 152 of whom are military officers, 392 are police officers and three are governors.

Among the arrestees are 169 generals, 7,089 colonels and 24 governors. A total of 2,431 members of the Turkish judiciary are also among those arrested in the aftermath of the July 15 coup attempt, while 265 of them are at large. More than 23,427 academics have been affected by a state of emergency (OHAL) that was declared following the failed coup attempt, according to a BBC Turkish report.

Around 160 media outlets were closed down and 2,500 journalists or media workers were sacked from their jobs in Turkey in the aftermath of the coup. The AKP government has also seized about 1,000 companies with a total value of TL 41 billion since the failed coup attempt. (SCF with turkishminute.com) July 16, 2017

Take a second to support Stockholm Center for Freedom on Patreon!
Become a patron at Patreon!