Turkey marks first year of foiled coup
AP photoTurkey is set to mark the first anniversary of last year’s deadly July 15 coup attempt with a series of commemoration events slated to take place all across Turkey, with President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan expected to address the public in Istanbul and Ankara.
The commemoration events all around the country will be launched with a special session in the parliament’s general assembly at 1:00 p.m. in Ankara. The leaders of political parties will be present at the extraordinary session to give 10-minute speeches each to mark the importance of the day.
Following the official ceremony in parliament, the country will see “National Unity Marches” in Ankara and Istanbul simultaneously at 6:30 p.m.
In Ankara, the march will start in the central Ulus district and end in Kızılay Square, renamed as the July 15 Kızılay National Will Square after last year’s attempted takeover. During the march, participants are expected to carry a meters-long Turkish flag.
In Istanbul, the march will start on the Anatolian side at 6:30 p.m., with participants set to enter the July 15 Martyrs Bridge, formerly known as the Bosporus Bridge and renamed to honor the victims of the thwarted coup, at 8:00 p.m., which is also expected to be attended by Erdoğan. The bridge will be closed to traffic at noon.
Erdoğan is set to come to the rally at 9:15 p.m., along with the relatives of those who lost their lives or were left wounded while preventing putschist soldiers from seizing control over the country. After the night prayer, Erdoğan will address participants through special audiovisual screenings.
Following his speech, a monument built for July 15 will be inaugurated.
Special event in parliament amid criticisms
Following events in Istanbul, Erdoğan will then fly to Ankara and will participate in a special rally in parliament to be held in the early hours of July 16. He will address participants at 2:32 a.m., the same hour when parliament was first hit by the bombs that night.
Later, Parliament Speaker İsmail Kahraman, Prime Minister Binali Yıldırım, and opposition Nationalist Movement Party (MHP) leader Devlet Bahçeli will deliver speeches.
The main opposition Republican People’s Party (CHP) and the Peoples’ Democratic Party (HDP) had initially staunchly criticized ruling Justice and Development Party (AKP) officials for not inviting them to the rally in parliament, however, were later sent invitations by the presidential office.
“The protocol of such events does not require an invitation,” Yıldırım told media representatives on July 14, adding that CHP leader Kemal Kılıçdaroğlu was being “too emotional.”
“A call to be in parliament to commemorate the bombing is a public call. There is no need to pick indirect lines as excuses not to come. We did not receive an invitation either, and we are not expecting one. We will go ahead with it,” he said.
After receiving an invitation following the criticisms, CHP officials said they would participate in all events in parliament as well as the marches and special gatherings in city squares.
“We criticize the ruling party’s attempt to divide the July 15 commemorations into two. We will be there at the commemoration activities,” CHP deputy leader Bülent Tezcan said on July 14.
Meanwhile, HDP spokesperson Osman Baydemir announced that the Kurdish issue-focused party will not participate in the event in parliament, citing their dismay over their party’s co-chairs’ imprisonments.
“First we were not invited to the event. But now, the invitation is being sent to the wrong place because our co- leaders, Figen Yüksekdağ and Selahattin Demirtaş, are now in prison. The invitation had to be sent to them,” Baydemir said on July 13.
After the rally in parliament, Erdoğan and participants will pray at the Millet Mosque and launch the “July 15 Martyrs Monument” at the presidential complex in the early hours of July 16.
Democracy watch in 81 provinces
Apart from official organizations to be held in Istanbul and Ankara, Erdoğan has called on citizens in all 81 provinces of Turkey to participate in “democracy watches.”
“I invite all my citizens from 81 provinces of Turkey to the democracy watches at the designated areas in their cities and provinces, the same as it was one year ago,” Erdoğan said on July 13.
The democracy watches will start with a prayer at 1:05 a.m. on July 16 and will last until midnight of the same day.