Over 265 Killed, 2800 Arrested; Turkey Cracks Down On Coup Plotters
NEW DELHI: 2839 soldiers and officers implicated in Turkey’s coup attempt Friday night have been arrested, officials say. As the overnight event unfolded, 265 people were killed, including 104 pro-coup participants, while 1,440 people were injured in military action in Istanbul and Ankara.
“1,563 soldiers were arrested, and 104 military who took part in the coup were killed in clashes. Ninety others were also killed, including 41 [pro-government] police officers, 2 [pro-government] soldiers and 47 civilians,” said Acting chief of staff of the armed forces Umit Dundar. Turkish Prime Minister Binali Yildirim said those arrested include high ranking officers and ordinary soldiers, adding that about 20 of those who planned the coup were killed and 30 more were wounded.
General Hulusi Akar -- the head of Turkey’s armed forces -- has been rescued, reports say. The General was being held captive by rebel soldiers.
The attempted coup led to a huge wave of support for Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdo?an -- with world leaders from US President Obama, German chancellor Angela Merkel and others, condemning the coup. “All parties in Turkey should support the democratically-elected government of Turkey, show restraint, and avoid any violence or bloodshed,” the US president said.
Turkey’s four main parties rallied behind the democratically elected leader, including those who have vehemently opposed Erdogan’s AKP.
Most significantly, thousands came out in the streets in a show of support for Erdogan. Erdogan’s call to ask civilians to take to the streets paid off, as rebel soldiers, who called on the population to stay indoors, apparently didn’t have the resolve to launch a full-scale war against civilians. The Turkish President is a figure who has caused deep divisions in Turkey owing to his project to transform the country and the upswing in violence due to the involvement in neighbouring Syria. Turkey’s involvement in Syria has led to a breakdown in a ceasefire with Kurdish groups within the country’s own borders, as well as seen an import in violence from across the border as a wave of attacks are claimed by the Islamic State.
Further, Erdogan’s commitment to democracy has long been held in doubt, with critics alleging that Erdogan has become increasingly authoritarian and is trying to turn himself into a strong executive president.
The show of support for Erdogan following the coup has therefore, led to fear that the Turkish President may turn even more authoritarian.
The above has fuelled conspiracy theories that Erdogan himself staged the coup -- which failed as the rebelling faction was not able to garner widespread military support.
This theory was even propounded by Fethullah Gülen, the reclusive cleric blamed by Erdogan for the coup attempt. In a rare and brief interview on Saturday with a small group of journalists at his residence in Saylorsburg, Pennsylvania, Gülen rejected all accusations that he was behind the coup attempt.
“I don’t believe that the world believes the accusations made by President Erdo?an,” Gülen said. “There is a possibility that it could be a staged coup and it could be meant for further accusations [against the Gülenists].”
The cleric -- who used to be close to the Turkish President and split with him in 2013 following a corruption scandal leads from exile a popular movement called Hizmet. He said he rejected all military interventions, adding that he personally suffered from the coup in 1993. Turkey, has a long history of coups, including in 1960, 1971, and 1980.
“After military coups in Turkey,” the cleric said, “I have been pressured and I have been imprisoned. I have been tried and faced various forms of harassment.” “Now that Turkey is on the path to democracy, it cannot turn back.”
Erdogan meanwhile called on Obama to arrest Gülen and deport him to Turkey. Speaking in Istanbul on Saturday Erdogan said that Turkey had never turned back any extradition request for “terrorists” by the US. “I say if we are strategic partners then you should bring about our request.”
US Secretary of State John Kerry said that no formal request for extradition has as yet been made by Turkey. “And obviously we would invite the government of Turkey, as we always do, to present us with any legitimate evidence that withstands scrutiny. And the United States will accept that and look at it and make judgments about it appropriately.”