Reuters Istanbul, Turkey
Aug 08, 2016, 01.03 AM
Weeks of rallies in protest of a foiled coup attempt in Turkey culminated on Sunday with a massive gathering, never before seen in the country's modern history which called for "one heart, one nation".
No official estimate has been provided, but Turkish media estimated that between three and a half to five million Turkish civilians poured into the Yenikapi Square in Istanbul waving Turkish flags, joining President Recep Tayyip Erdogan and leaders of the country's main political parties. In his speech, Erdogan said that in the face of solidarity against the coup plotters, the country's enemies have now realised that their job is difficult.
"We fought together in solidarity, leaving aside our differences," said Erdogan.
He also referred to the goals set for the republic's 100th anniversary event that includes to be among the world's top 10 economies. Speaking about the possibility of restoring the death penalty, the President vowed once again that the decision will be approved by the parliament. The issue of a reinstated capital punishment was raised in wake of the failed coup on July 15, but has sparked concern from the West.
The rally under the theme of "Democracy and Martyrs" was called for by the President, but the pro-Kurdish People's Democratic Party that is also represented within the parliament was not invited, for its links to the outlawed Kurdistan Workers' Party, which has been seeking autonomy in southeastern Turkey.
The bid to overthrow the government by a faction within the military was crushed within hours, but left 240 people dead and more than 2,000 others injured. Rallies to "watch democracy" have been staged every night in city squares across Turkey since the coup attempt was foiled.
"We've got the Left, the Right and the conservatives in our country and we live in harmony together. I hope no one will sabotage our country," said a Turkish citizen.
"So, this is very, very good to get united. I'm not here with my wife to support a party. We are here just to support our country and just to support our flag," said another citizen.
Erdogan announced that the "democracy watch" rallies will continue until the coming Wednesday. Extreme security measures were taken for the massive Yenikapi rally, with 30,000 police officers and several warships and coast guard boats deployed nearby.